Validating Emotional Attention Regulation as a Component of Emotional Intelligence: A Stroop Approach to Individual Differences in Tuning into and Out of Nonverbal Cues

Emotion, Forthcoming

41 Pages Posted: 12 Dec 2015

See all articles by Hillary Anger Elfenbein

Hillary Anger Elfenbein

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin School of Business

Daisung Jang

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

Sudeep Sharma

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School

Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Date Written: December 10, 2015

Abstract

Emotional Intelligence (EI) has captivated researchers and the public alike, but it has been challenging to establish its components as objective abilities. Self-report scales lack divergent validity from personality traits, and few ability tests have objectively correct answers. We adapt the Stroop task to introduce a new facet of EI called Emotional Attention Regulation (EAR), which involves focusing emotion-related attention for the sake of information processing rather than for the sake of regulating one’s own internal state. EAR includes two distinct components. First, tuning into nonverbal cues (TINC) involves identifying nonverbal cues while ignoring alternate content, i.e., emotion recognition under conditions of distraction by competing stimuli. Second, tuning out of nonverbal cues (TONC) involves ignoring nonverbal cues while identifying alternate content, i.e., the ability to interrupt emotion recognition when needed to focus attention elsewhere. An auditory test of valence included positive and negative words spoken in positive and negative vocal tones. A visual test of approach-avoidance included green and red colored facial expressions depicting happiness and anger. The error rates for incongruent trials met the key criteria for establishing the validity of an EI test, in that the measure demonstrated test-retest reliability, convergent validity with other EI measures, divergent validity from factors such general processing speed and mostly personality, and predictive validity in this case for well-being. By demonstrating that facets of EI can be validly theorized and empirically assessed, results also speak to the validity of EI more generally.

Keywords: Emotional Intelligence, Stroop, emotion recognition, emotion regulation, individual differences

Suggested Citation

Elfenbein, Hillary Anger and Jang, Daisung and Sharma, Sudeep and Sanchez-Burks, Jeffrey, Validating Emotional Attention Regulation as a Component of Emotional Intelligence: A Stroop Approach to Individual Differences in Tuning into and Out of Nonverbal Cues (December 10, 2015). Emotion, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2701886 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2701886

Hillary Anger Elfenbein (Contact Author)

Washington University in St. Louis, Olin School of Business ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Daisung Jang

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign ( email )

Champaign, IL 61820
United States

HOME PAGE: http://daisungjang.com

Sudeep Sharma

Washington University in St. Louis - John M. Olin Business School ( email )

One Brookings Drive
Campus Box 1133
St. Louis, MO 63130-4899
United States

Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

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