Can you describe the cognitive and non-cognitive abilities relating to Emotional Intelligence?

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herappleness's profile pic

M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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The concept of Emotional Intelligence (EI) is a product of extensive research in the areas of interpersonal behavior, intrapersonal relationships and problem solving. The concept entails that there is a cognitive or mental skill that is able to rationalize (rather than to merely react to) emotions. As a result of this rationalization, the individual builds an even stronger ability to enhance thought. A way to explain the importance of EI is by thinking about who are the best and most reliable leaders: the ones who react chaotically in times of chaos, or the ones who are able to problem solve a situation AND calm the general chaos of the population?

Therefore, the non-cognitive skills involved in Emotional Intelligence are just as important and vital to an overall analysis of cognition. According to Mayer and Salovey (1997) there is a Four-Branch Ability Model to EI that includes

  •     the ability to accurately perceive emotions in oneself and others
  •     the ability to use emotions to facilitate thinking
  •     the ability to understand emotional meanings, and
  •     the ability to manage emotions

 These would be the abilities to cite as non-cognitive. Notice, however, that these are essential skills for communication. It is through communication that we primarily gain our knowledge and process information.

Now, this being said, notice that the intended definition of Emotional Intelligence aims to also set itself aside from cognitive intelligence precisely because the skills attained through EI are mainly behavioral and psychological; not technical. Yet, there is a strong and sophisticated scheme in EI when it comes to advanced problem solving. Therefore, we could cite as some semi-cognitive skills that come with EI the following:

  • inferencing
  • deductive and inductive thinking
  • critical thinking
  • making predictions (based on observations and correlations)
  • activating prior knowledge or schema
  • decoding non verbal cues

Again, EI is meant to distance itself from CI but these latter skills are also part of sympathetic behaviors that ultimately lead to better communication and conflict resolution.

jraineharrison's profile pic

jraineharrison | College Teacher | (Level 2) Assistant Educator

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Daniel Goleman wrote the book, Emotional Intelligence. Since its publication in 1995, emotional intelligence has become a popular phrase in business to determine someone's success.  

The cognitive functions of intelligence include items such as memorizing things and problem solving.  The non-cognitive functions are whether or not someone can get along with others, have good relationships within a group, and interpersonal skills.  Cognitive intelligence is generally based on IQ (intelligence quotient).

Emotional Intelligence combines the two, stating that these two factors indicate someone's ability to be successful.  However, other research has indicated that emotional intelligence alone is not alone a good predictor of success in the work environment. 


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