Motivation and emotion/Book/2022/Emotional intelligence training

Emotional intelligence training:
How can emotional intelligence be trained?


Figure 1. Examples of factors and behaviours emotional intelligence has an influence on.

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Focus questions
  • What is emotional intelligence?
  • What are the branches of emotional intelligence?
  • What effect does emotional intelligence training have on overall emotional intelligence?

What is Emotional Intelligence?Edit

Emotional Intelligence (EI) is the phenomena which unites the fields of emotions and intelligence. It views these emotions as useful sources of information that assist us in making sense of and navigating various social environments in our day to day lives (Salovey & Grewal, 2005). It has many definitions which all differ slightly from one another, however the main message is the same. It is one's ability to identify, express, understand, manage and use our emotions[grammar?]. EI has a significant impact on our health, relationships as well as academic and work performance (Kotsue et al., 2018). The qualities of an individual who possesses a higher degree of emotional intelligence are able to read the emotions of others, as well as know themselves really well (Serrat, 2017). EI contributes towards social intelligence. This involves the ability to monitor our emotions and the emotions of others and in turn use this information to guide our thinking and actions (Mayer & Salovey, 1993). At its core, EI can be defined as the ability an individual has to perceive, express, understand and use emotions as well as the ability to manage these emotions in order to foster personal growth (Salovey et al., 2003).

Our emotional intelligence helps us do the following:

  • Perceive our emotions
  • Understand our emotions
  • Handle our emotions

(Salovey & Grewal, 2005)

In 1997, John D. Mayer and Peter Salovey distinguished four branches and abilities of emotional intelligence. These were:

  1. Perceiving emotions
  2. Using emotions
  3. Understanding emotions
  4. Managing emotions

(Mayer et al., 2015)

An understanding of the underlying theoretical model, measurement tools and application of the concept of emotional intelligence is crucial for utilising it in our day to day lives and how it effects our motivation and emotions as well as directions of growth for the future.

The Model: Five Branches of Emotional IntelligenceEdit

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Human being as individuals have different personalities and ways of expressing their emotions. How they navigate these thoughts, feelings and emotions, and those of others, can effect the way they navigate through life and how successful they are. Emotional intelligence theory helps to form an understanding the concept of emotional intelligence and how it can be utilised in our day to day lives. The most 'generic' framework of emotional intelligence today contains 5 domains of personal (self-awareness, self-regulation and self-motivation) and social (social awareness and social skills) capabilities (Serrat, 2017).

They are:

Self AwarenessEdit

This is the ability to understand your emotions and how they can effect your performance. Practices of strong self awareness include having emotional awareness which allows you to recognise emotions and how they effect both yourself and the people you are interacting with. Next, being aware of your strengths and weaknesses, or having the ability to accurately self assess[grammar?]. Finally, having strong self confidence, being sure of both your capabilities and self worth indicates strong emotional intelligence (Serrat, 2017)[grammar?].

Self RegulationEdit

Our ability to self-regulate is the phenomena concerning how individuals control and manage their emotions and impulses. This incudes our conscientiousness, which is identified as our ability to take responsibility for personal responsibility and the drive to want to do well. Self Regulation also includes our adaptability and how an individual can handle change, as well as innovativeness and how open they are to new information. Finally, Self Regulation also includes the ability to keep a certain level of honesty and trustworthiness, as well as an individuals level of self control and how well they can manage impulses and disruptive emotions (Serrat, 2017).

Self MotivationEdit

Self Motivation includes 4 factors: achievement drive, commitment, initiative and optimism. Together these improve an individuals emotional intelligence by fostering motivation to improve oneself and meet a certain standard as well as fostering commitment to both individual goals and the goals of a group or organisation. Furthermore, it fosters a sense of initiative and optimism which leads to a persistent need to pursue and reach goals despite any obstacles that may get in the way (Serrat, 2017).

