Development of Emotional Intelligence through an Outdoor Leadership Program


  • Aya Hayashi Biwako Seikei Sport College, Japan
  • Alan Ewert Indiana University – Bloomington


outdoor leadership, emotional intelligence, Wilderness Education Association


Emotional intelligence (EI) has become an increasingly popular construct for identifying and developing effective leaders. It is defined as “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one's own, and others' feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use this information to guide one's thinking and actions†(Salovey & Mayer, 1990). In this study, the development of emotional intelligence through participation in an outdoor leadership program is examined through a sample of 72 students participating in Wilderness Education Association courses. Using a mixed method design including quantitative and qualitative approaches in order to obtain broader understanding, four measures were used to examine the relationship between EI and an outdoor leadership experience. The results indicated that a wilderness-based outdoor leadership program was effective in elevating levels of EI. In addition, specific course components and level of experience also played important roles in the development of EI. The developmental stage of EI is also discussed.



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