EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE MEASURED IN A HIGHLY COMPETITIVE
Center for Economic Psychology
Stockholm School of Economics
SSE/EFI Working Paper Series in Business Administration No 2001:13
This is a study in which emotional intelligence (EI) as well as several other
personality dimensions were studied in a real, high-stakes, selection
situation, N=190. Forty-one trait oriented personality scales were measured
and factor analyzed. A factor pattern with four secondary factors was found:
EI, emotional stability, rigidity/perfectionism and energy/dominance. These
factors were related to standard FFM (Five Factor Model) dimensions, to
Hogan's Development Survey ("the dark side of personality") and to a number
of tasks measuring skills in identifying emotions and emotion knowledge. It
was found that EI and emotional stability correlated significantly with some of
the latter measures, more so than the FFM scales. Impression management
was measured with several scales. In the end of the testing session,
participants were instructed explicitly to fake their answers. These active
faking responses showed consistency across personality dimensions and
also correlated strongly with impression management scores. Correcting the
final pooled score (the four secondary factors combined) for impression
management and faking produced fairly strong changes in the "short list" of
participants ranking among the top 30, or 60. It is concluded that personality
trait EI shows some promise while emotion identification tasks must probably
be geared towards human emotion rather than abstract judgment of emotion
as expressed in art or music.
Key words: emotional intelligence, selection, impression management
Emotional intelligence (EI)2 is a concept currently in focus among the general public,
practitioners and researchers. It is widely believed by the public that emotional and social
competence are as important, or even more important, than traditional dimensions of
intellectual ability and personality, and Goleman (Goleman, 1995, 1998) and others, e.g.
Bar-On (Bar-On, 1997), have made some very strong claims to that effect. It is often
pointed out that traditional IQ involves many prediction errors with regard to real-life
important criteria. Yet, the fact that much remains to be accounted for in various criterion
dimensions beyond what is typically achieved with traditional IQ type predictors does not
necessarily imply that EI is the missing factor. Sternberg has made a good case for his
concept of practical intelligence which is cognitively oriented (Sternberg et al., 2000).
Besides, actual measurement of EI has so far been rather elusive; see Davis et al. (Davies,
Stankov, & Roberts, 1998) and Sjöberg (Sjöberg, 2001b) for reviews.
There are basically two approaches to the measurement of EI: as a mental ability or as a
personality trait. Mayer, Salovey and Caruso were instrumental in initiating current interest
in the concept by their work in the beginning of the 1990's (Mayer, DiPaolo, & Salovey,
1990; Salovey & Mayer, 1990). They devised tasks in which people were instructed to
judge, among other things, the emotional content expressed in art or music. The most
common way of scoring such responses is consensual scoring in which people are
awarded points for making the modal response given by a norm group. There is currently
an extensive testing procedure available for assessing EI according to this approach but
little is known about its convergent and discriminative validity (Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey,
2000; Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000).
EI as a personality trait is measured by personality test items of a fairly traditional kind, and
is close to many other questionnaire methods for measuring various traits. The best-known
example has been devised by Bar-On (Bar-On, 2000; Bar-On, Brown, Kirkcaldy, & Thomé,
2000), but little research has been published on that test. Its validity is likewise not
extensively documented in published articles, although the test distributors do list a number
of internal technical reports. It is noteworthy that the personality trait approach has so far
rarely been related to the main-stream Five Factor Model (FFM) of personality (McCrae &
Costa, 1987; Wiggins & Trapnell, 1997). It is important, of course, to establish empirically
whether EI really contributes any information not readily available in standard FFM tests.
Sjöberg (Sjöberg, 2001b) found some support for the notion that trait EI does make such a
The two approaches have, thus, only been little investigated so far and they have rarely
been related to each other on data from the same respondents. In addition, response styles
such as social desirability and acquiescence (Paulhus, 1991) have been little investigated
in relation to EI tests. The sensitivity of EI measures to response bias is a pressing issue
whenever EI is used as a basis for important decisions such as those of selection
The purpose of the present paper was to investigate whether
an EI dimension can be isolated from other, standard, personality dimensions and
whether it is related to gender (women expected to be superior) but not to age
if trait EI is related to emotion identification skills and contributes to explaining such
skills beyond the standard FFM dimensions
if EI can be measured in a highly competitive selection situation without being unduly
influenced by impression management tendencies; alternatively if such tendencies
can be controlled for.