Social AwarenessEdit

Social Awareness is an individuals[grammar?] ability to notice and understand the emotions of other individuals, groups, colleagues or teammates around them. Empathy is one of the key competencies of emotional intelligence, and gives individuals the ability sensing the feelings and concerns of those around them and take an active interest in their concerns. They also have the ability to sense what others need to improve and develop and encourage them to improve on their abilities. This is particularly useful in a work and professional setting. Leveraging diversity and political awareness are also two competencies recognised in emotional intelligence theory, as they allow for the opportunity to cultivate diversity as well as anticipate and meet the needs of others (Serrat, 2017).

Social SkillsEdit

Social skills are the final competency of emotional intelligence theory. Individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence are able to utilise these skills in their personal and professional lives to be more successful and help others do the same. Having influence and the ability to persuade is important, as is excellent communication skills and being able to inspire and guide people with their leadership skills. Furthermore, being able to initiate and manage change effectively and foster collaboration and team synergy to reach goals, as conflict management skills to negotiate and resolve disagreements (Serrat, 2017).

Emotional intelligence trainingEdit

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How can emotional intelligence be trained?Edit

Studies have shown that when people in the workplace are unable to, or choose not to, act with emotional intelligence the implications can be terrible[factual?]. It can lead to low morale, conflict and heightened stress levels which effect[grammar?] individuals on a personal level but will also negatively impact business effectiveness[factual?]. Emotional intelligence has been shown to contribute towards creating a positive work environment, improve team working capabilities, positive customer service and managing diversity and positively impacts our motivation and emotion[factual?]. However, as we are not all born will the same levels of emotional intelligence, research has been conducted into whether emotional intelligence can be trained. Results of this have shown that through the appropriate coaching, training and persistence, this is possible (Bagshaw, 2000).

Previous literature has shown that people often differ in their implicit theories about the many essential characteristics of both intelligence, and emotions[factual?]. Entity theorists believe that these characteristics of Emotional Intelligence are both predetermined and unchangeable. On the other hand, Incremental theorists are of the belief that characteristics of Emotional Intelligence can be changed through learning and behaviour training (Cabello & Fernandez-Berrocal, 2015)

It is often questioned whether people are born with emotional intelligence, or if through training it can be learned. Research suggests that some individuals are just born with and more naturally gifted with the skills of emotional intelligence[factual?]. However, emotional intelligence can in fact be learned but for this to occur people must be personally motivated to reinforce these new skills (Serrat 2017).

How effect is emotional intelligence training?Edit

A study conducted by Cabello and Fernandez-Berrocal in 2015 provided evidence that in healthy adults implicit beliefs about emotional intelligence and emotions in general were able to influence performance on the ability based Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT). The results of the study supported this, as adults in the sample study with incremental theories about emotions and emotional intelligence scored higher on the MSCEIT than entity theorists (Cabello & Fernandez-Berrocal, 2015).

Furthermore, a meta-analysis conducted in 2017 found the effects of emotional intelligence training, based on the branches of emotional intelligence, to be effective enough to support emotional intelligence training as a positive intervention to increase motivation and emotion in people's personal lives as well as in the workplace (Hodzic et al., 2017). The results revealed there to be a significant moderate mean change between pre and post measurement for the main effect of emotional intelligence training as well as a stable follow up effect[Provide more detail]. These results suggest that emotional intelligence is an effective intervention process (Hodzic et al., 2017).

Psychological theory behind emotional intelligence trainingEdit

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Goleman's EI Performance ModelEdit

Daniel Goleman suggested that emotional intelligence (EI) consists of a cluster of skills and competencies which focus on four different capabilities. These are our self-awareness, relationship management and social awareness. He believed that these capabilities form the basis for the 12 subcategories of emotional intelligence which he developed by doing research into emotional intelligence in the workplace (Goleman, 2011). These are:

  • emotional self-awareness
  • emotional self-control
  • adaptability
  • achievement orientation
  • positive outlook
  • influence
  • coaching and mentoring
  • empathy
  • conflict management
  • teamwork
  • organizational awareness
  • inspirational leadership

