People Who Are Good At Recognizing Emotions Make More Money


baby smile


This infant is experiencing an emotion. Do you know which?

The better you can recognize emotions, the more you'll get paid.


That insight comes care of Gerhard Blickle, a psychologist at the University of Bonn in Germany.

A study his team just published shows how being able to read emotions helps you navigate the workplace - and thus make more money.

According to Blickle, people who excel at recognizing emotions "are considered more socially and politically skilled than others by their colleagues. Their supervisors also attribute better social and political skills to these people. And, most notably, their income is significantly higher."

In the experiment, 142 adults were asked to look at pictures and listen to recordings of actors and children expressing their feelings.


The participants were asked to say what emotion - sadness, anger, happiness, etc. - was behind the expression.

The average success rate was 77%, with the "really good" recognizers identifying 90% of emotions and the poor recognizers hitting 60%.

After the test, researchers followed up by asking the participants' colleagues and supervisors how politically savvy they were - if they seemed sincere, influential, and formed relationships quickly at work.

The team replicated the study with 156 different participants and controlled for sex, age, training, working hours, and title.

"We controlled for all these variants," Blickle reports. "The effect of the ability to recognize emotions on income still remained."


The business case for emotional intelligence is so strong that some forward-thinking companies have started to incorporate it into hiring and management.

In the 1990s, L'Oreal started using emotional intelligence in its hiring of salespeople. Those hired with consideration of their emotional know-how sold $91,370 more on average per year than their peers, for a net revenue increase of over $2.5 million.

More recently, Chicago pizza empire Lou Malnati's has been putting emotional intelligence at the center of its business.

"It has nothing to do with Chicago pizza, but most of the time, we have nothing to do with Chicago pizza," CEO Marc Malnati told Business Insider. "There are 2,400 people in the company, and the biggest job is to maintain relationships and care about people."