How are trait emotional intelligence and social skills related to emotional and behavioural difficulties in adolescents?


Trait emotional intelligence construct shifted the interest in personality research to the investigation of the effect of global personality characteristics on behaviour. The Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) movement emphasised the cultivation of social skills for positive relationships. In this paper we investigate the role of students’ global personality characteristics and social skills in the occurrence of emotional and behavioural difficulties. Five hundred fifty-nine students aged 12-14 years, completed the Trait Emotional Intelligence Questionnaire-Adolescent Short Form (TEIQue-ASF), the Matson Evaluation of Social Skills with Youngsters (MESSY), and the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Students with higher trait emotional intelligence and stronger social skills were less likely to present emotional and behavioural difficulties. Trait emotional intelligence along with the acquisition of social skills were influential factors of students’ emotional and behavioural difficulties. The study presents a heuristic model for the interpretation of students’ emotional and behavioural difficulties and discusses implications for educators to improve the quality of students’ lives in schools.