Adolescence is a period characterized by rapid change. Brain maturation during this period leads to changes in emotional capacities and ability to regulate emotions. Introduced in 1990, emotional intelligence (EI) incorporates intrapersonal, interpersonal, adaptation, and stress management skills. EI has become a hot topic, resulting in a proliferation of studies on EI. Theoretically, EI develops during adolescence; however, this theory of development has not been demonstrated with longitudinal research. Low EI has been linked to health risk behaviors among adolescents, but it is unclear how or if EI develops in teens who engage in high risk behaviors.
The main purpose of this study was to develop a longitudinal model of change in stress management skills, one aspect of emotional intelligence, utilizing an accelerated cohort design in adolescents girls engaged in high risk sexual behaviors. An additional goal was to explore whether social connectedness and sexual behaviors predicted variability in initial level of stress management skills and development over time. This secondary data analysis utilized 24 months of survey data (N = 125) from participants assigned to the control condition of Prime Time, a clinic-based intervention study aimed to reduce multiple risk behaviors among teen girls who engage in high risk sexual behaviors.
A linear accelerated cohort design successfully modeled stress management skill development over ages 14 to 19. There was small, but significant increase in the level of stress management skill. School connectedness and partner communication regarding sexual risk were both significant predictors of the level of stress management skills at age 14 and partner communication significantly predicted the change in stress management skills over time.
This study provides preliminary evidence that stress management skills, and possibly emotional intelligence, increase over time during adolescence, in a population that has not previously been reported on. Further studies could confirm this increase over time during adolescence, among high risk groups as well as general populations of adolescents. More information is needed regarding the relationship between the development of emotional intelligence and later health outcomes. This type of evidence could inform future public health nursing practice and interventions targeting emotional intelligence.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. September 2011. Major: Nursing. Advisor: Renee E.Sieving. 1 computer file (PDF); xiii, 205 pages, appendices A-E.
Lando-King, Elizabeth Anne.
Trajectories of emotional intelligence in adolescent females who engage in high risk sexual behaviors..
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