Emotional intelligence (EI) has been reliably linked to better mental health (Martins, Ramalho, & Morin, 2010). However, critics have argued that EI may be conceptually redundant and unable to offer anything new to the prediction of key adaptational outcomes beyond known correlates of performance, i.e., personality and cognitive ability (Brody, 2004). Although sparse, extant evidence points to differential incremental contributions from ability and trait EI in the prediction of internalising vs. externalising symptomotology in adults (e.g., Gardner & Qualter, 2010; Rossen & Kranzler, 2009). However, there is a dearth of research addressing these associations in adolescents. The current study explored the incremental validity of ability and trait EI to predict depression and disruptive behaviour beyond the ‘Big Five’ personality dimensions and general cognitive ability in a sample of 499 adolescents (mean age 13.02 years). Regression analyses found that collectively, EI made a significant, incremental contribution to the prediction of disorder in youth. However, of the two, trait EI appears the stronger predictor. Findings are discussed with reference to EI theory and directions for future research
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