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An Introduction
Emotion, Human in the Encyclopaedia Britannica
Philosophy of Emotions
Managing Difficult Emotions
Emotions are the best Medicine
An Introduction



Emotion has been defined as a particular psychological state of feeling, such as fear, anger, joy, and sorrow. The feeling often includes action tendencies and tends to trigger certain perceptual and cognitive processes. Most experts agree that emotion is a causal factor or influence in thoughts, actions, personalities, and social relationships.

The concept of emotion that will be developed here is a multiaspect, or multilevel, one, considering structure and functions at the levels of neurophysiology, emotion expression, and emotion experience (feeling). It should be noted, however, that not all of the numerous definitions that can be found in emotion literature fit into this multilevel concept. The definitions, which reflect differences in the interests and theoretical orientations of the authors, can be reduced to three categories concerned with structure and three concerned with functions. The three structural categories are the three levels, or aspects, that are included in the multilevel concept. The first of these categories of definition focuses on the neurophysiological processes underlying or accompanying emotions, the second on expression, or emotional behaviour, and the third on the subjective experience, or conscious aspect, of emotion.

Of the three categories of definition related to functions, the first defines emotions in terms of their adaptive or disruptive influences. The second category defines emotion in terms of motivation and considers it as part of the same class of phenomena that contains physiological drives, such as pain, thirst, and the need for elimination. The third category concerned with functions consists of definitions that attempt to distinguish between emotion and other psychological processes.

A multilevel definition of emotion essentially subsumes definitions that focus on one of the three structural categories of neural processes, expressive behaviour, and subjective experience, and elaborations and extensions of such a definition would consider concerns of the three categories related to functions. In summary, the foregoing consideration of definitions of emotion suggests that a multilevel concept comes closest to a consensus viewpoint among emotion theorists and provides a way of resolving the complex issue of definition. Thus, a specific emotion is a particular set of neural processes that gives rise to a particular configuration of expressive behaviours and a particular feeling state or quality of consciousness that has motivational and adaptive functions. Under some circumstances extremely intense emotion may become disruptive.

Emotion, Human in the Encyclopaedia Britannica


The following text is the exact text of the entry 'Emotion, Human' in the Encyclopaedia Britannica CD 98. Copyright Encyclopaedia Britannica 1994-1998

any of a number of extremely complex phenomena that are a synthesis of subjective experience, expressive behaviour, and neurochemical activity. Though psychologists have not found a simple yet comprehensive definition of emotion, they have generally agreed that emotions entail, to varying degrees, awareness of one's environment or situation, bodily reactions, and approach or withdrawal behaviour.

A brief treatment of emotion follows.

Contemporary thinking on emotion is grounded in psychological experimentation, but the use of the experimental method in psychology came only after about 1850. The pioneer in this area was the German psychologist Wilhelm Wundt, who performed experiments in which subjects provided introspective reports of their responses to stimuli that were varied in a controlled way. Contemporary with Wundt's work was a theory, offered by English naturalist Charles Darwin, that helped to focus investigation into emotion. In this theory Darwin suggested that emotional behaviour in animals was a vestige of adaptive behaviour from an earlier stage of the given species' development.

A particularly influential early theory of emotion was proposed independently by the American psychologist William James and the Danish physician Carl Georg Lange. The James-Lange theory firmly links mental states to physiological processes: it holds that an emotion is a perception of phenomena within the body. When a person sees a frightening sight, for example, the body immediately responds in certain ways (e.g., the heart rate increases). The perception of bodily response to the original stimulus constitutes the emotion of fear, according to the James-Lange view. Thus people are happy because they smile, sad because they cry, and afraid because they flee.

It has been shown that emotions are accompanied by physiological changes manifested by excitation of the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system; specifically, these changes can be detected in the galvanic skin response (see psychogalvanic reflex), in which the electrical conductivity of the skin varies, and also in the heart rate, blood pressure, perspiration, and others. But according to the James-Lange view, these physiological changes would themselves be stimulated by a perception. It is argued that, by the time a signal from the senses reaches the appropriate centre in the brain, physiological changes have already taken place to cause the signal which then produces the feeling of the emotion. This element of the James-Lange view raised some serious objections.

An American physiologist, Walter B. Cannon, proposed a theory that became one of the chief arguments against the James-Lange view. Cannon showed that subjects reacted emotionally even when nerves connecting the central nervous system to various organs were severed, suggesting that physiological changes were not necessarily the primary cause of emotion. Cannon also proposed that signals from the senses may be received by the thalamus, which performs the dual function of providing the emotional content to the appropriate perceptual centre and transmitting the stimulus to other parts of the body.

Further research has called into question Cannon's view of the preeminence of the thalamus for emotions. But the basic insight of his theory continues to be upheld, with more sophisticated anatomical support. Cannon's successors examined a structure called the reticular formation, in the centre of the brain stem. Electrical activity throughout the brain was found to be accompanied by electrical activity in the reticular formation. Emotion is held to be the result of a certain level of reticular-formation activation, a level less than that necessary to sustain such brain functions as perception and behaviour. Because the reticular formation serves to integrate virtually all brain activity, any perception or action is necessarily infused with emotional content.

A perceptual-motivational theory of emotion was individually proposed by American psychologists Magda Arnold, in 1960, and R.W. Leeper, in 1965. According to the theory, emotions are no more than strong motivational or drive states (see motivation). A motivational state is an inner condition of imbalance (for example, thirst) that provokes an organism to take some remedial action (in this case, to search for a drink). Although this approach to emotion was shown to be incomplete, later research gave evidence of what appear to be anatomical mechanisms of motivation. Significantly, these mechanisms serve a function in emotional behaviour as well.

The mechanisms in question involve the hypothalamus, a small structure near the base of the brain. The hypothalamus plays a very complex role in regulating a variety of physiological processes. It is also involved in behaviour that expresses the emotions of anger and fear. The results of complicated experiments involving electrical stimulation of the hypothalamus and related brain structures have led researchers to propose that emotions result from a dynamic process of stimulation and inhibition of certain bodily movements, as regulated by the hypothalamus.

An objection to this view is that it ignores the cognitive element in emotions. Presumably the same physiological events might be said to underlie emotions directed at different objects; how then are the emotions to be distinguished? It is here that the importance of perception and learning to discussions of emotion is apparent. However, the cognitive element in emotion cannot be processed by the relatively simple brain structures considered so far. While these can lead to emotional expression, the cognitive element must be processed by more complex structures found in higher parts of the brain.

Modern researchers often view emotions in three components, physiological, expressive, and experiential, each of which can be studied in terms of structure and functions.

What is E M O T I O N

An emotion, as it is commonly known, is a distinct feeling or quality of consciousness, such as joy or sadness, that reflects the personal significance of an emotion-arousing event. In modern times the subject of emotion has become part of the subject matter of several scientific disciplines--biology, psychology, psychiatry, anthropology, and sociology. Emotions are central to the issues of human survival and adaptation. They motivate the development of moral behaviour, which lies at the very root of civilization. Emotions influence empathic and altruistic behaviour, and they play a role in the creative processes of the mind. They affect the basic processes of perception and influence the way humans conceive and interpret the world around them. Evidence suggests that emotions shape many other aspects of human life and human affairs. Clinical psychologists and psychiatrists often describe problems of adjustment and types of psychopathology as "emotional problems," mental conditions that an estimated 1 in 3 Americans, for example, suffers from during his or her lifetime.

The subject of emotion is studied from a wide range of views. Behaviorally oriented neuroscientists study the neurophysiology and neuroanatomy of emotions and the relations between neural processes and the expression and experience of emotion. Social psychologists and cultural anthropologists study similarities and differences among cultures by the way emotions are expressed and conceptualized. Philosophers are interested in the role of emotions in rationality, thought, character development, and values. Novelists, playwrights, and poets are interested in emotions as the motivations and defining features of fictional characters and as vehicles for communicating the meaning and significance of events.


Orators, literary artists, and philosophers have recognized emotions as part of human nature since recorded history. Homer's Iliad contains vivid descriptions of the emotions of the characters; the goddess Athena frequently goes among Agamemnon's troops playing upon their emotions, attempting to allay their fears and bolster their courage for battle. Ancient philosophers discussed the emotions at length, and from these discussions it appears that the basic meanings of emotion concepts are timeless. For example, in the Rhetoric, Aristotle described the significance, causes, and consequences of the experiences of anger, fear, and shame in much the same way as contemporary writers. He observed that anger is caused by undeserved slight, fear by the perception of danger, and shame by deeds that bring disgrace or dishonour. His understanding of the relations among emotions also has a modern ring. In contrasting the young and the old, he said of the young, And they are more courageous, for they are full of passion and hope, and the former of these prevents them fearing, while the latter inspires them with confidence, for no one fears when angry, and hope of some advantage inspires confidence.


The use of emotion words in literary works serves several purposes. They help define the motivations and personalities of the characters in a play or novel, and they help the reader to understand and identify with characters and to experience vicariously their emotions.

Shakespeare, for example, was a master at expressing emotion through his characters and eliciting emotions from the audience. His work also contains quite accurate descriptions of emotional expressions. An example in Henry V is the king's effort to ready his soldiers for battle:

Then imitate the action of the tiger; Stiffen the sinews, summon up the blood, Disguise fair nature with hard-favour'd rage; Then lend the eye a terrible aspect; Let it pry through the portage of the head Like the brass cannon; let the brow o'erwhelm it As fearfully as doth a galled rock O'erhang and jutty his confounded base, Swill'd with the wild and wasteful ocean. Now set the teeth and stretch the nostril wide, Hold hard the breath and bend up every spirit To his full height.

(Act III, scene 1)

In modern times James Joyce used emotion words and words with emotional connotation to powerful effect. In A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, much of Stephen Dedalus' mood and character are revealed in a few lines describing a time when he was drinking with his cronies and trying to overcome his sense of alienation from his father:

His mind seemed older than theirs: it shone coldly on their strifes and happiness and regrets like a moon upon a younger earth. . . . Nothing stirred within his soul but a cold and cruel and loveless lust. His childhood was dead or lost and with it his soul capable of simple joys, and he was drifting amid life like the barren shell of the moon.

According to the literary critic Rosemarie Battaglia, the emotion-arousing words cold, cruel, loveless, dead, lost, and barren resonate with a sense of Stephen's withdrawal from his social world.

Other modern writers have made frank use of psychological concepts of emotion and emotion-related processes, particularly those introduced by Sigmund Freud. Thus, for example, the author's characters may be motivated by unconscious processes, feelings they cannot label and articulate because the fundamental underlying ideation associated with the feelings has been repressed.

Source :
Philosophy of Emotions


Using Aristotle's system of causal explanation, the 16th-century British philosopher John Rainolds defined emotion as follows: the efficient cause of emotions is God, who implanted them; the material cause is good and evil human things; the formal cause is a commotion of the soul, impelled by the sight of things; and the final cause is seeking good and fleeing evil. The American philosopher L.D. Green's commentary on Rainolds' thesis indicates that Rainolds was not faithful to Aristotle's own discussions of emotion.

