The Value of Emotional Intelligence at Work
Martin Seligman has developed a construct that he calls "learned optimism" . It refers to the causal attributions people make when confronted with failure or setbacks. Optimists tend to make specific, temporary, external causal attributions while pessimists make global, permanent, internal attributions. In research at Met Life, Seligman and his colleagues found that new salesmen who were optimists sold 37 percent more insurance in their first two years than did pessimists. When the company hired a special group of individuals who scored high on optimism but failed the normal screening, they outsold the pessimists by 21 percent in their first year and 57 percent in the second. They even outsold the average agent by 27 percent.
The first part of the article describes the Bar-On model and measure of emotional-social intelligence and how it was developed. The second part provides the reader with a description of the model’s construct validity, and the third part describes its predictive validity. I then show that the Bar-On model is both a teachable and learnable concept. In the last part of the article, I summarize the key points, discuss the limitations of the model that need to be addressed, and raise the idea for developing a more comprehensive and robust model of ESI based on the most powerful aspects of existing conceptualizations of this construct.
*From “Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), by J. D. Mayer, P. Salovey, and D. R. Caruso, 2002, Toronto, Ontario: Multi-Health Systems, Inc.
Brackett, M. A., & Mayer, J. D. (2003). Convergent, discriminant, and incremental validity of competing measures of emotional intelligence. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29, 1147-1158.
Emotional Intelligence must somehow combine two of the three states of mind: cognition and affect, or intelligence and emotion. Emotional Intelligence is defined by Mayer and Salovey as follows: Emotional intelligence is (Mayer & Salovey, 1997) These four areas are further defined, as follows: Identifying Emotions - the ability to recognize how you and those around you are feeling. Using Emotions - the ability to an generate emotion, and then reason with this emotion. Understanding Emotions - the ability to understand complex emotions and emotional "chains", how emotions transition from one stage to another. Managing Emotions - the ability which allows you to manage emotions in your self and in others.
The EQ-i was originally constructed as an experimental instrument designed to examine the conceptual model of emotional and social functioning that I began developing in the early 1980s (1988). At that time, I hypothesized that effective emotional and social functioning should eventually lead to a sense of psychological well-being. It was also reasoned that the results gained from applying such an instrument on large and diverse population samples would reveal more about emotionally and socially intelligent behavior and about the underlying construct of emotional-social intelligence. Based on findings obtained from applying the EQ-i in a wide range of studies over the past two decades, I have continuously molded my conceptualization of this construct; these changes have been mild and are ongoing in an effort to maintain a theory that is empirically based.
A third instrument is the Emotional Competence Inventory. The ECI is a 360 degree instrument. People who know the individual rate him or her on 20 competencies that Goleman’s research suggests are linked to emotional intelligence. Although the ECI is in its early stages of development, about 40 percent of the items come from an older instrument, the Self-Assessment Questionnaire, that was developed by Boyatzis . These earlier items had been "validated against performance in hundreds of competency studies of managers, executives, and leaders in North America," Italy, and Brazil. However, there currently is no research supporting the predictive validity of the ECI.
One other measure deserves mention, even though it is less well-known than the others. Schutte, Malouff, Hall, Haggerty, Cooper, Golden, & Dornheim have developed a 33-item self-report measure based on Salovey and Mayer’s (1990) early work. There is evidence for convergent and divergent validity. Emotional intelligence scores on this measure were positively associated with first-year college grades and supervisor ratings of student counselors working at various mental health agencies. Also, scores were higher for therapists than for therapy clients or prisoners.
Finally, it might be helpful to keep in mind that emotional intelligence comprises a large set of abilities that have been studied by psychologists for many years. Thus, another way to measure emotional intelligence or competence is through tests of specific abilities. Some of these tests seem rather strong. To name just one example, there is Seligman’s SASQ, which was designed to measure learned optimism and which has been impressive in its ability to identify high performing students, salespeople, and athletes, to name just a few (Schulman, 1995).
A second instrument is the Multifactor Emotional Intelligence Scale. The MEIS is a test of ability rather than a self-report measure. The test-taker performs a series of tasks that are designed to assess the person’s ability to perceive, identify, understand, and work with emotion. There is some evidence of construct validity, convergent validity, and discriminant validity, but none for predictive validity.
So is there anything new about emotional intelligence? In some ways, emotional intelligence really is not new. In fact, it is based on a long history of research and theory in personality and social, as well as I/O, psychology. Furthermore, Goleman has never claimed otherwise. In fact, one of his main points was that the abilities associated with emotional intelligence have been studied by psychologists for many years, and there is an impressive, and growing, body of research suggesting that these abilities are important for success in many areas of life.
Scores are computer-generated. Raw scores are automatically tabulated and converted into standard scores based on a mean of 100 and standard deviation of 15. This resembles IQ (Intelligence Quotient) scores, which was my intention when I coined the term “EQ” (“Emotional Quotient”) during my doctoral studies (1988). Average to above average EQ scores on the EQ-i suggest that the respondent is effective in emotional and social functioning. The higher the scores, the more positive the prediction for effective functioning in meeting daily demands and challenges. On the other hand, low EQ scores suggest an inability to be effective and the possible existence of emotional, social and/or behavioral problems.