Theory and some empirical research suggest that there may be a relationship between emotions and performance on cognitive tasks. The construct of emotional intelligence may provide a vehicle for exploring the connections between emotions and cognitive task performance. The present study tested the hypotheses that a) individuals with higher emotional intelligence would perform better on cognitive tasks and b) they would be better able to deal with the frustration or helplessness that may result from encountering very difficult tasks. Participants recruited from community and university settings participated in a study in which their emotional intelligence was assessed and they worked on three sets of anagrams. The first set of anagrams was moderately difficult, the second set was very difficult, and the third set was again moderately difficult. The first hypothesis was supported in that participants higher in emotional intelligence solved more problems on the first set of moderately difficult anagrams. The second hypothesis was supported in that in that participants higher in emotional intelligence solved more problems after encountering a very difficult and frustrating set of problems, even when initial performance was controlled for through a partial correlation. The results suggest that study of the emotional intelligence construct holds promise for better understanding and perhaps in the future enhancing cognitive task performance.
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