Special Issue "Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research"

A special issue of Journal of Intelligence (ISSN 2079-3200).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (31 July 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Katja Schlegel
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
University of Bern, Bern, Switzerland
Interests: emotional abilities; interpersonal accuracy; nonverbal behavior; negotiation; intelligence; emotional competence training; job performance; assessment
Dr. Sally Olderbak
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Institute for Psychology and Pedagogy, Ulm University, Ulm, Germany
Interests: socio-emotional competencies; face cognition; empathy; emotion regulation; trait perception; psychometrics; structural equations modeling; meta-analysis

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Abilities related to the perception, processing, usage, and regulation of emotional information are considered important predictors of interpersonal effectiveness across many life domains. They are typically measured with performance-based tests and are largely distinct from self-reported personality traits.

In recent years, there has been substantial progress in our understanding of socio-emotional abilities. Researchers have advanced the theoretical framework underlying emotional abilities (e.g., by distinguishing between fluid and crystallized emotional intelligence). New constructs have been proposed (e.g., emotion information processing, emotional attention regulation, and emotion differentiation). New tests have been developed to cover emotional abilities in a more comprehensive, ecologically valid way (e.g., by including multiple sensory modalities to measure emotion recognition ability). Additionally, researchers are expanding their measures and concepts to include social information more broadly—see, for instance, “interpersonal accuracy” (the ability to read others’ states and traits) or “hot intelligences” (abilities involving information regarding social characteristics, personality, and emotions).

This Special Issue has several aims. The first goal is to link these new developments, concepts, and measures by examining their association and interplay with general mental ability or intelligence and its facets. We want to better understand the cognitive bases that socio-emotional abilities and measures draw on, such as mental speed, sensory discrimination, and attention. A second goal is to examine how socio-emotional abilities are interrelated in order to advance theoretical development in the field. Finally, a third goal of this Special Issue is to assess the incremental predictive validity of socio-emotional abilities beyond individual differences in intelligence in order to estimate their unique contribution to life outcomes.

Under this broad theme, we invite empirical submissions that address one or more of the following topics:

  • Socio-emotional abilities and their relation to intelligence and/or individual differences in basic cognitive processes;
  • Interrelations among socio-emotional abilities;
  • New methodologies to measure socio-emotional abilities, including new performance-based tasks or scoring approaches;
  • Identification of new socio-emotional abilities;
  • Predictive validity of socio-emotional abilities.

Dr. Katja Schlegel
Dr. Sally Olderbak
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Journal of Intelligence is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Published Papers (12 papers)

