A critical approach to Emotional Intelligence as a dominant discourse in the field of education

Aproximación crítica a la Inteligencia Emocional como discurso dominante en el ámbito educativo

David Menéndez Álvarez-Hevia

DOI: https://doi.org/10.22550/REP76-1-2018-01

This article offers a critical analysis of emotional intelligence (EI) as a dominant discourse that establishes ways of understanding, managing, and learning about emotions in the field of education. The first section gives an overview of the recent interest in the emotional along with how the popularity of ideas associated with emotional intelligence derives from its ability to associate itself with other influential discourses that emerge from the brain sciences (neurology, cognitive psychology etc.). As part of this discussion, some of EI’s main qualities are questioned, for example, its neutrality, its potential to go beyond the dualist approaches that dominate traditional conceptions, and its proposal for a paradigm shift. The second part of the article examines the presence and impact of the discourse of emotional intelligence in the field of education in the form of mechanisms for measuring emotional intelligence and programmes of emotional intelligence or emotional literacy. The importance of educators’ emotional involvement is discussed, as is the problem of the subjectivating power of this discourse. It concludes with arguments that invite us to reflect and explore alternative ways of understanding and framing the emotional and emotional education.


Cite this article as: Menéndez Álvarez‑Hevia, D. (2018). Aproximación crítica a la Inteligencia Emocional como discurso dominante en el ámbito educativo | A critical approach to emotional intelligence as a dominant discourse in the field of education. Revista Española de Pedagogía, 76 (269), 7‑23. doi: https://doi.org/10.22550/REP76-1-2018-01


Ahmed, S. (2004). The cultural politics of emotion. London: Routledge.

Bar‑On, R. (1997). Bar‑On Emotional Quotient Inventory: Technical manual (EQ‑i). Toronto: Multi‑Health Systems.

Bar‑On, R. (2000). Emotional and social intelli‑ gence: insights from the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ‑i). In R. Bar‑On and J. D. A. Parker (Eds.), Handbook of emotional intelli‑ gence (pp. 363‑388). San Francisco, CA: Jos‑ sey‑Bass.

Bisquerra, R. (2006). Educación emocional y bienestar. Madrid: Woulters Kluwert.

Boler, M. (1997). Disciplined emotions: philo‑ sophies of educated feelings. Educational Theory, 47 (2), 203‑227.

Boler, M. (1999). Feeling power: emotions and Education. Abingdon: Routledge.

Boyatzis, R. E., Goleman, D. and Rhee, K. S. (2000). Clustering competence in emotional intelligence. In R. Bar‑On and J. D. A. Parker (Eds.), The handbook of emotional intelligence: Theory, development, and assessment, and applica‑ tion at home, school, and in the workplace (pp. 343‑362). San Francisco, CA: Jossey‑Bass.

Burman, E. (2009). Beyond ‘emotional literacy’ in feminist and educational research. British Educational Research Journal, 35 (1), 137‑155.

Burman, E. and MacLure, M. (2005). Deconstruc‑ tion as a method of research. In B. Somekh and C. Lewin (Eds.), Research Methods in the Social Science (pp. 284‑293). London: Sage.

Buey, M. L. (2002). Importancia de la inteligencia emocional: un nuevo reto para la orientación educativa. Educación XX1, 5, 77‑96.

Coll, C. (1996). Constructivismo y educación es‑ colar: ni hablamos siempre de lo mismo ni lo hacemos siempre desde la misma perspectiva epistemológica. Anuario de Psicologia, 69, 153‑178.

Colley, H. (2006). Learning to labour with feeling: class, gender and emotion in childcare edu‑ cation and training. Contemporary Issues in Early Childhood, 7 (1), 15‑29.

Conte, J. M. (2005). A Review and Critique of Emotional Intelligence Measures. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 26 (4), 433‑440.

Cornwell, S. and Bundy, J. (2009). The emotional curriculum: a journey towards emotional literacy. London: Sage.

Damasio, A. (1996). Descartes’ error: Emotion, reason and the human brain. London: Macmillan.

Davies, W. (2015). The happiness industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well‑Being. London: Verso.

Deleuze, G. (2006). Foucault. Londres: Continuum.

Denzin, K. N. (2007). On understanding emotion. New Jersey: Transaction Publisher.