(Goleman, 2011)

Bar-On's EI Competencies ModelEdit

This model used to measure emotional intelligence suggests that emotional intelligence is a system of interconnected behaviour[factual?]. It arises as a result of emotional and social competencies and argues that these have an influence on the performance and behaviour of individuals. Bar-On's model of emotional intelligence consists of five scales, and similarities can be seen between them and other models and psychological theory of emotional intelligence. These are self-perception, self-expression, interpersonal, decision-making and stress management and together they control our behaviour and influence our relationships (Bar-On, 2007).

The five[say what?] sub-categories within this model of emotional intelligence are:

  • self-regard,
  • self-actualization
  • emotional self-awareness
  • emotional expression
  • assertiveness
  • independence
  • interpersonal relationships
  • empathy
  • social responsibility
  • problem-solving
  • reality testing
  • impulse control
  • flexibility
  • stress tolerance
  • optimism

(Bar-On, 2007)

Mayer, Salovey and Caruso's EI Ability ModelEdit

Mayer, Salovey and Caruso's model of emotional intelligence suggests that the information individuals perceived understanding of emotions and their ability to manage these emotions is what they use to facilitate their thinking and guide their decision making. Whereas the previous model emphasizes five branches, their model suggests four branches of skills and abilities of emotional intelligence (Mayer et al., 2003). These are:

  • Perceive emotion
  • Use emotions to facilitate thought
  • Understand emotions
  • Manage emotions

This order of skills and abilities is done so from emotion perception through to management and aligns with the way in which each ability fits within the personality of the individual (Mayer et al., 2003).

Effects of being more emotionally intelligentEdit


Possessing a higher degree of emotional intelligence has many benefits for both the individual and the people they interact with on a day to day basis. Research suggests that developing a higher level of emotional intelligence creates the potential for an individual to become more productive and successful in what they do as well as helping others in both their personal and professional lives to become more productive and successful. Furthermore, the outcomes of emotional intelligence training are shown to reduce stress levels via developing ways to moderate conflict, increasing understanding, fostering stability and harmony (Serrat, 2017).

Case StudiesEdit

A case study conducted by Law and colleagues investigated the effects of EI on job performance and life satisfaction for the research and development of scientists in China. They argued that EI is a significant predictor of job satisfaction and performance, using the effect of the General Mental Ability battery on performance. Their results showed that while EI is a significant predictor of job performance, other models are better at predicting it. These were the WLEIS and the MSCEIT (Law et al., 2007).

Furthermore, Wang and colleagues investigated the effects of EI and self leadership on students[grammar?] ability to cope with stress. In addition, mediating roles which are known to play a role in positive affect and self efficacy were also assessed[Rewrite to improve clarity]. 575 students from 2 universities in China participated. They completed various measures if coping with stress, self leadership, emotional intelligence, positive affect and self efficacy. The results showed that self efficacy mediated the relationship between coping and that self leadership also had a direct effect on active coping as well. However, positive affect and self efficacy did not mediate the relationship between self leadership and ones ability to cope with stress (Wang et al., 2016).

Another research study conducted by Karimi and colleagues investigated the effects of EI training on the job performance of aged care workers in Australia. The effects of EI training on quality of resident care and psychological empowerment and worker well-being in an aged care facility was done using Bar-Ons competency model. There were two groups, a training group and a non training group, and over a 6 month period Karimi and colleagues examined whether the wellbeing, psychological empowerment and job performance of staff measured as enhanced quality of care by applying EI skills. Results showed there to be a significant improvement among workers who were in the EI training groups. Improvements were noticed in their EI scores, quality of care, general wellbeing and psychological empowerment. These results demonstrate the importance and impact of EI training for a higher quality of care and how these positively impacted the work experiences of aged care workers and the quality of care for the residents (Karimi et al., 2018).

