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Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other

office than to serve and

obey them. — David Hume

The 15 factors of the Bar-On model

From Darwin to the present, most descriptions, definitions and conceptualizations of emotional-social intelligence have
included one or more of the following key components, all of which are included in the Bar-On conceptual model: (i) the
ability to understand emotions as well as to express our feelings and ourselves; (ii) the ability to understand others’
feelings and relate with people; (iii) the ability to manage and control our emotions so they work for us and not against us;
(iv) the ability to manage change and solve problems of an intrapersonal and interpersonal nature; (v) the ability to
generate positive mood and be self-motivated. According to the Bar-On model, each of these 5 meta-factorial
components, or factorial clusters, of EI comprise a number of closely related competencies, skills and behaviors, 15
factors in all, which are described below.
1. Self-Regard:
This EI factor is defined as our ability to look inward and accurately perceive, understand and accept ourselves. It
is having the capacity to accurately look at and evaluate ourselves, which can eventually lead to accepting and respecting
ourselves. Respecting ourselves is, essentially, the ability to like the way we are with all the ‘good points’ and ‘bad points’
that we possess. Self-acceptance is thus the ability to accept our positive and negative qualities, strengths and
weaknesses as well as our limitations and possibilities. This aspect of emotional-social intelligence is directly associated
with self-awareness. It impacts feelings of self-esteem, security, inner strength, self-assuredness, self-confidence and
healthy self-reliance (rather than being dependent on others); but, self-regard is not synonymous with these feelings.
Feeling sure of ourselves is dependent upon basic self-respect, which is associated with a well-developed sense of
identity of who we are as a person.
A person with good self-regard often feels fulfilled and satisfied. Additionally, an optimal level of self-regard impacts the
way we conduct and carry ourselves as well as the general image that we project outwardly. For leaders, projecting the
image or “presence” of a successful leader is nearly as important as being a successful leader. Excessively high levels
of self-regard, however, can be problematic. For example, people with extremely high levels of self-regard can appear
narcissistic and egocentric at times; and they typically tend to talk about their positive attributes, strengths and
accomplishments often making others feel uncomfortable in their presence. High levels of this factor, therefore, need to
be balanced with good interpersonal skills so that these more negative aspects of self-regard do not create problems in
social interactions with family, friends and colleagues at work.
At the opposite end of the self-regard continuum are feelings of personal inadequacy and inferiority that can contribute to
frustration, depressive mood and difficulty in accomplishing personal goals and enjoying life.
It is important to point out from the outset that although some psychologists have claimed that self-regard and a number
of other factorial components of the Bar-On EI model are personality traits, these EI factors are in essence competencies,
skills and behaviors which are often associated with and even significantly correlated with various aspects of personality
as well as various other bio-psycho-social factors but are not synonymous with them. For example, self-regard is also
associated with self-actualization, but the two are obviously not identical entities. Additionally and unlike personality traits,
these EI factors are malleable, change over time and can be improved.
2. Emotional Self-Awareness:
This EI factor is defined as our ability to be aware of, identify and understand our emotions. First and foremost,
emotional self-awareness is the ability to recognize our various emotions and distinguish between them. For example, it
is to know when we are angry and when we are scared and the difference between the two which many people confuse.
It is not only the ability to be aware of our emotions and distinguish between them, but is also the ability to understand
why we feel the way we do. Emotional self-awareness is to know what we are feeling and why, and to know what causes
these feelings.
This is probably the most important factorial component of emotional-social intelligence and integrally associated with
other important EI factors such as the ability to accurately understand how others feel and to express our own feelings as
well as to effectively manage and control emotions. Emotional self-awareness appears, in one form or another, in every
description, definition and conceptualization of this construct from Darwin to the present day; and there is no EI
psychometric instrument that does not include a measure of this important EI factor. This is, therefore, the minimal
component required by any model that attempts to describe EI.
People who possess high emotional self-awareness are said to be “in touch with their feelings” and have a good
understanding of their inner being. On the other hand, serious deficiencies in this area are found in an emotional disorder
known as “alexithymia” which is at the pathological end of the EI continuum; and these people have great difficulty knowing
what they feel, what caused those feelings and how to distinguish between them. This condition has long been thought
to be one of the contributing factors in the development of psychosomatic disorders as well as other psychological and
physical disturbances. It is also interesting to know that alexithymia correlates highly with “treatment rejection” (i.e., the
inability to benefit from psychotherapy). This finding is logical, because it is very difficult for people who are deficient in
emotional self-awareness to understand their emotions and how their feelings impact their lives. As such, (a) an average
to above average level of emotional self-awareness together with (b) an average to above average cognitive capacity and
(c) motivation for self-improvement are the minimal three criteria for predicting the ability to benefit from any form of
intervention from psychotherapy to corporate coaching as well as the outcome such interventions. It is therefore highly
recommended to first examine the strength or weakness of this important factor when preparing the initial debriefing
session designed to convey the results of EI-oriented testing and/or interviewing in order to gauge the individual’s general
ability to benefit from coaching, counseling or psychotherapy.
Last, it is important to note that when this EI factor is weak, it is nearly impossible to develop effective empathy. Simply
put, we cannot understand how others feel if we do not understand how we feel. Often, problems in relating with others
stem from underdeveloped emotional self-awareness, which is highly correlated with empathy.
Together with self-regard, as defined in the previous segment, emotional self-awareness represents the two key
components of what is referred to as “self-awareness” which is being aware of various aspects of our emotions and
feelings in particular and of ourselves in general.
3. Assertiveness / Emotional Self-Expression:
This very important EI factor is defined as our ability to effectively and constructively express our feelings and
ourselves in general, which is based on effective self-awareness. This is the ability to express feelings, beliefs and
thoughts as well as our ability to defend our rights in a nondestructive manner. This is based on self-confidence,
straightforwardness and boldness. Assertiveness, or “emotional-self expression” as it is often referred to, is thus
composed of three key elements: (i) the ability to express our feelings on an emotional level; (ii) the ability to express our
beliefs and opinions on a cognitive level; and (iii) the ability to be stand up for our rights and not to allow others to bother
us or take advantage of us. Assertiveness powers decisiveness. As such, this is an important characteristic for leaders,
needed in making decisions with resolve and authority.
Assertive people are not overly controlled, shy or submissive, and they are able to express their feelings, often directly,
without being aggressive, abusive or destructive. They are able to get their point across without creating disruptive
disturbances while interacting with others. Additionally, these people are often guided by their principles, are bold and
cable of affirming themselves. These are all important qualities for managers and leaders.
Emotional self-expression (assertiveness) and emotional self-awareness are two the most important factorial components
of emotional-social intelligence and strategically important for all conceptual and psychometric models of this construct.
Assertiveness, as it relates to the expression of emotions, was first scientifically studied by Charles Darwin from 1837
until 1872; and he authored the first publication (Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals) in 1872 that describes this
EI factor and its vital importance for survival and adaptation among human beings as well as animals. Based on fairly
recent research findings, moreover, an important part of assertiveness depends on one’s ability to understand emotions
which makes sense. Simply put, how can we effectively express our feelings if we are unaware of what we want to
express? Additional findings suggest the possibility that those suffering from anxiety-related neurotic disorders may have
difficulty in more freely expressing their feelings, perhaps because they feel ashamed of doing so or are fearful of the
reaction and possibly rejection that they will face from others if they do. A high correlation between the EQ-
i™ Assertiveness scale and measures of depression suggests that depressed people may find it difficult to mobilize the
emotional energy required to be assertive and express themselves openly. Additional findings suggest that some
individuals who lack assertiveness may even run the risk of converting these deficiencies in self-expression into
psychosomatic disturbances.
It is also recommended to look at one’s Assertiveness score in addition to the Emotional Self-Awareness score on the EQ-
i™, in order to help asses one’s ability to benefit from counseling, coaching and other forms of intervention such
4. Independence:
This EI factor is defined as our ability to be self-reliant and free of emotional dependency on others. This is the
