Emotional Intelligence at Mid Life: A Cross Sectional Investigation of Structural Variance, Social Correlates, and Relationship to Established Personality and Ability Taxonomies
Description: Emotional Intelligence (EI) has been relatively unstudied after young adulthood. Yet there are a variety of reasons to expect that EI may be different at mid life than in young adulthood. Normative life experiences may lead to increases in EI, and as the array of different environments and experiences increases with age, one might expect greater individual differences in EI. Similarly, if EI is located somewhere at the intersection of personality and intelligence, as some have speculated, it may follow a course of structural differentiation similar to cognitive abilities. EI may be more closely linked to social variables such as loneliness and friendships at mid life, and its relation to established personality and ability factors such as the Big Five (Neuroticism, Extraversion, Openness, Agreeableness, and Conscientiousness) and fluid and crystallized abilities may also vary with age. These hypotheses were investigated in samples of 292 young adults and 246 mid life adults, using the Schutte Self Report Emotional Intelligence Inventory, the NEO-Five Factor Personality Inventory, markers of crystallized and fluid ability from Horn's Crystallized/Fluid Sampler, and a variety of other measures. Mid life adults scored higher on overall EI scores, but evidenced no greater range of individual differences than did young adults. A series of exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses revealed no greater differentiation in the mid life sample either among dimensions of EI or between EI and personality and intelligence variables. Finally, EI appeared equally predictive of social variables in each sample. Results are discussed from the perspective of lifespan and aging literature on emotion, personality, and social functioning. Qualifications for the inference of age-related change in cross sectional designs are considered, along with advantages and disadvantages of factor-analytic and covariance structure modeling methodology. Implications, particularly for psychotherapy with each age group, are discussed.
Date: August 2005
Creator: Chapman, Benjamin P.