Emotional intelligence and social...
10.1177/0146167204264762 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN Lopes et al. / EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND SOCIAL INTERACTION Emotional Intelligence and Social Interaction Paulo N. Lopes Marc A. Brackett Yale University John B. Nezlek College of William and Mary Astrid Sch��tz Ina Sellin Chemnitz University of Technology, Germany Peter Salovey Yale University Two studies found positive relationships between the ability to manage emotions and the quality of social interactions, support- ing the predictive and incremental validity of an ability measure of emotional intelligence, the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). In a sample of 118 American col- lege students (Study 1), higher scores on the managing emotions subscale of the MSCEIT were positively related to the quality of interactions with friends, evaluated separately by participants and two friends. In a diary study of social interaction with 103 German college students (Study 2), managing emotions scores were positively related to the perceived quality of interactions with opposite sex individuals. Scores on this subscale were also positively related to perceived success in impression management in social interactions with individuals of the opposite sex. In both studies, the main findings remained statistically significant after controlling for Big Five personality traits. Keywords: emotional intelligence emotions personality intelligence social competence social relationships Emotional competencies are thought to be important for social interaction because emotions serve communi- cative and social functions, conveying information about people���s thoughts and intentions and coordinating social encounters (e.g., Keltner & Haidt, 2001). Positive emotionality is associated with sociability (e.g., Argyle & Lu, 1990), whereas persistent negative affect keeps oth- ers at bay (e.g., Furr & Funder, 1998). Accordingly, peo- ple need to process emotional information and manage emotional dynamics intelligently to navigate the social world. Yet, few studies to date have examined the rela- tionship between individual differences in emotional competencies and social adaptation in adult, nonclinical populations. The idea that emotional competencies are crucial for adaptation in various realms of life has fueled interest in the concept of emotional intelligence (EI) and inspired numerous programs of social and emotional learning in school and work settings. Nonetheless, research on EI is still limited and the construct has been criticized on sev- eral grounds, including lack of evidence of incremental validity, problems of assessment, conformity bias, and cultural differences in emotional expression (e.g., Roberts, Zeidner, & Matthews, 2001). The present studies were based on Salovey and Mayer���s (1990 Mayer & Salovey, 1997) theory of emo- tional intelligence. Whereas other authors have written about EI as a much broader construct (e.g., Bar-On, 1018 Authors��� Note: We are grateful for the help provided by David Caruso, St��phane C��t��, Susan David, Zorana Ivcevic, Erwin Lemche, Bernd Marcus, John D. Mayer, Jochen Menges, Jerome L. Singer, Michela Schr��der, Gill Sitarenios, and The Positive Psychology Network. This research was supported in part by a fellowship from Portugal���s Funda����o para a Ci��ncia e a Tecnologia (partly funded by the European SocialFund) to PauloLopesand grants from the National CancerInsti- tute (R01-CA68427), the National Institute of Mental Health (P01- MH/DA56826), National Institute on Drug Abuse (PSO-DA13334), and the Donaghue Women���s Health Investigator Program at Yale to Pe- ter Salovey. Correspondence concerning this article should be ad- dressed to Peter Salovey, Department of Psychology, Yale University, PO Box 208205, New Haven, CT 06520-8205 e-mail: p.lopes@ surrey.ac.uk or firstname.lastname@example.org. PSPB, Vol. 30 No. 8, August 2004 1018-1034 DOI: 10.1177/0146167204264762 �� 2004 by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, Inc.
