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Emotional Intelligence: the construct and it's measurement


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I wrote this in 2007 as a part of my PostGrad Dip of Psychology at University of Wollongong

I wrote this in 2007 as a part of my PostGrad Dip of Psychology at University of Wollongong

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  • 1. GMMC985-Principles and Practices of Psychological Assessment. Assignment 1- Selecting and Critiquing Tests. Emotional Intelligence. JOCELYN BREWER 1
  • 2. Intelligence remains one of the most controversial topics within Psychology, and hasretained a high level of rigorous academic debate over the last century. Within this field,Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a relatively new construct which continues to be the source ofantagonism between researchers, and whose popularity in mainstream psychology isunprecedented (Zeidner, Matthews and Roberts, 2001). The debate regarding the definition, measurement and application of (EI) hasreceived sizeable attention in scientific and popular psychological in the 18 years since itwas formally defined, spawning volumes of commentary and research on the dimension ofintelligence David Weschler considered conative (Kaufman and Kaufman, 2001). Theinteraction between emotions, intelligence and navigation of the social world is an area that Ifind more remarkable and appealing that other psychological constructs, for it’s potential tobe learned and to enhance personal relationships. Definitions of EI generally, though not surprisingly, pertain to the ability toeffectively negotiate the meanings and patterns of emotions using emotional information(Geher, 2005) and involves a collaborative blend of intelligence and emotion (Mayer,Salovey and Caruso, 2004a). Definitions of EI vary so widely that it has been suggestedthey may effectively refer to different constructs (Locke, 2005 and Comte, 2005), with thebifurcation of current theories hinging on whether EI is an ability or trait based construct. EI has blurry historical origins, with the key pioneers of intelligence researchreferring to embryonic versions of what currently is understood to constitute EI. Many well-known psychologists detected forms of emotional/social abilities and intelligences in thetwentieth century, referring to them incidentally, if only to dismissively. Landy (2005),comprehensively traces the development of EI from Darwin in 1872 and Dewey in 1909through to the first comprehensive definition of EI by Mayer, Salovey and Caruso in 1990and surge of EI into public awareness with the publication of “Emotional Intelligence” byGoleman in 1995. Landy (2005a) emphasises the role that E.L. Thorndike’s speculation of threefacets of intelligence- abstract, mechanical and social- played in fuelling interest on the roleof emotions on cognitions and behavior when exposed to varieties of environmentalcontexts. Thorndike’s commentary on social intelligence appeared in a 1920 edition ofHarpers Magazine (a popular periodical), seventy-five years later “the EQ factor” graces thecover of Time Magazine and it’s place in popular consciousness is cemented. While not formally recognising EI as a construct, David Weschler pointed to “non-intellective factors” (Weschler, pg.83, 1950 sited in Kaufman and Kaufman, 2001) and isconsidered to have implicitly deemed aspects of EI to be critical aspects of intelligence, asevident in comprehension and picture arrangement subtests. Interest in EI developed as the concept of intelligence broadened to include morefactors (Landy 2005b) as theorising extended to encapsulate wider cognitive and non-cognitive factors. Gardener’s 1983 theory of multiple intelligences, included interpersonaland intrapersonal intelligences, “the ability to understand ones own feelings andmotivations, and the ability to understand others moods and intentions” (Furnham, 2005,p143). Currently there are two distinct frameworks within contemporary EI literature,summarised in Table 1, a trait based approach (which aligns EI to personality) and an abilityapproach (which views EI as a part of cognition). The main hurdles both approaches EI faceis proving themselves to be distinct from personality and other already recognised cognitiveabilities. While methodological issues within and between both extremes of the EI debateproliferate. 2
