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Can you be too high in EI?

Posted by Iris Lin on Sep 19, 2019, 10:00:00 AM
Iris Lin
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As children, we are encouraged in school to achieve high scores on tests. Students are taught that achieving high scores on tests is good as that would demonstrate their knowledge and expertise over a subject area. However, when it comes to psychological assessments, is a high score always desirable? For example, when interpreting the results of the EQ-i 2.0, one of the questions that we frequently get is, “Can you be too high in emotional intelligence?”

The answer to this question is yes. The impact of achieving a high score on an EQ-i 2.0 subscale should be discussed and explored further if that high score is out of balance with other EQ-i 2.0 subscales.

Balance is important within an EQ-i 2.0 profile because subscales that are higher can be tempered by other related subscales, and subscales that are lower can be bolstered by related subscales. In the EQ-i 2.0, each subscale has three balancing subscales and these balancing subscales were chosen based on the relationship with the subscale of interest and whether the relationship is coachable and practical for clients to grasp.

When coaching, look for any subscales that are significantly higher or lower than others. A good rule of thumb to gauge whether a subscale is significantly different is to use the rule of 10. That is, 10 points between any two subscales indicates that the client is likely to exhibit one set of behaviors significantly more often than the other set.

For example, when you see a profile with a Self-Regard score of 110 and a Reality Testing score of 130, what is one possible interpretation? What could this look like in a person?  

First, it’s important to note that both scores are not low, with Self-Regard falling in the mid range. When taken in combination, one possible interpretation is that this person sees things in a slightly skewed manner. Because of their higher Reality Testing score, they clearly see and acknowledge their own weaknesses or biases; however, the lower Self-Regard score suggests that this person may focus more on their dissatisfaction with their limitations.

Conversely, a person with high and balanced Self-Regard and Reality Testing scores might indicate that although they clearly understand where their weaknesses and biases are, they still hold a positive view of themselves because they recognize that they have other strengths that balance out those weaknesses.

As this example demonstrates, although both scenarios have a high Reality Testing score, the impact of that score may change depending on whether or not it is in balance with other relevant subscales. Rather than only considering the potential impact of one EQ-i 2.0 subscale in isolation (whether that single score is too high or too low), remember to also consider how scores on multiple subscales may combine to inform the working hypotheses that you put forth about an EQ-i 2.0 profile.

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