Tuesday, June 28, 2016


From What is more beneficial in life; a high EQ or IQ? by Jordan B Peterson. Peterson is admirably clear.
Well, yes. True.
There is no such thing as EQ. Let me repeat that: "There is NO SUCH THING AS EQ." The idea was popularized by a journalist, Daniel Goleman, not a psychologist. You can't just invent a trait. You have to define it and measure it and distinguish it from other traits and use it to predict the important ways that people vary.

EQ is not a psychometrically valid concept. Insofar as it is anything (which it isn't) it's the Big Five trait agreeableness, although this depends, as it shouldn't, on which EQ measure is being used (they should all measure THE SAME THING). Agreeable people are compassionate and polite, but they can also be pushovers. Disagreeable people, on average (if they aren't too disagreeable) make better managers, because they are straightforward, don't avoid conflict and cannot be easily manipulated.

Let me say it again: THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS EQ. Scientifically, it's a fraudulent concept, a fad, a convenient band-wagon, a corporate marketing scheme.
You get the idea.

EQ is a nice Namby Pamby concept. It can be whatever you want it to be. It is cognitive pollution.

On the other hand there is a concept that is hard, replicable, predictive.
IQ is a different story. It is the most well-validated concept in the social sciences, bar none. It is an excellent predictor of academic performance, creativity, ability to abstract, processing speed, learning ability and general life success.

There are other traits that are important to general success, including conscientiousness, which is an excellent predictor of grades, managerial and administrative ability, and life outcomes, on the more conservative side.

It should also be noted that IQ is five or more times as powerful a predictor as even good personality trait predictors such as conscientiousness. The true relationship between grades, for example, and IQ might be as high as r = .50 or even .60 (accounting for 25-36% of the variance in grades). Conscientiousness, however, probably tops out at around r = .30, and is more typically reported as r = .25 (say, 5 to 9% of the variance in grades). There is nothing that will provide you with a bigger advantage in life than a high IQ. Nothing. To repeat it: NOTHING.

In fact, if you could choose to be born at the 95th percentile for wealth, or the 95th percentile for IQ, you would be more successful at age 40 as a consequence of the latter choice.
Anything else on your mind, Dr. Peterson?
By the way, there is also no such thing as "grit," despite what Angela Duckworth says. Grit is conscientiousness, plain and simple (although probably more the industrious side than the orderly side). All Duckworth and her compatriots did was fail to notice that they had re-invented a very well documented phenomena, that already had a name (and, when they did notice it, failed to produce the appropriate mea culpas. Not one of psychology's brighter moments). A physicists who "re-discovered" iron and named it melignite or something equivalent would be immediately revealed as ignorant or manipulative (or, more likely, as ignorant and manipulative), and then taunted out of the field.
Heh. I suspect that Dr. Peterson scores pretty high on the "doesn't suffer fools gladly" scale.

And rightly so. Here's the enticing emotional concept of EQ that makes such a compelling narrative and that is empirically bankrupt.

Looks persuasive doesn't it? But empirically, it isn't true. As long as weak minds are seduced by easy stories, we don't make much progress.

I am not saying that emotions are unimportant. Just that they are hard to measure, difficult to interpret and their causal linkage to outcomes highly context dependent. Take "Empathy", a touted trait in many quarters. Yes, its admirable. But is it useful? Depends on the circumstances. What is useful is having empathy and deploying it appropriately, not some fixed idea of empathy. Say you are a doctor. Empathy might open you to a degree that you can have the capacity to hear something significant in the ramblings of a patient. Great. But much of what a patient says can be blather. Or worse yet, too much empathy might incapacitate you from making the hard diagnostic recommendations that are necessary. Empathy in and of itself is neither good or bad. It is how effectively you use it for the given context.

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