Emotional Intelligence and Adult Learning

Emotional regulation is part of the bigger concept of Emotional Intelligence. While improving our emotional regulation helps us increase our Emotional Intelligence, there are other competencies that we need to work on in order to become more emotionally intelligent beings.

Key Points

  • Emotional intelligence (EI) seems to impact adult learners’ academic/work performance, daily behaviours and relationships with others.
  • A high number of studies have reported a positive correlation between EI and success in different fields. However, more causational research needs to be conducted in order to prove that increasing a person’s EI will increase his/her chances of success.

Some Theory...

Salovey and Mayer’s four-branch ability model

The Salovey and Mayer's Model

One of the most influential models of E I is the Salovery and Mayer’s four branch model which divides E.I into four capacities:

  • Perceive Others’ Emotions: Capacity of recognizing and perceiving others’ facial and postural expressions
  • Understand Own Emotions: Capacity of emotions to assist thinking
  • Use Emotions: Capacity of analyzing emotions and using emotions to make decisions
  • Manage Emotions (Emotion Regulation): Capacity of managing emotions in the context of individual goals (Mayer, Salovey and Caruso, 2004) More about the Model

Emotional Intelligence and Academic Performance

  • A study was conducted in an undergraduate course titled “Leading and Managing People” at an Australian university. Students completed self-reports and ability tests of emotional intelligence. The test results were compared with students’ interest in emotions and their performance in the course assessment.
  • The findings showed that emotional intelligence and teaching emotions could affect personal academic performance and team performance. It was suggested that teachers, especially educators of future business leaders must pay more attention to emotional intelligence in their courses (Ashkanasy & Dasborough, 2003). Link to the study

Emotional Intelligence and Work Performance

  • In order to learn more about the relationship between emotional intelligence and work performance, a survey research was conducted among senior managers. A direct-mail questionnaire was sent to 262 senior managers.
  • Data analysis showed: (a) Senior manages with high emotional intelligence developed emotional attachment to their workplace and were more committed to their career (b) Highly emotionally intelligent senior managers played a positive in the extent to which the organization manages in retaining its most critical workforce (c) Emotionally intelligent senior managers may better handle work-family conflict (Carmeli, 2003). Link to the study
  • Similar results were found in another study on the relationship between emotional intelligence and work performance. 212 participants completed the Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire and the Organizational Stress Screening Tool (ASSET). Data analysis showed that high scorers in the emotional intelligence questionnaire suffer less workplace stress, and had higher organizational commitment (Nikolaou & Tsaousis, 2002).Link to the Study

Emotional Intelligence and Daily Behaviour

  • Researchers from the University of New Hampshire conducted a study suggesting that emotions played a potential role in human’s daily behaviours. 330 college students participated and were asked to complete an emotional intelligence test, the MSCEIT and a scale of Life Space, and the CSLSS to examine the relation between EI and everyday life conditions.
  • Results showed that males with lower EI were associated significantly more involvement than females in harmful behaviours such as drug abuse, alcohol abuse, and engaging in deviant behaviours. Interestingly, fewer relations were obtained in this sample for women, which might indicate that EI has different influences on genders (Brackett, Mayer & Warner, 2003) . Link to the study

Emotional intelligence and relationships with others

  • Research shows that high emotional intelligence indicated better social interaction with individuals. In a sample of 118 college students, higher scores on the MSCEIT had a positive correlation with the quality of interaction with friends evaluated by participants and two friends.
  • In a similar study, among the 103 German college students, those who had higher emotion scores were positively related to the quality of interactions with opposite sex individuals (Lopes et al., 2004). Link to the study
  • While the above findings are correlational and not causational, they still encourage us to further explore the concept of emotional intelligence. More causational research needs to be conducted to examine the effects of increasing emotional intelligence on academic/work performance daily behaviours, and relationships with others.

Improving emotional intelligence helps people reach success

  • According to the newest research by Zijlmans et al. (2015), emotional intelligence can be improved through training. Furthermore, improving emotional intelligence help staff feel less stressed at work and have better work performance. Link to the Study
  • 214 staff members took part in the experimental research. 76 staff members consisted the experimental group, and 138 staff members consisted of two control groups. Pre-test, post-test and follow-up control group design was used. Data was collected through questionnaires focusing on emotional intelligence, coping, and emotions. Only the experimental group received a professional training program, which aimed at improving staff members’ emotional intelligence.
  • Results found that after the training, the experimental group (a) had a significant improvement in emotional intelligence compared to the control groups. (b) felt fewer negative emotions after the training. (c) showed an improvement in task-oriented coping, which did not happen to the control groups. (d) the positive effects still remained four months after the training ended.

Practical Suggestions

  • Talk about EI in class and have students be aware of its potential influences in our lives.
  • Help students develop EI based on the four-branch ability model.