|Antonakis J. , Dietz J. (2010). Emotional intelligence: On definitions, neuroscience, and marshmallows. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 3, 165-170. [doi] [abstract]|
In his timely article, Cherniss offers his vision for the future of "Emotional Intelligence" (EI). However, his goal of clarifying the concept by distinguishing definitions from models and his support for "Emotional and Social Competence" (ESC) models will, in our opinion, not make the field advance. To be upfront, we agree that emotions are important for effective decision-making, leadership, performance and the like; however, at this time, EI and ESC have not yet demonstrated incremental validity over and above IQ and personality tests in meta-analyses (Harms & Credé, 2009; Van Rooy & Viswesvaran, 2004). If there is a future for EI, we see it in the ability model of Mayer, Salovey and associates (e.g, Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 2000), which detractors and supporters agree holds the most promise (Antonakis, Ashkanasy, & Dasborough, 2009; Zeidner, Roberts, & Matthews, 2008). With their use of quasi-objective scoring measures, the ability model grounds EI in existing frameworks of intelligence, thus differentiating itself from ESC models and their self-rated trait inventories. In fact, we do not see the value of ESC models: They overlap too much with current personality models to offer anything new for science and practice (Zeidner, et al., 2008). In this commentary we raise three concerns we have with Cherniss's suggestions for ESC models: (1) there are important conceptual problems in both the definition of ESC and the distinction of ESC from EI; (2) Cherniss's interpretation of neuroscience findings as supporting the constructs of EI and ESC is outdated, and (3) his interpretation of the famous marshmallow experiment as indicating the existence of ESCs is flawed. Building on the promise of ability models, we conclude by providing suggestions to improve research in EI.