Emotional intelligence is defined as the ability to be aware of the emotions of oneself and others, to imagine one’s own emotions and how they are expressed, and to manage others’ emotions. Researchers have just recently begun examining whether an empirical link exists between high emotional intelligence and negotiated outcomes.

Research published in Volume 30 of Negotiation Journal entitled “The Influence of Emotional Intelligence on Negotiation Outcomes and the Mediating Effect of Rapport: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach” looks at the importance of emotion and emotional intelligence on negotiation performance. This study points out that most of the gains already made in terms of improving negotiation outcomes have focused on the decision making process or on cognitive biases (included in the other pegs of the model).

The study is interesting because it is an empirical evaluation of the effect of emotional intelligence on tangible outcomes. At this point it is important to point out that this study focuses on emotional intelligence in particular. While E.I. is a critical component of affect, it is not the only component.[1]

The authors of this study break down the five factors which comprise E.I., as outlined by Danuel Goleman’s book on the subject[2]:

  • Self-awareness helps people recognize and understand their emotions and drives, as well as the effects of their emotions on other people’s emotions and behavior.
  • Self-regulation is a skill that enables individuals to redirect impulsive moods.
  • Motivation is those concerns beyond money or status that compel people to pursue their goals. Empathy is the ability to understand and effectively respond to the emotions of others.
  • Finally, social skills help people find common ground with others, build rapport with them, and manage relationships effectively.

With these components in mind the visualized hypothesis as stated in the study is:



The authors of the study sampled two hundred undergraduate business students enrolled in junior or senior classes at two large American public universities. In the first phase of the study E.I. was assessed using a thirty three-item emotional intelligence scale. In the second phase a simulated one-on-one negotiation for a job contract was administered, this simulation included distributive, logrolling, and compatible issues. Below is the same model with added correlation coefficients:


While the hypotheses for correlation between E.I. and trust, and E.I. and desire to work again were supported, there was no significant correlation between E.I. and joint gain. Rapport held up as the correct mediating variable with significant correlation. The authors of the study thus conclude, “The results of the present study suggest that emotional intelligence was positively related to greater rapport between parties, which nurtured trust and the desire to work together again.”[3]

The lack of correlation with joint gain, a particularly interesting result, is explained by saying that, “that emotionally intelligent negotiators may yield too much to their counterparts because they are more empathetic — focusing on others’ interests can encourage excessive concession making, often to the detriment of one’s own outcomes.”[4] This is consistent with previous studies which have concluded that empathy is less useful than perspective taking[5] and with additional studies which have pointed out that E.I. is negatively related to individual gain and that negotiations with high E.I. are vulnerable to exploitation.[6] Overall this study is an important empirical validation that emotional intelligence can be useful in promoting trust and togetherness, elements critical to long term business partnerships.



[1] Because both negative and positive affect play a critical role in determining negotiation outcomes, researchers have sought ways to help facilitators avoid negative affect and facilitate positive affect (Adler, Rosen, and Silverstein 1998), which has led some to examine the role of emotional intelligence and to discuss its implications for negotiation research. John Ogilvie and Mary Carsky (2002) claim that the key to success in negotiation is to be aware of the emotional components, understand their roles, and manage them. Ingrid Fulmer and Bruce Barry (2004) propose that an emotionally intelligent negotiator is likely to more successfully induce desired emotions from the opponent; evaluate risk more accurately, resulting in better decision-making outcomes; and use various strategies and tactics to manipulate outcomes. Other researchers argue that negotiators with high degrees of emotional intelligence are more likely to achieve positive negotiation outcomes, such as trustful relationships (Chun et al. 2010), the desire to work with counterparts again (Mayer and Salovey 1997; Goleman 1998), and greater joint gain (Foo et al. 2005). Kim, Kihwan, Nicole LA Cundiff, and Suk Bong Choi. “The Influence of Emotional Intelligence on Negotiation Outcomes and the Mediating Effect of Rapport: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach.” Negotiation Journal 30.1 (2014): 49-68.

[2] Ibid: 49-68.

[3] Kim, Kihwan, Nicole LA Cundiff, and Suk Bong Choi. “The Influence of Emotional Intelligence on Negotiation Outcomes and the Mediating Effect of Rapport: A Structural Equation Modeling Approach.” Negotiation Journal 30.1 (2014): 49-68

[4] Ibid.

[5] Galinsky, A. D., W. W. Maddux, D. Gilin, and J. White. 2008. Why it pays to get inside the head of your opponent: The differential effects of perspective taking and empathy in negotiations. Psychological Science 19(4): 378–384.

[6] Foo, M. D., H. A. Elfenbein, H. H. Tan, and V. C. Aik. 2005. Emotional intelligence and negotiation: The tension between creating and claiming value. The International Journal of Conflict Management 15(4): 411–429.