This factor is defined as our ability to identify with social groups, among friends, at work and in the community, and to cooperate with others in a constructive and contributing manner. This involves acting in a responsible manner, even though we may not benefit personally. Socially responsible people are seen as possessing “social consciousness” and a basic concern for others, which is manifested by being able to take on group- and community-oriented responsibilities. This component of emotional-social intelligence is associated with doing things for and with others, acting in accordance with our conscience and upholding a set of agreed upon social principles, rules and standards common to the group. Being part of these various groups, in which we find ourselves, entails having a sense of interpersonal sensitivity, accepting others and using their talents for the good of the collective and not just for the good of the self. Another name for social responsibility is “moral competence” (at times referred to as “ethical competence” as well as “professionalism” in the workplace), which in its simplest form is doing the right thing.
Social responsibility is highly correlated with empathy, indicating that they are sharing a very similar conceptual domain. Based on studies that have examined this factor, it was found that social responsibility is related to identifying and understanding feelings in addition to being aware of emotions; and the underlying construct appears to be related to being sensitive, considerate and concerned about others and their feelings as well as demonstrating responsibility.
In a very large survey conducted in 36 countries between 1988 and 1998, social responsibility surfaced as one of the most important factors thought to determine effectiveness at work. Approximately 100,000 managers from hundreds of private companies and government organizations, primarily in Europe, were asked what they considered to be the most important characteristic of effective and successful employees. A number of the more recurring answers clearly focused on social responsibility described variously as “respect and consideration for others,” “loyalty toward people and the goals of the organization,” “cooperation with others,” and “responsibility for both the success and failure of the organization.”
Individuals who are seriously deficient in this EI ability may develop antisocial attitudes, act abusively towards others and take advantage of people.