Emotional from Encyclopedia of Special Education

Intelligence, Emotional from Encyclopedia of Special Education: A Reference for the Education of Children, Adolescents, and Adults with Disabilities and Other Exceptional Individuals

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Although all humans experience emotions, individuals markedly differ in the extent to which they

experience, attend to, identify, understand, regulate, and use their emotions and those of others. The

term emotional intelligence (EI) first appeared in a book by (Van Ghent), soon followed by an article by

(Leuner). Because the former was unrelated to psychology and the latter was published in German, the

concept remained largely unnoticed. The first English occurrence in Psychology was in a doctoral

dissertation by (Payne). (Peter Salovey and John Mayer) opened a modern line of research, started a

hot topic in psychology, and coined a catchphrase that has made its way into the common vernacular.

The subsequent fame and widespread use of the term emotional intelligence is due mostly to the

popular best seller of the same name by (Daniel Goleman). This enormous popularity, however, has

come at the unfortunate cost of obscuring Salovey and Mayer’s original conception of emotional

intelligence and overshadowing subsequent empirical research. This resulted in the formation of three

distinct concepts of EI, each containing its own definition and approach. (Caruso, Mayer, and Salovey)

dubbed two of these approaches the mixed model and the ability model. The mixed model, the more

popular of the two, merges EI with characteristics of personality and certain skills. The ability model

characterizes emotional intelligence as a class of intelligence where emotions and thinking are

integrated (Caruso et al.,). Other authors held that EI was conceptually (inversely) related to the

personality dimensions of neuroticism and alexithymia (among others) and should therefore be

conceived as a set of affect-related traits (Petrides & Furnham,).

The idea that emotion is a significant part of our intellectual being has roots in Darwin and Freud and,

more recently, in the work of (Howard Gardner). In Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences, two of his

proposed seven intelligences involve emotions: interpersonal intelligence (understanding other people)

and intrapersonal intelligence (understanding one’s self). Robert Sternberg’s theory of successful

intelligence (also known as practical intelligence) is another major theory of intellect that takes into

consideration the importance of emotional well-being (see Sternberg & Kaufman,). The common

historical view, however, is that emotions are secondary—indeed, inferior to intellect (Mayer, Salovey, &


In 1990, Salovey and Mayer proposed a model of emotional intelligence that had three factors:

appraisal and expression of emotion, regulation of emotion, and utilization of emotion. Appraisal and

expression of emotion is comprised of emotion in the self (which can be both verbal and nonverbal),

and emotion in others. Emotion in others consists of nonverbal perception of emotion and empathy.

The second factor, regulation of emotion, is the ability to regulate emotion in the self, and the ability to

regulate and alter emotions in other people. The final factor, utilizing emotional intelligence, has four

aspects: flexible planning, creative thinking, redirected attention, and motivation. Flexible planning refers

to the ability to produce a large number of different plans for the future, enabling the planner to better

respond to opportunities. This production of many plans can result from using emotion and mood

changes to one’s advantage and from looking at a wide variety of possibilities. Creative thinking, the

second aspect, may be more likely to occur if a person is happy and in a good mood. Redirected

attention involves the idea that when strong emotions are experienced, a person’s resources and

attentions may be tuned to new problems. People who can use this phenomenon to their own benefit

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will be able to use a potentially stressful situation to focus on the most important or pressing issues

involved. Motivation emotions, the final principle of emotional intelligence, refers to the art of making

one’s self continue to perform difficult tasks by focusing one’s anxiety or tension toward the

performance of that task.

