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J Pers Assess. 1990 Summer;54(3-4):772-81.

Perceiving affective content in ambiguous visual stimuli: a component of emotional intelligence.

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Department of Psychology, University of New Hampshire, Durham 03824-3567.


Emotional intelligence involves the accurate appraisal and expression of emotions in oneself and others and the regulation of emotion in a way that enhances living. One aspect of emotional intelligence is the ability to recognize the consensually agreed upon emotional qualities of objects in the environment. One hundred thirty-nine adults viewed 18 reproductions of faces, color swatches, and abstract designs and rated the emotional content of these visual stimuli. Three scores were extracted, including consensual accuracy, amount, and range of emotion perceived. These scores were compared with other aspects of emotional intelligence such as empathy and related to constructs such as alexithymia and neuroticism. A general ability to perceive consensual emotional content in visual stimuli was found, and it was most strongly associated with the ability to respond empathically to others.

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