Our work in emotional intelligence started over three decades ago. In the summer of 1987, Professor Peter Salovey (now president of Yale University) was painting the walls of his house with his friend and colleague, University of New Hampshire Professor John (Jack) Mayer. Although the idea of emotional intelligence did not exist yet, these professors were a fortuitous match: Salovey studied emotions and behavior, while Mayer studied the link between emotions and thought.
Over a fresh coat of paint, the two friends and collaborators lamented that theories of intelligence did not include a systematic place for emotions. Together, they developed a theory that outlined a new kind of smarts: emotional intelligence.
In a pivotal paper published in 1990, they described emotional intelligence as the ability to reason with and about emotions to achieve personal and social goals.
That legacy continues today under the guidance of our Director, Professor Marc Brackett. Dr. Brackett’s passion for emotional intelligence was sparked by his Uncle Marvin Maurer, a dedicated and innovative educator. Upon seeing how apathetic students felt towards his 1960s class, sixth-grade social studies, Maurer developed a “feeling words curriculum,” allowing them to connect to characters throughout history on a personal level. That curriculum and Brackett’s graduate work inspired a partnership between Maurer and Brackett to develop the beginnings of RULER, our Center’s approach to building emotionally intelligent school communities. When Brackett joined Salovey as a postdoctoral fellow in 2003, he brought with him these ideas that define much of what our Center is today.
Over the last two decades, the Center and RULER have evolved tremendously through a dedicated staff of educators, researchers, and innovators. RULER has been adopted by thousands of schools nationally and internationally, and the Center continues to grow its work on both the research and practice of emotional intelligence.