Emotional IntelligencePsychology

Difference between IQ, EQ and Personalities

18 Mins read
difference between iq, eq and personalities
difference between iq, eq and personalities

The difference between IQ, EQ and personality types has been a great subject of debate for me and millions of other people looking to be more successful, happy and life fulfillment. We have, for centuries, tried to dig deep into the human conditions, trying to understand ourselves better and diving into the realms of self knowledge and enlightenment.

This has led to the development of psychology and other social sciences that are focused on trying to understand why humans do what they do and how to predict their behavior for job success, academic performance, and overall lifetime fulfillment and happiness.

It is a hard job to actually predict these things through psychology, which is sometimes not considered as a real science. Psychology is based on trying to figure out how the inner workings of our brains, cognitive functions, emotions and our environment contribute to who we are, who we become, our thought processes, choices and behaviors.

Basically speaking, psychology is the greatest field aimed at looking at what makes humans happy. Which is why it is sometimes not considered as a real science.1

Happiness research is a great example of why psychology isn’t science. How exactly should “happiness” be defined? The meaning of that word differs from person to person and especially between cultures. What makes Americans happy doesn’t necessarily make Chinese people happy. How does one measure happiness? Psychologists can’t use a ruler or a microscope, so they invent an arbitrary scale. Today, personally, I’m feeling about a 3.7 out of 5. How about you?

However, since the 20th century, psychologists have been able to measure accurately individual’s IQs and personalities. Even though there are many tests that still lack validity such as the self report tests for personality types, such as the ones from 16personalities.com, the overall reliance on these tests is undeniable and that is why they are widely used in gauging employees and predicting their job performance.

Before the beginning of the 21st century, psychologists had gotten down to an agreement that these two aspects of gauging people’s intelligence and beings, i.e Intelligence Quotient and Personality tests, were very reliable and the only criteria of getting to know people and helping them understand themselves.

However, the introduction of emotional intelligence, EI/EQ, at the end of the 20th century changed things leading to many psychologists questioning their own systems. Emotional intelligence first appeared to the masses in 1995, it served as the missing link in a peculiar finding: people with average IQs outperform those with the highest IQs 70% of the time. This anomaly threw a massive wrench into what many people had always assumed was the sole source of success—IQ. Decades of research now point to emotional intelligence as the critical factor that sets star performers apart from the rest of the pack.

Emotional intelligence also provided a big promise that both IQ and personalities didn’t, it showed that EQ can be developed over time, that unlike IQ and Personalities which are stable and rarely change, EQ can be worked on, molded and improved upon which intrigued people by showing the ability of human beings to change and better themselves.

Through his hit book, Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ, Daniel Goleman popularized the concept of EI, however EI emerged as a major psychological construct in the early 1990s before his book, where it was conceptualized as a set of abilities largely attributed to general intelligence. Early influential work on Emotional intelligence was conducted by Salovey and Mayer (1990), who defined EI as the “the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”2

In this article, I’m going to dive into Intelligence quotient(IQ), Emotional intelligence(EI) and Personalities, what they are, their meaning and how the differ and relate to each other. For a summary of this I have included this table:

Intelligence quotientEmotional intelligencePersonality
DefinitionAn intelligence quotient is a total score derived from a set of standardized tests designed to assess human intelligence.The ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actionsPersonality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving.
OriginThe first modern intelligence test in IQ history was developed in 1904, by Alfred Binet (1857-1911) and Theodore Simon (1873-1961). The French Ministry of Education asked these researchers to develop a test that would allow for distinguishing mentally retarded children from normally intelligent, but lazy children.EI emerged as a major psychological construct in the early 1990s, where it was conceptualized as a set of abilities largely analogous to general intelligence. Early influential work on EI was conducted by Salovey and Mayer (1990)Personality as a field of study began with Hippocrates, a physician in ancient Greece, who theorized that personality traits and human behaviors are based on four separate temperaments associated with four fluids of the body
AccuracyIt is an excellent predictor of academic performance, creativity, ability to abstract, processing speed, learning ability and general life success, but is not a good measure for intelligence since it leave lots of the human aspects out of it.The EQ-i 2.0 is by far the most accurate EI test that is done by a professional for high accuracies but also self report tests are available. It adheres to the ground breaking book, Emotional intelligence 2.0, read to find out more.The big five personality test is the most accurate test with over 88% of Fortune 500 companies using it to test their employees.
ProsIs a great predictor for job success and academic performance.Showcases how we relate to our fundamental aspect, our emotions. How we react to them, how we perceive them and how to improve upon them to become better, it provides a way for improvement and development.Is great at showcasing what fields we may end up in in our careers, our strengths and weaknesses and how we relate to ourselves and the environment.
ConsIs fixed and therefore goes further to imply that individuals with higher IQ are more privileged than those without high IQs thereby creating the belief that some people are better than others.

