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The validity of the Wong and Law Emotional

Intelligence Scale in a Chinese sample: Tests of
measurement invariance...

Article in Personality and Individual Differences October 2017

DOI: 10.1016/j.paid.2017.04.025


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Feng Kong
Shaanxi Normal University


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Personality and Individual Differences xxx (2017) xxx-xxx

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Personality and Individual Differences

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Short Communication

The validity of the Wong and Law Emotional Intelligence Scale in a Chinese sample:
Tests of measurement invariance and latent mean differences across gender and age
Feng Kong

School of Psychology, Shaanxi Normal University,' China


Article history: The Wong and Law Emotional Intelligence Scale (WLEIS) is one of the most widely used measures of trait emotional
Received 5 March 2017

intelligence. The aim of this study was to examine measurement equivalence and latent mean differences of the WLEIS
Received in revised form 7 April 2017 across gender and age groups. The sample consisted of 1160 Chinese individuals aged 1340 years. Confirmation factor
Accepted 12 April 2017
analysis (CFA) replicated the original four-factor model previously found in other studies. Importantly, the multi-group
Available online xxx
CFA revealed that configural, metric and scalar invariance across gender and age groups were supported. Moreover, la-
tent mean scores on the WLEIS subscales were comparable across gender and age groups. The implications of these
Keywords: findings are discussed in light of existing literature in the field.
Emotional intelligence 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Confirmatory factor analysis
Measurement invariance
Gender differences
Age differences

1. Introduction Luebbers, Downey, & Stough, 2007; Whitman, Van Rooy,

Viswesvaran, & Kraus, 2009).

In the past decades, emotional intelligence (EI) has attracted con- Although the WLEIS has been used widely in many countries, to
siderable attention from researchers (Saklofske, Austin, & Minski, our knowledge, few studies have investigated measurement invariance
2003; Wong & Law, 2002). In the literature, there are two classic of the WLEIS across groups (e.g., age and gender). Previous literature
models of EI: the ability (AEI) and the trait models (TEI). Ability EI has indicated that age is a significant predictor of TEI. For example,
refers to a cognitive ability concerning one's actual ability to per- Mayer, Caruso, and Salovey (1999) found that adults scored signifi-
ceive, use, understand, and manage emotions in the self and others cantly higher than adolescents. This pattern of results is also found in
(Kong, Zhao, & You, 2012). TEI refers to a constellation of emo- many other studies (Bar-On, 1997; Luebbers et al., 2007; Sliter, Chen,

tion-related self-perceptions located at the lower-levels of personality Withrow, & Sliter, 2013). However, it is important to note that, when
hierarchies (Kong et al., 2012; Petrides, Pita, & Kokkinaki, 2007). In examining these age differences, we must assure that the WLEIS does
this study, we focused on a trait approach and examined measurement measure the same latent structure across different age groups. Thus,

invariance of a TEI scale across groups because replication of valida- one purpose of this study was to examine whether the measurement
tion studies is necessary and useful. structure underlying TEI is equivalent across age groups.
To assess individual differences in TEI, the 16-item Wong and In addition, previous literature has also shown that gender is a sig-
Law Emotional Intelligence Scale (WLEIS) was developed (Wong & nificant predictor of TEI. For example, males were found to score
Law, 2002). The WLEIS measures four dimensions of TEI: Self-Emo- higher on TEI than females (Kong & Zhao, 2013; Kong et al., 2012;
tion Appraisals, Others' Emotion Appraisals, Use of Emotion, and Mikolajczak, Luminet, Leroy, & Roy, 2007). Contrary to the above
Regulation of Emotion. Wong and Law (2002) have found that the results, some studies reported that females had higher TEI scores than

