According to a study by Six Seconds, a small but significant relationship exists between age and emotional intelligence (EQ). It also indicated that individuals can develop some aspects of EQ through training.
Lorenzo Fariselli, Six Seconds Italia researcher, studied 405 Americans using the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment. The study, which looked at self-awareness, self-management and self-direction, three aspects of EQ.
showed that EQ increases slightly as people grow older.
“The finding suggests emotional intelligence is a developing ability,” Fariselli said. “It is likely that accumulated life experiences contribute to EQ.”
While more older people have a higher EQ, the study also found that many young people have a higher EQ than older people.
Self-awareness increases a bit as people age, according to the study.
“We hypothesize that, as people grow, they have more opportunity to learn about emotions and the gradations of emotions, increase emotional vocabulary and experience more and more varied life situations,” Fariselli said.
He also said older people likely use these phenomena as a way to learn about themselves.
“Perhaps they accumulate more feedback and integrate this into greater self-awareness,” Fariselli said.
Self-awareness is referred to as “Know Yourself” in the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment.
One aspect of EQ that does not increase with age, according to the study, is self-management, which is called “Choose Yourself.”
It is in this realm that the study suggests individuals can develop EQ — training is needed to develop skills related to navigating emotions, exercising optimism, applying consequential thinking and other facets of self-management.
In regard to self-direction, known as “Give Yourself” in the Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Assessment, there exists a modest link with EQ, according to the study.
Massimiliano Ghini, president of Six Seconds Italia and an authority on using emotional intelligence to improve business results, said this might be because people take on more responsibilities as they grow older.
“For many people, adulthood and aging introduce increased need and opportunity to connect with and lead others, for example, engaging a team or developing an organization’s vision,” he said.
It logically follows that older people get more chances to do this kind of work, Ghini said.
“As people age, they have more opportunities to practice these skills,” he said.
Self-direction, or “Give Yourself,” encompasses two specific skills: empathy and pursuing noble goals.
Although links exist between age and two aspects of EQ, the relationships are slight and do not guarantee that with age comes wisdom.