Emotional intelligence is a second-stratum factor of intelligence: evidence from hierarchical and bifactor models

Emotion. 2014 Apr;14(2):358-374. doi: 10.1037/a0034755. Epub 2013 Dec 16.


This article examines the status of emotional intelligence (EI) within the structure of human cognitive abilities. To evaluate whether EI is a 2nd-stratum factor of intelligence, data were fit to a series of structural models involving 3 indicators each for fluid intelligence, crystallized intelligence, quantitative reasoning, visual processing, and broad retrieval ability, as well as 2 indicators each for emotion perception, emotion understanding, and emotion management. Unidimensional, multidimensional, hierarchical, and bifactor solutions were estimated in a sample of 688 college and community college students. Results suggest adequate fit for 2 models: (a) an oblique 8-factor model (with 5 traditional cognitive ability factors and 3 EI factors) and (b) a hierarchical solution (with cognitive g at the highest level and EI representing a 2nd-stratum factor that loads onto g at λ = .80). The acceptable relative fit of the hierarchical model confirms the notion that EI is a group factor of cognitive ability, marking the expression of intelligence in the emotion domain. The discussion proposes a possible expansion of Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory to include EI as a 2nd-stratum factor of similar standing to factors such as fluid intelligence and visual processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Cognition*
  • Emotional Intelligence*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Psychological
  • Models, Statistical
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • Universities
  • Young Adult