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Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace:

A Critical Review


for Applied
Psychology, 2004

Moshe Zeidner*
University of Haifa, Israel

Gerald Matthews
University of Cincinnati, USA

Richard D. Roberts
University of Sydney, Australia

Cet article est une revue critique des thories et rsultats empiriques favorables
lintelligence motionelle ( I.E.) et son prtendu rle dans lenvironnement
professionnel. On sintresse au statut suppos de lI.E. dans la performance
au travail, la satisfaction et lvaluation de la carrire et des comptences
(surtout dans la domaine de la slection et de lorientation). Globalement,
cette revue de questions prouve que les recherches rcentes ont fait de grands
pas dans la comprehnsion de lutilit de lI.E. au travail. Les preuves strictement scientiques sont cependant insufsantes, la littrature accordant une
conance excessive aux avis dexperts, aux anecdotes, aux tudes de cas et aux
enqutes prives non publies. On propose, la n de larticle, quelques
directives pratiques pour favoriser le dveloppement et lutilisation de mesures
de lI.E. dans les situations professionnelles.
This paper critically reviews conceptualisations and empirical evidence in
support of emotional intelligence (EI) and its claimed role in the occupational
environment. Consideration is given to the purported status of EI in occupational and career assessment (with particular emphasis on personnel selection and placement), job performance, and satisfaction. Overall, this review
demonstrates that recent research has made important strides towards
understanding the usefulness of EI in the workplace. However, the ratio of
hyperbole to hard evidence is high, with over-reliance in the literature on
expert opinion, anecdote, case studies, and unpublished proprietary surveys. The
review concludes by providing a number of practical guidelines for the development and implementation of EI measures within occupational settings.

* Address for correspondence: Moshe Zeidner, Center for Interdisciplinary Research of Emotions, University of Haifa, Mt Carmel, 31905, Israel. Email: Zeidner@research.haifa.ac.il
International Association for Applied Psychology, 2004. Published by Blackwell Publishing,
9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main Street, Malden, MA 02148, USA.



Emotional intelligence (EI) is a relatively new and growing area of behavioral
research, having caught the imagination of the general public, the commercial
world, and the scientic community. The concept resonates with a current
zeitgeist emphasising the importance of self-awareness and understanding,
redressing a perceived imbalance between intellect and emotion in the
life of the collective Western mind. Emotional intelligence also connects
with several cutting-edge areas of psychological science, including the
neuroscience of emotion, self-regulation theory, studies of metacognition,
and the search for human cognitive abilities beyond traditional academic
Although Thorndike (1921), Guilford (1956), and later, Gardners (1983)
research into social intelligence hints at the importance of emotions to
intellectual functioning, the term EI was not brought into mainstream
psychology until the 1990s (Mayer, DiPaolo, & Salovey, 1990; Salovey &
Mayer, 1990). Currently, Mayer, Salovey, and colleagues argue that EI
incorporates a set of conceptually related psychological processes involving the processing of affective information (see Mayer & Geher, 1996; Mayer
& Salovey, 1997; Salovey & Mayer, 1990, 1994). These processes include
the appraisal and expression of emotions, assimilation of emotions in
thoughts, understanding emotion, and the regulation and management of
For a concept that up until recently had received short shrift, the impression
that the study of EI is a pivotal area of contemporary psychology appears
difcult to dispute. Thus, EI has been touted as a panacea for modern
business and the essential but often neglected ingredient of nursing, legal,
medical, and engineering practices (see Zeidner, Matthews, & Roberts,
2001). In some commentators eyes, EI even provides the medium by which
educational reform can and nally will reach its full potential, across primary, secondary, and tertiary levels of schooling (see Zeidner, Roberts, &
Matthews, 2002, for a critical review).
The current paper provides a critical analysis of the claimed role of
emotional intelligence in the occupational environment. Following a brief
overview of the conceptualisation and measurement of EI, consideration
is given to an emerging literature that promotes the assessment, training,
and the individuals utilisation of emotional intelligence in the workplace.
Throughout, an attempt is made to bring to the readers attention the scant,
and sometimes highly controversial, empirical evidence used to support
the importance of EI in the workplace. This approach naturally indicates
avenues that future research might protably explore. The paper concludes
by presenting some practical guidelines for the development of EI measures
for occupational selection purposes.
International Association for Applied Psychology, 2004.




Popular interest in EI has, at times, tended to obscure denitional clarity
(Matthews, Zeidner, & Roberts, 2002). The emerging literature on EI contains
disparate terminology, including not only emotional intelligence (Goleman,
1995; Salovey & Mayer, 1990), but also emotional literacy (Cooper &
Sawaf, 1997), emotional quotient (Cooper, 1997), and personal intelligences
(Gardner, 1983). To further complicate the situation, the sub-components of
EI are variously referred to as branches (Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey,
2000), factors (Bar-On, 1997), or competencies (Boyatzis, 1982).

Definitions of EI
No matter what its hue, the aforementioned proponents all lay claim to the
fact that their concept constitutes a generalised, far-reaching intelligence
covering an array of emotional functions. Unfortunately, thus used, the
term too often appears all encompassing and protean, such that EI is left
bereft of conceptual meaning. For example, the populist, though widely
inuential account offered by Goleman (1995) appears to dene EI by
exclusion: as any desirable feature of personal character not represented
by cognitive intelligence. More recently, Goleman (1998, 2001, see also
Boyatzis, Goleman, & Rhee, 2000) suggests that two domain facets dene
the competencies associated with EI: (a) ability awareness versus management of emotion, and (b) targetwhether competence relates to self versus
others. The Cartesian product of these two facets (i.e. ability by target) yields
the following four components: (a) awareness of emotions in self; (b) awareness of emotions in others; (c) management of emotions in self; and (d)
management of emotions in others. However, although this analysis suggests some elds of inquiry, it does not identify a unifying common element
to the different components. Furthermore, this conceptualisation does not
tell us how to distinguish EI from other, distinct abilities and personality
traits that may inuence recognition and regulation of emotions (e.g. trait
anxiety, coping dispositions).
Perhaps the most widely accepted scientic denition of EI is the ability
to monitor ones own and others emotions, to discriminate among them,
and to use the information to guide ones thinking and actions (Salovey
& Mayer, 1990, p. 189). This denition identies emotional information
processing as a necessary precursor of emotional regulation, and as we have
argued elsewhere, probably constitutes the most workable contemporary
denition of EI (see Matthews et al., 2002). By contrast, another leading
researcher (Bar-On, 1997) characterises EI as an array of non-cognitive
capabilities, competencies, and skills that inuence ones ability to succeed
International Association for Applied Psychology, 2004.



in coping with environmental demands and pressures (p. 16). This broader
denition makes no direct reference to the acquisition, retrieval, and instantiation (through appropriate behaviors) of emotional information. It appears to
exclude cognitive skills that might contribute to emotion management,
although, confusingly, Bar-On also lists apparently cognitive abilities such
as problem solving and reality testing as components of EI. Conversely,
Bar-Ons denition places more emphasis on adaptation to environmental

