Going Beyond The Ability-Trait Debate: The Three-Level Model of Emotional Intelligence

Moïra Mikolajczak


This paper presents a unifying model that aims to reconcile two conflicting conceptions of emotional intelligence (EI): the conception of EI as being a form of intelligence (ability EI) and the conception of EI as being a personality trait (trait EI). We start by a synthesis and critical examination of the main arguments of each perspective. Based on this review, we suggest that both perspectives have contributed to extend scientific knowledge about emotional skills’ underlying processes and outcomes. In order to enable them both to exist in their own right, we suggest a three-level model of emotional skills (knowledge – abilities – dispositions). We conclude this paper by emphasizing the implications of the model for both research and practice.

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ISSN 1832-7931
Swinburne University of Technology