Mayer and Salovey compressed their theory into four branches of ability: (1) perceiving, appraising, and

expressing emotions; (2) accessing and producing feelings in aid of cognition; (3) comprehending

information on affect and using emotional knowledge; and (4) regulating emotions for growth and

contentment (Mayer & Salovey,). These branches are categorized in a certain order to show how much

ability is incorporated into personality (Mayer et al.,). The branches create a hierarchy where the ability

to regulate emotions is positioned at the top and the capacity to perceive emotion is placed at its

bottom. The first branch, perception of emotion, is the degree to which one is able to distinguish

emotion in other individuals, by utilizing cues from facial expression and body language. The second

branch, facilitation, comes into play once emotion is recognized, which involves the integration of

emotion with cognitive processes. The third branch, the understanding of emotions, is the ability to

analyze emotions, to recognize the most likely path they will take over time, and to become aware of

their aftereffects. The fourth branch, the management of emotion, is the ability to control emotions in

order to meet an individual’s set goals, having an understanding of one’s self, and having societal

awareness (Mayer et al.,).

Contrary to the ability perspective that was theory-driven and then empirically tested, the trait EI

perspective was empirically driven and then theorized. To facilitate EI testing in research, educational,

and business settings, several authors translated ability models into self-report instruments (e.g. Schutte

et al.,). The high correlations found between self-reported EI scores and personality traits led (Petrides

and Furnham) to coin the term trait emotional intelligence. From the trait EI perspective, EI is a

constellation of emotion-related dispositions capturing the extent to which people attend to, identify,

understand, regulate, and utilize their emotions and those of others. Greater trait EI corresponds to a

profile of dispositions that leads to greater adaptation.

The trait EI perspective views EI as a cluster of lower-order personality traits (Petrides, Pita, &

Kokkinaki,). EI therefore encompasses two kinds of variance: one portion of variance already covered

by established personality taxonomies (e.g., the Giant Three or the Big Five) and one portion of

variance that lies outside these dimensions (Petrides et al.,). In accordance with this view, trait EI has

been evaluated using personality-like questionnaires.

The trait EI perspective uses self-reports, which barely reflect self-perceptions and therefore constitute

unreliable assessments of objective competencies. Although this premise appears acceptable in the

first instance, this argument proved to be incorrect as trait EI does relate to objective criteria. First, trait

EI has neurobiological correlates, such as the level of asymmetry in the resting activation of frontal

cortical areas (i.e., Kemp et al., ) or the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis reactivity in stressful situations

(Mikolajczak, Roy, Luminet, Fillée, & de Timary,; Salovey, Woolery, Stroud, & Epel,). Studies on individuals

with lesions in key emotion brain areas also revealed that these people have lower levels of trait EI

than normal controls (Bar-On, Tranel, Denburg, & Bechara,). It is noteworthy that the effect sizes in

these studies were not only statistically significant, but that most of them were large according to

(Cohen’s norms). Second, trait EI correlates with the speed of emotional information processing (Austin,,

). Third, trait EI predicts objective life-outcomes such as work performance (e.g., Bradberry & Su,; Law,

Wong, & Song,; Van Rooy, & Viswesvaran,), income (Petrides & Furnham,), number of school exclusions

or unauthorized absences (e.g., Mavroveli, Petrides, Shove, & Whitehead, ), cooperation (Schutte et al.,

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2001) or peer-rated sociability and popularity (Petrides, Sangareau, Furnham, & Frederickson,).

The second critique addressed to the trait EI perspective is that it correlates too much with existing

personality traits to be useful. According to (Gignac, Jang, and Bates), the common practice of comparing

EI to the NEO PIR is flawed logic, as the NEO is such a big construct that it encompasses almost

everything and is so general that there is redundancy within the NEO itself. The trait EI construct is

useful because it organizes under a single framework the main individual differences in affectivity, which

have been up to now scattered across the basic Big Five dimensions (neuroticism, extraversion,

openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness) and other models (Gignac,). This critique is also

refuted by the numerous studies showing that trait EI explains additional variance over and above

related traits such as alexithymia or the Big Five, to predict criteria as diverse as cortisol secretion amid

stress (e.g., Mikolajczak et al.,), academic success (e.g., Van der Zee, Thijs, & Schakel, ), and work

performance (e.g., Van Rooy, & Viswesvaran, ), to name but a few.