WLEIS have satisfactory validity and reliability. Subsequently, the males (Saklofske et al., 2003; Van Rooy, Alonso, & Viswesvaran,
WLEIS has been validated in different countries (Fukuda et al., 2011; 2005) or reported no gender differences (Whitman et al., 2009). How-
Fukuda, Saklofske, Tamaoka, & Lim, 2012; LaPalme, Wang, Joseph, ever, when examining the gender differences, we must rule out the
Saklofske, & Yan, 2016; Li, Saklofske, Bowden, Yan, & Fung, 2012; possibility that the differences arise from measurement bias between
Libbrecht, Beuckelaer, Lievens, & Rockstuhl, 2014; males and females. To our knowledge, only one published study has
tested measurement invariance of the WLEIS across gender (Whitman
et al., 2009). However, this study was conducted in a working en-
vironment, with American job applicants as participants.
Email address: Corresponding author at: School of Psychology, Shaanxi Normal
University, 199 South Changan Road, Xian, 710062, China.E-mail address: or (F. Kong)
0191-8869/ 2016 Published by Elsevier Ltd.
2 Personality and Individual Differences xxx (2017) xxx-xxx

Thus, another purpose of this study was to examine gender-related in- 3. Results
variance of the WLEIS in a general Chinese population.
To address these issues, we first performed a confirmatory fac- 3.1. Confirmatory factor analysis
tor analysis (CFA) to test whether the original four-factor structure of
the WLEIS can be replicated in a large Chinese sample (N = 1160). To examine whether the original four-factor structure of the
Second, we conducted multi-group CFAs (MGCFAs) to test mea- WLEIS can be replicated in our dataset, we first performed a CFA.

surement invariance across gender and age groups. Finally, we con- The results indicated that the proposed four-factor model showed a
ducted MGCFAs to test gender- and age-related latent mean differ- very good fit to the data, 2 (98) = 386.74, p < 0.001, NNFI = 0.96,

ences. We expected latent scores on the WLEIS subscales were com- CFI = 0.96, RMSEA = 0.050, SRMR = 0.032. The factor loadings
parable across gender and age groups. ranged from 0.55 to 0.89, and were significant.

3.2. Measurement invariance across gender and age groups

2. Method
3.2.1. Configural invariance across gender and age groups
2.1. Participants and procedure The MGCFA started with testing for configural invariance assess-
ing whether the WLEIS was best described by a four-factor structure

The survey was made available to participants via a survey website across gender and age groups. With regard to the gender groups, the
( Written informed consent was obtained results showed that the configural invariance model (M1) fitted the
from each participant prior to this study. A total of 1160 Chinese data very well, RMSEA = 0.039, CFI = 0.96 (Table 1), and all factor
healthy volunteers (mean age = 24.19 5.22 years, 636 females) an- loading were significant (p < 0.05).
swered these questionnaires. The majority of the participants had com- With regard to the age groups, the M1 fitted the data well, RM-
pleted university, college or post-graduate studies (70.6%). The study SEA = 0.034, CFI = 0.94, and all factor loading were significant
was approved by the local committee of ethics. (p < 0.05). Together, these results indicated that the four-factor model

The sample was split into three age groups: the first group con- fitted the data well in two gender and three age groups.
sisted of 187 teenagers aged between 13 and 19 (M = 16.75,
SD = 1.96, 95 females). The second group consisted of 852 youths 3.2.2. Metric invariance across gender and age groups
(i.e., young adults) aged between 20 and 30 (M = 24.38, SD = 2.87, Subsequently, a metric invariance model (M2) was tested with fac-
472 females). The third group consisted of 121 adults aged between tor loading constrained to be equal across groups. With regard to the
31 and 40 (M = 34.35, SD = 2.93, 69 females). gender groups, the results showed a good model fit, RMSEA = 0.038,
CFI = 0.96. When compared to the M1, no significant changes oc-
curred, CFI = 0.001 and RMSEA = 0.0006.
2.2. Wong and Law Emotional Intelligence Scale
With regard to the age groups, the M2 fitted the data well, RM-
SEA = 0.033, CFI = 0.94. When compared to the M1, no significant
The 16-item WLEIS (Wong & Law, 2002) was used to assess TEI.
changes occurred, CFI = 0.001 and RMSEA = 0.001. This indi-
Sample items are as follows: I am quite capable of controlling my
cated that factor loadings were invariant across gender and age groups.
own emotions (Regulation of Emotion), I always know whether or
not I am happy (Self-Emotion Appraisals), I am sensitive to the

