Studies in Emotional Intelligence

There is a growing interest in the concept of emotional intelligence, and with that growth is a gap between what we know and what we need to know. In the article, Emotional Intelligence: Issues and Common Misunderstandings, Robert J. Emmerling and Daniel Goleman inquire as to what emotional intelligence is, how it differs from other established constructs within psychology, whether or not it can be developed, whether or not it can be a better predictor of work performance than traditional measures of intelligence, whether or not it should be measured at all, and how it relates to ethics.
Emotional intelligence has a potential utility in predicting a range of criterion across different populations, but its predictive validity depends on the context, criterion of interest, and specific theory used. Traditional intelligence measures have been unable to account for a significant portion of variance in career success and work performance. IQ was originally thought to account for twenty-five percent of how well people perform in their careers, while it was later discovered that IQ actually accounted for between four and ten percent. A more recent study found that IQ is a better predictor of work and academic performance than EI, but when it comes to becoming an extraordinary performer, IQ may be a less powerful predictor than EI. The failure of IQ to account for the variance between performance and success is especially evident among managers and senior leaders. IQ alone is unable to predict this as well as competencies that integrate emotional, social and cognitive abilities.
Emotions and cognition are interwoven in the aspects of emotional intelligence, especially in interpersonal functioning, empathy, motivation, affective self-regulation, self-awareness, and complex decision-making. The range restriction on the variable of IQ among managers and senior executives may be the cause of IQ’s inability to predict the variance in performance among managers. Leaders must process a great deal of complex information on a daily basis, and that requires a high level of cognitive ability. IQ simply provides a basis on which to recognize a minimal capability that all who are within a certain job pool should have to keep their job. IQ should remain a predictor of the vocations that are available to an individual of a certain intelligence, but once in that vocation, the predictive validity of IQ should diminish.

It has been said that having a high level of emotional intelligence might compensate for having a low IQ. This would allow those with a low IQ, but a high level of emotional intelligence to thrive with only average intelligence. This gives individuals the idea that IQ matters very little. Emotional intelligence has begun to challenge the assumptions about what leads to success, and to bring a balanced view to the role of emotion and cognition in determining life outcomes. In order to validate claims of the importance that emotional intelligence and traditional intelligence possess in the prediction of certain criterion, more research is needed.

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Within the emotional intelligence paradigm there exists several theories that attempt to better understand and explain the abilities, skills, and traits associated with emotional and social intelligence. Researchers have been able to demonstrate the discriminant validity of trait-based approaches to emotional intelligence. Recent research shows that emotional intelligence is a unique construct that accounts for unique variance when IQ and personality are controlled. Emotional intelligence has not been around for very long, and evidence continues to develop that shows how EI represents many traits and abilities that are not fully accounted for by traditional measures of personality and cognitive intelligence. The traditional intelligence field has not been threatened or discredited for having several theories. Our knowledge and practical applications of intelligence assessment to a wide variety of issues has been increased by our thorough research on traditional intelligence. All of the theories within the emotional intelligence paradigm strive to find a concept of how individuals manage, utilize, understand and perceive emotions to predict and maintain effectiveness.
The first major theory in the emotional intelligence paradigm was that of Bar-On and it was developed in 1988. In his theory he coined the term emotional quotient (EQ). His model is defined by a selection of abilities and traits related to social and emotional knowledge that influence our ability to cope with environmental demands. It can be viewed as a model of psychological adaptation and well-being. The Bar-On model includes the abilities to be aware of, understand, and express oneself, to be aware of, understand and relate to others, to deal with strong emotions and control one’s impulses, and to adapt to change and solve problems of a social or personal nature. It deals with general mood, stress management, adaptability, interpersonal skills, and intrapersonal skills. EQ provides a reliable and valid estimate of an individuals ability to cope with everyday demands and pressures.
In 1997, Mayer and Salovey developed a theory of emotional intelligence and instruments to measure it because traditional measures of intelligence failed to measure differences in the ability to perceive, process, and manage emotions. Their theory is defined by the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth, understand emotions and emotional knowledge, access and generate emotions to assist thought, and to perceive emotions. They say that EI is basically a group of mental abilities, and is best measured using a testing situation that is performance based.
In 1999, Mayer, Salovey and Caruso decided that certain criteria must be met in order for information to be considered intelligence. Instead of reflecting behavior patterns, self-esteem, and traits, intelligence should reflect actual mental performance. Intelligence should also describe a set of abilities that are distinct from established intelligences. Intelligence should also develop with age.
In 2001, Goleman developed a theory in which EI reflects how an individual’s potential for mastering relationship management, social awareness, self-management, and self-awareness translates into success in the workplace. Each of those four domains becomes a foundation for learned abilities that depend on the underlying strength in that domain.The competency level for this concept is based on an analysis of capabilitiesthat have been identified through research on work performance. Basically, EI may predict the ease by which an individual will be able to master the skills and abilities of an emotional competence. It is apparent that the majority of competencies that distinguish average performers from extraordinary performers can be classified as social and emotional competencies. Conceptual thinking is still a sign of superior performance, but recent research shows that emotional competencies are more important for those individuals. Emmerling and Goleman believe that a model for emotional intelligence focused on the workplace provides organizations and individuals with feedback on the majority of the competencies that account for superior performance.
Many people believe that, unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be developed. Emmerling and Goleman acknowledge the fact that genetics plays a role in the development of EI, but geneticists concur that gene expression itself appears to be shaped by the social and emotional experiences of an individual. Emotional intelligence competencies come from a wide range of sources. They can be improved upon, and the improvements are sustainable over time. Neuroscience contributes that although there are stable differences in activation patterns in the central circuitry of emotion, there is also pronounced plasticity. Animal research shows that the hippocampus, amygdala, and the prefrontal cortex, which are all involved in perception, are sites where plasticity occurs. Such plasticity can occur in humans as well.
Emotional intelligence would not be worth measuring even if you were able to measure it. Without a theory of emotional competence, and a method to assess it, individuals may only receive feedback related to technical competence, people skills, or leadership style. For an individual to improve on any ability, he or she would need realistic feedback concerning their baseline abilities and progress. Providing valid and reliable feedback on specific emotional and social competence helps to provide individuals with insight into their strengths and areas for development. Providing a more balanced view and a supportive environment can help to overcome feelings of defensiveness that often undermine the development of emotional and social competencies.
Emmerling and Goleman inquire as to whether or not EI is morally neutral of or if it interacts with an ethical dimension. In psychology, morality and ethics are treated individually in a dimensin beyond the issues at hand. Certain aspects of EI certainly tend to promote prosocial behavior. Self awareness must be deployed to act in accord with one’s own sense of meaning, purpose, and ethics. Empathy appears to be an essential step in fostering compassion and altruism. These two individuals stress that the progress of emotional intelligence is impressive, but there is still a lot to be discovered.