ability to be self-directed in our thinking and actions. Independent people are self-reliant in planning and making important
decisions. They may, however, seek and consider other people’s opinions before making decisions; but, consulting with
others is not a sign of dependency in this respect. Independence is, moreover, the ability to function autonomously versus
needing protection and support from others. Independent people avoid clinging to others in order to satisfy their emotional
needs. The ability to be independent rests on our degree of inner strength, self-confidence as well as a desire to meet
expectations and obligations without becoming a slave to them.
Based on research findings collected by me and others, independence, or “self-reliance” as it is often referred to, is
associated with the feeling that we are in control and can influence situations. As such, it is an important facilitating factor
in coping with stress and working under pressure. Moreover, independence has been found to be highly correlated with
stress tolerance, problem-solving and assertiveness. For this reason, some suggest that his factor could be more of a
facilitator of emotionally intelligent behavior than an integral factorial component of the construct itself.
This factor is of prime importance for being a successful manager and leader as well as being effective in occupations
that require individuals to work alone and make decisions on their own. Dependent employees make it difficult for teams
to function effectively and efficiently, because they slow up the teamwork process in that they depend on others to show
them what needs to be done and often need assistance in completing their tasks. On the other hand, excessively
independent individuals often do not make good team members either finding it difficult to cooperate with others. As such,
there are most likely optimal levels of independence as is the case with many other human attributes.
5. Empathy:
This important EI factor is defined as our ability to be aware of and understand how others feel. It is being sensitive
to what, how and why people feel the way they do. Being empathetic is being able to “emotionally read” other people,
which is the ability to pick up emotional cues. Empathetic people care about other people and show interest in them and
concern for them; they are able to express warmth and affection to others. This EI factor is central to, what is referred
to as, “social-awareness” and to be a dependable, responsible and loyal group member. It entails putting the interests
of others ahead of self when necessary and being a cooperative, contributing and trustworthy team player. For leaders,
this entails taking and delegating responsibility which means leading by example within the team and in the organization
as a whole.
This factor is another extremely important component that has surfaced in most models that have attempted to describe
emotional and social intelligence over the years. Our ability to be aware of and understand others is, first and foremost,
dependent on our ability to be aware of and understand ourselves. Empathy, emotional self-awareness and emotional-
self expression (assertiveness) represent the essential foundations and building blocks of the EI construct; and these
factors, especially empathy, are fundamental for people involved in the helping professions such as social workers,
psychologists and physicians. Without empathy, it would be nearly impossible for individuals to function in these specific
Research findings have shown that the lack of empathy represents an important factor in aggressive, antisocial and
psychopathic behavior, which is important for diagnostic and remedial applicability. Serious deficiencies in empathy are
typically found in sociopaths, rapists and murderers who show little concern for their victims.
On the other end of the continuum, individuals who are overly empathetic are often considered to be weak managers and
leaders, especially when it comes to the need to be critical of and reprimand employees for unacceptable behavior and
to make difficult decisions such as dismissing people when need be.
6. Social Responsibility:
This factor is defined as our ability to identify with social groups, among friends, at work and in the community, and
to cooperate with others in a constructive and contributing manner. This involves acting in a responsible manner,
even though we may not benefit personally. Socially responsible people are seen as possessing “social consciousness”
and a basic concern for others, which is manifested by being able to take on group- and community-oriented
responsibilities. This component of emotional-social intelligence is associated with doing things for and with others, acting
in accordance with our conscience and upholding a set of agreed upon social principles, rules and standards common to
the group. Being part of these various groups, in which we find ourselves, entails having a sense of interpersonal
sensitivity, accepting others and using their talents for the good of the collective and not just for the good of the
self. Another name for social responsibility is “moral competence” (at times referred to as “ethical competence” as well as
“professionalism” in the workplace), which in its simplest form is doing the right thing.
Social responsibility is highly correlated with empathy, indicating that they are sharing a very similar conceptual domain.
Based on studies that have examined this factor, it was found that social responsibility is related to identifying and
understanding feelings in addition to being aware of emotions; and the underlying construct appears to be related to being
sensitive, considerate and concerned about others and their feelings as well as demonstrating responsibility.
In a very large survey conducted in 36 countries between 1988 and 1998, social responsibility surfaced as one of the
most important factors thought to determine effectiveness at work. Approximately 100,000 managers from hundreds of
private companies and government organizations, primarily in Europe, were asked what they considered to be the most
important characteristic of effective and successful employees. A number of the more recurring answers clearly focused
on social responsibility described variously as “respect and consideration for others,” “loyalty toward people and the goals
of the organization,” “cooperation with others,” and “responsibility for both the success and failure of the organization.”
Individuals who are seriously deficient in this EI ability may develop antisocial attitudes, act abusively towards others and
take advantage of people.
7. Interpersonal Relationship:
This EI factor is defined as our ability to establish and maintain mutually satisfying relationships and relate well
with others. Mutual satisfaction describes meaningful social interactions that are potentially rewarding and enjoyable for
those involved. Being adept in interpersonal relationship skills is characterized by giving and receiving warmth and
affection and conveying intimacy when appropriate. This component of emotional-social intelligence is not only associated
with the desirability of cultivating friendly relations with others, but with the ability to feel at ease and comfortable in such
relationships and to possess positive expectations concerning social interaction. This social skill is based on sensitivity
towards others, a desire to establish relations as well as feeling satisfied with relationships.
Based on a number of studies that have examined this factor, it has been shown that there is a connection between the
ability to be aware of emotions and the ability to create and maintain interpersonal relationships. Additionally, it has been
shown that the ability to give and receive warmth in relations is not only dependent on the ability to be aware of emotions
but also on the ability to understand feelings and emotions within those relations. People who are adept at this ability are
pleasant to be around, appear outgoing and warm. They often contribute to a positive atmosphere at work. This skill is
a prerequisite for a number of professions and occupations such as marketing, sales and customer service. Individuals
who are weak in interpersonal relationship are often described as shy, introverted, uneasy around others and prone to
avoiding social contact. They are typically unpleasant to be with and work with.
Last, the EQ-i™ Interpersonal Relationship scale that taps this EI factor has demonstrated a high negative correlation
with a measure of borderline personality disorder, which makes sense in light of the fact that individuals who are diagnosed
with this disorder have great difficulty in establishing and maintaining contact (most likely because they lack the ability to
express warmth).
This EI factor is very similar to, if not identical with, “connectedness” defined as the ability to effectively and constructively
connect with others; and at a deeper level, it is based on social-awareness and empathy. All of these various ways of
describing this construct are part of what many refer to as “social skills” in the popular leadership literature. Without good
social skills, leaders will find it difficult if not impossible to manage and lead others.
8. Stress Tolerance:
This important EI factor is defined as our ability to effectively and constructively manage emotions. In essence,
stress tolerance is the ability to withstand and deal with adverse events and stressful situations without getting
overwhelmed by actively and positively coping with stress. It is similar to tactical problem-solving aimed at coming up with
an immediate solution to deal with a stressful problem or situation. This ability is based on: (i) choosing a course of action
for coping with stress, which means being resourceful and effective, being able to come up with suitable solutions and
knowing what to do and how to do it; (ii) an optimistic disposition toward new experiences and change in general as well
as towards our ability to successfully overcome the specific problem at hand, which assumes a belief in our ability to face
and handle these situations; and (iii) a feeling that we can control or influence the stressful situation in some important
way. As such, the ability to effectively cope with stress requires having a repertoire of suitable responses to stressful
situations. It is also associated with the capacity to be relaxed, composed and to calmly face difficulties without getting
carried away by strong emotions. People who have a well-developed capacity for stress tolerance tend to face crises and
problems rather than surrendering to feelings of helplessness and hopelessness. They rarely avoid problematic situations
but face them with confidence.

