A study of 197 people finds that high EQ correlates with this trait.
How can you increase your own emotional intelligence, or EQ? By being more like yourself. That surprising idea comes from Stephen Joseph, PhD, professor of psychology, health, and social care at the University of Nottingham in England. In recently published research, Joseph, along with psychology researcher Ornella Tohme, found authenticity to be correlated with higher emotional intelligence and also with greater mindfulness in 197 volunteer subjects.
This may seem counterintuitive, because most of us have encountered people who are being themselves and “letting it all hang out” and yet are strikingly lacking in emotional intelligence. The older male executive who makes a leering comment to a younger female associate may seem like he’s being his authentic lecherous self, for example. But behavior like that isn’t real authenticity, Joseph argues in a post about the research at Psychology Today.
“Authenticity isn’t about just saying what you think or doing what you want,” he writes. Instead, authenticity was defined by renowned psychologist Carl Rogers as becoming more accepting of everyone, both others and yourself, and thus more empathetic. Rather than a state in which you do or say whatever’s on your mind, authenticity is “defined by emotional and psychological maturity,” Joseph writes.
Interestingly, he notes, most of us are pretty bad at knowing how authentic or inauthentic we are. “One of the problems in talking about this topic is that the most inauthentic people, because they don’t know themselves well and therefore lack insight, often think that they are more authentic than they are,” Joseph writes. Conversely, the most authentic people recognize their own struggles to be honest with themselves and others and may judge those efforts harshly. Thus, they believe they’re less authentic than they really are. This is why the Authenticity Scale, a more objective measure that Joseph and Tohme used in their research, is an important tool for measuring how authentic people actually are.
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