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THE MODERATING ROLE OF SOCIAL INTELLIGENCE IN EXPLAINING ATTACHMENT STYLE AND EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AMONG YOUNG ADULTS.

Byline: Moazama Anwer, Najma Iqbal Malik, Aneela Maqsood and Ghazala Rehman

Abstract

The study aimed to investigate the relationship between attachment styles, emotional intelligence and social intelligence among conveniently selected 340 university students (155 male and 225 female). Relationship Scales Questionnaire (RSQ; Griffin and Bartholomewa 1994), indigenously developed Emotional Intelligence Scale (EIS; Batool, 2009) and Tromso Social Intelligence Scale (TSIS; Silvera, Martinussen, and Dahl, 2001) were used. Results showed that emotional and social intelligence were positively related with secure attachment style and negatively related with preoccupied, dismissing, and fearful attachment styles. High level of social intelligence moderates the relationship between attachment style and emotional intelligence. Limitations of study and suggestions for future endeavors have also been discussed.

Keywords: Attachment, Emotional Intelligence, Youth, Social Intelligence

INTRODUCTION

Attachment theory portrays human development and is based on the neo Darwin assumption (Bowlby, 1980). Bowlby conceptualized that human infant is born with biologically programmed system which regulate the individual close emotional bond with significant others (Bowlby, 19 80). Secure attachment is based on trustworthy and reliable relations with significant others and tends to promote sense of stability and self-control among individuals (Ainsworth, 1990). Earlier attachment experience with significant others internalized cognitive styles of thinking to interpret one's expectation related to his/her past, present, and future social interaction (Collins and Read, 1994). Individual failure in acquiring basic trusts with significant others needs to adopt a compensatory strategy to maintain his self-image intact and coherent (Bowlby, 1980).

Ainsworth and his colleague (1978) conceptualized that the child's early sound emotional development with his parents leads to secure attachment in future. However, lack of security can develop an avoidant attachment or anxious ambivalent attachment. These patterns of attachment are more apparent in adulthood (Bakermans-Kranenburg et al., 2011; Leiter, Day, and Price, 2015). Furthermore, Bartholomew and his colleague (Bartholomew and Horowit z, 1991; Griffin and Bartholomew, 1994) developed four categorical models for adult attachment using Bowlby's concept of internal working. The internal working model has two attachment dimensions based on individual differences, i.e. positive model of self and others. These dimensions include avoidant, dismissing, and fearful prototypical avoidant behavior patterns.

Avoidant attachment encompassed characteristics like sense of love-worthiness and negative disposition toward other people. A fearful avoidant attachment pattern indicates sense of unworthiness combined with an expectation of others to be negatively disposed. Furthermore, sense of unworthiness and positive evaluation of others lie under the preoccupied attachment patterns which relates to the anxious ambivalent style. Secure attachment pattern focuses on worthiness and others are expected to behave in accepting and responsive manners. Empirically it has been found that adults with different attachment style differ in terms of social support, interpersonal experiences, and relationship functioning (Bakermans-Kranenburg et al., 2011; Khodarahimi, Hashim, and Mohd-Zaharim, 2016; Leiter, et, al. 2015). In that way attachment theory has also been considered as a theory of emotion regulation (Cassidy, 1994).

Therefore, when understanding the relationship between attachment styles and emotional regulation one can easily understand that as the child's behavior is prearranged to maintain proximity to the caregiver because of its helplessness and dependency that is why when this goal is not fulfilled, the child experiences anxiety. Salovey, Mayer, and Caruso, (2002) stressed that good parent child interaction promotes individual emotional skills and help the child to identify his/her emotions. Furthermore, adaptive patterns of emotional expressiveness and positive emotional-regulative abilities are the characteristic of securely attached individuals (Donahue, McClure, and Moon, 2014) whereas; insecurely attached individual has emotional defensiveness which ultimately hinders their appropriate processing of emotional message.

