Motivation and emotion/Book/2019/Emotional intelligence and anti-social behaviour

From Wikiversity
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Emotional intelligence and anti-social behaviour:
How can emotional intelligence facilitate and be utilised for anti-social behaviour?

Overview[edit | edit source]

Emotional intelligence is a concept of intelligence that is believed to be associated with many pro-social benefits. However, we focus on the growing evidence that emotional intelligence is also associated with 'dark' anti-social traits. It seems that some facets of emotional intelligence are exhibited in nefarious tactics employed by these 'dark' individuals in order for them to achieve their own goals. How and why emotional intelligence contributes to anti-social behaviour will be explored.

Focus questions:
  • What kind of individual do you think might have emotional intelligence?
  • Is it possible for individuals with emotional intelligence to be either socially or anti-socially upright?
  • How do you think personalities such as psychopaths, narcissists and Machiavellians might have emotional intelligence?

What is emotional intelligence?[edit | edit source]

Oprah Winfrey upclose
Bernie Madoff
Figure 1. Do you think either of these well-known individuals possess a high emotional intelligence?

Emotional intelligence (EI) is a form of social intelligence which measures the ability to detect, understand and manage emotions and emotional knowledge; which in turn defines an individuals'[grammar?] thought and behaviour (Salovey & Mayer, 1990; Killduff, Chiaburu, & Menges, 2010). While there have been various interpretations of EI (Fiori, 2009), one widely-used conceptualisation was defined by Salovey & Mayer (1990), who determined four classifications:

1.    Perceiving emotions in oneself[grammar?] and others accurately

2.    Using emotion to facilitate thinking

3.    Understanding emotions, emotional language and the signals conveyed by emotions

4.    Managing emotions and self and others to attain specific goals

Each branch pertains to the type of emotional information used to direct and influence individuals' thoughts and behaviour (Fiori, 2009; Nagler, Reiter, Furtner & Rauthmann, 2014). The first branch refers to the nonverbal emotional cues individuals observe to identify feelings, such as facial expressions (Fiori). The second branch refers to the actions and decisions individuals take in response to the emotional context they perceive or anticipate (Fiori). The third branch requires empathy, in that an understanding of the impact of emotions have on the individual and others is required (Fiori). Lastly, the fourth branch refers to the recognition of emotional responses and the ability to control these expressions (Fiori).

Case study 1

Ben was working on a last minute assignment when just got a call from a friend who sounded like he was in great distress but was not elaborating [missing something?] what had happened. In an illustration of the "perceiving emotions in oneself and others accurately", Ben thinks how his friend may be feeling in that moment, and from the sound of his voice he thinks his friend might be feeling sadness, upset, worry and fear. Ben is a little anxious that he might not finish his assignment on time but he is also extremely worried about his friend, and he turns his focus to asking his friend how and why he might be feeling distressed, demonstrating an example of "using emotion to facilitate thinking". His friend tells him that his girlfriend had without warning taken all his belongings in the house they lived together and was not returning his calls. Ben demonstrates "understanding emotions and signals conveyed by emotions" to realise that his friend may be in great shock due to the betrayal he felt in how his girlfriend decided to treat him. To "manage emotions of self and others", Ben realises that in order to calm his friend down, he will need to act as source of stability for his friend. He tells his friend calmly that he is there for his friend and provides him the emotional support he needs.

In examples like Ben, who was able to strengthen his interpersonal relationships through emotional support, we assume that the abilities of EI provide pro-social outcomes. Hence, a plethora of scientific literature has been dedicated in studying its benefits. Indeed, higher EI has been significantly associated with higher job satisfaction, better psychological well-being, characteristics in which individuals are likely to be more cooperative and helpful, and more likely to succeed in a leadership position (Cote, DeCelles, McCarthy, van Kleef & Hideg, 2011; Miao, Humphrey, Qian, & Pollack, 2019). However, it is also possible for emotional knowledge to be utilised to accomplish anti-social interests, such as emotional manipulation and the exploitation of others (Kilduff et al., 2010; Mayer, 2011).