It is also aimed at basically gauging your analytical and problem solving skills alone, leaving your other life aspects un-examined.
Is relatively new and hasn’t been studied to the same extent as IQ and personalities thereby making it second to them even though it has lots of merits.Core personality traits can rarely be changed, implying that humans don’t change thereby leaving less room for improvement

What is intelligence

Intelligence is very complex and has been defined in many ways: the capacity for logic, understanding, self-awareness, self knowledge, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving.

Intelligence encompasses a very wide scale and that is why it is a very complex aspect to measure. So far the IQ test has been the most accurate but also disappointing measure since it has some holes in it.

However, it has been said that what builds your intelligence and persona is not only based on IQ but your EQ and personality too.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

If you watch a lot of movies and TV shows I’m sure you are familiar with the character of Sheldon Cooper, played by Jim Parsons in the sitcom, ‘the big bang theory’. Him and a group of his friends are the claimed to be geniuses with incredible IQs.

I never knew anything regarding IQs, till I saw this show when I was 11 years old. Ever since, I have been fascinated with IQs and they differ from people to people, I can’t even count how many friends I convinced to take these tests. I guess it is because I wanted to believe I was superior than them with an IQ score of 130, which to my surprise is considered average. A score of 90-130 is considered to be average with over 95% of the population falling into this category.

What is an Intelligence Quotient

An intelligence quotient (IQ) is a score derived from a given set of tests aimed at measuring your intelligence based on creativity, ability to abstract, processing speed, learning ability and spatial reasoning.

The first modern intelligence test in IQ history was developed in 1904, by Alfred Binet (1857-1911) and Theodore Simon (1873-1961). The French Ministry of Education asked these researchers to develop a test that would allow for distinguishing mentally retarded children from normally intelligent, but lazy children.

Since then, the IQ tests have become a standard in gauging individuals’ intelligence. However, in recent studies and research it has come to be seen that it doesn’t do a good job at accurately measuring your intelligence as was once thought.

“Some very valuable research has been carried out using classical IQ testing. However, IQ is a massive oversimplification of the spectrum of human cognitive ability.”

Adam Hampshire, PhD

Adam Hampshire, PhD is a psychologist at the Brain and Mind Institute Natural Sciences Centre in London, Ontario, Canada. In one of his studies in 2012 he came to the conclusion that there are at least three components that affect overall performance on tests. These include short-term memory, reasoning, and verbal recall.

He concluded that IQ tests, although valuable in testing for some major aspects of the human intelligence, don’t sum up the entire human intelligence since it doesn’t include aspects such as lifestyle factors and the brain area involved in such activities.

Does your Intelligence Quotient(IQ) matter?

Yes, your IQ does matter, but it doesn’t sum up your intelligence. Intelligence as seen earlier, encompasses lots of concepts which the IQ tests don’t account for such as lifestyle factors, emotional knowledge, self awareness and self knowledge.

People with higher Iq are much able to perform complex tasks and be more successful at their jobs than people with low or average IQ. This is flexible when we take account of EQ in an average career sector.

Don’t feel superior or inferior because of your IQ, the truth of the matter is that even though a high IQ can give you an advantage, it will in no way deter you from being happy and having a fulfilled life.

Life is full of many complexities, and even though job success and academic performance is a big chunk of it, Iq doesn’t account for your relationships, your emotions, your overall happiness, and as Alain De Botton once argued, these are more important than the first ones. And we can all agree, as much as our lives revolve around our careers, we drive more fulfillment and happiness from love, relationships and the adventures we take.

Where to get an IQ test

IQ tests are more accurate and precise when taken with the help of a professional or licensed practitioner. This is because taking the online self tests leave a lot to the interpretation of an algorithm and the accuracy of your own answers.

Some employers may require candidates for certain positions have a minimum IQ, for example. The military uses a type of IQ test, the ASVAB, to determine the direction that a soldier should take when enlisting. IQ tests may also be used to help employers determine the place one should occupy in the workplace.

