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EQ Information

Important Issues concerning Emotional Intelligence from Wikipedia



The first use of the term "Emotional Intelligence" is usually attributed to Wayne Payne's doctoral thesis, A study of emotion: Developing emotional intelligence (1985). However, prior to this, the term "emotional intelligence" (EI) had appeared in Leuner (1966). Greenspan (1989) also put forward an EI model, followed by Salovey and Mayer (1990), and Goleman (1995)

There are a lot of arguments about the definition of EI, arguments that regard both terminology and operationalizations. One attempt towards a definition was made by Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer (1990) who defined EI as “the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions.”

Salovey and Mayer's conception of EI strives to define EI within the confines of the standard criteria for a new intelligence. Following their continuing research, their initial definition of EI was revised to: "The ability to perceive emotion, integrate emotion to facilitate thought, understand emotions and to regulate emotions to promote personal growth"


The Emotional Competencies (Goleman) model

The model introduced by Daniel Golemanfocuses on EI as a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance


Alexithymia and EI

‘Alexithymia’ from the Greek words λέξις and θυμÏŒς (literally "lack of words for emotions") is a term coined by Peter Sifneos in 1973 to describe people who appeared to have deficiencies in understanding, processing, or describing their emotions. Viewed as a spectrum between high and low EI, the alexithymia construct is strongly inversely related to EI, representing its lower range. The individual's level of alexithymia can be measured with self-scored questionnaires such as the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20) or the Bermond-Vorst Alexithymia Questionnaire (BVAQ), or by observer rated measures.

One of the arguments against the theoretical soundness of the concept suggests that the constant changing and broadening of its definition - which has come to encompass many unrelated elements — had rendered it an unintelligible concept:

What is the common or integrating element in a concept that includes: introspection about emotions, emotional expression, non-verbal communication with others, empathy, self-regulation, planning, creative thinking and the criticism on measurement issues?


Ability based measures are measuring conformity, not ability

One criticism of the works of Mayer and Salovey comes from a study by Roberts et.al. (2001) which suggests that the EI, as measured by the MSCEIT, may only be measuring conformity. This argument is rooted in the MSCEIT's use of consensus-based assessment, and in the fact that scores on the MSCEIT are negatively distributed (meaning that its scores differentiate between people with low EI better than people with high EI).


Self-report measures are susceptible to ‘faking good’

More formally termed, socially desirable responding (SDR), ‘faking good’ is defined as a response pattern in which test-takers systematically represent themselves with an excessively positive bias (Paulhus, 2002). This bias has long been known to contaminate responses on personality inventories (Holtgraves, 2004; McFarland & Ryan, 2000; Peebles & Moore, 1998; Nichols & Greene, 1997; Zerbe&Paulhus, 1987), acting as a mediator of the relationships between self-report measures (Nichols & Greene, 1997; Ganster et al., 1983).

It has been suggested that responding in a desirable way is a response set, which is a situational and temporary response pattern (Pauls&Crost, 2004; Paulhus, 1991). This is contrasted with a response style, which is a more long-term trait-like quality. Considering the contexts some self-report EI inventories are used in (e.g., employment settings), the problems of response sets in high-stakes scenarios become clear (Paulhus& Reid, 2001).

There are a few methods to prevent socially desirable responding on behavior inventories. Some researchers believe it is necessary to warn test-takers not to fake good before taking a personality test (e.g., McFarland, 2003). Some inventories use validity scales in order to determine the likelihood or consistency of the responses across all items.


EI, IQ and Job Performance

Research of EI and job performance show mixed results: a positive relation has been found in some of the studies, in others there was no relation or an inconsistent one. This led researchers Cote and Miners (2006) to offer a compensatory model between EI and IQ, that posits that the association between EI and job performance becomes more positive as cognitive intelligence decreases, an idea first proposed in the context of academic performance (Petrides, Frederickson, &Furnham, 2004). The results of the former study supported the compensatory model: employees with low IQ get higher task performance and organizational citizenship behavior directed at the organization, the higher their EI.

Other critics mention that without some stabilization of the concepts and the measurement instruments, meta-analyses are difficult to implement.