Emotional intelligence: new ability or eclectic traits?

Am Psychol. 2008 Sep;63(6):503-17. doi: 10.1037/0003-066X.63.6.503.


Some individuals have a greater capacity than others to carry out sophisticated information processing about emotions and emotion-relevant stimuli and to use this information as a guide to thinking and behavior. The authors have termed this set of abilities emotional intelligence (EI). Since the introduction of the concept, however, a schism has developed in which some researchers focus on EI as a distinct group of mental abilities, and other researchers instead study an eclectic mix of positive traits such as happiness, self-esteem, and optimism. Clarifying what EI is and is not can help the field by better distinguishing research that is truly pertinent to EI from research that is not. EI--conceptualized as an ability--is an important variable both conceptually and empirically, and it shows incremental validity for predicting socially relevant outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Emotions*
  • Humans
  • Intelligence*
  • Personality*
  • Psychological Theory
  • Surveys and Questionnaires