The close relationship between motivation and emotional intelligence

The close relationship between motivation and emotional intelligence

What is Intelligence? Over time we have gone from a conception of static and quantitative intelligence, described as a purely cognitive faculty, to a modern qualitative and modular one, within which it is configured as a complex cognitive competence , connected to motivational, emotional and socio-dimensions -culturali.

It goes without saying that outlining a definition of univocal intelligence is difficult, however it can be considered as a set of skills that allow us to perform sophisticated mental operations which, in turn, allow the individual to understand the events that surround him, to discover relationships between them and reach a knowledge. Intelligence therefore allows a better adaptation to the environment , to successfully face new situations, to foresee and anticipate the consequences.

There have been several theories concerning the concept of intelligence that have been elaborated; in particular it is possible to count:

Spearman’s monofactorial theory

The first scientific definition of intelligence was formulated by Spearman in 1923, who considered it as a “G factor”, that is, a general, abstract, non-specific ability, above more specific skills and that could be measured. It is precisely this latter characteristic that makes this definition scientific and in particular intelligence is measurable through the Logic Test.

The Thurstone Theory

Unlike Spearman’s monofactorial theory, Thurstone (1938) hypothesizes 7 primary skills:

  • Verbal understanding;
  • Verbal fluency;
  • Arithmetic skill;
  • Spatial visualization;
  • Associative memory;
  • Perceptual speed;
  • Reasoning.

Although this highlights the multifactoriality of intelligence , their nature remains predominantly logical and rational, as if, in reality, these skills were a specification of Spearman’s G factor.

Cattell’s theory

Another author (1950s) who developed a theory capable of informing about the differences between individuals was Cattell. He distinguished, – fluid intelligence: it is the innate structural and functional component of intelligence, that is, the ability to grasp relationships between elements, to order, to perceive independently of learning -. Crystallized intelligence: it is a mental ability that arises from experience and includes knowledge, skills learned and assimilated.

Sternberg’s triarchic theory

This (1985) is made up of 3 sub-theories:

  • “contextual” theory defines intelligence in relation to the environment;
  • the “experiential” theory , studies the interaction between the individual and the tasks he has to face; specifically it is the ability to cope with new situations by resorting to new answers and then automating their execution (read, guide)
  • the “modular” theory tries to identify the basic mental mechanisms, the components of intelligence.

The components described in the modular theory are three:

1) Metacomponents , processes that control and plan the processing of information, necessary to identify problems and decide how to solve them;

2) Performance components , which make it possible to implement the plans established at the level of metacomponents;

3) Components of knowledge acquisitions , useful for dealing with situations that arise for the first time. Furthermore, Stenberg proposes a description of the individual differences that can be explained in terms of cognitive styles. In fact, he considers learning as an active process of building knowledge by the subject, according to the typical cognitive style that characterizes it.

Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences

His proposal is to consider the old conception of intelligence as a unitary and measurable factor through IQ without foundation and replace it with a more dynamic definition. He continues to consider intelligence as composed of distinct abilities, which however are not intended as specific factors by domain, but are identified in the greater variety of fields. Specifically, hypothesize 7 different types of intelligence :

  • Logical-mathematics, consisting in the ability to operate on symbols and words by establishing relationships and formulating rules;
  • Linguistics, linked to sensitivity for meaning, sound, order of words and for the different functions of language;
  • Musical, corresponding to the ability to distinguish the meaning and importance of a series of sounds arranged arrhythmically;
  • Spatial, equivalent to the ability to perceive shapes and recognize elements in different contexts;
  • Kinesthetics, referring to the ability to skillfully use one’s body for expressive and practical purposes;
  • Intrapersonal , dependent on the ability to understand oneself, one’s feelings and to express them;
  • Interpersonal , concerning the ability to grasp the personality and intentions of others and to influence others.

The Theory of Multiple Intelligences implies that the different types of intelligence are present in all human beings and that the difference between their intellectual characteristics must be sought only in their respective combinations.

