Sex differences in the relationship between sensation seeking, trait emotional intelligence and delinquent behaviour
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Levels of sensation seeking peak in adolescence and there is a well-documented association with delinquency and other risk taking behaviours. The present study investigated the potential moderating effect of trait Emotional Intelligence (EI) on this relationship. Trait EI encompasses high levels of empathy and emotion regulation and is associated with positive outcomes and wellbeing. 96 young adults (48 female; overall Mage = 19.76) completed measures of sensation seeking, trait EI and self-reported delinquent behaviours since age 12. Results indicated that sensation seeking and frequency of delinquent behaviours were positively associated, but this effect was moderated by trait EI for male participants - those with lower trait EI showed a greater increase in delinquency in line with a rise in sensation seeking. No moderation effect was observed for females, and females with higher levels of trait EI reported more delinquent behaviours. The results are discussed in terms of the protective role of trait EI in supporting self-regulation and whether, for some females, high levels of EI might predispose to antisocial relational behaviours.
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