Tuesday, 14 October 2014

High Emotional Intelligence linked with more delinquency among young women (but not men)

If, as research suggests, the psychological trait of sensation seeking is the catalyst for youthful delinquency, might high emotional intelligence (EI; having empathy for other people's emotions and good control over one's own) act as a calming restraint? That was the question Alison Bacon her colleagues posed in their study of 96 undergrads (average age 20; 48 women).

Their "surprising and unprecedented" discovery was that for women, not only did high EI not moderate the link between sensation seeking and delinquency, in fact high EI went hand in hand with higher rates of self-reported delinquency, including playing truant from school, taking drugs and violence.

Why should this be? The researchers are left speculating. They think high EI might fuel acts of indirect aggression like "psychological bullying, deliberate social exclusion or malicious gossip" that tend to be performed more by young females than males. Unfortunately the researchers' measure of delinquent behaviour didn't include these kinds of behaviours, but they reasoned perhaps the same young women who perform these less visible acts were also more likely to commit the forms of delinquency that were on the scale, such as rowdy behaviour and smoking cannabis. If so, this would help explain the high EI / delinquency link in women.

"A high level of trait EI may facilitate an enhanced ability to present Machiavellian behaviour in a positive light, understand victims’ emotions and predict likely responses in order that social manipulations are successful," Bacon and her team said.

What about the male students? Their answers were more in line with the researchers' predictions. For men, higher EI acted as a moderator, weakening the link between sensation seeking traits and delinquency. High EI also had its own direct inverse relationship with delinquency - that is, men with higher EI tended to be less rebellious.

"Trait EI is known to predict a wide array of positive, practical and health-related life outcomes," the researchers concluded. "Understanding how the perpetration of negative behaviours is linked to trait EI may be an important step towards promoting well-being."

_________________________________ ResearchBlogging.org

Bacon, A., Burak, H., & Rann, J. (2014). Sex differences in the relationship between sensation seeking, trait emotional intelligence and delinquent behaviour The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 25 (6), 673-683 DOI: 10.1080/14789949.2014.943796

Post written by Christian Jarrett (@psych_writer) for the BPS Research Digest.


Research Digest said...

Great blog post. The article itself is very interesting too. I would recommend this blogs readership to read it too. The have done some great data collecting from a lot of books and they even give examples for every single false claim they find.

Research Digest said...

This is speculation, as I don't have access to the full text, never mind the data set, but I suspect a small sample. There were only 48 women in this study. The question is whether EI might moderate the relationship between sensation seeking and delinquency, so the prediction is that those who are sensation seeking are also more delinquent - what proportion of a female undergraduate sample would you expect to score highly on these measures? - and OF THESE PEOPLE, those who have high EI would be less delinquent. I wonder how many of that sample of 48 had high scores for both sensation seeking and emotional intelligence? A correlational design can obscure very small numbers of people in the 'conditions' of interest; it's possible that this result was based on just one person. If so, I'd be interested to know more about her!

Research Digest said...

How was this study conducted?

Research Digest said...

I shrug if someone calls me a "Mick". A black guy might not care very much if someone calls him a "nigger". If you take a upstanding high society white person and call them a "nigger", they don't like it.

When it comes to how God judges the world, some things are topsy turvy, but not all.

Research Digest said...

The comment on false alarm may be off. False alarm would from this comment be if somebody was thought to be a cheater but had NOT CONFESSED to have been cheating. But that doesn't necessarily make it false alarm because, after all, we are talking about cheating, aren't we?

Research Digest said...

In relation to this study, EI is reported as a trait . This is arguably misrepresentative and I would suggest the the results to be more in line with that of extroverts, who are expressive by nature thus perhaps demonstrating this in the honest replies in the study. My own contention is that emotional intelligence is neither trait or type but instead part of the whole brain process and is developed or encouraged from birth through carefull parenting skills. The interesting finding in relation to my own research into EI is that makes with higher EI were shown to be less delinquent and these results support my own school of thought in this domain. EI development is particularly beneficial for makes through childhood and the study in question regarding males would appear to support my theory. I would however contend many other assumptions made in the study and suggest a

Research Digest said...

There are a number of ways to determine an average. Mean, mode, median ... and then there is something called a standard deviation, to qualify your average.

The example above can be found in pretty much every introductory text to statistics on the first three pages.

Research Digest said...

I started reading this blog based off the title. I found the article very interesting to learn more about, and how this study was performed and what the results were. I have received non of the answers. First off prior to the 3-5 min video 35 women were asked about their infidelity toward their significant other. Were these women dating only men? were some gay? during the 3-5 min video which partner was the experiment that was blindfolded? was it the woman who previously answered a questionnaire on infidelity? Or was it the partner that did not answer the questionnaire? In the article this is quoted "individuals seeking a committed relationship may be well advised to
listen to their intuition or at least think twice before committing to
someone they suspect may be inclined to cheat." Yes, we are all given a inner intuition, but advising one to listen to their intuition and thinking twice before committing is horrible advise. Sometimes an intuition can be wrong and so a second thought. One could also advise someone to go with their first mind. Then what?

Research Digest said...

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Research Digest said...

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