The trait EI perspective is criticized for measuring abilities that may not have been put into practice.

However, it is not because abilities are not always used that they ought not to be measured. On the

contrary, it is extremely useful to know whether the individuals who behave in a nonemotionally

intelligent manner lack the underlying abilities or just do not use their abilities. Remediation perspectives

(therapies in clinical settings, trainings in organizational settings) would indeed drastically differ

depending on the source of the problem. The second critique addressed to the ability perspective

concerns the psychometrical properties of its measures (i.e., scoring method at odds with the theory,

low reliabilities), which would prove that abilities cannot be measured. However, the fact that the tests

are not yet optimal does not undermine the quality of the underlying idea. Moreover, abilities have long

been successfully measured in assessment centers (e.g., through role plays) or in laboratories (e.g., by

asking people to regulate their emotions and measuring their physiological parameters; Mikolajczak,).

(Mikolajczak) suggests a unifying three-level model of EI. According to the three-level model, EI aims to

capture individual differences in emotion-related knowledge, abilities, and dispositions. Knowledge

refers to the complexity of emotion-related knowledge. Abilities refer to emotion-related abilities to

implement a given strategy in an emotional situation and dispositions refer to the propensity to behave

in a certain way in emotional situations.

Can emotional intelligence be measured? There are some tests of emotional intelligence that exist:

The Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQI; Bar-On,), the Self Report Emotional Intelligence Test

(SREIT; see Brackett & Mayer,), the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT;

Brackett & Mayer,), the Trait Meta-Mood Scale (TMMS; Salovey, Mayer, Goldman, Turvey, & Palfai,), the

Schutte Self Report Emotional Intelligence (SSREI: Schutte, Malouff, & Bhullar, ), the adolescent

Swinburne University Emotional Intelligence Test (Adolescent SUEIT; Luebbers, Downey, & Stough,

2003). The validity of such tests has been called into question as most of these measures are self

reports and have psychometric properties that are largely unknown. However, the MSCEIT uses a

consensus to score participants in place of self reports (Mayer et al.,) and measures emotional

intelligence based on cognitive ability (Brackett & Mayer,), making it a more reliable measure than tests

solely using methods of self-report.

(Mayer et al.) argue that emotional intelligence meets many of the current standards used to measure

intelligence. Indeed, they make the assertion that emotional intelligence works through cognitions that

deal directly with matters of personal, or emotional, importance. In their study, they showed that

measures of emotional intelligences meet three standard criteria of a new intelligence by using the

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MSCEIT. The first criterion is that the test questions could be confirmed as either correct or incorrect.

The second condition is that there are connections in emotional intelligence that directly relate to the

ones of a standard intelligence. The third decisive factor is that when time passes, emotional

intelligence continues to develop within that individual.

Emotional intelligence is still a young discipline, and much of the research and scholarship to date has

been in defining exactly what are the parameters and boundaries of “emotional intelligence.” While

Salovey, Mayer, and colleagues define emotional intelligence in terms of how well people can

understand and control their own emotions and those of others, there are several other extensions of

the terms. Motivation, cognition, and morality have also been dubbed aspects of emotional intelligence

(Salovey et al., 1999). (Goleman), in his popular book on the topic, extended the definition even further.

His conception of emotional intelligence encompasses impulse control, enthusiasm, social acumen, and

persistence, as well as the other variables already mentioned. In 1998, Goleman revised his model of

emotional intelligence (Mayer,), extending its fields to include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation,

empathy, and social skills.

Future directions in emotional intelligence research, according to (Mayer et al.), will likely be

concentrated in the following areas: finding the correlations between emotional intelligence and more

traditional types of intelligence and personality traits; assessing cultural differences and similarities in

emotional intelligence (both abilities and definitions); developing more empirical measures of the

construct, and determining if these measures predict an advantageous effect on academic, personal,

and professional success; and using a larger range of age groups to determine how emotional

intelligence develops over time.


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