Models of EI
Mayer and colleagues distinguish between (1) mental ability models,
focusing on aptitude for processing affective information, and (2) mixed
models that conceptualise EI as a diverse construct, including aspects of
personality as well as the ability to perceive, assimilate, understand, and
manage emotions. These mixed models include motivational factors and
affective dispositions (e.g. self-concept, assertiveness, empathy; see Bar-On,
1997; Goleman, 1995). These conceptual disagreements are mirrored by a
major disjunction in measurement paradigm. Those who conceptualise EI
as a fairly well-dened set of emotion-processing skills (e.g. Mayer, Caruso,
& Salovey, 1999, 2000) aim to assess EI through objective, performance
tests. Conversely, those who view EI as encompassing multiple aspects of
personal functioning (e.g. Bar-On, 1997; Boyatzis et al., 2000; Goleman,
1995) aim to measure EI through self-report protocols. By and large, these
tests are designed to assess beliefs and perceptions about an individuals
competencies in specic domains (Salovey, Woolery, & Mayer, 2001).
Table 1 summarises some of the cardinal differences among mixed and
ability models of EI along a number of dimensions, such as conceptual
context, focus, dimensionality, measurement procedures, and their psychometric properties. The manifest differences, contained in this table, should
alert the reader to a particularly problematic feature associated with current
theories of EIwhatever is being measured within mixed models, it is
unlikely the same type of EI as that assessed by mental ability models.
We take up this notion still further in the passages that follow.
A number of problems and serious omissions currently plague the research
on EI conducted under the mixed-model banner, which employs self-report
methodologies (see Davies, Stankov, & Roberts, 1998; Matthews et al., 2002;
Roberts, Zeidner, & Matthews, 2001). According to Barrett, Miguel, Tan, and
Hurd (2001), self-report measures of ability suffer from low reliability, low or
no criterion-related validity, limited construct validity, and are easily faked. It
is also questionable whether items asking students to self-appraise intellectual
ability (e.g. I am an extremely intelligent student) would make for a valid
measure of any intelligence. Moreover, tests of EI that assess non-cognitive
International Association for Applied Psychology, 2004.



Comparison of Mixed vs. Ability Models of Emotional Intelligence

Model of Emotional Intelligence

Mixed Models

Ability Models
EI is viewed as a well-dened
and conceptually related set
of cognitive abilities for the
processing of emotional
information and regulating
emotion adaptively


EI viewed as melange of competencies

and general dispositions for adaptive
personal functioning and coping
with environmental demands. The
construct encompasses multiple
aspects of emotional and personal
knowledge and personal functioning
that are rather loosely related to
emotion, including: motivation,
personality traits, temperament,
character, and social skills
Personality/ Psychological adjustment
Self-awareness, self-motivation,
self-regulation, empathy, social
skills, assertiveness, stress tolerance,
impulse control, coping with
stress, reality testing, social
problem solving, etc.
Anywhere from 4 to 2 dozen
abilities. These can be grouped
into 4 core areas: self-awareness,
self-regulation /management,
social awareness, relationship
management and social skills
(Cherniss & Goleman, 2001)

Key proponents

Goleman (1995), Bar-On (1997)

Quasi-personality (self-report,
Likert-type scales)

Examples of scales

Bar-Ons EQ-i, Schuttes EI scale,

Boyatzis and Golemans Emotional
Competence Inventory, Coopers
EQ Map
No veridical scoring criteria. Scores
obtained by linear sum of Likerttype scale response categories
scored in direction of high EI

Conception of EI

Psychological focus
Theoretical model
Typical facets

Number of

Scoring of scales

International Association for Applied Psychology, 2004.

Intelligence/ Performance
Emotion identication,
understanding of emotions,
assimilation of emotion in
thought and use of emotions
to enhance thought, emotion
4 major branches:
identication, understanding,
usage, and self-regulation
(Salovey et al., 2000)

Hierarchical modelfrom basic

psychological processes to
higher more psychologically
integrated processes
Mayer et al. (2000a)
Competency (performance type
items such as identication of
emotions in pictures, identifying
progressions and blends of
emotions, solving problems, etc.)
Mayer, Caruso, & Saloveys

Consensus, Expert, and

Target scoring protocols,
with presumable veridical or
objective scoring criteria




Model of Emotional Intelligence

Mixed Models

Ability Models

Factor structure

Little empirical data. General

factor found for individual
published scales, but little
evidence to support claims
of multiple factors (cf. Petrides
& Furnham, 2000)

Reliability of scales

Satisfactory (Bar-On, 1997;

Dawda & Hart, 2000)

Susceptibility of items
to response sets

Inconsistent data; some evidence

for extreme item endorsement
(Dawda & Hart, 2000)
Very lownegligible correlations
with IQ (Bar-On, 2000;
Derksen et al., 2002)

Inconsistent with 4-branch

model. Exploratory factor
analytic data consistent with 3
factor models of perception,
understanding, regulation
(Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey,
2000; Roberts et al., 2001)
Low to Moderate (Roberts
et al., 2001); inconsistency
among scoring procedures
and low subtest reliabilities
Not relevant

Convergent validity
(vis-a-vis ability)

Divergent validity
(vis-a-vis personality)

Low discriminant validity

vis-a-vis personality measures,
particularly N

Predictive validity

Good, but may reect confounding

with personality (Janovics &
Christiansen, 2001)

Moderate correlations
of about .30 with ability
(Mayer et al., 2000; Roberts
et al., 2001)
Good discriminant validity,
with low correlations with
Big 5 personality facets
(Roberts et al., 2001)
Good, but may reect
confounding with ability
(Janovics & Christiansen,

traits (e.g. assertiveness, optimism, impulse control) seem to be tapping

dimensions of individual differences that relate to established personality constructs rather than to intelligence (Matthews et al., 2002).
In view of the foregoing problems associated with the use of self-report
measures, Mayer, Salovey, and colleagues have advocated the development of
objective, performance-based ability indicators of EI (see e.g. Mayer, Caruso
et al., 1999, 2000; Mayer & Salovey, 1997; Mayer, Salovey et al., 2000a, 2000b).
Consequently, task-based measures engage participants in exercises designed
to assess abilities supporting emotionally intelligent behavior. The abilitybased mode of assessment, and its underlying four-branch conceptual model
of EI, has gained currency largely because it appears to be performance International Association for Applied Psychology, 2004.



oriented and empirically based. Unfortunately, there is considerable difculty

in determining objectively correct responses to stimuli involving emotional
content, and in applying truly veridical criteria in scoring tasks of emotional
ability (Roberts et al., 2001). Proponents of EI as a type of cognitive ability
have promoted alternative scoring procedures in order to discriminate
right from wrong answers on performance-based measures of EI (consensual,
expert, target; see Mayer, Caruso et al., 2000). While still in their infancy
and requiring stringent empirical studies to ascertain certain shortcomings
and alternatives the rather novel approach adopted to measurement in ability
models, along with positive results to be discussed shortly, suggests that they
may be the focus of research on EI for some time.

