Emotional Intelligence Models And Theories

April 27, 2023

emotional intelligene models and theories

Emotional intelligence (EI) has become an essential skill in today's workplace. The ability to understand and manage one's emotions and those of others can improve communication, productivity and overall job satisfaction.

As such, it's vital for employers and HR professionals to understand the various models and theories of emotional intelligence and how they can be applied in a professional context.

This article will explore three popular EI models and their applications in the workplace.

What is Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso’s EI model?

Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso’s model is a mental ability model of emotional intelligence. It proposes that EI is a set of skills that enable individuals to perceive, use, understand and regulate emotions effectively - both in themselves and in others.

The model is based on four interrelated elements or abilities, namely, perception of emotions, use of emotions, understanding of emotions and regulation of emotions.

Similar to Bar-On, the Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso model positions EI as a type of intelligence distinct from cognitive ability, and as something that can be developed over time through training and practice.

Why is Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso’s EI model important?

Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso's EI model has been influential in demonstrating the importance of emotional intelligence in the workplace and it is backed by significant empirical evidence supporting it as a predictor of workplace success.

The model emphasizes the ability to use emotions to enhance cognitive processes - such as problem-solving and decision-making - and to understand and manage emotions in oneself and others.

This has led to growing recognition of the importance of emotional intelligence in achieving success in today's complex business environment, where the ability to navigate complex social dynamics and communicate effectively with diverse stakeholders is essential for success.

The four branches of Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso’s EI model

Perception of emotions: this involves being able to accurately perceive and identify emotions in oneself and others.

It includes the ability to recognize facial expressions, vocal tones, and body language, as well as the ability to discriminate between different emotions and identify subtle changes in emotional states.

Use of emotions: this refers to the ability to effectively use emotions to facilitate thinking and problem-solving.

It involves being able to harness emotions to motivate oneself and others, as well as to regulate emotions in oneself and others in order to achieve specific goals.

Understanding of emotions: this is the ability to comprehend the causes and consequences of emotions.

It includes understanding how emotions blend and transition from one to another, as well as understanding the role of emotions in decision-making and interpersonal relationships.

Regulation of emotions: this refers to the ability to manage and regulate one's own emotions, as well as to respond appropriately to the emotions of others.

It includes the ability to adapt to changing emotional environments and to use strategies such as relaxation techniques and cognitive reappraisal to manage and regulate emotions.

Applications of Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso’s EI model

Common applications of the Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso model include:

Communication: the model can be used to develop emotional intelligence skills such as empathy and emotional regulation, which can help individuals to communicate more effectively, particularly in conflict resolution and negotiation.

Leadership development: emotional intelligence skills such as self-awareness and social skills can help individuals become more effective leaders, inspiring and motivating their teams.

Customer service: using the Mayer, Salovey and Caruso model, organizations can train employees to better understand and respond to customer needs and concerns, improving customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Sales performance: developing emotional intelligence skills such as understanding others' perspectives and managing one's own emotions can help sales teams build stronger relationships with customers, improving sales performance.

Innovation and creativity: finally, skills such as emotional regulation and flexibility can help individuals and teams to be more innovative and creative, encouraging experimentation and risk-taking.

What is Bar-On's EI model?


The Bar-On model of emotional intelligence was developed by Israeli psychologist Reuven Bar-On in 1997. It explains EI as an array of interrelated emotional and social competencies, skills and behaviors that affect an individual's ability to cope with daily demands and stresses.

According to this model, EI is composed of five general components, with each component comprising several sub-scales or facets that capture different aspects of emotional and social functioning - such as impulse control, assertiveness and self-actualization.

The model also proposes that this set of non-cognitive abilities can be learned, developed and enhanced over time through practice and feedback.

Why is Bar-On's EI model important?

Bar-On's EI model has brought significant value to businesses by providing a framework for measuring and developing emotional intelligence, and has a good reputation for predicting success in areas such as leadership, communication and teamwork.

This makes it particularly relevant in the context of organizational effectiveness, where the ability to manage emotions and interact effectively with others is critical for achieving success.

By focusing on emotional and social competencies, the model can help individuals and organizations improve communication, collaboration and overall performance.

The five scales of Bar-On's EI model

Intrapersonal: this scale measures an individual's ability to understand and regulate their own emotions. It includes sub-scales such as self-esteem, emotional self-awareness, assertiveness and independence.

Individuals with strong intrapersonal skills tend to have a good sense of their own emotions and values, and are able to effectively regulate their emotions in different situations.

Interpersonal: this refers to an individual's ability to understand and interact with others. It includes sub-scales such as empathy, social responsibility, interpersonal relationships and communication.

Those with strong interpersonal skills tend to be good at communicating, establishing positive relationships, and responding to the emotions of others.

Stress management: this scale measures an individual's ability to cope with stress and adversity, with sub-scales including stress tolerance and impulse control.

Strong stress management skills enable an individual to handle stress and adversity effectively, and make thoughtful decisions even in difficult situations.

