The Therapeutic Relationship and its links to Trait Emotional Intelligence
11th March, 20100 Comments
There has been very little research on how the concept of emotional intelligence could relate to some of the overarching issues currently debated in the field of therapeutic relationship. The relationship between the client and the therapist draws significantly from the concept of emotional intelligence as only with a high level of emotional intelligence of the therapist and client, any success of the therapeutic relationship is possible. The notion that the relationship between therapist and client has a profound effect on the therapeutic journey (Freud 1913) and would have an impact on the therapeutic relationship has been put forward by many psychotherapists and researchers. This discussion focuses on two aspects of the therapeutic relationship - the role of intelligence in the therapy, and the role of emotions in the client therapist relationship. When both these aspects are considered, the role of emotional intelligence seems to take primary focus in the therapeutic process.
The question about how the quality of therapist-client relationship directly contributes to therapy outcomes is of prime importance for both therapy outcomes and graduate training programs. This is because the client therapist relationship is central to the process of therapy and lends insights into the process of therapy. This is because the therapist and the graduate learners will have to be well aware of the factors that contribute to a successful therapeutic process. In particular, it may be instructive to examine how the literature on therapeutic relationship may link with some aspects of the Emotional intelligence concept, advanced by a number of researchers in the early 1990’s (Salovey & Mayer 1990; Goleman 1995; Bar-On 1997; Mayer & Salovey 1993; 1997; Mayer Et al., 2000, Petrides & Furnham 2001). Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, identify, recognize, control, and evaluate emotions of self and that of others.
There is some controversy on whether emotional intelligence can be learnt as some researchers believe that they can be strengthened whereas some others believe emotional intelligence to be hereditary. Salovey and Mayer (1990) have defined emotional intelligence as, “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions” (1990). The Salovey and Mayer model identified four different factors of emotional intelligence: the perception or recognition of emotion, the ability to use emotions according to situations, the ability to understand emotion, and the ability to manage emotions.
The central concept of emotional intelligence and its importance in a therapeutic relationship is studied in this thesis. It is important to understand what emotional intelligence means and what role it plays in the development of the client therapist relationship.
Emotional Intelligence has been described as an ability to appraise oneself and others’ emotions, an ability to regulate one’s own emotions, and an ability to use emotions to solve problems (Salovey & Mayer, 1997).The therapist’s awareness of the entire gamut of his feelings and thoughts is crucial for sensitive and subtle management of the therapist’s reaction. This self-awareness enables the therapist to take responsibility for a pre-reflective contribution to the feelings transferred from the client, and for passing it back to the client as therapeutically appropriate. The therapist has to remain open and receptive about his own emotions and should be able to predict the emotional reactions and responses of his clients.
Freud’s recommendation of personal analysis is seen as a vehicle for therapists’ training, and counseling psychology trainees undertake the accredited training course of the British Psychological Society (BPS) within the Division of Counseling Psychology with a mandatory period of personal therapy (a minimum of 40 hours). This requirement explicitly endorses the important role of interpersonal skills as a means of developing candidates’ self-awareness and understanding of themselves in the therapeutic relationship. The central role of self awareness has been marked as essential in a therapeutic goal.
It is important to understand how the therapeutic relationship links with the concept of EI. So there are two stages to this thesis – it explores the role of intelligence and emotions in the process of therapy, it tries to define emotional intelligence and understand its unique position in the development of the therapeutic relationship.
In particular, it explores how certain emotional competencies can help the therapist accurately to perceive, understand, monitor and manage affective information in self and client, and how all these preceding intrapersonal competencies, attributes, and skills determine the processes and any therapeutic interventional judgments. As far as the attributes of therapists are concerned, counselling psychologists are expected to demonstrate ‘a high level of self-awareness and competence in relating the skills and knowledge of personal and interpersonal dynamics to the therapeutic context’ (BPS Division of Counselling Psychology Competency Statement, 2004).
Therefore the significance of researching the therapeutic relationship and its processes, and examining how it can enhance the therapist’s training skills and attributes, is clear (Stein and Lambert, 1995). The central focus sees to be the self awareness of the therapist which helps him to understand and empathize the client’s viewpoint and thus interact with the client in an emotionally compatible manner.
Empirical research on the therapeutic relationship in general and the
therapeutic alliance has been growing (Horvath, 2001). The results of these investigations have been summarized and synthesized in a number of significant studies (Horvath & Bedi, 2002; Martin, Gaske & Davis, 2000). Another perspective on the therapeutic relationship emerged in the 1950s. This school of thought considers the therapeutic relationship as real and based primarily on the here and now of the therapist-client encounter (Rogers, 1957; Yalom, 2002; Cooper, 2004; 2005; Spinelli, 1997; Strassser, 1999).
A substantial body of evidence suggests that the quality of the therapeutic relationship is one of the key factors in determining outcomes (Cooper, 2004; Norcoss, 2002). The consistent failure to find differences in the efficacy of different forms of psychotherapy, and therapy nonspecific factors, with a significant unexplained proportion of the variance fosters the attention of research on the therapeutic relationship (Lambert 1983). Norcross (2002), listed 11 elements and eight processes within the framework of therapeutic relationships: the alliance, cohesion, empathy, goal consensus and collaboration, positive regard, congruence, feedback, repair of alliance ruptures, self-disclosure, counter transference (management of) and relational interpretation. Although there is evidence that many of these measures overlap (Bachelor & Horvath, 1999), there are also important differences among them (Horvath & Bedi, 2002).
Weng et al (2008) discussed emotional intelligence in doctors and how importance it is in therapeutic relationships with patients. However it seems current studies have found limited evidence of any association between doctor emotional intelligence (EI) and the patient−doctor relationship (PDR) and it may be premature to say one affects the other or that the two are correlated. However this is the basis of this research paper that tries to understand how emotional intelligence of the therapist affects the therapeutic process and the therapeutic relationship. However Weng et al’s study explored the associations among doctor EI, patient trust and the PDR using multi-source and multi-level approaches. In their study, a total of 994 outpatients and 39 doctors representing 11 specialties were surveyed.
