Emotional intelligence is a second-stratum factor of intelligence: Evidence from hierarchical and bifactor models

Carolyn MacCann, Dana L. Joseph, Daniel A. Newman, Richard D. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article examines the status of emotional intelligence (EI) within the structure of human cognitive abilities. To evaluate whether EI is a 2nd-stratum factor of intelligence, data were fit to a series of structural models involving 3 indicators each for fluid intelligence, crystallized intelligence, quantitative reasoning, visual processing, and broad retrieval ability, as well as 2 indicators each for emotion perception, emotion understanding, and emotion management. Unidimensional, multidimensional, hierarchical, and bifactor solutions were estimated in a sample of 688 college and community college students. Results suggest adequate fit for 2 models: (a) an oblique 8-factor model (with 5 traditional cognitive ability factors and 3 EI factors) and (b) a hierarchical solution (with cognitive g at the highest level and EI representing a 2nd-stratum factor that loads onto g at λ =.80). The acceptable relative fit of the hierarchical model confirms the notion that EI is a group factor of cognitive ability, marking the expression of intelligence in the emotion domain. The discussion proposes a possible expansion of Cattell-Horn-Carroll theory to include EI as a 2nd-stratum factor of similar standing to factors such as fluid intelligence and visual processing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)358-374
Number of pages17
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2014


  • Cattell-Horn-Carroll (CHC) theory
  • Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA)
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Mayer-salovey-caruso emotional intelligence test (MSCEIT)
  • Structural equation modeling (SEM)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


Dive into the research topics of 'Emotional intelligence is a second-stratum factor of intelligence: Evidence from hierarchical and bifactor models'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this