emotional intelligence

"The ability to perceive and express emotion, use emotions to facilitate thought, understand and reason with emotion, and regulate emotion." (Psychology Applied to Modern Life)

Some components of emotional intelligence, from Character Strengths and Virtues (2004, p. 338):

- identify emotional content in faces, voices, and designs…
- use emotional information to facilitate cognitive activities…
- understand what emotions mean regarding relationships, how they progress over time, and how they blend with one another…
- understand and manage emotion…
- accurately assess one’s own emotions and feelings…

Some brainstormy ways this might play out: What emotion(s) am I currently experiencing? How do I know this: what are the signs? What does this emotion do with me physiologically? How does it affect my mental processing (e.g. near/far-mode thinking, approach/aversion)? What are things this emotion might help me do, or might interfere with me doing? Are there things I should avoid under its influence? What is my previous experience with this emotion; what patterns emerge from how I work through it? What is its lifecycle: how does it arise and fall and what changes as it does? In what ways if any am I communicating my emotional state to those around me, and is this how I’d like to be doing it?

There is a “fluid” and a “crystallized” component to emotional intelligence. The fluid part has to do with how well you quickly assess emotional information; the crystallized component has to do with the wisdom you have acquired about what this new information means and what it’s good for.

Complementary virtues

Contrasting vices


Virtues possibly in tension


How to acquire or strengthen it

  • “The exemplar PPI {positive psychology intervention} for developing emotional awareness is mindfulness meditation. Indeed, most interventions aimed at developing EI invariably include a mindfulness component.” (Applied Positive Psychology 2014 p. 38)
  • T. Lomas et al. “Men developing emotional intelligence through meditation? Combining narrative, cognitive, and electroencephalography (EEG) evidence” Psychology of Men and Masculinity (2013) — progressive development of EI
    • T. Lomas Masculinity, Meditation, and Mental Health (2014)
  • M.C. Hsu et al. “Sustained pain reduction through affective self-awareness in fibromyalgia…” Journal of General Internal Medicine (2010) — method of becoming more aware of emotions
  • D.P. Johnson et al. “Loving-kindness meditation to enhance recovery from negative symptoms of schizophrenia” Journal of Clinical Psychology (2009) — method of reliably generating beneficial emotions
  • B.L. Fredrickson et al. “Open hearts build lives: Positive emotions, induced through loving-kindness meditation build consequential personal resources” Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (2008)
  • A.R. Damasio, B.J. Everett, & D. Bishop “The somatic marker hypothesis and the possible functions of the prefrontal cortex” Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London Series B: Biological Sciences (1996) — we can attend to the bodily/sensory correlates of emotions for additional information about them
    • Can e.g. attend to the physical symptoms of an unpleasant emotion, watch them develop, change, fade away, and this can be a way of making the emotion easier to put up with while it’s happening.
  • D. Nelis et al. “Increasing emotional intelligence: (How) is it possible?” _Personality and Individual Differences" (2009)
  • D. Crombie, C. Lombard, & T. Noakes “Increasing emotional intelligence in cricketeers: An intervention study” International Journal of Sports Science and Coaching (2011)
  • C. Bailey, R. Murphy, & D. Porock “Professional tears: Developing emotional intelligence around death and dying in emergency work” Journal of Clinical Nursing (2011) pp. 3364-3372
  • F. Sharif et al. “Teaching emotional intelligence to intensive care unit nurses…” International Journal of Occupational & Environmental Medicine (2013) pp. 141-148
  • T.S. Ganpat & H. Nagendra “Yoga therapy for developing emotional intelligence in mid-life managers” Journal of Mid-Life Health (2011) pp. 28-30


Notes and links

  • Possible resource: Goleman, Daniel “Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ” (2006)
  • Skills You Need: Emotional Intelligence
  • Skills You Need: Social Skills: Emotional Intelligence
  • Skills You Need: Develop Emotional Intelligence
  • Emotional intelligence may include “social intelligence” such as rapid processing of other people’s vocal inflections, body language, positioning, etc. in context with awareness of their situations, desires, relationships, etc. Or these may be considered distinctly, or as overlapping. (Character Strengths and Virtues blends the two in one chapter, for example; also calls them “hot” intelligences because they assess current things quickly.)
  • MSCEIT seems to be the gold standard for measuring emotional intelligence.
  • en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emotional_intelligence
  • casel.org is trying to advance the cause of “social and emotional learning” in schoolchildren.
  • the practice of gratitude journaling is a way of prompting emotions and of being aware of opportunities for emotion
  • A.R. Hochschild “Emotion work, feeling rules, and social structure” The American Journal of Sociology (1979)
  • J.J. Gross "Emotion regulation: Past, present, future Cognition & Emotion (1999)
  • J.D. Mayer & P. Salovey “What is emotional intelligence” Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence (1997)
    • one description: “conceptualizes EI as comprising four hierarchical branches: Emotional awareness and expression, emotional facilitation of thought (the ability to generate emotions), understanding emotional patterns, the strategic management of emotions”
  • J.D. Mayer, R.D. Roberts, & S.G. Barsade “Human abilities: Emotional Intelligence” Annual Review of Psychology (2008)
  • S. Baron-Cohen et al. “The ‘reading the mind in the eyes’ test revised version” Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry (2001)

Mentioned elsewhere


Inspirational quotes