Isaac Handley-Miner ’14 is combining his interests in education and psychology through an internship this summer with the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence. With funding from the Joseph F. Anderson ’44 Internship Fund, he is studying the applications of emotional intelligence and gaining valuable laboratory experience.
The Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence provides research and instruction on emotional intelligence, or the ability to assess and regulate emotions. The Center has a particular focus on its application to education and designed the RULER approach, which Handley-Miner described as a method that “emphasizes the importance of recognizing, understanding, labeling, expressing, and regulating emotions to the personal, social, and intellectual development of both teachers and students in a classroom environment.”
The approach has become a popular one, used by hundreds of school districts. Handley-Miner noted the importance that the Center’s work has in the field, asserting, “The Center’s research on emotional intelligence in education has added a new perspective to education reform that I think has the potential to transform the public education sphere.”
Handley-Miner is working primarily on a study looking at the importance of emotional intelligence to the formation of trust. He is also researching new teaching initiatives that use the internet as a learning tool. He is working to translate the RULER approach to a curriculum that uses new technology, asking the question, “If kids’ learning will be facilitated in large part by technology, how can we use these technologies to further their social and emotional learning?”
An economics major, Handley-Miner became interested in psychology through behavioral economics, a field that incorporates a lot of psychological theory. He is also strongly interested in education, so the Center for Emotional Intelligence, which combines both fields, was an excellent match for him. He is considering pursuing an advanced degree in psychology, so the internship provides him with the perfect opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a psychology laboratory.
Handley-Miner was also drawn to the Center because of its position at the forefront of important new research. He explained, “Emotional intelligence is a relatively new field in psychology, so I want to participate in the frontier of exciting new research that labs like the Center for Emotional Intelligence carry out.” During his internship, he is in a prime position to learn about the latest developments.
Handley-Miner was particularly impressed by new eye-tracking software he and his colleagues examined in Boston. The technology maps where a subject is looking and detects changes in pupils and facial muscles. It then runs that data through a real-time algorithm to determine the subject’s emotional state. He mused, “It was impressively accurate and the implications for fields like advertising are immense: an advertising company could have people watch a commercial and see exactly where their eyes focus and what they are feeling at that moment.”
This kind of software demonstrates the wide applicability of emotional intelligence, which is one reason Handley-Miner is so interested in studying it. He may build on his internship experience by continuing to study psychology, but he has found that knowledge about emotional intelligence will be useful in any field.
Handley-Miner is a graduate of Saratoga Springs High School in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.