Research findings have shown that stress tolerance is closely associated with the ability to identify, understand and
control emotions. It also has to do with an ability to cope with environmental demands, to influence stressful events and
actively do something to improve the immediate situation.
This very important component of emotional intelligence is an essential leadership quality, and leaders who are adept in
coping with stress are a true asset to any team and organization. When things get rough, they tend to take control of the
situation and weather the storm.
This ability to actively cope and adjust effectively under pressure and in challenging, demanding and stressful situations
is very important for leadership but for successful leadership. It entails concentrating on the immediate situation and
paying attention to detail in order to continue to function effectively and get the job done. This is critical to the leader’s
ability to withstand complex, trying and stressful conditions, in order to effectively function while remaining calm and
composed. In light of the fact that organizational life and management tend to generate a great deal of stress and pressure,
successful leaders must demonstrate adeptness in this characteristic in order to survive and hopefully thrive.
Anxiety often results when this component is not functioning adequately. People who score significantly low on the EQ-
i™ Stress Tolerance scale may demonstrate symptoms related to stress and anxiety such as tension, irritability,
apprehension, a tendency to worry, poor concentration, difficulty in making decision and even somatic complaints.
9. Impulse Control:
This important EI factor is defined as our ability to effectively and constructively control emotions. More precisely,
impulse control is the ability to resist or delay an impulse or temptation to act; and it assumes a capacity for accepting our
aggressive impulses as well as controlling hostile and potentially irresponsible behavior. It is the ability to maintain
composure and effectively control one’s emotions in challenging and demanding situations. In essence, impulse control
is having emotions work for you and not against you.
After emotional self-awareness (being aware of one’s emotions), empathy (being aware of others’ emotions) and
assertiveness (expressing one’s feelings), impulse control (controlling emotions) represents the fourth foundation stone
of emotional intelligence. As such, this is a key component of most definitions and measures of this construct.
Research findings have shown that impulse control is closely associated, first and foremost, with understanding emotions.
In order function effectively, evidently, it appears that one must understand as well as control emotions.
Impulse control surfaces as an important element in the ability to lead, negotiate and execute conflict resolution. Problems
in impulse control are typically quite visible as well as destructive. They are often manifested by low frustration tolerance,
impulsiveness, anger control problems, abusiveness, loss of self-control and explosive and unpredictable behavior. This
factor surfaces as a key contributor to “derailment” in leadership. Although Bill Clinton is thought to be highly emotionally
intelligent in a number of fundamental areas, he was seriously lacking in this specific aspect of EI which contributed to
the beginning of impeaching proceedings against him.
10. Reality-Testing:
This EI factor governs our ability to objectively validate our feelings and thinking with external reality. This includes
assessing the correspondence between what is internally experienced and what externally exists. Testing the degree of
correspondence between what we experience and what actually exists involves a search for objective evidence to confirm
feelings, perceptions and thoughts. Reality testing, essentially, involves “tuning in” to the immediate situation, attempting
to keep things in correct perspective and experiencing things as they really are without excessive fantasizing or
daydreaming about them. The emphasis is on pragmatism, objectivity and the accuracy of our perception as well as on
authenticating our ideas and thoughts. An important aspect of this EI factor is the degree of perceptual clarity evident
when trying to assess and cope with situations; and it involves the ability to focus when examining ways of coping with
situations that arise. As such, reality testing comprises elements of and is based on perception, affect (emotions) and
cognition. Reality testing is also associated with a lack of withdrawal from the outside world, a tuning in to the immediate
situation as well as lucidity and clarity in perception and thought processes. In simple terms, reality testing is the ability to
accurately and realistically “size-up” the immediate situation.
Reality testing is closely associated with “situational awareness” in that involves being intensely aware of our
surroundings, which includes effectively clarifying and closing potential gaps between our internal perceptions and what
actually exists in the outside world. Effectiveness within this frame of reference depends on first recognizing and
understanding the essentials of the immediate situation as well as quickly assessing the seriousness and potential risk
factors involved, and then attempting to forecast the situation in the near term. Situational awareness (reality testing)
depends on accurately identifying and understanding emotions, which suggests that this factor plays an important role in
the cognitive processing of emotions (a point that has not yet been fully addressed in the emotional intelligence literature).
This EI factor acts as “the rudder” in keeping the cognitive processing of emotions on track. It is associated with a lack of
withdrawal from the outside world and a tuning into the immediate situation as well as lucidity and clarity in perception
and in thought processes.
Problems in reality testing can be catastrophic for organizational existence as they often are for individuals. Severe
psychiatric disturbances, such as psychosis, are fueled by extreme deficiencies in this factorial component of emotional
11. Flexibility:
This factor is defined as our ability to adapt and adjust our feelings, thinking and behavior to new situations and
conditions. This component of emotional-social intelligence refers to our overall ability to adapt to unfamiliar,
unpredictable and dynamic circumstances. Flexible people are agile, synergistic and capable of reacting to change without
rigidity. These people are able to change their minds when evidence suggests that they are mistaken. They are generally
open to and tolerant of different ideas, orientations, ways and practices. They do not experience difficulty beginning new
things or making adjustments in general. They are typically resilient and can easily take on new tasks.
Based on research findings, flexibility is closely associated with the ability to adjust to different social environments. As
such, it is an extremely important EI factor for individuals as well as organizations and a major contributor to organizational
survival. In order to survive in a dynamic market economy, organizations must be flexible and ready to rapidly and
adequately meet change. Flexibility is considered to be one of the most important managerial competencies by the US
Office of Personnel Management. In addition to managerial competencies in general, this factor plays an important part
in conflict resolution, negotiation, mergers and acquisitions.
This factor is important in leadership, because it drives the ability to multitask and resiliently adapt in order to address a
rapidly changing environment, realities and new challenges. Multitasking depends on paying attention to and keeping
track of the essential details in the leader’s immediate surroundings, in order to pivot and turn when need be. All of this
determines how effective the leader will be in responding to altered situations and unexpected conditions. This
characteristic is important for being resourceful, taking the initiative for immediate action, improvisation, resiliency and
adaptability in the face of unpredictable and demanding scenarios.
Lack of flexibility can lead, in some cases, to catastrophic consequences for the organization as a whole. People who
score low on the EQ-i™ Flexibility scale are likely to exhibit rigidity in their thinking and behavior; and they tend to resist
change in general and in themselves in particular. Rigidity in leadership, and within organizations in general, represents
a serious threat to corporate survival.
12. Problem-Solving:
This EI factor governs our ability to effectively solve problems of a personal and interpersonal nature. Problem-
solving together with reality-testing and flexibility for the essential elements of adaptability – they are what drive the
Darwinian theory of survival and adaptability. This important EI factor entails the ability to identify and define problems as
well as to generate and implement potentially effective solutions. It is multi-phasic in nature and includes the ability to go
through the following process: (i) sensing a problem and feeling confident as well as motivated to deal with it; (ii) defining
and formulating the problem as clearly as possible, which necessitates gathering relevant information; (iii) generating as
many solutions as possible; and (iv) implementing one of the solutions after weighing the pros and cons of each possible
solution and choosing the best course of action. People who are adept at problem solving are often conscientious,
disciplined, methodical and systematic in persevering and approaching challenging situations. Task-oriented behavior
also appears to be part of problem-solving together being committed to actively coping with problematic situations in order
to improve them. This skill is also associated with a desire to do our best and to confront problems, rather than avoiding
them. While a methodical approach appears to be important in this process, flexibility and spontaneity are also important
especially as they relate to generating potential solutions (“brainstorming”). Problem-solving entails paying attention to
detail in what is often a very complicated situation, quickly and effectively filtering information as well as prioritizing a
desired course of action that needs to be anchored in good judgment. This process is closely associated with pattern
recognition, which helps one remember what works best in specific situations and the feasibility of applying this approach
again. Memory, therefore, plays a key role in learning from past experiences in order to enhance future performance
through a type of multitasking during the problem-solving process and making the most effective decisions which entails
risk analysis and management in addition to decision-making per se. As such, problem-solving is a complex cognitive
Research findings have suggested that it is important to understand emotions in order to solve problems (or possibly to
solve problems with emotional content). Problem solving is considered to be one of the most important managerial
competencies by the US Office of Personnel Management. Together with reality-testing and flexibility, problem-solving
plays a very important part in the ability to negotiate and resolve conflicts. Strength in this area is a true asset, both
individually and organizationally. This skill is especially critical for effective strategic planning; it is essential in anticipating
and dealing with potentially complex problems on a large scale. This is especially necessary for individuals working alone,
or with minimal supervision, who typically have to deal with situations as they arise without the benefit of group decision-
13. Self-Actualization:
This factor is defined as our ability to set personal goals and the drive to achieve them in order to actualize our
potential. Fundamentally, self-actualization pertains to the ability to actualize our inner potential. It is manifested by
becoming involved in pursuits that can lead to a meaningful, rich and full life. Striving to actualize our potential involves
developing meaningful and enjoyable activities. This can be manifested by a lifelong effort and an enthusiastic
commitment to long-term goals. Self-actualization is an ongoing process of striving toward maximum development of our
competencies, skills and talents. This is associated with persistently trying to do our best and trying to improve ourselves.
It is not merely performance but performing at the highest level. Additionally, excitement about our interests energizes
and motivates us to continue these interests. It is self-motivating and contributes to being fully engaged in those activities
we enjoy doing. It is one of the key “conative” factors considered by David Wechsler to play an important role in facilitating
“intelligent behavior” as he referred to it. It generates emotional energy, which helps motivate us to do our best.
The self-actualization factor comprises a general achievement drive, as well as a sense of direction in life and a desire to
work toward personal goals. It is also infectious in that it tends to have a positive effect on those around us such as in a
team setting. Self-actualization is also associated with and frequently leads to feelings of self-satisfaction.
Together with optimism and happiness, self-actualization generates the self-motivation and energy to drive other aspects
of emotional-social intelligence. This is the fuel trio behind emotional-social intelligence.
Research findings suggest that certain aspects of this factor are related to being committed to and involved with activities
that actively attempt to improve the individual. Intelligent managers and smart companies need to nurture self-
actualization, because it is important for the organization as well as for the individual. Not only should individuals be
allowed to pursue their goals at work as much as is possible, but they should be encouraged to direct some of that energy
to setting and accomplishing organizational goals as well.
Low levels of self-actualization are associated with frustration, despair and even depression. This creates difficulty in
doing things that we want to do and can do. People who receive low scores on the EQ-i™ Self-Actualization scale may
not know what they want to achieve, because they are confused about themselves in general and what they want to do
in life; or they may know what they want to accomplish in life but are unable to realize their potential for various reasons.
Curtailment of personal pursuits, moreover, is one of the key symptoms of depression.
14. Optimism:
This EI factor is defined as our ability to maintain a positive and hopeful attitude toward life even in the face of
adversity. It is represents a positive an uplifting approach to daily living and a very important motivating factor in whatever
we do.
There is a strong connection between optimism and the ability to cope with problems. Optimism also plays an important
role in self-motivation and is a very important factor in coping with stress and achieving goals, which represents a valuable
and desirable leadership attribute. Optimistic individuals typically feel sure of themselves in most situations, believe they
can stay on top of rough situations, hope for the best and are generally motivated to continue even when things get difficult
while pessimists typically give up easier. They usually expect things will turn out right in the end, believe in their ability to
handle most upsetting problems, and typically do not feel they will fail when they begin something new. Optimists
experience many of the same life events as pessimists, but one of the fundamental differences is that optimists weather
these situations better and recover quicker from defeat by learning from their mistakes.
Although optimism associated with emotional intelligence, it is most likely a facilitator rather than an integral part of it.
David Wechsler also considered optimism, together with drive and positive mood, to be “conative factors” that he thought
facilitated intelligent behavior. These factors were also considered to be motivational in nature rather than part of
intelligence itself.
Optimism is an important leadership quality, because it is often associated with embracing some vision or mission that
mobilizes our determination to meet goals designed to maximize individual and organizational potential. This contributes
to being positive and passionate about what we do and fully energized and engaged. The “inspirational leader” is one
who generates energy that impacts the immediate environment and inspires others. Additionally, one’s level of spiritual
development (conducting one’s life in a meaningful and purposeful way) has a direct impact on one’s self-motivation; and
this also includes the drive component of self-actualization and the motivational component of happiness.
Based on one study, there is a strong relationship between optimism and the ability to benefit from coaching, counseling,
psychotherapy and other forms of intervention. This is logical in that optimism is thought to play an important role in these
types of intervention, because people who are pessimistic tend to be passive rather than actively committed to doing
something to improve their general condition. Optimism has also correlated high with a scale of general commitment.
These findings support what has been earlier suggested about estimating an individual’s potential from benefiting from
coaching and other forms intervention by assessing his or her general cognitive capacity, emotional self-awareness and
motivation (which is based on optimism).
The opposite of optimism is pessimism, despair and hopelessness, which are common symptoms of depression.
15. Happiness / Well-Being:
This factor is defined as our ability to feel content with ourselves, others and life in general. This is, essentially, the
ability to feel satisfied with our life, enjoy others and have fun. In this context, happiness combines self-satisfaction,
general contentment and the ability to enjoy life. Happiness involves the ability to enjoy various aspects of our life and life
in general. Happy people often feel good and at ease in both work and leisure; they are able to “let their hair down” and
enjoy the simple opportunities for having fun. This factor is associated with a general feeling of cheerfulness and
While some theorists and researchers do not feel that happiness is part of the emotional-social intelligence construct, the
ability to generate and maintain positive mood is important for self-motivation and serves to energize other EI factors
(together with optimism and the drive component of self-actualization).
Happiness provides two basic functions in the realm of human performance. The first is motivational, and the second
is barometric. The former helps enhance performance by motivating and energizing us, while the latter tells us how well
we have performed and can lead to a general sense of well-being. Together with self-actualization and optimism,
happiness generates the self-motivation and energy to drive other aspects of emotional-social intelligence. Once again,
this is the trio that fuels emotional-social intelligence.
The inability to experience happiness and difficulties in generating positive affect in general are often indicative of
dissatisfaction, discontent and depressive tendencies.


