Academic journal article International Journal of Emotional Education

Perceived Emotional Intelligence as a Predictor of Depressive Symptoms after a One Year Follow-Up during Adolescence

Academic journal article International Journal of Emotional Education

Perceived Emotional Intelligence as a Predictor of Depressive Symptoms after a One Year Follow-Up during Adolescence

Article excerpt

Introduction

The study of emotional intelligence as an important aspect of well-being and coping with daily events has generated considerable interest in recent years (Extremera & Fernandez-Berrocal, 2005). According to Mayer and Salovey (1997), emotional intelligence is a set of skills to process emotional information accurately and efficiently, including the ability to perceive, assimilate, understand and regulate emotions. Among other instruments, a self-report measure called Trait Meta-Mood Scale (TMMS) (Salovey, Mayer, Goldman, Turvey, & Palfai, 1995) was developed to assess individual differences in the perceived emotional intelligence, which represents what individuals know about their own emotional intelligence (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). This self-report specifically evaluates perceived emotional attention, or the perception of the level of attention given to own emotional states; emotional clarity, which is the perception of the degree of understanding of own emotions; and emotional repair, the perceived ability to regulate own emotional states. Greater perceived emotional intelligence is characterized by greater emotional clarity, greater emotional repair and moderate attention to emotions (Salovey et al., 1995). Palmer, Gignac, Bates and Stough (2003) proposed a functional sequence of perceived emotional intelligence, in which enough emotional attention was necessary to perceive clearly the emotions, and the ability to repair negative emotions was not possible unless emotions were experienced with clarity. The relationship between perceived emotional intelligence, assessed with TMMS, and psychological adjustment has been well documented in the adult population, but there are very few studies with adolescent populations (Fernandez-Berrocal, Alcaide, Extremera, & Pizarro, 2006).

Adolescence is a period of special risk for the emergence of the first depressive disorders (Abela & Hankin, 2008). Various longitudinal studies have revealed an increase in the rates of clinical depression between childhood and late adolescence (Costello, Copeland, & Angold, 2011), and it seems that the age of onset of depression occurs between 13-15 years old (Merikangas & Knight, 2009). Furthermore, literature has shown that, also during mid-adolescence, the first gender differences in the risk for depression emerge (Strauman, Costanzo, & Garber, 2011). The presence of depressive symptoms and depressive disorders in girls increases significantly during adolescence. During adolescence, depression has a great impact on school performance and on family and interpersonal relationships (Essau & Chang, 2009), and constitutes an important risk factor for drug abuse (Marmorstein & Iacono, 2011). The dramatic impact that mood disorders have on problems throughout the life span underscores the importance of studying when these disorders arise and what factors explain their development, maintenance or severity.

Some studies have tried to explain adolescent depression following the emotional intelligence model proposed by Mayer and Salovey (1997). In a sample of North American teenagers and undergraduates, Salovey, Stroud, Woolery and Epel (2002) found that lower perceived emotional clarity and emotional repair were cross-sectionally associated with a greater presence of depressive symptoms. Also in the USA, emotional attention and emotional clarity were associated with both anxiety symptoms and depressive symptoms in a sample of undergraduate students (Berenbaum, Bredemeier, Thompson, & Boden, 2012). In a study with Spanish adolescents aged 14 to 19 years old, perceived emotional intelligence was cross- sectionally linked with emotional adjustment, with the more emotionally intelligent adolescents showing fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression (Fernandez-Berrocal et al., 2006).

In a study with 256, 12-13 year old American teenagers, Stange, Alloy, Flynn and Abramson (2013) found that a clear perception of own emotions interacted with a negative attributional style and experience of stressful life events, in predicting depressive symptoms after a 9-month follow-up. …

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