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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 19  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 278-281

Emotional intelligence – Measurement and practical applications

1 Department of Psychiatry, Command Hospital, Western Command, Chandimandir, Haryana, India
2 Department of Anaesthesiology and Critical Care, Command Hospital, Western Command, Chandimandir, Haryana, India
3 Department of Pediatrics, Command Hospital, Western Command, Chandimandir, Haryana, India
4 Department of Radiodiagnosis and Imaging, Ojas Alchemist Hospital, Panchkula, Haryana, India

Date of Submission01-May-2021
Date of Decision10-Jun-2021
Date of Acceptance24-Jun-2021
Date of Web Publication07-Dec-2021

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Harpreet Singh Dhillon
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, Command Hospital, Western Command, Chandimandir, Haryana
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/cmi.cmi_46_21

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Emotional intelligence (EI) is a social intelligence distinct from academic intelligence and assists us in successfully comprehending complex personal, social, and professional situations. The four components of EI are perceiving, understanding, managing, and using emotions to enable better adaptability and creativity. In this perspective, the authors have examined means to measure EI and its implications across various life situations with special emphasis on the lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The necessity for research into multiple intelligences (cultural, practical, and spiritual) is further discussed in the way forward.

Keywords: Alexithymia, COVID-19, emotional intelligence, intelligence quotient

How to cite this article:
Dhillon HS, Sasidharan S, Dhillon GK, Manalikuzhiyil B. Emotional intelligence – Measurement and practical applications. Curr Med Issues 2021;19:278-81

How to cite this URL:
Dhillon HS, Sasidharan S, Dhillon GK, Manalikuzhiyil B. Emotional intelligence – Measurement and practical applications. Curr Med Issues [serial online] 2021 [cited 2023 May 31];19:278-81. Available from: https://www.cmijournal.org/text.asp?2021/19/4/278/331829

  Introduction Top

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a distinct social intelligence, which lies at the intersection of emotions and intelligence, and is considered essential for successful interpersonal communication, across personal, social, and professional domains. EI is conceptually defined as the ability to perceive and understand emotions, discern them as distinct from each other, assimilate them with the thought, and their regulation and expression within self and others.”[1] The major components can further be explained as:

  1. Perceiving emotions – The ability to correctly identify emotions and discern from one another in self, other's face, language, music, and stories etc
  2. Understanding and incorporating emotions – The capability to understand and assimilate emotions with intelligence to assist and guide thought process
  3. Managing emotions – The ability to amalgamate emotions with language so as to label different emotions as distinct with the capacity to experience and manage different emotions simultaneously
  4. Using emotions – The ability to monitor, regulate the expression of emotions in self and others to accomplish better sense of control, enhance creativity and social competence.

  Measurement Top

EI is a qualitative capacity consisting of multiple domains. However, we do need to measure it because, though intelligence quotient (IQ) tests are fairly accurate in predicting academic success, they are incapable of predicting holistic outcomes in higher education, workplace, and social life. There are three types of tests available for measuring EI.[2]

Ability-based emotional intelligence tests

They are used to measure maximum ability and provide a good indication of individual's ability to understand and process emotions. Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) is the most widely used test and has 141 questions in total with 4 constructs including perceiving emotions; facilitating thought; understanding emotions, and managing emotions. The other ability bases tests are the Situational Test of Emotional Understanding, which measures the ability to appraise and react to complicated emotional situations, and the Situational Test of Emotion Management, which measures emotion management.[2]

Trait-based emotional intelligence test

The trait-based EI measures utilize self-report questionnaires to measure self-rated abilities as well as typical behaviors in emotion-relevant situations. They tend to provide a good prediction of actual practical behaviors across various situations rather than maximum ability and are hence better predictors of work attitudes such as job performance/satisfaction and organizational commitment. Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire is the most commonly used scale consisting of 153 self-report statements measuring four factors – well-being, sociability, emotionality, and self-control.[2]

Mixed/integrative emotional intelligence test

The term mixed EI refers to the comprehensive questionnaire, which measures a combination of social skills, traits, and competencies that overlap with cognitive and personality measures.[2] Emotional and Social Competence Inventory consists of both cognitive ability and personality aspects and focuses heavily on predicting workplace success.

