After Social Maturity, Emotional Maturity or EI/ EQ

My last two posts have dealt with the Social Maturity theory of the developmental psychologist Robert Kegan. This post is about emotional maturity as reflected in Emotional quotient (EQ) / Emotional Intelligence (EI).

I presume that everybody is familiar with the term Emotional Intelligence, thanks to Daniel Goleman. It can be defined as:

Emotional Intelligence (EI), often measured as an Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ), describes an ability, capacity, skill or (in the case of the trait EI model) a self-perceived ability, to identify, assess, and manage the emotions of one’s self, of others, and of groups.

As per Goleman, a person has many emotional competencies, related and measured by the above EQ, and these fall in five broad domains.

The Five Components of Emotional Intelligence

Self-awareness. The ability to recognize and understand personal moods and emotions and drives, as well as their effect on others. Hallmarks* of self-awareness include self-confidence, realistic self-assessment, and a self-deprecating sense of humor. Self-awareness depend on one’s ability to monitor one’s own emotion state and to correctly identify and name one’s emotions.

Self-regulation.The ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods, and the propensity to suspend judgment and to think before acting. Hallmarks include trustworthiness and integrity; comfort with ambiguity; and openness to change.

Motivation. A passion to work for reasons that go beyond money and status, which are external rewards. A propensity to pursue goals with energy and persistence. Hallmarks include a strong drive to achieve, optimism even in the face of failure, and organizational commitment.

Empathy. The ability to understand the emotional makeup of other people. A skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions. Hallmarks include expertise in building and retaining talent, cross-cultural sensitivity, and service to clients and customers. (In an educational context, empathy is often thought to include, or lead to, sympathy, which implies concern, or care or a wish to soften negative emotions or experiences in others.) See also Mirror Neurons.

It is important to note that empathy does not necessarily imply compassion. Empathy can be ‘used’ for compassionate or cruel behavior. Serial killers who marry and kill many partners in a row tend to have great emphatic skills!

Social skills. Proficiency in managing relationships and building networks, and an ability to find common ground and build rapport. Hallmarks of social skills include effectiveness in leading change, persuasiveness, and expertise building and leading teams.

These can easily be related to the Big five traits (although I am not aware of any research that does so). Below I try to correlate them to the Big five. Some of the material is taken from this source.


  • Emotional Awareness:recognizing one’s emotions and their effect
  • Accurate Self-assessment: knowing one’s strengths and limits
  • Self-confidence: A strong sense of one’s self-worth and capabilities

One can easily relate this to Neuroticism as I believe that N underlies the awareness of emotions for the first time in the child.


  • Self-control: Keeping disruptive emotions and impulses in check
  • Trustworthiness: Maintaining standards of honesty and integrity
  • Conscientiousness: Taking responsibility for personal performance
  • Adaptability: Flexibility in handling change
  • Innovation: Being comfortable with novel ideas, approaches and new information

Introduction of Conscientiousness as a sub-competency in this domain makes it easy to correlate this with Conscientiousness . Also note the emphasis on impulses.


  • Achievement drive: Striving to improve or meet a standard of excellence
  • Commitment: Aligning with the goals of the group or organization
  • Initiative: Readiness to act on opportunities
  • Optimism: Persistence in pursuing goals despite obstacles and setbacks

This can be related to Positive emotionality or Extarversion as the emphasis seems to be on developmental of positive emotions and general energy and motivation level.


  • Understanding others: sensing others’ feelings and perspectives, taking an active interest in their concerns
  • Developing others: Sensing others development needs and bolstering their abilities
  • Service orientation: Anticipating, recognizing, and meeting customers’ needs
  • Leveraging diversity: Cultivating opportunities through different kinds of people
  • Political Awareness: Reading a group’s emotional currents and power relationships

This also by being named Empathy , is clearly reflective of Agreeableness. The focus for the first time shifts from self to others.


  • Influence: Wielding effective tactics for persuasion
  • Communication: Listening openly and sending convincing messages
  • Conflict management: Negotiating and resolving disagreements
  • Leadership: Inspiring and guiding individuals and groups
  • Change Catalyst: Initiating or managing change
  • Building bonds: Nurturing instrumental relationships
  • Collaboration and cooperation: Working with others toward shared goals
  • Team capabilities: creating group synergy in pursuing collective goals

This can be stretched to correlate to Rebelliousness-conformity/ openness/ intellect. It reflects how one uses the acquired emotional knowledge about others emotional states to advantage.

