Emotional intelligence in training

Although I’m not a real big fan of some of the work on ’emotional intelligence,’ here’s an interesting short video of Daniel Goleman on Karma Tube (a positive, social change video site). As the page explains:

Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence, asks why we aren’t more compassionate more of the time. Sharing the results of psychological experiments (and the story of the Santa Cruz Strangler), he explains how we are all born with the capacity for empathy — but we sometimes choose to ignore it.

I’m really not sure what we gain by putting ’emotional’ with ‘intelligence’ except that it does seem to increase the importance of empathy and perceptivity for those who undersell these human capacities. That is, I think the furor of ‘EI’ is in part simply that people who normally don’t get just how crucial interpersonal savvy is suddenly notice it.

Nevertheless, Goleman is a good big picture thinker, and in this piece he points out the malleability of human empathy, a crucial consideration for neuroanthropologists. It’s important to point out training effects on these abilities so that we’re not too prone to considering them permanent ‘personality’ traits.

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Trained as a cultural anthropologist at the University of Chicago, I have gone on to do fieldwork in Brazil and the United States. I have written one book, Learning Capoeira: Lessons in Cunning from an Afro-Brazilian Art (Oxford, 2005). I have also co-authored and co-edited several, including, with Dr. Daniel Lende, The Encultured Brain: An Introduction to Neuroanthropology (MIT, 2012), and with Dr. Melissa Fisher, Frontiers of Capital: Ethnographic Reflections on the New Economy (Duke, 2006). My research interests include neuroanthropology, psychological anthropology, sport, dance, human rights, neuroscience, phenomenology, economic anthropology, and just about anything else that catches my attention.

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