What Is An Emotional Intelligence Test Used For?

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant
Updated February 19, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Emotional intelligence can significantly impact various aspects of your life, including behavior in family, friendships, and workplace relationships. However, your romantic partnership often requires a deeper level of intimacy than many other types of connections. Thus, honing emotional skills can particularly help ensure healthy connection, understanding, and resilience. Learning to recognize and reflect on your own and your partner's moods, seeking open communication, and calmly answering concerns can rely on the development of emotional intelligence. These abilities enable you to focus on your partner's perspectives and create a strong team dynamic in facing life's challenges together.

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What is emotional intelligence, and why does it matter?

Though the term has been only coined in the last century, the concept of emotional intelligence has ancient roots, dating all the way back to Plato and appearing in the Hindu text, The Bhagavad Gita.

Emotional intelligence (EI), as it is used today, describes the capability to identify and control one’s own emotions, as well as sense the feelings of others. Emotionally intelligent individuals tend to possess impressive social skills, navigate conflict well, and display empathy toward others.

Testing for emotional intelligence

To test for EI, researchers developed the Emotional Quotient (EQ). While many people have heard of IQ (Intelligence Quotient), which tests intellect and reasoning skills, the arguably lesser-known EQ can make a big difference in multiple areas of life.

Research suggests that higher EQ can positively impact work, social life, mental and physical health, and relationships. For example, individuals with higher emotional intelligence scores report more positive social relationships. Further, higher EI scores correlated to an individual’s workplace peer ratings of their interpersonal skills, stress tolerance, and leadership potential. 

And EI can be highly critical to romantic relationships as well. One study showed that emotional intelligence alone explained 30% of changes in marital satisfaction. Further, it indicates a positive relationship between emotional intelligence and quality of life. In other words, if emotional intelligence increases, the quality of life may also improve.

It’s important to note that some people may experience difficulty in identifying and controlling their own emotions and those around them, such as some neurodivergent people and those experiencing anxiety or depression. This is completely normal, and there are still plenty of paths to successful work, social, and romantic relationships without a perfect EQ score.

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Five domains of emotional intelligence

Emotional intelligence is not a vague concept. In fact, there are five components that make up the EI model and can help in improving EQ:

  • Self-Awareness: Begin by being present and aware of your own feelings, reactions, responses, and abilities to behave and cope with positive and negative situations.
  • Self-Regulation: It’s normal to experience intense emotions. However, self-regulation can help you calmly decide on how to manage your feelings and thought processes.
  • Motivation: Staying motivated can help draw positivity in multiple groups of your life, like mental health, career, and interpersonal relationships. Motivation is crucial to emotional intelligence because it keeps an individual actively working toward positive outcomes.
  • Empathy: Empathy allows an individual to be in tune with someone else’s emotions. Understanding or feeling what someone else feels can help you connect more deeply with others and seek to strengthen emotional bonds.
  • Social Skills: Honing social skills is a key part of emotional intelligence. The ability to effectively speak and relate to others in a social setting is fundamental to a high EQ, enabling you to handle pressure and frequently undertake collaborative tasks with reliability.

How emotional intelligence impacts your relationship

So, with the five domains of EI in mind, how does EQ level affect your romantic relationship?

Helps with conflict management and resolution

At some point, conflict may arise in a relationship. However, this does not have to result in adverse outcomes. Instead, if all parties work on developing their EQ, then it’s more likely that conflict will be managed effectively.

By leveraging self-awareness, you can better understand your reactions to challenging situations and see your response's role in a conflict. 

In practice, self-regulation can help you manage your emotions as you try to reach a resolution with your partner during a disagreement. This type of emotional control also can mitigate explosive reactions and de-escalate negative back-and-forth.

Improves active listening and fights closeness-communication bias

When romantic partners get to know each other well, they may experience something called closeness-communication bias. One scientific study states, “People commonly believe that they communicate better with close friends than with strangers. We propose, however, that closeness can lead people to overestimate how well they communicate, a phenomenon we term the closeness-communication bias.” In other words, romantic partners may believe they already know what the other is saying, but in reality, they are leaning on past experience to inform their conclusions instead of mindfully listening in the moment.

Emotional intelligence levels may help determine how effectively relationship partners are able to hone their active listening skills. By employing higher levels of empathy, individuals may be better equipped to actively listen to their partner and fight closeness-communication bias. 

Closeness-communication bias can be significant to overcome, and speaking to a licensed relationship therapist can often support your progress as a couple as it relates to effective communication.

Motivates partners to put in the work for relationship success

Emotional intelligence may help you stay motivated to work through challenges with your partner so you can maintain a healthy relationship. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there are different types of motivation:

  • Extrinsic motivation: This type of motivation comes from an external source that leads to a separable outcome, whether that outcome is to earn a reward or avoid punishment. For example, a student may be motivated to work late into the evening to finish homework to get a good grade. In another example, an employee may wake up an hour early to ensure they are on time for a meeting at the office to avoid being fired.
  • Intrinsic motivation: Intrinsic motivation is defined as doing an activity for its inherent satisfaction rather than for some separable consequence. When intrinsically motivated, a person is moved to act for the fun or challenge an action entails rather than external prods, pressures, or rewards. For example, imagine an artist painting simply because they enjoy the creative satisfaction of the act.
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It is healthy to incorporate a mixture of both intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in various areas of your life, but it is worth noting that intrinsic motivation correlates positively and significantly with variables that explain emotional intelligence. So, it can be helpful to take time to understand your intrinsic motivations alongside your partner. This could inspire action to put in effort toward relationship success consistently.

Strengthens the emotional bond

Higher levels of emotional intelligence can pave the way for a deeper bond with your partner. However, those who have high levels of emotional intelligence may be mistaken as simply "overemotional" or "too sensitive," according to emotional intelligence psychology. By recognizing your feelings, staying empathetic to your partner’s point of view, and self-regulating your own emotions, you will be more likely to successfully navigate the inevitable ups and downs of the relationship together.

Further, staying in touch with your intrinsic motivations as a unit can deepen your understanding of each other and maintain the desire for progress and positive outcomes.

How to develop your EQ

Emotional intelligence may play a vital role in your relationships, including your romantic partnership. You can continue to develop your EQ throughout your life –– it does not have to be set in stone. There are steps you can take to boost your emotional intelligence:

Start with mindful self-awareness

Practice recognizing your own emotions and naming them. How do you feel when stressful situations arise? Furthermore, what are your responses to emotionally difficult moments? Are you easily able to control your reactions and feelings? When you improve your self-awareness, you will likely be able to develop your EQ over time.

Consider online therapy for emotional control

Online therapy can help individuals who experience challenges controlling emotions. For example, one study demonstrated how online cognitive-behavioral therapy helped reduce stress and anxiety for college students. 

Ask for feedback

Finally, monitoring your progress through feedback can be important. Ask your partner, family, friends, or co-workers about their thoughts on your emotional reactions to stressful situations, empathy level, flexibility, and capacity to handle conflict. A therapist can also provide feedback and guidance.

From the comfort of your own home, you can speak to a licensed therapist who can support your journey to better emotional control and a more developed EQ.

Takeaway

It can be difficult to assess your own progress accurately, so it's helpful to ask for honest feedback while improving your emotional intelligence and strengthening your relationship. Remaining calm in the face of fear and being open to exploring other things can promote growth. Continuing to develop your emotional intelligence could help you and your romantic partner achieve deeper mutual understanding, enhance conflict management skills, and grow closer together. Consider making a statement of your commitment to this growth as you embark on this journey.

Tests can bring up many emotions

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
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