Relation to dark triad personalities[edit | edit source]

Scientific literature surrounding the relationship between EI and anti-social behaviour found that it was often engaged by individuals whose traits were encompassed by the Dark Triad personalities (Rauthmann & Kolar, 2012). With this in mind, the hypothesis was put forward that perhaps some Dark Triad personality types possess emotional knowledge in which they utilise to engage in nefarious conduct.

Types of dark triad[edit | edit source]

The Dark Triad personalities are generally defined by the following:

  • Psychopathy: largely characterised as impulsive, thrill-seeking behavior where the individual holds deficits in remorse, responsibility and empathy. Psychopaths are likely to use manipulative social skills for their own personal benefit, regardless of its consequences to others (Wai & Tillipoulos, 2012)
    • Primary psychopathy: characterised by strategically planned behaviours that are often callous and deceptive (Wai & Tiliopoulos)
    • Secondary psychopathy: characterised by anti-social behaviour as a response to external negative emotions (Wai & Tilipoulous)
  • Machiavelliansim: largely characterised as cynical, pragmatic and emotionally detached to immoral behavior (Rauthmann & Kolar, 2012). Machiaveillian-type individuals are likely to conduct in emotionally manipulative behavior for personal gain (O’Connor & Athota, 2013; Wai & Tilipoulos, 2012)
  • Narcissism: largely characterised as exaggerated view of self, entitlement and vanity while devaluing others; and low empathy (Rauthmann & Kolar, 2012; Wai & Tiliopoulos, 2012). Narcissists are likely to use others to reinforce their own self-admiration (Zajenkowski, Maciantowicz, Kzymaniak & Urban, 2018).
    • Vulnerable narcissism: a sub-type of narcissism which is additionally characterised by low-self esteem, defensive and sensitive to criticism from others (Casale, Rugai, Giangrasso & Fiorvanti, 2019)
    • Grandiose narcissism: a sub-type of narcissism which is additionally characterised by a high-self esteem, dominant behaviour and arrogance (Casale et al., 2019)

Limitations to the relationship[edit | edit source]

However, the research has been mixed on whether there is a significant relationship between Dark-Triad personality and emotional knowledge (Nagler et al., 2014). For example, the literature has found that psychopathy is largely negatively associated with EI. This is in line with the definition of psychopathy, which a significent[spelling?] deficit in empathy is observed; whereas a core facet of EI is empathy (Jonason & Krause, 2013). However, Grieve and Mahar (2010) identified secondary psychopathy in males was associated with emotional concealment, which is possible only if one has an understanding of their own emotions. The study did not elaborate to what extent secondary psychopathy contributed to this ability, however the study reveals that there may be differences of EI levels in the types of psychopathic traits individuals. Similarly, Machiavellianism and narcissism have both mixed findings on whether they are associated with EI (Jonason & Krause, 2013; Petrides et al., 2011). Future studies could strive to explore relationships with one specific personality rather than a cluster of Dark Triad personalities to ensure a clear relationship can be established. For example, Zajenkowski, Marciantowicz, Szymaniak and Urban (2018) found significant EI differences in grandiose and vulnerable narcissism. Grandiose narcissistic personalities were found to have higher EI compared to vulnerable narcissism. Studying differences such as these could provide more clarity on the role of Dark Triad personalities in the relationship between EI and anti-social behaviour.

Facets of EI associated with facilitating anti-social behaviour[edit | edit source]

EI is a source of both pro-social and anti-social outcomes, which are largely defined by the temperament of the individual (O'Connor & Athota, 2013; Moeller & Kwantes, 2015). That being said, some facets of EI have been found to contribute to facilitating anti-social behaviour.

