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Emotional intelligence in policing: a state-of-the-art review

Obed Magny (Education Brandman University, Irvine, California, USA)
Natalie Todak (Criminal Justice, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA)

Policing: An International Journal

ISSN: 1363-951X

Article publication date: 7 July 2021

Issue publication date: 22 October 2021




Emotional intelligence (EI) reflects an ability to acknowledge one's own emotional state and keep one's emotions in balance while recognizing emotions in others, managing interactions and relationships with them and resolving conflict. Considering that police work largely involves interactions with others, the purpose of this paper is to offer a state-of-the-art review of the research on EI in policing.


Using several online databases, a literature search was performed to collect all peer reviewed studies on EI in policing from around the globe. The authors review the nature of this research and its major findings. They also summarize how EI was conceptualized and measured across studies.


The authors' search generated a list of 20 studies carried out in 9 countries. Almost all used survey methods and most adopted an ability-based model of EI. The most common area of focus was on correlates of EI in police officers (N = 12), followed by descriptive studies of EI in police officers (N = 5), and finally assessments of the relevance of EI for police training (N = 3).


Policing research has not paid enough attention to EI. To the authors' knowledge, this is the first effort to assess the state of this literature. With law enforcement agencies looking for ways to improve citizen trust and legitimacy worldwide, the preliminary evidence suggests EI warrants considerably more empirical and practical consideration.



Magny, O. and Todak, N. (2021), "Emotional intelligence in policing: a state-of-the-art review", Policing: An International Journal, Vol. 44 No. 6, pp. 957-969.



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