The marshmallow test, Australian men, and JA.
Posted by Linden on July 20, 1998 at 20:00:47:
In response to a question?, written by Kate on July 20, 1998 at 09:00:42
] Where did the idea of "emotional intelligence" come from, Linden? I haven't encountered it before.
I'll chase up the references and post them soon.
One of the original bits of research (sorry, I don't have the reference on me) is with 3-year olds and the "Marshmallow Test." You put a small child in a room with one marshmallow (or other treat), and tell her or him that you are leaving the room for 15 minutes: if the kid refrains from eating the marshmallow, he/she will get another one when you come back. The kids who manage to defer their gratification grow up to have much higher success (however you measure it) in adult life than those who don't - and this apparently is a more significant predictor of success than IQ, wealth, etc.
The idea takes issue with the "Mr Spock" stereotype that rationality on its own is a good guide to life and that emotions only get in the way: you have to involve the emotions, but in a rational fashion.
Forgive me for putting forward a stereotype as an example. Since I came to Australia, I have been thinking that the average Australian male has the emotional intelligence of a pet rock: the only emotion most of them seem able to express is anger. One splendid exception to this rule is writers: the Aussie male writers I've met are not emotionally illiterate (but then, writers need to be emotionally intelligent in the same way as they need to be able to spell!)
] I think clearly JA favours the idea of acting on the basis of rational consideration, not passionate impulse. But I'm not sure how that fits into emotional intelligence.
Ah, that's the issue: JA favours the combination of rationality and passion, not a contrast.
P&P is a text book example of the distinction: Charlotte is swayed solely by the rational motive - "prudence", as JA calls it. Lydia is swayed solely by passion. Elizabeth combines the two: she makes rational decisions about her passions - and she will have the happiest marriage.
We see this variations on the theme of rationality and passion time and time again: Anne in "Persuasion" was overpowered by the rational motive to her own misery; Henry Crawford's final error was not only of principle but of throwing away the woman he both rationally and passionately loved; Emma and Mr Knightley rationally like each other but have to discover their passion; Elinor contrasts not only with the passionate Marianne but also with the cold blooded Lucy.
It's seen in that summing up of JA's position by David Cecil: she thought it was wrong to marry for money, but silly to marry without it.
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