“Ruler” model

Mayer and Salovey created a hierarchical model of EI back in 1997. It consists of the four abilities you have heard about, sometimes called the ‘4-branch’ model of EI:

  • Perceive Emotions
  • Use Emotions to Facilitate Thought
  • Understand Emotions
  • Manage Emotions

The Ruler model used in schools is an acronym for 5 emotional skills that are derived from the 4-branch model of EI. But how does 5 equal 4? The answer is that the 4-branch model proposed a set of sub-skills for each of the 4 branches, at least 16 in all. This list of 16 skills was never meant to be comprehensive, it was more to illustrate what each ability, or branch, was all about. Let’s look at Ruler and see how it was derived from Mayer-Salovey 4-branch model.

R-Recognize: this is the same as Perceiving Emotions.
U-Understand: refers to understanding the causes of your emotions and is the same as Understand emotions ability.
L-Label: refers to a complex emotion vocabulary, part of the Understand Emotions ability.
E-Express: is part of the first ‘branch’ which includes the appropriate expression of emotion.
R-Regulate: similar to Manage Emotions.

There are a few interesting differences between the 2 approaches. One is the emphasis on Regulating rather than Managing emotions.  Second, Using Emotions is the ability to feel what others feel, or emotional empathy. Ruler is more of a cognitive model and lacks this experiential component. While emotional empathy is important and might be a “safety valve” of emotional intelligence in that the ability to feel the pain of others means that we are less likely to cause others pain, it can be tricky to generate emotions in students. And a downside of emotional empathy is that it hurts – feeling the emotions of others can be tough, and painful. The upside of emotional empathy is that this connection defines the human experience. It’s a unique ability in emotional intelligence and extremely important in our lives. Without ensuring that every student in the Ruler program has well-developed emotion management skills, the development of emotional empathy does not seem ethical.

Ruler, therefore, may work better in schools than the 4-branch ability model upon which it is derived from. For one thing, it is a lot more memorable than the 4-branch model!