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Exploring the relations of emotional functioning to psychopathology and aggression among deliquent boys and girls Robinson, Lisa H.

Abstract

Research on gender differences in the relation between emotional functioning and psychopathology is scarce, particularly with aggressive and antisocial adolescents. The purpose of the present study was to progress beyond what is already known about juvenile delinquents by delineating the relation of dimensions of emotional functioning (i.e., emotional intelligence and emotional states) to dimensions of psychopathology (i.e., internalizing problems and externalizing problems) and dimensions of aggression (aggression against persons, aggression against property), among delinquent boys and girls. Forty-four delinquent boys and 40 delinquent girls incarcerated in a youth correctional center participated in the study. All participants were individually administered measures designed to assess emotional intelligence, Positive and Negative Affect states, internalizing and externalizing psychopathology, and aggression. Results revealed that gender differences in the relation of emotional functioning to psychopathology and aggression are complex. Gender differences were found for internalizing problems, aggression, and negative affect, although not for externalizing problems. Overall, regression analyses revealed that emotional functioning (i.e., emotional intelligence and/or emotional states) was a significant predictor of psychopathology only, for both delinquent boys and girls, although gender differences emerged with regard to the dimension of psychopathology predicted. These results point to the importance of examining gender differences for uncovering potential pathways or vulnerabilities toward maladjustment, and alternatively, toward promoting healthy development.

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