We examine the social perception of emotional intelligence (EI) through the use of observer ratings. Individuals frequently judge others’ emotional abilities in real-world settings, yet we know little about the properties of such ratings. This paper examines the social perception of EI and expands the evidence to evaluate its reliability and cross-judge agreement, as well as convergent, divergent, and predictive validity. Three studies use real-world colleagues as observers and data from 2,521 participants. Results indicate significant consensus across observers about targets’ EI, moderate but significant self-observer agreement, modest but relatively consistent discriminant validity across the components of EI, and significant predictive validity of observer ratings in work and task performance domains, even after controlling for cognitive intelligence, personality, trait affect, observer liking, and demographic characteristics. We discuss the poor associations of observer ratings with ability-tested EI, study limitations, future directions, and practical implications.
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