The Role of Emotional Intelligence

Consumer Perception & Sustainability in Business

A Research Article on

The Role of Emotional Intelligence in Understanding Consumer Perception for Sustainability in Business

INTRODUCTION :

The researches on human behavior in Indian homes and organization have shown that Indian family is closely knit entity with visible emotional bonding. The bonding is unlimited and forever. Similarly Indian business also reflects an emotional environment has elaborated the Indian management style which revolves around our cultural roots and upbringing (Chaudary, 2001).

The behavior of consumer will depend on the market place what he ‘think as reality’ or on his perception and knowledge about the world around him. This perception may be based on sensation from outside world which in turn may be influenced by past experience or learning, expectations, fantasies belief, value, personalities etc. Consumer perception of value are based on their individual sets of criteria hence delving into the psychology of the individual consumer one can cultivate and shape their consumer perception. Knowledge of how consumer acquires and uses information from external sources is important to marketers in formulating communication strategy. Marketers are interested in, how consumer sense external information, select and attained to various sources of information and how these information is interpreted and given meaning. This process is also influenced by the characteristic of stimulus and the context in which it is seen or heard. The research (Jack Pankseep, 2004) suggests that stimulus “interpretation “is important for emotions.

REVIEW OF LITERATURE

Many experts world-wide have attempted to define Emotional Intelligence. Interestingly most of the research work has been carried out in US with some stray research finding in Europe and Canada. The consortium of research on Emotional Intelligence in organizations (2002) has taken the responsibility to carry out quality research on the subject. Salovey (1990) was first to used Emotional Intelligence. Gardner (1983) proposed the expansion of concept of Intelligence. Goleman (1995) has focused on missing aspect of Emotional Intelligence. Petrides, 2001; Petrides & Furnham, 2003; Petrides et al., 2003 have introduced the construct of emotional intelligence (EI), which focuses on the conceptual distinction between trait Emotional Intelligence (or emotional self-efficacy) and ability Emotional Intelligence (or cognitive-emotional ability). Seligman (1991) has researched an important aspect of optimism. Parek (1999) has suggested androgyny framework for Emotional Intelligence.

A piece of Indian research has been carried out to test the hypothesis that different profession may require different level of Emotional Intelligence by Dalip Singh (2003). He has considered advertisement in the first cluster (high EQ) which requires one to consolidate once emotional skill. Another study was carried out by Regina Roberts in 2002 in University of Delhi on the top executive of an American MNC having a world-wide market to determine the impact of Emotional Intelligence on ‘burnout’ and conflict resolution styles. Mansi (2002) of University of Delhi has attempted to study the relationship between Emotional Intelligence and Decision Making among Indian Manager.

KNOWING EMOTIONS:

Psychological have described and explained emotions differently, but all agree that it is a complex state of human mind involving bodily changes of widespread character such as breathing, pounding heart, flushed face, sweaty palms, high pulse rate and gland secretions on the physiological side – and on mental side, a state of excitement or perturbation marked by strong feeling. It may be understood considering four aspects.

Perception of emotions is the ability to recognize feeling in and around. It includes- Use of emotions, i.e. the ability to generate emotions, and then reason with these emotions. It shows, how emotions impact upon thinking. Understanding of emotions i.e. the ability to understand complex emotion and emotional ‘chain’ and management of Emotions i.e. the ability which allow one to manage emotion in self and in other’s is important.

Researches shows that initially, belief about company product are formed from various learning experience, feedback or personally experienced them in past.

Secondly, belief about quality shapes our feeling about them. Suppose one is certain that the service of a company is good (Positive outcome with high probability) and sometime low quality (negative outcome with medium probability) overall the customer might have somewhat positive attitude towards purchase. Finally, feeing directly influence behavioral intentions, since customer with negative feeling toward service may intend to quit, where as other might wish to complain about the same. People choose the behavioral intention that they think will work best or make them feel comfortable.

APPROACHES TO EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE

Emotional intelligence is innate potential to feel, use, communicate, recognize, remember, learn, manage and understand emotions.

(D. Goleman, 2002) Emotional Intelligence consists of five factors:Knowing one relation, Managing emotions, Motivating oneself, Recognizing other emotions and Handling relationships. EQ/EI is about the intelligent use of emotions and utilizing the power or information contained in emotion to make effective decisions. (Ciarrochi/Mayer 2007).

