Thursday, April 23, 2009

Emotions as an information source

In “Risk as Feelings”, Loewenstein, Weber and Hsee argue that these processes of decision making include ‘anticipatory emotions’ and ‘anticipated emotions’: “anticipatory emotions are immediate visceral reactions (fear, anxiety, dread) to risk and uncertainties”; “anticipated emotions are typically not experienced in the immediate present but are expected to be experienced in the future” (disappointment or regret). Both types of emotions serve as additional source of information.
For example, research shows that happy decision-makers are reluctant to gamble. The fact that a person is happy would make him or her decide against gambling, since he or she would not want to undermine his or her happy feeling. This can be looked upon as "mood maintenance".

According to the information hypothesis, feelings during the decision process affects people's choices, in cases where feelings are experienced as reactions to the imminent decision. If feelings are attributed to an irrelevant source to the decision at hand, their impact is reduced or eliminated.

Emotions in Decision Making

One of the most common theories in the field of decision making is the expected utility theory (EU). Expected utility theory models decision making as a consideration and weighing of the severity and likelihood of the possible outcomes of different alternatives. The integration of this information is made through some type of expectation, based calculus (cognitive activity) which enables us to make a decision. In this theory, psychological processes and the decision maker’s emotional state were ignored and not taken into account as inputs to the expectation based calculus.

Measurement of the Trait EI model

There are many self-report measures of EI, including the EQi, the Swinburne University Emotional Intelligence Test (SUEIT),the Schutte Self-Report Emotional Intelligence Test (SSEIT), a measure by Tett, Fox, and Wang (2005). From the perspective of the trait EI model, none of these assess intelligence, abilities, or skills (as their authors often claim), but rather, they are limited measures of trait emotional intelligence (Petrides, Furnham, & Mavroveli, 2007). The Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue) is an open-access measure that was specifically designed to measure the construct comprehensively and is currently available in 15 languages.

The TEIQue provides an operationalization for Petrides and colleagues' model that conceptualizes EI in terms of personality. The test encompasses 15 subscales organized under four factors: Well-Being, Self-Control, Emotionality, and Sociability. The psychometric properties of the TEIQue were investigated in a recent study on a French-Speaking Population, where it was reported that TEIQue scores were globally normally distributed and reliable.

The researchers also found TEIQue scores were unrelated to nonverbal reasoning (Raven’s matrices), which they interpreted as support for the personality trait view of EI (as opposed to a form of intelligence). As expected, TEIQue scores were positively related to some of the Big Five personality traits (extraversion, agreeableness, openness, conscientiousness) as well as inversely related to others(alexithymia, neuroticism).

The Trait EI model

Petrides and colleagues (see also Petrides, 2009) proposed a conceptual distinction between the ability based model and a trait based model of EI. Trait EI is "a constellation of emotion-related self-perceptions located at the lower levels of personality". In lay terms, trait EI refers to an individual's self-perceptions of their emotional abilities. This definition of EI encompasses behavioral dispositions and self perceived abilities and is measured by self report, as opposed to the ability based model which refers to actual abilities, which have proven highly resistant to scientific measurement. Trait EI should be investigated within a personality framework. An alternative label for the same construct is trait emotional self-efficacy.

The trait EI model is general and subsumes the Goleman and Bar-On models discussed above. Petrides et al. are major critics of the ability-based model and the MSCEIT arguing that they are based on "psychometrically meaningless" scoring procedures (e.g., Petrides, Furnham, & Mavroveli, 2007).

The conceptualization of EI as a personality trait leads to a construct that lies outside the taxonomy of human cognitive ability. This is an important distinction in as much as it bears directly on the operationalization of the construct and the theories and hypotheses that are formulated about it.

The Bar-On model of Emotional-Social Intelligence (ESI)

Bar-On (2006) developed one of the first measures of EI that used the term Emotion Quotient. He defines emotional intelligence as being concerned with effectively understanding oneself and others, relating well to people, and adapting to and coping with the immediate surroundings to be more successful in dealing with environmental demands. Bar-On posits that EI develops over time and that it can be improved through training, programming, and therapy. Bar-On hypothesizes that those individuals with higher than average E.Q.’s are in general more successful in meeting environmental demands and pressures. He also notes that a deficiency in EI can mean a lack of success and the existence of emotional problems. Problems in coping with one’s environment are thought, by Bar-On, to be especially common among those individuals lacking in the subscales of reality testing, problem solving, stress tolerance, and impulse control. In general, Bar-On considers emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence to contribute equally to a person’s general intelligence, which then offers an indication of one’s potential to succeed in life. However, doubts have been expressed about this model in the research literature (in particular about the validity of self-report as an index of emotional intelligence) and in scientific settings (see, e.g., Kluemper, 2008).

Mixed models of EI

The Emotional Competencies (Goleman) model

The model introduced by Daniel Goleman focuses on EI as a wide array of competencies and skills that drive leadership performance. Goleman's model outlines four main EI constructs:

1. Self-awareness — the ability to read one's emotions and recognize their impact while using gut feelings to guide decisions.
2. Self-management — involves controlling one's emotions and impulses and adapting to changing circumstances.
3. Social awareness — the ability to sense, understand, and react to others' emotions while comprehending social networks.
4. Relationship management — the ability to inspire, influence, and develop others while managing conflict.

Goleman includes a set of emotional competencies within each construct of EI. Emotional competencies are not innate talents, but rather learned capabilities that must be worked on and developed to achieve outstanding performance. Goleman posits that individuals are born with a general emotional intelligence that determines their potential for learning emotional competencies. Goleman's model of EI has been criticized in the research literature as mere "pop psychology" (Mayer, Roberts, & Barsade, 2008).

Defining emotional intelligence

Substantial disagreement exists regarding the definition of EI, with respect to both terminology and operationalizations. One attempt toward a definition was made by Salovey and Mayer (1990) who defined EI as “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.”
Despite this early definition, there has been confusion regarding the exact meaning of this construct. The definitions are so varied, and the field is growing so rapidly, that researchers are constantly amending even their own definitions of the construct.

At the present time, there are three main models of EI:
Ability EI models
Mixed models of EI
Trait EI model