Emotional Intelligence, Trust and Job Satisfaction

By Dong, Qingwen; Howard, Tim | Competition Forum, July 1, 2006 | Go to article overview

Emotional Intelligence, Trust and Job Satisfaction


Dong, Qingwen, Howard, Tim, Competition Forum


EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Through use of survey methodologies and multiple regression techniques, the current study seeks to document relationships between employee trust, emotional intelligence and job satisfaction. The study reports evidence of positive relationships between major variables of interest. The implications of the study for current and future research are discussed.

Keywords: Emotional Intelligence, Trust, Job Satisfaction

INTRODUCTION

Job satisfaction has drawn great attention from organizational behavior researchers (Robbins, 2005). With employees changing jobs multiple times during their careers, job satisfaction becomes such an important research topic of scientific investigation. A better understanding of job satisfaction and its predictors could greatly assist supervisors, managers and administrators to communicate with employee relations and subsequently facilitate organizational change.

In the past few decades, job satisfaction has been studied through use of two major methodologies. The first methodology derives from a sociological perspective in which the emergence of job satisfaction is examined relative to the presence of a variety of environmental or situational factors (Dormann & Zapf, 2001; Gerhart, 2005; Heller, Judge & Watson, 2002; Staw & Cohen-Charash, 2005). The second methodology derives from a psychological perspective with an emphasis on how personality, dispositions, traits, self-esteem and motivations affect job satisfaction (Dormann & Zapf, 2001; Gerhart, 2005; Heller et al., 2002; Staw & Cohen-Charash, 2005).

Research suggested that recent studies tend to focus more on personal dispositions (Staw, 2004). For example, several studies have reported that there were significant relationships between self-esteem, employee motivation and job satisfaction; however, these studies have neglected to examine two potentially important predictors of job satisfaction-emotional intelligence and trust (Dormann & Zapf, 2001 ; Dent, 2001).

Emotional intelligence is an individual's ability to perceive, express, understand and regulate emotional responses both internally and in others. An employee with high emotional intelligence is able to respond appropriately to workplace stress and to the emotional behavior of his or her coworkers. These abilities are anticipated to greatly enhance job satisfaction. Moreover, research has already shown that emotional intelligence leads to high job performance (Bar-On, Handley & Fund, 2006; Druskat, Sala & Mount, 2006), long-term mental health (Ciarrochi & Godsell, 2006), better outcomes in work groups and leadership qualities (Lopes, Cote & Salovey, 2006), and organizational success (Mount, 2006).

Trust, another critical predictor of job satisfaction, is defined as a firm reliance on the integrity, ability or character of a person or thing. Research showed that people are energized and motivated when trust is placed in them and they are recognized for their abilities (Kramer, 1999). A high degree of trust fosters increased interdependence in a work setting, since employees are more apt to rely on each other and work productively together. Two theories helped explain the function of trust (Skarlicki & Dirks, 2001). The theory of self-fulfilling prophecy suggests that employees will become what a manager expects of them. If a supervisor expects an employee to be trustworthy, and communicates this accordingly, the employee will rise to the challenge more so than if the employee is told he or she is untrustworthy. The theory of norm of reciprocity suggests that employees reciprocate benefits received. Employees who perceive that they are trusted will reciprocate trustworthiness in return (Skarlicki & Dirks, 2001) A high level of trust, evidenced by the ability of employees to work well together to achieve common purposes, is expected to increase job satisfaction.

LITERATURE REVIEW

Emotional Intelligence

Mayer and Salovey defined emotional intelligence as "the ability to perceive and express emotion, assimilate emotion in thought, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion in self and others" (1997, p. …

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