Scholarly Critique on Connections Between Emotional Intelligence and Workplace Flourishing

I am currently working my way through my third semester of the Information and Learning Technologies master’s program at University of Colorado, Denver.  This post is the third within a series of 12 scholarly critiques that I’ve been assigned to write for a course titled Research in ILT.

Using the Auraria Library, I entered in the phrase “emotional intelligence workplace” into the search field and found an article titled, “Connections Between Emotional Intelligence and Workplace Flourishing” by Nicola S. Schutte and Natasha M. Loi, both from the Department of Psychology at the University of New England in Australia.

Research listing

Immediately upon reading this article, I noticed that the very first work cited by Dr. Schutte and Dr. Loi was “Emotional Intelligence: Implications for Personal, Social, Academic, and Workplace Success” by Marc A. Brackett, Susan E. Rivers, and Peter Saloveythe article I wrote my previous critique on.  This bolstered me to keep reading and had me thinking that this specific article would be a good fit within my scholarly critiques, as it aligns very closely with the type of research I am trying to do for my action research project.

Dr. Schutte’s and Dr. Loi’s article covers a range of studies conducted on 319 working adults to show how emotional intelligence related to employees’ mental health, work engagement, satisfaction with social support in the workplace, and perceived power within the workplace.  The article gives a brief introduction on what emotional intelligence is (henceforth “EQ”) and cites dozens of other researchers’ findings on the effects of EQ in the workplace:

According to all of the citations, greater levels of EQ in the workplace enforce:

  • life satisfaction
  • better mental health
  • more cooperative behavior
  • more relationship satisfaction
  • more satisfaction with social support
  • better work performance
  • better performance in high emotional labor work
  • superior leadership
  • more constructive conflict management
  • a greater sense of control over work
  • a greater sense of power in the work environment
  • a perception of a more supportive work environment

After EQ, the authors cite more research findings on positive psychology theory applied to work, the sense of control and power in the workplace, and social support in the workplace.  The objectives of the specific study within the article are then revealed (pp. 135-136):

The present study examined whether emotional intelligence might be a foundation for workplace flourishing. Good mental health of employees and the person–organization interaction quality of employee work engagement were used as markers of flourishing. As well as examining the direct relationships between employee emotional intelligence and these markers of flourishing, the study investigated whether emotional intelligence might be a foundation for other qualities that facilitate workplace flourishing. The study examined one such interpersonal factor, satisfaction with social support at work, and one intrapersonal factor, perception of power in the workplace, which might facilitate workplace flourishing.

The study examined the following hypotheses:

1. Greater emotional intelligence is positively associated with the flourishing indices of good mental health and high work engagement.
2. Greater emotional intelligence is positively associated with the characteristics of more satisfaction with workplace social support and more perception of power in the workplace.
3. Satisfaction with workplace social support and perception of power in the workplace are positively associated with indices of workplace flourishing.
4. Satisfaction with workplace social support and perception of power in the workplace are mediating paths in the connection between higher emotional intelligence and greater workplace flourishing.

I found the Method section of the article to be the most clear (p. 136).  A total of 319 working adults were recruited from the United States and Australia, of which 162 resided in the United States and 157 resided in Australia.  There were 163 female and 156 male employees and all participants completed online tests, surveys, and questionnaires that measured work engagement, mental health, satisfaction with social support at their workplace, their perception of their power in their workplace, and emotional intelligence.

The table below indicates the method used to conduct research on each topic:

research methods

These studies, as well as the methods of collection, align very closely with how I wish to conduct my own research.  I will be administering an EQ test as well as surveys and/or questionnaires.  Unfortunately, I do not have such a large pool of participants, but I hope to find success in my research utilizing a smaller group of participants.

As for the results of the study, as much as I understand the written explanation, I do not understand the results when explained in the numeric format.  There is no instruction on how to understand what the numbers represent within the table and the formulas used for the results are not explained anywhere to the reader.

Written explanation:

Higher emotional intelligence was positively and significantly associated with better mental health and more work engagement as well as with more satisfaction with social support at work and more perceived power at work (p. 136).  (There is of course, much more detail pertaining to how each topic relates to each other when compared to the effects of EQ and some discussion on results pertaining to gender and age.)

Numeric format:

Table 1, pg. 136

After writing this critique (or is it just more of a summary?), I am left wondering if my research topic for my course is “old news.”  I chose the topic of EQ in the workplace because I have a deep interest in orchestrating the implementation of EQ principles where I work.  This specific article cited dozens of other researchers who have seemingly already come to the conclusion that I am hoping to reach within my research.  That leads me to wonder, does this research need to be done again?

Header image from here.


Schutte, N.S. & Loi, N.M. (2014). Connections between emotional intelligence and workplace flourishing. Personality and Individual Differences, 66, 134-139.