Magazine article Talent Development

Emotional Intelligence: Defining and Understanding the Fad

Magazine article Talent Development

Emotional Intelligence: Defining and Understanding the Fad

Article excerpt

In the Industrial and Organizational Psychology article "Emotional Intelligence: Towards Clarification of a Concept," Cary Cherniss explains that the concept of EI is generally based on three premises:

* Emotions are important in both work and nonwork interactions.

* There are individual differences in the capacity to perceive, understand, use, and manage emotions.

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* Differences in EI are important in some contexts and less important in others (for example, leading and customer service).

Current definitions and models of EI

The concept of EI is potentially as confusing to training and development practitioners as the concept of engagement. It often is unclear if EI is just another label for social intelligence, interpersonal competence, self-awareness, emotional control, relationship intelligence, aspects of the "big five" personality constructs, emotional competence, emotional resilience, core self-evaluations, transformational leadership, intrapersonal intelligence, or other related concepts (or aspects of all of them). What is a bit clearer is that there is a difference between definitions and models of EI and emotional and social competence.

To understand the fad of EI, it is useful to separate definitions from models of the concept. Most researchers and practitioners agree more on a common way to define EI such as "The ability to perceive and express emotions, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion in self and others."

Given this definition, it also is important to understand that there are at least four different models of EI that seem to be the most commonly recognized and mentioned (each with different approaches to measurement). These four might be described as personality based, competency based, mental ability based, and trait based.

Personality based. This model was popularized by Reuven Bar-On in 2007 and comprises five main components of skills and abilities: intrapersonal skills, interpersonal skills, stress management, and adaptability or mood.

Competency based. This model is based on the work of Daniel Goleman and Richard Boyatis. In a 2008 Harvard Business Review article, "Social Intelligence and the Biology of Leadership," they conceptualize EI as a set of social and emotional competencies associated with performance, health, and success. This popular EI model organizes a set of competencies into four areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and social-relationship management.

Mental ability based. Another model is based on the 2008 American Psychologist article "Emotional Intelligence: New Ability or Eclectic Traits?" by professors Jack Mayer, Peter Salovey, and other colleagues. They conceptualize EI as a "mental ability" (ability based) that has four unique branches: ability to perceive emotions, ability to use emotions for thought, ability to understand emotions, and ability to manage emotions in self and others.

Trait based. This model is a newer generation approach sometimes called trait EI, and represents a mixed model of various personality traits, competencies, and abilities. Based on K.V. Petrides, Ria Pita, and Flora Kokkinaki's 2007 British Journal of Psychology article, "The Location of Trait Emotional Intelligence in Personality Factor Space," this model is thought to include four aspects: sociability, self-control, well-being, and emotionality.

Measuring EI

Suppliers and companies are all claiming to have developed valid EI assessments, but there are different approaches to measuring EI and emotional and social competence for each of the four models. These approaches have led to a variety of self-report, 360-degree feedback, personality-style, and ability-based measures. However, some of these EI measures don't overlap at all with one another, and some appear to assess similar, if not identical, aspects of this broad concept. …

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