Emotional Intelligence Information: RETURN TO MAIN MENU

What Is Emotional Intelligence (EI)?

How Does This Model Compare to Other Approaches to Emotional Intelligence?

On Mixed Models of Emotional Intelligence

Many web sites and popular books on emotional intelligence use quite different definitions of emotional intelligence than the one used here. For example, one well-known model by Daniel Goleman (1998) includes over 25 characteristics of emotional intelligence -- everything from emotional self-awareness (which the model featured here includes as well) -- to such diverse qualities as teamwork and collaboration, service orientation, initiative, and achievement motivation (which the model here does not include).

Traits such as teamwork and collaboration, service orientation, initiative, and achievement motivation certainly are important personality traits. An important question to ask, however, is whether they have anything to do either with emotion, intelligence, or their combination.

Models that mix together emotional intelligence qualities with other personality traits unrelated to either emotion or intelligence are often referred to as mixed models of emotional intelligence. (Alternatively, they can be considered broad models of personality traits). The term "mixed model" stems from the fact that the models mix together the core idea of emotional intelligence with a variety of other personality traits.

Advantages of the Ability Definition Employed on this Site

The scientific advantages of the unitary, more cohesive, ability-model definition used here are many. The definition does not include such valuable personality characteristics as achievement orientation or initiative found in the mixed models, for the simple reason that those attributes are conceptually distinct and are not directly related either to emotion or intelligence.

The ability (or four-branch) definition used here emphasizes that emotional intelligence involves the ability to reason with and about emotions, and the capacity of emotion to enhance thought. The clarity of conceptualization and terminology surrounding the ability definition of EI ensures that scientists and practitioners can:

  • clearly communicate to others what they are measuring/studying

  • clearly integrate what is being studied with other variables (such as achievement motivation) that have their own, discrete, research programs within the scientific literature

  • clearly distinguish what one is measuring from other valuable and important personality variables

  • employ measures (i.e., psychological tests) based on the definition with reasonable certainty that such measures will assess the same attribute (because it is clearly defined)

    • measures of emotional intelligence using this definition, even when developed in different laboratories, are likely to correlate highly with one another (assuming they are well constructed)

    • when the measure correlates with an outcome, one can be relatively certain that one knows exactly that it is emotional intelligence as an ability that is related to the outcome (as opposed to some other attribute that has been mixed in)

  • respect the known value of other, discrete personality variables such as -- for example -- teamwork, and the need for achievement -- as independent and important predictors of positive outcomes in their own right

For a more detailed discussion of these issues, see:

Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. R. (2000). Models of emotional intelligence. In R. J. Sternberg (Ed.). Handbook of Intelligence (pp. 396-420). Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.