Bar-On Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i) again consists of both cognitive ability and personality aspects with the emphasis on how the personality traits influence a person's general well-being. The EQ-i measures abilities and the potential for performance rather than the performance itself; it is process oriented, rather than outcome oriented.

  Nature or Nurture Top

While some individuals have an innate ability to flex their EQ muscles, is it possible for others to learn and improve the same? Goleman (1998) proposed that unlike IQ, which is inherited, EQ is more amenable to change and can be improved with sustained efforts. This leads us to the argument – is EI influenced by nature or nurture?

The role of nature is supported by the inherent emotionality in which individuals differ in their ability to emote such that some are emotionally fluent and others are not. They experience their feelings clearly, distinctively, and are able to manage their affect better. This empowers them to quickly and effectively control disturbing emotions. The neurological substrate basis can be explained on the model of Alexithymia, in which an individual is unable to appraise and verbally express his emotions. Alexithymia could result from inefficient neural circuitry at the corpus callosum, amygdala, and mirror neurons.

Molecular genetics has revealed polymorphisms in enzymes metabolizing dopamine, transporter genes of serotonin, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor. Oxytocin role has been investigated, but the results are inconclusive.[3] The mental ability model of EI, on the other hand, highlights the role of “;nurture” such that emotionally intelligent people are more likely to have been raised in a nondefensive environment by emotionally sensitive parents. There are cultural differences in the expression of emotions with respect to ethical or moral responsiveness; a culture defined social problem solving, which further supports the “;nurture” theory.[4]

  Can we Enhance Emotional Intelligence? Top

EQ is influenced by both nature and nurture; hence, it is possible to improve our EQ by working on the following specific set of skills:

  1. Self-awareness: It is the ability to recognize, differentiate, and understand your own emotions, and the effect they have on your behavior, thus recognizing your strengths and limitations. You can enhance your self-awareness by practicing mindfulness, constructive feedbacks, or by keeping a journal/diary to reflect on your thoughts on actions
  2. Self-regulation: After recognizing different emotions correctly, it is important to regulate them, especially the distressing ones, so as to express them appropriately. People who are good at self-regulation stay composed, think clearly, tend to be more flexible and adaptable to new situations. We can enhance self-regulation by finding ways to express difficult emotions, building stress tolerance and cognitive reframing, consciously attending to breathing, relaxing, exercise, movement, self-expression by art, music, dance, writing, etc., all help enhance self-regulation
  3. Social skills: The ability to interact and communicate well with others, whether at home or workplace helps in building meaningful long-term relationships. It is seen that people with superior social skills are better at conflict resolution and collaborate in large groups to boost creativity. Social skills can be improved by engaging in open-ended conversations, active listening, and observing nonverbal cues from the body language
  4. Empathy: Empathy is the ability to understand how others are feeling without losing objectivity. Empathetic people are sensitive and attentive to emotional cues. We can build empathy by engaging in community work, receiving feedbacks, etc.
  5. Motivation: Emotionally intelligent people are intrinsically motivated by the passion and contentment from the task at hand and are not driven by external rewards such as fame, money, recognition, and acclaim. They are optimstic, persistent, and can delay gratification until the goal is achieved. You can work on this skill set by setting small, measurable goals, creating your own routine and rituals.

  Practical Application Top

The predictive value of EI can be improved when it is measured concurrently with other potential confounders such as cognitive and personality assessment tests. The practical application of EI in predicting specific outcomes can be summarized as follows.