2000), the Mayer and Salovey (1997) model focuses on emotion-related competencies that can be assessed through performance-based tests. The most recently developed ability measure of EI is the Mayer-Salovey- Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2002), which measures four core emotional competencies, including perceiving emo- tions, using emotions to facilitate thinking, understand- ing emotions, and managing emotions. We used the MSCEIT to examine the relationship between individual differences in emotional competencies and the quality of social interactions in the United States and Germany and to evaluate the incremental validity of the MSCEIT in relation to Big Five personality traits. Evidence for the construct validity of EI, conceptual- ized as a set of abilities, is accumulating (for reviews, see Brackett, Lopes, Ivcevic, Mayer, & Salovey, 2004 Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, & Sitarenios, 2001 Salovey, Mayer, & Caruso, 2002). Confirmatory factor analyses have sup- ported the four-branch model proposed by Mayer and Salovey in 1997 (Mayer, Salovey, Caruso, & Sitarenios, 2003). Higher scores on emotional intelligence tests have been associated with various indicators of social adaptation, including more prosocial behavior among schoolchildren (Rubin, 1999), greater empathy (Ciarrochi, Chan, & Caputi, 2000), and fewer negative interactions with friends, among college students (Brackett, Mayer, & Warner, 2004). In a recent study by Lopes, Salovey, and Straus (2003), college students scor- ing higher on the managing emotions subscale of the MSCEIT reported less conflict and antagonism in their relationship with a close friend as well as more compan- ionship, affection, and support in their relationship with a parent. These associations remained significant after controlling for Big Five personality traits. There is converging evidence from other lines of research that emotional competencies are associated with social adaptation. A large number of studies with children suggest that the capacity to decode, under- stand, and regulate emotions is associated with social and emotional adaptation (e.g., Eisenberg, Fabes, Guthrie, & Reiser, 2000 Halberstadt, Denham, & Dunsmore, 2001). Evaluations of school-based interven- tions emphasizing the development of emotional com- petencies also suggest that emotional learning contrib- utes to social and academic adjustment (Greenberg, Kusch��, Cook, & Quamma, 1995). Nevertheless, studies assessing a range of emotional competencies among adult, nonclinical populations have generally relied on criteria assessed through single- administration, self-report instruments. The present studies sought to extend previous research by collecting both self- and peer reports of quality of social relation- ships, in one case, and repeated measures of social inter- action, in another. Moreover, we conducted these stud- ies in two different cultures to enhance the generaliza- bility of our findings. Among the four core emotional competencies pro- posed by Mayer and Salovey (1997),we expected thatthe ability to manage emotions would be most strongly asso- ciated with the quality of everyday social interaction for several reasons. First, the ability to regulate emotions is likely to influence the emotional valence of social inter- actions, because we infer other people���s intentions from their emotional cues, use others��� emotions as guides for our own behavior, or simply catch others��� emotions through emotional contagion (e.g., Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1994). Second, the ability to manage emo- tions may influence people���s motivation and expecta- tions for social interaction (e.g., Cunningham, 1988) as well as their use of effective interaction strategies (e.g., Furr & Funder, 1998 Langston & Cantor, 1989). Third, the ability to manage emotions may facilitate a flexible focus of attention, which is important for smooth com- munication and social interaction. Negative affect can induce self-focused attention (e.g., Pyszczynski, Holt, & Greenberg, 1987), which is likely to make people less attentive to those around them. Fourth, the ability to manage emotions may facilitate executive functions associated with the coordination of numerous skills required for social behavior. This is apparent when unregulated social anxiety inhibits spontaneity and leads to overly constrained behavior. More generally, the capacity to regulate one���s own emotions seems to be linked to a broader capacity for self-control, including the control of impulsive behavior (e.g., Baumeister, Heatherton, & Tice, 1994). In addition, the managing emotions subscale of the MSCEIT taps into emotional regulation in interpersonal contexts and is therefore likely to be a more proximal predictor of the quality of social interactions than other MSCEIT subscales. The abilities to perceive, use, and understand emotions may influence the quality of social interactions more indirectly. For example, understand- ing emotional dynamics may help one to anticipate one���s own and others��� emotional reactions and thereby to manage emotions effectively during a tense encoun- ter. Thus, it is likely that the abilities to perceive, use, and understand emotions will have only a weak effect on the overall quality of social relationships. This is all the more likely because people draw on many different skills when interacting with others so that any one skill has only a diluted impact on social adaptation. In the present studies, we examined both EI and Big Five personality traits as predictors of the quality of social relationships because both emotional competencies and personality traits are likely to influence social adaptation (Lopes, Salovey, & Straus, 2003). Whereas personality Lopes et al. / EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND SOCIAL INTERACTION 1019