"Emotional Intelligence includes the ability to engage in sophisticated information processing about one’s own and others’
emotions and the ability to use this information as a guide to thinking and behavior. That is, individuals high in emotional
intelligence pay attention to, use, understand, and manage emotions, and these skills serve adaptive functions that
potentially benefit themselves and others".
Mayer and Salovey have a 16 step developmental model of emotional intelligence from childhood to adulthood. It
comprises four branches:
1. The ability to perceive emotions in oneself and others accurately.
2. The ability to use emotions to facilitate thinking.
3. The ability to understand emotions, emotional language, and the signals conveyed by emotions.
4. The ability to manage emotions so as to attain specific goals.
There are then sub-groups of emotional intelligence skills in each of the branches.
1. Ability to identify emotion in one's physical states, feelings and thoughts.
2. Ability to identify emotions in other people, designs, artwork, etc., through language, sound appearance
and behaviour.
3. Ability to express emotions accurately, and to express needs related to those feelings.
4. Ability to discriminate between accurate and inaccurate, or honest versus dishonest expressions of
1. Emotions prioritise thinking by directing attention to important information.
2. Emotions are sufficiently vivid and available that they can be generated as aids to judgement and memory
concerning feelings.
3. Emotional mood swings change the individual's perspective from optimistic to pessimistic, encouraging
consideration of multiple points of view.
4. Emotional states differentially encourage specific problems approaches such as when happiness
facilitates inductive reasoning and creativity.
1. Ability to label emotions and recognise relations among the words and the emotions themselves, such
as the relation between liking and loving.
2. Ability to interpret the meanings that emotions convey regarding relationships, such as that sadness often
accompanies a loss.
3. Ability to understand complex feelings: simultaneous feelings of love and hate, or blends such as awe as
a combination of fear and surprise.
4. Ability to recognise likely transitions among emotions, such as the transition from anger to satisfaction,
or from anger to shame.
1. Ability to stay open to feelings, both those that are pleasant and those that are unpleasant.
2. Ability to reflectively engage or detach from an emotion depending upon its judged informativeness or
3. Ability to reflectively monitor emotions in relation to oneself and others, such as recognising how clear,
typical, influential or reasonable they are.
4. Ability to manage emotion in oneself and others by moderating negative emotions and enhancing
pleasant ones, without repressing or exaggerating information they may convey.


