Emotional Intelligence

Emotional Intelligence and the Social Skills Inventory

The rich discussion and heated debate about the nature, and for that matter, the very existence of Emotional Intelligence (EQ) rages on in the popular and professional literature. Some posit that EQ is an essential construct that should be used to balance cognitive ability (IQ), and that efficacy in life will result when one can judiciously apply both. Others state that abilities in the EQ realm are not intelligences at all, rather they are simply synonymous with and indistinguishable from certain clusters of personality traits. Definitions of the EQ construct abound and are evolving, depending upon the theoretical and conceptual bases of the author(s). It is telling to survey the names and labels that have been applied to EQ over the past 50 years or so of its development: Social Acuity, Social Intelligence, Behavioral Intelligence, Practical Intelligence, Interpersonal/Intrapersonal Intelligence, Emotional Literacy, Social/Emotional Learning, and Emotional Granularity, to name just a few. Most researchers and practitioners agree that EQ consists of some ability to recognize and label emotions and emotional nuances in self as well as in others, to manage and regulate these, and to situationally apply them in order to solve problems and achieve successful outcomes.

Underneath the debates, there does appear to be some agreement that developing EQ is highly beneficial for children as well as adults, as it correlates significantly with higher personal well-being, more rewarding and enduring personal relationships with family and significant others, and even improved mental and physical health.

It is not surprising therefore, that numerous EQ measures have emerged from the diverse theories and research, and most of these, as well as their producers and/or publishers, can be readily discovered from a simple internet search. Some assessments are developed by and for researchers. Often these are free of cost, or minimally priced. Other products are more elaborate and more highly produced, complete with technical and user-guides, as well as paper-and-pencil and online administration platforms. These products are usually copyrighted, and their distribution and use are highly controlled and monitored. Clearly these materials are intended for commercial workshop use by consultants and facilitators. Frequently such products require users to be formally trained and certified in order to purchase and use the materials with the paying public. Relatively speaking, these EQ instruments and materials tend to be expensive.

Against this complex background, Mind Garden offers a highly useable, affordable, well researched, reliable and valid measure of Emotional Intelligence: The Social Skills Inventory (SSI), developed by Ron Riggio at Claremont McKenna College (1989, 2003). The SSI comes to us from a theoretical model of communication that stipulates that there are 3 basic types of social skills: Expressivity (Encoding skill), Sensitivity (Decoding skill), and Control (Regulatory skill), and that these operate in both the Social and Emotional realms. Though the research, development, and construction of the SSI actually pre-date many of the current popular EQ products, the 6 basic categories of skills tapped by the SSI are at the heart of the EQ model.

The 6 scale, 90 item Original Form or 30 item Brief Form SSI provide efficient and comprehensive assessment of Emotional Intelligence. Respondents use a 5-point response format ranging from “Not at all like me,” to “Exactly like me” in responding to the items. Representative items from the SSI scales:

Emotional Expressivity (EE), that is, skill in communicating non-verbally, and in conveying emotional messages and emotional states:

“I am able to liven up a dull party.”

Emotional Sensitivity (ES), skill in reading and interpreting the emotional messages of others:

“I am often told that I am a sensitive, understanding person.”

Emotional Control (EC), skill in controlling and regulating one’s own non-verbal displays:

"People can always tell when I dislike them, no matter how hard I try to hide my feelings.” (reverse scored)

A “Sub Total” score on these 3 emotional-based scales can be used as a concise, self-report indication of Emotional Intelligence.

Social Expressivity (SS), skill in verbal expression and the ability to engage:

“I enjoy giving parties.”

Social Sensitivity (SS), skill in interpreting the verbal communication of others:

“I’m generally concerned about the impression I’m making on others.”

Social Control (SC), skill in role-playing, as well as tact, and social self-presentation:

"I can easily adjust to being in just about any social situation.”

A “Sub Total” score on these 3 socially-based scales can be used as a concise, self-report indication of Social Intelligence.

Equilibrium Index

Given the central importance of balance and flexibility in Emotional Intelligence model, SSI users will be particularly interested in the background and calculation of the SSI Equilibrium Index (SSI-EI), derived from a set of SSI results. The Equilibrium Index provides an overall indication of the consistency and balance of one’s results on the 6 main scales of the SSI. Elevated results on the SSI-ES suggest higher level functioning in Social Competence and Emotional Intelligence. The SSI can be administered via paper-and-pencil and on-line including individual and group reports.

The SSI Manual

The SSI Manual (2nd Edition) contains background information on the theoretical underpinning and development of the SSI, as well detailed normative information and instructions for administration, scoring, interpretation and feedback.
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Social Skills Inventory
A measure of verbal, non-verbal social competence and emotional intelligence.