What is Emotional Intelligence and how is it used in personnel selection: A Cascade Model

Are you emotional? Are you intelligent? Or are you emotionally intelligent?

There is a midpoint between intelligence and emotions, the so called emotional intelligence (EI). We can define it as “the ability to carry out accurate reasoning about emotions and the ability to use emotions and emotional knowledge to enhance thought (Mayer et al. in Joseph and Newman, 2010) and to succeed in coping with environmental demands and pressures (Bar-on in Joseph and Newman, 2010)”.

In the article “ Emotional Intelligence: An Integrative Meta-Analysis and Cascading Model”, by Joseph and Newman (2010), the link between emotional intelligence and job performance is explained, and practical advice for using EI measures in personnel selection is given.

So be emotional, be intelligent and keep reading!


A Cascading Model of Emotional Intelligence

There are different models of EI but, probably, the most complete is the Joseph and Newman’s Cascading Model (2010). Let’s see if you agree. We can decompose emotional intelligence into four parts and think about it as a river with cascades: at the top we have the emotion perception; then we have the first cascade that flows into the emotion understanding; the second cascade flows into the emotion regulation and, finally, all the water flows into performance, with a last waterfall.

There are also secondary tributaries: the conscientiousness flows into emotion perception, cognitive ability into emotion understanding and emotional stability into emotion regulation; all three also flow directly into the job performance.

The two authors did a meta-analysis and confirmed this model; they did another meta-analysis to find the best EI measures to predict job performance, and to check if there are differences based on gender and race. What they found? How can you apply their results? The findings in the next, and last section.


Takeaways for your practice

EI measures can help you in the personnel selection and training, but first you will need some advice. First, choose your Emotional Intelligence measures carefully. There are two different EI measures based on two different senses: the ability-based EI tests, where emotional intelligence is seen as the ability to perform emotional tasks, and the mixed EI tests, where emotional intelligence is seen as a grab-bag of everything that is not cognitive ability. The two kind of measures do not have the same content, predictive validity or subgroup differences, so keep your eyes peeled and make sure you choose the right one for your objective.

Second, if you choose mixed EI measures, exercise extreme caution. Grab-bag measures of EI (i.e., self-report mixed measures) appear to give an additional contribution over cognitive ability tests, but it is still unclear why. If you make a personnel decision based on these measures, how can you defend yourself?

Third, if you choose ability EI measures (performance-based and self-report) in the personnel selection, note that they only add a little contribution over cognitive ability and personality tests. Remember: you need to integrate this measures with other tests!

Fourth, be aware of subgroup differences on EI. Even if there is a need for more data, the evidence suggests that performance-based EI measures ease female and whites. Please pay attention, this may produce a negative impact on males and blacks!

Finally, base the decision to use an EI measure specific to the job type. EI measures show meaningful validity in high emotional labor jobs (jobs that require positive emotional displays), but not in low emotional labor jobs. A river can not flow in the desert!

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Joseph, D.L., & Newman, D.A. (2010). Emotional Intelligence: An Integrative Meta-Analysis and Cascading Model. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(1), 54-78.

Find the original article here!

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