Emotional Intelligence as Assessed by Situational Judgment and Emotion Recognition Tests: Building the Nomological Net


  • Carolyn MacCann University of Sydney, Australia
  • Nicola Pearce University of Cardiff; University of Sydney, Australia
  • Richard D. Roberts Educational Testing Service, Princeton, US


emotional intelligence (EI), emotion recognition ability (ERA), Situational Test of Emotion Management (STEM), Situational Test of Emotional Understanding (STEU), factor analysis


Recent research on emotion recognition ability (ERA) suggests that the capacity to process emotional information may differ for disparate emotions. However, little research has examined whether this findings holds for emotional understanding and emotion management, as well as emotion recognition. Moreover, little research has examined whether the abilities to recognize emotions, understand emotions, and manage emotions form a distinct emotional intelligence (EI) construct that is independent from traditional cognitive ability factors. The current study addressed these issues. Participants (N=118) completed two ERA measures, two situational judgment tests assessing emotional understanding and emotion management, and three cognitive ability tests. Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses of both the understanding and management item parcels showed that a three-factor model relating to fear, sadness, and anger content was a better fit than a one-factor model, supporting an emotion-specific view of EI. In addition, an EI factor composed of emotion recognition, emotional understanding, and emotion management was distinct from a cognitive ability factor composed of a matrices task, general knowledge test, and reading comprehension task. Results are discussed in terms of their potential implications for theory and practice, as well as the integration of EI research with known models of cognitive ability.