Emotional Competencies
Another approach, sharing more in common with mixed models but moving
beyond a rigid conceptualisation of EI, advocates differentiation between
emotional intelligence (a dispositional aptitude) and emotional competencies
(learned capabilities) (Boyatzis, 1982; Goleman, 2001). Based on a host of case
studies, anecdotal accounts, and evaluation studies, Goleman (1998) concludes that the major qualities differentiating successful from unsuccessful
executives are the competencies underlying (or presumably nested within)
EI. Failing executives, apparently, have poorer emotional control, despite
strengths in cognitive abilities and technical expertise.
Under this formulation, EI encompasses such characteristics as motives,
traits, and aspects of ones self-image. In short, EI designates the potential
to become skilled at learning certain emotional responses. By contrast,
emotional competencies are learned capabilities, based on EI, that result in
outstanding performance at work (Goleman, 2001). Akin to the distinction between uid and crystallised ability (cf. Matthews et al., 2002), EI (as
a uid ability) does not guarantee that individuals will actually manifest
competent behaviors at the workplace. That is, there is no guarantee that
the individual has been exposed to essential environmental experiences or
learning situations and practices necessary to acquire specic emotional competencies or skills (e.g. assertiveness, service orientation, initiative). Whereas
EI may determine a persons potential for learning practical job-related
emotional and social skills, the level of emotional competencies (as a crystallised ability) manifested by that person shows how much of that potential
she or he has actually realised. It is emotional competence then that aids the
learning of job-related skills and which translates EI into on-the-job capabilities. For example, in order to be able to actually empathise with anothers
plight, one needs to have learned the specic empathic skills that translate
into caring and compassionate pastoral counseling, bedside-nursing, or effective
psychotherapy (cf. Cherniss & Goleman, 2001).
International Association for Applied Psychology, 2004.



Within this general framework, a large array of competencies have been

claimed to be critical for success in occupational settings (see e.g. Boyatzis
et al., 2000; Cooper & Sawaf, 1997; Weisinger, 1998). For example, Goleman
(1998) lists 25 different competencies necessary for effective performance in
various occupational contexts. Thus, condentiality is touted as important
for loan ofcers and priests, while trust and empathy appear vital for psychotherapists, social workers, and marriage counselors. Among the specic
competencies claimed to be of critical importance in a variety of occupational
settings are the following:
Emotional self-awareness. This competence includes identication of emotion
and understanding how emotions are related to ones goal, thoughts, behaviors,
and accomplishments (Goleman, 1998; Weisinger, 1998).
Regulation of emotions in the self. This competence involves intentionally
eliciting and sustaining pleasant and unpleasant emotions when considered
appropriate, effectively channeling negative affect, and restraining negative
emotional outbursts and impulses (Boyatzis, 1982; Goleman, 1998).
Social awareness of emotions and empathy, which includes awareness of
others feelings, needs, and concerns, understanding and sympathising with
others emotions, and responding to others unspoken feelings (Goleman,
1998; Huy, 1999; cf. Salovey & Mayer, 1990; Williams & Sternberg, 1988).1
Regulating emotions in others. This competence incorporates inuencing
others, effectively communicating with others, and managing conicts
(Weisinger, 1998).
Motivational tendencies, which include such components as internal
strivings, attributions, and need for achievement (Bar-On, 2000; Boyaztis
et al., 2000; Cooper & Sawaf, 1997; Goleman, 1998; Weisinger, 1998).
Character, which includes trust and integrity (Cooper & Sawaf, 1997;
Goleman, 1998; Weisinger, 1998).
The preceding framework is not, of course, without its critics. Thus, to
some researchers, competencies is a confusing and ambiguous concept
(see Barrett et al., 2001). Indeed, how specic competencies are related
to the more overarching concept of EI is uncertain. Furthermore, it is
presently unclear to what extent a number of specic competencies may
be nested within each of these facets. Thus, certain competencies such as
impulse control, achievement motivation, and adaptability are subsumed
under regulation of emotions in self, whereas conict resolution, teamwork,
visionary leadership, and communication skills are nested within management of emotions in others (cf. Goleman, 2001). Whether placing all such
concepts under the EI banner confuses, rather than claries, the role of

Mayer, Caruso and Salovey (2000) see this construct as a shadow variable one that
mimics EI in several respects, but that seems conceptually and ontologically distinct.
International Association for Applied Psychology, 2004.



emotional competencies in the workplace would seem a contentious

point. Because the eld of EI remains new, many of the aforementioned
conceptswhich have been studied in organisational psychology for some
time (often with mixed results)are in fact better understood than this edgling
concept. We are cautious, however, of being denitive in making a nal
judgment of this approach. On one hand, the process of reconceptualising
each of the preceding concepts as forms of EI (or competencies) may
lead to obfuscation. On the other hand, dealing with distinct but possibly
interrelated competencies may be more tractable for research and practical


Recently, the use of EI measures for career selection and placement purposes has begun to gather momentum in many organisations in the Western
world. Thus, more and more companies are realising that EI skills may
be a vital component of any organisations management philosophy (and
subsequent success). A survey of benchmark practices among major corporations found that four out of ve companies are now trying to promote
EI in their organisations. The concept of EI is thought to be useful when
evaluating ongoing functioning and the well-being of employees at critical
stages of their careers (i.e. selection, training, placement, and promotion).
As one group of writers has argued: If the driving force of intelligence in
twentieth century business has been IQ, then . . . in the dawning twenty-rst
century it will be EQ (Cooper & Sawaf, 1997, p. xxvii).

Gowing (2001) traces the roots of EI in organisational settings to classic
management theory and practice. Indeed, many of the strategies used in early
assessment centers evaluated non-cognitive abilities akin to EI (e.g. social
awareness, understanding others, communication). These abilities were found
to be predictive of successful performance in managerial positions in many
corporations. Furthermore, over three decades of psychological assessment
research has vindicated the importance of taking social and emotional
competencies into consideration when attempting to predict occupational
effectiveness (e.g. Boyatzis, 1982; Campbell, Dunnette, Lawler, & Weich,
1970; Howard & Bray, 1988; Kotter, 1982). In a now classic study, Kotter
(1982) identied a number of personal characteristics discriminating more
from less successful general managers, including such social-emotional
competencies as optimism, communication and relationship skills, and need
for achievement. Furthermore, research by Boyatzis (1982) has identied a
International Association for Applied Psychology, 2004.



number of social competencies (i.e. socialised power, self-esteem, positiveness) that appear predictive of future managerial success.
Based on their survey of the intervention literature in the domain of
management, Cherniss and Goleman (2001) conclude that interventions
targeted at EI-based competencies are effective and tend to enhance such
desired outcomes as self-awareness and rapport. Thus, they conclude: Taken
together, all these interventions demonstrate that it is possible for adults to
develop EI competencies (p. 214). These authors go on to offer methods
for developing specic EI domains (e.g. developing social skills via modeling).
Furthermore, in order to maximise the effectiveness of these programs,
Cherniss and Goleman (2001) suggest a number of useful guidelines
(e.g. creating an encouraging and supportive environment for intervention;
using models of desired skills; inoculating against setback and providing
follow up support). These guidelines appear to have had some success.
Several unsubstantiated claims have appeared in the popular literature
and the media about the signicant role of EI in the workplace. Thus,
EI has been claimed to validly predict a variety of successful behaviors at
work, at a level exceeding that of intelligence (see Cooper & Sawaf, 1997;
Goleman, 1998; Hay Group, 2000; Weisinger, 1998). In the Time article
which helped popularise EI, Gibbs (1995) wrote, In the corporate world . . .
IQ gets you hired but EQ gets you promoted (p. 59). Watkin (2000) suggests,
without empirical support: Use of EI for recruitment decisions leads to
90-percentile success rates. He goes on to claim that what distinguishes top
performers in every eld, in every industry sector, is not high IQ or technical
expertise, it is EI (p. 91). Similarly, Goleman (1995) has claimed, from
research on over 500 organisations by the Hay Group, that EI (rather than
IQ) accounts for over 85 per cent of outstanding performance in top leaders.
Of note, however, Goleman is unable to cite empirical data supporting any
causal link between EI and any of its supposed, positive effects.

The Predictive Validity of EI

Much of the current interest focusing on EI in organisational settings stems
from a desire to explain differential attainment of occupational success,
which cannot adequately be accounted for by IQ alone. However, assessment of EI is only cost-effective to the extent that it provides information
additional to that provided by measurement of established ability and personality constructs. Thus, EI measures must demonstrate not just criterion
and predictive validity, but also discriminant or incremental validity, with
respect to existing tests. Establishing predictive validity is made more difcult by the lack of convergence between different types of EI test; Bar-Ons
self-report scale, the EQ-i is only modestly correlated (at .46) with the
Mayer-Salovey MEIS ability test, for example (Bar-On, 2000). Self-report
International Association for Applied Psychology, 2004.



and quasi-objective tests are also differentiated by their correlations with

other constructs. The MEIS is modestly correlated with general intelligence,
for example, but self-reports are typically independent of intelligence (see
Matthews et al., 2002, for a review of data). Self-report scales, but not
ability scales, are highly correlated with existing personality questionnaires.
Studies of the EQ-i (e.g. Dawda & Hart, 2000; Newsome, Day, & Catano,
2000) have found that most of the variance in this instrument can be attributed to the well-known Five Factor Model of personality. EQ appears to be
largely low neuroticism, with smaller contributions from extraversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. Hence, there is a problem with divergent
validity; it has not been established that questionnaire measures of EI add
much to orthodox personality assessments.
Overall, conventional intelligence tests do a very reasonable job of
predicting occupational criteria (especially when compared to personality
measures, as we shall demonstrate shortly) (see Hunter & Schmidt, 1996).
General ability predicts anywhere from about 10 per cent to 30 per cent
of the criterion variance in job performance, leaving about 90 per cent to
70 per cent of the variance in success unaccounted for (see e.g. Jensen, 1980,
1998). A review of the literature by Hunter and Hunter (1984) suggests that
cognitive abilities have a mean validity for training success of about .55
for all known job families. In addition, studies surveyed by Hunter and
colleagues show that ability tests are valid across all jobs in predicting job
prociency. The validity coefcients vary by both outcome criteria (higher
for job training and lower for job performance) and job complexity (higher
for greater job complexity).
According to Sjoberg (2001), one reason for the interest in the noncognitive factors may simply be that it has proved to be very difcult to
improve, in the cognitive domain, on traditional measures of general
intelligence. As Schmidt (1994) points out:
After over 50 years of research . . . it is now evident that renements in the
measurement of abilities and aptitudes are unlikely to contribute nontrivial
increments to validity beyond that which is produced by good measures of general
ability. The areas of personality, biographical data, physical abilities, and perhaps
interests are considerably more promising in that respect. (pp. 348349)2

In general, personality measures are considerably less predictive of

job performance than are ability measures. Meta-analyses of relationships

Whereas one may object to the use of self-report measures to assess EI (which is purportedly an ability and would thus require more objective performance-based measures), this
assertion does not hold with respect to personality, where self-report measures may be useful,
provided that respondents are motivated to respond truthfully.
International Association for Applied Psychology, 2004.



between the Big Five and job performance suggest that, even when
corrections are made for statistical artifact, mean validity coefcients do
not exceed .2.3 (Barrick & Mount, 1991, 1993; Tett, Jackson, Rothstein &
Reddon, 1999). However, higher correlations may be found when moderator
factors are taken into account. For example, extraversion is modestly
predictive of success for people in management and sales, but not for those
in other professions (Barrick & Mount, 1991). In general, conrmatory
studies, that are guided by some a priori hypothesis, obtain higher validity
coefcients than purely exploratory studies (Tett et al., 1999). Criteria other
than objective performance may be more strongly linked to personality.
These existing personality studies place some constraints on the expected
validity of questionnaire scales for EI. Generally, it seems unlikely that scales
such as the EQ-i will explain large percentages of variance in performance
criteria, although scales that are less strongly correlated with the Big Five
might potentially do so. Existing research also shows that personality traits
linked to emotion may also have both positive and negative effects depending
on context (Matthews, 1997). Neuroticism appears to relate to low EI, in that
high N persons are moody, vulnerable to stress, and tend to cope ineffectively.
However, across the board, high N is not a barrier to occupational success:
Barrick and Mount (1991) found that the corrected correlation between N and
job prociency was a paltry .07. High N does seem to relate to performance
impairment in highly stressful occupations such as police work, but, conversely, high N relates to greater work effort and sales volume in insurance
salespersons (Mughal, Walsh, & Wilding, 1996). Neuroticism may sometimes
act as a spur to occupational achievement. Agreeableness (A), another correlate
of the EQ-i, also has a near-zero overall correlation with job performance
(Barrick & Mount, 1991). However, it seems that high A may be benecial in
teamwork situations (Hough, 1992), but low A is related to superior performance when managers operate under high levels of individual autonomy
(Barrick & Mount, 1993). Qualities of agreeableness such as empathy, altruism,
and interpersonal sensitivity are central to conceptions of EI, but these qualities
may mitigate against effective performance in jobs requiring ruthlessness,
toughness, and individual initiative. It follows that research on EI should be
acutely sensitive to possible moderator factors, and, unlike conventional ability,
emotional intelligence may have both positive and negative associations with
performance, depending on contextual factors.
Over the past few years, a number of studies have attempted to determine
the concurrent validity of EI in predicting job performance, either in simulated
settings or on the job. We now examine this empirical literature.
Empirical Studies: Reported Positive Results. In one of the rst studies
of its kind, Janovics and Christiansen (2001), using an incidental sample of
176 undergraduates (70% female), found that EI (as assessed by the Mayer International Association for Applied Psychology, 2004.



Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence TestMSCEIT) was modestly

correlated with job performance (r = .22)as assessed by supervisors ratings
of employees on items evaluating professional work duties. Interestingly,
job performance correlated signicantly with only two of the four branches
of this test: Perception (r = .14) and Understanding (r = .30). This result is
curious since these higher-order factors are the least cognitive of the fourbranch model of EI. Nevertheless, when added to a regression equation
using cognitive ability and the Big Five factor of Conscientiousness, as covariates, a general EI score from the MSCEIT added 3 per cent to the incremental variance of the job performance criterion. Janovics and Christiansen
(2001) conclude (we might argue, contentiously): While EI measurement is
unlikely to be as useful as popular authors may suggest, empirical evidence
using the most advanced available measure suggests that EI offers some
additional contribution beyond measures of existing constructs (p. 6).
Dulewicz and Higgs (2000) reanalysed data from a seven-year study of
the career progress of 58 managers in the UK and Ireland assessing three
domains of self-reported ability: EQ, IQ, and managerial competency. Emotional competencies were derived from a job competency inventory (e.g.
perceptive listening, integrity, stress tolerance, motivating others). EI was
found to contribute to the prediction of the job advancement criterion
above and beyond managerial EI and self-reported intellectual performance, adding about 36 per cent incremental variance to the prediction of
level of advancement over a seven-year period. Taken together self-reported
cognitive and emotional intelligence accounted for 52 per cent of the criterion variance. Unfortunately, this study failed to assess the full spectrum
of EQ and did not cover classic facets identied with EI such as emotion
awareness and emotion regulation. Moreover, the fact that intelligence level
was self-reported renders highly problematic any claims that EQ shared
higher correlation with the criterion than IQ.
Bachman, Stein, Campbell, and Sitarenios (2000) hypothesised that emotional competencies enable account ofcers to achieve greater success in
collections. Based on a small sample of 36 account ofcers, a best practices group was found to possess a level of EI signicantly higher than
that of the North American population at large. These individuals also
performed better than a less successful groupparticularly in the area of
problem solving skills. The best practices group scored higher on the EQ-i
scales of Optimism and Happiness. In a second study, based on 34 account
ofcers, the high cash collectors group performed better than did the low
cash collectors group on all EQ-i sub-scales, with the exception of Empathy
and Impulse Control. However, no effort was made to control for IQ or
personality factors that may, in part, account for the observed differences.
Indeed, a number of studies based on Bar-Ons EQ-i purportedly support
the validity of EI in the workplace. In fact, the publishers of the Bar-On test
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assert that it is a better predictor of job success than IQ, referring to a few
(as yet unpublished) studies in support of this claim. For example, Bar-On
(1997) cites a study conducted on a sample of 81 chronically unemployed
individuals. These individuals had unusually low EQ-i scores, with the lowest
scores on Assertiveness, Reality Testing, and Happiness. Similarly, Bar-On
(1997) found that individuals from the Young Presidents Organization
(i.e. whose membership is dependent on individuals reaching top leadership
positions in expanding companies) obtained scores on the EQ-i (on virtually all sub-scales) exceeding the average by signicant amounts. According
to Bar-On, this groups success was dependent on an ability to be very
independent and to assert their individuality, while being able to withstand
various stressors occurring within the job.
The direction of causality in each of these instances raises some concerns.
In particular, low EI scores among the unemployed are likely to be a consequence (rather than a cause) of being chronically unemployed. Similarly,
those performing well in their job are likely to report high levels of emotional stability.
This argument notwithstanding, Bar-On (2000) reports that in a survey
of nearly 100,000 employees in 36 countries, social responsibility surfaced
as one of the most important factors determining effectiveness at work.
However, according to Barrett et al. (2001), the latter study is little else but
a typical name-catching exercise, whereby the authors claim that social
responsibility is important for success and because their test supposedly
measures social responsibility, it is valid for predicting success. Bar-On,
however, does not cite any predictive or concurrent studies in this chapter
to support his claims. In the EQ-i technical manual (1997), Bar-On asserts
that the data indicate a strong connection between EQ-i scores and job
performance, based on a self-rating scale tapping a workers sense of competence (p. 140). This assertion is based on a study of 324 workers from
the US and Canada, who performed the EQ-i and a (self-reported) Sense of
Competence Questionnaire. The correlation between the tests while high
(r = .51), needs to be qualied by the fact that both measures are based on
self-reports, presumably having considerable overlap with the Big Five
personality constructs, especially neuroticism, which predicts self-efcacy.
Notably, no objective measure of job performance criteria, which might
have elucidated the veracity of this claim, was collected.
Finally, Jordan, Ashkanasy, Hartel, and Hooper (2002) have demonstrated that coaching can improve the effectiveness of low EI teams so that
their performance is functionally identical to that of high EI teams.
Empirical Evidence: Negative or Mixed Results. In a recent review, Dulewicz
and Higgs (2000) noted that while the concept of EI is purportedly based
on extensive research evidence, the organisational applications of EI tend
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to be based on derivative arguments and largely anecdotal descriptions

(p. 341). Barrett at al.s review (2001) concurs 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. While proprietary data collected in organisational settings may be the surface of a rich and deep research tradition, it
is nevertheless of uncertain validity. When a study is submitted for publication in a peer-review journal, although the process is imperfect, it does
provide some quality control for the methods and results and conclusions
(Cherniss, 2001).
Barrett at al. (2001), one of the most vociferous group of critics of the EI
construct, have argued that the irrational exuberance surrounding EI stems
from the concept being inappropriately linked to past research, exaggerated
claims, and the fact that its major proponents come from particularly prestigious colleges. Barrett et al. have identied a number of glaring incongruities between assertions made by key proponents regarding EI and the results
of the actual research they cite. As a case in point, consider Golemans
(1995, 1998) reference to a study of Bell Laboratory engineers in which the
top performers were reportedly more emotionally intelligent than their
peers (although not differing in level of general intelligence). A careful
reading of the original report shows that this is pure conjecturethe
Bell Laboratory engineers were never actually tested with any instrument
designed to assess EI. Nevertheless, the conclusions of this study, in support
of the important role of EI in occupational studies, have been accepted
uncritically. More damaging to the eld, perhaps, is the fact that these
unsubstantiated claims have been recycled in numerous popular books and
articles on EI in the workplace (e.g. Cooper & Sawaf, 1997; Gibbs, 1995;
Hay Group, 2000).
In fact, several studies examining the predictive validity of EQ in organisational studies show negative results. In the study by Janovics and Christiansen
(2001), two self-report measures of EI, the Trait Meta-Mood Scale (Salovey
et al., 1995) and the Schutte EQ test (Schutte, Malouff, Hall, Haggerty,
Cooper, Golden, & Dornheim, 1998), were uncorrelated with assessed job
performance. Self-reported EI showed very little convergent validity with
cognitive ability, correlated weakly with performance-based measures, and
failed to demonstrate criterion-related validity.
Fox and Spector (2000) assessed the concurrent validity of three components of EI (empathy, emotion regulation, and self-presentation), affective traits
(positive and negative affectivity), and general and practical intelligence,
against the decision to hire (based on the simulated interview), as criterion.
Whereas some of the affective and ability measures were related to interview
outcomes, both directly and mediated by the interviewers response, mood
regulation was not signicantly related to interview outcomes. A mean
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Decision to Hire index, based on a combined measure of hire and

