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Research on EI vs. Other Predictors

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Research on EI vs. Other Predictors

Lesson Content

Van Rooy and Vish in their meta-analysis examined the correlation of EI tests to performance, IQ test scores and personality test scores. What they found is that overall Emotional Intelligence (across all three EI streams) was correlated with job performance. However, this relationship is significantly weaker than what Hunter and Schmidt found for General Mental Ability Tests or Conscientious Personality Tests.

Van Rooy and Vish found overall EI was correlated with IQ tests. This correlation to IQ test dropped when the ability-based performance EI tests (remember stream 1?) were excluded. This means that the different EI streams vary in their relatedness to General Mental Ability. In a previous lesson, I mentioned the importance of GMA or General Mental Ability in predicting job performance. They also discovered that EI tests overall provide merely a small gain when predicting job performance over the use of an IQ test alone. We can conclude an IQ test is clearly a better predictor of job performance than EI tests.

Van Rooy and Vish also looked at the relationship of overall EI to each of the Big Five personality factors. The Big Five personality factors have been shown in multiple meta-analytic studies to be the personality model that all other personality traits and models roll up into. The Big Five are as follows Number 1, Openness to Experience, Number 2, Conscientiousness, Number 3, Extraversion, Number 4, Agreeableness, and Number 5, Emotional Stability or as you may have heard of it neuroticism. Of particular interest is the relationship between overall EI and the Conscientiousness personality factor because the Conscientiousness personality factor is another predictor of job performance that was shown to have good merit in the Hunter and Schmidt meta-analysis on pre-employment decision making tools.

Another group of researchers O’Boyle, Humphrey, Pollack, Hawver and Story published a meta-analysis on EI and job performance in 2010. They examined if there is any added benefit in predicting job performance by including an Emotional Intelligence test beyond what a combination of an IQ test and a Big Five personality factor test could do. They found that, in fact, EI tests when combined with IQ tests and Big Five personality tests do offer a modest increase in predicting job performance. Hence, EI is offering something unique that is not being measured by IQ nor personality. This disproves what some EI critics have claimed, that EI was not unique and offered nothing new. Additionally, they found that self-report Mixed-Model EI tests offered stronger predictive validity gains than the ability-based performance tests. So the key lesson here is that, General Mental Ability tests are more effective at predicting job performance; hence, EQ is not a better predictor of job performance than IQ.

That being said however, the research does show that there is a significant benefit in including both a Big Five factor personality test, that measures among other things Conscientiousness, as well as including an EI test. Each offers some unique contributions to improving the overall prediction of job performance.

Craig Haas


Craig Haas

Dr. Craig Haas is a Management Consultant and Executive Coach at Advantage Performance Group with over 15 years of experience in helping companies select high quality talent and develop leaders.


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