Friday, April 15, 2011

Comments on SIOP 2011: Emotional intelligence

Yesterday's panel discussion of EI attracted a huge crowd, which certainly confirmed the statement of one of the panelists, that interest in EI is strong and steadily increasing. The panelists, all well-known researchers in the field, gave a good over-view of the field and agreed that the term should only be used for performance-based measures, not for so-called mixed models (read the Bar-on test). However, the major test of performance EI is the MSCEIT which has NO incremental validity in accounting for job performance, while mixed-model approaches do have such utility. So, why bother about performance EI, for other than theoretical purposes? It can be said that "we do not know what mixed-model tests of EI measure". This is true for such tests as the Bar-On (often used in Sweden) which indeed seem not to measure anything beyond the Big Five, or very little.

Tests can be devised which measure self-assessed EI, and they do make important contributions, admittedly for unclear reasons. Here is a promising topic for research. Meanwhile, they can be used in practical work. Worry about "faking" need not be a concern since scores can be adjusted for this bias factor with the help of one or more measures of social desirability - such adjustment is clearly necessary, by the way.

It is also interesting that performance and self-assessed EI have similar correlates such as age and gender so there is SOME evidence for a relationship, in spite for the very low within-group correlation.

In addition, work in my group has shown clear relationships between self-report EI and values: people with low EI in this sense tend to be materialistic, egoistic, and perhaps even manipulative. It is, reverse scored, a "dark side" measure of such attitudes and motivations, and could function as a good proxy measurement of them.

As a final comment, why continue work on performance EI if it offers so little of practical value? Sure, there are logical reasons it should have priority to the term EI, but that seems a remote advantage.

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