One thing that Aristotle did advocate was moderation of emotions, allowing them to have an effect only at the right time and in the right manner. Rainolds noted that the Aristotelian thinker Cicero saw emotions as beneficial--fear making humans careful, compassion and sadness leading to mercy, and anger whetting courage. These thoughts about emotion are similar to those of some modern theorists.

For Rainolds, the emotions are the active, energizing aspects of human nature. Although the intellect exercises control over emotions, intellect can have no impact without emotion. Rainolds was specifically concerned with the effects of emotion on rhetoric, but he saw rhetoric as a principal means of influencing human behaviour and affairs. He believed that the passions [emotions] must be excited, not for the harm they do but for the good, not so they twist the straight but that they straighten the crooked; so they ward off vice, iniquity, and disgrace; so that they defend virtue, justice, and probity.

Benedict de Spinoza in the 17th century described emotions in much the same way as Rainolds did, but he discussed them in relation to action rather than to language. He saw emotions as bodily changes that result in the amplification or attenuation of action and as processes that can facilitate or impede action. For Spinoza, emotion also included the ideas, or mental representations, of the bodily changes in emotion.

Blaise Pascal and David Hume reversed Rainolds' position by assuming the primacy of emotion in human behaviour. Hume said that reason is the slave of the passions (emotions), and Pascal observed in Pensées that "the heart has reasons that reason does not know." Although Hume believed that passions (emotions) rule reason or intellect, he thought the dominant passion should be moral sentiment. Some contemporary psychologists trace morality to empathy and empathy to discrete emotions including sadness, sorrow, compassion, and guilt.

Since Rainolds lectured on emotions at Oxford, philosophers have considered many questions related to emotions: Are they active or passive? Can they be explained by neurophysiological processes and reduced to material phenomena? Are they rational or nonrational? Are they voluntary or involuntary? Characterizing or categorizing emotions according to these dichotomies has resulted in yet other classifications or distinctions.

Ultimately, emotion concepts resist definition by way of dichotomous distinctions. Emotions are generally active and tend to generate action and cognition, but extreme fear may cause behavioral freezing and mental rigidity. Emotion can be explained on one level in terms of neurochemical processes and on another level in terms of phenomenology. Emotions are rational in the sense that they serve adaptive functions and make sense in terms of the individual's perception of the situation. They are nonrational in the sense that they can exist in the brain at the neurochemical level and in consciousness as unlabeled feelings that may be independent of cognitive-rational processes. Emotions are voluntary in that their expression in older children and adults is subject to considerable modification and control via cognition and action, and willful regulation of expression may result in regulation of emotion experience. Emotions are involuntary in that an effective stimulus elicits them automatically, without deliberation and conscious choice. Nowhere is this more evident than in infants and young children, who have little capacity to modulate or inhibit emotion by means of cognitive processes.

One contemporary American philosopher, Amélie O. Rorty, espouses a three-part causal history for emotions, which includes (1) the formative events in a person's past, including the development of habits of thought, (2) sociocultural factors, and (3) genetically determined sensitivities and patterns of response. These are essentially the same factors that are recognized by psychologists, who frequently reduce the list to two: (1) experience as mediated by culture and learning and (2) genetic determinants that unfold with ontogenetic development. The first of these two causal factors indicates that individual differences in interpretations of an event or situation lead to different emotions in different persons. (see also Index: human genetics)

Some philosophers are concerned with the question of the rationality of emotion as judged on the basis of causes and consequences. One resolution is in terms of appropriateness: an emotion is appropriate if the reasons for it are adequate, regardless of the reasons against it. There may be a sense, however, in which emotions are intrinsically nonrational because they can come into a person's consciousness without that person having considered all of the relevant reasons for them. In the final analysis, caution should be used in judging the rationality of emotions.

Another contemporary philosopher, James Hillman, has been notably effective in using classical philosophical principles to explain emotions. He has delineated 12 ways that emotion has been conceptualized in philosophy and psychology. These include conceptions of emotion as a distinct entity or trait, an accompaniment of instinct, energy for thought and action, a neurophysiological mechanism and process, mental representation, signal, conflict, disorder, and creative organization. This philosopher found each of these conceptions incomplete or incorrect and returned to Aristotle's system of four causes in an effort to integrate the information from each of the foregoing approaches to defining and studying emotions.

For Hillman, the efficient cause of emotion, described psychologically, consists of conscious or unconscious mental representations (perceptions, images, or thoughts) and conflicts between physiological or psychological systems or between a person and the environment. The efficient cause described physiologically includes genetic endowment and the neurochemical and hormonal processes involved in emotion activation. Hillman stated that the material cause of emotion is energy. He argued that matter, the ultimate source of energy, is relative and that emotion, as the psychological aspect of general energy, is going on all the time and is a two-way bridge uniting subject and object.

In considering the formal cause, one may see emotion as a pattern of neurophysiological and expressive behaviours and subject-object relations. Hillman concluded that, in a formal sense, emotion is a total pattern of the soul:

Emotion is the soul as a complex whole, involving constitution, gross physiology, facial expression in its social context as well as actions aimed at the environment.

The final cause, or purpose, of emotion, according to Hillman, can be thought of in terms of what it achieves: survival (energy release, homeostatic regulation, and action on the stimulus and environment), signification (qualification of experience, expression, communication, and values), and improvement (emergence of energy into consciousness, facilitation of creative activity, and strengthening of the organization of self and behaviour). Hillman integrated these various descriptions of final cause in the concept of change. Emotion occurs in order to actualize change; "emotion itself is change."


In 1872, emotion studies received a boost in scientific status when Charles Darwin published his seminal treatise The Expressions of the Emotions in Man and Animals. Twelve years later, the American philosopher and psychologist William James, one of the pioneers of psychology in the United States, published what was to become a famous and controversial theory of emotions. In it James proposed that an arousing stimulus (such as a poignant memory or a physical threat) triggers internal physiological processes as well as external expressive and motor actions and that the feeling of these physiological and behavioral processes constitutes the emotion. Thus, people are happy because they smile, sad because they cry, angry because they frown, and afraid because they run from danger.

A few years later the Danish physician Carl Lange published a more constricted theory, maintaining that emotion is a function of the perception of changes in the visceral organs innervated by the autonomic nervous system. Although there were distinctively individual components in the theories of James and Lange, the theories became linked in the minds of psychologists and the combination became known as the James-Lange theory.

The James-Lange theory was seriously challenged by the American physiologist Walter B. Cannon, who showed that, among other things, animals whose viscera were separated from the central nervous system still displayed emotion expression. Cannon contended that bodily changes were similar for most kinds of emotions, whereas the James-Lange theory implied a different bodily pattern of response for different emotions. The James-Lange theory has remained a more or less permanent fixture in behavioral science nevertheless, and most psychology textbooks summarize the theory and Cannon's criticisms of it. Some theories of emotion are classified as neo-Jamesian, and most theories can be identified or classified on the basis of their similarities and differences with the landmark James-Lange theory.

Psychological theories of emotion can be grouped into two broad categories--biosocial and constructivist. Although this system of categorization is an oversimplification, it provides a way for the student of emotion to get a perspective on a particular theory. A contemporary textbook, for example, describes 20 psychological theories of emotion, and there are many others that it does not consider.

Many of the differences between the two categories of emotion theory stem from different assumptions regarding the relative importance of genetics and life experiences. Biosocial theories assume that emotions are rooted in biological makeup and that genes are significant determinants of the threshold and characteristic intensity level of each basic emotion. In this view, emotional life is a function of the interaction of genetic tendencies and the evaluative systems, beliefs, and roles acquired through experience. Constructivist theories assume that genetic factors are inconsequential and that emotions are cognitively constructed and derived from experience, especially from social learning. The constructivists' crucible for emotions is formed by the interactions of the person with the environment, especially the social environment. Thus, according to the constructivists, emotions are a function of appraisals, or evaluations, of the world of culture, and of what is learned.


Darwin included emotions, in particular emotion expressions, in his studies of evolution. He considered continuity or similarity of expression in animals and human beings as further evidence of human evolution from lower forms. His finding that certain emotion expressions are innate and universal was seen as evidence of the "unity of the several races." Thus, the expressions, or the language of the emotions, provide a means of communication among all human beings, regardless of culture or ethnic origin.

In his work The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Darwin made an explicit value judgment regarding the significance of emotion expressions:

The movements of expression in the face and body, whatever their origin may have been, are in themselves of much importance for our welfare. They serve as the first means of communication between the mother and infant; she smiles approval, and thus encourages her child on the right path, or frowns disapproval. We readily perceive sympathy in others by their expression; our sufferings are thus mitigated and our pleasures increased; and mutual good feeling is thus strengthened. The movements of expression give vividness and energy to our spoken words. They reveal the thoughts and intentions of others more truly than do words, which may be falsified.

From his studies of emotion expressions, Darwin concluded that some emotion expressions were due to the "constitution of the nervous system," or our biological endowment. The implication is that these expressive movements are part of human nature and have played a role in survival and adaptation. Darwin thought other expressions were derived from actions that originally served biologically adaptive functions (e.g., preparation for biting became the bared teeth of the anger expression). Although he noted that expressive movements may no longer serve biological functions, he made it quite clear that they serve critical social and communicative functions.


From the very beginning of scientific psychology, there were voices that spoke of the significance of emotions for human life. James believed that "individuality is founded in feeling" and that only through feeling is it possible "directly to perceive how events happen, and how work is actually done." The Swiss psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung recognized emotion as the primal force in life:

But on the other hand, emotion is the moment when steel meets flint and a spark is struck forth, for emotion is the chief source of consciousness. There is no change from darkness to light or from inertia to movement without emotion.

Psychologists did not rally to the Darwinian thesis on the evolutionary-adaptive functions of emotions in significant numbers until the 1960s. Several influential volumes following this theme were published in the 1960s and '70s. For example, the American psychologist Robert Plutchik echoed Darwinian principles in several of the postulates of his theory: emotions are present at all levels of animal life, and they serve an adaptive role in relation to survival issues posed by the environment.

The American psychologist Silvin Tomkins believed that the emotions constitute the primary motivational system for human beings. He held that even physiological drives such as hunger and sex obtain their power from emotions and that the energizing effects of emotion are necessary to sustain drive-related actions. In this way, he argued that emotions are essential to survival and adaptation.

Other theorists and researchers that follow the Darwinian principles of the survival value and adaptive value of emotions have emphasized their role in human development and in the development of social bonds, particularly mother-infant or parent-child attachment. These researchers have shown that even the very young infant has a repertoire of emotion expressions translatable into messages calling for nourishment and affection, both essential ingredients of healthy development. The distress expression is the infant's all-out cry for help, the sadness expression an appeal for empathy, and the smile an invitation to stimulating face-to-face interactions.