  1. Academic performance in children – Trentacosta and Izard (2007) studied 193 kindergarten school children with Assessment of Children's Emotion Skills (ACES) and followed them up to first grade after controlling for confounders (intelligence, attention, and personality variables). A higher score on ACES predicted better overall academic achievement.[5] The current educational system emphasizes strongly on IQ (i.e., solve mathematics, memorize things, and recall them later), while EQ (which makes someone be able to maintain peace with others; be humble, be honest; be responsible; keep to time; respect boundaries) is not given due attention. It is recommended that EI be introduced and imparted from the formative years onward in schools.
  2. Sports and EI – The success in competitive sports is achieved by harmonious interaction between cognition and co-ordination, but the passion fuelling competitive sports is often driven by emotions. A meta-analysis studying the effect of EI on performance in sports revealed a small but significant positive relationship[6]
  3. Interpersonal relations – Marriage is considered the most significant event in one's life. Couples with high EI are expected to handle intimate and family relationships in a better manner. Eslami A (2014) reported a significant positive relationship between marital satisfaction and EI.[7] In another study, it was shown that higher EI accords better marital adjustment not only in healthy couples but also in couples distressed with Infertility[8]
  4. Medical education – The medical profession mandates a doctor to master the skill to continue as a lifelong self-directed learner. In addition, EI can help strengthen the doctor–patient therapeutic alliance which is the cornerstone of many chronic conditions, especially psychiatric disorders. Thus, it is recommended that teaching EI should be prioritized alongside the medical education[9]
  5. Human resource and Corporate Management – With the ever-increasing population on the planet, the human capital can be considered a resource as well as a liability. The increasing globalization and change in the workforce make it compelling to utilize EQ as an essential component in human resources. Rosete (2005, 2009) in an Australian study using MSCEIT could successfully differentiate the better functioning managers from the rest after controlling for personality and cognitive abilities.[10] The successful managers were found to have better communication and co-operation skills. They tend to be better service providers by understanding customers/clients' needs, offering appropriate assistance, and enhancing customer's satisfaction and loyalty
  6. Leadership, Politics, and Social adaptability – Individuals with higher EI tend to have better social competencies with which they can influence others, communicate better, manage conflicts diplomatically, be inspiring leaders, collaborate, build, and sustain long-term bonds[11]
  7. Mental health – There is growing evidence that mental health and subjective well-being depend on healthy emotion processing. A meta-analysis of 25 studies with a combined sample size of 8520 revealed a significant positive relationship between subjective well-being and EI.[12] Hertel et al. found that deficits in emotion processing ability were associated with major depressive disorder, substance abuse disorder, and borderline personality disorder[13]
  8. COVID-19 pandemic – During the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, studies have shown that despite being adequately aware and acknowledging the need for lockdown to contain the spread of COVID, there was widespread psychological stress.[14] Higher trait EI proved to be protective against the negative emotions of anxiety, fear, and sadness during the COVID-19 pandemic
  9. E-commerce and emotional intelligence – The online shopping behavior of consumers can be categorized into rational utilitarian buying or unreasonable compulsive shopping sprees due to impulsive decisions, often to ephemerally tide over a negative emotional state. The trend of online shopping has sky-rocketed during the lockdown imposed during COVID-19 pandemic. It is interesting to note that major E-commerce giants study your personal dispositions and exploit your psycho-emotional states from your birthdays, anniversary, and other dates of personal significance, to sell items which are not of much utility. Zamboni et al. suggested that the unpleasant emotional states significantly increased the online shopping behavior as well time spent online during this recent COVID-19 lockdown.[15] Hence, it is imperative to develop and employ our EI to identify and regulate our emotional states before buying from online sites.

  The Way Forward Top

A simple question – why do we need to split and study a variety of different kinds of intelligences? Howard Gardner (1983) was the first to propose the concept of multiple intelligences (visual/spatial, logical/mathematical, verbal/linguistic, kinesthetic, musical or rhythmic, intrapersonal, interpersonal, and naturalistic). It was criticized for being too broad which included a variety of personality traits, talents, and abilities in addition to intelligence. However, there has been a revival of interest in exploring different types of intelligence such as practical/successful intelligence, cultural, and spiritual intelligences. Sternberg defined practical intelligence as the ability to shape, adapt, and select environments to achieve goals for self, society, and one's culture.[16] Cultural intelligence – people vary remarkably in their capacity to adapt to novel cultures because familiar cues and behavior are generally lacking/modified, and hence, entirely new interpretations need to be constructed. A person who is able to generate such new and appropriate responses quickly and accurately is said to have a high cultural quotient.[4] Spiritual intelligence (Emmons, 2009) is defined as the adaptive use of spiritual information to assist in problem solving and attainment of goals. It has four components – the capability to attain heightened spiritual states, transcendence capacity, the ability to infuse a sense of the sacredness/divinity into everyday activities, and the utilization of spiritual resources to solve problems.[17]

The arduous research in new types of intelligence is justified by the argument that it might provide us with an instrument, which has additional predictive capability than the current measures of intelligence. This can help us to make the best use of human capital available by achieving the “;Goldilocks phenomenon” of matching the most suitable man with the best-suited job to achieve optimal efficiency, psychological well-being, and sustained motivation.

