In this paper it is explored to what extent emotional intelligence can be expressed in terms of a standard trait model. Two studies were performed. In Study 1 a total of 437 items from several emotional intelligence questionnaires were used. The items were classified into the categories comprised by the Abridged Big Five Circumplex (AB5C) model. The majority of those items ended up in categories delineated by the factors Agreeableness (II) and Emotional Stability (IV) of the Big Five. Most of the items that were not classifiable were ambiguous or included other elements of difficulty such as conditional statements or negations. In Study 2 a large pool of 728 Big Five items was used. Those items were selected that could be considered relevant for the description of emotional intelligence. Three hundred and eight items considered relevant were factored on the basis of ratings available from an earlier study. This yielded a four factor structure of which the factors strongly related to four of the Big Five factors. In both studies the Big Five segments III+ V+ and V + III+ were left rather untouched, emphasizing that rational and organized information processing is not captured by understandings of emotional intelligence. (C) 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.