Please note that while the first three domains refer to individual’s self-reflective behavior, the last tow are focused on how individual relates with others. I believe it is possible to move a notch higher and add three more domains to this – one that relate to how groups themselves function effectively in emotional settings. Note that the definition of EI contains references to how groups behave wisely, but that is not captured in above analysis by Goleman, which is confined to individuals self-reflective or other-oriented behavior, but does not cover group dynamics.

Now, many people have dismissed Goleman as Pop science, So I would like to move beyond Goleman to other people working in the same field like Mayor and Salovey and Heins. Mayor and Salovey have defined EI as :

The Four branches of EI:

1. Perception Appraisal and Expression of Emotion
2. Emotional Facilitation of Thinking
3. Understanding and Analyzing Emotions; Employing Emotional Knowledge
4. Reflective Regulation of Emotions to Promote Emotional and Intellectual Growth

Perception, Appraisal and Expression of Emotion

  • Ability to identify emotion in one’s physical states, feelings, and thoughts.
  • Ability to identify emotions in other people, designs, artwork, etc. through language, sound, appearance, and behavior.
  • Ability to express emotions accurately, and to express needs related to those feelings.
  • Ability to discriminate between accurate and inaccurate, or honest vs. dishonest expressions of feeling.

Emotional Facilitation of Thinking

  • Emotions prioritize thinking by directing attention to important information.
  • Emotions are sufficiently vivid and available that they can be generated as aids to judgment and memory concerning feelings.
  • Emotional mood swings change the individual’s perspective from optimistic to pessimistic, encouraging consideration of multiple points of view.
  • Emotional states differentially encourage specific problem-solving approaches such as when happiness facilitates inductive reasoning and creativity.

Understanding and Analyzing Emotions; Employing Emotional Knowledge

  • Ability to label emotions and recognize relations among the words and the emotions themselves, such as the relation between liking and loving.
  • Ability to interpret the meanings that emotions convey regarding relationships, such as that sadness often accompanies a loss.
  • Ability to understand complex feelings: simultaneous feelings of love and hate or blends such as awe as a combination of fear and surprise.
  • Ability to recognize likely transitions among emotions, such as the transition from anger to satisfaction or from anger to shame.

Reflective Regulation of Emotion to Promote Emotional and Intellectual Growth

  • Ability to stay open to feelings, both those that are pleasant and those that are unpleasant.
  • Ability to reflectively engage or detach from an emotion depending upon its judged informativeness or utility.
  • Ability to reflectively monitor emotions in relation to oneself and others, such as recognizing how clear, typical, influential or reasonable they are.
  • Ability to manage emotion in oneself and others by moderating negative emotions and enhancing pleasant ones, without repressing or exaggerating information they may convey.

I would like to modify and extend the Mayor and Salovey breakup of EI into the following eight components. It is also my thesis that they occur in the following order:

  1. Emotional self-Awareness: people can differ in how much aware are they of their own internal emotional states.
  2. Emotional tone/ vivacity : people can differ in how much emotion they feel for the same external / internal triggers. some may have vivid emotions while some may have bland emotions.
  3. Emotional understanding/analysis/ knowledge/ monitoring : people can differ in how they interpret ones emotional states- which states they deem as close, positive, negative etc and whether they identify the states correctly.
  4. Emotional self-regulation: people can differ in their abilities to regulate their emotional states: some states may be more desirable and some need to be replaced with other depending on external exigences.
  5. Emotional Maturity/development/ refinement: people may differ in the extent to which they let their lives be defined by a prominent emotional/ mood state. Some may devlope their primary emotion to be Joy while others may define them primarily by sad emotions.
  6. Emotional others-awareness or empathy: while the discussion till now was focused on the individual’s emotions, it now moves to others’ emotions. People may differ in their ability to perceive and feel the correct emotional state of others
  7. Emotional communication/ labeling/ expression: People may differ in their ability to communicate their emotions to others, to label them correctly in such verbal/ non-verbal communication.
  8. Emotional Integrity/ holism : people may differ in their ability to feel contradictory emotions within themselves and integrate in an overarching integral framework. they may also differ in their ability to judge the honesty or trustworthiness of others’ expressed/ subtle emotions.

To me this seems a promising framework using one which could investigate the EQ/ EI conundrum. However, the above is juts a hypothesis; I believe it is testable and generates many predictions that can, and should, be tested and the theory verified or rejected accordingly. I also belive that these competencies develop in stages and follow a distinct developmental pattern. this too can be verified or rejected.

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