Cognitive empathy[edit | edit source]

Empathy, which is the ability to discern emotional states of the self and others, is the underlying core facet of EI which has a negative correlation with anti-social behaviour (Wai & Tiliopoulos, 2012). A limitation to studies which determine empathy cannot exist within Dark Triad personalities, is that it measures empathy as a whole (Dadds, Hawes, Frost, Vassallo, Bunn, Hunter, & Merz, 2009; Jonason & Krause, 2013). In fact, empathy can be divided into two main categories:

  • Affective empathy is the capacity to emotionally experience in response to the emotions of another (Jonason & Krause, 2013)
  • Cognitive empathy is the capacity to discern the emotional state of others, without needing to emotionally experience it (Wai & Tiliopoulos, 2012; Jonason & Krause, 2013)

In a study by Wai and Tilipoulos (2012), the emotional reaction and emotional interpretation of various images of facial expressions were rated, which measured the affective empathy and cognitive empathy, respectively. Additionally, inventories of each of the Dark Triad personalities were assessed in each participant. As predicted, significant deficits in overall empathy were found in Dark Triad personalities. However, when comparing the two different types of empathy, secondary psychopathy and narcissism demonstrated significant absence of affective empathy but only a weak negative relationship with cognitive empathy. Not all Dark Triad personalities demonstrated this. For example Machiavellian-types were found to be deficit in both types of empathy. Despite this, the findings suggest that deficiencies in empathy were more likely due to the affective aspects rather than cognitive. Furthermore, it reveals the possibility that high EI individuals who possess Dark Triad traits are likely to utilise their cognitive empathy to strategically accomplish their goals, while the deficiency in their affective empathy allows a separation of possible harmful consequences as a result of those goals (Wai & Tiliopoulos, 2012; Jonason & Krause, 2013).

Emotional regulation knowledge[edit | edit source]

Emotional regulation knowledge may facilitate anti-social behaviour depending on the individual'smotivational goals (Cote, DeCelles, McCarthy, van Kleef & Hideg, 2011). Salovey and Mayer (1990) defined emotional regulation knowledge as awareness of emotional strategies that allows the individual to control their emotions for different environments. While the attainment of goals can depend on the emotional state of the individual, it can only be successfully accomplished if the individual has the ability to effectively regulate their emotions. In Machiavellians, those goals may have underlying nefarious agendas. Cote et al. (2011) conducted two separate studies. In one, participants were measured on their moral identity and pro-social behaviour. The general consensus of the study found that the more morally upright participants strived to be, the more likely they were to conduct socially accepted behaviours. In the second study, the relationship between Machiavellianism and interpersonal deviance was measured and found to be positively related; confirming the emotionally deficit and pragmatic characteristics of the Machiavellian-types. However, in both studies, a test measuring knowledge of emotional regulation was also administered. It was found that the relationships found both studies would strengthen as emotional regulation abilities increased in individuals[Rewrite to improve clarity]. Hence, it was evident that emotional regulation knowledge facilitated both pro- and anti-social behaviour, which would be dependent on the personality of the individual.


1 An individual who is high in EI is NOT capable of the following:

Realising a friend might be upset because they are not responding to them as much as they usually do
Finding another time to deliver good news when a friend is going through a tough time
De-escalating an argument by listening to their angry colleague first
Emotional manipulating a friend to give them something they want
They are capable of all of these choices

2 Which Dark Triad personality type is NOT likely to use their cognitive empathy for anti-social purposes?

Secondary psychopathy
Vulnerable narcissism
Grandiose narcissism

How EI is utilised for anti-social behaviour[edit | edit source]

We have an understanding that some facets of EI facilitate anti-social behaviour. While it can be established that 'dark' personalities lack an emotional consideration of others due to their incessant need to achieve their own self-interests (Jonason & Krause, 2013); an understanding of how to process information provided from emotional expressions is still required (Nagler et al., 2014). In what ways is then EI then applied in socially deviant individuals[Rewrite to improve clarity]?

Emotional manipulation[edit | edit source]

