Models of emotional intelligence

There are three primary frameworks into which models of emotional intelligence may be categorised. These are

  • Ability model – It equates emotional intelligence with mental abilities and assess them through tools that categorise responses into right and wrong, much like IQ tests.


  • Trait model – It proposes that emotional intelligence abilities are similar to personality traits rather than abilities and adopt personality test.


  • Mixed models – This model defines EI as the combination of abilities and personality traits.


Ability model of emotional intelligence is put forth by Mayer, Salovey and Caruso. This model defines emotional intelligence in terms of an ability, rather than a trait or characteristic. The model proposes four main types of emotional abilities which are as follows;

  • Emotional Perception – it refers an individual’s ability to recognize his own emotions and to understand the emotions expressed by others. This is the basic skill involved in EI because unless you can perceive emotions you cannot manage them.


  • Emotional Use – The ability to use one’s emotions involves the skill of leveraging emotions to enhance our thinking, decision-making and relationships. For example, Channelizing anger at perceived injustice towards fighting for one’s legitimate rights.


  • Emotional Understanding – It refers to using the specific information that various emotions provide and knowing how that might affect behaviour of the person. For example, you promised your wife to take her to movie but you forgot. Once you return to home, you saw your wife being rude and angry. If you are a man of high EQ, you can easily discover that the angriness of your wife is the result of your failure to fulfil the promise.


  • Emotional Management – It refers the ability of an individual to self-regulate emotions and to regulate emotions in others. The person with a high level of this ability can harness positive or negative emotions and manage them in a way that facilities the completion of required tasks.

Trait Model is the most recent model of EI given by Petrides. This model marks a break from the idea that EI is ability-based and proposes that people have, as part of their personalities, a number of emotional self-perceptions and emotional traits.

Simply put, Trait EI concerns people’s perceptions of their own emotional abilities. Trait EI is defined as “a constellation of emotional self – perceptions located at the lower levels of personality hierarchies. Petrides terms this as trait emotional self- efficacy. This means that emotions are subjective and emotional intelligence is quite simply, an individual’s own perception of his own ability to work with emotions.

Petrides asserts that there is no standard profile of an emotionally intelligent person because certain traits are adaptive, functional and useful in some situations while the same traits may hamper individuals in other contexts. For example, being reserved would be useful in a job role that demands research in isolation (e.g. job of a scientist) but may not be suited to a job role that expects social interaction and agreeableness (e.g. job of a public servant)

Thus the trait model of EI focuses on particular personality traits helpful in perceiving and regulating emotions. It emphasizes the emotional self-perceptions and emotional traits in one’s personality plays a significant role in one’s emotional intelligence.

Mixed models of emotional intelligence are those that combine the Ability with personality characteristics. Two models are generally thought to fall under the mixed model of emotional intelligence – Bar-On’s Model and Goleman’s Competence Model.

Bar-On Model of EI

Bar-On is acknowledged to have coined the term “emotional quotient” as a measure of emotional intelligence. He emphasised the adaptive function of EI by defining it as “an array of non-cognitive abilities, competencies and skills that influence one’s ability to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures”.

Emotional intelligence in his view allows individuals to function well and maintain well-being by adapting in a certain way to his environment. The major areas or skills that the model maps are:

  • Intrapersonal Skills


  • Emotional self-awareness – It refers to being aware of and understanding one’s own emotions.
  • Assertiveness – It refers to expressing one’s feelings non- aggressively or non- passively.
  • Self-Regard – It refers to being aware of, understanding and accepting oneself.
  • Self- Actualization – It refers to setting and achieving goals to fulfil one’s potential.
  • Independence – It refers to being self-reliant as opposed to emotional dependency on others.


  • Interpersonal Skills


  • Interpersonal relationships – It refers to establishing and maintaining mutually satisfying relationships.
  • Social responsibility – It refers to identification and association with social groups, as well as acting to support them.
  • Empathy – It refers to being aware of and understanding how others feel.


  • Adaptability Scales


  • Problem solving – It refers to generating effective solutions to interpersonal and intrapersonal problems.
  • Reality testing – It refers to keeping emotions in touch with reality and facts.
  • Flexibility – It refers to coping with and adapting to changes in the environment.


  • Stress-Management Scales


  • Stress tolerance – It refers to managing one’s emotions effectively and constructively in times of mental anxiety and conflict situations.
  • Impulse control – It refers to controlling emotions effectively and thinking through before taking action.


  • General Mood


  • Happiness – It refers to the feeling of contentment with oneself, others and life in general.
  • Optimism – It refers to having a positive outlook on life.

Goleman’s Competence Model

This model conceptualizes emotional intelligence as a large range of dispositions and competences ranging from individual traits to learned abilities.

