Relating Rational and Experiential Thinking Styles With Trait Emotional Intelligence in Broader Personality Space


  • Biljana Jokić
  • Danka Purić


The usual distinction between rational and intuitive thinking styles is still a subject of scientific debate, as there is no consensus about their nature, mutual relations and relations to other personality constructs. Cognitive-experiential self-theory (CEST) proposes rational and experiential thinking styles as original personality constructs not fully explainable by five-factor personality models. Following CEST, we aimed to examine: 1. The uniqueness of rational and experiential dimensions by relating them to other personality constructs: trait emotional intelligence (TEI) and HEXACO; 2. Thinking style profiles defined through combined rational and experiential dimensions, and the possible role of TEI in understanding them. A total of 270 undergraduate students (82% females) completed the TEIQue-SF, REI-40, and HEXACO-PI-R. Our results showed that constructs from all three paradigms were low to moderately correlated to each other. TEI had incremental validity in explaining both rational and experiential dimensions, but large amounts of their variances remained unexplained by both TEI and HEXACO. We revealed four thinking style profiles defined through combined rational and experiential dimensions. TEI was the highest when both dimensions were high and the lowest when both were low, which could be related to processes of understanding and managing emotional functioning – proposed as an essential part of TEI, while within CEST they are seen as the way in which rationality influences experientiality. This finding might be of specific significance for understanding irrationality as not exclusively related to high intuition, but to low rationality as well.