The results indicated that the levels or measures of EI self rated by doctors did not significantly correlate with any of the variables rated by the patients. However the ratings provided by others such as the nurserated PDR and the EI score for the doctor were found to be positively associated with patient trust and the success of the therapeutic relationship at a significant level.
The study indicated that multi-source assessment of doctor EI by nurses and patients for instance may be more objective and predictive than self-ratings given by doctors and this could help ascertain the correlations between patient trust, the PDR (patient doctor relationship), and patient satisfaction. The study results suggest emotional intelligence measures are important and emotional intelligence coaching for doctors and interdisciplinary collaboration among clinicians are needed to optimize the efficient and therapeutic function of PDR for patients (Weng et al, 2008).
Research suggests that certain therapist characteristics and behaviours are positively associated with quality alliances (e.g. warmth, flexibility, accurate interpretation; see Ackerman & Hilsenroth, 2003). Schaffer (1982) identified certain types of personal qualities and the interpersonal manner of the therapist such as warmth, empathy, likability and perceived sincerity. Certain characteristics and behaviours of therapists may also negatively affect the therapeutic alliance (e.g. rigidity, criticalness, inappropriate self-disclosure; see Ackerman & Hilsenroth, 2001).
Despite the number of studies on therapist characteristics pertinent to the development of a good alliance, unfortunately there is still insufficient evidence (Horvath, 2004; Horvath et al., 1993). A number of studies (Rogers, 1957; Truax and Carkuff, 1967; Grencavage and Norcross, 1990; Norcross, 2002; Ackerman & Hilsenroth, 2003; Hersoug et al., 2001; Mallinckrodt & Nelson, 1991) have concluded that certain commonalities and qualities of therapists play a major role in the therapeutic alliance. “Therapist qualities are among the most frequently studied contributions to psychotherapeutic change” (Beutler et al., 1994, p. 229) and yet it is still difficult to provide a discrete list of attributes of a good therapist that is supported by research evidence.
Grencavage and Norcross (1990) reviewed 50 articles and books in order to investigate common factors that facilitate therapeutic change. The authors cited the qualities of the therapist as one of four factors of therapeutic change. This factor encompasses personal attributes of the therapist such as warmth, positive attitudes, cultivating hope, being non- judgmental and accepting.
Ackerman & Hilsenroth (2003) suggest that the therapist’s personal qualities such as dependability, benevolence, responsiveness, and experience assist patients to trust with confidence their therapist to both understand and help them cope with the issues that brought them to therapy. The authors noted that a benevolent connection between the patient and therapist helps create a warm, accepting, and supportive therapeutic climate that could contribute to therapeutic change. Saunders (1999) reported that clients rated sessions highly when they felt understood by their therapist, when their therapist expressed her/himself well, and when their therapist was genuinely committed to the process. The authors concluded that a therapeutic relationship consists both of investment of personal energy and relational variables. Orlinsky & Howard (1986) conceptualised the therapeutic relationship as consisting of three dimensions: investment, understanding and acceptance. Bellon et al (2002) discussed personality traits of seventy-five physicians at primary health care centers in Spain and in the study the physicians described their thoughts and emotions when they attended to their patients.
Emotion scales were developed and tested by means of factor and reliability analysis. Younger physicians showed more positive emotions although feelings and negative emotions related to lack of control and irritation were found more in rural centres. There were many anxiety related emotions in physicians although found mostly in less self controlled physicians and guilt feelings in doctors were associated with lower perceived self ability to solve the patient’s problem and resulted in a poor physician patient relationship. Bellon et al concluded that physicians should be more self critical and self examining of their emotions as ‘Awareness and acceptance of their emotions may improve physicians’ emotional intelligence and physician–patient relationships’.
Neurodevelopmental research suggests that early experiences alter neural pathways and structures to create patterns of responding to everyday events. These patterns are primarily emotional (that is, evaluations regarding harms or benefits) and serve to regulate behavior at a preconscious level, one’s “primary” or “core” self that begins to be established in early infancy (Damasio, 1999; Stern, 1985). Most infant experience occurs in interpersonal relationships with multiple, repeated social interaction which are embodied in neuromotor pathways to create implicit relational knowing, implicit memories of how to do things with intimate others (Beebe, 1998; Lyons-Ruth, 1998; Siegel, 2001).
Memory researchers distinguish two memory systems, explicit memory, which is recall about an event, “is concerned with unique, concrete personal experiences dated in the rememberer’s past” (Tulving, 1983, p. 1). Implicit memory is self-relevant, context specific, and “concrete.” The differences between explicit and implicit memory can be extended to distinguish between two types of cognitive system: a rational system and an experiential system. The rational system is analytical, marked by conscious appraisal processes, encoded in symbols, and it operates in the realm of conscious control. The experiential system, on the other hand, is emotional, concrete, experienced passively, and mediated by “vibes” from past experiences rather than by explicit judgements and appraisals (Epstein, 1991). Infant experiences occur in interpersonal relationships, and their brain is attuned to social information and Multiple repeated social interactions and experiences.
These Multiple, repeated experiences become embodied in neuromotor pathways to create implicit relational knowing, implicit memories of how to do things with intimate others (Beebe, 1998; Lyons-Ruth, 1998; Siegel, 2001). Although we may never recall ‘explicitly’ what happened to us as infants, the experiences we had with our caregivers have a powerful and lasting impact on our implicit processes. These experiences . . . involve our emotions, our behaviors, our perceptions, and our mental models of the work of others and of ourselves. Implicit memories encode our earliest forms of learning about the world. Implicit memories directly shape our here-and-now experiences without clues to their origins from past events (Siegel, 2001, p. 74).
An important part of the regulatory implicit memory is the infant’s history of communication and emotion with significant others (Schore, 2001). Attachment theorists and Bowlby’s “internal working model” of attachment, explain how our communication with significant others which regulates form the schema of a regulatory implicit relational memory. This memory is acquired through experience with separation, reunion, and mutual availability issues in relation to attachment figures from infancy and early childhood.
The brain of the infant is experience-dependent and learns, via social
experience, to view the social environment as fundamentally threatening or fundamentally friendly (Panksepp, 2001). In these early attachment experiences and maturation of the regulatory implicit memory processes, the brain creates an intuitive, unconscious sense of one’s ability to regulate flows of emotion, either alone or in interpersonal relationships (Panksepp, 2001).