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Research

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Article
Detection of Psychopathic Traits in Emotional Faces
J. Intell. 2021, 9(2), 29; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9020029 - 04 Jun 2021
Viewed by 1730
Abstract
When meeting someone at zero acquaintance, we make assumptions about each other that encompass emotional states, personality traits, and even cognitive abilities. Evidence suggests individuals can accurately detect psychopathic personality traits in strangers based on short video clips or photographs of faces. We [...] Read more.
When meeting someone at zero acquaintance, we make assumptions about each other that encompass emotional states, personality traits, and even cognitive abilities. Evidence suggests individuals can accurately detect psychopathic personality traits in strangers based on short video clips or photographs of faces. We present an in-depth examination of this ability. In two studies, we investigated whether high psychopathy traits are perceivable and whether other traits affect ratings of psychopathic traits in the sense of a halo effect. On the perceiver’s end, we additionally examined how cognitive abilities and personality traits of the responders affect these ratings. In two studies (n1 = 170 community adults from the USA, n2 = 126 students from Australia), participants rated several targets on several characteristics of psychopathy, as well as on attractiveness, masculinity, sympathy, trustworthiness, neuroticism, intelligence, and extraversion. Results show that responders were generally able to detect psychopathy. Responders generally came to a consensus in their ratings, and using profile similarity metrics, we found a weak relation between ratings of psychopathy and the targets’ psychopathy level as determined by the Psychopathy Checklist: Short Version. Trait ratings, though, were influenced by the ratings of other traits like attractiveness. Finally, we found accuracy in the perception of psychopathy was positively related to fluid intelligence but unrelated to emotion perception ability. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research)
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Article
It Is Hard to Read Minds without Words: Cues to Use to Achieve Empathic Accuracy
J. Intell. 2021, 9(2), 27; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9020027 - 17 May 2021
Viewed by 798
Abstract
When faced with the task of trying to “read” a stranger’s thoughts, what cues can perceivers use? We explore two predictors of empathic accuracy (the ability to accurately infer another person’s thoughts): use of stereotypes about the target’s group, and use of the [...] Read more.
When faced with the task of trying to “read” a stranger’s thoughts, what cues can perceivers use? We explore two predictors of empathic accuracy (the ability to accurately infer another person’s thoughts): use of stereotypes about the target’s group, and use of the target’s own words. A sample of 326 White American undergraduate students were asked to infer the dynamic thoughts of Middle Eastern male targets, using Ickes’ (Ickes et al. 1990) empathic accuracy paradigm. We predicted use of stereotypes would reduce empathic accuracy because the stereotypes would be negative and inaccurate. However, more stereotypical inferences about the target’s thoughts actually predicted greater empathic accuracy, a pattern in line with past work on the role of stereotypes in empathic accuracy (Lewis et al. 2012), perhaps because the stereotypes of Middle Easterners (collected from a sample of 60 participants drawn from the same population) were less negative than expected. In addition, perceivers who inferred that the targets were thinking thoughts that more closely matched what the target was saying out loud were more empathically accurate. Despite the fact that words can be used intentionally to obscure what a target is thinking, they appear to be a useful cue to empathic accuracy, even in tricky contexts that cross cultural lines. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research)
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Article
Emotion Recognition from Realistic Dynamic Emotional Expressions Cohere with Established Emotion Recognition Tests: A Proof-of-Concept Validation of the Emotional Accuracy Test
J. Intell. 2021, 9(2), 25; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9020025 - 07 May 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 860
Abstract
Individual differences in understanding other people’s emotions have typically been studied with recognition tests using prototypical emotional expressions. These tests have been criticized for the use of posed, prototypical displays, raising the question of whether such tests tell us anything about the ability [...] Read more.
Individual differences in understanding other people’s emotions have typically been studied with recognition tests using prototypical emotional expressions. These tests have been criticized for the use of posed, prototypical displays, raising the question of whether such tests tell us anything about the ability to understand spontaneous, non-prototypical emotional expressions. Here, we employ the Emotional Accuracy Test (EAT), which uses natural emotional expressions and defines the recognition as the match between the emotion ratings of a target and a perceiver. In two preregistered studies (Ntotal = 231), we compared the performance on the EAT with two well-established tests of emotion recognition ability: the Geneva Emotion Recognition Test (GERT) and the Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test (RMET). We found significant overlap (r > 0.20) between individuals’ performance in recognizing spontaneous emotions in naturalistic settings (EAT) and posed (or enacted) non-verbal measures of emotion recognition (GERT, RMET), even when controlling for individual differences in verbal IQ. On average, however, participants reported enjoying the EAT more than the other tasks. Thus, the current research provides a proof-of-concept validation of the EAT as a useful measure for testing the understanding of others’ emotions, a crucial feature of emotional intelligence. Further, our findings indicate that emotion recognition tests using prototypical expressions are valid proxies for measuring the understanding of others’ emotions in more realistic everyday contexts. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research)