Dinham, S. and Scott, C. (1997). The teacher 2000 project: A study of teacher motivation and health. Perth: University of Western Sydney.

Dixon, T. (2012). Educating the emotions from Gradgrind to Goleman. Research Papers in Education, 27 (4), 481‑495.

Edwards, R., Gillies, V. and Horsley, N. (2016). Early intervention and evidence‑based policy and practice: framing and taming. Social Policy and Society, 15 (1), 1‑10.

Fernández‑Berrocal, P. and Ruiz, D. (2008). La inteligencia emocional en la educación. Revista Electrónica de Investigación Psicoeducativa, 15 (6), 421‑436.

Ferrés, J. (1996). Televisión subliminal: Sociali‑ zación mediante comunicaciones inadvertidas. Barcelona: Paidós.

Foucault, M. (1990). The history of sexuality 1: An introduction. London: Penguin.

Foucault, M. (1997). Arqueología del saber. Madrid: Siglo XXI.

Game, A. and Metcalfe, A. (1996). Passionate Sociology. London: Sage.

Gardner, H. (1993). Frames of mind. The theory of multiples intelligences. New York: Basic Books.

Goleman, D. (1996). Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ. London: Bloomsbury.

Goleman, D. (1999). La práctica de la inteligencia emocional. Barcelona: Kairós.

Goleman, D. (2003). Emociones destructivas. Barcelona: Kairós. Goleman, D. (2011). Emotional Mastery. Leadership Excellence, 28 (6), 12‑13.

Gordo, Á. J. and Burman, E. (2004). Emotional capital and information technologies in the changing rhetorics around children and childhoods: Emotional capital and information technologies. New Directions for Child and Adolescent Development, 105, 63‑80.

Gowing, M. K. (2001). Measurement of individual emotional competence. In C. Cherniss and D. Goleman (Eds.), The emotionally intelligent workplace: How to select for; measure, and improve emotional intelligence in individuals, groups, and organizations (pp. 83‑131). San Francisco, CA: Jossey Bass.

Greenspan, P. (2003). Emotions, Rationality, and Mind/Body. Royal Institute of Philosophy Supplement, 52, 113‑125.

Grosz, E. (2005). Time travels: feminism, nature, power. Durham: Duke University.

Hacking, I. (2001). ¿La construcción social de qué? Barcelona: Paidós.

Haraway, D. (1991). Simians, Cyborgs, and Women. New York: Routledge.

Harding, S. (1986). The Science Question in Feminism. New York: Cornell University

Hargreaves, A. (1998). The emotional practice of teaching. Teacher and Teaching education, 14 (8), 835‑859.

Hargreaves, A. (2000). Mixed emotions, teachers’ perceptions of their interactions with stu‑ dents. Teaching and Teacher education, 16, 811‑826.

Hartley, D. (2003). The instrumentalisation of the expressive in Education. British Journal of Educational Studies, 51 (1), 6‑19.

Hochschild, A. (1979). Emotion work, feeling rules, and social structure. American Journal of Sociology, 85, 551‑575.

Hochschild, A. (2003). The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Humphrey, N., Kalambouka, A., Bolton, J., Lendrum, A., Wigelsworth, M., Lennie, C. and Farrell, P. (2008). Primary social and emotional aspects of learning: evaluation of small group work. Research Report RR064. Nottingham: DCSF Publications.

Landy, F. and Mayer, J. D. (2005). Is Emotional Intelligence old wine in new bottles? Recuperado de: http://www.unh.edu/emotional_intelligence/ei%20Controversies/eitcontroversy%20new%20wine%20with%20Landy.htm (Consulted on January 27, 2017).

Lasky, S. (2000). The cultural and emotional po‑ litics of teacher‑parent interactions. Teaching and Teacher Education, 16, 843‑860.

Le‑Doux, J. (1993). Emotional networks in the brain. In M. Lewis and J. M. Haviland Handbook of emotions (pp. 159‑179). London: Guil‑ ford Press.

Le‑Doux, J. (1998). The emotional brain. London: Phoenix.

Lens, W. and Neves de Jesus, S. (1999). A psychosocial interpretation of teachers Burn Out. In R. Vandenverghe and A. M. Huberman (Eds.), Understanding and preventing Teacher Burnout (pp. 192‑201). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Organic Law to Improve Educational Quality 8/2013, as of December 9 (LOMCE, BOE, no. 295, 10 December 2013).