With a sense of security, infants are more likely to regulate their experiences of a variety of both positive and negative emotions because their social relational experience of these emotions has a history of effective resolution. The right hemisphere specifically provides the unconscious regulation one’s emotional synchrony with others. Regulatory implicit memories are a combination of early experiences rather than accurate records of single incidents (Stern, 1985; Epstein, 1991).
These generalizations create an unconscious predisposition to act or feel in particular ways in particular situations. These memories form our emotional intelligence by regulating the links between self and other through altering the possibility for emotional response before an emotion is ever experienced. They are unconscious and, under ordinary conditions, unable to be explicitly accessed. One of the goals of psychotherapy is to free up these unconscious memories of emotionally laden experiences. Some implicit memories are social relational because the contexts in which they were acquired and those in which the memory recurs are interpersonal situations, a process called implicit relational knowing (Beebe, 1998; Lyons-Ruth, 1998; Siegel, 2001).
The concept of EI is based on social intelligence identified by Thorndike in 1920 although there have been many other types of intelligence that have been discussed. These are abstract intelligence or the ability to understand and manipulate verbal and mathematical symbols, concrete intelligence, the ability to understand, recognize and manipulate objects and social intelligence the ability to relate to and understand people, relationships and social situations (Ruisel,1992).
Thorndike (1920) has defined social intelligence as the ability to understand men and women and to act wisely in human relations. The concept of intra and interpersonal intelligence are also related to social intelligence as interpersonal intelligence refers to the ability to understand other people, what motivates them and how to interact and cooperate with them for successful social interactions. Salesmen, politicians, teachers, physicians, PR officers and anyone with a high degree of social contact should have substantial levels of interpersonal intelligence. Intrapersonal intelligence is the self reflective part and is the ability to understand oneself and turning inward and the capacity to form a model of self helps to operate effectively in life.
Emotional intelligence is also social intelligence and has been defined as a type of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own and others' emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide one's thinking and actions" (Mayer & Salovey, 1993: 433)
History of Emotional intelligence and Social Intelligence
The construct of Emotional Intelligence has hitherto been advanced through separate realms. Salovey and Mayer’s (1990), ideas on EI arise from non-cognitive aspects of intelligence (Spearman 1927), and especially from Thorndike’s (1920) work on social intelligence and Gardner’s (1983) development of the constructs of interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence.
Due to a growing discomfort with unitary views of intelligence, authors such as Gardner (1983), Mayer & Salovey (1990), and Goleman (1995), have advanced pluralistic theories incorporating more factors than the traditional cognitive approaches (e.g. Spearman 1927; Carroll, 1993; Horn & Cattell, 1966). It is evidently clear, that, by the early 1990s, there was a long tradition of research on factors other than cognitive in helping people to succeed in both life and the workplace. Despite this previous work it was Salovey and Mayer (1990), which initiated a research program, intended to develop an EI model and EI valid measure.
Goleman (1995) was the most influential for launching the field of Emotional Intelligence. Goleman (1995) concept of emotional intelligence broadened it from specific psychological entity- a mental capacity for processing emotion- to a broader collection of personal qualities.
The development of an alternative notion of EI by Goleman (1995), led Bar-On (1997), to define EI as a mixture of emotion-related competencies, personality traits and dispositions (mixed model). This early model was followed by several alternative conceptions and translated quickly into standardised instruments for measuring individual difference in this construct (e.g. Mayer & Salovey 1997; Shutte et al., 1998; Bar-On, 1997; Mayer, Caruso and Salovey 1999; Goleman et al., 2000, Tapia 2001, Petrides and Furnham, 2001, Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso 2000).
Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso (2000), have described two competing models within the literature of emotional intelligence. The ability models, which focuses exclusively on mental abilities, and the mixed models, which mixes abilities with personality attributes. Pèrez, Petrides and Furnham (in press) advance the EI construct with the distinction between trait EI and ability EI. The authors in contrast to Mayer, Salovey & Caruso (2000) distinction between mixed and ability models of EI, proposes that the method used to measure the construct and not on the elements (facets) that models encompasses, has a direct impact on their operationalization.
Ability EI requires the use of maximum-performance tests with correct and incorrect responses and relates mainly on the sphere of cognitive ability, trait EI is measured through typical performance (self-report questionnaires) and associates to the area of personality (Petrides and Furnham 2000, 2001). Thus, an ability EI scale designed to measure, say, emotion perception would comprises items with correct and incorrect responses (Mayer, Salovey & Caruso 2000) whereas the respective trait EI scale would consist of typical self-report items such as “I am very clear about my own and other people’s feelings”.
Petrides and Furnham (2000) proposed that self-report inventories of EI are measures of trait EI regardless of whether they are predicated on a strictly cognitive model like Mayer and Salovey’s (1997). Petrides and Furnham (2000, 2001) construct their arguments between typical and maximum performance difference, and provide references to prior findings by citing Cronbach (1949), Hofstee (2001) to support EI as a disposition.
Since the time of Thorndike (1920), Garner (1983), and Mayer and Salovey (1990) a number of different conceptualizations of EI have appeared which have creating an interesting mixture of confusion, controversy and opportunity regarding the best approach to defining and measuring this construct. Petrides & Furnham (2001) postulated that the lack of a coherent operational framework resulted to numerous conflicting findings and the chaotic development of the construct.
Through content analysis they identified 15 distinct components shared to more than one salient EI model. Additionally, they proposed that EI should be regarded as a dispositional tendency (Trait EI) like personality, which can be assessed by self-report questionnaires and oppose the EI ability tests as developed by (Mayer et al 1999; Mayer & Salovey 1997; Mayer,Salovey, & Caruso 2000).
Despite considerable interest and numerous attempts to define and measure EI over the past years, these attempts have proved problematic (see Roberts et al. 2001). Emotional intelligence is a complex term that resists consensual clarification between two major concepts in psychology, that of emotion and intelligence. The complexity emerges when attempting to measure the construct, for example, it has been greatly debated if there is a possible way to determine a right or wrong way to feel in anyone given situation (Mayer & Salovey 1997).
