Sensors (Basel). 2023 Mar 5;23(5):2839. doi: 10.3390/s23052839.
Emotional intelligence (EI) is a critical social intelligence skill that refers to an individual’s ability to assess their own emotions and those of others. While EI has been shown to predict an individual’s productivity, personal success, and ability to maintain positive relationships, its assessment has primarily relied on subjective reports, which are vulnerable to response distortion and limit the validity of the assessment. To address this limitation, we propose a novel method for assessing EI based on physiological responses-specifically heart rate variability (HRV) and dynamics. We conducted four experiments to develop this method. First, we designed, analyzed, and selected photos to evaluate the ability to recognize emotions. Second, we produced and selected facial expression stimuli (i.e., avatars) that were standardized based on a two-dimensional model. Third, we obtained physiological response data (HRV and dynamics) from participants as they viewed the photos and avatars. Finally, we analyzed HRV measures to produce an evaluation criterion for assessing EI. Results showed that participants’ low and high EI could be discriminated based on the number of HRV indices that were statistically different between the two groups. Specifically, 14 HRV indices, including HF (high-frequency power), lnHF (the natural logarithm of HF), and RSA (respiratory sinus arrhythmia), were significant markers for discerning between low and high EI groups. Our method has implications for improving the validity of EI assessment by providing objective and quantifiable measures that are less vulnerable to response distortion.