Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence


The topic of emotional intelligence has been controversial. Debates have raged on and critical questions have continuouslyarisenwith regards to the concept of EI, along with its definition, application, and measurement as well as nature. As noted by various scholars the difficulty to provide an operational definition and agreement as to the distinct component of the construct is something that has continuously haunted this concept. A consensus is yet to be found on the actuality of the construct as well as on its applicability in a work place setting. Many researchers have rejected its realism, however, an equal number of researcher have belief in its subsistence.



Emotional intelligence was a term that was made popular in the mid 1990s by Daniel Goleman(1998). Although emotional intelligence theory has a sound scientific foundation, it has been frequently adopted by popular, mainstream psychologists. This paper evaluates the construct, Emotional Intelligence. To achieve this, the paper will briefly present the operational definition of the term as put forward by the most reputable scholars in the field of EI, the paper will also discuss the concept of EI, evaluating its applicability at the workplace and how different perceive its actuality. The essay will present and analyze three commonly employed instruments for measuring emotional intelligence, describing their theoretical framework, the typical uses of each instrument as well as the target population. The essay will conclude by giving a brief summary of the validity and reliability of these instruments, other administration factors that are taken into consideration before choosing on particular instrument to administer, as well as the advantages and limitation of each instrument.

Discuss the concept of EI

Psychologists define emotional intelligence in various ways. Most definitions of emotional intelligence focus on an individual’s ability to be aware of, understand and manage oneself along with other people’s emotions so as to adapt to life’s demands and pressure. Emotional intelligence differs from cognitive intelligence, in the sense that Cognitive intelligence focusses on the ability to think rationally, act purposefully and deal effectually with a person’s environment. In its simplest terms, Stein(2009) defines emotional intelligence as the ability to tune into the world, to read situations, and to connect with others while taking charge of one’s own life.

Many different authors have come up with equally many different definitions of EI. However, the two most recognized definitions are presented byMayer and Salovey(1997)and Bar-On(1997). According to Mayer and Salovey(1997),EI entails the ability of an individual to monitor his/her emotions and those of others, to use the information to guide his/her thinking and action, and to discriminate among them. In their more recent discussions of emotional intelligence construct, the authors identified four dimensions: emotional awareness; facilitating emotion; understanding emotion; and managing emotions (Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 2000). The first dimension of Mayer and Salovey (1997) definition entailed the ability to perceive, appraise, and express emotions. It involved the accuracy with which a person could identify emotions in themselves and in others, express one’s own emotions, and discriminate the expression of emotions in others. The second dimensions of the definition entailed the capability to access and engender emotions so as to facilitate thought and prioritize thinking. It is thought of as allowing people to use emotions to guide their thinking. The third dimension is the ability to understand emotions ands emotional knowledge. At this level, emotional signals are supposed to be understood along with their implications. The fourth dimension is management of one’s moods and emotions, as well as emotions of others. It involves being open to emotions that allow personal and intellectual growth (Muyia, 2008, p. 24). Based on Mayer and Salovey(1997)definition, EI qualifies as intelligence because as noted byBastian, Burns, & Nettelbeck(2006, p. 1136), “to solve problems, individual discriminate and monitor emotions in themselves and others; and, to this extent some people are better at these activities than others”

There has been debate on how to distinguish personality from emotional intelligence. Jackson(2008, p. 12) uses emotional intelligence to describe motivation, self-awareness, recognizing emotions, and behavior. Another definition of emotional intelligence given by Bar-On (1997, p. 14) is the “capabilities, competencies, and skills that influence one ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures.” Both of these definitions exhibit components that are generally agreed to be in the broader realm of personality.Opponents of emotional intelligence argue that the concept of EI is invalid because it is not a form of intelligence. They further question whether EI is simply a theory about personality or a combination of both intelligence and personality (Muyia, 2008, p. 22). For example,Locke(2005) offered harsh criticisms about the validity of the EI concept. He argued that EI is not a type of intelligence, and he recommended that intelligences must be clearly distinguished from rationality. In his criticism, he observed that the definition of EI was constantly changing, that most definitions were so all-inclusive that they made the concept of EI unintelligible, that the definition of reasoning with emotions involved a contradiction, and that there was no such things as EI. The author went further and advocated for the EI concept to be labeled and redefined as a personality trait. Other critics have questioned the existing measures of EI. They question why there are different types of measures for the same construct. Additionally, they point out that the measures use different response formats and approaches. More importantly, the existing measures of EI are said to lack psychometric measurement properties (Conte, 2005); (Matthews, Zeidner, & Roberts, 2004); (Viswesvaran & Van Rooy, 2004), and still others have challenged its applicability (Waterhouse, 2006).

