The Flynn Effect is a well-known phenomenon whereby Intelligence Quotient (IQ) test scores among the general public seem to rise over time.

Does Emotional Intelligence (EQ) demonstrate the Flynn Effect or a similar effect? That is, is there any research indicating that people today are, are likely to be, or appear to be based on their scores more emotionally intelligent than people of the past?

Since the nature of the Flynn Effect in IQ is still controversial (whether it represents true gains in general cognitive ability or whether it represents a measurement error), an answer such as, "Johnson (2013) observed that average EQ scores rose by 20 points between 2000 and 2010, but he suspects that it was caused mostly by people being coached in the correct answers on EQ tests by reading pop psychology books and browsing online Question and Answer sites rather than a true gain in emotional processing and reasoning abilities." would be perfectly acceptable.

  • $\begingroup$ I think the main problem with emotional intelligence is that you cannot measure it empirically. So you have no reliable data to see a trend like the flynn effect. $\endgroup$
    – Thomas Z.
    Aug 28, 2017 at 13:38
  • $\begingroup$ I've actually looked into Emotional Intelligence and there are a ton of ways to measure it. You might want to narrow down the ways Emotional Intelligence is measured or make that a separate question. Once you've established how you want to measure Emotional Intelligence, I can determine if your measure correlates sufficiently with IQ to observe the Flynn Effect. $\endgroup$
    – Seanny123
    Aug 28, 2017 at 17:48
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    $\begingroup$ This is only a comment because I'm definitely not an expert. Whether EQ is "intelligence" or not, its correlation with g is limited enough it may not be subject to the Flynn effect, or at least not very much. But it would be hard to find relevant data anyway, since measures such as EQ are not only comparatively recent but sufficiently controversial this question may have gone investigated. $\endgroup$
    – J.G.
    Mar 6, 2018 at 18:26

1 Answer 1


The Flynn effect actually says that fluid intelligence is a function of modernization. This is shown as early as Luria's work during the introduction of formal education in rural Uzbekistan, and it can be still observed today in societies that for example do not allow women into formal education.

In such cases one sees that male IQ has increased during the past decades whereas female IQ has not. Thus an argument can be made, based upon cross-cultural comparisons and taking into account differences of various groups within the same culture.

For example between religious and not religious women in Israel -- the former do not serve in the military, the latter do, and this factor interacts with the male-female difference in IQ.

So, in order to find an emotional intelligence parallel to the Flynn effect, the question is whether there are cultural factors that are rapidly introduced to traditional societies and produce measurable differences in emotional intelligence between groups that have a different degree to exposure to these factors.


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