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Emotional Intelligence Linked to Manipulative Behavior

Update Date: Oct 24, 2013 04:53 PM EDT

Having a high level of emotional intelligence may boost a person's ability to manipulate others, according to a new study.

Researchers found that having emotional intelligence may not always be associated with being prosocial. They found that emotionally intelligent people are more likely to use their skills to get what they want from other people.

Japanese researchers from Kyoto University experimentally manipulated participants to feel ignored or excluded in a laboratory game. This "ostracized other" could then attempt retaliation against the other two player that ostracized him or her. Researchers explained that 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 themselves and their "ostracizers".

The findings revealed 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, people with high emotional intelligence were more likely to recommend the ostracized other reject fair offers when they had a strong intention to retaliate, in an attempt to manipulate their decision.

Researchers said that the latest findings help clarify understanding of emotional intelligence and its social function. Emotional intelligence is the ability to appropriately regulate self-related and other-related emotions, and is generally associated with prosocial behavior and better interpersonal relationships.

"Emotional intelligence itself is neither positive nor negative, but it can facilitate interpersonal behaviors for achieving goals," lead researcher Yuki Nozaki said in a news release.

The findings are published in the journal PLoS ONE

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