IQ tests are used by some schools to determine admittance, even at the elementary level. Children are often given these tests during the admission process at private schools or specialized schools, such as those for gifted children.

IQ tests are also used for personal bragging rights, or acceptance into organizations such as Mensa or the High IQ Society.

So you can see how important it may be for you to be familiar with your IQ level. For a more detailed test I would recommend you talk to your employer or visit a psychometric center near you to get a professional test. This may cost you roughly $200 depending on the country and institution.

For the free, fast 15 – 20 minutes online iq tests, you can take one at www.iqtest.com or www.123test.com,


Personality as a field of study began with Hippocrates, a physician in ancient Greece, who theorized that personality traits and human behaviors are based on four separate temperaments associated with four fluids of the body.

What is a personality

Personality refers to individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling and behaving. The personality tests that are widely used include the Enneagram test, The Myers Briggs Type Indicator(MBTI) and the big 5 personality test. Of all these the big five is the most accurate of all.

The big five is characterized by 5 key components that are considered to encompass the entire personality of a human being;

  1. Openness – It indicates how open-minded a person is. A person with a high level of openness to experience in a personality test enjoys trying new things. They are imaginative, curious, and open-minded.
  2. Conscientiousness –is the personality trait of being careful, or diligent. Conscientiousness implies a desire to do a task well, and to take obligations to others seriously. Conscientious people tend to be efficient and organized as opposed to easy-going and disorderly.
  3. Extroversion –is characterized by sociability, talkativeness, assertiveness, and excitability.
  4. Agreeableness –manifesting itself in individual behavioral characteristics that are perceived as kind, sympathetic, cooperative, warm, and considerate.
  5. Neurotic-ism -Individuals who score high on neurotic-ism are more likely than average to be moody and to experience such feelings as anxiety, worry, fear, anger, frustration, envy, jealousy, guilt, depressed mood, and loneliness.

Does your personality matter?

Personality tests are amazing at helping you understand yourself, I remember the first time I took mine in high school and the way it changed my life forever. I used to do things without realizing why but after the test I got to understand why I acted the way I did, I got to know my strengths and weaknesses, and the accuracy was so mind blowing that I thought it was a trick or something like that.

Part of being self aware is to understand who you are, and how you differ from others, how you relate to the world and what makes you feel comfortable and at peace with yourself.

Knowing your personality will get you to be more comfortable with who you are be able to appreciate your uniqueness. It is the true testament of self confidence and self realization.

Personality is important for your emotional intelligence and self awareness level. It has been found that people with high scores in conscientiousness and agreeableness are more likely to be more emotionally mature than those with low scores.

Their validity and accuracy is astounding, but remember, If you are to take a self report personality test you need to take it multiple times and be as honest and true to yourself as possible even if it hurts, be the unapologetic you. Only then will you get to know who you really are.

Personality tests are efficient in predict your career paths and job success above of helping you get to know yourself on a deeper level, so far, I have never seen a test that is more crucial to every human apart from the personality tests.

On top of which, personality tests have proven to be great predictors of which fields you may feel fulfilled and happy in. If you are stuck on trying to figure out what career and job you want, I would suggest you go take a personality test right now, an MBTI personality test, stop reading this awesome article and go take that test right now, you can come back after – you will not only find out what career will fit you but how much your may earn as compared to your personality, I know, crazy right?

average income based on personality types
average income based on the MBTI personality types

Where to take personality tests

For all these test, it is prudent to get a licensed professional to administer the test for a more precise and accurate answers, but that is not to say that the free online tests are a scam, no, as a matter of fact, millions of people take these test online every year and the companies have recorded accuracy levels of up to 80%.

However, I would recommend you take either the MBTI test or the Big Five test since they are the most widely used and accurate ones, especially the Big Five.

For the big five personality test you don’t get a score like for the iq tests, it is not rated by points but by a percentage of how much the trait describes you.

My score on the Big 5 personality test | Source – Truity.com

This graph shows my personality score on the big five test from Truity, I love their tests because they are fast, short, precise and very accurate. Furthermore they dive so deep into the traits in the full report they give you with lots of details and explanations on what each and every score means for you.

You can take a free test for a short answer but for just $19 you can get the full report with more information and insights into your inner being to help you get to know yourself and be the best version of yourself that you could be. I highly recommend you take the test there.

Emotional Intelligence

EI is the biggie, and that is why I saved the best for last.