The classification of emotional intelligence as either a form of intelligence or as a theory about personality determines the relative importance of measuring this construct in the work place setting and the weight it would carry in the assessment of a particular employee competence. It is therefore important to categorize EI as an intelligence form rather than as a personality, as that will enable it to rank in the same level as other widely accepted abilities such as cognitive ability. The importance of EI assessment for senior leadership cannot be overemphasized. A number of related concepts come into play during assessment of leaders in a work place setting; these include emotional competence, emotional creativity, and empathic accuracy. These are important constructs to consider when evaluating a candidate for leadership positions as opposed to considering them simply as personal traits or behavioral characteristics, which in human resource circles are considered inferior or less significant to other forms of intelligences. Therefore, it is important that EI is taken to be an intelligence form and not a personal trait or behavioral characteristic.

Debate the idea that EI is as critical, or perhaps more critical, than cognitive. Compare and contrast views of researchers on this issue. 

The need for emotional intelligence at the work place has been a source of debate for many scholars. The debate has cropped from various researchers perception of the importance of EI relative to cognitive ability in the work place setting. However, a number of researches have been conducted to demonstrate the need for EI for employees in addition to, or in replacement of cognitive ability. A number of change agents in business, education, and health organizations acknowledge the need for EI in the workplace. It has been argued that in this timeand age of information technology and specialized work teams, EI has become a vital skill as people must accomplish their work by collaborating with each other (Muyia, 2008, p. 38). Many companies are actively trying to raise the EI of their employees as a way of increasing sales and improving customer service. EI has become increasingly popular with organizations and has provided a lucrative market for both test distributors and training consultants.Evidence supporting a link between EI and a variety of outcomes in the workplace, such as EI and performance and EI and leadership effectiveness, is well documented. Following are some researches which have focused on the relative importance of EI at the work place.

An early study conducted in an organizational setting byKelley & Caplan(1993) demonstrated a relationship between EI and performance.While examining the EI and performance of research groups in the Bell laboratories, the authors found that EI, not IQ or past academic performance, differentiated between high and average performers. In his study of division heads of a global food and beverage company,McClelland(1998)found that the divisions of the leaders with strengths in EI outperformed their yearly revenue targets by a 15- 20 percent margin. Another study conducted byMegerian & Sosik(1996) found that those managers with self-awareness were rated as being more effective by both their superiors and subordinates than those managers without self-awareness.According toGoleman(1995), insurance sales agents who scored high on emotional competencies achieved twice more sales figures that their less emotionally competent colleagues. The author found that the link between EI and increased performance is intuitively appealing to organizations, particularly those in the service sector.

While comparing the relative contribution of cognitive and EI competencies with work performance, as measured by career development,Dulewicz & Higgs (1998) found that EI accounted for 36 percent of total variance in organizational achievement, whereas IQ accounted for 27 percent. A study conducted by Jordan, Ashkanasy, Hartel, & Hooper(2002)investigated the relationship between EI and performance of 44 Australian work teams over a span of nine weeks. Results from the study indicated that earlier in the period of the study, work teams that scored highly on Emotional Intelligence, performed notably better when compared to the lower scoring teams, however, by the end of the nine-week period, performance levels of both teams were similar.

