Using Emotional Intelligence to Manipulate OthersImproving emotional intelligence has been viewed as a positive way to manage emotions, relieve stress, enhance communication and reduce conflict.

New research, however, suggests that emotionally intelligent people have the ability to manipulate others to satisfy their own interest.

Emotional intelligence refers to the ability of a person to appropriately regulate self-related and other-related emotions, and is generally associated with prosocial behavior and better interpersonal relationships.

In research published in the journal PLOS ONE, Yuki Nozaki and colleagues at Kyoto University investigated if emotionally intelligent people may manipulate others’ behaviors to suit their own interest, rather than achieving general prosocial outcomes by managing the emotions of others.

To test these possibilities, the authors experimentally manipulated whether someone was ostracized, i.e., ignored or excluded, in a laboratory game.

The ostracized other could either act rationally and accept fair offers in the monetary game, or act irrationally and reject fair offers, which would reduce rewards for both him/her and their ostracizers.

This “ostracized other” could then attempt retaliation against the other two players that ostracized him/her.

Researchers found that people with high emotional intelligence were more likely to recommend that the ostracized other inhibit retaliation and accept fair offers when they have a weaker intention to retaliate.

However, they were more likely to recommend that the ostracized other reject fair offers when they had a strong intention to retaliate, in an attempt to manipulate their decision.

This study helps refine our understanding of emotional intelligence, and clarifies its social function.

Said Nozaki, “Emotional intelligence itself is neither positive nor negative, but it can facilitate interpersonal behaviors for achieving goals.”

Thus, emotional intelligence may be viewed as skill-set that can be used to influence the emotions of others.

Source: Public Library of Science


Emotional intelligence photo by shutterstock.