The term emotional intelligence was coined by Peter Salovey and John Mayer (1990) and defined EQ as “the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions”. The concept was then popularized by Daniel Goleman in 1995 and defined EQ as, “the capacity for recognizing our own feelings and those of others, for motivating ourselves, for managing emotions well ourselves and in our relationships.

The various dimensions of Emotional Intelligence are- Self Awareness, which refers to the understanding of feeling of owns and analyzing self competency and confidence. Self Management – managing internal state of self control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness, Social Awareness which refers to ability to read people and group accurately, being empathetic, and understanding unstated need & concern. Relationship Management that refers to building long term bond and acting as change catalyst by collaboration and team work and Motivation of customers by the marketers to buy product.

A study was conducted by team of experts from University of Delhi, DIPR – Ministry of Defense and Punjab University to identify the dimension constituting Emotional Intelligence as felt by Indian population. Dalip Singh (2001) has analyzed Emotional Intelligence in the light of three psychological dimensions – Emotional Competency, Emotional Maturity, and Emotional Sensitivity which motivate an individual to recognize truthfully, interpret honestly and handle tactfully the dynamics of human behavior.

The significance of considering this model is to understand how behavior gets satisfied, energized, sustained and directed to achieve desired goal appropriately means right mixture of head and heart. The success in brand management arises from understanding and managing brand equity correctly to produce strong attributes that will influence consumer perception while making their choices

Emotional Intelligence is the ability of an individual to appropriately and successful respond to a vast variety of emotional stimuli being cited from the inner self and immediate environment. Emotional Intelligence constitute three psychological dimensions – Emotional Competency, Emotional Maturity and Emotional Sensitivity – which motivate an individual to recognize truthfully, interpret honestly and handle tactfully the dynamic of human behavior.

  • Emotional Competency: constitute the capacity to tactfully respond to emotional stimuli elicited by various situations, having high self esteem and optimism, communication, tackling emotional upset such as frustration, conflict and inferiority complex, enjoying emotions, doing what succeeds ability to relate others, emotional self control.
  • Emotional Maturity: Constitute evaluating emotions of one self and others, identifying and expressing feelings, adaptability and flexibility, appreciating other point of view and developing others.
  • Emotional Sensitivity: Constitute understanding threshold of emotional arousal, managing the immediate environment, maintaining rapport, harmony and comfort with others, letting other feel comfortable in your company.
UNDERSTANDING PERCEPTION:

“Perception is the process of selecting, organizing and interpreting or attaching meaning to event happening in environment”. (L.M. Prasad, 1995)

Emotion Perception is the ability to understand own and other people’s feelings. This differs from Empathy in that it measures your ability to be aware of your own state as well as that of others.

Perception involves three distinct processes. Sensation, which is the immediate direct response of the senses (taste, smell, slight, touch and hearing) to a stimulus such as ad, package, brand name, or point of purchase display. Perception uses these senses to create a representation of the stimulus. Selecting information, as two people may perceive same stimuli in very different ways because they select, attend, and comprehend differently and Interpreting the Information as the perceptual process focuses on organizing, categorizing, and interpreting the incoming information.

HOW PERCEPTION CREATES EMOTIONS?

Emotion is at the heart and core of a powerful brand. It is therefore essential to understand how emotions can be evoked in customers. It is found that emotions follow perceptions (Beck T Aaron) and that a perception can be shaped by emotions, it’s a two way street. Customers’ experience physical and material world is received through their senses. It is possible for all the five senses to work separately, but most of the time they work together, either in combination to create a new sensation or as coordinator to keep what they experience in synchronization. By the time the information coming via senses leaves the sensory memory area of the brain and then passes to the working memory where information is held.

The brain’s memory warehouse keeps information to the most vivid experiences have developed over lifetime, with the brain continually adding new items to the storage. Different people filter the same experience in different ways. It is difficult to derive preferences from hard facts despite their inaccuracy. The researches states that even if people are shown a particular belief held in memory is incorrect they will adopt any conflicting information to fit in the belief they hold. The customers’ are expected to draw upon their imagination, the image, sounds and feeling conveyed in the mind that need to reference events already experienced.