The emotional regulation is the characteristic of emotional intelligence, which is the ability of person to think with emotion and communicate effectively the outcomes of that thinking (Cherniss and Golman, 2001). Bar-On (2000) defines emotional intelligence as a group of non-cognitive capabilities, competencies, and skills. Emotional intelligence influences one's ability to cope with environmental demands and pressures. Therefore, one's emotional, cognitive, inter-personal, intra-personal and aesthetic development relate to his/her emotional intelligence. Some researchers define emotional intelligence as the ability instead of trait.

Moreover, numerous researchers have worked on the link between attachment and emotional intelligence (Kamel-Abbasi, Tabatabaei, Aghamohammadiyan-Sharbaf, and Karshki, 2016) especially researchers focused on the cognitive and affective aspects of attachment which is related to individual differences for understanding, perception, facilitation, and management of emotion (Kafetsios, 2004; Kafetsios and Nezlek, 2003). It was found that emotional intelligence was linked with the sense of attachment style. Developmental researchers have also demonstrated that caregivers who have sensitive, responsive, and affective communication style tend to have secured attachment with their child (Hong and Park, 2012). Furthermore, adult emotional perception was found to be heavily dependent upon the early attachment styles and relationship with caregiver (Kafetsios and Nezlek, 2003).

Empirically it was also evident that securely attached individual accurately decode facial expression related to negative emotions however avoidant persons fail to decode emotions related to joy (Popov and Ilesanmi, 2015). Furthermore, gender differences are also related to the emotional regulation and attachment patterns. The anxious/ambivalent females more accurately decode anger than their male counterpart (Berk, 2012). Thus it could be concluded that interplay of emotional intelligence and attachment styles definitely play role in determining one's sociability in the living world.

Sociability is the person's ability to seek company and being friendly to other and one's social intelligence fosters this ability (Engels, Finkenaur, Meeus, and Dekovic, 2005). Goleman (2008) highlight the relationship between social and emotional intelligence by ignoring the theoretical or empirical evidence and concluded that these two are interlinking concepts. According to him social intelligence is the ability of person being intelligent in his and others relationship and the capacity of person being socially aware, empathetic and having the social skills related to the self-preservation and concern.

Empirically it is found that securely attached people have wide range of emotions that improve their ability of adaptation and reaction to social situation which ultimately enhanced their social relationships. On the other hand, insecurely attached people showed defensiveness and hyperactivity that hinders their social interaction as Donahue, McClure, and Moon, (2014) also found securely attached people as better in managing their negative emotions during social situations as compared to insecurely attached individuals. Kafetsios and Nezlek (2003) studied the relationship between attachment styles and everyday social interaction and concluded that secure, dismiss, preoccupied, and fearful individuals response differently to social situations as securely attached people were well aware and responsive to their needs as compared to insecurely attached individuals.

Similar finding has been confirmed by romantic relationship studies that securely attached couples are expressive in their communication and feelings. They perceive their partners responsive and caring (Curran, 2016; Dandurand and Lafontaine, 2015). Furthermore literature also found that insecurely attached couples have poor interpersonal functioning and they were less likely to seek emotional support in romantic relationship under stressful conditions (Simpson and Overall, 2014; Simpson and Rholes, 2017).

Previous research findings showed that attachment styles seem to have an effect on emotional and social intelligence. However, limited information is available related to the dimensions of insecure attachment pattern. The current work mainly aimed to investigate the four attachment dimensions, i.e., secure, fearful, preoccupied, and dismissing in relation to emotional and social Intelligence in students of Pakistan. In this study, it was assumed that social and emotional intelligence are two distinct construct. Another objective was to look at the strength and hierarchical contribution of individual components of social intelligence and their relationship between attachment and emotional intelligence. Present research also investigated social intelligence as moderator between attachment style and emotional intelligence.

