Emotional intelligence and emotional factor recognition

The advantage of the emotions is that they lead us astray, and the advantage of science is that it is not emotional. —Oscar Wilde, 1891, The Picture of Dorian Gray

Although there has been diachronically great interest in examining the ability of individuals to recognize emotions at different rates of precision from different modes or channels (Banziger et al. 2009), now more than ever much discussion exists on the role and influence of emotional intelligence in all aspects of our lives.

What is emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence has been identified as more important than IQ in succeeding in life and career. The term coined in 1990 by Salovey and Mayer refers to the “accurate appraisal and expression of emotions in oneself and others and the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living” (Mayer, DiPaolo & Salovey, 1990, p. 772). Encompassing a set of interrelated skills and processes (Elfenbein et al. 2002), developing emotional intelligence is crucial for understanding, empathize and negotiate with other people. We must be able to read other people’s signals and react appropriately to them, which means to exhibit emotional recognition ability.

Researchers acknowledge five categories of emotional intelligence skills (Akers & Porter, 2007):

– Self awareness which relies on the ability to recognize one’s own emotional awareness and self confidence, to feel worthy and capable
– Self regulation which involves self control of emotions, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, innovation and adaptability.
– Motivation, which is characterized by the drive to achieve, the commitment, initiative and optimism.
– Empathy, which relates to be oriented to serve and meet others’ needs, boost them and leveraging diversity, be sensitive and politicaly aware of power relationships and understanding of others’ needs.
– Social skills which refers to good interpersonal skills that derive from an array of traits such as persuasion, communication, leadership, driving change, managing conflicts, building bonds, collaborate and exhibiting team capabilities.

What is emotional recognition?

Expression of emotion is an act of social sharing, however emotional recognition is whether others get the message” (Elfenbein & Shikaro, 2006, p.288). This ability to understand the emotions of others becomes particularly meaningful to coordinate activities and work independently, develop interpersonal networks and make relationships more predictable and easy to handle (Schellwies, 2015).

Emotion recognition is considered as a central characteristic of emotional competence (Banziger et al. 2009). An individual who is emotionally competent exhibits optimal functioning of the emotion mechanism in two key domains, emotion production and emotion perception (Scherer, 2007).

Research on factors that affect emotional recognition

Despite there has been substantial study of the capacity of individuals to recognize emotions from facial and vocal expressions (Ekman & Rosenberg, 2005; Scherer, Johnstone, & Klasmeyer, 2003), there has been a lack of concern with regards to the development of psychometrically sound and construct validated test instruments capable of diagnosing individual differences in this important ability. There exist only limited studies of established instruments designed to measure emotion recognition ability, several of which have not been thoroughly assessed for reliability and validity (Banziger et al. 2009). For the most of these case, the focus is on one modality, usually the face or the voice. There is a scarce research on studies that explore the ability to infer emotions from gestures and body posture (but see Wallbott, 1998).

Determining whether there is one general factor underlying emotion sensitivity and recognition ability or whether separate modality-specific abilities exist is significant in terms of research as well as bares practical implications in terms of results and design of tests (Banziger et al. 2009). Currently available instruments are limited in a few emotional categories and therefore answers are restricted instead of recognizing the broad range of emotions expressed.

What’s trending in the field

In accordance with the rapid pace of technological advances, the field of emotion recognition has seen development over the past years. For example, (Banziger et al. 2009) developed the Multimodal Emotion Recognition Test (MERT), an instrument for the assessment of the perception of dynamic facial, vocal, and bodily expressions. The MERT instrument includes 10 actor-portrayed emotions (anxiety, panic fear, happiness, elation, cold anger, hot anger, sadness, despair, disgust, and contempt), which represent two variants each for five major emotion families (differing on the arousal/intensity dimension) (Banziger et al. 2009).

More recently, what has gathered great interest by researchers is automatic emotion recognition from speech signal which is addressed in the field of Human computer Interaction (HCI) (Bhargava & Polzehl, 2012). A fascinating new tool that is proposed as a solution to analyze facial expressions, is a software program by CrowdEmotion. This software tracks expressions over time and therefore can measure mood and specific reactions to parts of a show or story. The latter is particularly helpful in the film industry as well as marketing to determine how to create messages and whether they have the expected response from the audience’s emotions.


The complexities in emotion recognition relate to the features of emotional competencies and emotional intelligence exhibited by individuals. Whilst this remains a challenging area to explore, it is imperative that we are able to recognize others’ emotions to successfully engage in daily activities.

Bhargava, M. Tim Polzehlb, T. (2012) Improving Automatic Emotion Recognition from speech using Rhythm and Temporal feature In Proceedings of ICECIT-2012, 139-147.

Banziger, T., Grandjean, D., and Scherer, K. R. (2009). Emotion Recognition From Expressions in Face, Voice, and Body: The Multimodal Emotion Recognition Test (MERT), American Psychological Association, 9(5), 691–704.

Ekman, P., & Rosenberg, E. L. (2005). What the face reveals: Basic and applied studies of spontaneous expression using the Facial Action Coding System (FACS) (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

Elfenbein, H. A., Marsh, A. A., and Ambady, N. (2002) Emotional Intelligence and the Recognition of Emotion from Facial Expressions. In L. F. Barrett and P. Salovey (Eds) The Wisdom of Feelings: Processes Underlying Emotional Intelligence (pp. 37–59) New York: Gilford Press.

Mayer7J. D., DiPaolo, M., & Salovey, P. (1990). Perceiving affective content in ambiguous visual stimuli: A component of emotional intelligence. Journal of Personality Assessment, 54, 772-781.

Schellwies, L. (2015). Multicultural Team Effectiveness: Emotional Intelligence as Success Factor. Hamburg: Anchor Academic Publishing.

Scherer, K. R. (2007). Component models of emotion can inform the quest for emotional competence. In G. Matthews, M. Zeidner, & R. D. Roberts (Eds.), The science of emotional intelligence: Knowns and unknowns (pp. 101–126). New York: Oxford University Press.

Scherer, K. R., Johnstone, T., & Klasmeyer, G. (2003). Vocal expression of emotion. In R. J. Davidson, K. R. Scherer, & H. Goldsmith (Eds.), Handbook of the affective sciences (pp. 433–456). New York: Oxford University Press.

Wallbott, H. G. (1998). Bodily expression of emotion. European Journal of Social Psychology, 28, 879–896.

Emotional intelligence and emotional factor recognition

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