Conscientiousness in Emotional Intelligence: A Key to Success

Do you define yourself as a conscientious person? The kind who carries out their tasks with diligence and self-discipline? If so, you'll be interested to know that conscientiousness is a significant variable in emotional intelligence. We explain the reasons for this link.
Conscientiousness in Emotional Intelligence: A Key to Success
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 14 March, 2023

Meticulous, self-demanding, efficient, cautious… What image comes to mind when you think of someone with these characteristics? You might envision the classic picky eater, someone who complains about the minutest of details and is somewhat obsessive. However, these qualities usually outline a high-value personality trait in the human being.

We’re talking about conscientiousness. Individuals with this trait exhibit the kind of behavioral diligence that allows them to regulate their emotions and guide them toward a goal. They’re persevering and effective figures who combine a calmness of character with responsibility and self-control.

As a matter of fact, not only are these individuals more likely to achieve their goals, but they also demonstrate better psychological well-being. That said, as always happens with personality traits, sometimes this characteristic can lead to extremes. It’s then that obsessive and maladjusted behavior appears.

However, those who maintain the most focused and self-regulated expression of this trait tend to also demonstrate good strengths in emotional intelligence. In this article, we’re going to explain why.

“Conscientious people are apt to see their duty in that which is the most painful course.” 

-George Eliot-

Man working symbolizing conscientiousness in emotional intelligence
Conscientiousness is one of the personality traits of the Big Five model and one of the variables related to emotional intelligence.

Conscientiousness in emotional intelligence

Although we can all train ourselves and develop better skills in emotional intelligence, some people have a solid foundation in this factor. In fact, from childhood and adolescence, they’re really effective in managing and regulating their emotions. They’re also adept in social skills and self-awareness. Could it be due to genetics? As a matter of fact, it’s due to factors related to personality.

In 2016, Salovey and Mayer identified a direct link between conscientiousness and emotional intelligence. The model of the Big Five, which analyzed the different dimensions of personality, described this dimension as the basis of self-control. It’s this core quality that facilitates many of the processes in the emotionally conscientious person.

Let’s see what the individual with these characteristics is like, and how they act and react to others.

1. Responsibility and reliability: They can be trusted to do what they say

The conscientious individual assumes their tasks with great responsibility and discipline. Not only do they commit to the goals they set for themselves, but also to the people around them. In fact, they’re reliable personalities who can be trusted in almost any situation. They never fail.

Furthermore, they don’t focus their self-demand exclusively on achievement and conquering goals, but on behaving correctly with others. Indeed, they possess really strong values. They comply with what they say and never falter. In other words, they don’t betray themselves or others because their principles and scrupulousness don’t allow it.

Conscientious individuals exhibit good emotional intelligence and are really careful with their social relationships. They don’t make promises that they can’t keep and are extremely careful and respectful in their relationships.

2. Impulse control: They reflect before they speak or act

One of the reasons conscientiousness in emotional intelligence is a highly valued trait is due to good impulse control. These individuals’ conscientious and meticulous behavior is explained by their skillful emotional self-regulation. It’s a tool that allows them to always respond and act thoughtfully and carefully.

Consequently, they’ll always exercise caution, calmly consider each option, and rarely say anything they haven’t thought about before speaking. This allows them, not only to make better decisions but also to treat others with respect.

3. Perseverance: Goal-oriented motivation

When Daniel Goleman described the variables that drive emotional intelligence, he mentioned motivated behavior. The state of mind oriented to a purpose makes it easier for us to better resist frustration, and combine efforts, ingenuity, and focus on what we want.

As a matter of fact, motivation and perseverance are two sides of the same coin. The emotionally conscientious individual reinforces both qualities. The psychologist, Angela Duckworth, from the University of Pennsylvania (USA) explains this in her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. In this work, she describes the mechanisms that make it easier for us to achieve success.

Conscientious people know that well-being and happiness also require effort and diligence. They’re great experts in this regard.

4. Personal and relational self-care

Conscientiousness isn’t only a mechanism for social success, but also for mental well-being. In fact, this personality trait is defined, above all, by a good internal locus of control. This means they understand that they’re responsible for their own circumstances, decisions, and consequences.

They’re also oriented toward caring for their quality of life and their social, affective, and family ties, etc. Indeed, taking care of their own well-being and that of others is a purpose in which they invest their efforts and energy. They know that happiness requires effort and diligence and they’re great experts at exercising these qualities.

People working as a team symbolizing conscientiousness in emotional intelligence
Conscientious people score highly in emotional intelligence and are particularly valued in the workplace.

However, this personality trait often isn’t understood too well, and conscientious individuals are often thought to be manic or obsessive. This isn’t usually the case. In fact, companies can benefit significantly if they have employees with this characteristic in their workforce. They combine efficiency with responsibility and diligence with the ability to achieve.

In addition, conscientious people are extremely competent figures in emotional intelligence. As you well know, this particular competence concerns the ability to create more harmonious, respectful, productive, and also happy social environments.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Jackson JJ, Wood D, Bogg T, Walton KE, Harms PD, Roberts BW. What do conscientious people do? Development and validation of the Behavioral Indicators of Conscientiousness (BIC). J Res Pers. 2010 Aug 1;44(4):501-511. doi: 10.1016/j.jrp.2010.06.005. PMID: 21278818; PMCID: PMC3028204.
  • Mayer, J. D., Caruso, D. R., & Salovey, P. (2016). The ability model of emotional intelligence: Principles and updates. Emotion Review8(4), 290-300.
  • Zhou X, Sun X, Wang Z, Jiang T. Association between conscientiousness and team emotional intelligence: A moderated mediation model. Medicine (Baltimore). 2022 Oct 21;101(42):e31001. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000031001. PMID: 36281186; PMCID: PMC9592429.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.