Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 41, Issue 2, pp 254–264 | Cite as

Motivating emotional intelligence: A reinforcement sensitivity theory (RST) perspective

Original Paper


Trait emotional intelligence (trait EI) is generally associated with positive outcomes and can inform clinical and social interventions. We investigated the sub-factors of trait EI: Wellbeing, Self-control, Emotionality, and Sociability, in the context of the reinforcement sensitivity theory (RST) of motivation. In Study 1, participants (N = 247) completed Carver and White’s (J Personal Soc Psychol 67:319–333; Carver, White, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 67:319–333, 1994) BIS/BAS scales and a measure of trait EI. All EI sub-factors were positively associated with BAS Drive and negatively with BIS. Study 2 (N = 382) employed a new questionnaire based on revised RST (Corr and Cooper, Psychol Assess 28:1427–1440; Corr, Cooper, Psychological Assessment 28:1427–1440, 2016). All trait EI factors were positively associated with BAS Goal-Drive Persistence and Reward Interest, and negatively with the BIS. Self-control showed negative associations with BAS Impulsivity and was the only factor not to correlate with BAS Reward Reactivity. Results suggest that high trait EI individuals are goal driven, sensitive to reward and lower in avoidance motivation and negative emotion. This motivational basis to trait EI further explicates its structure.


Trait emotional intelligence Revised reinforcement sensitivity theory Motivation BIS/BAS RST-PQ TEIQue 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of PsychologyPlymouth UniversityPlymouthUK
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyCity, University of LondonLondonUK

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