  • 3. Table 1. A summary of Trait/ Personality EI and Performance/Ability EI.Framework Trait EI Performance/ Ability EIDefinition of EI Considers EI as non-cognitive in nature and EI is comprised of a set of abilities that involving a combination of personal facilitate expression, perception, characteristics, moods and motivational understanding and regulation of emotion factors (Bar-On, 1997) (Mayer, Salovey and Caruso, 2002a, 2002b).Characteristics - AKA – trait emotional self-efficacy - AKA- cognitive-emotional ability - Popular/ mainstream media publication. - Scientific publication.(Adapted from - Audience of users/practitioners. - Audience of scientists.Murphy, 2007, - Branded as “commercial”. - Branded as “academic”.Mayer,Salovey, - Operationalised by self report measures - Operationalised by “correct” answers.Carouso, - Typical performance - Maximal performance.2004a and - Linked to personality traits. - Not linked to personality traits.Bar-On, 2002) - Not seen as cognitive ability. - Viewed as a cognitive ability. - Can be coached to succeed. - Difficult to be coached on - Can fake socially correct responses - Difficult to fake answers. - Make grand claims about predictive - Makes only modest claims about performance performance - “Born in” 1995 - “Born in “1990 - Primacy of the problem - Primacy of methodology. - Emphasis on problem- solving - Emphasis on construct definition. - Disseminated theory quickly. - Theory disseminated slowly. - Too inclusive and thus ambiguous? - Fails to account for empathyExample - Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) – - Mayer- Salovey- Caruso Emotionalinstruments BarOn, 1997 Intelligence Test (MSCEIT)- Mayer et al,(adapted from - Emotional Competencies Inventory (ECI)- 2002REF page…) Sala, 2002 - Levels of Emotional Awareness (LEAS)- - Schutte Self Report Index (SSRI)- Lane et al, 1990 Schutte et al 1998 - Emotional Accuracy Research Scale (EARS)- Mayer & Geher, 1996I have selected the most-well known and widely available measurements of EI to compareand contrast- MSCEIT and Bar-On’s EQ-I. While the MSCEIT is a measure based on anability definition of EI and the EQ-I was developed out of the trait approach, a comparison isnot impossible. Far from comparing apples and oranges, evaluation of these instrumentscould be viewed as judging Pink Lady apples with Granny Smiths. Both tests are widelyavailable in Australia and each claims to be the leading test on it’s side of the EI fence. Eachtest is summarised in Table 2.Table 2- Summary of two Emotional Intelligence measurement instruments. MSCEIT- Ability/performance model EQ-I – Trait model (Adapted from Mayer, Salovey and Caruso, 2004a (Adapted from Bar-On in Murphy REF and and 2004b and Psychological Assessments Psychological Assessments Australia) 3
  • 4. Australia)General - 141 items - 133 questionsinfo - “right/wrong” answers - 5 point likert scale - Hybrid scoring- Consensus and Expert scores - Self-reported scores - 8 tasks, 2 tasks for each of the 4 branches. - 5 scales, 15 subscale - Takes between 30 - 45 mins to complete. - Takes approx 30 mins to complete. - Pencil and paper, available on-line - pencil and paper, available on-line - 17 years and older - 16 years and older - normative sample of 5000 from North America - normative sample of 85000 - Average score is 100, with SD of 15 - Cost = $AUD143 users manual, - Cost = $AUD121 users manual, $AUD77 $AUD379 online version, $AUD750 1 day online version, $AUD1500 2 day training training course. course.Scales and Experiential Areas 1. Intrapersonal skillssub-scales - Branch 1- Perceiving - Self regard a) faces- identify emotions - Emotional self awareness b) pictures- identify emotions in pictures and - Assertiveness landscapes - Independence - Branch 2- Using (experiential area) - Self- Actualisation c) sensations- compare emotions for stimuli 2. Interpersonal skills d) facilitation- identify emotions that would - Empathy best facilitate a type of thinking. - Social responsibility - Interpersonal relationships Strategic Areas 3. Adaptability - Branch 3- Understanding - Reality-testing e) changes- how emotions change from one to another - Flexibility f) blends- identify emotions involved in - Problem Solving complex affective states 4. Stress management - Branch 4- Managing - Stress Tolerance g) emotion management- given hypothetical - Impulse control situations and asked how they would deal 5. General Mood. with - Optimism h) emotion relationship- how to manage to - Happiness get desired outcome. In 1990, Mayer, Salovey and Caruso defined an ability based EI construct and developed the first EI measure, the MEIS (multi-factor emotional intelligence scale). The model is conceptualised with four domains, each representing the degree that the emotional ability is integrated into overall personality. It is viewed as a “hierarchical and comprehensively conceptualised model” (Jordan, 2005, p 190), and one which has been the most clearly articulated, has strongest theoretical and empirical support (Daus and Ashkanasy, 2005). The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) assess how well people “solve emotion laden questions” (Brackett et. al., 2006, p782), operating on matters of emotional and personal importance to the individual, known as “hot cognitions” 4