In the line of aforementioned literature, the present study hypothesized that:

1. Secure attachment style would positively correlate with emotional and social intelligence, whereas insecure attachment style (fearful, dismissing, and preoccupied) would be inversely related to emotional and social intelligence.

2. High social intelligence would moderate the relationship between insecure attachment (preoccupied, fearful, and dismissing) and emotional intelligence

METHOD

Participants

The sample of 340 conveniently selected young adults (155 male, 225 female) from six universities of Punjab, Pakistan i.e., University of Sargodha, University of Lahore, University of Punjab, University of Gujarat, Govt. College University Faisalabad and Govt. College University Lahore. The participants' education level was undergraduate and graduate level and their age ranged from 18 to 24 years with mean age of 19.6 (+-SD = .47).

Measures

Following measures along with a separate demographic data form to collect basic demographic information were used in present study:

Relationship Scales Questionnaire

The Relationship Scales Questionnaire (RSQ; Griffin and Bartholomew, 1994) is a self-report measure consisted of 30 short statements that describe feelings about close relationship on 5 point Likert scale (ranging from not at all like me to very much like me). The RSQ measures four patterns of attachment on four sub-scales, i.e., secure, fearful, preoccupied, and dismissing attachment.

Here high score on the specific subscale means that specific attachment style and vice versa. The scale has satisfactory Cronbach's alpha coefficients for total scores and for subscales in present study ranging from .60 to .73.

Emotional Intelligence Scale

The Emotional Intelligence Scale (EIS; Batool, 2009) is self-report measure based on Bar-On (2000) social and emotional intelligence model. It consists of 56 items on 4 point Likert scale and has 10 subscales, i.e., interpersonal skill, self-regard, assertiveness, emotional self-awareness, empathy, impulse control, flexibility, problem solving, stress tolerance, and optimism. Here high score on the scale means high emotional intelligence and vice versa. The Cronbach's alpha coefficients obtained in present study was .90 indicating excellent internal consistency.

Tromso Social Intelligence Scale

The Tromso Social Intelligence Scale (TSIS; Silvera, Martinussen, and Dahl, 2001) is a 21 items self-report measure divided into three subscales, i.e., processing social information, social skills, and social awareness. Each of these subscales has 7 items and response format is 7 point Likert type ranging from extremely poor to extremely well. Here high score on the scale means high social intelligence and vice versa. The Cronbach's alpha coefficient obtained in the present study was .90 demonstrating scale was satisfactory internal consistency.

Procedure

The sample of study was personally approached by the researcher followed by the formal approval and permissions of university administration and heads of department. Sample was elucidated about the significance and objectives of the study. As per APA ethical guidelines assurance about the confidentiality of collected data was given and informed consent was obtained. The research measures of the study were handed over to participants along with written and verbal instructions and were directed for honest responses. The completion time for one participant was 23 minutes on average and in the end participants were thanked for their cooperation. Afterwards collected data was reviewed for data cleaning and data analysis. Total 370 participants were approached but only 340 has been included in the final study as rest of the sample left the study in mid or their filled measures were incomplete/ random responses therefore excluded from the collected data.

Scoring and Statistical Analysis

Final data was subject to statistical analysis and hypotheses testing with SPSS-22 version. Descriptive statistics, Pearson correlation, Alpha Coefficient and Hierarchical Regression were employed to achieve objectives of study.