Contemporary approaches to emotion

Contemporary psychologists are concerned with the activation, or causes, of emotion, its structure, or components, and its functions or consequences. Each of these aspects can be considered from both a biosocial and a constructivist view. On the whole, biosocial theories have been relatively more concerned with the neurophysiological aspects of emotions and their roles as motivators and organizers of cognition and action. Constructivists have been relatively more concerned with explaining the causes of emotion at the experiential level and cognition-emotion relations in terms of cognitive-linguistic processes.


The question of precisely how an emotion is triggered has been one of the most captivating and controversial topics in the field. To address the question properly, one must break it down into more precise parts. Emotion activation can be divided into three parts: neural processes, bodily (physiological) changes, and mental (cognitive) activity.

While it is easy for people to think of things that make them happy or sad, it is not yet possible to explain precisely how the feelings of joy and sadness occur. Neuroscience has produced far more information about the processes leading to the physiological responses and expressive behaviour of emotion than about those that generate the conscious experience of emotion.

Neural processes.

An emotion can be activated by causes and processes within the individual or by a combination of internal and external causes and processes. For example, within the individual, an infection can cause pain, and pain can activate anger.

The findings of neuroscience indicate that stimuli are evaluated for emotional significance when information from primary receptors (in the visual, tactual, auditory, or other sensory systems) travels along certain neural pathways to the limbic forebrain. Scientific data developed by Joseph E. LeDoux show that auditory fear conditioning involves the transmission of sound signals through the auditory pathway to the thalamus (which relays information) in the lower forebrain and thence to the dorsal amygdala (which evaluates information).

Evidence from neuroscience suggests that emotion activated by way of the thalamo-amygdala (subcortical) pathway results from rapid, minimal, automatic, evaluative processing. Emotion activated in this way need not involve the neocortex. Emotion activated by discrimination of stimulus features, thoughts, or memories requires that the information be relayed from the thalamus to the neocortex. Such a circuit is thought to be the neural basis for cognitive appraisal and evaluation of events.

This two-circuit model of the neural pathways in emotion activation has several important theoretical implications. The neurological evidence indicating that emotion can be activated via the thalamo-amygdala pathway is consistent with the behavioral evidence that very young infants respond emotionally to pain and that adults can develop preferences or make affective judgments in responding to objects before they demonstrate recognition memory for them. This suggests that in some instances humans may experience emotion before they reason why.

It might be expected that in early human development most emotion expressions derive from automatic, subcortical processing, with minimal cortical involvement. As cognitive capacities increase with maturation and learning, the neocortex and the cortico-amygdala pathway become more and more involved. By the time children acquire language and the capacity for long-term memory, they may process events in either or both pathways, with the subcortical pathway specializing in events requiring rapid response and the cortico-amygdala pathway providing evaluative information necessary for cognitive judgment and more complex coping strategies.

Physiological processes.

Many theorists agree that feedback from physiological activity contributes to emotion activation. There is disagreement over the kind of feedback that is important. Some think that it is a visceral feedback--coming from the activity of the smooth-muscle organs such as the heart and stomach, which are innervated by the autonomic nervous system. Others believe that it is feedback from the voluntary, striated muscles, especially of the face, which are innervated by the somatic nervous system.

Cognitive processes.

Constructivist theorists and researchers have been concerned with the causes of emotion at the cognitive-experiential level and with the relations between cognitive processes and emotion. This research has focused on two topics: the relations between appraisals, or evaluations, and emotions and the relations between causal attributions and emotions.

Magda B. Arnold was the first contemporary psychologist to propose that all emotions are a function of one's cognitive appraisal of the stimulus or situation. She maintained that before a stimulus can elicit emotion it has to be appraised as good or bad by the perceiver. She described the appraisal that arouses emotion as concrete, immediate, undeliberate, and not the result of reflection. Her position was adopted and elaborated by others, some of whom assumed that cognitive activity, whether in the form of primitive evaluative perception or symbolic processes, is a necessary precondition of emotion. Biosocial and constructivist theorists agree that cognition is an important determinant of emotion and that emotion-cognition relations merit continued research.

Research by the American psychologists Phoebe C. Ellsworth and Craig A. Smith on the relations between appraisals and specific emotions show that people tend to appraise situations in terms of elements such as pleasantness, anticipated effort, certainty, responsibility, control, legitimacy, and perceived obstacle. Researchers have found that each discrete emotion tends to be associated with a distinctive combination of appraisals. For example, a perceived obstacle (barrier to a goal) that is due to someone else's responsibility is associated with anger, a perceived obstacle that is the person's own responsibility is associated with guilt, and a perceived obstacle characterized by uncertainty is associated with fear. This study was based on subjects' retrospective accounts of emotion-eliciting situations, and therefore the data cannot confirm the view that appraisal causes emotion. However, the assumption that emotion and appraisal are causally related seems reasonable.

Another approach to explaining the causes of emotions is that of attribution theory. The central idea of this theory, according to the American psychologist Bernard Weiner, is that the perceptions of the causes of events can be characterized in three principal ways which affect many emotional experiences. The perceived causes of events (e.g., success and failure) are characterized by their locus (internal or external to the person), stability (a trait of the person or a temporary condition), and controllability (under the person's control or not).

Research has shown that different patterns of causal attribution are associated with different emotions, including anger, guilt, shame, and the more complex phenomena of pity, pride, gratitude, and hopelessness. Pity is attributed to the perception of uncontrollable and stable causes--people feel pity for a person who has an affliction due to a genetic defect or accident. Anger is attributed to external and controllable events--people feel anger when an affront or injury is caused by someone's lack of concern or thoughtlessness. Guilt is attributed to the perception of internal and controllable causes--people feel guilt for wrongdoing they could have avoided. Children aged five to 12 understand the emotional consequences of revealing the causes of their actions; they know that their teachers might be angry at their failure if they have not tried hard enough and that teachers might feel pity for students who lack the ability to learn efficiently and perform well.

Psychologists researching cognitive activation have studied the relations between the ways people cope with stressful encounters and the emotions they experience after their efforts to resolve the problems. In one study emotions were assessed by asking subjects to indicate the extent to which they experienced emotions on four scales: worried/fearful, disgusted/angry, confident, and pleased/happy. Coping was assessed by subjective ratings on eight scales: confrontive coping ("stood my ground and fought"), distancing ("didn't let it get to me"), self-control ("tried to keep my feelings to myself"), seeking social support ("talked to someone"), accepting responsibility ("criticized myself"), escape-avoidance ("wished the situation would go away"), planful problem solving ("changed or grew as a person"), and positive reappraisal. Four of these ways of coping were associated with the quality of emotion that followed the effort to cope. Planful problem solving and positive reappraisal tended to increase happiness and confidence and to decrease disgust and anger. Obversely, the subjects reported that confrontation and distancing techniques increased their disgust and anger and decreased their happiness and confidence. Because these data were retrospective, there can be no firm conclusion that a particular way of coping causes a particular emotion experience. Nevertheless, the observed relations among ways of coping and subsequent emotion experiences are reasonable and in line with theoretical expectations.

The controversy as to whether some cognitive process is a necessary antecedent of emotion may hinge on the definition of terms, particularly the definition of cognition. If cognition is defined so broadly that it includes all levels or types of information processing, then cognition may confidently be said to precede emotion activation. If those mental processes that do not involve mental representation based on learning or experience are excluded from the concept of cognition, then cognition so defined does not necessarily precede the three-week-old infant's smile to the high-pitched human voice, the two-month-old's anger expression to pain, or the formation of the affective preferences (likes or dislikes) in adults.

Multimodal theory.

Evidence suggests that a satisfactory model of emotion activation must be multimodal. Emotions can, as indicated above, be activated by such precognitive processes as physiological states, motor mimicry (imitation of another's movements), and sensory processes and by numerous cognitive processes, including comparison, matching, appraisal, categorization, imagery, memory, attribution, and anticipation. Further, all emotion activation processes are influenced by a variety of internal and external factors.


In the discussion of the structure of emotions it is not always possible to ignore the function of emotions, which is discussed in the following section. The separation, however, is conducive to sorting out the complex field of emotions.

Both biosocial and constructivist theories of emotions acknowledge that an emotion is a complex phenomenon. They generally agree that an emotion includes physiological functions, expressive behaviour, and subjective experience and that each of these components is based on activity in the brain and nervous system. As noted above, some theorists, particularly those of the constructivist persuasion, hold that an emotion also involves cognition, an appraisal or cognitive-evaluative process that triggers the emotion and determines or contributes to the subjective experience of the emotion.

The physiological component.

The physiological component of emotion has been a lively topic of research since Cannon challenged the James-Lange theory by showing that feedback from the viscera has little effect on emotional expression in animals. Cannon's studies and criticisms were regarded by many as too narrow, failing to, among other things, consider the possible role of feedback from striated muscle systems of the face and body.

Role of the nervous system.

Since the popularization of the James-Lange theory of emotion, the physiological component of emotion has been traditionally identified as activity in the autonomic nervous system and the visceral organs (e.g., the heart and lungs) that it innervates. However, some contemporary theorists hold that the neural basis of emotions resides in the central nervous system and that the autonomic nervous system is recruited by emotion to fulfill certain functions related to sustaining and regulating emotion experience and emotion-related behaviour. Several findings from neuroscience support this idea. Neuroanatomical studies have shown that the central nervous system structures involved in emotion activation can exert direct influences on the autonomic nervous system. For example, efferents from the amygdala to the hypothalamus may influence activity in the autonomic nervous system that is involved in defensive reactions. Further, there are connections between pathways innervating facial expression and the autonomic nervous system. Studies have shown that patterns of activity in this system vary with the type of emotion being expressed.

Roles of the brain hemispheres.

There is some evidence that the two hemispheres of the brain are related differently to emotion processes. Early evidence suggested that the right (or dominant) hemisphere may be more adept than the left at discriminating among emotional expressions. Later research using electroencephalography elaborated this initial conclusion, suggesting that the right hemisphere may be more involved in processing negative emotions and the left hemisphere more involved in processing positive emotions.

The expressive component.

The expressive component of emotion includes facial, vocal, postural, and gestural activity. Expressive behaviour is mediated by phylogenetically old structures of the brain, which is consistent with the notion that they served survival functions in the course of evolution.

Involvement of brain structures.

Emotion expressions involve limbic forebrain structures and aspects of the peripheral nervous system. The facial and trigeminal nerves and receptors in facial muscles and skin are required in expressing emotion and in facilitating sensory feedback from expressive movements.

Early studies of the neural basis of emotion expression showed that aggressive behaviour can be elicited from a cat after its neocortex has been removed and suggested that the hypothalamus is a critical subcortical structure mediating aggression. Later research indicated that, rather than the hypothalamus, the central gray region of the midbrain and the substantia nigra may be the key structures mediating aggressive behaviour in animals.

