Research Agenda

The research team at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence uses rigorous study methods to better understand how emotions affect individuals and institutions. Though the research possibilities are endless, the Center’s work centers around five topic areas related to emotions and emotional intelligence.

As RULER — a school-based program that helps educators integrate the teaching of emotional intelligence into everyday practice — spreads to hundreds of schools, the Center studies how emotional intelligence is best taught (Teaching Emotional Intelligence). We also examine how RULER is implemented in schools and design methods for measuring skill development over time (Evaluation and Assessment).

From health to compassion to creativity to bullying, emotions matter (Emotions in Everyday Life, Bullying). That’s why we collaborate with outside groups like Facebook, social robotics labs, and museums to study new ways to teach emotional intelligence (Cross-Disciplinary Explorations).

Center researchers have published over 400 scholarly articles, several curricula for teaching emotional intelligence, and numerous books. Collectively, their work confirms the critical role emotions and emotional intelligence play in our lives.

Evaluation and Assessment

As schools around the world roll out RULER, it’s important to understand how RULER gets carried out in practice as well as how it affects learners. Our evaluation research helps us improve how we teach and assess emotional intelligence skills in people of all ages. Our assessment research focuses on how best to assess emotional intelligence in different contexts, as well as growth in emotional intelligence skills across the lifespan.

Teaching Emotional Intelligence

What’s the best way to teach emotional intelligence skills in school? The answer depends on who is learning them. This research area focuses on developing innovative, effective approaches to teaching emotional intelligence to students of various ages, families, teachers, and administrators.

Emotions in Everyday Life

The Center seeks to answer basic scientific questions about the roles emotions play in ordinary contexts, such as school and work. One exciting application of this research is the Creativity, Emotions, and the Arts Project. As the first such project to study the role of emotional intelligence in creativity, it develops school interventions and museum-based workshops. This research area also explores the intersection of creativity and emotional intelligence with regard to coping, persistence, academic and workplace success, and general mental health.


Bullying is a group phenomenon and only can occur in a social context that allows it. The Center’s researchers examine how emotional intelligence skill development can help reduce bullying, whether it happens in school or online. By improving the emotional intelligence skills of bullies, targets, bystanders, and adults, the Center aims to create positive and safe emotional environments where bullying behaviors can no longer thrive.

Cross-Disciplinary Explorations

This area of research reaches across fields to find new ways to teach emotional intelligence, as well as new ways to assess outcomes of that instruction. Experts from many diverse fields, including robotics, psychology, neuroscience, and education, are teaming up to share theories, methods, and assessment tools.



“I started studying human emotion in a lab that I worked in in college. And at that time, there wasn't much interest in psychology and emotions. The cognitive revolution was in full force and people just kind of viewed emotions as noise. The idea was, you might have emotions but they don't actually predict anything – they don't matter. I just couldn't believe that that was true. And I got really motivated to study emotions to show that not only do emotions matter, but they matter in positive ways, that we had an emotional system for a reason, we had an emotional system that was functional, we had an emotional system that helped us get through life.”

—Peter Salovey, President of Yale University and Founder of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence