Just how valid is the idea of emotional intelligence?

Research Briefing

Keywords: emotional intelligence, validity, reliability, emotion recognition, emotion regulation

As mentioned in a previous research briefing, interest in emotional intelligence is a relatively recent phenomenon. With the exception of a small blip of interest at the end of the Second World War, emotional intelligence has only really come to prominence in terms of research since the 1990s.

Emotional intelligence, however, isn’t one construct, rather it is an overarching description of four trait factors within a series of 17 variables or measures that, together, have become known as emotional intelligence.

The four trait factors of emotional intelligence – states versus traits

Emotional intelligence is made up of four trait factors, called such because they describe habitual and relatively stable patterns of thinking, behaviour and emotional reactions. A trait, for example, is something that would be ascribed to an individual, such as being an outgoing person, for example. In comparison, states are seen as more transitory and situation specific, such things as anger.

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