Neural pathways of facial expression.

Of the various types of expressive behaviour, facial expression has received the most attention. In human beings and in many nonhuman primates, patterns of facial movements constitute the chief means of displaying emotion-specific signals. Whereas research has provided much information on the neural basis of emotional behaviours (e.g., aggression) in animals, little is known about the brain structures that control facial expression.

The peripheral pathways of facial emotion expression consist of the seventh and fifth cranial nerves. The seventh, or facial, nerve is the efferent (outward) pathway; it conveys motor messages from the brain to facial muscles. The fifth, or trigeminal, nerve is the afferent (inward) pathway that provides sensory data from movements of facial muscles and skin. According to some theorists, it is the trigeminal nerve that transmits the facial feedback which contributes to the activation and regulation of emotion experience. The impulses for this sensory feedback originate when movement stimulates the mechanoreceptors in facial skin. The skin is richly supplied with such receptors, and the many branches of the trigeminal nerve detect and convey the sensory impulses to the brain.

The innateness and universality of emotion expressions.

More than a century ago Darwin's observations and correspondence with friends living in different parts of the world led him to conclude that certain emotion expressions are innate and universal, part of the basic structure of emotions. Contemporary cross-cultural and developmental research has given strong support to Darwin's conclusion, showing that people in literate and preliterate cultures have a common understanding of the expressions of joy, surprise, sadness, anger, disgust, contempt, and fear. Other studies have suggested that the expressions of interest and shyness and the feelings of shame and guilt may also be innate and universal.

The experiential component.

There is general agreement that various stimuli and neural processes leading to an emotion result not only in physiological reactions and expressive behaviour but also in subjective experience. Some biosocial theorists restrict the definition of an emotion experience to a feeling state and argue that it can be activated independently of cognition. Constructivist theorists view the experiential component of emotion as having a cognitive aspect. The issue regarding the relation between emotion feeling states and cognition remains unresolved, but it is widely agreed that emotion feeling states and cognitive processes are typically highly interactive.

Emotion experiences, the actual feelings of joy, sadness, anger, shame, fear, and the like, do not lend themselves to objective measurement. All research on emotion experience ultimately depends on self-reports, which are imprecise. There are few instances where feelings and words are perfectly matched. Yet, most students of emotions, whether philosopher or neuroscientist, ultimately want to explain emotion experience.

The physiological structure of emotion experience.

Little is known about the neural basis of emotion experience. Critical reviews have shown that there is little evidence to support the position that activity in the autonomic nervous system provides the physiological basis for emotion experience. However, there is some evidence to support the hypothesis that sensory feedback from facial expression contributes to emotion experience.

Cognitive models of emotion experience have influenced conceptions of the underlying neural processes. Explanations of emotions in terms of appraisal and attributional processes led some researchers to suggest that conscious experiences of emotions derive from the cognitive processes that underlie language. This led to the hypothesis that emotion experiences involve interactions between limbic forebrain areas and the areas of the neocortex that mediate language and language-based cognitive systems. However, this view does not take into account the possibility that emotions occur in preverbal infants and may be mediated in adults by unconscious or nonlinguistic mental processes, such as imagery.

Action tendencies in emotion experiences.

Both constructivist and biosocial theorists have emphasized that emotions include action tendencies. The experience, or feeling, of a given emotion generates a tendency to act in a certain way. For example, in anger the tendency is to attack and in fear to flee. Whether a person actually attacks in anger or flees in fear depends on the individual's methods of emotion regulation and the circumstances.

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In academic discussions of the functions of emotions the focus is usually on the phenomenological, or experiential, aspect of emotions. For purposes of this discussion, however, the functions of emotions are examined in terms of the three structural components--physiological, expressive, and experiential.

Physiological functions.

The functions of physiological activity that is mediated by the autonomic nervous system and that accompanies states of emotion can be considered as part of the individual's effort to adapt and cope, but, of course, physiological as well as cognitive reactions in extreme emotion usually require regulation (expressed through cognitive processes and expressive behaviour) in order for coping activities to be effective. For example, adaptation to situations that elicit a less extreme emotion such as interest require a quite different physiological and behavioral activity than do situations that elicit intense anger or fear. The heart-rate deceleration and quieting of internal organs that occur in interest facilitate the intake and processing of information, whereas heart-rate acceleration in intense anger and fear prepares the individual to cope by more active means, whether through shouting, physical actions, or various combinations of the two.

Functions of emotion expressions.

Emotion expressions have three major functions: they contribute to the activation and regulation of emotion experiences; they communicate something about internal states and intentions to others; and they activate emotions in others, a process that can help account for empathy and altruistic behaviour.

Role of expressions in emotion experiences.

In The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals Darwin clearly revealed his belief that even voluntary emotion expression evoked emotion feeling. He wrote: "Even the simulation [expression] of an emotion tends to arouse it in our minds." Thus, Darwin's idea suggested that facial feedback (sensations created by the movements of expressive behaviour) activate, or contribute to the activation of, emotion feelings. A number of experiments have provided substantial evidence that intentional management of facial expression contributes to the regulation (and perhaps activation) of emotion experiences. Most evidence is related not to specific emotion feelings but to the broad classes of positive and negative states of emotion. There is, therefore, some scientific support for the old advice to "smile when you feel blue" and "whistle a happy tune when you're afraid."

Darwin was even more persuasive when speaking specifically of the regulation of emotion experience by self-initiated expressive behaviour. He wrote:

The free expression by outward signs of an emotion intensifies it. On the other hand, the repression, as far as this is possible, of all outward signs softens our emotions.

Experiments by more contemporary researchers on motivated, self-initiated expressive behaviours have shown that, if people can control their facial expression during moments of pain, there will be less arousal of the autonomic nervous system and a diminution of the pain experience.

Role of expressions in communicating internal states.

The social communication function of emotion expressions is most evident in infancy. Long before infants have command of language or are capable of reasoning, they can send a wide variety of messages through their facial expressions. Virtually all the muscles necessary for facial expression of basic emotions are present before birth. Through the use of an objective, anatomically based system for coding the separate facial muscle movements, it has been found that the ability to smile and to facially express pain, interest, and disgust are present at birth; the social smile can be expressed by three or four weeks; sadness and anger by about two months; and fear by six or seven months. Informal observations suggest that expressions indicative of shyness appear by about four months and expressions of guilt by about two years.

The expressive behaviours are infants' primary means of signaling their internal states and of becoming engaged in the family and larger human community. Emotion expressions help form the foundation for social relationships and social development. They also provide stimulation that appears to be necessary for physical and mental health.

Role of expressions in motivating response.

One- and three-day-old infants cry in response to other infants' cries but not to a computer-generated sound that simulates crying. Infants as young as two or three months of age respond differently to different expressions by the mother. The information an infant obtains from the mother's facial expressions mediates or regulates a variety of infant behaviours. For example, most infants cross a modified "visual cliff" (an apparatus that was originally used in depth perception study, consisting of a glass floor that gives the illusion of a drop-off) if their mother stands on the opposite side and smiles, but none cross if she expresses fear.

Facial expressions, particularly of sadness, may facilitate empathy and altruistic behaviour. Darwin thought facial expressions evoked empathy and concluded that expression-induced empathy was inborn. Research has shown that, when mothers display sadness expressions, their infants also demonstrate more sadness expressions and decrease their exploratory play. Infants under two years of age respond to their mother's real or simulated expressions of sadness or distress by making efforts to show sympathy and provide help.

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The emotions are central to the issues of modern times, but perhaps they have been critical to the issues of every era. Poets, prophets, and philosophers of all ages have recognized the significance of emotions in individual life and human affairs, and the meaning of a specific emotion, at least in the context of verbal expression, seems to be timeless. Although art, literature, and philosophy have contributed to the understanding of emotion experiences throughout the ages, modern science has provided a substantial increase in the knowledge of the neurophysiological basis of emotions and their structure and functions.

Research in neuroscience and developmental psychology suggests that emotions can be activated automatically and unconsciously in subcortical pathways. This suggests that humans often experience emotions without reasoning why. Such precognitive information processing may be continuous, and the resulting emotion states may influence the many perceptual-cognitive and behavioral processes (such as perceiving, thinking, judging, remembering, imagining, and coping) that activate emotions through pathways involving the neocortex.

The two recognized types of emotion activation have important implications for the role of emotions in cognition and action. Subcortical, automatic information processing may provide the primitive data for immediate emotional response, whereas higher-order cognitive information processing involving the neocortex yields the evaluations and attributions necessary for the appropriate emotions and coping strategy in a complex situation.

Biosocial and constructivist theories agree that perception, thought, imagery, and memory are important causes of emotions. They also agree that once emotion is activated, emotion and cognition influence each other. How people feel affects what they perceive, think, and do, and vice versa.

Emotions have physiological, expressive, and experiential components, and each component can be studied in terms of its structure and functions. The physiological component influences the intensity and duration of felt emotion, expressions serve communicative and sociomotivational functions, and emotion experiences (feeling states) influence cognition and action.

Research has shown that certain emotion expressions are innate and universal and have significant functions in infant development and in infant-parent relations and that there are stable individual differences in emotion expressiveness. Emotion states influence what people perceive, learn, and remember, and they are involved in the development of empathic, altruistic, and moral behaviour and in basic personality traits.

Most theorists agree that emotion thresholds and emotion responsiveness are part of the infrastructure of temperament and personality. There has, however, been little empirical research on the relations among measures of emotions, dimensions of temperament, and personality traits.

Emotions and temperament.

Most theories of temperament define at least one dimension of temperament in terms of emotion. Two theories maintain that negative emotions form the core of one of the basic and stable dimensions of temperament. Another suggests that each of the dimensions of temperament is rooted in a particular discrete emotion and that these dimensions form the emotional substrate of personality characteristics. For example, proneness to anger would influence the development of aggressiveness, and the emotion of interest would account for the temperament trait of persistence.

Emotions and personality.

A number of major personality theories, such as theories of temperament, identify dimensions or traits of personality in terms of emotions. For example, the German-born British psychologist Hans J. Eysenck has proposed three fundamental dimensions of personality: extroversion-introversion, neuroticism, and psychoticism. Extroversion-introversion includes the trait of sociability, which can also be related to emotion (e.g., interest, as expressed toward people, versus shyness). Neuroticism includes emotionality defined, as in temperament theory, as nonspecific negative emotional responsiveness. Psychoticism may represent emotions gone awry or the absence of emotions appropriate to the circumstances.