qualication ratings and two interviews, was only modestly related to proxy
measures of EI, such as self-regulation (r = .17), perspective-taking (r = .21),
and personal distress (r = .19). No effort was made to partial out the effects
of cognitive ability or personality in examining the unique effects of EI in
predicting outcomes.
Slaski (2001) studied 224 middle and senior managers from the UKs largest
supermarket chain. Data were gathered on EI (via the EQ-i) along with
bio-data and measures of distress, morale, quality of working life, and
general mental health. Management performance was gauged by assessments of immediate line managers who were asked to rate the frequency of
specic behaviors based on a critical success factor model relating to aspects
of performance (e.g. setting objectives, planning and organising, team
work, etc.). Whereas the total EQ-i score was moderately related to morale
(r = .55), distress (r = .57), general mental health (r = .50), and quality of
work satisfaction (r = .41), it was only very modestly related to managerial
performance (r = .22). Managerial performance correlated modestly with
the Interpersonal factor of the EQ-i (r = .23), but negligibly with the Interpersonal Factor (r = .01) and weakly with Stress Management (r = .15) and
Adaptability (r = .18). Even these weak relationships need to be qualied since no correlation was partialled with general ability or personality
factors. More puzzling is an intervention study that was subsequently
conducted with this sample. As one might expect, compared to a control
group, those who underwent an EI training program scored higher on EQ
six months following completion of the EQ-ieven when statistically controlling for initial EQ scores. However, the Management Performance measure
showed no signicant improvements in performance.

The Direct Effect of EI in the Workplace

EI is claimed to affect a wide array of work behaviors, including employee
commitment, teamwork, development of talent, innovation, quality of service, and customer loyalty. According to Cooper (1997), research attests
that people with high levels of emotional intelligence experience more career
success, build stronger personal relationships, lead more effectively, and
enjoy better health than those with low EQ. Why is this so?
First, more emotionally intelligent individuals presumably succeed at
communicating their ideas, goals, and intentions in interesting and assertive
ways, thus making others feel better suited to the occupational environment
(Goleman, 1998). Second, EI may be related to the social skills needed
for teamwork, with high EI individuals particularly adept at designing projects that involve infusing products with feelings and aesthetics (Mayer &
Salovey, 1997; Sjoberg, 2001). Third, organisational leaders who are high
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on EI, in concert with a supportive organisational climate and the human

resources team, may affect the relationship in the work setting, which, in
turn, impacts upon group and individual EI and organisational commitment (Cherniss, 2001). EI may also be useful for group development since
a large part of effective and smooth team work is knowing each others
strengths and weaknesses and leveraging strengths whenever possible
(Bar-On, 1997). Finally, EI is claimed to inuence ones ability to succeed in
coping with environmental demands and pressures, clearly an important set
of behaviors to harness under stressful work conditions (Bar-On, 1997).
EI has also been claimed to be an important factor in organisational
leadership. George (2000) used the Salovey, Mayer, and Caruso fourbranch model of EI as a heuristic framework for outlining the importance
of EI in effective leadership. George asserts that by accurately identifying
how followers feel, leaders better appraise and inuence followers emotions
so they are supportive of leaders goals and objectives, thus insuring a
shared vision. Leaders can use intense emotions as signals to direct their
attention to issues in need of immediate attention, and can use emotions to
prioritise demands. They can also better anticipate how well their followers
will react to different circumstances and changes. High EI leaders are
claimed, according to this model, to generate excitement, enthusiasm, and
optimism in the work environment and are said to be able to maintain an
atmosphere of cooperation and trust through the development of high
quality interpersonal relations. Leaders can also effectively instill in others
an appreciation of the importance of work activities and convey the message
to their followers that they are optimistic about their personal contributions.
Nevertheless, the awareness of negative mood may foster systematic and
careful information processing and may be disadvantageous when leaders
are dealing with complex problems in which errors carry high risk. Unfortunately, no empirical data have been provided in support of any of Georges
(2000) claims. Clearly, what is required is empirical research testing the
ideas proposed in this paper.
A recent theoretical model proposed by Jordan, Ashkanasy, and Hartel
(2002) implicates EI as a moderator variable that predicts employee emotional and behavioral responses to job insecurity. According to this model,
employees low in EI are hypothesised to be more susceptible than employees
high in EI to negative emotions resulting from job insecurity. Therefore,
they are more likely to behave defensively and negatively (e.g. hypervigilance, copping out, buck passing, avoidance), lowering affective
commitment and increased job-related tension in response to their insecurity.
These two emotional reactions then lead to negative coping (e.g. distancing,
wishful thinking) and defensive decision making behaviors. By contrast,
high EI employees are better able to deal emotionally with job insecurity
and will be able to ameliorate the effect of job insecurity on their affective
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commitment. This frequently leads to increased work commitment and

effort, positive coping behaviors (problem-focused), and reframing of perceptions of insecurity as an existing challenge. Unfortunately, no empirical
data were provided in support of this theoretical model and its validity
remains to be vindicated.
Empirical Evidence. Empirical research supporting the direct role of EI
in the workplace, as the preceding account perhaps implies, is meager.
Nevertheless, some research relating EI to occupational satisfaction and
commitment has been conducted. Thus, Bar-On (1997) reports a modest
relationship between total EI scores and job satisfaction in a sample of 314
participants (mainly salespersons, teachers, college students, and nurses).
Sub-scale scores assessing Self-Regard, Social Responsibility, and Reality
Testing predicted about 20 per cent of the variance in work satisfaction.
However, the nature of that link varies from occupation to occupation.

Overall, this section of our review suggests that the current excitement surrounding the potential benets from the use of EI in the workplace may be
premature or even misplaced. Whereas EI appears related to performance
and affective outcomes, the evidence for performance is very limited and
often contradictory. Much of the predictive validity of questionnaire measures of EI may be a product of their overlap with standard personality
factors. Furthermore, the literature is replete with unsubstantiated generalisations, with much of the existing evidence bearing on the role of EI in
occupational success either anecdotal or impressionistic and/or based on
unpublished or in-house research. Thus, a number of basic questions still
loom large: Do emotionally intelligent employees produce greater prots
for the organisation? Does EI enhance well-being at the workplace? Are the
effects of training in EI likely to result in increases in job performance
and/or work satisfaction?