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Article
Initial Evidence for the Hypersensitivity Hypothesis: Emotional Intelligence as a Magnifier of Emotional Experience
J. Intell. 2021, 9(2), 24; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9020024 - 04 May 2021
Viewed by 757
Abstract
In this article, we provide preliminary evidence for the ‘hypersensitivity hypothesis’, according to which Emotional Intelligence (EI) functions as a magnifier of emotional experience, enhancing the effect of emotion and emotion information on thinking and social perception. Measuring ability EI, and in particular [...] Read more.
In this article, we provide preliminary evidence for the ‘hypersensitivity hypothesis’, according to which Emotional Intelligence (EI) functions as a magnifier of emotional experience, enhancing the effect of emotion and emotion information on thinking and social perception. Measuring ability EI, and in particular Emotion Understanding, we describe an experiment designed to determine whether, relative to those low in EI, individuals high in EI were more affected by the valence of a scenario describing a target when making an affective social judgment. Employing a sample of individuals from the general population, high EI participants were found to provide more extreme (positive or negative) impressions of the target as a function of the scenario valence: positive information about the target increased high EI participants’ positive impressions more than it increased low EI participants’ impressions, and negative information increased their negative impressions more. In addition, EI affected the amount of recalled information and this led high EI individuals to intensify their affective ratings of the target. These initial results show that individuals high on EI may be particularly sensitive to emotions and emotion information, and they suggest that this hypersensitivity might account for both the beneficial and detrimental effects of EI documented in the literature. Implications are discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research)
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Article
How Multidimensional Is Emotional Intelligence? Bifactor Modeling of Global and Broad Emotional Abilities of the Geneva Emotional Competence Test
J. Intell. 2021, 9(1), 14; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9010014 - 05 Mar 2021
Viewed by 1172
Abstract
Drawing upon multidimensional theories of intelligence, the current paper evaluates if the Geneva Emotional Competence Test (GECo) fits within a higher-order intelligence space and if emotional intelligence (EI) branches predict distinct criteria related to adjustment and motivation. Using a combination of classical and [...] Read more.
Drawing upon multidimensional theories of intelligence, the current paper evaluates if the Geneva Emotional Competence Test (GECo) fits within a higher-order intelligence space and if emotional intelligence (EI) branches predict distinct criteria related to adjustment and motivation. Using a combination of classical and S-1 bifactor models, we find that (a) a first-order oblique and bifactor model provide excellent and comparably fitting representation of an EI structure with self-regulatory skills operating independent of general ability, (b) residualized EI abilities uniquely predict criteria over general cognitive ability as referenced by fluid intelligence, and (c) emotion recognition and regulation incrementally predict grade point average (GPA) and affective engagement in opposing directions, after controlling for fluid general ability and the Big Five personality traits. Results are qualified by psychometric analyses suggesting only emotion regulation has enough determinacy and reliable variance beyond a general ability factor to be treated as a manifest score in analyses and interpretation. Findings call for renewed, albeit tempered, research on EI as a multidimensional intelligence and highlight the need for refined assessment of emotional perception, understanding, and management to allow focused analyses of different EI abilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research)
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Article
The Good, the Bad, and the Clever: Faking Ability as a Socio-Emotional Ability?
J. Intell. 2021, 9(1), 13; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9010013 - 04 Mar 2021
Viewed by 900
Abstract
Socio-emotional abilities have been proposed as an extension to models of intelligence, but earlier measurement approaches have either not fulfilled criteria of ability measurement or have covered only predominantly receptive abilities. We argue that faking ability—the ability to adjust responses on questionnaires to [...] Read more.
Socio-emotional abilities have been proposed as an extension to models of intelligence, but earlier measurement approaches have either not fulfilled criteria of ability measurement or have covered only predominantly receptive abilities. We argue that faking ability—the ability to adjust responses on questionnaires to present oneself in a desired manner—is a socio-emotional ability that can broaden our understanding of these abilities and intelligence in general. To test this theory, we developed new instruments to measure the ability to fake bad (malingering) and administered them jointly with established tests of faking good ability in a general sample of n = 134. Participants also completed multiple tests of emotion perception along with tests of emotion expression posing, pain expression regulation, and working memory capacity. We found that individual differences in faking ability tests are best explained by a general factor that had a large correlation with receptive socio-emotional abilities and had a zero to medium-sized correlation with different productive socio-emotional abilities. All correlations were still small after controlling these effects for shared variance with general mental ability as indicated by tests of working memory capacity. We conclude that faking ability is indeed correlated meaningfully with other socio-emotional abilities and discuss the implications for intelligence research and applied ability assessment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research)