The present study is partly a replication and partly an extension of a previous investigation
using similar conceptualizations (Sjöberg, 2001b). The set of personality scales was
considerably extended and so was the measurement of impression management and
faking. The criterion tasks of identifying emotions were also improved, as described in the
Participants and test situation. The Board of the SSE (Stockholm School of Economics)
had decided to create 30 extra openings for students starting in the fall of 2000 and to base
selection to those slots on non-intellectual dimensions such as EI. A similar procedure had
been used in 1999. It should be noted that the SSE is a very prestigious elite school. It is
very difficult to gain admission as a student and such admission is extremely desirable for
The author was commissioned to further develop the tests to be used for selection. From
applicants not admitted in the regular procedure, the School invited 400 applicants (out of a
total of appr. 4,000) closest to the cut-off in terms of the qualifications they had documented
in their applications (high school grades or intellectual ability test scores). Hence, the
invitees were quite a select group intellectually, just slightly below those who had been
admitted. Twenty-one of those who turned up for testing had taken similar tests one year
One hundred and ninety of the 400 invited applicants took the tests. They were informed in
the invitation letter that the tests were not about intelligence or knowledge, but about
personality and emotional and social skills important for vocational success. They had also
been informed that the tests were to be taken in a group, that the SSE would only be
informed about their final score and rank order, and that all individual information beyond
that was confidential. They were encouraged to answer all questions truthfully and fully, and
those who wished also got written notification of their results about 10 days after the test
was completed. Any other questions about details of testing and scoring (many called
before testing to find out about the test) were not answered. The testees were also
informed that 60 of them would be invited to come to an interview the following week (on
the basis of test results) and that the final recommendation would be based on both
interview and test results. They were instructed to bring with them a short essay on the
topic "Why I want to become an economist".
On the whole, the participants appeared to be highly motivated for the test. Their mean age
was 20.5 years (range 18-34), 88 (46%) were female and 102 male.
Test development. The total test battery took about 6 hours of testing time, i.e. a full day of
testing. The description of it will be divided, for the purposes of the present paper, in two
sections: tests proper and criteria. The present section deals with the tests, the subsequent
one with the criteria.
The tests described here were designed and selected so as to measure EI and some
related dimensions. Not all can be counted as EI dimensions proper, but they were of both
practical and theoretical interest in the present context and they provided a context for the
attempt to isolate the EI dimension.
Measurement of emotional intelligence. Some items were translated from the literature,
among them the EI scale proposed by Schutte et al. (Schutte et al., 1998). Reliabilities
were estimated by means of Cronbach's alfa (Cronbach, 1951). The Schutte et al. scale
(present alfa=0.863) measures alexithymia (ability to identify and describe feelings, as well
as a tendency to shun away from emotional dimensions in thought and social relations),
attention to feelings, clarity of feelings, mood repair, optimism and impulse control. The
alexithymia scale of Bagby, Parker & Taylor (Bagby, Parker, & Taylor, 1994) was also
employed (present alfa=0.81). The empathy (Hogan, 1969) scale of Mehrabian and Epstein
(Mehrabian & Epstein, 1970) was also used (present alfa=0.80), as well as the Jones and
Crandall scale of self actualization (Jones & Crandall, 1986) (present alfa=0.67). Roger and
Najarian (Roger & Najarian, 1989) described a set of items measuring four aspects of
emotion control: rehearsal (14 items, alfa=0.75), emotional inhibition (14 items, alfa=0.79),
benign control (13 items, alfa=0.51) and aggression control4 (13 items, alfa=0.70), all
included here although one of the scales had a low present alfa value. Nineteen of the
items of the Christie scale of Machiavellianism (Christie & Geis, 1970), and 11 additional
items written for the present study, were used (present alfa including the new items=0.81).
This scale measures a cynical and manipulative attitude and should be negatively related to
EI (Bar-On & Parker, 2000).
Other personality dimensions. Several scales developed in our unit were used: mental
energy and work motivation (Sjöberg & Lind, 1994), 19 items with an alfa=0.67, creativity
(25 items and alfa=0.74), compulsive tendency (sub-clinical), 27 items and alfa=0.77,
perfectionism, 8 items and alfa=0.71, and procrastination, 28 items and alfa=0.86. A scale
called Enigma measures lack of understanding of oneself or other people, 7 items and
alfa=0.69. From an extensive item pool included in the questionnaire four more scales were
constructed: dominance (11 items, alfa=0.82), emotional instability (16 items, alfa=0.82),
introversion and social indifference (18 items, alfa=0.81) and inhibition and lack of
spontaneousness (13 items, alfa=0.74).
Paulhus, D. L. (1991). Measurement and control of response bias. In J. P. Robinson &
P. R. Shaver & L. S. Wrightsman (Eds.), Measures of personality and social-
psychological attitudes (pp. 17-59). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Paulhus, D. L., Bruce, N. N., & Trapnell, P. D. (1995). Effects of self-presentation
strategies on personality profiles and their structure. Personality and Social
Psychology Bulletin, 21, 100-108.
