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FAMILY AND FRIENDS: THEIR EFFECT ON EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IN PREADOLESCENCE

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FAMILY AND FRIENDS: THEIR EFFECT ON EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IN PREADOLESCENCE. Tara Cox Brett Spitzer Faculty Sponsor: Teddi Deka, Ph.D. Results.

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FAMILY AND FRIENDS: THEIR EFFECT ON EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE IN PREADOLESCENCE

Tara Cox

Brett Spitzer

Faculty Sponsor: Teddi Deka, Ph.D.

Results

Middle School children (n=102) from two schools were given questionnaires to examine whether age, sociability/loneliness and family cohesion predicted trait emotional intelligence. A regression demonstrated that sociability level of the child and family cohesion, but not age, predicted trait emotional intelligence.

For both hypotheses, a multiple linear regression was calculated predicting participants’ TEI based on their age, family cohesion level, and sociability. A significant regression equation was found (F (2,63) = 31.168 p < 0.0001), with an R² of 0.497. Both family cohesion and sociability were significant predictors of emotional intelligence, supporting Hypothesis 2.

Correlations between the variables suggest that high TEI is related to high family cohesion and high sociability.

Method

Sample:

102 middle-school participants, 2 K-12 schools

66 participants completed all measures used in the analysis.

Grade: Sixth (16%), Seventh (42%), Eighth (40%)

Age: 11-14 year-olds, mean= 12.7

Gender: 53% male

Ethnicity: 80% Caucasian

Introduction

  • Daniel Goleman popularized the concept of Emotional Intelligence, suggesting that adult success in life is contingent upon awareness of one’s own emotions, conflict resolution skills, the ability to make decisions and good social skills (Goleman, 1995).
  • “Emotional intelligence is a constellation of emotion-related self-perceptions and dispositions comprising the affective aspects of personality” (Petrides, 2006).
  • Difficulties on researching emotional intelligence (Humphrey, Curran, Morris, Farrell & Woods, 2007):
  • Emotional Intelligence is broadly defined
  • Few research studies have set out to measure emotional intelligence in children, how it develops, and how to encourage EI
  • EI can be perceived as a trait or an ability
  • Researchers do not agree on how to measure EI
  • Researchers examining children using the trait approach (Petrides, Frederickson, & Furnham 2004; Petrides, 2006) found that high trait emotional intelligence (TEI) in adolescence is related to lower absence rates and detentions, higher prosocial behaviors such as leadership and cooperation among peers, and lower antisocial behaviors such as disruptiveness and aggression.
  • Our study was designed to explore whether there was a relationship between TEI and the level of family cohesiveness, and socialization in middle-school-age children.
  • We hypothesized that 1) emotional intelligence will show an increase with age, 2) family cohesion and socialization will be positively related to emotional intelligence.
  • Measures:
  • Emotional Intelligence: Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire – Child Form (TEIQ-CF) (Petrides, 2009). 30 statements, rated on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 representing high Emotional Intelligence.
  • Family Cohesion: Family Adaptability and Cohesion Evaluation Scale (FACES) (Olson, 1986). 20 cohesion statements, rated on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 indicating higher family cohesion. 20 adaptability statements, rated on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 indicating more flexibility within the family dynamic.
  • Sociability: Children’s Loneliness Questionnaire (CLQ) (Asher & Wheeler, 1985). 24 statements, rated on a 1 to 5 scale, with 5 indicating greater sociability with peers.
  • Procedure:
  • Surveys were administered within the week after a science presentation was given to the students about the field of psychology. The surveys were administered during the normal science period. Surveys took approximately 20 minutes to finish.

Discussion

Hypothesis 1 was not supported: TEI performed like a trait, remaining stable with age.

Hypothesis 2 was supported: Greater cohesion and sociability predicted higher emotional intelligence, suggesting that emotional intelligence may develop with the support of good social framework.

Our research raises some interesting thoughts on how Emotional Intelligence can be increased. For instance, parents could encourage greater family cohesion by creating a “special night” once a week to play games, or get out of the house with the child and to have more sit-down dinners. Things that might increase sociability include: having friends over and classroom activities that include opportunities for more interaction between students.

Presented at the 2010 Great Plains Undergraduate Psychology Convention, Saint Joseph, MO

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