Initial evidence for the hypersensitivity hypothesis: Emotional intelligence as a magnifier of emotional experience

Marina Fiori*, Andrew Ortony

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number24
JournalJournal of Intelligence
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 2021


  • Ability EI
  • Amplification of emotions
  • Emotion understanding
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Social perception

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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