Exploring Emotional Intelligence and IQ as Predictors of Success of Foster Care Alumni

Abstract

Objective

The most common reason for foster care placement is child maltreatment. Sadly, once in the foster care system over 17% of children in the United States continue to experience multiple forms of maltreatment. After they “age out”, these alumni are particularly vulnerable to a host of adverse situations, such as low educational success and homelessness. The primary aim of this study was to explore individual characteristics that could predict the quality of life and level of distress of foster care alumni. Specifically, we were interested in the predictive ability of emotional intelligence (EI) and general intelligence (IQ) on quality of life and distress.

Method

Two multiple regression models were evaluated for the primary analyses. Both models included general intelligence and emotional intelligence as predictors, with one model containing quality of life and the other model level of distress as the criterion variables.

Results

The analyses demonstrated that general intelligence was not a significant predictor of quality of life or level of distress when controlling for emotional intelligence. In contrast, emotional intelligence was a significant predictor of improved quality of life and decreased level of distress when controlling for general intelligence.

Conclusions

Emotional intelligence appears to be a characteristic that is amenable to change and a predictor of positive outcome among foster care alumni. Moreover, emotional intelligence may bolster resiliency against the higher levels of instability and stress experienced by foster care children.

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Author Contributions

T.D.K. designed and executed the study, assisted with methods, data analyses, and helped write the final manuscript. Y.C.F. conceptualized the introduction and helped write the introduction and discussion sections. D.D. helped with data analyses and writing the results and limitations. D.H.M. collaborated with conceptualizing the structure of the manuscript and edited the overall paper. N.E. helped with data collection and aspects of the article. W.A.E. assisted with the design and execution of the research and helped complete the IRB and edited the manuscript.

Funding

This study was funded by a Nova Southeastern University internal Quality of Life grant.

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Correspondence to Tom D. Kennedy.

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All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards (IRB approval # 11240808). Nova Southeastern University provided IRB approval for the study.

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Kennedy, T.D., Flach, Y., Detullio, D. et al. Exploring Emotional Intelligence and IQ as Predictors of Success of Foster Care Alumni. J Child Fam Stud 28, 3286–3295 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10826-019-01503-8

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Keywords

  • Foster care
  • Emotional intelligence
  • General intelligence
  • Quality of life
  • Resilience