How intelligence and emotion are linked and refer to the differing theories that unite these features in order to assess their relevance

Definitions of emotion and intelligence are both difficult as the categories can be so broad. Emotions do not just incorporate our bodily feelings but also are very important in our social interactions, how we behave and how we understand the world. Definitions of intelligence have also varied quite considerably over the history of psychology. The main problem with defining intelligence is that it can be perceived as an extremely broad concept and so it is difficult to know what to include and exclude. In the first part of the 20th century psychologists tended to concentrate on reasoning, problem-solving ability and thinking, while latterly it has come to include other skills and abilities such as being good at understanding other people. There is certainly an element in the best definitions of the word intelligence of an ability to deal with the world effectively, although, this is clearly a very broad definition.

Theoretically, intelligence has been approached from a wide variety of positions. Early theories advanced the idea that there are a number of factors which make up intelligence. Spearman (1923) but forward the idea that there is a general factor of intelligence, called 'g'. This was based on the idea that many of the different tests for intelligence - including a variety of factors such as spatial, arithmetical and linguistic - all showed a high degree of correlation when factor analysed. It is as though all these levels of intelligence are based on one other over-arching factor: called 'g'. Early studies found that the correlations were fairly low and so this theory has not stood the test of time.

Thurstone (1938) did, however, use the same method of factor analysis and came up with seven factors - numerical ability, perceptual speed, memory, spatial ability, inductive reasoning, verbal meaning and verbal fluency - but not a general factor, although all these factors were correlated with each other. While many of the factor analyses of intelligences used similar measures, Cattell (1963) approached the matter in a different way, distinguishing between fluid intelligence and crystallised intelligence. Crystallised intelligence refers to those abilities that are gained through knowledge and experience while fluid intelligence refers to those tasks for which the brain is required to engage in new thinking processes. The theories of Spearman (1923), Thurstone (1938) and Cattell (1963) have all been brought together in a hierarchical model by Carroll (1986). This model has three levels, at the lowest are numerous specific factors, at the next are fluid and crystallised intelligence as well as other memory and visual factors, and at the top level is Spearman's (1923) idea of a general factor of 'g'.

Two modern theories of intelligence have broken away from the older factor theories and proposed that it involves multiple interrelated concepts that are built up into a complex system. Gardner (1983) proposed seven different intelligences including musical intelligence, logical-mathematical intelligence, interpersonal intelligence, spatial intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence and bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence. As can be clearly seen from the intelligences proposed, Gardner's theory includes a much wider range of abilities. It is this breadth in the way of seeing intelligence that is the strength of the theory and, with its concentration on interpersonal and intrapersonal factors, starts to create links towards emotional factors. Criticisms of Gardner's theory have focussed on the fact that intelligences tend to be correlated with one another, suggesting they are not independent factors. In addition, all of the factors are not of equal weight - the body-kinaesthetic and musical intelligences are seen as less important.

What Gardner's theory misses is the idea of a linkage between the factors - this is what sets Sternberg's (1985) theory apart. Sternberg also broke away from previous measurements of intelligence by introducing a more cognitive approach than the previous psychometric approach - in other words description of the cognitive processes is more central than measurement of abilities. Sternberg's theory is known as a triarchic theory as it attempts to relate the three domains of the internal, the external and experience to each other. Three sub-theories provide a framework for describing each of these processes. To give one example, the componential subtheory is the part of the theory that provides a model for how the mind's cognitive processes work on internal representations. The disadvantage of this theory, which is inherent with any general model, is that it provides little specific detail. The strength of this approach is in its emphasis on how the internal, external and experiential components interact with each other - surely a necessary component for any theory of how our intelligences work.

To turn now to emotions, a good starting place for the analysis of emotions is deciding what emotions there are. Ekman (1992) and many other theorists agree that there are six basic emotions: surprise, happiness, sadness, fear, disgust and anger and it seems that these same emotions have arisen in many cultures independently, leading some researchers to believe that they represent human universals (Ekman, 1998). Indeed some researchers claim that these six basic emotions find their genesis in the basic types of interactions that humans have with each other and this explains why they have developed independently in different cultures (Ekman, 1994).

Early theories of how the experience of emotions is produced emphasised a causal connection between physiological changes and the feelings experienced. They posited that it was the feelings that were caused by the physiological changes. Modern theories question this early approach which does not allow any room for the effects of cognitions on emotions. One of the most important early studies was carried out by Schachter and Singer (1962) in which half the participants were injected with a stimulant and the other half a placebo. Different groups were told different things about the effect that the injection would have on them with some of the information being inaccurate. The interaction between their physiological state and the cognitions they had about them produced a variety of different emotional states that were predicted by the researcher and seemed to show that cognitions were very important in emotional states. This became known as arousal-interpretation theory.

Much research followed this finding to examine exactly what effects different emotions had on cognitions. Williams, Watts, MacLeod & Matthews (1997) reviewed this literature which showed that, for example, those individuals who were particularly anxious tended to be continually scanning their environment for danger. In addition, people who were depressed or sad had much easier access to past experiences which had a direct bearing on their current distress. Both of these studies reported by Williams et al. (1997) were part of the foundations for an exploration of how emotion and intelligence are linked to each other.

An idea that attempts to marry the two areas of emotion and intelligence, and that has seen a huge surge in research over the last decade, is that of emotional intelligence. The first researchers to bring this concept to attention were Salovey & Mayer (1990) where they described emotional intelligence as involving an ability to monitor the emotions of ourselves and others efficiently in order to better guide actions and thinking. Mayer & Salovey (1993) state that this concept has a large overlap with Gardner's idea of intrapersonal intelligence. They draw on the large body of previous work that shows how important the emotions are in affecting cognitions. For example, Mayer, DiPaolo & Salovey (1990) looked at how people identified the emotions of colours, designs and faces. In this study they posited that the difference in people's abilities was down to emotional intelligence. One of the most important aspects of this 'ability model' of emotional intelligence is that it is very much rooted in the idea of intelligence. Mayer, Caruso, and Salovey (1999) see that in order for emotional intelligence to be a valid concept, it is important that it meets the criteria for an intelligence, which, they claim, has three requirements. Firstly an intelligence must reflect mental performance rather than preferred ways of behaving - otherwise the concept is more akin to personality traits. Secondly there has to be a correlational relationship between existing measures of intelligence and those measured in emotional intelligence. Thirdly there has to be a developmental relationship with emotional intelligence - or in other words it should vary with age and experience. Mayer et al. (1999) claim all three of these criteria are met.

In order to operationalise the concept of emotional intelligence to meet these three criteria for an intelligence Mayer, Salovey, Caruso & Sitarenios (2003) divide it into two main areas: the strategic - the ability to understand and manage emotions, and the experiential - ability to perceive and respond to emotions. Mayer et al. (2001) further describe how emotional intelligence is divided into four distinct skills: perceiving emotions, using emotions to help thoughts, understanding emotions, and, finally, managing emotions so that social relations are facilitated. These skills are based on the integration of the research from both intelligence and emotions, the power of abstract reasoning in intelligence and the idea that the display of emotions is used to communicate between individuals. The higher the fluency in the language of emotions, the higher the emotional intelligence.

The first testing of the predictions of the model were made using an instrument called the Multibranch Emotional Intelligence Scale (MEIS) as described by Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso (2002). This research found support for the three factors of emotional understanding, emotional perception and emotional management, but not for emotional integration. To improve on this Mayer et al. (2003) introduced the MSCEIT V2.0 which had fewer items and did provide support for all four aspects of emotional intelligence that they had hypothesised. In carrying out this research they compared the results of 21 'emotion experts' with the responses of 2,112 participants comprising a standardised sample. The reliability of the study was found to be reasonable and when confirmatory factor analysis was used, the results showed the categories had acceptable discriminant validity.

Roberts, Zeidner, Matthews (2001) claim that this kind of study provides support for fulfilment of the first criteria of an intelligence. Secondly they claim that evidence from correlational studies provides support that it also fulfils the second criteria (Mayer, Caruso & Salovey, 1999). Again the same study provides evidence for the developmental component that is the third required component for a new intelligence. It should be noted however that Mayer, Caruso & Salovey (1999) was based on cross-sectional data rather than longitudinal data and is, therefore, open to methodological criticisms.

A second model that attempts to link the concepts of emotion and intelligence was provided by Bar-On (1997). This model differs from Mayer et al.'s model in that is more of a 'mixed model' of emotional intelligence. This means that the model tends to combine aspects of personality - for example well-being and optimism - with emotional intelligence. In this model there are five main components of emotional intelligence: interpersonal, intrapersonal, stress management, adaptability and general mood. Each of these, like Mayer et al.'s theory, has a number of sub-components. For example the intrapersonal factor is split up into self regard, emotional self-awareness, assertiveness, independence and self-actualisation. Bar-On (2002) states that cognitive intelligence and emotional intelligence contribute equally to a person's overall intelligence and the combination of these two factors will directly affect how successful someone is in their life. High scores on the some of these scales, particularly reality testing, impulse control, problem solving and stress tolerance are believed to be particularly beneficial to an individual.

An important way in which Bar-On's model differs from Mayer et al. is that this model is specifically formulated to measure the ability to deal effectively with environmental pressures. Like Mayer et al.'s theory, and most importantly, it is not intended to be a measure of cognitive capacity or personality traits as that would be simply replicating measures that are already in existence. Bar-On (2002) has found, therefore, in testing the model that, when operationalised using the Emotion Quotient Inventory, it shows reasonable internal consistency and structural validity. Interestingly, little or no relation was shown between this measure of emotional intelligence and IQ.

