Teen Emotional Intelligence and Psychological Maladjustment

by: Dan Florell, Ph.D.

This episode reviews previous studies that look at adolescent emotional intelligence and its’ relationship with psychological maladjustment.

We are featuring a journal article titled Emotional intelligence and psychological maladjustment in adolescence. The authors reviewed 32 previously published studies to look for relationships between emotional intelligence and various adolescent problems.

There are two models of emotional intelligence. The first is an ability model where emotional intelligence is a set of abilities related to processing emotional information. The second is a trait model where emotional intelligence encompasses self-perception and emotion-related dispositions. The authors looked at research related to both emotional intelligence models.

Overall, adolescents who have high levels of emotional intelligence have lower psychological maladjustment than those with lower levels. They also had lower levels of perceived stress, showed better emotional adjustment, and had lower rates of depression and anxiety. In addition, higher levels of emotional intelligence were associated with fewer risk behaviors such as substance abuse and suicide attempts and they used better coping strategies. The advantages displayed by adolescents with higher emotional intelligence tended to continue as they got older.

The takeaway is that there is a growing body of research that indicates the benefits of higher levels of emotional intelligence in adolescents. Schools should consider screening students for emotional intelligence and targeting students with lower levels for intervention. There are several emotional intelligence training programs that have been developed and have shown promise for promoting adolescent mental health.


Resurreccion, D.M., Salguero, J.M., & Ruiz-Aranda, D. (2014). Emotional intelligence and psychological maladjustment in adolescence: A systematic review. Journal of Adolescence, 37, 461-472.

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