Emotional Intelligence

Four Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence

The Four Branch Model of Emotional Intelligence is a developmental model for emotional intelligence (EI) developed by University of New Hampshire Professor of Psychology John D. Mayer and Yale University President/Professor of Psychology Peter Salovey. It focuses on how individuals perceive, regulate, and think about emotions.

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Emotional Intelligenceperception, appraisal, and…emotional faciliation of…understanding and…reflective regulation of…ability to identify…ability to identify…ability to express…ability to discriminate…emotions prioritize…emotions are sufficiently…emotional mood swings…emotional states…ability to label emotions…ability to interpret the…ability to understand…ability to recognize…ability to stay open to…ability to reflectively…ability to reflectively…ability to manage emotion…

Breakdown by Domain

Domain Key


Key Features

Context & Culture

  • Notes that different factors (e.g., values, culture, religion, experiences, etc.) may impact an individual’s understanding and expression of emotions
  • Suggests using different measures for different cultures
  • Notes that emotional intelligence is required in a variety of settings such as home, school, and work

Developmental Perspective

  • The skills under each branch are listed in the order in which they develop, from foundational to more complex

Associated Outcomes

  • Research links EI to academic achievement and workplace success

Available Resources

Support Materials

  • Recent articles help distinguish the Four Branch Model of EI from other conceptualizations of EI and offer a set of principles for thinking about and assessing EI (see Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2008 and Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 2016)

Programs & Strategies

  • Recommends incorporating model into liberal arts education (e.g., through reading lessons or conflict resolution programs)

Measurement Tools

  • The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) consists of 8 ability-based tasks (two for each area of EI) and is based on the Four Branch Model of EI

Key Publications

  • Mayer, J.D., & Salovey, P. (1997). What is emotional intelligence? In P. Salovey & D. Sluyter (Eds.), Emotional development and emotional intelligence: Educational implications. New York, NY: Basic Books.
  • Mayer, J. D., Salovey, P., & Caruso, D.R. (2008). Emotional Intelligence: New Ability or Eclectic Mix of Traits? American Psychologist, 63, 503-517.
  • Mayer, J.D., Caruso, D.R., & Salovey, P. (2016). The ability model of emotional intelligence: Principles and updates. Emotion Review, 8, 1-11.

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