Assessing Emotional Intelligence

In addition to publishing the SEI assessment, we use and recommend several valid and valuable measures of emotional intelligence. This overview will help you decide which emotional intelligence test to use, and how to get it.

What is your primary purpose in using an assessment?

Are you looking to a baseline for growth? Clear feedback? Self-reflection? A brief introduction? An in-depth tool for putting EQ into action? An objective assessment? Different tools meet different needs, so start by considering your priority. We are happy to recommend an assessment based on your needs, please contact Six Seconds.

Here’s a rundown of several assessments. All are statistically reliable measures, and each measures slightly (or significantly) different aspects of EQ. Whatever emotional intelligence test you use, please purchase it from (and support Six Seconds!) †

Test Purpose Versions & Price


“Mayer, Salovey, Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test”

Description: The only ability measure of EQ, the MSCEIT requires you to actually use your abilities and emotion knowledge in taking the test. For example, there are questions where you look at faces and identify what emotions are present. It helps you understand the actual intelligence behind emotions: Perceiving, using, understanding, and managing feelings.

Purpose: We recommend this emotional intelligence test for people who want a substantive understanding of the way they process emotions and for academic researchers. We use it for advanced practitioner training and for some coaching. Other colleagues use it in training.

Pros: Highly objective, very rigorous, truly measures unique dimension of emotional awareness & processing.

Cons: Unusual (some people even find it strange or hard to see the relevance to work & life), fairly time consuming.

Validity: MSCEIT has outstanding psychometric properties and is very well researched. Even after controlling for personality, it predicts important workplace and life outcomes – while the claims are modest (ie, R2 ranging from .07-.35) the research is rigorous and meets high academic standards. MSCEIT is a Level B tool (certification required)*

Versions: There is an adult version, 2 reports available (with or without numerical scores). Youth Version in research.

History: First developed as the MEIS in approximately 1995, this tool was commercially published around 2002 and there appears to be little ongoing validation by the publisher, but the tool is used extensively in serious academic research.

Online or paper

Order assessment + debrief from Six Seconds

Wholesale: $50,

Many more details (outside link)



Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Test

Description: Focused on self-development, the SEI is the only emotional intelligence test based on Six Seconds’ EQ-in-action model: Know Yourself, Choose Yourself, Give Yourself. The test measures 8 fundamental skills in these three areas, such as emotional literacy, navigating emotions, intrinsic motivation, and empathy. The SEI also includes an assessment of current effectiveness and puts the EQ scores in the context of performance results. Development Report and Leader’s Development Guide come with over 20 pages of interpretation and actionable, substantive development suggestions. The SEI assessment and reports are available in several languages.

Purpose: The SEI is built for learning; it’s easy to use with a practical, actionable model. We use the SEI in our training programs (e.g., EQ Leadership, Selling with EQ, EQ Team) and for 1:1 coaching as well as to assist hiring and for performance management. Because of the development focus, SEI is ideal for helping people to learn and apply emotional intelligence. It is ideal for structuring a blended learning program where EQ is an ingredient of performance (e.g., , “skills for people performance” or “human side of sales” or “you as the driver of change”)

Pros: Actionable, clear model – cohesive. Puts EQ in the context of important life and work outcomes (e.g., factors including relationships, influence, effectiveness are built into the assessment). Extensive range of tools, programs, books, in same model.

Cons: Relatively new (2005) so not as well known as other tools. Not created by academics so few academic research articles published with it.

Validity: The global norm group is over 25,000 including respondents from over 30 countries. The SEI has excellent psychometric properties including Chronbach Alphas ranging from .73 – .84, and it strongly predicts self-reported outcomes such as effectiveness (R2=.501) and quality of life (R2=.435). The SEI has a highly sophisticated scoring algorithm including self-correcting indices (positive impression and answer style) and a consistency scale. SEI is a Level B tool (certification required). *

Versions: Adult self-report assessment with Strengths Report (3 top scales), Development Report (all audiences), Leadership Report (organizational leaders), Leader’s Development Guide (custom workbook available with Leadership Report), Group Report, Comparison Group Report.

360 (multirater) using same model.

Youth Version using same model, YV offers full model including 5 important outcomes (e.g., achievement, health, relationships).

History: The SEI was first published in 2005. There are regular, ongoing research updates. The current version is 3.2.

Online and paper

Retail $10-$45 (order options)

Wholesale: $8-$30 (by report & volume)


SEI Brain Brief

Description: Designed as an entry-point to emotional intelligence, the Brain Brief Profile offers an easy “hook” to begin talking about using emotions & cognition together.  The 1-page profile gives users insight into how their brain functions.

Purpose: The Brain Brief is designed for training.  It’s well suited to use with large groups.  It is a “Level A” assessment so no certification is required to be able to administer the tool, there is a free online tutorial.

Validity: The Brain Brief uses the full SEI assessment with a very large norm base (over 50,000) and has strong psychometric properties.  

History: The BBP was published in January, 2013.

Retail: $10

Wholesale: $8 and lower based on volume



“Emotional and Social Competency Inventory” by HayGroup

Description: Using Goleman’s 4-quadrant model (awareness of self and others, management of self and others), the ECSI emotional intelligence test measures a spectrum of critical competencies shown to affect workplace performance. The ECSI is a “multi-rater” so the test-taker receives feedback from several people.

Purpose: Members of Six Seconds’ Network have used this test for professional and personal development for coaching leaders to explore their competencies as leaders as perceived by their team members. It is often used by large organizations in developing a competency model for organizational development.

Validity: The ECSI is a competency profile, not a psychometric assessment. The competency model is based on the extensive Hay database.  Certification is required to administer the ESCI.

History: The ESCI is the latest version of the original ECI by Richard Boyatzis and Daniel Goleman.


Retail: $225 including PDF report



by Ben Palmer

 According to the Genos web site, “Genos EI measures the behaviors underpinning and supporting exceptional interpersonal relationships, and our expanding suite of EI products and methodologies has applications in three distinct phases: assess, develop, and apply.”

There are two reports as well as a multi-rater and team version.


EQ-i 2.0®

“Emotional Quotient Inventory” 

Description: The original EQ-i, by Reuven Bar-On, focused on “emotionally intelligent behavior.” It was one of the most widely-used assessments in research. 

Multi-Health Systems, the publisher of the tool, created EQ-i 2.0 as a “brand new assessment tool” with a revised psychometric model: Self-perception, Self-expression, Interpersonal, Decision-making, Stress management. 

Purpose: We have used the original EQ-i test to help people understand their behavior and to look for trends in groups (e.g., what skills help people succeed in this job?). 

Pros: Widely known, numerous practitioners. Backed by significant test publisher. Several related resources (books, programs) available.

Cons: Model is a list of various skills & attributes vs a structured cohesive model. High correlation with personality. Focuses as much on prosocial behavior as emotional awareness & processes.  The EQ-i 2.0 model seems to have clarified some inconsistencies in the earlier version, but there is not a clear logic to how the elements fit together.  New EQ-i 2.0 norm base of 5,000 in North America only.

Validity: The original EQ-i had a strong factor structure and a very large normative sample.  MHS reports that the new EQ-i 2.0 . It used a complex scoring algorithm with a self-correcting positive impression index and a consistency scale. The EQ-i predicted important work and life outcomes (job performance, leadership, sales, learning, university retention), but these studies do not control for personality and EQ-i has about a .7 correlation with a “Big 5” personality assessment. EQ-i is a Level B tool (certification required)*

Verisons: Adult self-report with leadership or workplace reports. 360/multirater version also available.

History: The EQi was first developed by Reuven Bar-On in the 1990s as a measure of social-emotional functioning, then published as an EQ assessment by MHS around 1995. The original EQi was the first commercial tool and the market and was been used extensively, it is no longer available. The EQ-i received its first major research update in 2011 where the structure and method of the tool was significantly changed and relabeled EQ-i 2.0. 

Online, paper, 360

Wholesale: $55,

EQ Map®

by Essi Systems

Description: With a much broader perspective, the EQ Map frames emotional intelligence in a workplace context. The paper version of the EQ Map emotional intelligence test is self-scored, so you can do it completely on your own; it has questions along the lines of, “How well do you recognize emotions in people?” The 14 main scales include emotional awareness, emotional expression, resilience, outlook, trust, and personal power. It also has four outcome scales to show the benefit of increasing the first 14. The EQ Map includes an interpretation guide booklet. There is an online version now, but we are not familiar with this version.

Purpose: We recommend EQ Map for people interested in developing their own abilities and for workplace teams seeking more effective ways of working together. One advantage is that the EQ Map is self-scored, so it offers the confidentiality and convenience of a “do it yourself” process that can be used on-site in training.

Pros: Paper version is easy to use. Casts a wide net to explore a range of concepts related to EQ.

Cons: The paper version is easily manipulated to get the scores you want; the wide range of scales may make it less focused & actionable.

Validity: EQ Map is normed and has a good factor structure. Because the paper version is self-scored, there is not a complex scoring alogrithm and there are no self-correcting indices. This is a Level A tool (general public).

Versions: Paper and online.

History: The EQ Map was first published as a free self-assessment in the book, Executive EQ by Cooper and Sawaf, around 1995. Essi Systems produced a commercial version around the same time. Around 2009 the online version was released. Unclear if any research updates have been provided.

Self-scoring booklet or online

Price: $110


Other Tools:

There are several other tools that we have not used, but have heard about. In addition, here are some related tools published by Six Seconds and others that are not purported to be measures of emotional intelligence, but are linked to emotional intelligence or are used together with EQ tools.

Test Purpose Price


Vital Signs™ by Six Seconds

Description: Vital Signs quickly and accurately measure the drivers of organizational performance. There is an individual leader 360, a team measure, and an organizational climate assessment.

Unlike the other tests, OVS and TVS are designed to assess a group or an organization — not simply creating a meaningless average of group EQ. The results show the context in which individuals perform. The tests measures five factors: Trust, Motivation, Change, Teamwork, and Execution. These factors statistically predict over 60% of variation in the performance outcomes, which are also measured:

Retention, Productivity, Customer Focus, and Future Success

Purpose: We use these tools to accelerate change. The measures focus leadership strategy, gain buy-in, and guide and measure programs. It takes each person about 15 minutes to complete.

Pros: Simple, clear business logic. Fast.

Cons: These are not “EQ tests” — they are measures of climate and the key drivers of performance.

Validity: These tools are validated based on an international norm group representing approximately 60 organizations of varying sizes. The sales are standardized with 100 as the median score with sd=15. Cronbach Alphas on scales range from .63 to .93.

Versions: The Leadership Vital Signs (LVS) is an individual leadership 360 using the VS model. Team Vital Signs (TVS) is for a team or workgroup up to approximate 20 individuals, and the Organizational Vital Signs (OVS) provides comparisons of numerous sites, departments, levels, etc.

History: The OVS was developed starting in 2001, and first commercially available in 2002. It was significantly updated in 2006 and again in 2011 based on ongoing, active research.

Online and paper


LVS: $150 + debrief

TVS: $990 + debrief

OVS: $5,000

Wholesale: 30-50% off

Details of the Vital Signs toolkit



The Institute of Health and Human Potential near Toronto, Canada, produced this EI360 tool based on their model of Self-Awareness, Emotional Management, Emotional Connection, and Personal Leadership. see
Personality There are numerous other measures of personality (e.g., DISC, MBTI); as these are not measures of emotional intelligence, we have not included them in this discussion.  



To be an informed consumer, you should know that it’s possible to make a “statistically reliable” test in a few months. However, a valuable test requires a serious, ongoing investment in research.

The most valuable measures:

  • Test something that matters (ie, higher scores predict higher performance in the world).
  • Make sense (ie., there is a logic to the way the test is organized — it “hangs together”).
  • Test what they say they do (ie., if they’re labelled “emotional intelligence” actually focus on emotions and thinking).
  • Are consistent (ie, five different people with similar skills or traits score in similar ways).
  • Are easy enough for test-takers to understand so it’s not confusing.

* Levels are used to classify a psychometric assessment to reduce the risk of psychological harm from misuse.

  • Level C tools are restricted to licensed psychological professionals.
  • Level B tools can only be administered by someone with Master’s level training in assessment or a special Certification. Care must be taken with Level B tools to ensure that test-takers have access to a qualified person to debrief the feedback.
  • Level A tools do not require special certification and can be administered by anyone.


Disclosure re Bias / Conflict of Interest:

This review was created by Joshua Freedman who is a co-author of the SEI, the SEI360 and the Vital Signs tools. He has taken EQ Map Certification and used that tool for over 5 years, is EQ-i Certified and used over 250 EQ-i assessments in training, coaching and research, is MSCEIT Certified, used MSCEIT in training, and co-presented MSCEIT certification training
† Income generated by the sale of these assessments, and from the sale of assessments published by Six Seconds, is used to support Six Seconds’ non-profit work spreading EQ to schools and families around the world (more about Six Seconds’ mission)

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