Roberts, Zeidner, and Matthews (2001) raised concerns whether there is one set of correct answers for an EI test, or whether expert and consensus about answers diverge too much, whether such tests could be reliable, and whether the factor structure of such tests was fully understood and consistent with theory. Emotional intelligence models in the literature, encompass multitude qualities and creates difficulties in research (Roberts et al. 2001). Many of such qualities appear to overlap with well-established personality constructs such as the Big Five personality factor model (Davies et a. 1998; Petrides & Furnham 2001; Matthews et al. 2002).
Fluid and Crystallised theory and emotional intelligence
Horn and Catell’s (1966) theory of fluid and crystallized intelligence (Gf and Gc) is the second main theory with regards to cognitive abilities. The model derives its name from the two most extensively studied constructs-fluid reasoning (Gf) and acculturated knowledge (Gc).
The main distinguishing feature between these constructs is the amount of formal education and knowledge of the dominant culture necessary for performance on measures of these abilities. In the theory of fluid and crystallized ability, there seems to be enough (factorial) structure amongst primary mental abilities to define several distinct types of intelligence. The most compelling evidence for the distinctions between these constructs comes from factor analytic and developmental research (e.g. Stankov et al. 1995). Besides fluid (Gf) and Crystallized (Gc) ability, data within these fields verifies the presence of five more broad second-order factors such as broad visualization (GV), broad auditory function (Ga), short-term acquisition and retrieval (SAR), tertiary storage and retrieval (TSR), and the broad speediness function (Gs). Most research largely because of historical precedent have focused attention upon fluid and crystallized abilities due to the fact that they share in principle important common features.
The main distinguishing feature between Gf and Gc is the amount of formal education, thus Gf depends to a much smaller extent on formal education experiences than does Gc ( Horn 1998).
The theory of fluid and crystatallized intelligence is able to encompass additional constructs into its hierarchical family of concepts. In the case of placing EI within the Gf/Gc hierarchy Davies at al., (1998) suggests that emotion perception plausibly constitutes a legitimate primary mental ability.
EI may contribute to an additional primary mental ability to an overall crystallized ability (Matthews et al. 2002). This is based on the assumption that since the appraisal, expression, regulation, and utilization of emotions, a core definition of EI (Salovey & Mayer 1990), develops through experience and social interaction.
Unfortunately, the work of these early pioneers was overlooked until 1983 when Howard Gardner began to write about "multiple intelligence" and the next half century of psychology, dominated as it was by the behaviourist paradigm on one hand and the IQ testing movement on the other, turned its back on ideas related to EI. Still, even Wechsler (1952), as he continued to develop his widely used IQ test, defined ‘affective capacities’ as part of the range of human capabilities. He defined intelligence as the overall capacity of the individual to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with his environment.
Howard Gardner (1983, 1999) has proposed broadening our notion of intelligence so that it incorporates many significant faculties that have traditionally been beyond its scope. The psychometric tradition invoked by Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso (2000), Gardner argues, is too narrow.
The psychometric tradition focuses on intellectual aptitudes that can be measured by standardized tests, but performance on such tests does not necessarily translate into success in school or in life. In expanding the range of significant aptitudes for such success, Gardner (1999) defines an intelligence as “the biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture” (p. 33–34).
Howard Gardner (1993), multiple intelligence theory, is often referred to as a system model. This theorist view intelligence as a highly complex system and include concepts that previous structural models of human cognitive ability would not consider as intelligence.
Unlike Spearman (1927), and other advocates of general intelligence (e.g., Horn & Cattell’s 1966; Jensen, 1998), Gardner (1983) argued against the strictive nature of such human intelligence models. Gardner’s model of multiple intelligences opposes traditional methods that view intelligence as unitary, and perceives intelligence to contain seven distinct domains. Gardner notes, ‘…An intelligence is the ability to solve problems, or to create products, that are valued within one or more cultural settings...’ (Gardner, 1983, p. 31). Thus, he suggests that humans exist in a multitude of contexts and that these contexts call for the development of different types of intelligence.
Using his experiences with brain-damaged veterans, and with developing minds of children, the author attacks the notion of generalized intelligence. Gardner’s genesis of Multiple intelligence theory arose when he studied stroke victims. Some victims who lost their musical abilities could still talk and some victims who lost their linguistic ability might still be able to sing. Based on such findings, Gardner contends that multiple intelligence exist due to multiple neural modules, therefore the modularity of intelligence provide evidence that a person’s ability on one area does not predict their ability in another. It was after understanding this when Gardner came to the realization ... "As long as you can lose one ability while others are spared, you cannot just have a single intelligence. You have several intelligences." (Checkley, 1997,p. 13).
Gardner instead identified seven (now nine) intelligences, or domains of intellectual competence each hypothetically dissociable from the others, and each hypothetically associated with a different brain system. Each of the seven intelligences emerges from Gardner’s subjective classification of human abilities using according to his opinion what constitutes important scientific criteria. These intelligences were verbal-linguistic, mathematical-logical, visual-spatial, bodily-kinaesthetic, musical-rhythmic, interpersonal, and intrapersonal (Gardner 1983, 1993).
These domains can be defined below along with a brief description of the most salient aspects of each construct. Linguistic Intelligence is the ability to use language to excite, please, convince, stimulate or convey information. Logical-mathematical Intelligence is the ability to explore patterns, categories, and relationships by manipulating objects or symbols, and to experiment in a controlled orderly way. Spatial Intelligence is the ability to perceive and mentally manipulate a form or object, and to perceive and create tension, balance, and composition in a visual or spatial display. Musical Intelligence is the ability to enjoy, perform, or compose a musical piece. Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is the ability to use fine and gross motor skills in sports, the performing arts, or arts and craft production; Intrapersonal Intelligence is the ability to gain access to and understand one's inner feelings, dreams, and ideas. Finally, Interpersonal Intelligence is the ability to get along with and understand others. Gardner proposed that "intrapersonal" and "interpersonal" intelligences are as important as the type of intelligence typically measured by IQ and related tests. However, in 1997 Gardner added an eighth intelligence type to the list, naturalist intelligence, followed by a ninth type two years later, existentialist intelligence (Gardner 1999).