  • 5. (Mayer, Salovey and Caruso, 2004a, p197). According to it’s authors the MSCIET is a “is highly reliable at the total-score,area and branch levels and provides a reasonably valid measure of EI in the many sensesof the psychometric sense of the word valid” (Mayer, Salovey and Caruso, 2004a, p. 211).This quote suggests the complex issues surrounding assessing reliability of tests. Theyargue that their model of EI is a unitary ability which represents a new type of intelligence, itmeets three criteria required for standard intelligence- it can be operationalised to havemore or less correct answers, specific pattern of correlations to known intelligences, andthat EI should develop with age. The MSCIET has been shown to have overall reliability of.91 to .93, with area and branch reliability of between .76 to .91 (Mayer, Salovey andCaruso, 2004a), however Roberts et. al., 2006 show mixed evidence for the reliability theMSCIET has in the identification of emotion. The MSCEIT has been criticised as not havingempathetic branch, it does not have facility for assess in the regulation Does not assessemotion regulation nor ability to express emotion effectively (Brackett et. al. p, 791). Alternatively to the MSCEIT and ability frameworks, trait approaches asdeveloped by Reuven Bar-On review a “cross-section of emotional and social competenciesthat impact intelligent behaviour” (Bar-On, 2002, p 115). Bar-On coined the term emotionalquotient (EQ) and further defines EI terms of extensive traits connected to managingenvironmental constraints in a way to promote social wellbeing. The Emotional Quotient forIntelligence (EQ-I) was developed by Bar-On in 1997 and is summarised in Table 2. A major criticism of self-report inventories is that they are prone to sociallydesirable responding (Brackett et. al, 2006 and Conte, 2005). Brackett and colleagues(2006) showed that people are poor at providing self reports and estimating theirperformance on ability measures of EI. Self-perception of EI does not measure actual EIcapability, nor self-efficacy of their belief in the ability to use the skills. In response to thiscriticism the EQ-I 360 has been developed, this instrument has been expanded to includepeer and subordinate reports, in order to control for the “faking effect” (AAP, Bar-on EQ-I360 on-line). Beyond definitional debates relating to EI, it is necessary to investigate the extentto which extent these instruments overlap. The MSCEIT and EQ-I have correlations ofbetween .21 and .36, they share between 4 and 13% of their variance. This weakrelationship indicates it is unlikely they measure the same concept (Brackett et. al., 2006) On a practical level both instruments have similar durations and formats. Thepaper versions of the users manual and questionnaire have comparable costs. The on-lineEQ-I however is nearly five times more expensive than the computer based version of theMSCEIT, contributing to the repute trait EI has as somewhat commercialised. While theroutine use of these instruments is feasible and straight-forward in a clinical setting, theinterpretation of the results and what exactly to do with them may be somewhat ambiguous.Ciarrochi and Mayer (2007) offer some novel and innovative interventions, that have bothindividual and group applications. A major difference is the scoring method of each test. The MSCIET uses bothscores from both expert (the technically correct response) and consensus (typicalpopulation responses) samples. This hybrid has shown to increase reliability of the measure(Mayer, Salovey and Caruso, 2004a), although others have suggested that consensusscoring reflects conformity to social norm rather than skill (Zeidner, Matthews and Roberts,2001). In contracts, the EQ-I’s use of self-report inventory has shown to be is flawed interms of socially desirable responding (Day and Kelloway, 2004), with Matthews et. al.,2006 going as far to suggest a “moratorium” on self-report of EI. The MSCEIT has only been sampled in North America and may have cross-cultural biases (MSCEIT Report from PAA on-line), whereas the EQ-I has been sampledacross the world using 85 000 subjects (Bar-on, 2002) and has been shown to have goodcross-cultural reliability (Matthews et. al, 2006). Both measures have evidence for high levels of overall reliability (Bar-On, 2002and Mayer, Salovey and Caruso, 2004a and 2004b), important to note however is this 5
  • 6. evidence has come from research conducted by each test’s respective authors. Their test-retest reliability are also high, the MSCEIT .86 and the EQ-I .79 (Conte, 2005). The validity of the measures is disputed across different studies. While Brackettet. al (2006) and MSCEIT’s authors have shown high incremental validity and compellingevidence for discriminate validity, Roberts (2006) have called for further analysis ofdata supporting convergent and divergent validity of the test. The EQ-I has been shown tolack discriminant and criterion validity by Conte (2005) and Daus & Ashkanasy (2005). TheMSCEIT has shown correlations ranging from .06 to .21 with the Big Five Personality theory,while the EQ-I shows substantial overlap with a correlation of .75 (Brackett et. al., 2006)raising questions regarding the stability of the construct when it is influenced by mood. The claims about the predictive validity of EI are voluminous. Authors of theMSCEIT are conservative in the assertions they make over EI’s ability to forecast lifeoutcome and are