The "Big Idea" That is Yet to Be: Toward a More Motivated, Contextual, and Dynamic Model of Emotional Intelligence

Oscar Ybarra, Ethan Kross, Jeffrey Sanchez-Burks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The "emotional intelligence" construct has been the focus of enormous scrutiny over the past 20 years (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). Much of this interest is based on the so-called "big idea" that first brought widespread attention to it-an idea popularized by Goleman's best-selling book Emotional Intelligence (1995), in which he claimed that emotional intelligence (EI) can matter more than the intelligence quotient (IQ) in predicting important life outcomes. Despite the appeal of this idea, recent metaanalyses indicate that emotional intelligence has not lived up to its promise. What are the implications of these findings for emotional intelligence research and for people interested in applying EI research to their organizations? We suggest that the predictive validity of emotional intelligence can be enhanced by refining the construct through the incorporation of three well-established principles of psychological processing: (a) dual-process principles that capture automatic and deliberate processing, (b) motivational principles that highlight the importance of goals for processing social-emotional information, and (c) person X situation principles that delineate how context influences the way people think, feel, and behave. We discuss the implications of this reconceptualization for emotional intelligence theory, research, and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)93-107
Number of pages15
JournalAcademy of Management Perspectives
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 2014
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Strategy and Management
  • Marketing


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