A high level analysis of the correlation of results between these case studies indicates that emotional intelligence is a significant predictor on things [awkward expression?] such as job performance and life satisfaction. This is evident from the results of case studies conducted by Law and colleagues and Wang and colleagues. Furthermore, it can be concluded that EI training leads to a greater ability to understand emotions and thereby contributes towards increased job satisfaction, and as a result, quality of care delivered.


Various research suggests that through active training emotional intelligence is able to be both improved and learnt. This is evident in the results of various empirical research which showcase that emotional intelligence training is effectively being used as an intervention to improve performance in the workplace (Hodzic et al., 2017). Furthermore, it suggests that while some individuals are more naturally gifted in emotional intelligence, it can be learned. For this to occur individuals are required to be personally motivated, practice what they learn consistently and constantly reinforce these new skills to make them second nature (Salovey et al., 2003). An analysis of various case studies conducted which looked at the influence EI has on job performance, life satisfaction, self leadership and ability to cope with stress concluded that EI plays a significant role in determining an individuals ability to cope with stress and and found it to be a significant predictor of these topics. Furthermore, research conducted by Karimi and colleagues on the effects of EI training on job performance found the training to be influential in improving their quality of care and general wellbeing. EI scores also improved. Conclusively, these studies significantly contribute towards the idea of the positive influence and importance of EI in an individual and that it effects[spelling?] their quality of life and resilience. Furthermore, it suggests that through training EI can be increased which in turn leads to greater wellbeing and quality of care in employees and those around them.

See alsoEdit


Bagshaw, M. (2000). Emotional intelligence – training people to be affective so they can be effective. Industrial and Commercial Training, 32(2), 61–65.

Bar-On, R. (2007). The Bar-On model of emotional intelligence: A valid, robust and applicable EI model. Organisations and People.

Cabello, R. & Fernandez-Berrocal, P. (2015). Implicit theories and ability emotional intelligence. Frontiers in Psychology, 6.

Gilar-Corbi, R., Pozo-Rico, T., Sánchez, B., & Castejón, J. (2019). Can emotional intelligence be improved? A randomized experimental study of a business-oriented EI training program for senior managers. PLOS ONE, 14(10), e0224254.

Goleman, D. (2011). The brain and emotional intelligence: New insights. Regional Business, 94-95.

Hodzic, S., Scharfen, J., Ripoll, P., Holling, H., & Zenasni, F. (2017). How efficient are emotional intelligence trainings: A meta-analysis. Emotion Review, 10(2), 138–148.

Karimi, L., Leggat, S. G., Bartram, T., & Rada, J. (2018). The effects of emotional intelligence training on the job performance of Australian Aged Care Workers. Health Care Management Review, 45(1), 41–51.

Law, K. S., Wong, C.-S., Huang, G.-H., & Li, X. (2007). The effects of emotional intelligence on job performance and life satisfaction for the research and development scientists in China. Asia Pacific Journal of Management, 25(1), 51–69.

Lopes, P. N., Salovey, P., & Straus, R. (2003). Emotional intelligence, personality, and the perceived quality of social relationships. Personality and Individual Differences, 35(3), 641–658.

Salovey, P., Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D., & Lopes, P. N. (2003). Measuring Emotional Intelligence as a set of abilities with the mayer-salovey-caruso emotional intelligence test. Positive Psychological Assessment: A Handbook of Models and Measures., 251–265.

Salovey, P., & Grewal, D. (2005). The Science of Emotional Intelligence (14th ed., pp. 281-283). Sage Publications Inc on behalf of Association for Psychological Science.

Mayer, J.D. and Salovey, P. (1993) “The intelligence of emotional intelligence,” Intelligence, 17(4), pp. 433–442. Available at:

Serrat, O. (2017). Understanding and developing emotional intelligence. Knowledge Solutions, 329–339.

Wang, Y., Xie, G., & Cui, X. (2016). Effects of emotional intelligence and selfleadership on students' coping with stress. Social Behavior and Personality: an International Journal, 44(5), 853–864.

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