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The Emotional ChatGPT

This article was first published on the PGP Mediation Blog.

Recently, the Harvard Program on Negotiation posted a blog about “Emotional Intelligence as a Negotiating Skill” (By Katie Shonk- February 12, 2024). It noted that  experts predicted that  those scoring high on emotional intelligence would have better negotiated outcomes and discusses a 2015 study by researchers Kihwan Kim of Buena Vista University, Nicole L. A. Cundiff of the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and Suk Bong Choi of the University of Ulsan, South Korea  “… to determine whether emotional intelligence correlates with beneficial negotiation outcomes, in particular trust building, the desire to work together and future and joint gain….” (Id.)

What the study found was that higher emotional intelligence was indeed associated with greater rapport within the pairs of  negotiators but that, counterintuitively, higher emotional intelligence was not linked to better joint negotiated outcomes. (Id.) That is, emotionally intelligent negotiators were not able to leverage their skills to help both parties achieve what they wanted. The researchers speculate that this may be because the high level of empathy led the negotiators to make extreme concessions at the expense of their own goals.  (Id.)

Thus, while emotional intelligence will promote trust and long-term partnerships, it may undermine reaching one’s goals due to the making of too many concessions. (Id.)

But suppose we add ChatGPT to this example? A recent article in  Psychology Today entitled “ChatGPT Outperforms Humans in Emotional Awareness Test” by Dr. Marlynn Wei, M.D. J.D. discusses recent research in Frontiers in Psychology  that found that ChatGPT  outperformed humans on an emotional awareness test. (Id.).

Researchers prompted the chatbot to describe what it thought humans would feel in 20 different hypothetical situations. This study does not indicate that ChatGPT would be more emotionally adept or skilled than humans in dealing with emotions but does suggest a capability to identify human emotions that could prove useful for future applications in mental health. (Id.)

Researchers measured ChatGPT’s ability to describe human emotions in hypothetical scenarios from an objective test called the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale and compared it to scores from general human performance. They found that the AI chatbot scored higher than humans. Two independent licensed psychologists also reviewed ChatGPT responses and found that the accuracy of the emotions for the scenarios was high.

Emotional awareness is the cognitive ability to conceptualize one’s own and others’ emotions in a nuanced and integrated manner. Emotional awareness can start with physical and bodily understanding of emotions and range to more abstract understanding. The scale measures five levels of emotional awareness:

  1. Awareness of physical sensations
  2. Action tendencies
  3. Individual emotions
  4. Experiencing multiple emotions simultaneously
  5. Experiencing combinations of emotional blends (Id. at 2-3.

The researchers found that when they gave ChatGPT the  test one month later, it did even better. (Id. at 3-4.)

While emotional awareness is different from emotional intelligence  or empathy, it does mean that ChatGPT and its comrades in AI can be used to train us all to be more emotionally adept. (Id. at 4.)

It is, indeed, a brave new world!

… Just something to think about.


Phyllis Pollack

Phyllis Pollack with PGP Mediation uses a facilitative, interest-based approach. Her preferred mediation style is facilitative in the belief that the best and most durable resolutions are those achieved by the parties themselves. The parties generally know the business issues and priorities, personalities and obstacles to a successful resolution as… MORE >

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