Paulhus, D. L., & Reid, D. (1991). Enhancement and denial in socially desirable
responding. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 60, 307-317.
Petrides, K. V., & Furnham, A. (2000). On the dimensional structure of emotional
intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 29, 313-320.
Robinson, J. P. (1973). Methodological scales. In J. P. Robinson & P. R. Shaver (Eds.),
Measures of social psychological attitudes (pp. 723-744). Ann Arbor, MI:
University of Michigan.
Roger, D., & Najarian, B. (1989). The construction and validation of a new scale for
measuring emotion control. Personality and Individual Differences, 10, 845-853.
Rotter, J. B. (1966). Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of
reinforcement. Psychological Monographs, 80(609).
Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. D. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition and
Personality, 9, 185-211.
Schutte, N. S., Malouff, J. M., Hall, L. E., Haggerty, D. J., Cooper, J. T., Golden, C. J., &
Dornheim, L. (1998). Development and validation of a measure of emotional
intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 25, 167-177.
Schwarzer, R. (1993). Measurement of perceived self-efficacy: Psychometric scales for
cross-cultural research. Berlin: Freien Universität.
Sjöberg, L. (2001a). Emotional intelligence and life adjustment (SSE/EFI Report).
Sjöberg, L. (2001b). Emotional intelligence: A psychometric analysis. European
Psychologist, 6(2), 79-95.
Sjöberg, L., & Lind, F. (1994). Arbetsmotivation i en krisekonomi: En studie av
prognosfaktorer. (Work motivation in a crisis economy: A study of prognostic
variables) (Studier i ekonomisk psykologi 121): Institutionen för ekonomisk
psykologi, Handelshögskolan i Stockholm.
Sjöberg, L., Svensson, E., & Persson, L.-O. (1979). The measurement of mood.
Scandinavian Journal of Psychology, 20, 1-18.
Sternberg, R. J., Forsythe, G. B., Hedlund, J., Horvath, J. A., Wagner, R. K., Williams,
W. M., Snook, S. A., & Grigorenko, E. L. (2000). Practical intelligence in
everyday life. New York: Cambridge University Press.
Taylor, J. (1953). A personality scale of manifest anxiety. Journal of Abnormal and
Social Psychology, 48, 285-290.
West, S. G., & Finch, J. F. (1997). Personality measurement. Reliability and validity
issues. In R. Hogan & J. Johnson & S. Briggs (Eds.), Handbook of personality
psychology (pp. 143-164). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Wiggins, J. S., & Trapnell, P. D. (1997). Personality structure: The return of the Big Five.
In R. Hogan & J. Johnson & S. Briggs (Eds.), Handbook of personality
psychology (pp. 737-766). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Visveswaran, C., & Ones, D. S. (1999). Meta-analysis of fakability estimates:
Implications for personality measurement. Educational and Psychological
Measurement, 59, 197-210.
Zuckerman, M. (1994). Behavioral expressions and biosocial bases of sensation
seeking. New York: Cambridge University Press.
1. I am grateful to Professor D. L. Paulhus for the SDR scales used here and to Professor
Hunter Mabon for letting me use the Swedish version of the Hogan Development Survey. Dr.
Anders Sjöberg of Psykologiförlaget was also very helpful in connection with the use of that
scale. Dr. Håkan Källmén provided Swedish versions of the Generalized Self-Efficacy Scale
and the Manifest Anxiety Scale. Caroline Nordlund, M. A., was very helpful in the
administration of the tests. Professor Bo Ekehammar gave valuable comments on the
2. Emotional intelligence usually refers as much to social as emotional intelligence and the
concept will be used that way in the present paper, unless otherwise stated. This terminology
is unfortunate, since the two dimensions are logically distinct and may or may not correlate
3. Present alpha values are based on the testing reported in the present article, hence in
many cases on translated scales. Small SD's may account for some of the fairly low
reliability coefficients noted here. It should also be noted that a four category response
scale (see text) was used throughout, which in some cases was a divergence from the
procedures of the original scales.
4. These scales refer to, respectively, ruminating about troubling events, suppressing
feelings, lack of negative emotional reactivity, and lack of aggression.
5. In this and subsequent tables, * means p<0.05, and ** means p<0.01.
6. The group consisted of young people with a high level of scholastic achievement and
possibly did not include the variation in psychoticism to be expected in a sample from the
general population, or from clinical samples.
7. Due to a technical mishap one item was missed and one was deleted for other reasons.
The response scale used four categories, not five as in the standard version. A few items
were slightly rephrased.
8.Two items were deleted due to concerns over privacy invasion issues.