A further step towards unpacking the variance in trait and ability emotional intelligence: The specific contribution of attachment quality
There have been theoretical speculations and empirical indications that individual differences in emotional intelligence (EI) are associated with quality of attachment, yet many issues regarding this relationship have remained unsettled or even unexplored. Spelling out and attempting to fill some of these gaps, the present study examined the specific contribution of attachment quality in explaining variance in both ability EI and trait EI, with traditionally conceived intelligence and the basic personality traits controlled for. Participants were 251 employed adults (116 males; age range 21–62, M = 40.3, SD = 8.14), who completed a test of ability EI; a questionnaire assessing trait EI; a battery of standard intelligence tests; a Five-Factor inventory of personality; and two self-report measures of attachment quality. Attachment security was found to be related to higher EI, associations being small-to-moderate for ability EI, and moderate-to-large for trait EI. In hierarchical regression analyses, attachment predicted a significant amount of unique variance in both ability and trait EI, beyond intelligence and personality. Moreover, attachment Anxiety surfaced as the best single (understandably, negative) predictor of both EIs, their only other mutual predictors being the g-factor and Conscientiousness. Altogether, these results yield a fuller picture of what constitutes individual differences in objectively assessed and self-perceived emotional abilities, revealing that a substantial portion of them may be understood with reference to attachment security. The present study thus warrants more extensive, longitudinal research into the developmental interplay between attachment and the two EIs.
KeywordsAbility emotional intelligence Trait emotional intelligence Attachment quality Intelligence Personality
The authors wish to thank employees of “AD Imlek” for participating in the study, and the management of the company for allowing and organizing data collection on their premises.
Research for this article was funded by the Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Development of the Republic of Serbia (Program of Basic Research, Project No. 179018).
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
On behalf of all authors, the corresponding author states that there is no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in the above reported study were in accordance with national ethical standards as defined by the Ethical Code of Psychologists of the Serbian Psychological Society.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
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