Scholarly Critique on Emotional intelligence: Implications for Personal, Social, Academic, and Workplace Success

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 second within a series of 12 scholarly critiques that I’ve been assigned to write for a course titled Research in ILT.

Using ResearchGate, I entered in the phrase “emotional intelligence workplace success” into the search field and found an article titled, “Emotional Intelligence: Implications for Personal, Social, Academic, and Workplace Success” by Marc A. Brackett, Susan E. Rivers, and Peter Salovey.

Search Process for SC #2

For my action research project in this course, I am part of a team of two who is researching the concept of a company’s leadership investing in emotional intelligence, for themselves as well as for their employees.  Our goal is to understand the positive and negative effects that implementing the key principles of emotional intelligence can have on a workplace environment and then decide if those principles should be implemented in our own respective companies.  To begin my research, I felt that this specific article would be a good overview on the basics of emotional intelligence (henceforth called “EQ”) and an introduction into how and why the concept became so useful in workplace settings.

The research questions pursued in this source are:

  1. What is emotional intelligence?
  2. How can emotional intelligence be measured?
  3. How does emotional intelligence affect everyday life?

These research questions are relevant to my own action research as they provide the foundation for what EQ is.  While my partner Jason focuses on emotional intelligence with leadership specifically, I am focusing more on how EQ affects an average employee’s work life.

Brackett, Rivers, and Salovey open the article with a very relevant example to express how commonly EQ comes into play with our everyday decisions:

The facts point in one direction: The job offer you have in hand is perfect – great salary,
ideal location, and tremendous growth opportunities. Yet, there is something that
makes you feel uneasy about resigning from your current position and moving on.
What will you do? Ignore the feeling and choose what appears to be the logical path,
or go with your gut and risk disappointing your family? Or, might you consider both
your thoughts and feelings about the job in order to make the decision? Solving problems
and making wise decisions using both thoughts and feelings or logic and intuition
is a part of what we refer to as emotional intelligence (Mayer & Salovey, 1997; Salovey
& Mayer, 1990).

They then give an extensive background on EQ by describing its initial conception, its popularization by Daniel Goleman, and two scientific approaches, or, its alternative models.

Emotional intelligence was described formally by Salovey and Mayer (1990). They defined it as ‘the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions’ (p. 189).

The article describes the Mayer and Salovey Model of Emotional Intelligence (1997) in depth, explaining the four mental abilities that comprise EQ (p. 91):

  1. Perception of emotion – the ability to identify and differentiate emotions in the self and others
  2. Use of emotion to facilitate thinking – the ability to harness emotions to facilitate cognitive activities such as reasoning, problem solving, and interpersonal communication
  3. Understanding and analyzing emotions – the ability to comprehend the language and meaning of emotions and have an understanding of the antecedents of emotions
  4. Reflective regulation of emotions – the ability to prevent, reduce, enhance, or modify an emotional response in oneself and others, as well as the ability to experience a range of emotions while making decisions about the appropriateness or usefulness of an emotion in a given situation

Brackett, Rivers, and Salovey mention that there are a number of published performance tests that measure distinct components of emotional intelligence.  But within this article, they focus on a comprehensive performance test called the Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (or “MSCEIT”) for adults (Mayer et al., 2002).  The MSCEIT has eight tasks (two for each of the four branches) and can be seen broken down in the figure below.  The tasks range from identifying emotions expressed in photographs to describing how one would manage their own emotions as well as the emotions of others (pp. 91-92).



The last four and a half pages of the article discuss the results of dozens and dozens of MSCEITs conducted from approximately 2002 to 2010 (pp. 94 – 98).  The tests were conducted, with very positive results, in relation to the following areas:

  • cognitive abilities
  • mental health and well being
  • social functioning pertaining to platonic relationships, romantic relationships, teenagers, and maladaptive lifestyle choices
  • academic performance
  • and workplace performance

The test results proved that emotional intelligence contributed to success within every single area tested.   Brackett, Rivers, and Salovey conclude the article by summing up the positive research data by stating, “Indeed, the ability to integrate emotional information into cognitive activities is essential to effective functioning across the life course” (p. 98).  They then tie back to the job offer scenario that they presented in the beginning of the article, but now explain the ways in which EQ could help that person make a confident and informed decision.

Having read this article, I am much more aware of the data that is available to back up the claim that EQ is an important concept to implement in any workplace.  I look forward to diving more in-depth in how this data can be utilized to bring about change within my organization.  I also look forward to researching more specific examples of the effects of EQ in the workplace.

***For a more in-depth guide on emotional intelligence and emotional quotient (historical development, categories of emotional quotient, importance of emotional intelligence, and strategies to boosting your emotional intelligence), check out this absolutely fantastic piece written by Martin Luenendonk at Cleverism.

Header image from here.


Brackett, M. A., Rivers, S. E., & Salovey, P. (2011). Emotional intelligence: Implications for personal, social, academic, and workplace success. Social and Personality Psychology Compass, 5, 88-103.

Mayer, J. D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey & D. J. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Educational Implications (pp. 3–34). New York, NY: Basic Books, Inc.

Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. (2002). Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), Version 2.0. Toronto, Canada: Multi-Health Systems.

Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. D. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition and Personality, 9, 185–211.