The person you are supervising, sitting next to or negotiating with at work doesn't either have emotional intelligence or
not have emotional intelligence, we all have some to varying degrees.
Mayer, Salovey and Caruso say, "Emotional abilities occur along a continuum from those that are at a relatively lower
level, in the sense of carrying out fundamental, discrete psychological functions, to those that are more developmentally
complex and operate in the service of personal self-management and goals. Crucial among lower level, fundamental skills
is the capacity to perceive emotions accurately. Higher level skills include, for example, the capacity to manage emotions
properly." (American Psychologist, September 2008.)
What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence brings together the areas of emotions and intelligence. People give off emotional
information, and some people are better than others at grabbing this information and using it in their
daily lives. These are the emotionally intelligent individuals.
In academics, a good amount of interest exists in emotional intelligence. As a result, there’s the
inevitable proliferation of definitions, models, and confusion.
Salovey and Mayer 1990. The ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings, to discriminate among
them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and action. Now, let’s break down this
definition. An emotionally intelligent person has three abilities. This person has the ability to:
1) Tune into feelings – whether it’s in herself, loved ones, friends, or strangers.
2) Discriminate between happiness, sadness, depression, love, hate, and other emotions.
3) Use the emotional information that she has gathered to guide her thinking and behavior.
Seven years later, in 1997, Salovey and Mayer modified their definition of emotional intelligence and
introduced a “four-branch model” of emotional intelligence.2
In the 1997 paper, they stated that the earlier (1990) definition was a bit vague and impoverished as it
focussed on perceiving and regulating emotions but left out thinking about them. So here comes the
better, shinier, more confusing definition:
EI involves the ability to perceive accurately, appraise, and express emotion; the ability to access and/or
generate feelings when they facilitate thought; the ability to understand emotion and emotional
knowledge; and the ability to regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth.
Looking at the bones, the definition states that the following abilities are part of
EI: perceiving emotions, using emotions to facilitate cognition, understanding emotions,
and managing emotions to promote growth. The “thinking” that’s been added is within the parts of the
definition. For example, to understand complex emotions, one needs to think about them. This new
definition is reflected in their four-branch model of emotional intelligence. The model, today, is known
as the ability model.
The Four-Branch Model
Up. And. Around.
The model is arranged from more basic processes (perceiving) to higher more complex processes
(managing). Each branch feeds information into the next. See the chart below for a quick visual.

Salovey and Mayer Model
Perceiving Emotions: This branch focuses in on detecting and deciphering emotions in oneself and
others. Salovey and Mayer consider this the most basic part of emotional intelligence. If a person can
decipher emotions in herself and others, it makes the subsequent parts of emotional intelligence
possible. Right below is a list of abilities that one can develop at this branch. The earliest developing
ability is identifying emotions in oneself, and the last developing ability is telling the difference between
real and fake emotions.

