Research Challenges Assumptions about Age

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<p><b>San Mateo, Calif. &mdash; Jan. 31<br /></b>There are many assumptions about emotional intelligence and age. Popular literature and &ldquo;common sense&rdquo; assert older people are wiser and more aware, but is this true? </p><p>Existing research indicates a slight relationship between emotional intelligence and age. </p><p>Using the Six Seconds&rsquo; Emotional Intelligence Assessment (SEI), a study of 405 Americans shows emotional intelligence (EQ) increases slightly with age. The relationship is r = 0.13 (p &lt; 0.01) &mdash; slight but significant.</p><p>Lorenzo Fariselli, Six Seconds Italia researcher, conducted the analysis.</p><p>&ldquo;The finding suggests emotional intelligence is a developing ability,&quot; Fariselli said. &quot;It is likely that accumulated life experiences contribute to EQ.&rdquo; </p><p>The study also challenges many popular beliefs about &ldquo;with age comes wisdom&rdquo; and the widespread perception of a generation gap in motivation and altruism. &nbsp;</p><p>The relationship between EQ and age is very slight &mdash; while a majority of older people are higher in EQ, there are many young people with higher EQ scores than their older counterparts. &nbsp;</p><p>In addition, some of the aspects of EQ can only be developed through training. &nbsp;</p><p>So, in an era where emotional intelligence is a critical competence for success, this finding shows young people committed to their own development have a edge.</p><p>The study examined three aspects of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management and self-direction. &nbsp;</p><p>Self-awareness, called &ldquo;Know Yourself&rdquo; in the SEI assessment, increases slightly with age. &nbsp;</p><p>&ldquo;We hypothesize that as people grow, they have more opportunity to learn about emotions and the gradations of emotions, increase emotional vocabulary and experience more and more varied life situations,&quot; Fariselli said. &quot;Perhaps they accumulate more feedback and integrate this into greater self-awareness.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Again, age is only mildly predictive of this dimension, so there are many younger people with a highly developed self-awareness and many older people who have not developed these competencies. </p><p>Meanwhile, self-management, called &ldquo;Choose Yourself&rdquo; in this model, does not increase with age. </p><p>This suggests the competencies in this part of the model (navigate emotions, exercise optimism, engage intrinsic motivation and apply consequential thinking) need specific training to develop.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p><p>In other words, it is less likely these &ldquo;automatically&rdquo; will develop through life experience.</p><p>The strongest effect is in self-direction, where age predicts 3.9 percent of the development of a set of skills called &ldquo;Give Yourself.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>There are two specific skills in this area, empathy (noticing and appropriately responding to others&rsquo; feelings) and pursue noble goals (using principles and values to drive behaviors). &nbsp;</p><p>Massimiliano Ghini is president of Six Seconds Italia and a leading authority on using emotional intelligence to improve business results. &nbsp;</p><p>His hypothesis of the link between &ldquo;Give Yourself&rdquo; and age comes from the responsibilities of adulthood.</p><p>&ldquo;For many people, adulthood and aging introduce increased need and opportunity to connect with and lead others, for example, engaging a team or developing an organization&rsquo;s vision,&quot; he said. &quot;As people age, they have more opportunities to practice these skills.&rdquo; &nbsp;</p><p>Again, the link between age and &quot;Give Yourself&quot; is modest &mdash; age is no guarantee for vision and wisdom.</p>

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