How can we measure emotional intelligence?

Posted by | April 27, 2014 | Uncategorized | 49 Comments

Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand and to regulate emotions in oneself and in others. High EI is associated with more optimism, greater impulse control, better mood, more empathic perspective taking, more closeness and warmth in relationships, greater marital satisfaction, . more cooperation in a Prisoner’s Dilemma situation, more persistence under frustrating circumstances, better adjustment to university in beginning students, higher first year university grades, higher supervisor performance ratings in an undergraduate psychology internship. EI can be measured as an ability, using a test similar to an IQ test, or it can be measured as a personality trait.

Nicola Schutte, others, and I created a trait measure of EI that has been very widely used. The scale is called either the Schutte emotional intelligence scale or the Assessing Emotions Scale. Google Scholar lists over 1700 citations of our 1998 article introducing the scale.

You can complete the scale yourself — see the scale below. Keep in mind that your responses may be influenced by knowing that the scale measures EI. Also, you can use the scale with clients or in research.

To calculate a scale score, reverse code responses to items 5, 28, and 33. That means that after completing all the items, you must change the score for each of these three items to its opposite. So, if your response is 1, change that to a 5; if your response is 4, change that to a 2; and so on. A response of 3 stays as it is. Then sum all responses for a total score.

The mean score across many large samples is about 124, with a standard deviation of about 13. So scores below 111 or above 137 are unusually low or high.

Can we increase our emotional intelligence? It is possible to increase aspects of EI with focused effort, e.g., training in empathy or in self-regulation of emotions.

How do you use your emotional intelligence? How might you increase your application of it?

John Malouff, PhD, Assoc Prof of Psychology

Here is the Assessing Emotions Scale:

Each of the following items asks you about your emotions or reactions associated with emotions. After deciding whether a statement is generally true for you, use the 5-point scale to respond to the statement. Please circle the “1” if you strongly disagree that this is like you, the “2” if you somewhat disagree that this is like you, “3” if you neither agree nor disagree that this is like you, the “4” if you somewhat agree that this is like you, and the “5” if you
strongly agree that this is like you.
1 = strongly disagree
2 = somewhat disagree
3 = neither agree nor disagree
4 = somewhat agree
5 = strongly agree

1. I know when to speak about my personal problems to others. 1 2 3 4 5
2. When I am faced with obstacles, I remember times I faced similar obstacles and overcame them. 1 2 3 4 5
3. I expect that I will do well on most things I try. 1 2 3 4 5
4. Other people find it easy to confide in me. 1 2 3 4 5
5. I find it hard to understand the non-verbal messages of other people. 1 2 3 4 5
6. Some of the major events of my life have led me to re-evaluate what is important and not important. 1 2 3 4 5
7. When my mood changes, I see new possibilities. 1 2 3 4 5
8. Emotions are one of the things that make my life worth living. 1 2 3 4 5
9. I am aware of my emotions as I experience them. 1 2 3 4 5
10. I expect good things to happen. 1 2 3 4 5
11. I like to share my emotions with others. 1 2 3 4 5
12. When I experience a positive emotion, I know how to make it last. 1 2 3 4 5
13. I arrange events others enjoy. 1 2 3 4 5
14. I seek out activities that make me happy. 1 2 3 4 5
15. I am aware of the non-verbal messages I send to others. 1 2 3 4 5
16. I present myself in a way that makes a good impression on others. 1 2 3 4 5
17. When I am in a positive mood, solving problems is easy for me. 1 2 3 4 5
18. By looking at their facial expressions, I recognize the emotions people are experiencing. 1 2 3 4 5
19. I know why my emotions change. 1 2 3 4 5
20. When I am in a positive mood, I am able to come up with new ideas. 1 2 3 4 5
21. I have control over my emotions. 1 2 3 4 5
22. I easily recognize my emotions as I experience them. 1 2 3 4 5
23. I motivate myself by imagining a good outcome to tasks I take on. 1 2 3 4 5
24. I compliment others when they have done something well. 1 2 3 4 5
25. I am aware of the non-verbal messages other people send. 1 2 3 4 5
26. When another person tells me about an important event in his or her life, I almost feel as though I experienced this event myself. 1 2 3 4 5
27. When I feel a change in emotions, I tend to come up with new ideas. 1 2 3 4 5
28. When I am faced with a challenge, I give up because I believe I will fail. 1 2 3 4 5
29. I know what other people are feeling just by looking at them. 1 2 3 4 5
30. I help other people feel better when they are down. 1 2 3 4 5
31. I use good moods to help myself keep trying in the face of obstacles. 1 2 3 4 5
32. I can tell how people are feeling by listening to the tone of their voice. 1 2 3 4 5
33. It is difficult for me to understand why people feel the way they do. 1 2 3 4 5


Schutte, N. S., Malouff, J. M., Hall, L. E., Haggerty, D. J., Cooper, J. T., Golden, C. J., & Dornheim, L. (1998). Development and validation of a measure of emotional intelligence. Personality and Individual Differences, 25(2), 167-177.

