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Keywords:

  • trait emotional self-efficacy;
  • children's peer relations;
  • peer assessment;
  • TEIQue

Abstract

Trait emotional intelligence (‘trait EI’ or ‘trait emotional self-efficacy’) is a constellation of emotion-related self-perceptions and dispositions comprising the affective aspects of personality. The present study investigated the role of trait EI in children's peer relations at school. One hundred and sixty pupils (83 girls; mean age = 10.8 years) were administered the trait emotional intelligence questionnaire and were subsequently asked to nominate all classmates who fitted each of seven distinct behavioural descriptions (‘co-operative’, ‘disruptive’, ‘shy’, ‘aggressive’, ‘dependent’, ‘leader’ and ‘intimidating’). The teachers were also asked to nominate all pupils who fitted the seven descriptions. Pupils with high trait EI scores received more nominations for ‘co-operation’ and ‘leadership’ and fewer nominations for ‘disruption’, ‘aggression’ and ‘dependence’. Factor analysis of teacher nominations revealed two orthogonal factors encompassing pro social and antisocial descriptions, respectively. High trait EI pupils scored higher on the pro social factor and lower on the antisocial factor. The discussion focuses on the construct validity of trait EI and its implications for children's peer relations at school.