The Impact of Social Desirability and Expectation of Feedback on Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace
Luke A. Downey, Jan-Louise Godfrey, Karen Hansen, Con Stough

The use of Emotional Intelligence (EI) questionnaires and scales in the workplace has been growing rapidly over the last decade. EI has been a popular measure to develop key competencies in staff in the workplace and has started to be used in guiding staff recruitment and selection. Because most questionnaires involve self report assessment, the use of EI scales to assist in employee recruitment may be compromised if test-takers are able to fake good responses to the scales or to show social desirability. The current study investigated the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI) as measured by the Workplace version of the Swinburne University Emotional Intelligence Test (SUEIT), and a new social desirability scale designed specifically for the Workplace – the Social Desirability Questionnaire (WSDQ) in 79 participants. A weak relationship between EI and social desirability was observed, and this relationship was stronger with the SUEIT dimensions of Emotional Control and Emotional Management than with the other dimensions. Social desirability was experimentally manipulated by examining the relationship between EI and WSDQ in two groups. The first group (N=34) completed the questionnaires anonymously and were told that no feedback was to be provided. The second group of participants (N=45) were informed that they would receive detailed feedback about their EI. EI did not significantly differ between the two feedback conditions. The results indicated that there is not significant or substantial relationships between self report EI and social desirability. The results of this study have significant implications for the use of self-report EI scales in employee recruitment.


Emotional Intelligence; Emotions; Social Desirability; Feedback; Recruitment; Personnel Selection

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