Three different assessments of emotional intelligence, theoretical framework upon which each is based, the typical uses for, and the target population(s) for each assessment

Psychologists measure emotional intelligence by using any of several emotional quotients tests, which measures an individual’s emotional intelligence. There are various instruments designed to measure emotional intelligence. These include: the Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i); SEI; GENOS; the Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT); andthe Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI); as well asEQ-360.However, this review will focus on evaluating three of the most widely used instruments. These are: Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), Emotional CompetenceInventory (ECI), and Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i).

  1. Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT)

The Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) is the most widely used ability or performance test of emotional intelligence. As an ability test, it works more like a traditional IQ test, but for emotions. The MSCEIT is an update of the Multifactor emotional intelligence scale (MEIS) that was first developed by Mayer and Salovey in an intelligence testing tradition. The MSCEIT is an ability test in which as person being tested performs a number of tasks designed to test various dimensions of emotional intelligence. The most recent version of the MSCEIT is version 2(V.2) which was designed to measure the four branches of Mayer and Salovey EI ability model.

The MSCEIT V.2 provides a four components score on perception of emotion,integration and assimilation of emotion, knowledge about emotions, and management of emotions. It also provides a total EI score. The instrument has 141 items ands is shorter and quicker to administer that the first version of the test. The instrument also provides both consensus and expert scores for all the four dimensions’ score. Each task uses a different item, and different responses scales are used by different scales.

MSCEIT is usually used for a number of ways. These include selection and promotion, executive coaching and leadership development, and career development. It can also be used in seminars and workshops as well as in counseling and therapy

  1. Emotional Competency Inventory (ECI)

Like the MSCEIT, the ECI is also new, having been updated from the original version of “360-degree assessment” that included self-ratings, peer ratings, and supervisor ratings. The ECI is designed to assess an individual’s emotional competencies and positive behavior. The inventory consists of 110 items that assess 20 competencies that are organized into the following clusters: self-awareness; social awareness; self-management; and social skills.

The ECI is a 360-degree assessment that gathers self, subordinate, peer, and supervisory ratings on twenty social and emotional competencies(Bennis, 2003, p. 87). Survey respondents use a 6-point scale to describe to describe themselves or another person on each competence. Each step on the scale is progressively labeled, starting from “the behavior that is only slightly characteristic of the individual” and ending with “the behavior that is very characteristic of the individual.”

  1. Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i)

The Emotional Quotient inventory (EQ-i) was the first published and most widely used self-test of emotional intelligence in the world. It was conceived by Dr. Reuven Bar-On. The EQ-I was developed looking at the general idea of an emotional and social intelligence quotient, or EQ(Bar-On, 2006).

It is a 133-item self-report instrument that asks individuals to answer a series of questions about how they feel, think, and behave most of the time as far as their emotional and social competencies are concerned (Muyia, 2008, p. 36). The EQ-i is based on broader definitions of emotional intelligence that include adaptive outcomes as well as adaptive emotional functioning. The EQ-iassessmentuses approximately 30 minutes to complete, and the measure yields an overall EQ score and scores on five composite scales: intra-personal; interpersonal; adaptability; stress management; and general mood(Stein, 2009, p. 50).

Intra-personal is concerned with an individuals’ ability to know and manage oneself. Inter-personal is concerned with an individual’s “people skill”, and a person’s capability to interrelate and work well with others. Adaptability involves a person’s capability to be variable and sensible, and to address anassortment of problems as they evolve.Stress management concerns an individual’s ability to tolerate stress and control impulse. The last area of emotional intelligence identified by the EQ-I is general mood. This area concerns a person’s ability to be positive and in a good mood.

It is worth noting that emotional intelligence, unlike IQ and personality test, is that it can be changed through the right kind of training or coaching.

Discuss each instrument’s reliability and validity, as well as administration considerations and costs to either the user or to the organization administering the assessment. 

Test developers have standardized the instruments used to measure emotional intelligence by testing thousands of people throughout the world (Stein, 2009).


The reliabilities scores of the MSCEIT test at both total and dimension levels are said to be above 0.75, and the internal consistency reliability is 0.71 for expert scoring and 0.68 for consensus scoring (Muyia, 2008, p. 33). However, despite the test being reliable, some experts have questioned its validity given that the developers relied on the evidence from the previous version of the test (MEIS). Also, because of the fact that the test is too new, few studies using it have been published.