He suggested that Naturalist Intelligence is when people have abilities in observing, understanding and identifying environmental patterns, cycles and changes. Existentialist Intelligence is the ability to bring clarity and understanding to the fundamental spiritual and philosophical questions of human existence. However, there are still no reliable and valid psychological instruments to measure either Naturalistic or Existentialist Intelligences.
In a latter attempt, Gardner (1999), expands the range of significant aptitudes for success and defines intelligence as “the biopsychological potential to process information that can be activated in a cultural setting to solve problems or create products that are of value in a culture” (p. 33–34). Gardner adds several new items to the standard list of criteria for an intelligence. His criteria suggest further arguments for considering EI a distinct variety of intelligence.
Psychometric g and its implications for emotional intelligence
There has been many debates over the actual existence of emotional intelligence, as well as whether on not it is indeed an “intelligence” (Davies, Stankov & Roberts, 1998; Mayer & Salovey, 1993; Roberts et al. 2001).
Roberts et al., (1999) have shown that a large number of non cognitive variables (e.g., athleticism, openness, absence of neuroticism, and psychosis) each correlate positively with intelligence tests yet do not represent a functioning unity.
Scarr (1989) described a tradition that ‘lumps all manner of human virtues under the banner of several intelligences’ (1989, p.76). The author by referring to social competence as an example noted that getting along well with others involves extraversion, self confidence, low anxiety, and social perceptiveness. Scarr (1989) disagrees on defining “goodness in human relationships” as intelligence or personality traits and special talents. The author also argues that there are many human virtues not sufficiently recognised and rewarded in society, such as goodness in human relationship, encompassing of traits of sociability, trustworthiness and warmth but although all of these correlate with intelligence, they are not intelligence (Scarr 1989).
Mayer & Salovey (1993) defending the construct of EI as actual intelligence and not a highly valued social trait, described earlier by Scarr’s (1989) “goodness in human relationships”, they explain that knowing what another person is feeling involves considerable thinking and mental skills therefore could be considered as intelligence (e.g., being able to figure our one’s own and other’s emotions) from preferred ways of behaving (e.g., being sociable or warm).
Mayer, Caruso and Salovey (2000) argue that intelligence such as emotional intelligence must meet strict criteria in order to be judged as a true intelligence. The authors argue that their model of ability EI meet three criteria of intelligence, the conceptual, correlational, and developmental. The first, conceptual criteria reflect mental performance rather than simply preferred ways of behaving, or a person's self-esteem, or non-intellectual attainments (Mayer & Salovey, 1993; Scarr, 1989). Also mental performance should clearly measure the concept in question, i.e., emotion-related abilities. The second, correlational criteria, describe empirical standards: specifically, that an intelligence should describe a set of closely related abilities that are similar to, but distinct from, mental abilities described by already-established intelligences (Carroll, 1993; Neisser et al., 1996).
The developmental criterion, is that intelligence develops with age and experience, and is based on the groundbreaking work by Binet and Simon at the beginning of century (Mayer, Caruso and Salovey 2000).
Spearman (1923) proposed what he believed to be three fundamental qualitative principles of cognition. The first, apprehension of experience, is what today might be called the encoding of stimuli. It involves perceiving the stimuli and their properties. The second principle, eduction of relations, is what today might be labeled inference. It is the inferring of a relation between two or more concepts. The third principle, eduction of correlates, is what today might be called application. It is the application of an inferred rule to a new situation. These principles could be used to construct tests where ‘conventional’ (e.g., verbal) stimuli are replaced with emotions, however it is not so much whether an item is given in verbal, numerical, or spatial form that set out what construct is being measured, but rather the underlying processes that are being assessed.
Petrides (2OO1) argues that in order to perceive the concept of EI from a cognitive perspective it has to fulfil three fundamental laws. The conceptual level it should be free from personality-related variables such as empathy and optimism and defined purely as a cognitive ability. On the empirical level it would have to correlate with already well established intelligences but at the same time sustaining a significant proportion of incremental variance. On the developmental level it should demonstrate an increase with age.
Davies et al. (1998) found that certain self-report measures of Emotional intelligence tests tend not to be heavily g-loaded and share negative correlations with traditional psychometric tests.
Similarly Ciarrochi et al., (1999) found performance-based measures of EI not to correlate with the Raven’s Progressive Matrices Test, and (Petrides & Furnham 2001) reported that emotional intelligence does not significantly correlated with cognitive abilities.
The study of human cognitive abilities lies at something of a crossroads. This divergence may be due to the fact that intelligence is a complex and many-faceted phenomenon that admits a wide variety of approaches. A simple observation of intelligence demonstrates the many and varied facets of this phenomenon, given its implication in all individual and social behaviours, it is this very ubiquitousness that gives rise to one of the most important problems regarding the formulation of a theory of intelligence, in terms of whether it should be considered as a single or multiple ability.
The concept of emotional intelligence becomes relevant to the therapeutic relationship as it is a process of identifying, the feelings in our self and the client, and manages those aspects of ourselves that carries the potential for pre-reflective complicity with the client’s destructive tendencies in the therapeutic encounter. This self -awareness enables the therapist to take responsibility for their pre-reflective contribution to the feelings transferred from the client to them and then pass it back to the client therapeutically appropriate.
Emotional intelligence was described an ability to appraise oneself and others’ emotions, an ability to regulate one’s own emotions, and an ability to use emotions to solve problems (Salovey & Mayer 1997). The therapist is being placed in a similar psychological dilemma, within the therapeutic relationship what is of interest is the process in which the therapist recognize the psychological act of transferring unbearable feelings in another as akin to the process where the therapist needs to be aware of what is in us that is evoked the feeling, and how our self-awareness or lack of it ultimately shapes the therapeutic project. EI has been defined as the ability to understand, use and manage emotions and EI skills are measured using an objective, ability-based assessment, and the most common is the Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT).
The construct of Emotional Intelligence has hitherto been advanced through separate realms. Salovey and Mayer’s (1990), ideas on EI arise from non cognitive aspects of intelligence (Spearman 1927), and especially from Thorndike’s (1920) work on social intelligence and Gardner’s (1983) development of the constructs of interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence.
