Collective Emotional Intelligence (CEI): Not Just the Sum of Individual EI


Summary. Collaborative learning and teamwork play a significant role in learning and work performance. Collective Emotional Intelligence (CEI) has positive effects on learning and performance dynamics in learning and collaborating teams, which reinforces EI as a contributing factor to successful organizational behavior. Therefore, the potential of CEI should be harnessed by further integrating it into work-relevant learning curriculums.

Team Learning for Team Performance

Despite or because of the controversy related to how Emotional Intelligence (EI) is positively influencing performance, potential beneficiaries such as Learning & Development and HR functions need to be considerate about what measures they take [1]. Organizational requirements shifted increasingly towards increased requirements for team work [2]. Similarly, in educational settings, collaborative learning is considered playing a decisive role in learning performance [3]. EI is a concept that is associating affect, cognition, and socialization [4]. It is possible to develop, e.g., through cooperative learning as several studies found [5] [6]. Team based learning becomes most effective if sufficient female participation in teams is created, which brings in the female tendency for increased emotional awareness and male’s heightened appetite to proactively guide the team [7]. Researchers suggests that emotional intelligence can culturally differ, following the logic that the social environment, as it is the topic of social cognitive theories, determines how for what emotions awareness and regulations are created [8].

Collective Emotional Intelligence (CEI) as a Team Ability

Studies confirm the correlation between the gender ratio and collective intelligence [9]. They define Collective Emotional Intelligence (CEI) as a group’s ability to create a collectively normed management and expression of emotions and emphasize its importance for teamwork quality [9]. It becomes evident that there is an interrelationship between the positive effect that EI can have on aspects of dynamics in learning teams [2], which reinforces EI as a contributing factor to successful organizational behavior [10]. Individual EI without integration into the group context is not a guarantee for teamwork as emotionally intelligent individuals may situationally choose competition over cooperation, depending on their strategic benefit assessment [11].

Reported decreases in empathy over time in medical school were successfully addressed by implementing further team based learning [4]. And another example represents the reported need for and success of EI as an integral part of work-relevant learning curriculums [12]. It will be interesting how evidenced-based research and organizational needs will stimulate each other. 


[1] Leimbach, M. P., & Maringka, J. (2010). Invited Reaction: Developing Emotional Intelligence (EI) Abilities through Team-Based Learning. Human Resource Development Quarterly, 21(2), 139-145.

[2] Clarke, N. (2010). Emotional Intelligence and Learning in Teams. Journal Of Workplace Learning, 22(3), 125-145.

[3] Moore, A., & Mamiseishvili, K. (2012). Examining the Relationship between Emotional Intelligence and Group Cohesion. Journal Of Education For Business, 87(5), 296-302.

[4] Borges, N. J., Kirkham, K., Deardorff, A. S., & Moore, J. A. (2012). Development of emotional intelligence in a team-based learning internal medicine clerkship. Medical Teacher, 34(10), 802-806. doi:10.3109/0142159X.2012.687121

[5] Goreyshi, M. K., kargar, F. R., Noohi, S., & Ajilchi, B. (2013). Effect of Combined Mastery-Cooperative Learning on Emotional Intelligence, Self-esteem and Academic Achievement in Grade Skipping. Procedia – Social And Behavioral Sciences, 84(The 3rd World Conference on Psychology, Counseling and Guidance, WCPCG-2012), 470-474. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.06.586

[6] Marta, E., Diego, M., & Miguel A, M. (2016). El Aprendizaje Cooperativo y las Habilidades Socio-Emocionales: Una Experiencia Docente en la Asignatura Técnicas de Ventas / Cooperative Learning and Socio-Emotional Skills: A Teaching Experience in Sales Techniques Course. Formación Universitaria, (6), 43.

[7] Dunaway, M. M. (2013). IS Learning: The Impact of Gender and Team Emotional Intelligence. Journal Of Information Systems Education, 24(3), 189-202.

[8] Sung, H. Y. (2015). Emotional Intelligence and Sociocognitive Skills in Collaborative Teaching and Learning. New Directions For Teaching And Learning, (143), 61-77.

[9] Curşeu, P. L., Pluut, H., Boroş, S., & Meslec, N. (2015). The magic of collective emotional intelligence in learning groups: No guys needed for the spell!. British Journal Of Psychology (London, England: 1953), 106(2), 217-234. doi:10.1111/bjop.12075

[10] Tofighi, M., Tirgari, B., Fooladvandi, M., Rasouli, F., & Jalali, M. (2015). Relationship between emotional intelligence and organizational citizenship behavior in critical and emergency nurses in south east of Iran. Ethiopian Journal Of Health Sciences, 25(1), 79-88.

[11] Fernández-Berrocal, P. )., Extremera, N. )., Ruiz-Aranda, D. )., & Lopes, P. ). (2014). When to cooperate and when to compete: Emotional intelligence in interpersonal decision-making. Journal Of Research In Personality, 49(1), 21-24. doi:10.1016/j.jrp.2013.12.005

[12] Singh, P., & Dali, C. M. (2013). Need for Emotional Intelligence to Develop Principals’ Social Skills. Africa Education Review, 10(3), 502-519.

      • I have thought about the impact of gender ratio in group dynamics, but your article is the first that I have seen address it in relation to EI. I will be more attentive to the acronym CEI now.

      • The trend will become even more popular when organizations adopt more social learning methods. I think organizations (and societies) realize more and more (or again, or also in the West) the power of collective consciousness to which CEI is related to. I also think that this is a good angle from which diversity and inclusiveness can be fostered too!