Using Emotions (also called “Emotional Facilitation of Thinking” or “Facilitating Thought”): This branch
hones in on the ability to use emotions to facilitate cognitive tasks (thinking, problem solving, spatial
reasoning, etc.). For example, an emotionally intelligent student can use her mood to complete a
tedious deductive reasoning assignment in a short amount of time. 3 The student knows that being sad
helps people conduct careful, methodical work. She can then think of sad thoughts to force a sad mood
and quickly and efficiently finish her task. Immediately below is the list of four early to late developing

Understanding Emotions: This branch consists of the ability to recognize emotional language as well
as recognize slight variations between emotions such as depression and grief. It also includes the
knowledge of how emotions change over time such as shock turning into grief. Right below are the
earlier to later developing abilities at this branch.

Managing Emotions: This branch consists of the ability to regulate emotions in ourselves and others.
In one of Salovey’s papers,3 there’s an example of a politician increasing his anger during a speech in
order to rouse indignation in the audience. So, this emotionally intelligent politician is harnessing his
emotions, whether positive or negative, to achieve his goals. Below are the specific abilities developed
at this branch.


The Genos model revolves around 7 skills that provide for improvements in behavior, decision making and ultimately
performance. These skills are important at work, as emotions are an inherent part of workplace activities at all levels. One
way to better understand is by evaluating what low and high represents for each skill. Developed by Dr Ben Palmer in
collaboration with some other academic colleagues, it helps to specifically understand the role of EI in the workplace. It
has been used for the following purposes to:
 Audit organizational culture and impact strategic culture change
 Identify and develop high potential future leaders
 Enhance leadership effectiveness
 Improve sales and selling skills in the consultative model
 Teach customer service skills
 Prepare work teams for organizational change
 Boost workplace creativity and innovation
 Foster high performing collaboration
Low High
Self Awareness Disconnected Present
Awareness of Others Insensitive Empathetic
Expression Guarded Authentic
Decision Making Limited Expansive
Self Management Temper-mental Resilient
Management Indifferent Empowering
Self Control Reactive Centered
The real benefits to understanding emotional intelligence are that you can consciously make changes to improve each of
these skills. These are not personality traits; rather they are behaviorally based and with some desire, hard work and
good coaching can improve organizational effectiveness in monumental ways.
Genos Model of Emotional Intelligence
Emotions influence our decisions, behaviour and performance both in productive and unproductive ways. Think of a time
when you experienced an emotion – say for example, joy. Perhaps you had a great weekend, or accomplished a difficult
task at work. How did this emotion impact your mood, your energy levels, and the conversations you had with friends or
co-workers? Now think of a different example – say, for example, anger. Perhaps a co-worker said something that ‘rubbed
you up the wrong way’ or you thought that a friend betrayed a confidence. How did this emotion impact your mood and
your behaviours? Perhaps you sent an angry e-mail, or said something in the heat of the moment that you regretted later.
Emotional Self-Awareness
Self-Awareness is about being aware of the way you feel and the impact your feelings can have on decisions, behaviour
and performance. People who are emotionally self-aware are conscious of the role their feelings can play in these areas,
and are better equipped to manage this influence effectively. When we are emotionally self-aware we are present with
the role feelings are playing in our decisions, behaviour and performance. When we are not, we are
often disconnected from this influence.
Emotional Awareness of Others
Awareness of others is about perceiving, understanding and acknowledging the way others feel. This skill helps us
identify the things that make people feel valued, listened to, cared for, consulted, and understood. It also helps us
demonstrate empathy, anticipate responses or reactions, and adjust our behaviour so that it fits well with others. When
we demonstrate this skill effectively we come across as being empathetic. People who do not demonstrate this skill can
come across as being insensitive to the way others feel.
Authenticity is about openly and effectively expressing oneself, honouring commitments and encouraging this behaviour
in others. It involves honestly expressing specific feelings at work, such as happiness and frustration, providing feedback
to colleagues about the way you feel, and sharing emotions at the right time, to the right degree and, to the right people.
People high in authenticity are often described as genuine whereas people low in this skill are often described
as untrustworthy.
Emotional Reasoning
Emotional reasoning is about using the information in feelings (from oneself and others) when decision-making. It
involves considering your own and others’ feelings when making decisions, combining the information in feelings with
facts and technical information, and communicating this decision-making process to others. Feelings and emotions
contain important information. For example, the level of commitment colleagues demonstrate often provides insight into
whether a decision is going to be supported; the emotional appeal of products and services often provides insight into
selling and marketing messages. When this type of emotional information is combined with facts and technical information,
people make expansive, creative and well thought-out decisions. Conversely, people who do not use emotional
information and focus on facts or technical information only tend to be limited in their decision-making.
Emotional Self-Management
Self-Management is about managing one’s own mood and emotions, time and behaviour, and continuously improving
oneself. The modern workplace is generally one of high demands and pressure, and this can create negative emotions
and outcomes. Our mood can be very infectious and can therefore be a powerful force in the workplace; productively or
unproductively. This skill helps people be resilient and manage high work demands and stress rather than
being temperamental at work. People who are proficient in managing their own emotions are optimistic and look to find
the opportunities and possibilities that exist even in the face of adversity.
Positive Influence
Positive influence is about positively influencing the way others feel through problem solving, feedback, recognising and
supporting others work. It involves creating a positive working environment for others, helping others find effective ways
of responding to upsetting events and effectively helping people resolve issues that are affecting their performance. This
skill helps people create a productive environment for others. Positive Influence equips you with the capacity to encourage
colleagues to cooperate and work effectively together. People who can positively influence others’ moods, feelings and
emotions are empowering to work with and easily motivate those around them.
Genos EI-Identify and develop emotional intelligence skills.
Identify and develop the emotional intelligence skills crucial to success in leadership, sales, teamwork and customer
service. Genos EI is a leading EI tool designed to assess self-awareness, understanding others, personal resilience and
influencing ability. It is one of only a handful of internationally recognised emotional intelligence tools and measures
specific workplace behaviours.
These skills can be used to develop the productive states emotionally intelligent individuals experience to become present,
authentic, empathic, expansive, resilient, empowering and centred – and to minimise unproductive states to be less
disconnected, insensitive, guarded, limited, temperamental, indifferent and reactive. The Genos Emotional Intelligence
Inventory or Genos EI, is a 70-item multirater assessment. It was designed specifically for use in the workplace as a
learning and development aid for human resource (HR) professionals and occupational psychologists involved in the
identification, selection and development of employees. Genos EI does not measure emotional intelligence (EI) per-se’;
rather, it measures how often people demonstrate 70 emotionally intelligent workplace behaviors that represent the
effective demonstration of emotional intelligence in the workplace.
Practical applications
Genos EI is used to identify people who will make great leaders and exceptional sales and service professionals. In this
context it is recommended for internal talent benchmarking or identification, and is often used to facilitate internal and
external hiring decisions. It’s greatest value is as a framework to assess and develop critical soft skills in leadership, sales,
teamwork and customer service. These skills include self-awareness, understanding others, personal resilience, and
influencing ability.
Combined with coaching and learning programs to increase how frequently people demonstrate emotionally intelligent
behaviour, Genos EI has been shown to deliver significant returns in employee engagement, leadership effectiveness,
customer satisfaction and sales revenue.
Genos Emotional Intelligence Inventory is a robust and psychometrically reliable and valid assessment of what it purports
to measure; that is, how often individuals are perceived to demonstrate emotionally intelligent workplace behaviour. The
Genos inventories are not perfect and like others never will be. Research with the inventory continues and this manual
will need to be updated overtime. Indeed we have taken steps to further encourage independent research with the
inventory and continue our own in the area. I hope you find this manual to be a valuable resource in your use of the Genos
inventory and hope you find using the inventory a valuable and meaningful experience. Genos Emotional Intelligence