Three broad perspectives of emotional intelligence can be distinguished in the literature. The ability model is provided by Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso (2000) which focuses exclusively on mental abilities. The second theoretical perspective is the mixed models, which mixes emotional abilities mixed together with a variety of personality traits and dispositions (e.g. Bar-On, 1997, Goleman 1995).
The third perspective is the trait approach (Petrides and Furnham (2000) claim that EI should be examined within the framework of personality (trait EI), and not that of intelligence.
Salovey and Mayer’s (1990) ideas on EI arise from non-cognitive aspects of intelligence (Spearman, 1927) and especially from Thorndike’s (1920) work on social intelligence and Gardner’s (1983) development of the constructs of interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligence. Goleman (1995) was the most influential in launching research on EI. Goleman’s (1995) concept broadened EI from a specific psychological entity – a mental capacity for processing emotion – to a broader collection of personal qualities.
The development of an alternative notion of EI by Goleman (1995) led Bar-On (1997) to define EI as a mixture of emotion-related competencies, personality traits and dispositions (mixed model). This early model was followed by several alternative conceptions, which translated quickly into standardised instruments to measure individual differences in this construct (e.g. Mayer & Salovey, 1997; Shutte et al., 1998; Bar-On, 1997; Mayer, Caruso and Salovey, 1999; Goleman et al., 2000; Tapia, 2001; Petrides and Furnham, 2001).
The development of two scales for deductive and inductive measurement of emotional intelligence (EI) has been studied, based on the identification of the psychometric properties of the scales. Askerjordet et al (2009) discussed the importance of data collection for emotional intelligence that involved a literature search on emotional intelligence; and psychometric testing of the scales of inductive and deductive measurements.
The development of the concept of emotional intelligence has been based on a model of emotional intelligence developed by Salovey and Mayer (1990). The model was derived from 62 items with factor analysis of responses of 346 participants on a 33 item scale. The 33 item measures showed internal consistency and retest reliability (Schutte et al, 1998). They showed correlations with attention to feelings, clarity of feelings, mood repair, optimism and impulse control. The model predicted college grades, EI was found to be significantly higher for therapists than for the clients and emotional skills were higher in females than in males and were not related to cognitive ability or experience.
Buontempo et al (2008) discussed the relationship between emotional
intelligence and recall bias with the ability to understand emotions, a central element of emotional intelligence. EI was however inversely related to the ease of recall bias, and the relationship between EI and recall bias is considered to be mediated by participants' private self-focused attention. Emotions and Intelligence Radford (1998) discusses emotions as inner and subjective phenomena discovered through a process of introspection and self awareness. Understanding emotions reveals a process of self-exploration conducted through a combination of dialogue, so that people can talk about their feelings and explain them, and the process itself would be akin to therapy. Understanding and examining emotions would be closely related to intelligence/literacy. It is essential to understand emotions in the context of objective understanding, as also in terms of language and behaviours, so that emotions can be defined as public or objective open to common experience.
Intrapersonal intelligence is defined as a capacity to ‘access one’s own
feelings and one’s range of affects or emotions: the capacity instantly to effect discrimination among these feelings and to label them, to enmesh them in symbolic codes, to draw upon them as a means of understanding and guiding one’s behaviour’ (p.239). Interpersonal intelligence is defined as ‘the ability to notice and make distinctions among other individuals and, in particular, among their moods, temperaments, motivations, and intentions’ (1983, p.239). This intelligence includes the ‘capacity to place one’s self into the skin of specific other individuals’ (p.250).
Ekman & Davidson (1994) suggested that it was possible to have an
emotion without conscious awareness, and that emotions can be considered as states of mind that dominate consciousness and other mental processes. Akin to this notion is that of Peikoff (1991) who noted that emotions are the form in which one experiences automatized value judgments. Peikoff furthermore asserts that emotions entail an automatic process of unconsciously held knowledge and values. Emotions reflect stored beliefs about relations with objects, people or situations, and one’s unconscious appraisal of them based on one’s values. Every emotion reflects a specific type of value judgment such as joy, is the outcome of achievement and fear, and is the automatic response to a threat.
Despite the fact that Freud (1915) accepted the unconscious nature of love, hate and anger but rejected the idea of unconscious emotions, he also noted the unconscious effect, unconscious beliefs with emotional implications, and unconscious emotional processing (Clore, 1994).
Petrides et al (2007) have provided efforts of an investigation of the criterion and incremental validity of trait emotional intelligence (trait EI or trait emotional self-efficacy). Trait emotional intelligence is a concept further that the EI concept and has been defined as a constellation of emotion-related self-perceptions and dispositions located at the lower levels of personality hierarchies (Petrides & Furnham, 2001). This means trait emotional intelligence extracts that individual traits in emotional intelligence and finally considers them
comprehensively to provide a definition of emotional intelligence based on these traits.
Petrides et al conducted two studies 1 and 2 (N=166 and 354, respectively) and the studies show that trait EI is related to measures of rumination, life satisfaction, depression, dysfunctional attitudes, and coping or adjustment (Petrides et al, 2007). Most relationships remained statistically significant. In another Study 3 (N=212) trait EI has been shown to be related to depression and nine personality disorders. Petrides et al suggested that trait EI has a role to play in personality, clinical, and social psychology, and tend to affect the basic dimensions of personality and mood.
Salovey & Mayer (1990) have suggested that EI could be considered a subdivision of inter and intrapersonal intelligences, and involves five types of abilities:
Self-awareness: Observing oneself and recognizing feelings and states of the mind.
Managing personal emotions: Managing feelings to make them appropriate; realizing the cause of the feeling; and successfully managing fears and anxieties, anger, and
Motivating oneself and one’s emotions: Channeling emotions for a goal; self control and control of emotions; managing and delaying impulses.
Empathy towards others: Sensitivity to other people’s feelings and perspectives, appreciating the differences in people’s emotions
Handling relationships positively: Social competence and skills, managing emotions in others.