Several studies have shown that measures of positive emotionality and negative emotionality are independent, are not inversely related, and have stability over time. Further, it has been shown that positive and negative emotionality have different relations with symptoms of psychological disorders. For example, negative emotionality correlates positively with panic attack, panic-associated symptoms and obsessive-compulsive symptoms; that is, the higher the degree of negative emotion, the more likely that the attack or symptoms will occur. Conversely, positive emotionality correlates negatively with these phenomena. Although several of the same negative emotions characterize both the anxiety and depressive disorders, a lack of positive emotion experiences is more characteristic of depression than of anxiety.

Continuity of emotion expressiveness.

Some studies have shown that specific emotions, identified in terms of expressive behaviour and physiological functions, have stability. One study showed that a child's expression of positive and negative emotion was consistent during the first two years of life. Other studies have shown stability of wariness or fear responses, indicating that a child who is fearful at one age is likely to be fearful in comparable situations at a later age. In a study of infants' responses to the pain of DTP inoculation, it was found that the child's anger expression indexes at ages two, four, and six months accurately predicted his or her anger expression in the inoculations at 19 months of age. Similar results were obtained for the sadness expression.

A study of mother-infant interaction and separation found that infants' expression at three to six months of age were accurate predictors of infant emotion expressive patterns at nine to 12 months of age. Emotion expression patterns have also shown continuity from 13 to 18 months of age during brief mother-infant separation.

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Robert J. Emmerling, Psy.D TalentSmart, Inc.  
Daniel Goleman, Ph.D.
Consortium for Research on Emotional Intelligence in Organizations

October, 2003

In this article we seek to raise issues and air questions that have arisen along with the growing interest in emotional intelligence. We hope to catalyze a dialogue among all those with serious interests in the area, to surface hidden assumptions, correct mistaken impressions, and survey a range of opinions. Such open dialogue, we believe, can pay off to the degree it strengthens the research and thinking that are the foundations of the field—both in theory and in applications.

The influence of emotional intelligence on popular culture and the academic community has been rapid and widespread. While this has stimulated a surprising number or research initiatives across a wide range of domains within psychology, the swiftness with which the concept of emotional intelligence has caught on perhaps inevitably created a gap between what we know and what we need to know. Understandably, this has led to a great deal of controversy and debate among researchers and practitioners eager to understand and apply the principles associated with emotional intelligence. Such debate, of course, is not confined to emotional intelligence, but is an inherent part of the process of theory development and scientific discovery in any field.

Research and theory on emotions has waxed and waned over the history of psychology. The behavior revolution inspired by B. F. Skinner and the subsequent cognitive revolution saw interest in emotion seriously undermined. However, beginning in the 1980s and accelerating into the present, interest in emotions has enjoyed a robust resurgence across a wide range of subdisciplines within psychology, neuroscience, and the health sciences—especially the renewed focus on positive psychology, well-being, and mind/body medicine. While such research continues to expand our knowledge of emotions, fundamental questions remain regarding emotional intelligence.

We seek to raise important questions and issues for the field. The questions we address include: What is emotional intelligence (EI)? How is it different from other established constructs within psychology? Is it possible to develop EI? Is EI a better predictor of work performance than traditional measures of intelligence—or, more precisely, which kinds of work performance does EI predict most strongly? Should EI be measured at all? Finally, what is the relationship between ethics and EI?

All of these are legitimate questions, and each has been raised by many voices in the field. In this article we seek to add to the ongoing dialogue by clarifying our own position, and helping to differentiate and sharpen the issues. We also seek to address some common claims about emotional intelligence that may foster consequential, even unfortunate misunderstandings.

As Kuhn (1970) notes, scientists' efforts to deal with data in a systematic fashion, guided by deeply held theories, lead to the formation of distinct research paradigms. Each of these paradigms has its own unique history, methods, and assumptions for dealing with its focal topic, and, in this sense, the emotional intelligence paradigm is no different than other paradigms within psychology. According to Kuhn (1970), such a scientific paradigm becomes "an object for further articulation and specification under new and more stringent conditions.” Once models and paradigms have been articulated, the signs of scientific vigor include, “the proliferation of competing articulations, the willingness to try anything, the expression of explicit discontent, the recourse to philosophy and to debate over fundamentals” (p.91). The current debates and vigorous research efforts in the area of emotional intelligence suggests just this state of affairs; by Kuhn's criteria, the emotional intelligence paradigm would seem to have reached a state of scientific maturity (Goleman, 2001). As paradigms mature, specific theories within the paradigm begin to emerge and differentiate, as has occurred since the first formal formulation of an emotional intelligence theory by Peter Salovey and John Mayer in 1990. All these new variations on their theme—like the original theory—must be held to Karl Popper's test: A new theory can be justified if it has the potential to explain things that other theories cannot, or if it has the potential to explain things better than other competing theories. Any new theory must lead to testable hypotheses which will allow it to be compared with other theories, with the goal of determining whether the theory would constitute a scientific advance should it survive in light of research aimed at testing its specific hypotheses (Popper, 1959). Moreover, if such a theory is able to withstand rigorous tests of its validity, the question then becomes one of application. Can such a theory be applied without giving rise to inconsistencies? Will such a theory help us to achieve some useful purpose? Is such a theory really needed at all? (Popper, 1959). If a theory can pass these crucial tests, then the theory can be compared with other competing theories to see if the current theory represents a replacement or extension of theories currently in use.

Predictive Validity of Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

Perhaps central to the current interest in emotional intelligence is its potential utility in predicting a range of criterion across disparate populations. As with claims associated with traditional intelligence, the predictive validity of emotional intelligence will likely vary widely depending on the context, criterion of interest, and specific theory used. Traditional measures of intelligence, although providing some degree of predictive validity, have not been able to account for a large portion of the variance in work performance and career success. As Goleman (1998, p. 19) states, “When IQ test scores are correlated with how well people perform in their careers the highest estimate of how much difference IQ accounts for is about 25 percent (Hunter & Hunter, 1984; Schmidt & Hunter, 1981). A careful analysis, though, suggests a more accurate figure may be no higher than 10 percent and perhaps as low as 4 percent” (Sternberg, 1997). These are still significant correlations, even at the low end of the estimates, and there is no doubt that IQ will remain a significant predictor of work “success”, especially in predicting which job, profession, or career path a person can follow. In a recent meta-analysis examining the correlation and predictive validity of EI when compared to IQ or general mental ability, Van Rooy and Viswesvaran (in press) found IQ to be a better predictor of work and academic performance than EI. However, when it comes to the question of whether a person will become a “star performer” (in the top ten percent, however such performance is appropriately assessed) within that role, or be an outstanding leader, IQ may be a less powerful predictor than emotional intelligence (Goleman 1998, 2001, 2002). While social scientists are mainly interested in the main predictive relationship between IQ and work success, practitioners and those who must make decisions on hiring and promotion within organizations are understandably far more interested in assessing capabilities related to outstanding performance and leadership. There has been virtually no quantitative social science research on top leaders, however, in part because of the taboo noted by the anthropologist Laura Nader (1996) against “studying up” the power structure—CEOs and others who hold power are resistant to allowing themselves to be assessed by objective measures, including IQ tests. Qualitative research, however, suggests that IQ measures fail to account for large portions of the variance related to performance and career success, especially among top managers and senior leaders (Fernandez-Araoz, 2001). There has, however, been a much larger body of research on top performers (e.g. Kelly, 1998; Spencer & Spencer, 1993), which suggests that IQ alone does not predict in this domain as well as competencies that integrate cognitive, emotional and social abilities.

However, the issue of separating abilities related to cognitive intelligence from abilities, traits, and competencies related to emotional intelligence remains a complex one; all definitions of emotional intelligence represent a combination of cognitive and emotional abilities (Cherniss, 2001). This reflects the growing understanding in neuroscience that cognition and emotions are interwoven in mental life (through thick connections between the emotional centers and the neocortex) rather than discretely independent, especially in complex decision-making, self-awareness, affective self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and interpersonal functioning (Davidson, 2001); all these are aspects of emotional intelligence. IQ, however, appears to represent a more “pure” case from the neuroscience perspective, since the brain regions it draws on are localized in the neocortex, and can function relatively well on the items in IQ tests even when lesions isolate these structures from emotional centers (Damasio, 1994).

The failure of IQ to predict a large portion of the variance in performance among managers may be attributable to range restriction on the variable of IQ among managers and senior executives. To assume a position of leadership in today's workplace often requires that an individual demonstrate at least average, and more often above average intelligence; leadership requires a high level of cognitive ability in order to process the complexity of information leaders face daily. The completion of undergraduate and graduate programs as well as successfully passing testing and credentialing procedures typically serves to ensure that those able to pass such hurdles are of above average intelligence. This renders given levels of IQ a “threshold” competence, a minimal capability that all who are within a given job pool must have in order to get and keep their job. For example, physicians, CPAs and CEOs may all need an IQ at least one standard deviation above the mean in order to hold their job . However, simply having an IQ in that superior range does not in itself guarantee that they will be superior doctors, accountants, or leaders (McClelland, 1973; Spencer & Spencer, 1993). IQ, then, suffers from range restriction in many applied organizational settings, and thus is even more limited in its ability to predict performance and career success within a given vocation. While IQ may account for a more substantial amount of the variance in performance in entry-level positions, even in this context it rarely acts to reliably distinguish average and star performers. Even in educational settings the use of traditional testing procedures has often left much of the variance in educational outcomes unexplained. This combined with the adverse impact that traditional testing procedures may have on minority groups has motivated interest in developing alternative methods of assessment (Steele, 1997).

While the assessment of constructs within the emotional intelligence paradigm have shown significant utility and predictive validity in applied settings (e.g. Boyatzis, 1982; Spencer and Spencer, 1993), claims of the relative importance of emotional intelligence compared to traditional forms of intelligence needs further empirical investigation to better determine the relative contribution of each in the prediction of specific criterion (Goleman, 2000). While IQ should remain an important predictor of the types of vocations a given individual can assume, once within that vocation the predictive validity of IQ would seem to diminish significantly. The notion of IQ as a threshold competence is an important distinction and one that has often been overlooked or down played by many theorists as well as in the popular media. The excitement generated in the popular media has often left the impression that high emotional intelligence might somehow compensate for a low IQ and allow those with below average IQ, but high emotional intelligence, to thrive in spite of below average intelligence – in essence giving the false impression that IQ matters little. While we agree that IQ is clearly an important construct, we join other theorists who argue that by expanding our definition of intelligence we obtain a more realistic and valid assessment of the factors that lead to personal effectiveness and adaptation (see Sternberg, 1997, 2002). To the degree that popular and scientific interest in emotional intelligence has begun to challenge long held assumptions of what leads to success in life, the emotional intelligence paradigm, and those working in it, have helped to bring a more balanced view of the role of cognition and emotion in determining life outcomes.

While research on emotional intelligence has progressed significantly since its inception, more research will be needed to further validate claims of the relative importance that traditional intelligence and emotional intelligence hold to the prediction of specific criterion. Longitudinal research looking at the relative contribution of IQ and specific theoretical constructs within the emotional intelligence paradigm would help better clarify the relative importance of each as it relates to specific criterion, such as work performance over an individual's career. Such direct comparisons between IQ and emotional intelligence would be a welcome addition to the growing literature.