Lortie, D. C. (1975). Schoolteacher: a sociological study. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Lyotard, J‑F. (1984). The postmodern condition: a report on knowledge. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

MacIntyre, A. (1984). After Virtue. Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

MacLure, M. (2003). Discourse in Educational and Social Research. Maidenhead: Open University Press.

Manrique Solana, R. (2015). La cuestión de la inteligencia emocional. Revista de la Asociación Española de Neuropsiquiatría, 35 (128), 801‑814.

Matthews, G., Zeidner, M. and Roberts, R. (2002). Emotional Intelligence: Science and Myth. Cambridge, MA and London: MIT Press.

Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., Caruso, D. R. and Sitarenios, G. (2003). Measuring emotional intelligence with the MSCEIT V2.0. Emotion, 3, 97‑10.

Mestrovicic, S. G. (1997). Postemotional society. London: Sage.

Nias, J. (1989). Primary teachers talking: a study of teaching at work. London: Routledge.

Nias, J. (1996). Thinking about feeling: The emotions in teaching. Cambridge Journal of Education, 26, 293‑306.

Park, J. (2003). Emotional literacy handbook: promoting whole‑school strategies: antidote. London: David Fulton.

Penalva, J. (2008a). Constructivismo y comprehensividad en la enseñanza superior: análisis crítico de los aspectos antropológicos, semánticos, epistemológicos y ontológicos. Revista de la educación superior, 37 (146), 155‑169.

Penalva, J. (2008b). Análisis filosófico de la construcción social de la escuela: claves críticas a partir de Ian Hacking. Teoría de la Educación, 20, 65‑81.

Penalva, J. (2009). Análisis crítico de los aspectos antropológicos y pedagógicos de la educación emocional. Revista Iberoamericana de Educación, 49, 247‑265.

Reay, D. (2004). Gendering Bourdieu’s concepts of capitals? Emotional capital, women and social. The sociological review, 52 (2), 57‑74.

Reddy, W. M. (2001). The navigation of feeling: a framework for the history of emotions. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Rosenthal, N. E. (2002). The Emotional Revolution. New York: Kensington Publisher.

Rose, N. and Abi‑Rachid, J. M. (2013). Neuro: the new Brain Science and the management of the mind. New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

Rose, N. (1998). Inventing Ourselves: psychology, power and personhood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Salovey, P. and Mayer, J. D. (1990). Emotional Intelligence. Imagination, cognition and personality, 9, 185‑211.

Schlaeger, J. and Stedman, G. (Ed.) (1999). Repre‑ sentation of emotions. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.

Squire, C. (2001). The Public Life of Emotions. International Journal of Critical Psychology, 1, 27‑38.

Troman, G. (2000). Teacher stress in the low‑trust society. British Journal of Sociology of Education, 21, 331‑353.

Wigelsworth, M., Humphrey, N. and Lendrum. A. (2012). A national evaluation of the impact of the secondary social and emotional aspects of learning (SEAL) programme. Educational Psychology, 32 (2), 213‑238.

Yell, S. (2012). Natural disaster news and commu‑ nities of feeling: The affective interpellation of local and global publics. Social Semiotics, 22 (4), 409‑428.

Zembylas, M. (2004). The emotional characteris‑ tics of teaching: An ethnographic study of one teacher. Teaching and Teacher Education, 20, 185‑201.

Zembylas, M. (2005a). Discursive practice, genealogies and emotional rules: a poststruc‑ turalist view of emotion and identity in teaching. Teaching and teacher education, 21, 935‑948.

Zembylas, M. (2005b). Teaching with emotion. A postmodern enactment. Greenwich: Information Age.

Zembylas, M. (2006). Challenges and Possibilities in a Postmodern Culture of Emotions in Education. Interchange, 37 (3), 251‑275.

David Menéndez Alvarez-Hevia is Senior Lecturer in Education Studies at the Metropolitan University of Manchester and since 2013 member of the Executive Committee of the British Education Studies Association (BESA). He studied his PhD with a fellowship from the Educational and Social Research Institute (ESRI) and has participated in different research projects related to the commercialization of higher education and emotional education.