Goleman’s initial model consisted of five dimensions of emotional intelligence categorised broadly into – Personal competencies (Self-awareness, Self-regulation and Motivation) and Social competencies (Empathy and Social skills). Later, Goleman revised his competence model and put it under four domains;


  • Self-Awareness – It is the ability to honestly reflect on and understand one’s emotions, strengths, challenges etc. It provides the foundation on which the other three domains (self-management, social awareness, and relationship management) This competency enables one to be conscious of personal limitations and use personal strengths to achieve desired goals. It includes three personal competencies:


  • Emotional Self-Awareness – It is the ability to effectively read how one reacts to cues in the environment and be aware of how one’s emotions affect performance.


  • Accurate Self-Assessment – It means knowing one’s abilities and limitations, seek out feedback and learn from their mistakes, and know where they need to improve and when to work with others who have complementary strengths.


  • Self Confidence – Self-Confidence is a belief in one’s own capability to accomplish a task and select an effective approach to a task or problem.


  • Self-Management – It is equated to an ongoing inner conversation that frees us from being a prisoner of our feelings. It allows to develop mental clarity and concentrated energy that leadership demands, and keep disruptive emotions away from us. It encompasses six personal competencies:


  • Emotional Self-Control – It is the ability to keep one’s impulsive feelings and emotions under control and restrain negative actions when provoked.


  • Transparency – It is about having one’s actions consistent with what one says. It includes communicating intentions, ideas, and feelings openly and directly, and welcoming openness and honesty, even in difficult situations with multiple parties involved.


  • Adaptability – It is the ability to be flexible and work effectively within a variety of changing situations, and with various individuals or groups.


  • Achievement Orientation – It refers to, a striving to continually improve performance. Achievement is not just accomplishing things but accomplishing things through one’s own efforts against a challenging standard of excellence.


  • Initiative – It is the ability to identify a problem and take action to address the problem. Those with the initiative competence act before being forced to do so by external events.


  • Optimism – It is defined as the persistence to pursue goals despite obstacles and setbacks.


  • Social awareness – It comprises of three social competencies which are as follows;


  • Empathy – This gives people an astute awareness of others’ emotions, concerns and needs. The empathic individual can read emotional currents, picking up on nonverbal cues such as tone of voice or facial expression.


  • Organizational Awareness – It refers to one’s ability to understand and learn the internal and external power relationships in an organization. This competence includes one’s ability to identify real decision-makers, ability to read situations objectively etc.


  • Service Orientation – This is a desire to help and serve others, in order to meet their needs.



  • Relationship Management – In the Public leadership, relationship management refers to building rapport and nurturing the capacity in others. It also includes cultivating webs of relationships, finding common ground and using shared vision to motivate people to move forward toward accomplishing a mission or goal. It involves seven social competencies:


  • Developing Others – Developing others involves sensing people’s developmental needs and building their abilities.


  • Inspirational Leadership – Inspirational leaders are able to articulate and arouse enthusiasm for a shared vision and mission, to step forward as needed, to guide the performance of others while holding them accountable, and to lead by example.


  • Influence – It is the ability to persuade, convince and impact others in order to get them to support a specific agenda or course of action.


  • Conflict Management – It is the ability to handle difficult individuals, groups of people and tense situations with diplomacy and tactics. It entails finding the best solution to a given problem or issue of disagreement.


  • Teamwork and Collaboration – It represents the ability to work cooperatively with others towards shared goals and creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals.


  • Change Catalyst – It has to do with the effectiveness of the strategies used to facilitate change initiatives. The ability to be a cooperative member of one’s social group is associated with perceptions of effectiveness in introducing change.


  • Building bonds – This is the ability to develop and maintain working relationships with various internal and external parties.


It was originally conceptualized by Ben Palmer and Con Stough as a specific need was felt to design a model for business leaders, human resource professionals to identify employees for learning and development at the workplace. The model has six core emotional intelligence competencies which is as follows;


·       Emotional self-awareness – Being aware of the way one feels as well as the impact one’s feelings can have on decisions, behaviour and performance.

·       Emotional awareness of others – Perceiving, understanding and acknowledging the way others feel so as to demonstrate empathy.

·       Authenticity – Openly, honestly and effectively expressing oneself, being transparent and keeping commitments.

·       Emotional reasoning – Considering and using your one’s and others’ feelings decision making, integrating with facts and technical information as well as communicating this process to others

·       Self- management – Managing one’s own mood and emotions, time and behaviour, even in high pressure and demanding contexts.

·       Positive influence – Creating positive and healthy work environment by impacting others’ feelings through problem solving, feedback and support.


Cooper and Sawaf in their book Executive EQ, developed a model of emotional intelligence which includes four components:


·       Emotional literacy – It refers to the knowledge of one’s own emotions and how they function.

·       Emotional fitness – It includes emotional hardiness and flexibility.

·       Emotional depth – It is described as emotional intensity and potential for growth.

Emotional alchemy – It is the ability to use emotion to spark creativity