Numerous individual differences, models, and measures have been associated with the ‘emotional intelligence’ (EI) label. This paper discusses one of the most pervasive problems regarding EI-related individual differences, namely, the lack of a meaningful theoretical framework. First, drawing upon existing theoretical frameworks, we argue that EI-related characteristics can be considered constituents of existing models of cognitive ability (ability EI), personality (trait EI), and emotion regulation (EI competencies). Second, having differentiated between these perspectives (ability, personality, emotion regulation), we draw upon existing theory and research to build the Integrated Model of Affect-related Individual Differences (IMAID), which provides an initial mechanistic representation that explains how the different EI-related constructs are likely to interrelate and coalesce to influence affective outcomes. In essence, the IMAID is an integrated mediation model in which emotion regulation mediates the effects of ability EI and affect-related personality traits upon outcomes. Viewing EI-related constructs as interrelated extensions of well-established individual difference frameworks clarifies some pervasive misconceptions regarding EI-related characteristics and provides scholars and practitioners with a clear and useful framework theoretical platform ripe for exploration. We conclude by using the IMAID to suggest a theoretically driven agenda for future research.
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- Emotional intelligence
- Individual differences
- Emotion Regulation