“Emotional Intelligence” (EI) refers to how capable a person is at recognizing, evaluating and acting in line with emotions — both theirs and those of the people around them. Increasingly, employers are recognizing the importance of emotional intelligence in their staff, not only for minimizing conflict but for fostering innovative and nurturing work environments.
The term is typically attributed to Dr. Daniel Goleman who published a book with the same name in 1995. Goleman describes four quadrants of emotional intelligence: on the x-axis are “self” and “social,” which distinguish “intrapersonal” and “interpersonal” intelligence, and on the y-axis are “recognition” and “regulation.”
The self-recognition category is most commonly referred to as “self-awareness” and involves awareness about your emotional states, your tendencies and your triggers. The self-regulation category is usually called “self-management” and refers to the ability to remain calm and to adapt to different situations and emotional environments. The social-recognition category is known as “social awareness” and includes things like empathy and the ability to quickly read the emotions of others. Finally, the social-regulation category is referred to as “relationship management” and is about interpersonal dynamics and the ability to manage conflict as well as build strong relationships.
Why take an emotional intelligence appraisal?
Your emotional intelligence quotient or your “EQ” can be difficult to measure, and many of the tests on the internet are overly simplistic in their questions and grading systems. However, even simplistic online EI appraisals can help you understand what makes up EI and what areas you may need to focus on, taking it all with a grain of salt.
Equipping yourself with this baseline can help you identify areas for improvement, and may help you be more aware of emotions throughout the day, which conveniently is something that improves EI. When your emotional intelligence improves your relationship with yourself, your ability to concentrate, your relationships with other people, your empathy and your wellbeing all flourish.
10 emotional intelligence tests
There are tons of emotional intelligence appraisals out there, so to respect your time and energy, I've decide to test out some of the most popular ones. I've rated the following 10 tests on a scale from one to 10 on the basis of the following five parameters:
- Whether the tests provide answerable questions (an example of an ‘unanswerable’ question might be one that provides a situation and a couple of possible responses, both of which you would never do).
- Whether the questions acknowledge nuance (a common EI appraisal question is “do you let your emotions dictate your behavior, yes or no” which of course ignores the nuance of consistently undergoing behaviors to help regulate emotions such as deep breaths when upset).
- Whether the questions make assumptions about your line of work (an example might be “when you are dealing with a customer in this situation how do you feel?”).
- Whether the report at the end is helpful and detailed.
- And, whether the test is accurate in its scoring (relative to other tests).
1. VeryWell Mind (5/10)
This test takes less than five minutes to complete and makes for a good option if you're short on time. From my experience with it, I'd have to admit it isn’t the most accurate and didn't provide a numerical score at the end, but it did have some interesting questions that got me thinking about situations that benefit from higher emotional intelligence.
2. Greater Good Magazine (6/10)
This test is published by the University of California Berkeley and only takes 10-15 minutes to complete. It focuses on recognizing facial expressions, an important part of EI and includes a lot of information as you go. But if you're looking for one all-encompassing emotional intelligence test, I wouldn't recommend this one.
3. Institute for Health and Human Potential (6/10)
Another short test, taking only 5 to 10 minutes to complete, is this one which requires you self-assess your effectiveness at some key tenants of EI: listening skills, handling criticism, etc. The report doesn’t give you a numerical score but it does suggest an area or two that you could work on, even if you score “high.”
4. Global Leadership Foundation (7/10)
The Global Leadership foundation offers the “Global EI Test” or GEIT for free, which is comprised of 40 questions modeled directly off Goldman’s book and four quadrants. This test took only about 10 minutes to complete, and I didn't find it to be entirely accurate, but it did break my results down into the four categories, which I found incredibly helpful.
5. A Real Me (7/10)
This test focuses solely on situation-based questions but acknowledges nuance more effectively than the VeryWell Mind version, which helps it be more accurate. It's another short test, around 10 minutes, and will give you a numerical score at the end.
6. Mind Tools (8/10)
This very short test is only 15 questions, so takes about 5 minutes to complete. Like the test from the Institute for Health and Human Potential, Mind Tools rely on your ability to self-assess your general ability to do different things related to EI. The difference is, Mind Tools will give you a numerical score, and breaks down which questions fall into which of Goleman’s four quadrants, plus how.
7. The Calculator (8/10)
The Calculator is another 5-minute test, but one that makes the most of it. It gives you a percentile at the end, not quite as nice of a report as Mind Tools, but instead of answering questions this test allows you to just choose the statements that sound most like you, making it quick and easy to take. If you struggle taking this test, this is also a helpful indication that “self-awareness” might be a good place for you to do some work.
8. Memorado (9/10)
The last of the short tests is this one from Memorado, which blends recognizing facial expressions with self-assessment. I gave it a nine because, in addition to indicating areas of EI through the questions, this test also provided a robust report at the end that includes your EQ, a breakdown of your score (into the quadrants) and long explanations to help you gain knowledge on EI, in addition to learning about yourself.
9. Psychology Today (9/10)
Got 45 minutes to an hour on your hands? Consider taking Psychology Today’s 146 question EI appraisal. It includes many types of questions and question asking styles to get to know you from every angle, which helps with its accuracy. It's also good to know that it'll only give you a percentile rank at the end, unless you are willing to pay $9.95 for a robust report.
10. PsychTests (10/10)
Forego the PsychTest if you want an accurate, comprehensive EI appraisal. It has every single question that Psychology Today has — plus 200 more — and the extras often get into more nuance. This appraisal, too, will only give you a percent, but for $9.95, you can get an in-depth, 4-page report.
Much more important than taking a specific emotional intelligence test is to consider the emotional intelligence in your life; taking a test is only one way to kickstart this process.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy is another great way to work on your EI, either with a class, a therapist or on your own. Working on your emotional intelligence is one of the best ways to improve your presence and productivity at work, as well as help you feel more content and in control, in all areas of life.