careful to demonstrate any claims with empirically supported data.Academic performance has been shown to have a correlation of .20 to .36 and negativecorrelate to defiant behaviour like drug use and bullying with values of -.45 (Mayer, Caruso& Salovey, 2002a). While the theoretical debate over construct definition will predictably continuefor decades, there is growing focus on the numerous real world applications for EI anddesigning programs and intervention strategies by which to improve it. Some grand claimshave been made over the predictive ability of EI, with Goleman (1995) asserting that EI“matters more than IQ” (cover) and that it accounts for 80% of life success. EI has beendeemed the “panacea for modern business” (Zeidner, Matthews and Roberts, 2001, p. 265)and touted as a method by which educational outcomes can be significantly improved (Zinet. al., 2007). We are yet to see exactly how augmenting EI can achieve some of theseclaims. The predictive ability of heightened EI skills has been made over numerous areas– workplace and school performance, career and entrepreneurial success, leadership,emotional well-being and job satisfaction (Mayer, Caruso & Salovey, 2002a, Furnham,2006, and Jordan, Ashkansky and Ascough, 2007.). Each of these areas has considerableimpact on organisations and social units in terms of productivity, contentment andmotivation. In some instances, EI scores are being used as selection tools by HumanResources departments of major global companies (Jordan, Ashkansky and Ascough,2007). Many of these claims have been shown to be false, based on unpublished or flaweddata (Day and Kelloway, 2005 and Locke, 2005). Working in the reverse, low levels of EIhave been linked to violence, aggression, bullying and stress (Day and Kelloway, 2005). Hall, Geher and Brackett (2007) discuss the potential important of EI in childrendiagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), an affliction that develops in childhoodprimarily origination in the absence of attachment to a primary caregiver (according to theDSM- IV). They found in a study of 45 children with RAD had significantly lower aptitudes inthe skills that underpin EI than children without this RAD. These results imply that childrenwho develop bonds with caregivers have an advantage in developing EI skills and, ifresearch on predictors of high EI are to be accepted, advantage in other areas of life. Thestudy also has pertinence to the role that EI plays in comprehending psychological disordersand suggests a role that EI has in understanding mental health issues. For example, therole of EI in regulating attention, decision-making and behavioural responses (Brackett, 2006) has a potential role in developing interventions for children with ADD/ADHD. In school settings EI is now a focus of emotional literacy programs, which aim todevelop student’s repertoire of skills when dealing emotions. Zin et. al. (2007) highlight theway these programs enhance connectivity for students, a sense of belonging/inclusion andfeelings of engagement- areas of social investigation which seek to maximise success andreduce distress in educational settings. Given the role of schools to socialise students andprepare them for the workforce, the potential for these programs to positively influenceyoung people is encouraging. Ciarrochi and Mayer’s 2007 book, illustrates four practicableinterventions in which EI is being adapted and applied to schools and workplaces. Eachcomes from the EI- Ability model and incorporate different methodologies, such as 6
  • 7. Boyatzis’ Intentional Change Model which directs clients through five stages of “key lifediscoveries” (p. 35) and mindfulness- based approaches in which clients are “taught toexperience their feelings fully and without defense” (p. xiii). Another important aspect to EIapplication is the actual teaching of the competencies, as presumably instructors or coacheswould need to display elevated levels and insight in to EI and it function to be effectiveteachers of it. The limitation of the construct of EI hinges in the debate over its definition and themost appropriate and effective way to operationalise it. Theories and factors of intelligenceare widely and vigorously debated and intelligence testing has huge implications in terms ofsocial labelling, school funding and predictors of performance in life. Critics have labelledmeasures of EI “unreliable, invalid or both” (Becker, 2003, p.194 in Mayer, Salovey andCaruso, 2004a, p. 210) and condemned naïve popularisations of the concept (Locke 2007). EI is constrained by what Murphy and Sideman (2006) identifies as the “Scientist-Practitioner split” (p 46). Scientists (mostly the ability camp) are focussed on getting it rightwith little regard for application, while practitioners (the trait based believers) concentrate onproblem solving with little attention to theory or statistical support of the measures. Anapproach that straddles both of these views and places a balance of emphasis on both thescientific foundations and authentic uses of EI, is required to legitimatise the part of EI insocial and organisational psychology. This view is one that hedges its bets towards the existence of EI as a distinctconstruct and uses the positive potential outcomes for the enhancement of relationships,personal insight and social functioning as a risk worth taking, and effort worth making, evenif the construct could conclusively be proved invalid. The future directions for EI researchremain countless, and as its application bears empirically measured rewards a consensustowards the true essence of EI will be revealed. 7