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Article
Experiential and Strategic Emotional Intelligence Are Implicated When Inhibiting Affective and Non-Affective Distractors: Findings from Three Emotional Flanker N-Back Tasks
J. Intell. 2021, 9(1), 12; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9010012 - 01 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 682
Abstract
Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to a set of competencies to process, understand, and reason with affective information. Recent studies suggest ability measures of experiential and strategic EI differentially predict performance on non-emotional and emotionally laden tasks. To explore cognitive processes underlying these abilities [...] Read more.
Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to a set of competencies to process, understand, and reason with affective information. Recent studies suggest ability measures of experiential and strategic EI differentially predict performance on non-emotional and emotionally laden tasks. To explore cognitive processes underlying these abilities further, we varied the affective context of a traditional letter-based n-back working-memory task. In study 1, participants completed 0-, 2-, and 3-back tasks with flanking distractors that were either emotional (fearful or happy faces) or non-emotional (shapes or letters stimuli). Strategic EI, but not experiential EI, significantly influenced participants’ accuracy across all n-back levels, irrespective of flanker type. In Study 2, participants completed 1-, 2-, and 3-back levels. Experiential EI was positively associated with response times for emotional flankers at the 1-back level but not other levels or flanker types, suggesting those higher in experiential EI reacted slower on low-load trials with affective context. In Study 3, flankers were asynchronously presented either 300 ms or 1000 ms before probes. Results mirrored Study 1 for accuracy rates and Study 2 for response times. Our findings (a) provide experimental evidence for the distinctness of experiential and strategic EI and (b) suggest that each are related to different aspects of cognitive processes underlying working memory. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research)
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Article
Facial Imitation Improves Emotion Recognition in Adults with Different Levels of Sub-Clinical Autistic Traits
J. Intell. 2021, 9(1), 4; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9010004 - 13 Jan 2021
Viewed by 1029
Abstract
We used computer-based automatic expression analysis to investigate the impact of imitation on facial emotion recognition with a baseline-intervention-retest design. The participants: 55 young adults with varying degrees of autistic traits, completed an emotion recognition task with images of faces displaying one of [...] Read more.
We used computer-based automatic expression analysis to investigate the impact of imitation on facial emotion recognition with a baseline-intervention-retest design. The participants: 55 young adults with varying degrees of autistic traits, completed an emotion recognition task with images of faces displaying one of six basic emotional expressions. This task was then repeated with instructions to imitate the expressions. During the experiment, a camera captured the participants’ faces for an automatic evaluation of their imitation performance. The instruction to imitate enhanced imitation performance as well as emotion recognition. Of relevance, emotion recognition improvements in the imitation block were larger in people with higher levels of autistic traits, whereas imitation enhancements were independent of autistic traits. The finding that an imitation instruction improves emotion recognition, and that imitation is a positive within-participant predictor of recognition accuracy in the imitation block supports the idea of a link between motor expression and perception in the processing of emotions, which might be mediated by the mirror neuron system. However, because there was no evidence that people with higher autistic traits differ in their imitative behavior per se, their disproportional emotion recognition benefits could have arisen from indirect effects of imitation instructions Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research)
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Article
Accuracy in Judging Others’ Personalities: The Role of Emotion Recognition, Emotion Understanding, and Trait Emotional Intelligence
J. Intell. 2020, 8(3), 34; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence8030034 - 18 Sep 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1590
Abstract
The ability to accurately judge others’ personality and the ability to accurately recognize others’ emotions are both part of the broader construct of interpersonal accuracy (IPA). However, little research has examined the association between these two IPA domains. Little is also known about [...] Read more.
The ability to accurately judge others’ personality and the ability to accurately recognize others’ emotions are both part of the broader construct of interpersonal accuracy (IPA). However, little research has examined the association between these two IPA domains. Little is also known about the relationship between personality judgment accuracy and other socio-emotional skills and traits. In the present study, 121 participants judged eight traits (Big Five, intelligence, cooperativeness, and empathy) in each of 30 targets who were presented either in a photograph, a muted video, or a video with sound. The videos were 30 second excerpts from negotiations that the targets had engaged in. Participants also completed standard tests of emotion recognition ability, emotion understanding, and trait emotional intelligence. Results showed that personality judgment accuracy, when indexed as trait accuracy and distinctive profile accuracy, positively correlated with emotion recognition ability and was unrelated to emotion understanding and trait emotional intelligence. Female participants were more accurate in judging targets’ personality than men. These results provide support for IPA as a set of correlated domain-specific skills and encourage further research on personality judgment accuracy as a meaningful individual difference variable. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research)