EI, is also relevant to Daniel Stern ‘implicit procedural knowledge’. Stern asserts that much of the change that occurs in the therapeutic relationship arises from the implicit knowledge evolving within the relationships between the therapists and the patient. The author claims that the patient’s awareness of implicit memories is intersubjectively shared within the process of the therapeutic relationship and that is a potent mechanism for therapeutic change. In the company of an emotionally available therapist, these memories can be re-experienced and understood. Several aspects and dimensions of EI emotional have been measured considering related concepts, such as social skills and interpersonal competence, psychological maturity and emotional awareness and these concepts are related to emotional intelligence.
The concept of emotional intelligence has always existed in rudimentary form as scattered in several ideas of "social development," "social and emotional learning," and "personal intelligence," all aimed at "raising” the level of social and emotional competence" (Goleman, 1995: 262). However there was no integrated central concept of emotional intelligence which could bring all these associated concepts under one comprehensive category.
Social scientists have also been trying to relate this new concept of Emotional Intelligence with other phenomena, e.g., leadership (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1995), group performance (Williams & Sternberg, 1988), individual performance, interpersonal/social exchange, managing change, and conducting performance evaluations (Goleman, 1995). According to Goleman (1995: 160), "Emotional intelligence, the skills that help people harmonize, should become increasingly valued as a workplace asset in the years to come."
Mayer-Salovey ability model, emotional intelligence consists of four separate elements ;
• Identifying emotions: the ability to perceive and recognize the
proper emotions in oneself and others as also in situations, fiction
• Using emotions: the ability to generate or feel emotions to
communicate feelings, or to use them in thought processes and in
• Understanding emotions: the ability to understand emotions
conveyed by others so that the emotional meanings are derived
• Managing emotions: the ability to regulate personal emotions to promote personal understanding, relationships and emotional
According to Salovey and Mayer, the four branches of the model are, "arranged from more basic psychological processes to higher, more psychologically integrated processes. For example, the lowest level branch concerns the (relatively) simple abilities of perceiving and expressing emotion. In contrast, the highest level branch concerns the conscious, reflective regulation of emotion" (1997).
Thus these four categories are distinguished on the basis of complexity as managing and controlling emotions would involve more complex emotional processes when compared with identifying emotions. These implicit memories in order to be substantiated, require a specific type of context similar to one in which the memory was acquired. Within the therapeutic relationship the memory occurs spontaneously when the relationship between the subject and context is reconstituted.
Psychological difficulties are understood as implicit memories that manifest as symptoms under stress and are difficult to make them explicit because they lack an interpersonal context that could facilitates integration into the autobiography of the self. These implicit memories, remain split off, dissociated from the conscious self and though the therapeutic relationship they can re-enacted intersubjectively and then facilitate their integration into the autobiographical self.
Emotional Competence Distinguishing between emotional competence and emotional intelligence, EI has been described as a form of intelligence that deals with managing the emotional aspects of life and involves the ability to recognize and manage one's own and others people’s emotions. EI also helps to motivate oneself and restrain impulses, and allows individuals to handle interpersonal relationships effectively and with least friction (Goleman, 1995).
Emotional Competence on the other hand is "A learned capability based on emotional intelligence that results in outstanding performance at work. Our emotional intelligence determines our potential for learning the practical skills based on the five elements : self-awareness, motivation, self-regulation, empathy, and adeptness in relationships. Our emotional competence shows how much of that potential we have translated into on-the-job capabilities."
The main focus of this thesis is on trait emotional intelligence (Petrides & Furnham 2001), which refers to dispositional information (trait EI), collected through self report typical performance measures.
The authors draw a distinction between abilities and traits in order to categorise intelligence as ability versus traits which they refer to as dispositions. Given this overview of the theories associated with Emotional intelligence, it is interesting to explore in more depth how the topic has been investigated in the literature.
Relations within clinical settings.
In recent years, there has been an increasing interest in the theoretical development of the concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) in an attempt to investigate the incremental validity of the concept beyond intelligence and/or personality (Fox & Spector 2000; Izard 2002; Petrides & Furnham 2003; Van der Zee et al. 2002) in various areas of human transactions. These include life satisfaction and social network size and quality and negative associations with loneliness, (Saklofske, Austin & Minski 2003), psychological distress, (Slaski & Cartwright 2002), depression and mental health, (Dawda & Hart 2000; Taylor 2001), nurses and therapeutic relationship (Cadman & Brewer 2001, Simpson & Keegan 2002). EI has been shown to have incremental validity in the prediction of life satisfaction, several studies investigated trait EI under the general concept of ‘emotional intelligence’ and reported that EI accounts for individual differences in life satisfaction (Bar-On 1997; Martinez-Pons 1997).
EI has been theoretically and empirically related to many relevant psychological constructs. In particular, it has been linked to different emotionrelated variables, such as alexithymia, optimism, and mood (Mikolajczak, Luminet, & Menil, 2006; Petrides, Pérez-González, & Furnham, 2007) Trait EI has been related to peer-ratings of behavior (Mavroveli, Petrides, Rieffe, & Bakker, 2007; Petrides, Frederickson, & Furnham, 2004; Petrides, Sangareau, Furnham, & Frederickson, 2006), adaptive coping and depressive affect (Mavroveli et al., 2007), leadership (Villanueva & Sánchez, 2007), happiness (Chamorro-Premuzic, Bennett, & Furnham, 2007), emotion regulation (Mikolajczak, Nelis, Hansenne, & Quoidbach, 2008), and affective decision making (Sevdalis, Petrides, & Harvey, 2007).
Role of Emotional Intelligence
Emotional Intelligence can play a significant role in adjustment. Adolescents who have engaged in self harm have become the focus of research from the perspective of emotional intelligence. There is an association between self harm, emotional intelligence and psychological disorders. Several studies have investigated the role of situational factors in self harm and on the role of dispositional factors although there is a lack of empirical evidence. Self-harm often functions as an emotion regulation strategy, it is assumed that personality traits capturing individual differences in emotion regulation and coping should be particularly relevant predictors. Being able to predict such behaviours is indeed a particularly important first step in their prevention. Emotional intelligence aims to capture individual differences in the extent to which people experience, attend to, identify, understand, regulate, and utilize their emotions and those of others.