Emotional intelligence has been under the microscope and scrutiny for quite some time now. I believe its the field that holds the keys to the human condition and deeper self knowledge above any other of these fields.

Despite its promises, many psychologist don’t agree with, as I mentioned early, because of the overlap in what it entails to what personality tests such as the big 5 entail too. Quoting Jordan Peterson;

“There is no such thing as an Emotional Intelligence Quotient. Let me repeat that: “There is no such thing as an EQ.“ The idea was popularized by a journalist, Daniel Goleman, not a psychologist. You can’t just invent a trait. You have to define it and measure it and distinguish it from other traits and use it to predict the important ways that people vary.

EQ is not a psychometrically valid concept. Insofar as it is anything (which it isn’t), it’s the Big Five trait agreeableness, although this depends, as it shouldn’t, on which EQ measure is being used (they should all measure the same thing). Agreeable people are compassionate and polite, but they can also be pushovers. Disagreeable people, on average (if they aren’t too disagreeable) make better managers, because they are straightforward, don’t avoid conflict and cannot be easily manipulated.”

This excerpt is by far the greatest disagreeable comment to emotional intelligence ever. But sadly to say, no matter how brilliant Jordan Peterson is, he was wrong on this one, or at least hasn’t seen the big picture. I repeat, Jordan Peterson was wrong about emotional intelligence, it does exist and is valid according to recent research studies.

A study conducted by Forbes found that 90% of top performers also scored high in emotional intelligence, while only 20% of bottom performers scored high in emotional intelligence. This same study also found that average salary is linked to emotional intelligence. Participants with a high degree of emotional intelligence made an average of $29,000 more per year than participants with a low degree of emotional intelligence. EQ plays a large role in future success, as well as everyday life.

To respond to Peterson, Daniel Goleman (born March 7, 1946) is an author, psychologist, and science journalist. For twelve years, he wrote for the New York Times, specializing in psychology and brain sciences. He is well known with tons of journals, articles and books under his name in big platforms such as Psychology Today.

His theory of emotional intelligence, or at least his popularization of the term, has led to tons of research in the field with recent studies leading to accurate EQ tests and papers on the topic.

So far it is evident that EI is not the same as agreeableness as Peterson said, through the use of psychometrically valid concepts, EI can be measured today and is a whole concept on its own. Agreeableness, empathy and conscientiousness are some of the terms that are sometimes confused to overlap with emotional intelligence.

Unlike these terms, emotional intelligence is wide, covering a whole range of aspects affecting our emotions. EI is based on the fact that we as humans are driven mostly by our emotions above all else. As other psychometric concepts aim at understanding just a few aspects of the human mind, emotional intelligence takes a more logical route to define humans based on one of the most fundamental things that make us human, our emotions.

Instead of looking for aspects that we think are important, emotional intelligence goes back to what makes us who we are. Our emotions make us who we are, without them we are not really human now are we, we make decisions based on emotions, we mold our lives and careers based on our emotions, it is only logical that if we are going to figure ourselves out, we should start with what makes humans human.

What is emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is simply your ability to notice your emotions and other people’s, being aware of them at each and every instance, analyzing them and being able to take the right step in addressing them.

But it is more than that, instead of EI focusing on just feeling emotions and addressing them, it dives deep into how emotions affect us, how they make us who we are, how our personalities play a role in our emotions, how our IQ can affect our emotions, how mindfulness can help us calm our emotions, how our emotions shape us and lead us to a path of happiness or doom and misery.

That is why emotional intelligence encompasses all our life aspects, both personal and professional by analyzing these key aspects;

  • Self-awareness: This is the ability to identify, recognize, and understand your own emotions. Self-awareness needs us to tune into our feelings and not avoid our negative emotions such as anxiety, fear and sadness. Knowing our own emotional states and how they affect our thoughts, behaviors, and decisions is the key to cultivating self-awareness.
  • Self management: It has to do with our ability to control strong emotions by not acting on raw feelings in an impulsive or destructive manner. Mastering the ability to sit with unpleasant feelings and to give ourselves the time and space to decide how we may reduce negative feelings cultivates self-confidence. Better decision-making comes from not reacting solely from an emotionally charged state.
  • Social awareness: When you empathize with others, you develop deeper and more intimate relationships with them. Empathy is the sole identity of social management, it gives you the ability to recognize how and why people feel the way they do. Developing empathy enhances our experiences, relationships, and general understanding of ourselves, other people and the world around us.
  • Relationship management: This means having the ability to communicate in a clear, concise, and courteous manner. It is the ability to use your self awareness, self management and social skills to recognize, acknowledge and address other people’s feelings and emotions.

