Development of emotional intelligence: Towards a multi-level investment model

Moshe Zeidner, Gerald Matthews, Richard D. Roberts, Carolyn MacCann

    Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


    This paper examines the development of emotional intelligence (EI) in childhood. It is proposed that ambiguities in conceptualizing EI may be resolved by distinguishing multiple levels of emotion-regulation processes. Temperament, rule-based skill acquisition, and self-aware emotion regulation are differentiated as potential sources of individual differences. We review empirical studies that demonstrate multiple mechanisms linked to these levels. Temperament is shaped by genes, interacting with environmental influences such as patterns of infant-caregiver interaction. Early, language-dependent skill learning is governed by reinforcement and modeling processes. Subsequent, insightful learning is influenced by emotional discourse with parents and others, and cultural factors. Cognitive abilities may also influence individual differences in emotional function. At the same time, the biological and sociocultural factors that influence EI interact in complex and interrelated ways. We conclude this article by proposing a tentative 'investment model' for emotional competencies in children that accommodates the multifaceted nature of EI. Lower-level competencies may provide a platform for developing more sophisticated emotion-regulation skills, with competencies becoming increasingly differentiated over time.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)69-96
    Number of pages28
    JournalHuman Development
    Issue number2-3
    StatePublished - 2003


    • Emotional competencies
    • Emotional intelligence development
    • Social competencies
    • Socialization of emotions
    • Temperament

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Developmental and Educational Psychology


    Dive into the research topics of 'Development of emotional intelligence: Towards a multi-level investment model'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this