Emotional intelligence is a term that has been growing in popularity since the late 1980s, but has existed in some form since the time of Darwin (Bar-On, Handley, & Fund, 2006). Although a Google™ search produces 25.8 million hits for “emotional intelligence” (August 1, 2006) the amount of empirical research on emotional intelligence is not nearly as voluminous. From articles in the Harvard Business Review (e.g., Druskat & Wolf, 2001; Goleman, 2004) to newspaper articles like one found in the St. Petersburg Times Online (Deggans, 2006), emotional intelligence is a buzzword that is not likely to be forgotten any time soon, however.
Much of the existing work on emotional intelligence has focused on definitional and measurement issues (e.g., Freudenthaler & Neubauer, 2005; Goldenberg, Matheson, & Mantler, 2006; Matthews, Zeidner, & Roberts, 2002; van der Zee & Wabeke, 2004). When defining emotional intelligence (EI), some researchers have defined it as an ability, similar to cognitive ability, whereas other researchers have defined emotional intelligence as a trait, similar to personality (e.g., Goleman, 1995; Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2004). For example, using the ability approach an emotional intelligence score is meant to indicate what a person is capable of doing in terms of EI, whereas using the trait approach the score meant to indicate how a person will typically use emotions in any given situation.
These differing conceptualizations of emotional intelligence have resulted in a literature base that is fractured. More specifically, the two conceptualizations of emotional intelligence are rarely compared to one another empirically, but instead are compared to such concepts as cognitive ability and personality (e.g., Fox & Spector, 2000; Schulte, Ree, & Carretta, 2004; van der Zee, Thijs, & Schakel, 2002). This conceptual divide, and the measurement issues that surround it, drive my interests in this topic.
For more information on emotional intelligence research findings, please visit the Reports section.