Ability EI predicts recognition of dynamic facial emotions, but not beyond the effects of crystallized IQ

S K Davis, M Morningstar, Pamela Qualter

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Abstract

Extant evidence provides no consensus on whether individuals with higher emotional intelligence (EI) are better at recognising others’ facial emotions, or whether EI independently contributes to this skill beyond related predictors (such as general cognitive ability). Methodological variations across studies complicate evaluations of the link between EI and emotion recognition skill (e.g., type of EI examined [trait/ability], use of static/posed photos of prototypical emotional expressions vs. ‘real life’ dynamic video). Our study explored whether EI (trait or ability) was associated with accuracy in labelling subtle, dynamic displays of emotional expressions (happy, sad, angry, disgusted, fearful, surprised) akin to those typically encountered in social interactions. Data from 92 UK adults (79% females; Mean age = 27.80; SD = 11.57) showed that only a subset of ability EI (emotion understanding) was associated with the recognition of emotional expressions, but this did not surpass the predictive effect of crystallised intelligence. Our data suggest that broader cognitive abilities may
account for the association between ability EI and facial emotion recognition skill, and that current EI measures lack sensitivity to represent differences in socially-relevant aspects of emotion recognition.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPersonality and Individual Difference
Early online date14 Mar 2020
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 14 Mar 2020

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