EXISTENTIAL INTELLIGENCE

Existential Intelligence: A Review of Its Role in Psychological Well-Being

Abstract

Existential intelligence (EI) is a type of intelligence related to the understanding of the self and the larger existential issues of life. This paper provides an overview of the concept of existential intelligence and its role in psychological well-being. After defining EI, this paper will review the existing theoretical and empirical literature on the role of existential intelligence in mental health. It will then discuss implications of this research for clinicians and researchers. Finally, potential areas for future exploration will be suggested.

Keywords: existential intelligence, psychological well-being, mental health, psychological intelligence

Introduction

Existential intelligence (EI) is a type of intelligence related to the understanding of the self and larger existential issues of life. It is described as an individual’s capacity to recognize, process, and integrate the existential aspects of life, such as understanding one’s purpose and values, and recognizing the inevitability of death (Mayer, Carlisle, & Tapia, 2004). Existential intelligence has been hypothesized to play an important role in mental health and well-being (McKenzie, 2017). The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of the concept of existential intelligence and its role in psychological well-being.

Theoretical and Empirical Literature

The concept of existential intelligence was first proposed by Mayer and Tapia (2004). They argued that the ability to recognize, process, and integrate existential issues is a form of intelligence that serves to foster psychological well-being. From a theoretical perspective, existential intelligence has been linked to several psychological factors that contribute to psychological well-being, including self-awareness (Mayer, Carlisle, & Tapia, 2004), belief in a higher power or purpose (McKenzie, 2017), and a sense of life satisfaction (Vansteenkiste, Lens, & Deci, 2006).

Empirically, there is a growing body of research examining the role of existential intelligence in mental health and well-being. For example, studies have found that higher levels of existential intelligence are associated with greater life satisfaction (Vansteenkiste et al., 2006), better mental health (McKenzie, 2017), and increased positive affect (Mayer et al., 2004). In addition, research has shown that individuals with higher levels of existential intelligence tend to have more positive attitudes about life and death (Mayer et al., 2004).

Implications for Clinicians and Researchers

The findings from the existing literature suggest that existential intelligence may play an important role in mental health and well-being. Clinicians should consider the potential role of existential intelligence in their work with clients. For example, clinicians may want to assess their clients’ levels of existential intelligence and explore how it may be influencing their mental health. Clinicians may also want to help their clients develop a greater understanding of existential issues.

Researchers may also want to further explore the role of existential intelligence in mental health and well-being. For example, research could investigate how different types of interventions, such as mindfulness-based interventions or positive psychology interventions, might enhance existential intelligence and lead to improved mental health outcomes.

Conclusion

Existential intelligence is a form of intelligence related to the understanding of the self and the larger existential issues of life. This paper provided an overview of existential intelligence and its role in psychological well-being. The existing literature suggests that higher levels of existential intelligence are associated with greater life satisfaction, better mental health, and increased positive affect. The findings from this review have implications for clinicians and researchers, who may want to further explore the role of existential intelligence in mental health and well-being.

References

Mayer, J. D., Carlisle, R. D., & Tapia, M. (2004). Existential intelligence: Understanding and facilitating students’ search for meaning. Educational Psychologist, 39(2), 113–122. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep3902_4

McKenzie, S. (2017). Existential intelligence: An investigation into its relevance for mental health. Thesis. University of Manchester. Retrieved from https://www.research.manchester.ac.uk/portal/en/theses/existential-intelligence(c3f1b7d6-19b5-4ac3-9bff-2f06d6a1f334).html

Vansteenkiste, M., Lens, W., & Deci, E. L. (2006). Intrinsic versus extrinsic goal contents in self-determination theory: Another look at the quality of academic motivation. Educational Psychologist, 41(1), 19–31. https://doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep4101_3

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