Simple test may predict depression risk

October 3rd, 2008 - 2:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Sydney, Oct 3 (IANS) A simple emotional intelligence test could help predict a person’s chances of developing depression, according to a new study. Con Stough, professor at Swinburne University of Technology (SUT)’s Brain Sciences Institute, said that despite depression being a common mental illness, this is the first time research has focussed on emotional intelligence or EI as a potential predictive factor.

Like its more well-known cousin IQ, EI can be measured using a quiz-style test. The test assesses five dimensions of EI: Emotional and self awareness and expression; understanding the emotions of others; utilising emotions to guide decision making; managing emotions; and controlling emotions.

Collaborating with Melbourne University’s Isaac Schweitzer, Swinburne researchers administered EI tests to two groups of people - those who had been diagnosed with clinical depression, and a control group, according to a SUT release.

The researchers found that, compared to the control group, the depressed individuals scored poorly on all of the EI dimensions. In particular there was an association between the severity of depression and the EI dimensions of managing and controlling emotions.

These findings have been published in the European Journal of Psychiatry.

“People who score poorly on these measures typically become stressed easily, are pessimistic, don’t exhibit positive emotions and experience difficulty changing their emotional state,” said Stough.

Stough believes that this new study has highlighted a crucial benefit of EI testing. “By administering EI tests, psychologists will be able to identify those at risk of developing depression - which has huge implications for early intervention,” he said.

Stough and his colleagues are already working with secondary schools across Australia, administering EI tests to students. “Students whose EI falls in the bottom 10 percent of the class are then given assistance to help develop their EI and improve their standing,” he said.

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