The Declining Traits of Emotional Intelligence

The Declining Traits of Emotional Intelligence

Written by Katie Ledger

A recently published meta-analysis of research into emotional intelligence (and its constituent traits) has revealed some concerning findings.

Over the last 17 years, some traits of emotional intelligence have declined in the university students studied. What the researchers found is that while overall emotional intelligence has not decreased (or increased), the traits of well-being, self-control, and emotionality have decreased.

Well-being relates to feelings across time based on achievements, self-regard, and expectations.

Self-control is about regulating and having control over our emotions, impulses, and stress. Emotionality is our ability to perceive, express, and connect with emotions in ourselves and others. Emotionality is important in creating successful interpersonal relationships.

Reductions in these traits among young people are a concern – particularly the traits of self-control and emotionality. That’s because these traits are directly related to our energy levels and even our physical health. Let’s look specifically at self-control and emotionality.


Improving our emotional self-control
Why do we want self-control? It begins with us wanting to get a good result. But to be able to control the result, we need to be able to control how we behave. That may be obvious, but how we behave is driven by how we think.

What drives our thoughts are our feelings. Thoughts also drive feelings – one affects the other, but feelings can be a stronger driver than thoughts and vice versa.

If you feel anxious, you will think very different thoughts than if you are confident. Driving feelings are emotions which are just energy in motion. They are patterns of physiological data – sweaty palms, tense shoulders, swirling stomach, and dry throat, for example. These are all the physiological manifestations of anxiety. So, now starting at the bottom of our iceberg … To get control of our emotions, our feelings, what we think, what we do and the results we achieve, we must get control of our physiology. The quickest and most effective way to do this is to breathe, rhythmically, evenly (smoothly) and through your heart every day.