The “Problem” of Multiple Theories of Emotional Intelligence

People are often surprised to find that within the emotional intelligence paradigm there exists not one, but several theories (e.g. Bar-On, 2000; Goleman, 1995:1998; Mayer & Salovey, 1997) . Each theory has been put forward in an attempt to better understand and explain the skills, traits, and abilities associated with social and emotional intelligence. While some might argue that the goal of research should be to identify and define a singular theoretical framework to be labeled as the “correct” version of emotional intelligence, another approach would be to acknowledge that having multiple theories can often serve to elucidate additional aspects of complex psychological constructs. For example, research looking at the correlation between the MEIS (a measure of Mayer and Salovey's model of emotional intelligence), and the EQ-i (Bar-On, 1997) (a measure of Reuven Bar-On's model of emotional intelligence) has shown the two measures are not highly correlated with one another, suggesting that these two measures are tapping different aspects of the construct (however, each major theory differs somewhat in its version of the basic definition of EI). Moreover, research on the MEIS (and its successor the MSCEIT v2.0) have shown it to be correlated with traditional measures of intelligence (Van Rooy & Viswesvaran, in press). This moderate correlation with IQ is consistent with the author's view that all forms of intelligence should show some degree of correlation to be properly classified as an intelligence. The low to moderate correlations between IQ, specifically verbal intelligence, and emotional intelligence suggests that the relationship between these two constructs is relatively orthogonal in nature. While less correlated with traditional intelligence, the Bar-On EQ-i, and other trait-based theories of emotional intelligence, show a higher degree of overlap with traditional measures of personality (Bar-On, 1997; Saklofske, Austin, & Minski, 2003; Schutte, Malouff, Hall, Haggerty, Cooper, Golden, & Dorheim, 1998). While the correlations between these trait-based emotional intelligence measures and traditional measures of personality, such as measures that assess the Big Five, are moderate to high, researchers have often been able to demonstrate the discriminant validity of trait-based approaches to emotional intelligence (Ciarrochi, Chan, & Caputi, 2000; Saklofke, Austin, & Minski, 2003; Schutte, Malouff, Hall, Haggerty, Cooper, Golden, & Dorhneim, 1998; Van Der Zee, Thijs, Schakel, 2002; Van Rooy & Viswesvaran, in press; Wong & Law, 2002). While correlations with traditional psychological constructs are to be expected, more recent research on the incremental validity of emotional intelligence when IQ and personality are controlled for has shown that emotional intelligence is indeed a unique construct that accounts for unique variance (Ciarrochi, Chan, & Caputi, 2000; Palmer, Gardner, & Stough, 2003; Saklofke, Austin, & Minski, 2002; Schutte, Malouff, Hall, Haggerty, Cooper, Golden, & Dorhneim, 1998; Van Der Zee, Thijs, Schakel, 2002; Van Rooy & Viswesvaran, in press). Given the relative youth of the emotional intelligence construct, scientific evidence continues to mount that suggests the construct represents a constellation of traits and abilities that are not fully accounted for by cognitive intelligence and traditional measures of personality.

However, the evidence here remains murky. For one, each of the studies that speak to the issue have used different measures of EI, which are in turn based on different definitions of the construct. For instance, Schutte et al. (1998) use a measure based on the Mayer and Salovey definition which, we would expect, should overlap little with personality. The issue of personality overlap pertains mainly to the Bar-On and Goleman models of EI. Another problem with many of these studies is that they look at the relationship between specific aspects of EI and specific personality traits. For instance, there are small to moderately high correlations between Extraversion (from the Big Five) and each of the four clusters as assessed on the ECI (Sala, 2002). What is needed to clarify the question of overlap is a study that combines personality traits and then examines incremental validity for EI. While Van Rooy and Viswesvaran (in press) did this, they combine all the measures of EI; what is needed, though, is an analysis that does this separately for the ECI and the EQ-i.

We should remember, too, that the existence of several theoretical viewpoints within the emotional intelligence paradigm does not indicate a weakness, but rather the robustness of the field. This kind of alternative theorizing, of course, is not unique to the study of emotional intelligence and should not be viewed as undermining the validity and utility of this emerging field. In describing the current status of the overall field of intelligence, Sternberg, Lautrey, and Lubart (2002) comment, “few fields seem to have lenses with so many colors.” (p.3). Yet the field of traditional intelligence (IQ) has not seriously been threatened or discredited for having multiple theories; continuing debate and research on traditional intelligence has significantly increased our knowledge and practical applications of intelligence assessment to a wide range of populations and issues. Moreover, within the field of intelligence theory, this debate has continued for almost 100 years, and promises to continue well into the foreseeable future. While still in its infancy, the field of emotional intelligence would seem to be following a similar trajectory.

While several theories associated with the emotional intelligence paradigm currently exist, the three that have generated the most interest in terms of research and application are the theories of Mayer and Salovey (1997), Bar-On (1988; 2000a) and Goleman (1998b; 2002). While all of these theorists have been associated with the emotional intelligence paradigm, a closer reading of their writing over time will reveal a significant divergence in the specific language they use to label their theories and constructs. While each theory represents a unique set of constructs that represents the theoretical orientation and context in which each of these authors have decided to frame their theory, all share a common desire to understand and measure the abilities and traits related to recognizing and regulating emotions in ourselves and others (Goleman, 2001). As Ciarrochi, Chan, & Caputi, (2000) point out, although definitions within the field of emotional intelligence vary, they tend to be complementary rather than contradictory. All theories within the emotional intelligence paradigm seek to understand how individuals perceive, understand, utilize and manage emotions in an effort to predict and foster personal effectiveness. An awareness of the origins and motivations of each of these theories provides additional insight into why the specific constructs, and methods used to measure them, vary among the major theories.

The first of the three major theories to emerge was that of Bar-On (1988). In his doctoral dissertation he coined the term emotional quotient (EQ), as an analogue to intelligence quotient (IQ). The timing of the publication of his dissertation in the late 1980s was consistent with an increasing interest in the role of emotion in social functioning and well-being, but before interest in emotional intelligence enjoyed the widespread interest and popularity that it does today. Bar-On (2000a) currently defines his model in terms of an array of traits and abilities related to emotional and social knowledge that influence our overall ability to effectively cope with environmental demands, as such, it can be viewed as a model of psychological well-being and adaptation. This model includes (1) the ability to be aware of, to understand, and to express oneself; (2) the ability to be aware of, to understand and relate to others; (3) the ability to deal with strong emotions and control one's impulses; and (4) the ability to adapt to change and to solve problems of a personal or social nature. The five main domains in this model are intrapersonal skills , interpersonal skills , adaptability , stress management , and general mood (Bar-On, 1997b). The EQ-i, which Bar-On constructed to measure the model, is a self-report measure that specifically measures emotionally and socially competent behavior that estimates an individual's emotional and social intelligence, as opposed to traditional personality traits or cognitive capacity (Bar-On, 2000). The use of a self-report measure to assess individuals on this model is consistent with established practice within personality psychology, where self-report measures represent the dominant, though certainly not the only, method of assessment. However, it must be noted that since its initial publication the Bar-On EQ-i has also been published as a 360-degree measure. While correlations between the EQ-i and subscales of other established measures of personality, especially ones that are thought to tap closely related constructs, have been moderate to high, overall the EQ-i seems to provide a valid and reliable estimate of an individual's ability to effectively cope with the pressures and demands of daily life, as conceptualized by Bar-On (Bar-On, 2000a).

Emotional intelligence as formulated in the theory of Mayer & Salovey (1997) has been framed within a model of intelligence. The motivation to develop a theory of emotional intelligence, and instruments to measure it, came from a realization that traditional measures of intelligence failed to measure individual differences in the ability to perceive, process, and effectively manage emotions and emotional information. The use of this frame is significant, as it defines emotional intelligence more specifically as the ability to perceive emotions, to access and generate emotions to assist thought, to understand emotions and emotional knowledge, and to reflectively regulate emotions to promote emotional and intellectual growth (Mayer & Salovey, 1997). Like other intelligences, emotional intelligence is defined by Mayer and Salovey as a group of mental abilities, and is best measured using a testing situation that is performance or ability based. This focus on objective, performance-based assessment is similar in spirit to the methods used to measure traditional intelligence (IQ). For example, to measure spatial reasoning ability, traditionally seen as a type of cognitive intelligence, it makes sense to present an individual with a set of spatial reasoning tasks of varying difficulty in order to gauge their ability on this type of intelligence. Performance-based measures of emotional intelligence take a similar approach. For example, if you want insight into an individual's ability to perceive emotions in others, it makes sense to present them a variety of visual images, such as faces, and ask them to identity the emotion(s) present. The most current measure of the Mayer & Salovey model, the Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, Emotional Intelligence Test v.2.0 (MSCEIT v2.0), makes use of this approach and thus yields scores that are based on an individual's performance on a set of items designed to measure the four branch model of emotional intelligence. As is evident within traditional theories and methods of measuring cognitive intelligence, the measure is viewed as applicable to a wide range of settings, for example clinical assessment, education, and the workplace. This potential for application across diverse settings and populations is a consistent theme within the general intelligence literature as well.

The framing of emotional intelligence within the larger body of theory and research on intelligence has other implications as well. As Mayer, Caruso, and Salovey (1999) point out, to qualify as an actual intelligence several criteria must be met. First, any intelligence must reflect actual mental performance rather than preferred behavior patterns, self-esteem, or other constructs more appropriately labeled traits. Second, the proposed intelligence should describe a set of related abilities that can be shown as conceptually distinct from established intelligences; and third, an intelligence should develop with age. To date, the ability-based model has provided evidence to support each of these demands required to be correctly labeled an intelligence (Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, & Sitarenios, 2001; Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 1999). As Sternberg (2002) recently commented, “An impressive aspect of this work is Salovey, Mayer, and their colleagues' program of careful validation to assess the construct validity of their theory and measures. In a relatively short amount of time, they have developed measures and provided good evidence of both convergent and discriminant validity.” (p.3)

The most recent addition to theory within the emotional intelligence paradigm is the framework of emotional intelligence put forward by Goleman (1998b) in his book Working with Emotional Intelligence, and clarified in a later article (Goleman, 2001). This theory represents a framework of emotional intelligence that reflects how an individual's potential for mastering the skills of Self-Awareness, Self-Management, Social Awareness, and Relationship Management translates into success in the workplace (Goleman, 2001). Goleman's model of emotional intelligence, then, offers these four major domains. He then postulates that each of these domains becomes the foundation for learned abilities, or competencies, that depend on underlying strength in the relevant EI domain. The EI domain of Self-Awareness, for example, provides the underlying basis for the learned competency of “Accurate Self-Assessment” of strengths and limitations pertaining to a role such as leadership. The competency level of this framework is based on a content analysis of capabilities that have been identified through internal research on work performance in several hundred companies and organizations worldwide. Goleman defines an emotional ‘competence' as “a learned capability based on emotional intelligence that results in outstanding performance at work” (Goleman, 1998b). That such competencies are learned is a critical distinction. Where emotional intelligence , as defined by Mayer & Salovey, represents our potential for achieving mastery of specific abilities in this domain, the emotional competencies themselves represent the degree to which an individual has mastered specific, skills and abilities that build on EI and allow them greater effectiveness in the workplace (Goleman, 2001). In this context, emotional intelligence might predict the ease by which a given individual will be able master the specific skills and abilities of a given emotional competence.