theory emphasizes temperamentally driven dispositions, the theory of emotional intelligence emphasizes acquired competencies that help people to regulate their emotions and manage social interactions. Compe- tencies and dispositions thus provide distinct and com- plementary perspectives for understanding social and emotional adaptation. Yet, traits and skills, or personality and intelligence (e.g., EI), are likely intertwined (see Sternberg & Ruzgis, 1994). In assessing the incremental validity of EI in the pres- ent studies, we statistically controlled for Big Five person- ality traits because some self-report measures of EI, such as the EQi (Bar-On, 1997), have been found to overlap meaningfully with the Big Five (e.g., Brackett & Mayer, 2003 Davies, Stankov, & Roberts, 1998). However, it is important to note that controlling for the Big Five is likely to be an overly stringent test of incremental valid- ity. On one hand, there may be conceptual overlap and common method variance between the Big Five (e.g., Extraversion and Agreeableness) and criteria such as self-perceived satisfaction with social interactions. On the other hand, there may be conceptual overlap between personality traits such as Neuroticism and mea- sures designed to assess emotional regulation (e.g., Watson, 2000). We view social adaptation as a multifaceted construct because people may be fairly well adjusted in one con- text but less well adjusted in others. Indeed, both theory and research suggest that social competence does not represent a cohesive domain of ability (e.g., Cantor & Kihlstrom, 1987 Hall & Bernieri, 2001). Conducting two separate studies allowed us to focus on relationships with friends in Study 1 and examine different types of social interactions in Study 2. STUDY 1 This study examined the relationship between emo- tional competencies, assessed by the MSCEIT, and the quality of relationships with friends, evaluated by partici- pants and two friends. Friendships represent a crucial domain of social adaptation where emotional compe- tencies are likely to play an important role because of the intimacy and emotional involvement associated with close friendships. Hypotheses In light of previous theory and research, we formu- lated the following two general hypotheses: Hypothesis 1: Emotional intelligence (particularly the managing emotions subscale of the MSCEIT) will be positively asso- ciated with participants��� and friends��� reports of friend- ship quality. Hypothesis 2: Emotional intelligence (particularly managing emo- tions) will explain friendship quality over and above the variance accounted for by the Big Five. Method PARTICIPANTS AND PROCEDURE Participants were 118 college students (26 men, 92 women) between the ages of 17 and 24 who took part in a larger study conducted at the University of New Hamp- shire. Ninety-eight percent were White and from the New England area of the United States. All received course credit for participating in the study. The measures used in this study were completed at various times throughout the semester and included the MSCEIT, the Big Five, emotional regulation, and social desirability as well as measures of friendship quality and interpersonal competence. In addition to completing these measures, each participant was asked to recruit two friends to evaluate the quality of their relationship with the participant. Informant surveys were sealed in enve- lopes and participants were asked to give them to two friends or close acquaintances they had met at the Uni- versity of New Hampshire (with whom they were not romantically involved). These instructions were intended to limit extraneous variability associated with the choice of informants, especially considering that romantically charged interactions may be qualitatively different from other friendships. The envelopes were coded and addressed to the principal investigators so they could be easily returned via campus mail. Complete data (i.e., peer reports from two friends) were received for 66 participants. MEASURES Emotional intelligence. The MSCEIT (Version 2.0 Mayer et al., 2002) measures the abilities to perceive, use, understand, and manage emotions. For each subscale, there are two tasks. For the Perceiving Emo- tions subscale, respondents identify the emotions in photographs of faces (Faces task) as well as in designs and landscapes (Pictures task). For Using Emotions, respondents describe emotions with nonemotional vocabulary (Sensations) and indicate the feelings that might facilitate or interfere with the successful perfor- mance of various cognitive and behavioral tasks(Facilita- tion). Understanding Emotions is assessed with ques- tions concerning the manner in which emotions evolve and transition over time (Changes) and how some feel- ings are produced by blends of emotions (Blends). The ability to Manage Emotions is assessed through a series of scenarios in which people identify the most adaptive ways to regulate their own feelings (Emotion Manage- ment) and the feelings of others in social situations 1020 PERSONALITY AND SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY BULLETIN