Ciarocchi et al (2000) discussed the critical role of the Emotional Intelligence (EI) construct (also described as the ability to perceive, understand, and manage emotions). The construct of EI is measured by the Multi-factor Emotional Intelligence Scale (MEIS as developed by Salovey and Mayer). The MEIS scale has been largely acknowledged as the standard measuring scale for emotional intelligence and Ciarocchi et al (2000) studied EI by administering the test to Australian undergraduates along with a battery of other tests for IQ, personality, and other theoretically relevant criterion measures, to include scores on life satisfaction and relationship quality. After mood induction, it was tested whether people with higher EI actually could manage their moods better and also whether they could prevent their moods from biasing social judgment processes.
Most researchers have claimed that EI is not related to IQ as much as it is related to personality traits and measures of empathy, life satisfaction. EI has been related to people’s ability to control and manage mood and emotions and from preventing individuals from biasing their social judgments due to mood changes. However this study by Ciarocchi et al suggested that although EI construct is useful in predicting emotions and emotional reactions, the traditional IQ could also play an important role in emotional processes. Emotional intelligence tends to play a role in emotional well being and research has shown that the two could be linked. Emotional intelligence helps in understanding, managing and regulating one’s emotions and other people’s emotions and emotional well being is about building positive mood and high self esteem.
Schutte et al (2002) investigated the links between emotional intelligence and mood and emotional intelligence and self esteem. Higher emotional intelligence has been associated with positive moods and high self esteem and studies also determined the role of emotional intelligence in mood and self esteem regulation and showed that individuals with higher self esteem less of a decrease in positive mood even with negative state induction and showed more of an increase in positive mood induction although not in self esteem with positive state induction.
In one study by Palmer et al (2002) the role of emotional intelligence in life satisfaction has been discussed. This would be akin to the link between emotional intelligence and emotional well being as life satisfaction would be dependent on emotional well being and vice versa.
Trait EI versus Ability EI
Petrides and Furnham (2000) contest the distinction between mixed and ability models of EI (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso2000), which is based on whether or not, a theoretical model encompasses cognitive abilities and personality traits. Alternatively these authors propose definitive categories that incorporate the different conceptions and measurement approaches to EI that have been currently developed.
Petrides and Furnham (2000) suggested trait emotional intelligence and ability emotional intelligence are psychometrically different. Petride’s and Furnham’s distinction are reminiscent of Cronbach’s (1949) and Hofstee’s (2001) words on the construct validity in psychological tests, and map EI as two distinct constructs based on typical and maximum performance measurements, in order to support EI as a disposition.
Petrides and Furnham (2000) differentiate between trait EI, as models that draw heavily on personality variables (e.g., Bar-On, 1997, Goleman 1995, 2000), thus, suggesting EI should be examined within the framework of personality (trait EI), and not that of intelligence. On the other hand the measurement of EI through maximum-performance tests, can only be assessed as a cognitive ability (ability EI).
This work has been very important in organising the literature on EI into two distinct constructs. Petrides and Furnham (2001) conceptualisation of EI, outline a fundamental distinction between two separate constructs rather than two different ways of measuring the same construct and suggest that each construct is grounded on the method of operationalisation. In other words if a researcher is interested in measuring actual cognitive abilities then is not appropriate to use self-report questionnaires, and if a researcher is interested in assessing self-perceptions is not appropriate to use maximum performance tests.
According to Petrides and Furnham the importance of such a distinction is absolutely essential because the measurement, validation, and development of a construct depends on the domain within which it has been conceptualised. Thus, self-report inventories of EI are measures of trait EI regardless of whether they are predicated on a strictly cognitive model like Mayer and Salovey's (1997). Brackett and Mayer (2003) found this to be the case. They compared two self-report measures, the EQ-I (Bar-On, 1997) and the SREIT (Schutte et al., 1998), and found them to be weakly related to the MSCEIT (Mayer et al., 2000a), which is an ability measure of emotional intelligence.
Therefore, the self-report measures and the ability measure appear to be measuring different dimensions of the same individual. Pèrez et al. (in press) argue that self-report measures of EI tend to intercorrelate strongly regardless if they are based on mixed or ability models. The author’s criticise Mayer et al.’s (2000) distinction among mixed versus ability models for disregarding the psychometric theory and the importance of the measurement methods. Mixed models (Bar-On 1997, Goleman 1995) have ignored such an important consideration and have further confused the areas of EI research. Mixed model ‘mixes’ cognitive abilities and personality traits, claim to measure the same construct, however, measurement method defines the model (Petrides and Furnham 2001). The term ‘mixed models’ is vague and ambiguous and therefore a better defined term as trait EI, is more appropriate, given the consensual distinctions in psychology between ‘abilities’ and ‘traits’ (Petrides and Furnham 2001, 2003).
Pèrez, Petrides and Furnham (2004) claim as the first step in the operationalization of EI construct, the validation of the sampling domains on which the various EI measures (trait and ability) are based. However, nearly all models, questionnaires, and tests have ignored this fundamental clarification, which in turn led to arbitrarily defined sampling domains( Pèrez et al. in press).
Pèrez, Petrides and Furnham (2004) illustrate in Table 5, a summary of the most salient EI models, along with the main facets that they cover.
Table 5: Summary of EI Models.
Note: This table cannot always include all the elements and relevant information in the various models.
Interested readers are encouraged to consult the original sources.
Source: Perez, J. C., Petrides, K. V., & Furnham, A. (in press)
Petrides and Furnham (2001) argued that trait models of emotional intelligence focus on behavioural consistency across situations, assess typical behaviour, rather than maximal behaviour, and include concepts such as optimism or impulsivity. This behavioural dispositions, is measured through self-report, and ought to be examined in relation to temperament (Petrides, Furnham 2003).
In contrast, ability model of emotional intelligence are concerned specifically with actual abilities and are more precise in the relationships between emotional intelligence and cognitive ability. Petrides et al. (2004) summarise the main distinctions between trait EI and ability EI constructs in the Table 6.
Table 6: Trait EI versus ability EI
Note: g=general cognitive ability; EQ-i= Emotional Quotient Inventory( Bar-On, 1997); SEIS=Schutte Emotional Intelligence Scale (Schutte et al., 1998); TEIQue=Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire(e.
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