Grounding his theory specifically within the context of work performance separates Goleman's model from those of Bar-On, and Mayer and Salovey. Where the latter frame their theories as general theories of social and emotional intelligence and emotional intelligence respectively, Goleman's theory is specific to the domain of work performance. According to the test manuals of both the MSCEIT v2.0 (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2002b) and the Bar-On EQ-i (Bar-On, 1997), these measures are applicable to a wider range of settings such as clinical assessment, educational settings, in addition to the workplace. Where Bar-On seeks to develop a general measure of social and emotional intelligence predictive of emotional well-being and adaptation, and Mayer and Salovey seek to establish the validity and utility of a new form of intelligence, the model of Goleman seeks to develop a theory of work performance based on social and emotional competencies. This “competency” based approach reflects a tradition that emphasizes the identification of competencies that can be used to predict work performance across a variety of organizational settings, often with an emphasis on those in leadership positions (Boyatzis, 1982; Bray, Campbell, & Grant, 1974; Kotter, 1982; Luthans, Hodgetts, & Rosenkrantz, 1998; McClelland, 1973; McClelland, Baldwin, Bronfenbrenner, & Strodbeck, 1958; Spencer & Spencer, 1993; Thornton & Byham, 1982). Though not originally a theory of social and emotional competence, as research on “star performers” began to accumulate, it became apparent that the vast majority of competencies that distinguished average performers from “star performers” could be classified as falling in the domain of social and emotional competencies, although conceptual thinking or “big picture” thinking is also a hallmark of superior performance, especially among executives who often must process information in complex situations that include a myriad of interdependent factors. More recent research reviewed by Goleman (2002) has shown that the more senior the leader, the more important emotional competencies become. This finding, combined with research supporting the notion that those in higher positions within the organizational hierarchy often demonstrate higher levels of self / other discrepancies on 360 feedback measures (Sala, 2001b: 2002), helped motivate the selection of a 360-degree methodology to measure social and emotional competencies, although methods based on behavioral event interviewing (Boyatzis, 1982; Spencer & Spencer, 1993), simulations, and assessment centers (Thornton & Byham, 1982) also represent reliable and valid methods for assessing social and emotional competencies. The selection of a 360-degree methodology was also desirable for its ease of use compared to other methods, its comprehensiveness (to ensure that all competencies could be assessed with one instrument), and validity (capturing both self and others' views) (Boyatzis, Goleman, & Rhee, 2001). The most current measure of Goleman's theory of emotional competence is the Emotional Competence Inventory 2.0 (ECI 2.0). According to the Emotional Competence Inventory technical manual, “The ECI is a 360-degree tool designed to assess the emotional competencies of individuals and organizations. It is based on emotional competencies identified by Daniel Goleman in Working with Emotional Intelligence (1998), and on competencies from Hay/McBer's Generic Competency Dictionary (1996) as well as Richard Boyatzis's Self-Assessment Questionnaire (SAQ)” (Sala, 2002, pg. 1). Like other theories reviewed here, Goleman's theory of emotional competence reflects an extension, refinement, and reconcepualization of previous research and theory in an effort to better understand complex affective processes in order to predict relevant criterion, in this case work performance. As such, the theory of emotional competence and the instrument designed to measure its constructs (i.e. Emotional Competence Inventory 2.0) have been refined based on empirical research (Sala, 2002). The current model reflects the results of recent statistical analysis (Boyatzis, Goleman, & Rhee, 2000; Sala, 2002) intended to gain additional insight into the structure of social and emotional competencies. For a full review of reliability and validity issues related to the Emotional Competence Inventory 2.0, please refer to the ECI Technical Manual (Sala, 2002).

While continued research will be needed to further establish the validity of the current version of the Emotional Competence Inventory 2.0, recent research on the original Emotional Competence Inventory 360 (Cavallo & Brienza, 2002; Lloyd, 2001; Stagg & Gunter, 2002) combined with decades of research using a competency-based approach (see Boyatzis, 1982; Spencer & Spencer, 1993 for review), demonstrates the utility of this approach for the assessment, training and development of social and emotional competencies in the workplace. Initial concurrent validity studies using assessments based on Goleman's model have been able to account for a larger amount of variance in work performance than EI measures based on the Mayer and Salovey model of emotional intelligence (Bradberry & Greaves, 2003 ). Concurrent validity studies, relating to work performance, comparing Goleman's model and Bar-On's, have yet to be conducted or reported in the literature. While such findings remain tentative, we believe that a model of emotional intelligence focused specifically on the workplace, combined with a multi-rater format, provides individuals and organizations feedback on the large majority of competencies that best account for superior work performance. However, as the emotional intelligence paradigm continues to mature, measurements and techniques for assessment should continually evolve based on empirical research.

Can Emotional Intelligence be Developed?

Another factor contributing to the popularity of theories of emotional intelligence is the assumption that, unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be developed. There has been a great degree of scepticism on this point. For example, McCrae (2000) recently commented, “…we know a great deal about the origins of personality traits. Traits from all five factors are strongly influenced by genes (Riemann, Angleitner, & Stelau, 1997) and are extraordinarily persistent in adulthood (Costa & McCrae, 1997). This is likely to be unwelcome news to proponents of emotional intelligence, who have sometimes contrasted a supposed malleability of emotional intelligence with the relative fixity of traditional IQ” (p. 266).

While we acknowledge that genetics likely play an important role in the development of emotional intelligence, we also note that geneticists themselves challenge as naïve the assumption that nurture does not impact nature: gene expression itself appears to be shaped by the social and emotional experiences of the individual (Meany, 2001). Bar-On (2000) has found successively older cohorts tend to score higher on his scale of EI, suggesting that, to some extent, EI may be learned through life experience. However, apart from this general, if weak, improvement in EI with maturation, we argue that without sustained effort and attention, individuals are unlikely to improve greatly a given aspect of their emotional intelligence. If the impression has been given that significant improvement of social and emotional competencies is easily accomplished, this is unfortunate. That the development of social and emotional competencies takes commitment and sustained effort, over time, is a position that we, in addition to others, have held for some time (Cherniss & Adler, 2000; Cherniss & Goleman, 2001; Cherniss, Goleman, Emmerling, Cowan, and Adler, 1998; Goleman, 1998; Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2002). However, a wide range of findings from the fields of psychotherapy (Barlow, 1985); training programs (Marrow, Jarrett, Rupinski, 1981) and executive education (Boyatzis, Cowen, & Kolb, 1995) all provide evidence for people's ability to improve their social and emotional competence with sustained effort and a systematic program. In addition, new findings in the emerging field of affective neuroscience have begun to demonstrate that the brain circuitry of emotion exhibits a fair degree of plasticity, even in adulthood (Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000).

While the evidence that people can improve on emotional intelligence competencies comes from a wide range of sources, perhaps the most persuasive evidence comes from longitudinal studies conducted at the Weatherhead School of Management at Case Western Reserve University (Boyatzis, Cowan, & Kolb, 1995). The students in this study participated in a required course on competence building, which allowed students to assess their emotional intelligence competencies, in addition to cognitive ones, select the specific competencies they would target for development, and develop and implement an individualized learning plan to strengthen those competencies. Objective assessment of students at the beginning of the program, upon graduation and again years later on-the-job allows a unique opportunity to help address the issue of whether emotional intelligence competencies can be developed. The results of this research have shown that emotional intelligence competencies can be significantly improved, and, moreover, these improvements are sustainable over time. As can be seen in Figure 1, the effects of the program have been impressive, especially when compared to what is seen in traditional forms of executive education. These effects are much larger than the effects observed in traditional MBA programs and typical corporate leadership development initiatives. Research on traditional MBA programs found just a 2% increase in social and emotional competencies as a result of program completion (Boyatzis, Cowan, & Kolb, 1995). Although traditional corporate leadership initiatives tend to fare better, the effects are also relatively small and tend to fade significantly over time. That the effects observed in the Weatherhead MBA program were sustained for a period of several years provides evidence that, not only is it possible to develop emotional intelligence competencies, but that such changes can be sustained over an extended period.

In addition to research related to outcome studies and program evaluations, the findings from affective neuroscience also provide evidence for the potential to develop emotional intelligence competencies. The findings of LeDoux (1996) seem to indicate that although there are stable individual differences in activation patterns in the central circuitry of emotion, there is also pronounced plasticity. Research on animals has established that the prefrontal cortex, amygdala, and hippocampus, all of which are involved in the perception, use and management of emotions, are all sites where plasticity is known to occur (Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000). However, it has only recently been demonstrated that such plastic changes can occur in the adult human hippocampus as well (Eriksson et al., 1998 as cited in Davidson, Jackson, & Kalin, 2000). Recent research on “mindfulness” training—an emotional self-regulation strategy—has also shown that training can actually alter the brain centers that regulate negative and positive emotions. Mindfulness training focuses on helping people to better stay focused on the present, thus keeping distressful and distracting thoughts (e.g. worries) at bay, and to pause before acting on emotional impulse. R&D scientists from a biotech firm who received mindfulness training reported less stress after eight weeks, and they felt more creative and enthusiastic about their work (Davidson & Kabat-Zinn, et al., 2003) . While such results serve to support our notion that emotional intelligence competencies can be developed, additional evaluation studies would be a welcome addition to the literature.

Should We Be Measuring Emotional Intelligence?

The use of psychological measurement has always been somewhat controversial, and the measurement of theories within the emotional intelligence paradigm is no different. That the affective experience and abilities of individuals can somehow be quantified has made some uncomfortable. This may, in part, be due to a philosophical view that has seen emotions as unpredictable, irrational, and something to be suppressed in favor of logic and reason. Viewed in this way, emotions and emotional intelligence would hardly be worth measuring even if one could. However, theories of emotional intelligence have helped to counter this view and offered the promise of a more balanced view of what it means to be intelligent about emotions, expanding our understanding of the role that emotions play in mental life.

