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Mar092012

« 4. Mayer and Salovey model of emotional intelligence  »

Written by Rachel Green. Director, The Emotional Intelligence Institute.

The history of emotional intelligence is not what it seems

Very briefly, the concept of Emotional Intelligence is attributed to Professors Peter Salovey and John D. (Jack) Mayer in 1990.

Prof. Salovey is Provost of Yale University, and the Chris Argyris Professor of Psychology.

John Mayer was a Postdoctoral Scholar at Stanford University and is Professor of Psychology at University New Hampshire. They have conducted very significant research in the area and published numerous articles of importance.

The work of Salovey and Mayer, and the concept of Emotional Intelligence, was made popular by Daniel Goleman. Goleman successfully brought Emotional Intelligence into the public arena. He published a book, "Emotional intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ" in 1996. It shot to the top of the best seller list and stayed there for months.

Goleman did, however, expand the original concept of Emotional Intelligence put forward by Mayer and Salovey, and this has caused some confusion and overstating of its importance.

Mayer, Salovey, Caruso definition of emotional intelligence

"Emotional Intelligence includes the ability to engage in sophisticated information processing about one’s own and others’ emotions and the ability to use this information as a guide to thinking and behavior. That is, individuals high in emotional intelligence pay attention to, use, understand, and manage emotions, and these skills serve adaptive functions that potentially benefit themselves and others".

(In "Emotional Intelligence: New Ability or Eclectic Traits?" John D. Mayer, Peter Salovey and David R. Caruso. American Psychologist, September 2008, Vol. 63, No. 6, pages 503 - 517.)

Mayer and Salovey model of emotional intelligence

Mayer and Salovey have a 16 step developmental model of emotional intelligence from childhood to adulthood. It comprises four branches:  

  1. The ability to perceive emotions in oneself and others accurately.
  2. The ability to use emotions to facilitate thinking.
  3. The ability to understand emotions, emotional language, and the signals conveyed by emotions.
  4. The ability to manage emotions so as to attain specific goals. 

There are then sub-groups of emotional intelligence skills in each of the branches.

1. Perception, Appraisal and Expression of Emotion

  1. Ability to identify emotion in one's physical states, feelings and thoughts.
  2. Ability to identify emotions in other people, designs, artwork, etc., through language, sound appearance and behaviour.
  3. Ability to express emotions accurately, and to express needs related to those feelings.
  4. Ability to discriminate between accurate and inaccurate, or honest versus dishonest expressions of feeling.

2. Emotional Facilitation of Thinking

  1. Emotions prioritise thinking by directing attention to important information.
  2. Emotions are sufficiently vivid and available that they can be generated as aids to judgement and memory concerning feelings.
  3. Emotional mood swings change the individual's perspective from optimistic to pessimistic, encouraging consideration of multiple points of view.
  4. Emotional states differentially encourage specific problems approaches such as when happiness facilitates inductive reasoning and creativity.

3. Understanding and Analysing Emotions; Employing Emotional Knowledge

  1. Ability to label emotions and recognise relations among the words and the emotions themselves, such as the relation between liking and loving.
  2. Ability to interpret the meanings that emotions convey regarding relationships, such as that sadness often accompanies a loss.
  3. Ability to understand complex feelings: simultaneous feelings of love and hate, or blends such as awe as a combination of fear and surprise.
  4. Ability to recognise likely transitions among emotions, such as the transition from anger to satisfaction, or from anger to shame.

4. Reflective Regulation of Emotions to Promote Emotional and Intellectual Growth

  1. Ability to stay open to feelings, both those that are pleasant and those that are unpleasant.
  2. Ability to reflectively engage or detach from an emotion depending upon its judged informativeness or utility.
  3. Ability to reflectively monitor emotions in relation to oneself and others, such as recognising how clear, typical, influential or reasonable they are.
  4. Ability to manage emotion in oneself and others by moderating negative emotions and enhancing pleasant ones, without repressing or exaggerating information they may convey.

The full emotional intelligence model by Mayer and Salovey can be found in a chapter in a book by Salovey P. and Sluyter D.J. Eds, "Emotional development and emotional intelligence", Basic Books, New York, 1997.

To hear from Peter Salovey talking about his work on emotional intelligence watch this video.

Does your colleague have any emotional intelligence?

The person you are supervising, sitting next to or negotiating with at work doesn't either have emotional intelligence or not have emotional intelligence, we all have some to varying degrees. I find the Mayer and Salovey 16 stages very helpful in highlighting the skill sets that my colleagues or clients may or may not exhibit.

Mayer, Salovey and Caruso say, "Emotional abilities occur along a continuum from those that are at a relatively lower level, in the sense of carrying out fundamental, discrete psychological functions, to those that are more developmentally complex and operate in the service of personal self-management and goals. Crucial among lower level, fundamental skills is the capacity to perceive emotions accurately. Higher level skills include, for example, the capacity to manage emotions properly." (American Psychologist, September 2008.)

Further resources on Mayer and Salovey

They have produced an Emotional Intelligence Test - the MSCEIT, (the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test). This is described in our section on emotional intelligence tests. I have been personally trained in its use by Dr David Caruso.

Peter Salovey and David Caruso have written a book for non academics called "The emotionally intelligent manager: How to develop and use the four key emotional skills of leadership". Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, 2004. In my opinion, it is one of the most practical and useful books for managers.

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