Internal consistency reliability (Cronbach’s alpha) of the ECI has been found to be good. The reliabilities range from 0.68 (Transparency) to 0.87 (emotional self-awareness) with an average reliability of 0.78. Thereliabilitiesof the self-rating scores have been found to range between0.47 for conflict management to 0.76   for inspirational leadership with an average reliability of 0.63.The Emotional Competency Inventoryreflects good construct validity and is linked to measures such as the MBTI sensing and thinking dimensions. The social consistency of the ECI scales ranges from 0.61 to 0.85 for self-assessment and from 0.80 to 0.95 for peer and supervisor rating scales (SALA, 2002). The ECI has been criticized for basing its validity evidence from self-assessmentquestionnaires and for its lack of peer-reviewed evidence. The use of the Emotional Competency Inventory is also restricted to accredited users who have the ability to givetruthful andall-inclusive feedback to their clients. The instrument is designed for use only as a development tool, and not for hiring or compensation decision.


The EQ-I has been normed, with thousand of people in various parts of the world, ensuring that the results are meaningful for a particular location and culture. Also, there has been a great deal of validity and reliability carried out on the instrument. EQ-I demonstrates adequate reliability and validity evidence. For example, Bar-On (200) reported internal consistency of overall EQ-I to be 0.76, and then test-retest reliability of 0.85 after one month and 0.75 after four months; in terms of discriminant validity, EQ-I correlated 0.12 with the Wechsler Adult Intelligence scale.

Review of the EI instruments indicates that, although some measures do not show adequate validity, in general they have demonstrated adequate internal consistency reliability. The decision of selecting an EI model for training purposes depends upon the type of skills being developed, the method and duration of development, and the type of measure deployed.

Analyze the advantages and disadvantages of using each assessment for its intended purpose

Advantages and disadvantages of MSCEIT

The use of MSCEIT is usually recommended during selection and promotion, executive coaching and leadership development, and career development. It can also be used in seminars and workshops as well as in counseling and therapy.

The use of MSCEIT during the selection and promotion exercise brings with a number of benefits. It is an ability test and therefore it means that a potential candidate cannot “fake” his or her performance. The MSCEIT measures skills that no other test measures.  In the context of career development, MSCEIT is used as part of a test battery which includes interest, personal style and value. It helps an organization to enhance the candidates understanding of a candidates skill set. In executive coaching, this test instrument provides a critical and distinct look into a candidate’s managements and leaders capabilities.In the context of counseling and therapy, the use of MSCEIT assists a clinician to better pinpoint a client’s weaknesses and strengths; it also provides additional set of data in the process. As the instrument uniquely assesses person’s emotional skills, it is particularly ideal for use in clinical settings.

The MSCEIT suffers from several limitations. These include low discriminant validity and questionable construct and incremental validity (Ashton, 2013). The MSCEIT test is to a large extent influenced by general intelligences, personality dimensions, and demographics having multiple R’s with the MSCEIT branches up to0 .66.For the general Emotional Intelligence factor this influence was found to be stronger.

Advantages and disadvantages of ECI

The ECI instrument is usually used to test for different elements. These include professional and personal development for coaching leaders to examine their competence and self-reflect as leaders as observed by their team mates. This instrument is predominantly exercised by large institutions for developing a competency model for organizational development. The ECI is designed for use only as development tools, not for hiring or compensation decision.

A major source of disadvantage of ECI stems from its applicability. The use of this instrument is restricted to accredited users who demonstrate a capability to provide accurate, and comprehensive EI feedback to others.

Advantages and disadvantages of EQ-i

The EQ-I test is normally used to help individuals understand their behavior and to look for trends in groups. It possessesunique advantages such as: it is widely known and used by numerous practitioners. It is also backed by significant test publishers. This test instrument also suffers from weaknesses. First, it highly focusses on pro-social behavior as emotional awareness and processes; secondly, despite the instrument having clarified some inconsistencies in earlier versions, it still has no clear logic to how the elements fit together.



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