Finally, the study of emotional intelligence [emotional intelligence the capacity to be sensitive to and regulate our own emotional state, and that of other people] and regulation is rapidly becoming an important area within emotional development research, highlighting the link between emotion and cognition.
Emotional intelligence refers to a set of skills that we use to deal with emotion-relevant information. Salovey, Hsee and Mayer (1993) suggest that it is concerned with:
1. the appraisal and expression of emotion;
2. the use of information based on emotion; and
3. the adaptive nature of emotion regulation.
Of particular importance is how we learn to regulate our own emotions. Salovey and colleagues argue that emotional self-regulation depends on two factors. The first is how disposed we are to regulate our own emotions. This in turn depends on emotional awareness and our thoughts about our own moods. Secondly, it depends on strategies that can be used to affect our own feelings. For example, we might manipulate what we feel by spending a day helping other people, or perhaps by completing the less pleasant tasks of the day early on, saving the more pleasant things for later. Thompson (1990, 1991) links changes in emotional selfregulation to the development of cognitive skills, allowing emotion to be seen as analysable and capable of change. No doubt, such capacities themselves depend on a mixture of genetic influences and the development of language and social behaviour. As emotional intelligence and the ability to self-regulate develop, so does a child’s own way of thinking about emotion. This, in turn, will be influenced by socialization. So emotional intelligence and self-regulation may to some extent depend on the attachment style the child experiences and how well socialized she becomes. Emotional intelligence is, of course, also concerned with accurately interpreting and dealing with others’ emotions.