Tammy Hong


Much attention has been paid to the study of leaders and their ability to influence followers. A comprehensive study by Humphrey (2002) found that leadership is a process of social interaction by which the leader’s ability to influence the behavior of his or her employees can strongly influence the employees’ performance outcome. Mayer, Caruso, and Salovey (2000) hypothesized that leaders who rate high in the ability to accurately perceive, understand, and appraise others’ emotions were better able to influence and motivate their employees. Taking the lead of prior research, this dissertation investigated the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI) and the ability to influence followers. The sample was composed of 72 fully employed adults working 40 hours a week in a corporate or education setting. The Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), an ability-based test designed to measure the four branches of Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso’s EI model, was administered to the sample. The MSCEIT measures individuals’ overall level of EI as well as their ability levels with regard to the four branches of the model: (a) perceiving emotions, (b) using emotions, (c) understanding emotions, and (d) managing emotions (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2002). For the purpose of this dissertation, participants’ total EI scores were examined. Additionally, this study used an Influence Quiz, a test designed by Cialdini and Goldstein (2004) to measure awareness and understanding of the Six Principles of Influence. Through researching professionals in sales, Cialdini (2009; Cialdini & Goldstein, 2004) found 6 strategies to be highly effective when attempting to influence an outcome or followers: (a) authority, (b) consistency and commitment, (c) liking, (d) reciprocity/reciprocation, (e) scarcity, and (f) social proof. This is the first study that combined the works of Cialdini with that of Mayer, Salovey, and Caruso (2004). This study used a quantitative approach; specifically surveys administered to 72 participants were used to gather EI and influence sophistication scores. Based on the data gathered in this study, the results were significant at the p = .01 level. The research established that the total level of EI is directly related to the ability to understand and identify influence strategies. Further, results also indicate that individuals had the highest comprehension of the principle of reciprocity over any other strategies and possessed the lowest understanding of the authority principle. The conclusions and recommendations for further research address the possibility of expanding the sample population. The implications for leaders and employers include understanding the importance of interpersonal relationships in the organizational context.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Dissertations (EdD) -- Organizational leadership; Emotional intelligence; Leadership -- Psychological aspects

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graduate School of Education and Psychology



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Schmieder-Ramirez, June;