3.2.3. Scalar invariance across gender and age groups

feelings and emotions of others (Others' Emotion Appraisals), and
To establish scalar invariance (M3), intercepts and factor loadings
I always tell myself I am a competent person (Use of Emotion).
were constrained to be equal across groups. With regard to the gen-
Each item is answered on a 5-point Likert scale that ranges from
der groups, the results showed a good model fit, RMSEA = 0.041,
1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree. In the current study, the al-
CFI = 0.95. When compared to M2, no significant changes occurred,
pha reliabilities of WLEIS subscales ranged from 0.74 to 0.87.
CFI = 0.009 and RMSEA = 0.003. This indicated that intercepts

and factor loadings were invariant across the female and male groups.
2.3. Data analysis With regard to the age groups, the results showed a good model fit,
RMSEA = 0.033, CFI = 0.94. When compared to the M2, no signif-
To examine whether the original four-factor structure of the icant changes occurred, CFI = 0.001 and RMSEA = 0.0005. This

WLEIS could be replicated in our dataset, a CFA was first performed indicated that intercepts and factor loadings were invariant across age
using Amos 22.0. Because Chi-Square is considered to be sensitive to groups.
sample size, we used the following indices to evaluate model fit (Hu Taking together, these results suggest that configural, metric and
& Bentler, 1999): non-normal fit index (NNFI), comparative fit index scalar invariance hold across gender and age groups.
(CFI), standardized root mean square residual (SRMR), and root mean
square error of approximation (RMSEA). Accordingly, an acceptable 3.3. Testing for latent mean differences
model fit is indicated by a RMSEA of < 0.08, a SRMR of < 0.08, a

NNFI of > 0.90, and a CFI of > 0.90. To estimate the mean differences between different groups, one
Then, we conducted MGCFAs to examine configural, metric, and of the groups is selected as a reference group and its latent mean is
scalar invariance of the WLEIS. Configural invariance implies the fixed to zero. Latent mean for the other group(s) is freely estimated. In
same number of factors in each group, which is a prerequisite for this study, the male, teenage, and youth groups were selected as refer-
the other tests. Metric invariance implies invariance of factor loadings ence groups, respectively. The results revealed that females had lower
across groups. Scalar Invariance (strict invariance) refers to invariance scores than males on Self-Emotion Appraisals (Z = 2.75, p < 0.05),
of item intercepts across groups. For tests of invariance, the differ- Use of Emotion (Z = 2.99, p < 0.05), and Regulation of Emotion
ence for CFI and RMSEA (CFI and RMSEA) was used as indices. (Z = 6.49, p < 0.05). Furthermore, significant age differences in la
CFI and RMSEA of equal to or < 0.01 indicate strong invariance
(Li, Yang, Ding, & Kong, 2015).
Personality and Individual Differences xxx (2017) xxx-xxx 3

tent means were also obtained. Specifically, youths had higher mean Acknowledgments
scores than teenagers on Self-Emotion Appraisals (Z = 2.55, p < 0.05),
and Use of Emotion (Z = 3.60, p < 0.05). Adults had higher mean This study was funded by the Research Foundation for Advanced
scores than teenagers on Use of Emotion (Z = 3.31, p < 0.05). No Talents of Shaanxi Normal University (1110010805) and the
significant differences were obtained between the youth and adult Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities
groups. (GK201703090).

4. Discussion References

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group differences than t-tests and ANOVA, since these traditional ap- Whitman, D.S., Van Rooy, D.L., Viswesvaran, C., Kraus, E., 2009. Testing the sec-
proaches don't take into account the influence of measurement errors. ond-order factor structure and measurement equivalence of the Wong and Law
Despite of these strengths, two limitations need to be considered. First, Emotional Intelligence Scale across gender and ethnicity. Educational and Psycho-
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used only cross-sectional data, so we can't confirm whether measure-
ment invariance still holds across different time points. Thus, testing
the measurement invariance for longitudinal data is also needed in fu-
ture studies.

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