A commonality between EI and emotional manipulation involves the ability to influence others' emotions (Nagler et al., 2014). However, emotional manipulation utilises this ability for self-serving purposes (Hyde & Grieve, 2018). Therefore, possessing emotional knowledge can allow for individuals to employ manipulative tactics to influence the emotions of others. In a study by Nagler et al. (2014), participants were measured on each of the Dark Triad personality traits, their tendencies to emotionally manipulate and their EI. It was found,[grammar?] that EI was not associated with emotional manipulation. However, when mediating dark triad traits, positive moderating links were found between EI and emotional manipulation. Since emotional manipulation requires a regulation of one's own and other emotions, dark triad personalities utilise their EI for anti-social purposes. Narcissism seemed to correlated the most with EI which makes sense since they require regulation of their emotions in order to present themselves as socially admirable. However, they do not necessarily need to be able to interpret the emotions of others to keep this enhanced view of the self, which reflects deficits in affective empathy but evidence of cognitive empathy, previously noted by Wai and Tiliopoulos (2012). However, evidence of emotional manipulation conducted by Machiavellian-types through EI were negatively correlated[explain?]. This demonstrated that EI was not utilised to emotional manipulation tactics by Machiavellian-types[Rewrite to improve clarity]. While, the results do suggest that there is a link between high EI and anti-social practices, the effects were small.

Social deviance[edit | edit source]

Social deviance is described as a type of anti-social behaviour characterised by total disregard for societal rules and norms and likely acts that society disapproved[grammar?] of (Bacon, Lenton-Maughan, & May, 2018). This can be characterised in the form of criminal acts, such as vandalism, or non-criminal acts, such as bullying (Bacon et al., 2018). Due to the purposive lack of consideration for how others perceive socially deviant[grammar?], it is often associated with individuals who score lower in EI (Bacon et al.). However, Bacon et al. proposed that higher levels of EI may in fact contribute to both criminal and non-criminal deviant behaviours. Their study found differences in EI profiles in socially deviant males and females as they transitioned into adulthood. In younger women, a positive association was found between facets similar to cognitive empathy and deviant behaviour. That is, younger women who engaged in socially deviant behaviour were more likely to use their knowledge of identifying emotions and emotional influence. In socially deviant adult males, emotional influence and social skills were more likely than? to be used.

Evolutionary perspective[edit | edit source]

The evolutionary perspective may explain why anti-social behaviours may be conducted using EI. According to the evolutionary perspective, using EI for anti-social outcomes is explained through its evolutionary advantage (Jonason & Krause, 2013). Individuals weigh up the costs and benefits of traits that would allow them to survive and reproduce (Jonason, Wee and Li, 2015). They would[grammar?] choose to behave in ways that would allow various positive outcome for themselves such as social approval, power, control or success (Jonason et al., 2015).

Dark Triad personalities, by nature, hold deficits in empathy and often engage in behaviour that only serves to benefit themselves even if it allows for negative consequences for others (Cote et al., 2011). Dark personalities would, in particular, choose external rewards such as money and social status rather than earn social acceptance such as close interpersonal relationships (Jonson et al.) While usually this would result in a collective social exclusion, those that 'survive' may use more nuanced strategies such as emotional manipulation. For example, Czibor and Bereczkei (2012) found that Machiavellians used increasingly cunning strategies and counter-strategies in a group game involving fake money in order to avoid being deceived themselves, ultimately earning more 'money' compared to those that did not fit the Machiavellian profile.

Manipulative ways of utilising EI can be adaptive since it allows for individuals to achieve their own self-centred goals (Jonason & Krause, 2013). If these goals successfully empower individuals to greater access to resources, it would validate the tactic employed, and give reason for the strategy to be reused again, even if those tactics are anti-social in nature (Jonason & Krause).

Conclusion[edit | edit source]

EI originally has been perceived as a positive quality to possess. In fact, it was found to facilitate both pro-social or anti-social agendas, which were determined by the disposition of individuals. Therefore, it is possible for individuals with high emotional intelligence to be capable of anti-social behaviour. Research has suggested these individuals fit personality profiles that is encompassed by Dark Triads. Although the findings are unclear as to the extent of this association, several characteristics of dark triad personalities appear to be facilitated by some facets of EI. Cognitive empathy and knowledge of emotional regulation have been identified as some features which contribute to this relationship. Individuals with high EI are likely to engage in anti-social behaviours that require understanding and management of emotions. These are likely to be practiced in situations where individuals emotional manipulate other[grammar?] and also in socially disapproving acts[for example?]. These findings highlight how valuable emotional intelligence is and the extent to which it can explain how and why we behave in the ways we do. Having knowledge and understanding of emotional information can help individuals in various circumstances, particularly for those who have deficits in these areas.

