Ability-Based Model of Emotional Intelligence

This model describes four separate but interrelated abilities that together determine your level of emotional intelligence.

These are the ability to:
• Perceive emotions
• Reasoning with emotions
• Understand emotions
• Manage emotions.

By assessing the ability of an individual in each category each of these facets can be identified, measured, and enhanced.

1. Perceiving Emotions
The first step in understanding emotions is to accurately perceive them. In many cases, this might involve understanding nonverbal signals such as body language and facial expressions. This is the basic skill involved in EI because unless you can perceive emotions you cannot manage them.

2. Reasoning With Emotions
The next step involves using emotions to promote thinking and cognitive activity. Someone with high EI can use their emotions in order to help them think through a situation and solve problems.

Emotions help prioritize what we pay attention and react to; we respond emotionally to things that garner our attention. Having a good system of emotional input, therefore, should help direct thinking toward matters that are truly important.

Secondly, a number of researchers have suggested that emotions are important for certain kinds of creativity to emerge.

3. Understanding Emotions
Appreciating that the emotions we perceive can carry a wide variety of meanings helps us to understand the emotional state of the other person and why it has occurred. If someone is expressing angry emotions, for instance, the observer must interpret the cause of their anger and what it might mean.

Ability-Based Model of Emotional Intelligence

Your degree of understanding of such emotions has to include your ability to perceive the shades of emotion that exist and how different emotions interact with each other and evolve over time. Each emotion conveys its own pattern of possible messages, and actions associated with those messages.

For example,
• A message of anger may mean that the individual feels they have been treated unfairly.
• This anger may be associated with a specific set of possible actions:
• Peacemaking
• Attacking
• Retribution
• Seeking revenge
• Withdrawal to seek calmness

Understanding emotional messages and the actions associated with them is one important aspect of this skill area.

4. Managing Emotions
The ability to manage emotions effectively is a key part of emotional intelligence. The important aspects of emotional management include:
• Regulating emotions
• Responding appropriately
• Responding to the emotions of others.

Someone with a high level of this ability can harness positive or negative emotions and manage them in a way that facilitates the completion of required tasks. A person needs to understand emotions in order to convey information.

Understanding Emotional Intelligence

To the extent that it is under voluntary control, a person may want to remain open to emotional signals as long as they are not too painful, and block out those that are overwhelming. In between, within the person's emotional comfort zone, it becomes possible to regulate and manage one's own and others' emotions so as to promote one's own and others' personal and social goals. The means and methods for emotional self-regulation have become a topic of increasing research in this decade.

You may also be interested in:
Measuring Emotional Intelligence | Emotional Intelligence Models | The Trait Model | ES-I Bar-On Model | Mixed Models.


Key Points

  • The ability-based model of emotional intelligence describes four separate but interrelated abilities. These are the ability to perceive emotions, use emotions, understand emotions, and manage emotions.
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