Does your emotional intelligence matter?

Yes it does, above all else. Emotional intelligence is so crucial since it helps you become more self aware and shows you how to relate with the world in the best way possible, it literally entails the secrets to happiness.  For various reasons and thanks to a wide range of abilities, people with high emotional intelligence tend to be more successful in life than those with lower EI even if their classical IQ is average.

Emotional intelligence helps us understand our own feelings and other people’s feelings through self-awareness, social awareness, self management and relationship management. Thus improving your emotional intelligence will improve your general awareness and general happiness.3

This is achieved through the observation of the many non-verbal cues that everyone shows at all times. Emotional intelligence is when you are able to look for these non-verbal cues, understand them and be able to act in a way that may address the issue without an it escalating or causing stress.

In this blog I expand on emotional intelligence by showing you how the IQ and personality tests of every human is inside their EI, instead of having separate measures of intelligence, I use emotional intelligence as the base line and show you how emotions are driven by your personality and IQ, so instead of separate entities, they are all summed up in one, EI. As they should, since all things are one. (P.S – All things are one is one of my favorite quotes from the novel ‘The Alchemist’ by Paulo Coelho, its a must read, it will definitely give you a whole new perspective on life and enlighten you, check it out on amazon)

I’m well aware that emotional intelligence doesn’t encompass these psychometric aspects in the way I do it, but unless someone can prove me wrong, I think it should be so. And furthermore, it is my blog, I will write all that I want, unapologetic-ally, right?

Where to take emotional intelligence tests

Like I said before, these tests are highly accurate when a professional is involved in administering it, however there are various free online tests that can help you know how emotionally intelligent you are.

I took one a while back from Psychology Today, it was long and tedious, sorry to say, but it was very intuitive and thorough and I liked it for that. Take it to see it for yourself.

Travis Bradberry is an award-winning coauthor of the #1 best selling book, Emotional Intelligence 2.0, written together with Jean Greaves, he is also the co-founder of TalentSmart®–a consultancy that serves more than 75% of Fortune 500 companies and is the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training.

TalentSmart provides the most popular emotional intelligence test that is very accurate and widely accepted on their validity and relevance. Take the test here.

The emotional intelligence appraisal test based on the book Emotional Intelligence 2.0, is by far the widely used test on all these online platforms such as Good Therapy. The test is scored like a standard intelligence test, based on a point score where 100 is average.

On Good Therapy, the test contains 146 questions and on average takes 45 minutes to complete. You will get a snapshot report of where you fall relative to other people, and will also have the option to purchase a more detailed full report. The paid report details your rank within numerous dimensions of emotional intelligence including emotional awareness, impulse control, empathy, conflict management, motivation, maturity, and self-esteem. The full test report is optional and can be purchased for $9.95 after you complete the test.

Bottom line

So far, I have come to find out that emotional intelligence is way more beneficial to us as human beings than any of the other concepts, this is because EI strives to get down to the core of our inner being rather than taking an arbitrary aspect of our lives and measuring it like the IQ does.

Even though your IQ plays a huge role in your success, in the long run, your emotional intelligence is what will determine your long time happiness and fulfillment. And the great side of it is that it is not a static element, you can develop your emotional intelligence and build it by practicing various techniques that include mindfulness and self awareness exercises.

I dedicated this blog to help my readers get to know themselves better, be who they are and be able to relate with the world in the best way possible based on their personality, Iq and emotional intelligence. The base line for all this is self awareness and that is where the meaning of life, the purpose of life and ultimately happiness begins.

I hope by reading this you get to differentiate IQ, EQ and your personality for the betterment of yourself and other, and in so doing, take the right step in becoming more self aware and the unapologetic-ally true you.


  1. Alex, B. (2012). Why psychology isn’t science. Retrieved from The Los Angeles Times.
  2. Front. Psychol., 28 May 2019 | https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.01116
  3. Paula Durlofsky, PhD, (July 2018). Benefits of Emotional Intelligence, Psychcentral.com
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About author
I'm a psychology enthusiast and a fried chicken lover. I write bite sized articles unpacking the complexities of the human mind. The mission is to advocate for what's more important in life - the pursuit of the truth and the highest good one can do with that truth - for themselves, the people around them and the society as a whole.
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