Adaptability: this is an individual's ability to be versatile and adaptable in different situations. It includes sub-scales such as problem-solving, flexibility and reality testing.

Individuals with strong adaptability skills tend to be able to adjust to changing circumstances, solve problems effectively and stay grounded in reality.

General mood: the final scale relates to overall emotional well-being, focusing on sub-scales such as optimism, happiness and life satisfaction.

Individuals that rank highly on the general mood scale tend to have a positive outlook, feel happy and content, and have a high level of satisfaction with their lives.

Applications of Bar-On's EI model

There are various professional applications of Bar-On’s EI model, including:

Recruitment and selection: organizations can use the model to assess the emotional intelligence of potential employees during the recruitment process, and identify individuals with the right mix of emotional intelligence skills for specific roles.

Performance management: the model can be used to identify areas where employees may need to develop their emotional intelligence skills, which can be included in their performance goals and objectives.

Conflict resolution: the model can be used to train employees in conflict resolution, helping them to develop the emotional intelligence skills needed to handle difficult situations with tact and diplomacy.

Team building: organizations can use the model to create teams with the right mix of emotional intelligence skills to work together effectively, improving team performance and overall business outcomes.

Succession planning: Bar-On’s model can also be used to identify potential leaders and assess their emotional intelligence skills, helping organizations to plan for leadership succession and identify areas for leadership development.

What is Goleman's EI model?


Goleman's emotional intelligence model is a framework for understanding the role of emotions in human behavior, decision-making and relationships.

It was introduced by Daniel Goleman in his book "Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ" in the 1990s, and is probably the most well-known model of EI in the business world.

The model proposes that EI is made up of four main components: self-awareness, social awareness, self-management and social skills.

As with other popular EI theories, the Goleman model positions emotional intelligence as a critical factor in personal and professional success and suggests that, rather than being fixed, EI is something that can be developed through practice and self-awareness.

Why is Goleman's EI model important?

Goleman is credited with popularizing the concept of EI and raising awareness of the importance of emotion-related abilities for leadership and performance.

Although his work has been criticized by the academic community, Goleman helped employers recognize that emotional intelligence is a critical component of effective leadership and that it can be developed and improved through appropriate training and coaching.

Without Goleman’s promotion of EI, it is possible that this powerful ability would not have become as mainstream. It paved the way for businesses to investigate other forms of intelligence and focus on the softer side of leadership skills.

The four domains of Goleman's EI model

Self-awareness: this involves the ability to recognize and understand one's own emotions, strengths and limitations.

It includes being aware of one's emotional triggers and patterns of behavior, as well as understanding the impact that emotions have on thoughts, decisions and behavior.

Self-management: self-management refers to the ability to regulate one's own emotions and behavior in order to achieve personal and professional goals.

It involves the ability to manage stress, adapt to change and control impulses. This domain also includes setting goals and holding oneself accountable for progress towards those goals.

Social awareness: this is the ability to understand and empathize with others' emotions, needs and perspectives.

Social awareness involves being able to read nonverbal cues and respond appropriately in social situations, as well as recognizing and valuing diversity and cultural differences.

Social skills: social skills refer to the ability to communicate effectively, build and maintain relationships and manage conflicts.

This domain includes skills such as active listening, collaboration, leadership, and influence. It also involves being able to work in teams and adapt to different social and cultural contexts.

Applications of Goleman's emotional intelligence model

Organizations commonly use Goleman’s model to raise awareness of how EI impacts certain processes and areas of the business, including:

Decision-making: by developing emotional intelligence skills such as self-awareness and empathy, individuals can make informed decisions that consider the impact on others and the organization. This can lead to better outcomes and a more collaborative work environment.

Organizational culture: leaders can use emotional intelligence skills such as social awareness and empathy to create a positive organizational culture. By valuing and supporting employees, leaders can improve morale and productivity, resulting in a more engaged workforce.

Talent management: managers who develop emotional intelligence skills such as empathy and emotional regulation can better understand and support their employees. This can result in improved employee engagement and retention, as employees feel valued and supported.

Change management: developing emotional intelligence skills such as adaptability and empathy can help individuals and teams manage change more effectively. By reducing resistance and improving outcomes, organizations can adapt to changes in the business environment more easily.

The impact of high emotional intelligence in your organization

In conclusion, understanding the various emotional intelligence models is critical for organizations looking to improve their overall effectiveness.

Employing individuals with high EI can lead to enhanced communication, collaboration and team cohesion. By using the various EI models as a framework for recruitment, training and development, organizations can empower their employees to better manage their emotions and those of their colleagues, creating a more positive and productive work environment.

Moreover, organizations that prioritize emotional intelligence as a core competency can enjoy higher levels of employee engagement, reduced turnover rates and improved job satisfaction.

As such, investing in emotional intelligence is a smart move for any organization seeking sustainable growth. Take the first step towards building an emotionally intelligent workforce by downloading our white paper, "How To Assess Emotional Intelligence At Work”.

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