Emotions
are internal events that coordinate many psychological subsystems including physiological
responses, cognition, and conscious awareness. Emotional intelligence (EI) is a new important
emerging concept which refers to an ability to recognize the meanings of
emotions and their relationships and to reason and problem-solve on the basis
of them (1). General intelligence serves as an umbrella concept that includes
dozens of related groups of mental abilities and is traditionally assessed
using measures like intelligence quotient (IQ). Emotional intelligence
represents, to us, an important candidate to enlarge the group on which general
intelligence is based. A debate has emerged as to whether these two individual
characteristics are the same, different or complimentary. Studies assessing EI
and IQ together have also reported conflicting results – with positive (2,3) , negative
(4) or no correlation between the two (5).

Specifically,
there are claims that emotional intelligence accounts in some large part for an
individual’s success, perhaps more so than conventional analytic intelligence
(IQ). EI attracts growing interest worldwide, more so as a domain of human
performance contributing to various educational, health and occupational
outcomes especially in professions like medicine, dentistry and nursing (6-11).

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And more so EI seems to
play an important role in determining the physiological responses to stress
especially the autonomic reactivity (12-14). Balconi 2014 (15) studied EI and
autonomic responses in 35 healthy young adults and found EI and autonomic
measures to be related. The persons with high emotional intelligence can better
recognize potential stressors and can use emotions in coping with the problem. Literature
suggests that individual style of coping with stress is connected with the
level of emotional intelligence (8,16,17). EI is also important for understanding the
link between stress and problem- solving skill that employs both emotional and
cognitive ability (18).

Emotional
and cognitive processes evoke patterned changes in bodily state that may signal
emotional state to others. This dynamic modulation of visceral state is
neurally mediated by sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions of the autonomic
nervous system. Moreover neural afferents convey representations of the
internal state of the body back to the brain to further influence emotion and
cognition. Thus it seems that EI, IQ and autonomic reactivity tests should be
associated to each other. But the relations between emotional intelligence, intelligence
quotient and autonomic responses are yet-to-be explored. Thus this study has
been planned to holistically assess general intelligence using IQ, emotional
intelligence and autonomic reactivity tests all together and decipher their
relationships to each other in medical undergraduate students. To the best of
our knowledge, this is the first study designed to assess EI, IQ and autonomic
stress reactivity together in undergraduate medical students. This study would
aid in validating EI as an upcoming tool for assessing the overall intelligence
and as a predictor of the physiological proficiencies (vis-a-vis autonomic functioning)
of an individual.