The use of emotional intelligence measures in organizational settings has also been somewhat controversial (e.g. Davies, Stankov, & Roberts, 1998; Mattews, Zeidner, & Roberts, 2003). The application of social and emotional competencies, and the subsequent focus on work performance and assessment has led some critics to label assessments based on social and emotional competencies as reminiscent of more mechanistic or Tayloristic views that ultimately aim to increase performance and efficacy at the expense of the well-being of individual employees. However, where Taylor's attempt to apply scientific principles to the workplace was dominated by a core belief that individuals are basically rational beings, the very central tenets of emotional intelligence make clear that individuals are a complex combination of emotion and reason. Emotions had little place in the mechanistic worldview of Taylor. However, our view is that providing a theory and assessment methodology capable of assessing emotional intelligence competencies helps to identify individuals likely to succeed in a given organizational role. Moreover, without a specific theory of emotional competence, and methods to assess them, employees may be limited to feedback on issues more related to technical competence, or left with vague feedback related to their “people skills” or “leadership style.” In order to improve on any ability—including emotional competence—people need realistic feedback of their baseline abilities, as well as their progress.

Specific and accurate assessment and feedback on these competencies is more straightforwardly obtained with a framework of emotional competence (Goleman, Boyatzis, & McKee, 2001). Providing reliable and valid feedback on specific social and emotional competencies, so long as it is provided in a safe and supportive environment, helps to provide employees with insight into their strengths and areas for development. However, in applied practice the almost exclusive focus on “performance gaps” in traditional development planning has often undermined the effective use of feedback in coaching and training and development initiatives focused on assessing and developing emotional intelligence. Providing a more balanced view, including a focus on strengths, an articulation of a personal vision and how developing emotional intelligence competencies helps one achieve that vision, paired with a supportive environment, can often help to overcome feelings of defensiveness that often undermine the development of social and emotional competencies. If done correctly, such feedback becomes a central component of work motivation as conceptualized by several experts in the field of goal setting and motivation. (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; Locke & Latham, 1990).

The Ethical Dimension and EI

Could there be an emotionally intelligent terrorist? This provocative question raises the issue of how morals and values relate to emotional intelligence: is EI morally neutral, or does it interact with an ethical dimension? Typically in psychology, ethics and morality are treated as an orthogonal, independent dimension, in a domain beyond the concerns at hand; we know of no serious articles exploring, say, the moral dimensions of the Big Five personality factors, nor of personality dimensions like self-efficacy, optimism, or extraversion. The question might just as well be, Could there be an efficacious, optimistic, and extraverted terrorist? Clearly, if the answer were “Yes,” that does not invalidate the intrinsic worth of efficacy, optimism or extraversion for psychological science. As Howard Gardner (1999, p. 10) put it, “no intelligence is moral or immoral in itself;” noting that Goethe used his verbal skills in a laudable manner, the Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels in a hateful way.

Even so, there may be significant issues to explore at the intersection of ethics and EI. Goleman (1995, 1998) has speculated that certain aspects of EI may tend to promote prosocial behavior: Self-awareness must be deployed to act in accord with one's own sense of purpose, meaning, and ethics; empathy appears an essential step in fostering altruism and compassion. One question, then, is the extent to which cultivating abilities like empathy and self-awareness fosters a positive ethical outlook.

On the other hand, there are no doubt instances of Machiavellian types who use EI abilities—especially empathy and social skills like persuasion--to lead people astray or manipulate them, or who deploy social awareness skills to clamber over others to the top of the ladder. However, preliminary research on the Machiavellian personality suggests that those with this bent tend to have diminished empathy abilities, focusing most clearly in areas related to their self-interest, and poorly in other domains (Davis & Kraus, 1997).  For those who adopt the stance that the ends justify the means, a manipulative application of EI skills (or any other ability, for that matter) would be acceptable, no matter the moral repugnance of the goal.

We believe these issues have importance for the field, and deserve more thought, study and research.



Managing Difficult Emotions


university of texas at dallas/student counseling center/su 1.608/972 883-2575

Most people have had the experience of feeling overwhelmed by a strong emotion. At those times, the strength of the anger, sadness, nervousness or discouragement may have made you feel like the emotion was in control of you. Emotional intensity may have effected your attitude and behavior in ways that were distressing to you and those around you. So, how do you handle these episodes without blowing your cool or having to avoid feelings entirely?

  • Be aware of your breathing-make it slow and deep. This simple step is a natural way to calm a racing pulse and mind. Take a moment to check on the muscle tension in your body,- particularly in the shoulders, neck and jaw. Relax any tight areas you find.
  • Take a brief time out to compose yourself.- If you are with others and it is not an appropriate/convenient time to express intense emotions, excuse yourself for a few minutes. You could say "I need a second to get my thoughts together. I'll be back in a moment."
  • Do contact supportive people and talk over your situation.-Sharing your feelings with those you trust can help you to feel normal and not isolated. Writing your feelings down in a private journal is an additional helping step you can take. A recent study showed that survivors of traumatic events lowered their distress levels significantly by journalizing.
  • Speak up when an issue is important to you-This is most effective when you spend the time to think about the problem and clarify your position before you begin. Remember, change in relationships usually happens slowly, not as the result of impulsive confrontations.
  • Be kind to yourself.- This is a good time to do some small things for yourself that give you comfort and provide a mental "mini vacation." For example, take a quiet walk in the park, make yourself a meal with some special comfort foods, or go to bed early with your favorite book.
  • Temporarily distract yourself.-Sometimes being flooded with feelings can make it hard to cope. Visualize putting your emotional pain in a box on the closet shelf where you can get back to it to sort it out when you are calmer. Do something that will bring out the opposite emotion. Tire yourself with physical activity. Going to class or work where you really must concentrate on the task at hand, can get your mind off of the troubles for a while.
  • Try to do the regular, routine things you would do on an average day.- This will help you feel more in control. Remember that your feeling will change eventually. Remind yourself of past times when the intensity of the pain did decrease.
  • If painful feelings are a regular occurrence, make an effort to figure out why. -You might include self help books, as well as experienced counselors in your search.

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Emotions are the best Medicine


By Raj Mathur for Life Positive Magazine

Give your feelings, good or bad, full rein and you will be bursting with energy

Any idea why you suddenly feel tremendously joyful for no particular reason? Or why depression might dog you for days on end, no matter how hard you try to run away from it? Love, fear, anger, disgust, compassion: all form a panorama that, as we experience it, evokes distinct feelings and emotions. In reality, though, there is no difference between one emotion and another. They are all manifestations of an aspect of our self which we exaggerate or suppress in accordance with the energy levels in our body.

Often, it is the fluctuating energy level that is responsible for varying physical and mental states—unless, that is, you are in total control over your mind and body (or just plain lucky!). Some days one might feel that no job is too big or too difficult. Life is a breeze and all obstacles can be overcome with ease. Them, there are those days when even getting out of bed in the morning is such a chore. The world seems to conspire behind your back and anything that can go wrong, does. If only it were possible to crawl into a hole and do a slow fade-out.

These ups and downs can also be dictated by other factors like your environment, the people around you and the energy generated by your biorhythms. But how these affect an individual is a different subject altogether. So do fluctuations in energy levels imply that the amount of energy is one's body varies from time to time? Quite simply, no. You always have the same amount of energy at any given time, but what does vary is how much of this energy is free and how much is blocked. The body's energy centers are the chakras.

The seven major chakras reside along the spine and the head. Beginning at the base of the spine and the head. Beginning at the base of the spine (Mooladhara) moving through the pelvis (Swadhishtan), below the solar plexus (Manipura), to the heart (Anahata) and the throat (Vishuddh). The sixth chakra is between the eyes (Ajna) and the seventh lies just above the crown of the head (Shahasrara).

Ideally, energy flows from the bottom chakra to the top through the intermediate chakras and is called kundalini. Each chakra emits energy with different characteristics. For instances, the Mooladhara manifests itself as balance and as emotions dealing with fear, while the energy in the heart chakra finds expression as feelings of love. If any of these chakras are blocked, it is not possible for that particular type of energy to pass freely through it. These blocks are easily discernible by watching one's emotions (or lack of them).

For example, a block in one's Mooladhara may cause a tendency towards fear, while a block in the Anahata may show itself as an inability to love, In extreme cases, this may even cause an individual to develop streaks of cruelty or sadism. These blocks can occur due to a number of reasons; childhood experiences, karma and affinities acquired in past lives (according to some lines of philosophy), physical or mental illnesses, or traumatic experiences. And, it is the individual who is responsible for any blocks that may occur—an external agency can only trigger a block, not create it—but he or she also has the power to remove the block.

The solution lies in recognizing and accepting one's emotions. In the course of a single day, or sometimes even a lifetime, we instinctively strive to envelop ourselves in good emotions like love, compassion, elation and pride, while negating or suppressing bad ones like anger, fear, lust and abhorrence. This is a mistake that we often commit. As mentioned, bad emotions are only symptoms of blocks in the body. Ignoring or suppressing these blocks does not cause them to vanish; what is more likely to happen is the strengthening of the blocks.

Energy, like water, must be allowed to flow—keeping it bottled up will result in spillage. The first step in the right direction is to break down the classification of good and bad emotions. For instance, consider a situation when you are moved to tears by a particularly touching scene in a movie or a book. What happens is that the situation you are reading about or viewing touches your chakra, hereby permitting a free flow of energy. The emotion you experience is a result of this rush of energy which had been lying dormant in your chakra. If you have undergone similar experiences with a so-called negative emotion like disgust, hatred or anger, count yourself blessed. And if you haven't try opening yourself to the emotion the next time it occurs until you feel yourself totally enveloped in it.

The experience can be as enriching and fulfilling as a rush of good emotion. Don't get me wrong. I am not advocating loss of self-control and wallowing in emotion until you can attribute all responsibility for your actions to that emotion. Just as you let yourself go while watching a movie or reading a book while maintaining awareness of your real self, be aware of yourself and then let the emotions wash over you. With practice you will find a little part of yourself standing apart watching smilingly as you bathe in the purifying sea of your emotions.

Initially, you may have to consciously make yourself aware of situations in which you are letting your feelings collect inside you, and then make an effort to experience them. With time this will become spontaneous and the experience will become easier, until you feel every little emotion while retaining complete awareness of it. That does not mean that you have to walk around wearing your emotions like a badge on your chest. It just implies that while trying to hide your emotions from the world, don't end up hiding them from yourself too. A short exercise helps: take time out in private at the end of the day and relive the powerful moments of that day.

Visualize yourself in the same situations again, and this time, permit yourself to experience the moods and feelings that you had shut out earlier. Cry if you want to, or laugh, scream, get angry. At the end, thank yourself for removing the power those pent-up feelings would have had over you if you hadn't let them take their natural course. There are tools which may help you cleanse and open your chakras, allowing you to express and experience your feelings in their true depth and form. Reiki, chakra meditation, pranic healing and past-life therapy are all practices which break the energy blocks within you. But nothing is absolute. So, read this piece and correlate it with your own experiences.

Life Positive, May 1997

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