Associations of trait and ability emotional intelligence with performance on Theory of Mind tasks in an adult sample

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  • University of Edinburgh


In this study the associations of trait and ability measures of emotional intelligence (EI) with social-cognitive and social-perceptual Theory of Mind (ToM) were examined. Verbal ability and the personality traits of Agreeableness and Openness were also assessed. Both trait and ability EI were found to be significantly correlated with performance on social-cognitive but not social-perceptual ToM. Regression modelling showed that one of the ability EI tests, a measure of understanding emotions, and trait EI were significant predictors of social-cognitive ToM performance. The associations of ability EI with social-cognitive but not social-perceptual ToM can be interpreted as reflecting current ability EI tests being constructed in a manner which emphasises the assessment of emotional knowledge rather than on-line processing of emotional information. The results of the present study provide useful initial information on how the conceptually-linked but distinct constructs of EI and ToM are associated in adults; these findings can be used to inform future work in this area.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-418
Number of pages5
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Issue number5
Early online date10 May 2010
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2010


  • emotional intelligence, Theory of Mind, social cognition