Schutte, N.S., Malouff, J.M., & Bhullar, N. (2009). The Assessing Emotions Scale. C. Stough, D. Saklofske & J. Parker (Eds.), The Assessment of Emotional Intelligence. New York: Springer Publishing, 119-135.


  • This is a great survey. We are looking for measuring emotional intelligence in nursing students. There is not much research out there for nursing students and EI.
    Do we need your permission to use this scale? If so, what are the steps we need to take to use it?
    Thanks so much
    Dr. Midge Elkins

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Dr. Elkins. The measure has been used in hundreds of studies. You are welcome to use it without our prior approval for any purpose that is not revenue generating.

  • Anonymous says:

    To whom it may concern.
    Can we know ask about the scoring? When the scores are below 111 or higher than 137 does that mean that they are not emotionally intelligent? We are waiting for you favorable response because we are goint to use these test for our thesis in the subject Psychological Research A. Thank you and God bless.

  • Genevieve Delgado says:

    To whom it may concern.

    May we ask for the scoring or interpretations for this test? We are favorably waiting for your response because we are going to use this test for our thesis in the subject Psychological Research A. Thank you and God bless.

  • jmalouff says:

    To score responses, reverse-score items 5, 28, and 33, and then sum all 33 responses.

  • jmalouff says:

    The higher the total score, the higher the person’s trait emotional intelligence. Keep in mind tho that respondents can fake good or bad when responding.

  • Genevieve Delgado says:

    Sir, based on what I’ve read, do you mean that scores above 111 are comsidered high in emotional intelligence? Thank you in advance. 🙂

  • Genevieve says:

    Sir, does that mean that the scores above 111 are considered high in intelligence and scores below 111 are considered low? We really appreciate you.

  • jmalouff says:

    They are higher than average.

  • TM says:

    Good day! Sir, can I ask for the intervals or range of scores that will determine if the scores are low, medium/moderate or high? Thank you so much in advance sir.

  • jmalouff says:

    Ues your own judgment about that.

  • Molly says:

    Which questions belong to which of the 3 factors (appraisal & Expression of Emotions, Regulation of Emotions & Utilization of Emotions)? Thanks

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Molly. I don’t know off-hand. Use your own judgement.

  • Agha Irfan says:

    I am doing research . Do i require permission for applying the test in my research. tThanks

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Agha. Anyone one can use the scale for non-commercial (e.g., research) purposes.

  • Agha Irfan says:

    My Dear Sir,
    Being an academic researcher
    1.I would like to know that what are subscales of your scale. 2.Which are the questions through which we can predict academic achievement.3. Which subscales are gender exclusive.4 What is the reliability and validity of this scale. 5.Does your model talks about self awareness(Emotional Self-Awareness, Accurate Self-Assessment, and Self-Confidence),self management(Self-Control, Trustworthiness, Conscientiousness, Adaptability, Achievement Drive and Initiative),Social Awareness that includes three competencies: Empathy, Service Orientation and Organizational Awareness,Relationship Management that includes eight competences: Developing Others, Influence, Communication, Conflict Management, Leadership, Change Catalyst, Building Bonds and Teamwork & Collaboration). Kindly elaborate. Regards
    Sorry for inconvenience.

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Agha. Schutte and I do not use subscales for the EI measure, but others may create and use subscales.

  • Agha Irfan says:

    Dear Sir, Kindly elaborate the last item of scale:It is difficult for me to understand why people feel the way they do. Regards

  • jmalouff says:

    It means that the person does not understand what leads to the emotions other individuals experience.

  • ramil dinglasa says:

    To whom it may concern,
    I would like to use this questionnaire for my study on cross cultural adjustment of Filipino Expatriates. As i read literature, some categorizes this questionnaire into 3 or for dimensions like (a)ability to appraise and express emotions (b)ability to regulate emotions in self and others (c)ability to use emotions in problem solving.
    My question is: What are the items in the questionnaire that belongs to (a) or (b) or (c).
    The reason im asking is that i want to correlate it with the 3 dimensions also of cross cultural adjustment.

