Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Lisa L. Scherer

Second Advisor

Wayne Harrison

Third Advisor

Shereen Bingham


The study examined the interactive influence o f the affective qualities of a problem and a problem solver’s emotional intelligence (El), an individual difference in the ability to perceive, express, integrate, understand, and regulate emotion, on the quality and quantity of solutions generated to two different ill-structured problems. The general hypothesis was that emotional intelligence would moderate the effect of the negative emotional arousal of a problem controlling for the influence of cognitive intelligence, such that the discrepancy between those higher and lower in emotional intelligence would be greater for the problem which is high in emotional arousal than for the problem which is low. Emotional intelligence would provide a greater advantage to generating higher quality solutions for the high emotional arousal problem. High negative emotional arousal was thought to restrict the quantity and quality of solutions. The study required that 99 participants generate solutions to two ill-structured problems, one high and one low in negative emotional arousal. The solutions were evaluated in terms of resolving power, or the extent to which the solution addressed the conflicting aspects of the problem. Results did not support the interactive effect of El and negative emotional arousal. In addition, participants generated more solutions to the high negative arousal problem than to the low negative arousal problem. However, EI was found to predict the average resolving power of solutions generated across both problems. Exploratory analyses indicated that a people who are better at managing their emotions had a higher rated highest resolving power solution that those were less skilled in managing their emotions. Though results were largely unsupportive of the predictions, this study provided evidence for the influence of the affective qualities of a problem on the quality and quantity of solutions generated by problem solvers. In addition, organizations should consider both the qualities of the decision maker and the problem when choosing who will be involved in decision making endeavors.


A Thesis Presented to the Department of Psychology and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Masters of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha.

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