Thus far, it may be assumed that our review of EI has largely been negative.
Let us assume, however, that the preceding problems may in the future be
circumvented inside a carefully controlled (and widely disseminated) systematic program of research. What then? Prior to any widespread use of EI
for occupational and career assessment, EI measures will need to be meticulously constructed, standardised (including norming), and validated for
use in specic occupational groups and for particular purposes (selection,
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placement, promotion, and so forth). It is important also that assessment of EI

be cost-effective; the payoffs for psychological screening in pre-employment
selection to rule out emotional or social decits may vary according to the
nature of the job.
Ideally, the standards for developing EI measures to be used for selection
in an organisation should be similar to those of other selection predictors.
In this respect, in defence of EI, not all of the most valid predictors are
theoretically based. They evolve from job analyses and are subsequently
shown to be valid predictors of criteria. This process is not necessarily
desirable, but certainly represents something that is not uncommon in the
literature. Thus, future progress requires a developing synergy between
empirically focused attempts at improving criterion (and discriminant)
validity, and a stronger theoretical and psychometric basis for tests. The
following then are a series of recommendations for further developing the
theoretical efcacy and psychometric adequacy of tests for EI in occupational environments.


A vocational (or career-relevant) EI measure will ideally be one with demonstrated theoretical and empirical relevance to a particular occupational
context. Unfortunately, the predominant view of EI as an underlying emotional competence has not been clearly established, and there are other,
equally viable, conceptions of what is actually measured by EI tests (Zeidner
et al., 2001). Indeed, with so many disparate denitions of EI, the phenomenon being dealt with may be entirely different, although the name remains
the same (see also Zeidner et al., 2001). In general, EI and its components
should be differentiated from related constructs in the same conceptual
domain, such as wisdom, practical intelligence, emotional adaptiveness,
emotional knowledge, social intelligence, and ego resiliency (Izard, 2001).
The schism between ability- and mixed-model approaches to EI is especially
Other important conceptual questions have been largely ignored: Is EI a
basic competence that develops early in life, or a set of acquired skills and
items of knowledge? In the eld of cognitive intelligence, Ackerman (1996)
has demonstrated that intellectual knowledge (Gk) is distinct from uid
(Gf) and crystallised (Gc) intelligences. Perhaps EI should be assessed as
acquired knowledge and, like Gk, assessed through test items tapping
specic content areas for knowledge. Informal tacit knowledge might also
be assessed (Sternberg & Grigorenko, 2000). Is EI expressed primarily as
explicit, declarative skills, or as implicit procedural skills that are
difcult to express verbally? A procedural conception of EI suggests that
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tests relying on overt opinions and judgments should be replaced by performance tests that might, for example, assess speed of response to suitable
emotional stimuli. Does EI even make sense as a purely individual attribute,
or should it be conceptualised as a t between person (P) and environment
(E)? A PE t conception suggests assessment of EI in terms of the degree
of match between personal and organisational characteristics.
These questions call for a program of psychometric research that aims
explicitly to operationalise and discriminate different conceptions of EI.
A science of EI requires specifying the denition, number, type, and range
of primary emotional abilities within a formal psychometric model. Thus
far, this disciplined scientic approach to understanding EI has not been
realised, although Mayer et al.s (2000a, 2000b) four-branch model is an interesting beginning.

Issues of Utility: Matching the Test to the Job

An essential step in constructing EI instruments to meet organisational
requirements is to identify precisely the specic contexts, needs, and purposes
for which that EI test is being developed. Without sounding trite, different
jobs call for varying levels of social and emotional involvement and activity.
Disparate occupations also require different types of interpersonal interaction. In some jobs (e.g. nursing) one interacts emotionally with others
during most of their time on the job. Inside such professions, there is a real
need to have frequent interchanges with clients at an emotional level.
Incumbents within these jobs not only need to talk with others face-to-face
and exhibit positive, prosaic behavior (e.g. receptionist), but also assess the
reactions of others, and attempt to inuence others emotions and motives
(e.g. insurance agent). Some jobs require matching ones own behavior to
the needs of others (e.g. psychotherapist), creatively inuencing others by
engaging their emotions, and transforming ones own emotions and also
those of others. In other jobs (e.g. mathematician) one interacts with people
a smaller percentage of time, such that the need to be able to recognise and
manipulate others feelings is relatively unimportant, but one may need to
manage personal frustrations.
The preceding account suggests that a systematic emotional task analysis
needs to be conducted in order to match the different facets of EI to the
criterion space dened by the demands of different kinds of occupation.
The selection of the relevant emotional competencies to be assessed
needs to be matched with the relevant career components. For example,
an analysis of the criminal justice system may suggest that police ofcers
need to be able to identify and regulate their aversive emotions. Thus, a
measure of emotional regulation should be developed and included in an
assessment battery that the researcher might devise for police ofcers.
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This measure, in turn, should be validated against behavioral criteria for

regulating emotions at work, such as frequency of angry verbal behaviors.
It is an open question whether multifaceted general EI measures will be
adequate for this purpose. An alternative approach would be to develop
contextualised tests oriented towards the particular emotional challenges of
specic jobs. For example, an EI test for police ofcers might include tests
dened by job-relevant items, probing, for example, reactions to confrontations, to the paperwork intrinsic to modern policing, and to dealing with
ethnic minorities.
Just as traditional job analysis is increasingly being supplemented by
cognitive task analysis, so too we may eventually need different levels of
analysis for the emotional requirements of jobs. At present, practitioners
may need to rely on a relatively supercial dissection of emotional requirements. However, as the theory of emotional competence becomes more fully
articulated, more theory-driven analysis of emotional tasks at work may
become possible.

Choosing Appropriate Research Designs. The process of validating an
EI measure requires convincing, empirical evidence that a measure of EI
predicts career success or other important on-the-job criteria. The most
basic task for validation research is to show that EI measures reliably differentiate between low- and high-performing groups on particular workrelated criteria. Such studies should focus on predicting success both across
jobs and within jobs, identifying the occupations for which EI is more and
less important (e.g. social workers vs. nancial analysts). The use of EI
component sub-tests also needs to be validated using large-scale, traitperformance validation designs. It is highly plausible that effective performance in different occupations involves different patterns of emotional (or
social) characteristics.
Throughout we have emphasised the importance of discriminant validity
with respect to existing ability and personality constructs. What EI might
predict over and above IQ is still an open question. Nevertheless, as one
reviewer noted, one may take issue with the notion that EI needs only to
predict variance above and beyond ability. Thus, EI may (a) predict different criterion behaviors than those predicted by cognitive ability or (b)
reduce the negative impact of selection based on ability measures alone for
specic social categories (ethnic, social class, gender). In other words, we
might nd that (a) it is necessary to broaden the criterion space, or (b)
systematic research is needed that demonstrates EI is somehow a less-biased
measure than IQ (of which we have doubts, see Matthews et al., 2002). Such
issues aside, EI is only one factor, along with abilities, interests, motivation,
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and personality traits, that encompass sets of individual difference variables

