Since 1990, Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer have been the leading researchers on emotional intelligence.
In their influential article "Emotional Intelligence," they defined emotional intelligence as, "the subset of social intelligence that involves 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" (1990).
The Four Branches of Emotional Intelligence
Salovey and Mayer proposed a model that identified four different factors of emotional intelligence: the perception of emotion, the ability reason using emotions, the ability to understand emotion and the ability to manage emotions.
- Perceiving Emotions: The first step in understanding emotions is to accurately perceive them. In many cases, this might involve understanding nonverbal signals such as body language and facial expressions.
- Reasoning With Emotions: The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Emotions help prioritize what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that garner our attention.
- Understanding Emotions: The emotions that we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings. If someone is expressing angry emotions, the observer must interpret the cause of their anger and what it might mean. For example, if your boss is acting angry, it might mean that he is dissatisfied with your work; or it could be because he got a speeding ticket on his way to work that morning or that he's been fighting with his wife.
- Managing Emotions: The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of emotional intelligence. Regulating emotions, responding appropriately and responding to the emotions of others are all important aspect of emotional management.
Measuring Emotional Intelligence
"In regard to measuring emotional intelligence – I am a great believer that criterion-report (that is, ability testing) is the only adequate method to employ. Intelligence is an ability, and is directly measured only by having people answer questions and evaluating the correctness of those answers." --John D. Mayer
- Reuven Bar-On’s EQ-i
A self-report test designed to measure competencies including awareness, stress tolerance, problem solving, and happiness. According to Bar-On, “Emotional intelligence is an array of noncognitive capabilities, competencies, and skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures.”
Multifactor Emotional Intelligence Scale (MEIS)
An ability-based test in which test-takers perform tasks designed to assess their ability to perceive, identify, understand, and utilize emotions.
Seligman Attributional Style Questionnaire (SASQ).
Originally designed as a screening test for the life insurance company Metropolitan Life, the SASQ measures optimism and pessimism.
Emotional Competence Inventory (ECI)
Based on an older instrument known as the Self-Assessment Questionnaire, the ECI involves having people who know the individual offer ratings of that person’s abilities on a number of different emotional competencies.