The Jekyll and Hyde of emotional intelligence: emotion-regulation knowledge facilitates both prosocial and interpersonally deviant behavior

Psychol Sci. 2011 Aug;22(8):1073-80. doi: 10.1177/0956797611416251. Epub 2011 Jul 20.


Does emotional intelligence promote behavior that strictly benefits the greater good, or can it also advance interpersonal deviance? In the investigation reported here, we tested the possibility that a core facet of emotional intelligence--emotion-regulation knowledge--can promote both prosocial and interpersonally deviant behavior. Drawing from research on how the effective regulation of emotion promotes goal achievement, we predicted that emotion-regulation knowledge would strengthen the effects of other-oriented and self-oriented personality traits on prosocial behavior and interpersonal deviance, respectively. Two studies supported our predictions. Among individuals with higher emotion-regulation knowledge, moral identity exhibited a stronger positive association with prosocial behavior in a social dilemma (Study 1), and Machiavellianism exhibited a stronger positive association with interpersonal deviance in the workplace (Study 2). Thus, emotion-regulation knowledge has a positive side and a dark side.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognition
  • Emotional Intelligence*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Psychological Tests
  • Social Behavior
  • Social Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Workplace / psychology
  • Young Adult