Keywords: emotional intelligence, emotions, intelligence, emotional competencies, consensus and controversy
Abstract. Almost from its inception, the emotional intelligence (EI) construct has been an elusive one. After nearly 2 decades of research,
Assessment: Sources of Controversy
Is the proposed dichotomy between ability and mixed models useful? The current trend toward relating self-reports of EI to the personality domain (Petrides & Furnham, 2003)leaves the earlier mixed models of EI (e.g., Bar-On, 2000)in limbo. Should we abandon Bar-On’s idea that questionnaires may be used to assess abilities, or does the notion still have credence? Again, it may be useful to explore differentiation of constructs within the self-report domain. Thus, although the split between performance and questionnaire tests looms large in the present context, other un-certainties over the optimal choice of assessment methods are appearing as the field develops. For example, assessing one’s geographic knowledge by asking a series of question along the lines of “what is the capital city of Greenland” seems more cost-effective and valid than asking a person to “rate how good you are in geography on a seven-point scale from awful to brilliant”(the answer to which might suddenly change if you were offered a decent sum of money). Given the choice to assess intelligence with a question that is factually verifiable or subjective rating, even the staunchest advocate of the later approach is forced to concede this is a no-brainer. Besides having a good deal more face and ecological validity, veridical items are less impervious to faking, coaching, or self-deception biases. Notwithstanding, self-estimates of intelligence (or related constructs, stressing in particular cognitive engagement) have been used in research settings to generate a variety of theoretically meaningful findings(e.g., Ackerman & Goff, 1994; Furnham & Rawles, 1999;Rammstedt & Rammsayer, 2000). Thus, it is important not to dismiss self-report approaches to EI out of hand. Are the stakes at which assessment is targeted defensible? Basic research aside, psychological testing is generally conducted for some practical purpose, with varying implications. In general, practitioners and policy makers talk of the tests falling into one of three categories, corresponding to the “fidelity” of the instrument in question for decision.
& Brennan,2004), to name but a few of the statistical procedures commonly employed in cognitive assessment today. These procedures are especially important for high-stakes assessment, and feed in to a previous concern that we had that contemporary EI assessments should be used at a just if able level. Applications of Emotional Intelligence. As alluded to in the introduction, a major driving force fueling the growing public and scientific interest in EI, and cognate emotional and social competencies, is their potential for improving personal and societal well-being. Thus, EI has been claimed to play a pivotal role in such diverse domains as job performance, interpersonal relationships, educational achievements, and clinical disorders. This final section will address applications of EI to these various do-mains of human endeavor. As already demonstrated, empirical research has not al-ways supported many of the validity claims surrounding this concept. Nevertheless, there is sufficient evidence for incremental validity of the better EI measures to suggest that a focus on EI may be relevant to enhancing personal, social, and organizational functioning and adaptation (Mayer et al., 2000a,b). There are also well-validated intervention programs that are designed to improve emotional functioning, especially in education (Zins, Weissberg, Wang, & Walberg, 2004). Such programs lend weight to the idea that elevating EI may be a valuable practical strategy in many real-life settings. EI has been claimed to be predictive of individual task performance at the workplace, especially in settings requiring leadership, teamwork, or effective communication, as well as contextual or tacit performance (e.g., Abraham,2005; Daus & Ashkanasy, 2005). EI may also relate to citizenship behavior, integrity, and effective personal relationships in organizational settings. In education, EI skills and competencies that are cultivated and trained in social and emotional learning pro-grams are commonly believed to be able to help motivate students to reach higher levels of achievement, become more socially and emotionally competent, and to become more responsible and productive members of society. It is thought that elevating EI will impact both overt academic goals, such as better grades, and the student’s broader personal development (Zins et al., 2004). Reviews of the evidence on programs for social-emotional learning, including those using meta-analysis to demonstrate change in out-come criteria, support their efficacy in improving mental health, academic performance, and remediation of various behavior problems (Greenberg, Weissberg, O’Brien, &Zins, 2003).EI may also have considerable potential for clinical applications. Assuming EI is related to disordered affect and dysfunctional affect regulation (which, in turn, is related top sychopathology) it might play an important role in clinical diagnosis and treatment (Parker, 2005). Research on alexithymia highlights how difficulties in understanding and communicating emotion may be important in affective dis-orders (Taylor & Bagby, 2004). However, while many mental disorders are related to emotional dysfunctions and expressions of negative affect, the diversity of these disorders may mitigate against an unambiguous relation ship with low EI (Matthews et al., 2002).We now point to a number of areas in which there appears to be a general consensus about applications, before again touching on what appear as major sources of controversy.
Applications: Sources of Consensus
There has been irrational enthusiasm surrounding the practical utility of emotional intelligence. Many scholars now working in the area agree that there has been an initial, irrational exuberance regarding the practical value of EI in applied settings (see e.g., Landy, 2006). Barrett, Gross, Christensen, and Benvenuto’s (2001) review suggests that much of the existing evidence bearing on the role of EI in occupational success is anecdotal, impressionistic, or collected by consulting companies and not published in the peer-reviewed literature. Further, Zeidner, Roberts, and Matthews (2002) have pointed out that despite popular claims, most of the programs touted as effective EI pro-grams lack clear conceptual frameworks, implementation analyses and checks, and sound evaluation designs. At pre-sent, there are few EI training programs that have been systematically constructed, implemented, and assessed. For example, some (though certainly not all) EI programs are being implemented in school settings without sufficient theoretical grounding, intervention hypotheses, or rigorous evaluation studies. Nevertheless, the failings of current applied work and training programs do not negate the possibility that more modest practical gains may be attainable. EI appears related (albeit weakly) to performance outcomes in a variety of applied settings. Overall, research suggests that EI modestly predicts outcomes in a variety of real-life set-tings, with evidence available mainly for occupational (Daus& Ashkanasy, 2005) and educational contexts (Zins et al.,2004). In occupational settings, the additional contribution of EI to prediction over and above personality and ability is typically limited (Day, 2004). The majority of studies have used criteria that are based on self-report; objective behavior-al criteria are regrettably neglected. A concern with the occupational studies reviewed by Van Rooy and Viswesvaran(2004) is that many use supervisor ratings that may be influenced by the likability of the employee, rather than their job competence. At the same time, there seems to be growing confidence among organizational psychologists that tests for EI predict job performance to an extent that is practically useful (Daus & Ashkanasy, 2005). Our view is that the scope and importance of the validity coefficients for EI remains open for debate, but the proponents of EI have made progress in demonstrating that the scales have sufficient criterion validity to be taken seriously.
EI has been claimed to be directly predictive of work performance and job satisfaction, organizational citizen-ship, truancy at work, and prosocial behavior. A review byD aus and Ashkanasy (2005) suggests that for jobs that would appear logically to require a high level of EI (e.g.,police officers) relationships between EI and job performance and satisfaction may be higher than those where emotional demands are less obvious. There are, however, specific problems for the use of EI in occupational settings (Zeidner, Matthews, & Roberts, 2004). These include: (1)failure to provide an adequate theoretical rationale for their use in a particular occupational setting, (2) lack of occupational-specificity, (3) absence of normative data for different occupational groups, and (4) failure to provide evidence for predictive and discriminate validity (both within and among occupational clusters). Thus, the applied psychologist must fall back on clinical or professional judgment to gauge the role of EI in many contexts, lacking a proper science-based analysis.