Life lessons from reality TV

Posted on Wednesday, March 2, 2016


Steven Stein
Steven Stein donated $100,000  to the University of Ottawa’s Defy the Conventional: The Campaign for uOttawa. He is also a member of the Faculty of Social Sciences campaign cabinet.
By Mike Foster

Can reality TV teach us anything?

According to alumnus Steven Stein (MA, Psychology  ʼ76; PhD, Clinical Psychology ʼ78), who is an expert in emotional intelligence, the answer is "yes", and he is ready to share his insights with you.

Stein is the founder of Multi-Health Systems (MHS), a multi-million-dollar business that designs questionnaires to measure emotional intelligence. His consultancy work has included assessing the resiliency of reality TV show candidates.

He will present a lecture entitled The Role of Psychologists in Reality TV: What we can learn from Big Brother Canada, The Amazing Race Canada and MasterChef Canada? on March 8, 2016,  at 5:30 p.m.  at the Social Sciences Building, Room 4007.

To glimpse the topic, you can check out his TedX talk from 2012. Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify your emotions and those of the people around you, along with your ability to manage and focus those emotions. People who are flexible in dealing with stress tend to be more successful, and a healthy dose of self-awareness –but not too much – is also important, he says.

Stein, who founded his company with his wife, Rodeen, in their basement 33 years ago, has also worked as a psychological consultant for the Canadian Armed Forces, the U.S. Air Force, the FBI, special units of the Pentagon, and NATO HQ in Brussels. Today, MHS employs 125 people and has published tests and tools that have measured the emotional intelligence or EQ (emotional quotient) of more than two million people.

Steven Stein has also written books on this topic, and co-authored The EQ Edge: Emotional Intelligence and Your Success, which has been translated into several languages. He is the author of Emotional Intelligence for Dummies, Make Your Workplace Great and the EISA (Emotional Intelligence Skills Assessment).

The tests published by MHS include questions that assess how people respond when they are angry, how they cope with stress, whether they correctly identify facial expressions, how they would react in certain situations and whether they have ever felt sad for prolonged periods. Stein says he is always  re-evaluating and fine-tuning his tools to take into account new research.

The questionnaires work by benchmarking how most right-thinking people would react in certain situations. The research identifies emotional profiles that are common among, for example, high-performing salespeople or army recruiters, and then frames questions to determine whether people possess such traits.

Recently, Stein donated $100,000  to the University of Ottawa’s Defy the Conventional: The Campaign for uOttawa. He is also a member of the Faculty of Social Sciences campaign cabinet.

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