Emotional Intelligence can enhance quality of life

by Srividya Sundaresan, Frontiers Science Writer

Research indicates emotional intelligence correlates with a greater sense of personal well-being, a study in Frontiers in Psychology found.

People feel a sense of well-being when their work and their lives are meaningful. Psychologists measure two indices of personal well-being – our need to seek pleasure and avoid pain – hedonic well-being, and our need for personal fulfillment and self realization – eudaimonic well-being.

If a sense of well-being is important for an individual, what are certain factors or traits that contribute to well-being? Can these traits be enhanced to give people more resources to deal with their challenges?

Emotional intelligence, or EI, could play an important role, according to a recent study reported in the online journal, Frontiers in Psychology.

But, what is EI? EI is often described as the ability of a person to identify emotions in themselves and others, and manage these emotions. Two aspects of EI are trait EI and ability-based EI. Trait EI includes the perceptions of features such as self control, self awareness, and adaptability, to name a few, whereas ability-based EI refers to objective skills in coping with emotions.

Evidence from other studies show EI improves with targeted training and enhancing EI leads to positive personality changes. Indeed, individuals with higher EI are better able to handle situations at work, develop stronger relationships with colleagues, and feel more satisfied and rewarded with their lives.

These observations led Dr. Annamaria Di Fabio and her colleague, Dr. Maureen Kenny, to ask whether trait and ability-based EI are correlated with aspects of well-being.

The authors looked at a group of high school students in Tuscany region of Italy as an example of a future workforce. They examined well-being in the high school students by measuring both hedonic and eudaimonic aspects, and also measured trait and ability-based EI.

Interestingly, the study found trait EI was more correlated to both hedonic and eudaimonic indices than ability-based EI. This suggests that improving trait EI could be a potential approach for EI-based intervention strategies.

This is the first study to examine how contemporary trait EI and ability-based EI correlate with both hedonic and eudaimonic indices of personal well-being. However, the current study only involves a small group of high school students in a province in Italy.

The results are promising though – trait EI could be the focus of EI-based intervention to enhance well-being in young future workers, and perhaps, also provide coping resources for those already in the work force.

Read the full article in Frontiers in Psychology

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