ADVERTISEMENT’S INFLUENCE ON EMOTIONS:

The advertisement designed for TV commercial try to create an emotional connection with the consumers. These emotional appeals relate to customers’ social and /or psychological needs for purchasing a product and service. Sometime the emotions of consumer influence attitude toward attribute of product. An advertisement is interpreted according to culture of an individual and the produce a happy (or unhappy) response in the individual and prompt the individual to buy or not, the advertised brand. Emotions and reasons are both ways of “knowing “and understanding reality, but they work very differently.

As described by Buck (1984), emotions can be spontaneously communicated. Micheal Roy (1974) noted that there are three type of behavior exhibit in consumer behavior; cognition, affection, conation or thinking feeling and doing. Batra and Ray (1986) found that in different situation the order of occurrence of those behaviors varied – that feeling could precede, and therefore influence, thinking and doing. Hallward (2005) observes, “Since the first impression of advertising may often be more emotional than rational.

MARKETING IMPLICATIONS

Research during the last decade indicates that emotions are experienced well before thinking takes place suggesting that, in general, emotions come before thoughts

The reason for losing customer and clients are 70 percent EQ related (Forum corporation on Manufacturing and service companies 1989-95). Fifty percent of time wasted in business is due to lack of trust (John O. Whitney, 2009). Sales agents selected on the basis of certain Emotional competencies are found to outsell the sales people selected using companies old procedure for a net revenue increase in L’Oreal (Cary Cherniss, 1999).

The affect-infusion model indicates that moods affect an individual’s judgment subconsciously under heuristic or substantive-processing strategy. Consequently, it is reasonable to postulate that an individual may alter others’ judgments through recognizing and skillfully handling their emotions and moods (George, 2000; Forgas & George, 2001; Forgas & Wyland, 2006).

The consumer researchers have found that emotions evoked by product enhance the pleasure of buying, owing and using them (Hirschman and Holbrook 1982). Consumer assigns both emotional and rational value to product and service, and the study of this value is critical in understanding of marketing and consumer behavior. Marketer should have some special skill to handle consumer. How one identify emotions, use the emotions, understand the emotions, manage the emotion contribute to the effective channelization of consumer.

High-EI people, some argue, normally possess such ability (Goleman, 1995; Caruso et al., 2006; Greenberg, Greenberg, & Antonucci, 2007). This leads us to believe that the presence of high-EI individuals might speed up the formation of a trustful relationship.

Blau (1964)’s social exchange theory explains how trust between two people evolves. Social exchange is defined as an individual’s voluntary actions that are motivated by the returns he or she expects to elicit from others. The ability to establish the link between emotional states and behaviors will give a person a better chance of discharging his or her obligations under a social exchange transaction, and thus exhibiting his or her trustworthiness (Blau, 1964).

Fig 5 How Emotional Intelligence can influence consumer perception?
ANM Consultants graph13

Strategy- motivated-processing, is used when a person is under strong motivational pressure to achieve a particular outcome. Such motivational pressure and achievement desire are so strong that he or she will not allow his or her affective state to influence his or her judgment.

Another study has also discovered that clients give more favorable ratings to a counselor who exhibits high levels of eye-contact, direct body orientation, and learning forward (Fretz, Corn, Tuemmler, & Bellet, 1979). Furthermore, the time period during which clients form the trust opinion is relatively short and it ranges from only ten to twenty minutes (Lee et al., 1985; Fretz et al., 1979).

CONCLUSION:

Emotional Intelligence is what gives a Marketer a competitive edge. Senses drive perception, which evoke emotions. The more senses marketers can engage in their customer experience, the more the chance of their brand moving into their memory. Many companies are realizing that encouraging Emotional Intelligence skill is a vital component of their management philosophy. Performance depends on Positive emotions as in customer services, sales, recruitment and marketing. Emotional Intelligence helps the employee to manage the stress of change in business strategy and working practice.

Marketer need to understand why some group of customer display high level of confirmation or disconfirmation. In many situations customer reaction not only trigger an emotions but also change the bodies’ physical features such as facial gestures, voice change, palpitation etc. This gives us a clue on the strategy to be adopted to handle the reaction. Emotional benefits conclude the sense of adventure, socializing with others while making selections, self gratifications and perceived value. Thus, the total set of interfaces with customer should be carefully controlled.

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Authors:

  • Nishant Saxena (HR Consultant)
  • Dr. J. H. Vyas (Professor)
  • Pankaj Arora (Assistant Professor)