  • 8. REFERENCESBar-On, R. (1997). Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory: Technical Manual. Toronto: Multi-Health systems.Bar-On, R. (2004) The Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i): rationale, Descriptionand Psychometric Properties. In G. Geher (Ed.) (2007). Measuring Emotional Intelligence:Common Ground and Controversy. (pp.115-146) New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.Bracket, M. A., Rivers, S. E., Shiffman, S., Lerner, N., & Salovey, P. (2006). RelatingEmotional Abilities to Social Functioning: A comparison of Self-Report and PerformanceMeasures of Emotional Intelligence. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 91(4),780-795.Conte, J. A. (2005). A review and critique of emotional intelligence measures. Journal ofOrganizational Behaviour, 26 (4), 433-440.Ciarrochi, J., and Mayer, J.D. (Eds.) (2007). Applying Emotional Intelligence: A practitionersGuide. New York: Psychology Press.Daus, C.S. and Ashkanasy, N. M. (2005) The case for the ability-based model of emotionalintelligence in organizational behavior. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 26 (4), 453-466.Day, A. L. and Kelloway, E. K. (2004) Emotional Intelligence in the Work Place: Rhetoricand Reality. In G. Geher (Ed.) (2007). Measuring Emotional Intelligence: Common Groundand Controversy. (pp. 219- 243) New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.Furnham, A. (2006) Explaining the Popularity of Emotional Intelligence. In K. R. Murphy(Ed.) (2006). A Critique of Emotional Intelligence: What are the problems and how can theybe fixed? (pp. 141- 160) London: Laurence Erlbaum Associates, PublishersGardner, H. (1983). Frames of Mind: The theory of Multiple intelligences. New York: Harper& Row.Goleman, D. (1995). Emotional Intelligence. New York: Bantam.Hall, S. E. K., Geher, G., and Brackett, M. A. (2007) The Measurement of emotionalIntelligence in Children: The case of Reactive Attachment Disorder. In G. Geher (Ed.)(2007). Measuring Emotional Intelligence: Common Ground and Controversy. (pp.199-219)New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.Jordan, P. J., Ashkansky, N. M. and Ascough, K. W. (2007) Emotional Intelligence inOrganizational Behaviour and Industrial- Organizational Psychology. In G. Matthews, M.Zeidner, and R. D. Roberts. (2007). The Science of Emotional Intelligence: Knowns andUnknowns. (pp 356- 375) New York: Oxford University Press. 8
  • 9. Kaufman, A. S. and Kaufman, J. C. (2001). Emotional Intelligence as an Aspect of GeneralIntelligence: what would David Weschler Say? Emotion, 1 (3), 258-264.Landy, F. J. (2005). Some historical and scientific issues related to research on emotionalintelligence. Journal of Organizational Behaviour, 26 (4), 411-424Locke, E. A. (2005) Why emotional intelligence is an invalid concept. Journal ofOrganizational Behaviour, 26 (4), 425-431.Matthews, G., Emo, A. K., Roberts, R. D. and Zeidner, M. (2006).What is this thing calledEmotional Intelligence? In K. R. Murphy (Ed.) (2005). A Critique of Emotional Intelligence:What are the problems and how can they be fixed? (pp 3-36) London: Laurence ErlbaumAssociates, PublishersMayer, J. D., Salovey, P., and Caruso, D.R. (2004a). Emotional Intelligence: Theory,Findings, and Implications. Psychological Inquiry,15 (3),197- 215.Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., and Caruso, D.R. (2004b). A Further Consideration of the Issuesof emotional Intelligence. Psychological Inquiry, 15 (3), 249-255.Murphy, K.R. and Sideman, L. (2006) The Two EI’s. In K. R. Murphy (Ed.) (2005). A Critiqueof Emotional Intelligence: What are the problems and how can they be fixed? (pp 37- 58)London: Laurence Erlbaum Associates, PublishersPsychological Assessments Australia. Retrieved on April 8, 2008.Bar-On EQ-I -, R. D., Schulze, R., O’Brien, K., MacCann,C., Reid, J. & Maul, A. (2006). Exploringthe Validity of the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCIET) withEstablished Emotions Measures. Emotion, 6 (4), 663- 669.Zeidner, M., Matthews, G., and Roberts, R.D. (2001). Slow Down, You Move Too Fast:Emotional Intelligence Remains an “Elusive” Intelligence. Emotion. 1(3), 265- 275.Zinn, J. E., Payton, J. W., Weissberg, R. P. and O’Brien, M. U. (2007) Social and EmotionalLearning for Successful School Performance. In G. Matthews, M. Zeidner, and R. D.Roberts. (2007). The Science of Emotional Intelligence: Knowns and Unknowns. (pp 376-395) New York: Oxford University Press. 9