MSCEIT psychometrics


The MSCEIT is an ability test of emotional intelligence designed for adult ages 17 years and older.  Normative data are from a sample of 5,000 individuals.

The MSCEIT consists of 141 items that yield a total emotional intelligence score, two Area scores, and four Branch scores.  The eight task-level scores are reported for research and qualitative use only.

The MSCEIT asks test takers to:

Perceive the emotions expressed by a face or in designs.
Generate a mood and solve problems with that mood.
Define the causes of different emotions. Understand the progression of emotions.
Determine how to best include emotion in our thinking in situations that involve ourselves or other people.


Paper and Pencil – Via a re-usable color test booklet and a one-time use answer sheet.
The answer sheet is mailed or faxed to the test publisher for scoring.

On-Line – The on-line version is scored automatically.

Testing time about 30 to 45 minutes.


The MSCEIT is available from Multi-Health Systems ( ).  


Scoring the MSCEIT

The MSCEIT is objectively scored. One reason why this is the case is that emotions have evolved over time as a complex, adaptive signaling system.

Many theorists agree that basic emotions have universal meaning – universal across cultures and even across certain species.

Consensus Scoring

Consensus scoring is based upon the agreement of a large number of people.  For example, if 70 percent of people felt that a photo was of a very happy person, then the best answer for the photo would be “happiness”.

Consensus scoring “works” because of the evolutionary and social basis of emotion and its expression. In addition, a low score on such a test would be achieved by those people who are “off” or whose  perceptions of emotion are so unique as to cause them interpersonal problems.

Expert Scoring

Even though emotions convey information about social relationships, we have developed an alternative scoring method that relies upon expert judgment.  In the expert method, emotions experts determine which test answers are better, and which are worse. While our earlier test employed just two raters, the MSCEIT’s expert scoring method employs 21 members of the International Society for Research on Emotions (ISRE).

If the two scoring methods were to differ radically, we would be faced with a major scoring issue.  Fortunately, the two methods yield very similar results, indicating that there are indeed better and worse answers on the MSCEIT.

In general, experts tend to agree more with each other, and to diverge from the general consensus, in those areas of emotional intelligence where the body of knowledge is better developed (i.e., perception and understanding).

Similar to Intelligence Tests?

Those of you familiar with the Wechsler scales of intelligence will realize that some Wechsler subtests (e.g., Comprehension) also utilize an expert scoring method.

Why Two Scoring Methods?

Multiple scoring methods have allowed us to determine whether it is possible to create an ability test of emotional intelligence that can be objectively scored. We need to demonstrate that there are better, and worse, answers on such tests. Given the nature of emotional information , we believe that there is adequate justification for both a general consensus scoring method as well as an expert method. Over time, however, it is likely that we will move to a single scoring method.

Additional Information

This is a complex and important issue. Please consult this recent article which describes scoring issues in some detail, including Scoring and Consensus issues.

Different definitional approaches to emotional intelligence have also led to different measurement approaches. Please consult our brief descriptions of some of these measurement approaches.

Also see Mayer, J.D., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (2000). Selecting a measure of emotional intelligence: The case for ability testing. In R. Bar-On & J. D. A. Parker (Eds.). Handbook of emotional intelligence (pp. 320-342). New York: Jossey-Bass.

MSCEIT Reliability
Score General Expert
Total MSCEIT  .93 .91
Experiential Area .90 .90
Perceiving Branch .91 .90
Facilitating Branch .79 .76
Strategic Area .88 .86
Understanding Branch .80 .77
Managing Branch .83 .81

Test – Retest

Brackett & Mayer (2001) found a test-retest reliability for the full-scale MSCEIT V2.0 of  .86, based on a sample of 62 people.

MSCEIT Validity

Face Validity

If a test appears to measure what it is supposed to measure, it has face validity.  One study explicitly examined the face validity of the MSCEIT in the workplace and concluded that “In general, the MSCEIT has good face validity” Pusey (2000).  We have additional information on face validity of the MSCEIT for researchers as well as for test-takers.

Content Validity

If a test’s items are systematically drawn from the areas that the test is supposed to measure it is considered to have content validity. Remember that the MSCEIT is operationalizing the ability model of emotional intelligence. Therefore, the MSCEIT should measure the ability to identify emotions in persons and objects; the ability to generate emotion and use it to solve problems; the ability to understand emotional causes and complexity; and, the ability to manage emotion to enhance growth?

Factor Structure

Our factor analyses of the MSCEIT, based upon a sample of 1,985 test takers, are highly supportive of the four-branch model of emotional intelligence.  (Please ask us for a copy of our recent manuscript, Modeling and Measuring Emotional Intelligence with the MSCEIT V2.0.)

Discriminant Validity  – If a test correlates at very high levels with other tests, then it may lack discriminant validity.  This type of validity means that a test is measuring something relatively unique.

IQ  – Salovey, Mayer, Caruso, and Lopes (in press), in a sample of 97 participants, found nonsignificant correlations close to zero between the MSCEIT V2.0 and (self-reported) Verbal and Math SAT scores, as well as r = .15 (ns) with the Vocabulary scale of the WAIS-III.

Emotionality  –Salovey and colleagues (in press), found an intercorrelation between the MSCEIT and mood state of .08, ns, in a sample of 97 participants.

BarOn EQ-i  – The correlation between the MSCEIT RV1.1 EIQ and the BarOn EQ-i was .13 (ns) in a sample of 130 ethnically diverse students (Pellettieri, 2001).

TMMS  – The correlation between Trait Meta-Mood Scale (a scale of meta-experience of mood; see Mayer & Gaschke, 1988; Salovey et al., 1995) and the MSCEIT was .29 (p < .01) in a sample of 318 men and women (Gohm and Clore, 2001).  Salovey and colleagues (in press), in a sample of 97 participants, found correlations of .01 to .16 (all nonsignificant) with the TMMS.

NEO Personality Inventory  – Salovey and colleagues (in press), in a sample of 97 participants, correlated the MSCEIT V2.0 with the NEO PI and other scales. Its correlations were r = -.13 (ns) with Neuroticism, r = .04 (ns) with Extroversion, r = .33 (p < .05) with Agreeableness, r = -.23 (p < .05) with Openness, and r = .25 (p < .05) with Conscientiousness.

Concurrent Validity

What does emotional intelligence, and the MSCEIT, predict? Contrary to the claims in the popular press, we are certain that emotional intelligence is not “twice as important as IQ”. Indeed, we know of no psychological variable that is that powerful a predictor. The MSCEIT will likely predict important outcomes, but at levels that one usually obtains in psychological research.

There are a number of studies that are in the field, but those that have been completed suggest that the MSCEIT offers additional predictive validity for outcomes such as pro-social behavior, deviancy, and academic performance (see Mayer et al., 2002b).

We again remind researchers and practitioners that the applied use of emotional intelligence tests must proceed with great caution.