Research and valid practice in emotional intelligence (EI) have been impeded by lack of theoretical clarity regarding (a) the relative roles of emotion perception, emotion understanding, and emotion regulation facets in explaining job performance; (b) conceptual redundancy of EI with cognitive intelligence and Big Five personality; and (c) application of the EI label to 2 distinct sets of constructs (i.e., ability-based EI and mixed-based EI). In the current article, the authors propose and then test a theoretical model that integrates these factors. They specify a progressive (cascading) pattern among ability-based EI facets, in which emotion perception must causally precede emotion understanding, which in turn precedes conscious emotion regulation and job performance. The sequential elements in this progressive model are believed to selectively reflect Conscientiousness, cognitive ability, and Neuroticism, respectively. "Mixed-based" measures of EI are expected to explain variance in job performance beyond cognitive ability and personality. The cascading model of EI is empirically confirmed via meta-analytic data, although relationships between ability-based EI and job performance are shown to be inconsistent (i.e., EI positively predicts performance for high emotional labor jobs and negatively predicts performance for low emotional labor jobs). Gender and race differences in EI are also meta-analyzed. Implications for linking the EI fad in personnel selection to established psychological theory are discussed. Copyright 2009 APA, all rights reserved.