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

Casale, S., Rugai, L., Giangrasso, B., & Fioravanti, G. (2019). Trait-emotional intelligence and the tendency to emotionally manipulate others among grandiose and vulnerable narcissists. The Journal of Psychology, 153, 402-413.

Côté, S., DeCelles, K. A., McCarthy, J. M., Van Kleef, G. A., & Hideg, I. (2011) The Jekyll and Hyde of emotional intelligence: Emotional-regulation knowledge facilitates both prosocial and interpersonally deviant behaviour. Psychological Science, 22, 1073-1080.

Czibor, A., & Bereczkei, T. (2012). Machiavellian people’s success results from monitoring their partners. Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 202-206.

Dadds, M. R., Hawes, D. J., Frost, A. D. J., Vassallo, S., Bunn, P., Hunter, K., & Merz, S. (2009). Learning to ‘talk the talk’: The relationship of psychopathic traits to deficits in empathy across childhood, Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 50, 599-606.

Fiori, M. (2009). A new look at emotional intelligence: A dual-process framework. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 13, 21-44.

Fix, R. L., & Fix, S. T. (2015). Trait psychopathy, emotional intelligence, and criminal thinking: Predicting illegal behavior among college students. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 42-43, 183-188.

Hyde, F., & Grieve, R. (2018). The dark side of emotion at work: Emotional manipulation in everyday and work place contexts. Personality and Individual Differences, 129, 108-113.

Jonason, P. K., & Krause, L. (2013). The emotional deficits associated with the Dark Triad traits: Cognitive empathy, affective empathy, and alexithymia. Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 532-537.

Jonason, P. K., & Webster, G. D. (2012). A protean approach to social influence: Dark Triad personalities and social influence tactics. Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 521-526.

Jonason, P. K., Wee, S., & Li, N. P. (2015). Competition, autonomy, and prestige: Mechanisms through which the Dark Triad predict job satisfaction. Personality and Individual Differences, 72, 112-116.

Kilduff, M., Chiaburu, D. S., & Menges, J. I. (2010). Strategic use of emotional intelligence in organizational settings: Exploring the dark side. Research in Organizational Behavior, 30, 129-152.

Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D. R. (2008). Emotional intelligence: New ability or eclectic traits? American Psychologist, 63, 503-517.

Miao, C., Humphrey, R. H., Qian, S., & Pollack, J. M. (2019). The relationship between emotional intelligence and the dark triad personality traits: A meta-analytic review. Journal of Research in Personality, 78, 189-197.

Moeller, C., & Kwantes, C. T. (2015). Too much of a good thing? Emotional intelligence and interpersonal conflict behaviours. The Journal of Social Psychology, 155, 314-324.

Nagler, U. K. J., Furtner, M., Reiter, K. J., & Rauthmann, J. F. (2014). Is there a “dark intelligence”? Emotional intelligence is used by dark personalities to emotionally manipulate others. Personality and Individual Differences, 65, 47-52.

O’Connor, P. J., & Athota, V. S. (2013). The intervening role of Agreeableness in the relationship between Trait Emotional Intelligence and Machiavellianism: Reassessing the potential dark side of EI. Personality and Individual Differences, 55, 750-754.

Petrides, K. V., Vernon, P. A., Aitken Schermer, J., & Veselka, L. (2011). Trait emotional intelligence and the Dark Triad traits of personality. Twin Research and Human Genetics, 14, 35-41.

Rauthman, J. F., & Kolar, G. P. (2012). How "dark" are the Dark Triad traits? Examining the perceived darkness of narcissism, Machiavellianism, and psychopathy. Personality and Individual Differences, 53, 884-889.

Salovey, P., & Mayer, J. D. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9, 185-211.

Wai, M., & Tiliopoulos, N. (2012). The affective and cognitive empathic nature of the dark triad of personality. Personality and Individual Differences, 52, 794-799.

Zajenkowski, M., Maciantowicz, O., Szymaniak, K., & Urban, P. (2018). Vulnerable and grandiose narcissism are differentially associated with ability and trait emotional intelligence. Frontiers in Psychology, 9, 1-8.

External links[edit | edit source]