    Please enlighten me on this. Thank you very much. Hope to hear from you soon. 🙂

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Ramil. You may use the scale for research. We did not create the scale to have subscales. I always use the entire scale, with no subscales, but use your own judgement about that..

  • Arunya says:

    Hello Sir,

    Do we use our own judgement to grade the level of emotional intelligence while interpreting the score??

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Arunya. Use your judgement on top of the means and standard deviations provided in my posting. Keep in mind that the scale may or may not be valid in other cultures or when translated into another language. also, the means and standard deviations might not represent individuals living outside Western countries. Finally, be aware that it would be easy for a person to present a false image when completing the scale.

  • madhur says:

    good evening sir

    I would like to use this questionnaire for my research paper on EI of teacher trainees.

    1. Is the scale suitable for any age group?
    2. if,may i please ask for permission to use this scale for collecting data.
    thank you

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Madhur. It is suitable for adults and older adolescents. You may use it.

  • Wilma Valsalan says:

    Dear Sir
    I teach Nursing in India and am interested in understanding about the emotional intelligence of my students and correlation with their self esteem,academic and clinical performance.
    I request your permission to use the scale for my research.
    The blog posts have clarified a few of my doubts. Thank you
    Wilma V

  • aastha says:

    I’ll be using this scale on Indian employees. Hope its relevant.
    And how do we address employees in each of the following classes:
    below 111
    137 and above

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi. No one needs to obtain permission to use the scale for research purposes. Go right ahead and use it.

  • rafia says:

    hello sir, what is the age range of this scale

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Rafia. There is no set age range. Respondents need to be able to read and understand English at a high school level or better.

  • Anonymous says:

    so,can i administer it o high school students

  • rafia says:

    so, can i administer it on high school students

  • jmalouff says:

    It is OK with me. If they have adequate reading ability, they can answer the questions.

  • Agha Irfan says:

    Sir, My question is that can we measure EI on basis of sub factors . I have done so in my study relating to age as independent variable while EI with all its four factors of SEIS; perception,managing emotions self ,social skills and utilization of emotions as dependent variables. i found that while employing linear regression the R Square of total scale was about 0.44 ,while of the sub factors each separately was o.44, and 0.32 respectively which if we add together exceeds 1

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Agha. I don’t use subscales of our scale, but you can if you want.

  • naveed ahmad says:

    sir what is the scoring of this scale

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Naveed. My original posting explains how to score the scale.

  • naveed ahmad says:

    what is the score categories mean
    low level , average , high level
    actually i m asking about categories

  • jmalouff says:

    If you want to put individuals or groups into categories, you could collect a large local sample and then then characterize someone who scores a standard deviation (or two standard deviations) above the local mean as high and someone who scores one or two SDs below the mean as low. I would not use foreign means for that purpose. Also, keep in mind that it is easy to fake good or bad on the scale.

  • zainab says:


    If i were to use your SD as the point from which to state who is low on EI and high on EI, would that be an okay idea? I am using this scale for an undergraduate research project but I don’t feel i have the time to collect a local sample in time for me to present my professor with our Data collection assignment that requires false data.

  • jmalouff says:

    Seems OK to me, except for the lack of local norms.

  • Fatema says:

    Dear Dr. Malouff,

    I am wondering what the protocol would be for commercial use of this scale? Has it been used in this way before?

    Thank you.

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Fatema. To use the scale for commercial purposes, one would have to workout a written agreement with Schutte and me. I am at

  • Gloria De Leon says:

    I would like to give the test to my students, but how do I get their results? Is there a website I can go to?

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Gloria. Sum their responses, following the scoring instructions. Three items must be reverse-scored prior to summing.

  • FS says:

    hello !!
    I wanted to express the scores on this test in a 5-point Likert scale.
    Therefore, I wanted to ask you, according to your experience, which scores/ranges you would denote as good, rather good, fair, rather bad, and bad ?
    Thanks in advance for your quick help.

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Fabian. I would not characterize a score as good…bad. I suggest characterizing scores by how they fit in the means and standard deviations we have reported for university-student samples in the U.S. Keep in mind tho that those samples were not necessarily representative of adults in the U.S. Typical scores may vary with sex and age. Scores may also vary from country to country. Keep in mind also that it is easy to earn a high score by lying.

  • Matthew says:

    Good day sir.
    Can we use this for our undergraduate research? And how do we get your approval?

  • jmalouff says:

    Hi Matthew. Anyone can use the scale for research. We made the scale public domain for research purposes when we published our first articles about the scale.

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