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Grounding Professional Coaching Practice with Positive Assessments of Emotional Intelligence

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Evidence of Convergent and Divergent Construct Validity for ESAP®

Nelson et al. (2004) reported the following based on empirical studies.

  • Most ESAP® measures were not significantly correlated with IQ (Raven’s Progressive Matrices). Also, even though Drive Strength, Time Management, and Commitment Ethic were significantly related to school achievement, those correlations were quite weak. Taken together, this evidence supports Nelson and Low’s definition of EI in terms of a confluence of learned skills and abilities, as well as their caution to avoid defining emotional intelligence in terms of fixed ability or traits (i.e., EI ≠ EQ or IQ).
  • All thirteen ESAP® scales were significantly related to mental health as measured by the 16PF®. The ten skills were positively related to mental health and the three problematic indicators (Aggression, Deference, and Change Orientation) were significantly negatively related to mental health.  The results from this study support the overarching claim that the items used in their instruments reflect healthy and effective being in the world (Nelson et al., 2004).  Because the problematic indicators represent reactive rather than reflective thinking and behaving, these results also support Nelson and Low’s Emotional Learning System (2004, 2011); a five-step systematic learning framework that encourages reflection rather than reaction to develop emotional intelligence skills.
  • The ESAP® was also significantly related to Epstein’s Constructive Thinking Inventory® (CTI®), which is a reliable and valid test for measuring personality health in terms of his cognitive-experiential self-theory (CEST). This finding was confirmed and strengthened by Cox and Nelson (2008). The ESAP® skills were positively and significantly related to Constructive Thinking, and negatively related to destructive thinking patterns measured by CTI®.  In addition, the ESAP® problematic measure of Aggression was positively correlated with the destructive thinking patters of Distrust of Others and Categorical Thinking measured by CTI®.  Interestingly, Epstein noted that constructive thinking was the key to emotional intelligence, and based on these convergent and divergent empirical findings, Nelson and Low would agree.  In fact, based on these findings combined with other parallels that emerged through the collegial friendship developed with Epstein, Nelson and Low coined their short definition of emotional intelligence as The learned ability to think constructively and act wisely.  As a result, Epstein’s CEST theory of personality remains an important framework of EILS’s EI certification and EI coaching workshops.

Farnia (2012) reported the positive relationship between total ESAP® problem areas (Aggression + Deference + Change Orientation), and total EI (adding the ten skills) with the mastery of English as a second language as measured by the paper-based Test Of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The convenience sample included Iranian adult learners of English (N = 84) at the Kish Language School in Tehran, Iran.  Total EI was significantly positively related to TOEFL performance and the summated EI problem areas was significantly negatively related to TOEFL performance.  In addition, the ESAP® Personal Leadership, Self-management, and Intrapersonal domains were significantly positively related to TOEFL performance. Only three of the 13 ESAP® scales (Assertion, Decision Making, & Change Orientation) did not significantly differentiate high and low TOEFL performers.

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