Goleman’s Theory of Emotional Intelligence

The emotional intelligence notion already described by Howard Gardner in both forms, intrapersonal and interpersonal , was however developed in its many components and practical consequences by Daniel Goleman (1995) who introduces the concept of “emotional intelligence”, understood as set of specific human skills that go beyond IQ. In general, it distinguishes two main sub-categories:

Personal skills , referring to the ability to grasp the different aspects of one’s emotional life including self-awareness, which involves the ability to recognize one’s own inner states.

Self-control , which implies the ability to control one’s feelings, impulses and resources so that they are appropriate; and above all the ability to feed one’s motivation, formed by a fair dose of optimism and a spirit of initiative;

Social skills , related to the way we understand others and relate to them and of which the most important is constituted by empathy, i.e. the ability to recognize emotions and feelings in others, placing ourselves ideally in their shoes and being able to understand the respective points of view the interests and inner difficulties;

Communication , another social attitude, is the ability to speak to others by making the explicit content of the messages coincide with one’s beliefs and emotions. It is clear that the merit of this theory has been to emphasize that emotional and motivational processes are an integral part of the intellectual and cognitive functioning.

The close relationship between emotion and motivation

A close relationship between emotion and motivation is often emphasized in literature. In fact, the emotional responses, among the many components that characterize it, have a motivational aspect that can direct the individual to perform a given behavior aimed at achieving a goal.

Therefore, if on the one hand the study of motivations allows to know why a given behavior is activated, on the other the study of emotions allows an analysis of how an organism reacts.

Specifically, emotions are complex subjective experiences accompanied by cognitive, behavioral, expressive and physiological changes. They are intense but generally short-lived. They perform an adaptive function in that they predispose the individual to an immediate response to a solicitation from the environment.

Emotion therefore presupposes a cognitive evaluation, a monitoring of the action , a regulation of the relationship between the individual and the environment, thus configuring itself as an integrated and partially controlled process . Therefore it is possible to affirm that the emotion has several components, each of which interacts with the others and is functional to a goal :

  • Cognitive component , through which the organism evaluates stimuli.
  • Physiological , which corresponds to the activation of the central, peripheral and endocrine nervous system.
  • Motivational , in that the same emotions predispose the individual to act for the achievement of his own ends.
  • Expressive motor , with which the organism expresses its emotions with the movement of the face and body.
  • Subjective component , related to the reading that the individual makes of his emotional experience.

Instead, motivation is that dynamic factor of human behavior that activates and directs an organism towards a goal .

The motivations are often unconscious and overdetermined and, therefore, do not follow a linear cause-effect logic. Primary and secondary, intrinsic and extrinsic motivations are distinguished.

Primary motivations, linked to the satisfaction of basic physiological needs; secondary motivations, of a personal and social nature, are connected to the maintenance of a self-image, to self- esteem, to the realization of one’s aspirations, to the achievement of a social position.

Intrinsic, which lead the individual to perform an activity as rewarding in itself . Extrinsic, which lead the individual to engage in an activity for purposes that are extrinsic to it, such as, for example, receiving praise, recognition, good marks or to avoid unpleasant situations.

Motivations are distinguished from reflexes, intended as the simplest, innate and automatic response to external stimuli ; from instincts, which are inherited and species-specific behavioral tendencies; needs, which indicate a physiological condition of deficiency and need; and from drives, understood as the psychological dimension of need.

A theory that combines motivation and emotions is Ricci Bitti and Caterina’s Theory, which postulates a single motivational-cognitive-emotional system that presides over behavior, regulating its various aspects: the motive that drives an action, the modulation of the emotional intensity and the type of response.

This system acts on three hierarchical levels:

– On a phylogenetic level as each species has a repertoire of responses made up of emotional and behavioral elements

– On ontogenetic level since each one develops personal patterns of reaction to events, he has primary and secondary motivations

– At a situational level as different situations generate different emotions and motivations.
To conclude, it is possible to say that the presence of an emotional intelligence produces high levels of motivation and adequate management of emotions.