University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Do emotionally intelligent adolescents flourish or flounder under pressure? Linking emotional intelligence to stress regulation mechanisms

Lea, Rosanna ORCID:, Davis, Sarah K. ORCID:, Mahoney, Berenice ORCID: and Qualter, Pamela (2022) Do emotionally intelligent adolescents flourish or flounder under pressure? Linking emotional intelligence to stress regulation mechanisms. Personality and Individual Differences, 201 (111943). ISSN 0191-8869

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Everyday stressors are a normal part of adolescence, yet young people differ markedly in their responses. Emotional intelligence (EI), a set of emotion-related adaptive traits and skills, is thought to be an important individual difference that acts as a ‘stress buffer’ to safeguard adolescent well-being. EI correlates with reduced perceived life stress levels, but, to date, there is no attempt to understand how EI might underpin young people's responses to acute, situational stress. This paper explores how EI, measured as both an ability (AEI) and trait (TEI), regulates induced acute stress, using a novel, potent social stressor. Across two studies, we tested the extent to which EI moderated attention allocation to emotion (eye movements), psychological reactivity (mood), and physiological reactivity (heart rate) in older adolescents (study 1 n = 58; study 2 n = 60; age 16–18 years). Findings suggest that higher TEI (but not AEI) can ‘dampen’ the physiological stress response (study 1), facilitating protection against allostatic overload. However, being better at perceiving emotion (but not TEI) predicted attention towards happy stimuli when stressed (study 2). Preliminary findings suggest that, while TEI and AEI contribute differentially to stress regulation mechanisms, higher AEI may not necessarily be adaptive for young people facing social stressors.

Item Type: Article
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This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: Emotional intelligence, Emotion perception, Stress reactivity, Attention, Eye tracking, Adolescence
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: College of Business, Psychology and Sport > School of Psychology
Copyright Info: © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Depositing User: Sarah Davis
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2022 14:00
Last Modified: 07 Nov 2022 14:00

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