An investigation of behavioral and biological correlates of emotional intelligence

Proposal details

Title: An investigation of behavioral and biological correlates of emotional intelligence
Research Area(s): Emotion and Self Regulation
Background: Emotional Intelligence is a construct that has received increasing attention in the research literature. Currently, there are limitations with how EI has been conceptualized and empirically validated, constraining its meaningful application in the human resource arena. With the increasing demand for assessment of EI in management settings, there is a need not only for reliable and valid assessment tools, but also for assessments that are brief, easily given and based on very concrete test items. Development of theoretical models of EI has been paralleled by the development of measures of the construct, both ability and trait measures of EI (Mayer et al, 2000). Trait EI can be measured by self report tests like the SREIT (Schutte, 1998) and the Bar- On( 2003), it is held that self report tests similar to these asses the individual’s collection of emotion related self-perceptions and dispositions (Petrides & Furnham, 2003). Although there is much research assessing the validity of Emotional intelligence tests, there is surprisingly little research into the biological basis of emotional intelligence even though there is an abundance of evidence showing the biological signatures of emotional functioning such as the neural responses associated with processing of facial expressions (Williams, 2005). Emotional perception and recognition is hypothesised as the first of the sequential steps in the processes involved in emotional intelligence, and there is a large amount of research investigating ERP responses to perception and recognition of affective stimuli. It will be of great value to investigate relationships between differing levels of ERP responses indicating biological evidence of emotion perception, and differing levels of trait EI which is hypothesised to measure all factors of EI, specifically perception, management and control of emotion. Not only will this allow validation of typical self report measures with actual biological functioning, it will also give greater insight into differing ways perception of emotion in others is related to the individual’s perceived emotional functioning. Additionally investigating differing ways this could relate may provide further insight into emotional disorders such as understanding of depression.
Aims: Aim: The relationship between self perceived EI measured by Self report EI tests, behavioral and brain function measures of emotion will be investigated. Hyptheses : 1) Scores on the SREIT ( Schutte, 1998) and the BREIF ( Kemp, 2005) will converge with scores on behavioral measures of EI specifically emotion facial recognition and perception ability. 2)Individuals with high emotional intelligence as measured by the BRIEF will show greater emotion recognition accuracy, and greater event-related potential responses for emotional expression stimuli than individuals scoring low (reflecting differences in emotion perception and sensitivity). 3)Differences in mood (depression, anxiety and stress) and personality will contribute to, but not account for, these differences in emotional intelligence and related differences in emotion recognition and emotion-related brain function.
Method: Study 1) Components of Trait EI: Relationship between behavioral measures Forty healthy subjects ranging in age from 18 to 20 years completed the BREIF (Kemp, 2005) and the SREIT (Schutte, 1998) and two different emotional recognition tests, subjects were from the psychology year 1 subject pool. Study 2) Trait EI and brain function: Relationships between measures Forty healthy subjects recruited from Sydney area participated in this study. Information concerning BREIF scores, facial emotion perception and recognition, mood (depression, anxiety, stress) and emotional sensitivity in terms of brain function (event related potentials elicited by facial emotional stimuli) was gathered. Each subject provided written informed consent in accordance with the ethical guidelines of the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia. ERPs were recorded during the face perception task; a standard neuroscan system was used, with an electrocap based on the 10-20 international system. The electrode sites of focus were the medial and temporal sites, and the data was recorded relative to linked ears specifically the Al and A2 (mastoids) electrodes sites. All impedances were less than or equal to 5 ohms.