that are part of a persons career prole (Lowman, 1991). EI measures
might be used together with other variables in the predictor stock in a
multiple regression prediction equation of relevant job behaviors, or used in
a non-compensatory multiple-hurdle framework. In this case, a sequential
model is adopted for integration of multiple measures used in any selection
battery that assesses, in turn, job-relevant abilities, occupational issues, and
appropriate measures of EI. Under such a framework, if a person has both
the ability and interest patterns associated with a particular occupational
cluster, the EI factors may be assessed for goodness of t. While being time
consuming and expensive, this process will most likely result in more accurate assessment.
Uncertainty over the causal role of EI in job success requires longitudinal
designs tracking the interplay between EI and attainment. High EI may be
an eventual consequence of working in elds that involve the problems of
others, but professional success may be guided by other variables, such as
specic skills and competencies. For example, physicians and judges
may both score high on EI, yet a person who scores high on EI will not
necessarily make a good doctor or judge. On the other hand, scoring low
on EI (e.g. low emotional regulation) may constitute grounds for exclusion
from certain occupations (e.g. social work, police work, clinicians, and
teachers), provided it can be demonstrated that low EI is meaningfully
associated with unacceptable performance in these occupations. An important task for future research is establishing cut-off points that may be used
for exclusion.
Choosing Adequate Criterion Measures. The impetus of proponents of
EI in the workplace should be on testing the validity of EI in predicting a
wide array of meaningful criteria. As a rst step, it would seem important
to look for the variance explained by EI with regard to conventional criteria
(supervisors ratings of performance, objective criteria such as sales, absenteeism, etc.) and whether EI remains predictive with IQ and personality
factors statistically controlled. It is not clear whether these criteria should
be recast somewhat to reect the importance of emotional factors in the
workplace. In any case, the criteria against which EI predictors in occupational selection and placement are validated should be valid, reliable, and
uncontaminated. Questionnaire measures, in particular, may be subject to
criterion contamination: i.e. the criterion measure itself has been based, at
least in part, on predictor measures (see Cohen & Swerdlik, 1999). For
example, the EQ-i (Bar-On, 1997) includes scales for general mood, which
might be seen as a criterion rather than a predictor. Choice of criterion
measures requires an understanding of the relevance of the criterion to the
organisation, as we next discuss.
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Assessment in the Service of the Organisation

Assessment of EI should meet the needs of the organisation: it is essential
to distinguish the well-being of the organisation from the well-being of the
employee. In the context of PE t, Schneider, Kristof-Brown, Goldstein,
and Smith (1997) identify a dark side to good t. High levels of individual
satisfaction may lead to inexibility and low adaptability. At the organisational level, cooperation and harmony are benecial in the short run, but,
over the longer term, lead to institutional complacency and failure to
recognise the need for change. Strategic long-term decision-making may be
especially vulnerable to such dangers. Schneider et al. recommend hiring
decision-makers for diversity of values, competencies, and inclinations.
The resulting conicts and turmoil may, in the long term, support the
organisations capacity to adapt to changing events.
Research on coping and adaptation similarly points towards the difculties of deciding which coping strategies are most effective in any given
situation (Matthews & Zeidner, 2000). Although high EI is correlated with
use of coping strategies seen as desirable, such as high task-focus (Bar-On,
1997), these characteristics are not automatically benecial to the organisation. Often, choices of coping produce a pattern of costs and benets over
a period of time. For example, a task-focused employee may succeed in
nding a comfortable niche within the organisation that fails to maximise
his or her potential to make a contribution to it.
Hence, if using EI tests, organisations need to investigate exactly what
qualities are being selected, and how a preponderance of these qualities will
inuence the organisation over shorter and longer time periods. Certainly,
selection of adaptable, emotionally aware, optimistic, and socially skilled
individuals has potential benets. However, there are obvious dangers should
it transpire that the organisation comes to be mainly peopled by Machiavellian,
narcissistic, or supercially smooth individuals; those who can make a good
rst impression, but may lack more substantial personal qualities.

Despite the important role attributed to a wide array of emotional competencies in the workplace, there is currently only a modicum of research
supporting the meaningful role attributed to EI (and nested emotional competencies) in determining occupational success. Many of the popular claims
presented in the literature regarding the role of EI in determining work
success and well-being are rather misleading in that they seem to present
scientic studies supporting their claims, while in fact failing to do so. In
short, despite some rather fantastic claims to the contrary, the guiding
principle appears presently as caveat emptor.
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Notwithstanding claims made by proponents of EI with respect to the

important role of EI in career assessment, EI should probably not currently
be included as part of standard job selection (or classication) batteries.
Instead, EI should be used only where warranted by the job description.
Accordingly, when particular emotional skills are part of the job description
(e.g. empathy, conict resolution), one might usefully assess EI, recognising
that considerable skills in professional judgment will be required to interpret
the results with respect to organisational needs. Care must be taken in using
self-report instruments especially, because of their overlap with standard personality scales. By contrast, in those jobs where adequate emotional skills
are really minimal, assessing EI is unlikely to be cost-effective.
Furthermore, EI measures should be used in occupational contexts only
if the instruments are specically developed, normed, and validated to that
end, and demonstrate adequate occupational relevance. Thus, in occupational contexts it is probably best to avoid using some of the more prevalent
broad-brush omnibus EI measures (e.g. MEIS, EQ-i) originally designed for
research and general assessment purposes, until such time as more validation studies using occupational criteria have been published.
There is presently an urgent need for sound taxonomic research that
focuses on determining the EI constructs that are crucial for performance
in particular jobs and for identifying the relevant EI measures that best
assess these affective constructs. While EI may be shown in the future to
reduce adverse impact in selection, recent research indicates that the use of
personality testing did not compensate for the adverse impact related to
cognitive ability testing (Ryan, Ployhart, & Friedel, 1998). These authors go
on to suggest that caution be exercised in presuming a reduction in adverse
impact by the addition of personality measures.
In general, the literature shows that the predictive validity of general
mental ability (i.e. g) is far from perfect. Thus, looking for better predictors with lower levels of adverse impact is well advised and ideologically,
legally, and politically defensible. Even so, using EI as a predictor without
validation is an erroneous and potentially damaging practice, since it
appears premature to determine that measures of EI are a worthwhile
selection tool. At the same time, while there is hype surrounding EI in organisational settings, most of it without scientic basis, over time there may
constitute a body of research pointing to the usefulness of EI in the workplace. Indeed, future research may demonstrate that EI facets provide
important dimensions otherwise missing from the conventional batteries
assessing ability and interests.
In sum, while the jury is still out on the utility of EI for occupational selection and performance it would appear rash to dismiss the potential value and
importance of EI in all occupational settings. The fact that there are domains
of work where the handling of emotional encounters is pivotal renders EI,
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even if a theoretical soup-stone (see Matthews et al., 2002), highly inuential

and we believe important. Systematic, validated research studies, based on
the guidelines suggested above, will inform us if, when, and how a more
clearly dened EI can be effectively used in occupational settings.

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