February 23, 2019
Since its introduction in the early 2000s, emotional intelligence has gained increasing interest as an important skill set in society. “According to the model of Mayer et al. (10), emotional intelligence was defined as a kind of social intelligence, which includes the ability to monitor one’s emotions and others’ emotions, manipulating the information for managing one’s thoughts and actions, regulating emotion in self and others, and utilizing suitable emotions to actively and effectively solve daily difficulties and obstacles (Mayer et al. 2004).” Research studies in recent years have revealed associations between Emotional Intelligence and various internal and external benefits, such as improved emotional regulation and leadership skills, which then lead to greater advocacy for emotional intelligence classes to be taught to students (Edelman, 2018). In particular, recent studies have been analyzing the relationship between emotional intelligence and depression. Globally, “more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression,” and as depression increases among adolescents, society has placed greater impact on improving wellbeing (World Health Organization). Initial studies on the topic have suggested that a higher emotional intelligence can serve as a preventative measure against depression and suicide.
In a study conducted on 188 male high school students in Iran, researchers analyzed how well emotional intelligence was associated with happiness (Abdollahi 2015). Data was collected through a the Assessing Emotions Scale (AES), the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Oxford happiness inventory- all three of which utilize numerical scales to measure symptoms and/or emotions. The subjects were divided into three groups: low, medium, and high happiness levels. Factors such as family income did not influence results; however, family divorce did correlate with decreased happiness. Results revealed that happier individuals tended to have a higher EI and unhappy individuals tended to have a lower EI, thus, demonstrating “that high and middle levels of emotional intelligence were the strongest predictors of happiness among the male adolescents” (Abdollahi 2015). Other studies have revealed an association between academic or job satisfaction and emotional intelligence (Urquijo, 2017, Miao, 2017). This satisfaction can be directly linked to personal well-being and happiness among individuals.
Although the results provide a solid foundation for the effects of high emotional intelligence, a wider study needs to be completed in order to analyze other genders, ages, and cultures. For example, research could look at how relatively effective increased emotional intelligence can be for different age groups, and how can varying social dynamics impact these results? Concerning the method of data collection, the accuracy of self-reporting questionnaires can be deceiving. According to the Dunning-Kruger Effect, people who are most confident in their EI actually have the lowest EI skills. Various studies have used behavioral tests to generate data; however, greater emphasis needs to be placed on creating a standard and accurate measurement, especially across different countries. Although association between emotional intelligence and happiness is confident (p<0.10), confounding variables make it difficult to conclude a causal relationship. Furthermore, differentiating between social, personal, and emotional intelligence within study remains a challenge. Social intelligence deals more with groups of people and personal intelligence concerns personality, while emotional intelligence relates to physical changes and conscious experiences (Mayer et al., 2016). Each type of intelligence has its own benefits, but for the purpose of this paper, the category of emotional intelligence is isolated despite its close relation to the other two types.
Following the Iranian study, other studieshave found, by using the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), “only the Strategic component of EI (emotional understanding and regulation) was a protective factor” against depression; nonetheless, higher EI can help prevent suicidal behavior (Zhoc, 2018). Beyond self-report questionnaires, EI was also proven beneficial through emotional regulation talks, where participants with higher EI were more effective at regulating emotions (Zysberg, 2018). As a result, emotional intelligent students are more self-directed and better at appraising their emotions. Further research should be done on the best age and method to introduce EI. Who is responsible for introducing it- the parents or the schools? The vast areas that have yet to be studied illustrate how much still needs to be done in this subject, but it also directs society towards an optimistic future through improving well-being in adolescents vulnerable to depression.
Abdollahi A, Abu Talib M, Motalebi S A. Emotional Intelligence and Depressive Symptoms as
Predictors of Happiness Among Adolescents, Iran J Psychiatry Behav Sci. 2015 ; 9(4):e2268. doi: 10.17795/ijpbs-2268.
Edelman, P., and D. van Knippenberg. “Emotional Intelligence, Management of Subordinate’s Emotions, and Leadership Effectiveness.” Leadership and Organization Development Journal, vol. 39, no. 5, 2018, pp. 592–607. Scopus, Scopus, doi:10.1108/LODJ-04-2018-0154.
Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (2016). The Ability Model of Emotional Intelligence: Principles and Updates. Emotion Review, 8(4), 290–300. https://doi.org/10.1177/1754073916639667
Mayer JD, Salovey P, Caruso DR. Emotional Intelligence: Theory, Findings, and Implications. Psychol Inquiry. 2004;15(3):197–215.
Miao, C., et al. “A Meta-Analysis of Emotional Intelligence and Work Attitudes.” Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, vol. 90, no. 2, 2017, pp. 177–202. Scopus, Scopus, doi:10.1111/joop.12167.
Urquijo, I., and N. Extremera. “Academic Satisfaction at University: The Relationship between Emotional Intelligence and Academic Engagement.” Electronic Journal of Research in Educational Psychology, vol. 15, no. 3, 2017, pp. 553–73. Scopus, Scopus, doi:10.14204/ejrep.43.16064.
Zhoc, K. C. H., et al. “Emotional Intelligence (EI) and Self-Directed Learning: Examining Their Relation and Contribution to Better Student Learning Outcomes in Higher Education.” British Educational Research Journal, vol. 44, no. 6, 2018, pp. 982–1004. Scopus, Scopus, doi:10.1002/berj.3472.
Zysberg, Leehu, and Sivan Raz. “Emotional Intelligence and Emotion Regulation in Self-Induced Emotional States: Physiological Evidence.” Personality and Individual Differences, vol. 139, 2019, pp. 202–207., doi:10.1016/j.paid.2018.11.027.