  Conclusion Top

EI is a distinct intelligence and provides a stimulating new area for research of human capacity. As per the existing literature, it does provide an edge in personal, educational, and social achievements in addition to psychological well-being. The good news is that it can be learned and upgraded to improve the outcomes of a variety of daily life scenarios. However, there is a need for further research to advance our understanding of EI and its integration with new intelligences.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Mayer JD, Salovey P, Caruso DR, Cherkasskiy L. Emotional intelligence. In R. J. Sternberg & S. B. Kaufman (Eds.), The Cambridge handbook of intelligence 2011:528-49). Cambridge University Press. https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511977244.027.  Back to cited text no. 1
O'Connor PJ, Hill A, Kaya M, Martin B. The measurement of emotional intelligence: A critical review of the literature and recommendations for researchers and practitioners. Front Psychol 2019;10:1116.  Back to cited text no. 2
Meza-Concha N, Arancibia M, Salas F, Behar R, Salas G, Silva H, et al. Towards a neurobiological understanding of alexithymia. Medwave 2017;17:e6960.  Back to cited text no. 3
Earley PC, Ang S. Cultural intelligence: Individual interactions across cultures. Stanford University Press; 2003. xv, 379 p. (Cultural intelligence: Individual interactions across cultures).  Back to cited text no. 4
Trentacosta CJ, Izard CE. Kindergarten children's emotion competence as a predictor of their academic competence in first grade. Emotion 2007;7:77-88.  Back to cited text no. 5
Kopp A, Jekauc D. The influence of emotional intelligence on performance in competitive sports: A meta-analytical investigation. Sports (Basel) 2018;6:175.  Back to cited text no. 6
Eslami AA, Hasanzadeh A, Jamshidi F. The relationship between emotional intelligence health and marital satisfaction: A comparative study. J Educ Health Promot 2014;3:24.  Back to cited text no. 7
Soleimani AA, Najafi M, Ahmadi K, Javidi N, Hoseini Kamkar E, Mahboubi M. The Effectiveness of Emotionally Focused Couples Therapy on Sexual Satisfaction and Marital Adjustment of Infertile Couples with Marital Conflicts. Int J Fertil Steril. 2015;9(3):393-402. doi:10.22074/ijfs.2015.4556.  Back to cited text no. 8
Johnson DR. Emotional intelligence as a crucial component to medical education. Int J Med Educ 2015;6:179-83.  Back to cited text no. 9
Rosete D, Ciarrochi J. Emotional intelligence and its relationship to workplace performance outcomes of leadership effectiveness. Leadersh Organ Dev J 2005;26:388-99.  Back to cited text no. 10
George JM. Emotions and leadership: The role of emotional intelligence. Human Relat 2000;53:1027-55.  Back to cited text no. 11
Sánchez-Álvarez N, Extremera N, Fernández-Berrocal P. The relation between emotional intelligence and subjective well-being: A meta-analytic investigation. J Posit Psychol 2016;11:276-85.  Back to cited text no. 12
Hertel J, Schütz A, Lammers CH. Emotional intelligence and mental disorder. J Clin Psychol 2009;65:942-54.  Back to cited text no. 13
Yang H, Bin P, He AJ. Opinions from the epicenter: An online survey of university students in Wuhan amidst the COVID-19 outbreak1. J Chin Gov 2020;5:234-48.  Back to cited text no. 14
Zamboni L, Carli S, Belleri M, Giordano R, Saretta G, Lugoboni F. COVID-19 lockdown: Impact on online gambling, online shopping, web navigation and online pornography. J Public Health Res 2021;10:1759.  Back to cited text no. 15
Sternberg RJ. Our research program validating the triarchic theory of successful intelligence: Reply to Gottfredson. Intelligence 2003;31:399-413.  Back to cited text no. 16
Chin ST, Anantharaman RN, Tong DY. The roles of emotional intelligence and spiritual intelligence at the workplace. J Human Resour Manage Res 2011;2011:1-9.  Back to cited text no. 17


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