Inventory is a robust and psychometrically reliable and valid assessment of what it purports to measure; that is, how often
individuals are perceived to demonstrate emotionally intelligent workplace behaviour.
Factor name Description
1. Emotional Self-Awareness The skill of perceiving and understanding your own emotions
2. Emotional Expression The skill of effectively expressing your own emotions
3. Emotional Awareness of Others The skill of perceiving and understanding others’ emotions
4. Emotional Reasoning The skill of using emotional information in decision-making
5. Emotional Self-Management The skill of managing your own emotions
6. Emotional Management of Others The skill of positively influencing the emotions of others
7. Emotional Self-Control The skill of effectively controlling your own strong emotions
Emotional knowledge may be culturally and sub-culturally specific. Furthermore, scores on ability based measures of EI
in the workplace do not necessarily equate to performance outcomes that may ultimately be more important in employee
development. Put another way, some individuals may have a high level of emotional knowledge but not have the capability
or necessary experience in applying that knowledge in everyday life. For example, a manager’s knowledge and theory on
how to motivate subordinates may not actually result in that same manager having the competency or skill to do so
effectively. To illustrate this point further, assessment centre research completed by Tatton (2005), found a clear
disconnect between individuals’ emotional knowledge and how they applied that knowledge in role-play based
simulations. In this research, Tatton identified five distinct categories for the demonstration of emotional knowledge,
1. The Emotionally Intelligent, individuals with high levels of emotional knowledge and who demonstrated effective use
of that knowledge in the role play.
2. The Emotionally Intuitive, individuals with low levels of emotional knowledge yet applied that knowledge effectively
in the role play (e.g., demonstrated sensitivity to interpersonal cues and positive interpersonal behaviours).
3. The Emotionally Negligent, individuals with high levels of emotional knowledge yet could not apply that knowledge
effectively in the role play (e.g.,missed others’ emotional cues). Interestingly, Tatton reported that upon reviewing their
performance the ‘‘emotionally negligent’’ individual was able to discuss what he or she should have done or what would
have been a better approach in the role play.
4. The Emotionally Manipulative, individuals with high levels of emotional knowledge who chose to use this knowledge
in a more nefarious intent during the role play (e.g., lowering others’ self-esteem to enhance their own position or
dismissing others’ feelings so as not to validate them).
5. The Emotionally Unintelligent, individuals with low levels of emotional knowledge and who failed to demonstrate
effective use of that knowledge in the role play (e.g., missed others’ emotional cues, etc).
On the Efficiency of Emotional Intelligence Training in Adulthood
Moïra Mikolajczak
March 2015 – Although we all experience emotions, we markedly differ in the extent to which we identify, express,
understand, regulate and use our own and others’ emotions. The concept of emotional intelligence (EI) has been proposed
to account for this idea (Mayer & Salovey, 1997). Past debates on the status of EI have given birth to a tripartite model of
EI (Mikolajczak, Petrides, Coumans, & Luminet, 2009).
Briefly, this model posits three levels of EI: knowledge, abilities and traits. The knowledge level refers to what people
know about emotions and emotionally intelligent behaviors (e.g. Do I know which emotional expressions are constructive
in a given social situation?). The ability level refers to the ability to apply this knowledge in a real-world situation (e.g., Am
I able to express my emotions constructively in a given social situation?). The focus here is not on what people know but
on what they can do: Even though many people know that they should not shout when angry, many are simply unable to
contain themselves. The trait level refers to emotion-related dispositions, namely, the propensity to behave in a certain
way in emotional situations (Do I typically express my emotions in a constructive manner in social situations?). The focus
here is not on what people know or on what they are able to do, but on what they typically do over extensive periods of
time in social situations. For instance, some individuals might be able to express their emotion constructively if explicitly
asked to do so (so they have the ability), but they do not manage to manifest this ability reliably and spontaneously over
time. These three levels of EC are loosely connected – declarative knowledge does not always translate into ability, which,
in turn, does not always translate into usual behavior – and should therefore be assessed using different instruments.
Knowledge and abilities are essentially assessed using intelligence-like tests such as the MSCEIT (Mayer Salovey Caruso
Emotional Intelligence Test; Mayer, Salovey & Caruso, 2002), the STEU (Situational Test of Emotional Understanding ;
MacCann & Roberts, 2008) or the GERT (Geneva Emotion Recognition Test, Schleger, Grandjean & Scherer, 2013),
while usual emotional behavior is assessed using personality-like questionnaires such as the TEIQUE (Trait Emotional
Intelligence Questionnaire; Petrides, 2009), the EQ-I (Emotional Quotient Inventory (Bar-On, 2004) or, more recently, the
PEC (Profile of Emotional Competence ; Brasseur, Grégoire, Bourdu & Mikolajczak, 2013).
The Importance of Trait EI
The literature indicates that the trait level of EI, on which we will focus in this paper, has a significant impact on four of the
most important domains of life: well-being, health, relationships and work performance. We remain neutral here on
whether measures of EI which are not trait-based have a comparable impact in any of these domains.
For instance, people with greater trait EI have enhanced well-being and mental health (for a recent meta-analysis, see
Martins, Ramalho & Morin, 2010). They also have better physical health, as evidenced in a recent nationally
representative study conducted by our team in collaboration with the largest mutual benefit society in Belgium (Mikolajczak
et al., in press). Socially speaking, they seem to have more satisfying social and marital relationships (e.g. Schutte et al.,
2001; see Malouff, Schutte, & Thorsteinsson, 2014 for a meta-analysis). Finally, a recent meta-analysis (O’Boyle et al.,
2011) shed light on the debate on EI and job performance: although not all studies found a significant relationship, the
aggregate effect confirms that people with higher trait EI do achieve superior job performance.
It is noteworthy that despite early fears that trait EI would not predict additional variance in the above-mentioned outcomes
beyond the big five personality factors and intelligence, the vast majority of studies actually refute this fear (see Andrei,
Siegling, Baldaro & Petrides, under review, and O’Boyle et al., 2011 for meta-analyses confirming the incremental validity
of trait EI regarding health and job performance, respectively).
Improving Trait EI: Data and Recommendations
Because of its importance for people’s well-being and success, researchers and practitioners alike have wondered what,
if anything, can be done to improve trait EI in adults. The question is not trivial as traits are harder to change than
knowledge or abilities, especially in adulthood. However, the fact that personality traits can change in response to life
experiences shows that traits are somewhat malleable (Roberts, Caspi & Moffitt, 2003; Roberts & Mroczek, 2008). The
current note examines the possibility of improving trait EI in adults. It provides brief answers to the following four
questions: (1) Is it still possible to improve trait EI in adulthood? (2) How? (3) What are the benefits ―in terms of well-
being, health, social relationships and work success – of such EI improvement and do such benefits last? (4) Will trait EI
training work for everyone?
To What Extent Can Trait EI Be Improved In Adulthood?
This question has given rise to a number of studies, mainly in the fields of psychology, management, medicine and
education. As these words are being written, 46 studies have been conducted to check whether trait EI scores improve
after EI training (for review, see Kotsou, Mikolajczak, Grégoire, Heeren & Leys, in preparation). 90% of them conclude in
the affirmative. However, a closer look at the studies reveals that most of them were published in low-impact factor journals
(median Impact Factor < 1), which is not surprising as the vast majority of them suffer from crucial limitations, the most
important being that 46% of the studies do not include a control group. Among the studies that did, only 36% assigned
participants to groups randomly and only 8% of the studies (i.e., 2 out of 46) included an active control group (i.e., a
training group with the same format but another content; the only way of excluding the fact that improvements are due
merely to the group effect). Moreover, 63% of the studies measured training effects immediately after the training, with
no follow-up to assess the sustainability of the changes.
Finally, 75% of the studies did not use a theory- and/or evidence-based training. A theory-based training is a training that
is designed according to a theoretical model of emotional intelligence (e.g., if the model comprises 5 dimensions, the
training should cover all of them; if the model assumes a hierarchical order in the EI dimensions, the training should be
built accordingly). An evidence-based training is a training in which the individual strategies taught to participants to
improve EI (e.g., strategies to express their emotions in a constructive manner, strategies to regulate their emotions, etc)
have been previously shown to be effective in well-designed scientific research.
That being said, a few studies did not suffer from the above-mentioned limitations (i.e. Karahan & Yalcin, 2009; Kotsou
et al., 2011; Nelis et al. 2009, Nelis et al. 2011; Sharif & al., 2013; Slaski & Cartwright, 2003; Vesely, Saklofske &
Nordstokke, 2014; Yalcin, Karahan, Ozcelik, & Igde, 2008). And they suggest that it is possible to improve trait EI in