Review

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Review
Are People-Centered Intelligences Psychometrically Distinct from Thing-Centered Intelligences? A Meta-Analysis
J. Intell. 2021, 9(4), 48; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9040048 - 30 Sep 2021
Viewed by 290
Abstract
The Cattell–Horn–Carroll (CHC) or three-stratum model of intelligence envisions human intelligence as a hierarchy. General intelligence (g) is situated at the top, under which are a group of broad intelligences such as verbal, visuospatial processing, and quantitative knowledge that pertain to [...] Read more.
The Cattell–Horn–Carroll (CHC) or three-stratum model of intelligence envisions human intelligence as a hierarchy. General intelligence (g) is situated at the top, under which are a group of broad intelligences such as verbal, visuospatial processing, and quantitative knowledge that pertain to more specific areas of reasoning. Some broad intelligences are people-centered, including personal, emotional, and social intelligences; others concern reasoning about things more generally, such as visuospatial and quantitative knowledge. In the present research, we conducted a meta-analysis of 87 studies, including 2322 effect sizes, to examine the average correlation between people-to-people intelligences relative to the average correlation between people-to-thing-centered intelligences (and similar comparisons). Results clearly support the psychometric distinction between people-centered and thing-centered mental abilities. Coupled with evidence for incremental predictions from people-centered intelligences, our findings provide a secure foundation for continued research focused on people-centered mental abilities. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research)
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Review
Levels of Emotional Awareness: Theory and Measurement of a Socio-Emotional Skill
J. Intell. 2021, 9(3), 42; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9030042 - 19 Aug 2021
Viewed by 633
Abstract
Emotional awareness is the ability to conceptualize and describe one’s own emotions and those of others. Over thirty years ago, a cognitive-developmental theory of emotional awareness patterned after Piaget’s theory of cognitive development was created as well as a performance measure of this [...] Read more.
Emotional awareness is the ability to conceptualize and describe one’s own emotions and those of others. Over thirty years ago, a cognitive-developmental theory of emotional awareness patterned after Piaget’s theory of cognitive development was created as well as a performance measure of this ability called the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS). Since then, a large number of studies have been completed in healthy volunteers and clinical populations including those with mental health or systemic medical disorders. Along the way, there have also been further refinements and adaptations of the LEAS such as the creation of a digital version in addition to further advances in the theory itself. This review aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the evolving theoretical background, measurement methods, and empirical findings with the LEAS. The LEAS is a reliable and valid measure of emotional awareness. Evidence suggests that emotional awareness facilitates better emotion self-regulation, better ability to navigate complex social situations and enjoy relationships, and better physical and mental health. This is a relatively new but promising area of research in the domain of socio-emotional skills. The paper concludes with some recommendations for future research. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research)
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Review
Reflections and New Perspectives on Face Cognition as a Specific Socio-Cognitive Ability
J. Intell. 2021, 9(2), 30; https://0-doi-org.brum.beds.ac.uk/10.3390/jintelligence9020030 - 11 Jun 2021
Viewed by 889
Abstract
The study of socio-cognitive abilities emerged from intelligence research, and their specificity remains controversial until today. In recent years, the psychometric structure of face cognition (FC)—a basic facet of socio-cognitive abilities—was extensively studied. In this review, we summarize and discuss the divergent psychometric [...] Read more.
The study of socio-cognitive abilities emerged from intelligence research, and their specificity remains controversial until today. In recent years, the psychometric structure of face cognition (FC)—a basic facet of socio-cognitive abilities—was extensively studied. In this review, we summarize and discuss the divergent psychometric structures of FC in easy and difficult tasks. While accuracy in difficult tasks was consistently shown to be face-specific, the evidence for easy tasks was inconsistent. The structure of response speed in easy tasks was mostly—but not always—unitary across object categories, including faces. Here, we compare studies to identify characteristics leading to face specificity in easy tasks. The following pattern emerges: in easy tasks, face specificity is found when modeling speed in a single task; however, when modeling speed across multiple, different easy tasks, only a unitary factor structure is reported. In difficult tasks, however, face specificity occurs in both single task approaches and task batteries. This suggests different cognitive mechanisms behind face specificity in easy and difficult tasks. In easy tasks, face specificity relies on isolated cognitive sub-processes such as face identity recognition. In difficult tasks, face-specific and task-independent cognitive processes are employed. We propose a descriptive model and argue for FC to be integrated into common taxonomies of intelligence. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Advances in Socio-Emotional Ability Research)
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