The third and final model to be considered is based on work done by Goleman (1995). This model takes elements of both Mayer et al.'s approach, in that it is based on a more cognitive perspective, and also of Bar-On's approach in that adopts a mixed model - although this is somewhat disputed by Goleman (2001). The model described by Goleman (1998) has four components: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management. It is perhaps the last that provides the most notable departure from the models previously mentioned as it describes an ability to influence and inspire others while successfully managing conflict. Goleman (1998) hypothesises that each of these factors then becomes the basic level from which abilities can be worked on. This theory is quite different from the previous two described in that it is specifically grounded and applicable to performance at work. Unlike this theory, both the theories mentioned previously claim to be more general. Goleman's model attempts to identify a series of emotional and social competencies that are helpful in the prediction of performance at work. Indeed, Goleman, Boyatzis & McKee (2002) has found that the more social and emotional competencies are more important, the higher up the corporate hierarchy the person has travelled. Goleman's emotional intelligence construct is measured using the Emotional Competence Inventory 2, and in measuring performance at work has been shown to account for a higher degree of the variability in the outcomes than the Mayer et al. model (Bradberry & Greaves, 2003).

In common with the Bar-On model, Goleman's model shows a much larger overlap with personality traits than Mayer et al.'s. It might be seen as surprising, then, that a large part of Goleman's theory is based around the fact that emotional intelligence can be increased - given that it is generally not deemed possible to develop IQ. Emmerling & Goleman (2003), while acknowledging that genetic factors are important, review some of the research that supports this position. Emmerling & Goleman (2003) cite Boyatzis, Cowan & Kolb (1995), a study that assessed the development of a number of student's emotional intelligence competencies. The results showed that the students had significantly increased their self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management over a period of years and this improvement was sustained for 5-7 years. Emmerling & Goleman (2003) also draw attention to results from affective neuroscience which demonstrate the brain's capacity for plasticity. It should be noted, however, that many of the result of research that Emmerling & Goleman (2003) report are not published in peer-reviewed journals and are based on data that can be described as either non-existent or certainly preliminary (Matthews, Roberts, & Zeidner, 2003).

The differences between the three models are partly a result of the different intentions of the models. Mayer et al. are most interested in proving that emotional intelligence is actually a form of intelligence, Bar-On aims to develop a measure that is more focussed on emotional well-being and Goleman's model is aimed at predicting workplace performance. With different agendas, the models are bound to have different emphases. Despite this, there are a number of similarities in the factors which have been identified as being important in emotional intelligence. Most significantly, all of the models find that a facility with perceiving, understanding and regulating the emotions in the self and in others, is a fundamental idea.

Criticisms of these models of emotional intelligence focus on whether they are really measuring something unique. There is certainly more than a suggestion that the models are measuring the same factors in different ways. Brackett and Mayer (2003) found some significant correlations between Mayer et al.'s model and Bar-On's model, although these were limited to the emotion regulation subscale. But more than that there has also been shown to be significant correlations between measurement of emotional intelligence and personality factors as measured on the NEO-I-PR. Schulte, Ree & Carretta (2004) cite evidence of the accumulation of modest correlations between emotional intelligence and personality, although they believe that these correlations would be higher if methodological statistical problems are corrected for. Schulte et al. (2004), therefore, used a measure of 'g' called the Wonderlic Personnel Test as well as asking their participants to complete a personality test that measured the Big Five. Their results show that there was a very significant correlation between measures on the Big Five and measures of emotional intelligence. When combining these other measures together they found a correlational coefficient of around 0.8. This suggests that 64% of the variance in emotional intelligence can be explained by measures of personality and 'g'. This is all the more surprising as the emotional intelligence model used in this research was that developed by Mayer et al. and, of the three models discussed here, theoretically has the least connection with personality.

Other criticisms have also been raised against the idea of emotional intelligence. Zeidner, Matthews & Roberts (2001) offer a number of technical criticisms about the way it has been measured. Their psychometric criticism asks whether the new version of the MSCEIT is actually measuring the same things as the previous questionnaire. Also they claim that the MSCEIT does not provide enough scope for the measurement of a broad range of abilities. They also address conceptual issues asking whether the emotional and cognitive systems provide two separate 'way so knowing'. This criticism is mainly aimed at Mayer et al.'s model.

Researchers have also examined how measures of emotional intelligence are effective cross-culturally. As with many new psychological constructs, emotional intelligence was mainly initially tested in white, middle class participants - those most easily available to the main researchers. Parker, Saklofske, Shaughnessy, Huang, Wood & Eastabrook (2005) attempted to rectify this by comparing measures of emotional intelligence in aboriginal and non-aboriginal youth in Canada. In Bar-On's model they found that using confirmatory factor analysis, the research did provide evidence for the generalisability of the model - with some items providing minor exceptions. As the authors of this study point out, while this does provide some evidence for generalisability, there is still a need for further research to compare, for example, with non-Western or non-European populations.

There is no doubt that emotional intelligence has proven an extremely popular new construct with its importance being touted in the business world, the legal world, the medical world and many more (Zeidner et al., 2001). The theoretical and practical links between emotion and intelligence are, at the moment, still in their early stages of development. The three models examined here show a reasonable degree of overlap and some agreement over what emotional intelligence might mean and what features it might display. Despite this, there is still a body of sceptical research that raises some serious questions about whether emotional intelligence is, in fact, a distinct construct and whether it is measuring something different than some aspects of intelligence and some aspects of personality. Overall though, the evidence seems to point to the utility of linking emotions and intelligence because imagining that our emotions and our intelligence are not connected requires stretching the imagination too far.


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