adults. The mean improvement of EI in these studies, as measured by the TEIQue or the EQ-I, was 12.4%. This increase
was confirmed, although to a much lesser extent (+6.6%), by spouses and friends.
How can trait EI be improved in adults?
A look on the content of effective EI trainings suggests that improving trait EI requires working on at least two of the
following EI dimensions: identification of emotions, expression of emotions and regulation of emotions. Among the well-
designed studies cited above, the majority focused on five dimensions: identification, understanding, use, expression and
regulation of emotions (see Table 1 for an explanation of these dimensions). We reproduce below the content of one of
those trainings (Kotsou et al., 2011).

Table 1. Structure of the EI training used in Kotsou et al. 2011

Like in most EI trainings, the pedagogical technique combined theoretical instructions with behavioral and experiential
teaching methods (e.g., group discussions, role play, self-observation, etc. The full materials are available in French on
request to the first author). We won’t be able to get into the details of how these forms of training work (please contact
first author for further details), but to get a flavor of our techniques we will say a few words about the sort of role play we
do in the “expression/listening” module.
In this role playing game the trainer invites one participant (A) to play the role of a person who has just been left by his
partner. Another participant (B) is invited to take the role of the friend that A has called for support. A is usually very
emotional when explaining the situation to B. The group observes how the B deals with the situation. After a few minutes,
the trainer interrupts the session and asks A how s/he feels. Usually, s/he still feels very emotional. The trainer then invites
another participant to play the friend. The scene is repeated until someone finds a way to make A feel better. The trainer
then asks the group why the first interventions did not work, and why they think that the last did. This then allows the
trainer to explain the most common ways people react when someone shares an emotional event with them (asking
questions about the facts, offering solutions, minimizing, judging, reappraising…) and discuss why these ways of listening
do not work well, even if most of them are well intentioned. He then explains why the last solution (reflecting feelings)
works better, and when reappraising and offering solutions can have positive effects (i.e., only after the negative emotion
has significantly decreased).
Which Benefits Can Be Expected From Trait EI Improvement?
The first benefit is enhanced psychological well-being: EI training leads to both a drop in psychological symptoms (stress,
anxiety, burnout, distress, etc.; Karahan & Yalcin, 2011; Kotsou et al., 2011; Nelis et al., 2011; Sharif et al., 2013; Slaski
& Cartwright 2003; Vesely et al., 2014), and an increase in happiness (well-being, life satisfaction, quality of life
etc.; Kotsou et al., 2011; Nelis et al., 2011; Vesely et al., 2014; Yalcin et al., 2008). Unsurprisingly, these changes translate
into significant changes on personality traits of neuroticism and extraversion after a few months (Nelis et al., 2011).
The second benefit of EI training is an improvement in self-reported physical health (Kotsou et al., 2011; Nelis et al., 2011;
Yalcin et al., 2008). It is noteworthy that this improvement in physical health is also evidenced in biological changes such
as a 14% drop in diurnal cortisol secretion in Kotsou et al. (2011)’s study and a 9.7% drop in glycated hemoglobin in
Karahan & Yalcin’s (2009).
The third benefit is improved quality of social and marital relationships (Kotsou et al., 2011; Nelis et al., 2011) with, this
time, a remarkable agreement between participants and friend/spouse reports. The fourth benefit concerns work
adjustment. EI training increases people’s attractiveness for employers (see Nelis et al., 2011, study 2 for the detailed
procedure) and work-related quality of life (Slaski & Cartwright, 2003). It is however unclear whether an improvement in
EI increases work performance. Although several studies report an effect of EI training on work performance, the only
well-conducted study that measured work performance did not observe any effect (Slaski & Cartwright, 2003).
One may wonder whether the foregoing changes generated by EI training last. From the well-conducted EI training studies
that included a follow-up, it can be concluded that the changes in trait EI and its correlates are evident after a few weeks
and are maintained for at least 1 year (see Kotsou et al., 2011). No study so far has tested whether these changes last
more than 1 year. Studies with longer follow-up periods are however needed to ascertain that benefits in terms of well-
being are resistant to hedonic treadmill effects, namely the tendency of most humans to return to their baseline level
of happiness after major positive or negative events or life changes.
Does Trait EI Training Work For Everyone?
From the many studies conducted in our lab (most of them as yet unpublished master’s theses), we have observed that
EI training seem to be effective for both women and men, both younger and older adults, both normally gifted as well as
exceptionally gifted people, for both sub-clinical and non-clinical samples and for both psychosomatic as well as condition-
free patients. In all these groups, people with the highest motivation to follow the training derived the largest the benefits
of it. By contrast, standard EI training is not effective for severely depressed in-patients or for unqualified workers from
very low socio-economic backgrounds. In these two groups, people did not really adhere to the training (depressed people
did not believe that it would help them get better; unqualified workers did not understand the usefulness of understanding
and/or regulating emotions). Futures studies will have to determine if new versions of EI training could work better.
In conclusion, the current state of the literature suggests that trait EI can be improved in adults and that EI training is
effective to that end. Future research is needed to determine the best methods to maximize the size and the duration of
the effects, and to determine for whom it works the best/the least.