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What Is an Emotional IQ Test?

By M. Walker
Updated Feb 27, 2024
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An emotional intelligence quotient (IQ) test is one of several standardized tests designed to measure a person’s self-awareness and emotional perceptiveness. Although there are several types of emotional IQ tests, the majority of them operate on either the ability, trait, or mixed model of emotional intelligence. The style of emotional IQ test varies according to each model, but most involve some form of problem solving, hypothetical scenarios, or self-reported data. All attempt to statistically quantify responses and provide percentiles and average scores.

An ability-centered emotional IQ test focuses heavily on problem solving designed to measure test takers’ ability to detect, comprehend, and control emotions within themselves and others. The test collects data from all participants and then offers individual scores based on how well they conform to the general testing population. High scores indicate high awareness of general social norms. One of the most commonly used ability tests is the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), which contains a total of 122 questions.

Trait-centered emotional IQ test models measure more self-reported data. One of the most trusted of these tests is the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire (TEIQue). The test measures emotional reactivity, self-control, social agreeableness, and overall emotional stability and well-being. In addition to the test results correlating with the personality traits described by the Five Factor Model (FFM), it also shows a correlation between the scores of family members, indicating that traits are partially inherited.

Mixed models measure a wider range of emotional intelligence, including awareness of oneself and others, ability to successfully navigate complex relationships, and self-control. These tests also rely heavily on self-reported data from questionnaires. The two main mixed models are the Bar-On model and the Emotional Competencies model.

Several controversies have arisen regarding the value of an emotional IQ test, including the assertion that emotional intelligence cannot be formally classified as a type of intelligence. Unlike other IQ tests, emotional intelligence is often scored according to self-reported data, causing critics to doubt the validity of these tests. Others claim that ability tests measure the familiarity with cultural or emotional norms or the ability to socially conform, rather than ability in and of itself. Several studies have also found that many emotional IQ tests do not produce reliable data that predicts social performance in various aspects of life, including leadership in the workplace.

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