Cerebrum Summer 2020

The development of our EI begins in infancy, through interactions with caregivers, and continues as children are socialized across their school years alongside parents, peers, and teachers.

poor EI. It can result in the persistent activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the release of stress hormones like cortisol, which over time impacts brain structures associated with executive functioning and memory, diminishing one’s ability to focus and absorb information. In the workplace, EI continues to provide developmental benefits. Research has linked it to such outcomes as performance quality— particularly in the context of jobs requiring more emotional labor (e.g., displaying specific emotions, as would be expected of teachers and customer service workers)— and leadership ability. EI correlates with leadership emergence, the degree to which someone not in an official leadership position influences colleagues. Other studies have shown promising associations between EI and transformational leadership—the process by which managers motivate and inspire their employees to work toward a common vision. Employees with greater EI also report greater job satisfaction and experience less stress and burnout, and they leave their jobs less frequently than those with lower EI. Of course, how EI is taught and learned depends on age, but unlike learning other skills such as math and science or English language arts, there is no age at which it is too early or too late to acquire better EI. The parts of the brain needed to develop EI are active from birth until senescence. EI is a field whose time has come. It is no longer an understudy waiting in the wings for an opportunity to contribute, and we must value EI and give it center- stage attention. But EI takes work, and we can’t expect our future doers and leaders to optimize this skillset if we haven’t given them the opportunity to develop and refine it at home, at school, and in the workplace. l

achievement, and success in the workplace. Beginning in adolescence, EI serves both protective and predictive functions in developmental health. Adolescents with better EI engage in less risky health behaviors, including the usage of alcohol and cigarettes. EI also correlates with less depression and better conduct, and may protect against suicidal behavior. The benefits of EI continue into young and later adulthood. College students (especially males) with higher EI have lower rates of substance abuse and aggression, and there is ample evidence that adults with higher EI enjoy better physical and mental health. A key ingredient in a positive and healthy relationship is the ability to interpret and understand what the other person is feeling, and to identify, express, and manage one’s own emotions. Research shows an association between EI and quality relationship formation and maintenance: it supports successful interpersonal functioning by providing individuals with the skills they need to gain perspective, communicate, and regulate effectively. Higher levels are correlated with increased sensitivity in the perception of others, as well as with stronger relationships with family, peers, colleagues, and partners across the lifespan. There is evidence indicating that EI is associated with academic achievement because it promotes students’ abilities to attend to and regulate their emotions during learning and instruction. Our cognitive capacities to encode, store, and retrieve learning are necessarily dependent on our EI abilities: attention underwrites human information processing; and emotions like anxiety and fear, especially when prolonged and managed poorly, disrupt concentration and interfere with thinking. Chronic stress is a frequent consequence of

students), bullying, teacher instructional skills, and teacher stress and burnout. The RULER framework is based on Mayer and Salovey’s (1997) ability model of EI—the capacity to solve problems in the area of emotion. The name itself is an acronym for the five key emotional skills of: • Recognizing emotions — identifying them in the face, body, and voice of others and in our own thought process and physiology. • Understanding emotions — knowing the causes and consequences of different emotions, including their influence on thinking and behavior. For example, anger occurs when we perceive something as unfair, whereas disappointment arises as a result of unmet expectations. • Labeling emotions — having a rich vocabulary to describe a wide range of emotions, including basic ones like joy and sadness and complex ones

like shame and jubilance. • Expressing emotions —

communicating emotions effectively to different people across multiple contexts and cultures. • Regulating emotions — using thought and action strategies to manage emotions (e.g., to prevent anxiety, enhance joy, decrease stress, or increase contentment). According to the ability model of EI, there are individual differences in each of the skills that can be measured by performance tests. Such tests, as opposed to self-report scales, address the reality that individuals are often inaccurate when making judgments about their abilities, and their emotion skills in particular. Increasing empirical evidence over the last 30 years demonstrates the positive effects of EI—measured as an ability—on our health, relationships, academic

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