RESULTS

Table 1 Descriptive Statistics for Age, Relationship Scales Questionnaire, Emotional Intelligence Scale, and Tromso Social Intelligence Scale (N = 340)

Variables###M###SD###[alpha]

Age###19.6###.47###-

Secure###4.37###.78###.60

Fearful###3.21###.98###.70

Preoccupied###3.45###.84###.73

Dismissing###3.93###.89###.73

Emotional Intelligence###163.87###25.74###.90

Interpersonal Skills###25.63###6.22###.61

Self-Regard###16.00###4.16###.78

Assertiveness###17.32###4.44###.88

Empathy###15.12###3.22###.87

Emotional Awareness###14.66###3.56###.89

Impulse Control###14.53###3.65###.85

Flexibility###14.66###3.81###.82

Problem Solving###15.51###3.84###.85

Stress###13.97###3.74###.82

Optimism###15.54###3.35###.89

Social Intelligence###120###22.41###.90

Table 2 Summary of Inter-correlation of Relationship Scales Questionnaire, Emotional Intelligence Scale, and Tromso Social Intelligence Scale (N = 340)

Variable 1###2###3###4###5###6###7###8###9###10###11###12###13###14###15###16

1. SEC###-- -.21** -.20** .01###.21** .21** .13*###.03###.11*###.17** .05###.01###.02###.19**###.02###.23**

2. FEA###--###--###.33** .47** -.26** .36** -.22** -.11 -.06###-.13* -.20** -.18** -.20** .23** -.09###-.23**

3. PER###--###--###--###.35** -.19** .40** -.09###.02 -.14** -.19** -.26** -.06###-.30** -.07###.08###-.37**

4. DIS###--###--###--###--###-.23*###.16* -.18** -.08 -.13* -.27** -.20** -.06###-.16** -.26**###.03###-.36**

5. EMI###--###--###--###--###--###.79** .72** .69** .69** .55** .63** .72** .68** .50**###.56**###.04

6. ITP###--###--###--###--###--###--###.57** .44** .58** .32** .35** .49** .53** .37**###.40**###.09

7. SER###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###.41** .40** .42** .40** .34** .50** .27**###.32**###.04

8. ASS###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###.56** .42** .30** .51** .38** .17**###.35**###.10

9. EMP###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###.40** .29** .43** .38** .19**###.22**###.18*

10. EMA --###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###.48** .27** .21** .03###.21**###.32**

11. IMP --###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###.41** .38** .37**###.35**###.01**

12. FLE --###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###.47** .39**###.40**###.11*

13. PRO --###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###.25**###.39**###.01

14. STR --###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###.49**###.33**

15. OPI --###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###--###.12*

Table 3 Summary of the Results for Moderating Role of Social Intelligence in Relationship between Attachment Style and Emotional Intelligence (N = 340)

###Emotional

###Intelligence

Predictors###IR2###[beta]

Model 1

Step 1

Preoccupied Attachment Style (PAS)###.036###-.18***

Step 2

Preoccupied Attachment Style###.001###-.20***

Social Intelligence###.04

Step 3

Preoccupied Attachment Style###-.22***

Social Intelligence###.017###.01

Preoccupied Attachment Style xSocial###-.14**

Intelligence###.054

Total RA2

Model 2

Step 1

Dismiss Attachment Style###.053###-.23***

Step 2

Dismiss Attachment Style###.003###-.24***

Social Intelligence###.05

Step 3

Dismiss Attachment Style###-.26***

Social Intelligence###.013###.02

Dismiss Attachment Style xSocial Intelligence###-.31***

Total RA2###.068

Model 3

Step 1

Fearful Attachment Style###.066###-.26***

Step 2

Fearful Attachment Style###.001###-.26***

Social Intelligence###.03

Step 3

Fearful Attachment Style###-.28***

Social Intelligence###.096###.01

Fearful Attachment Style xSocial Intelligence###-.12**

Total R2###.162

DISCUSSION

Present study aimed to investigate the moderating role of social intelligence for the relationship between attachment dimensions and emotional intelligence (EI). As a first step Pearson correlation was computed which showed that individuals with secure attachment styles have significantly high level of EI and social Intelligence whereas, individuals who had preoccupied, fearful and dismissing attachment styles showed low EI and social Intelligence (Table 2). Moreover, it was contributed that secure attachment had significant positive relationship with EI and SI. Present findings supported first hypothesis of the study that secure attachment style would be positively correlated with Emotional and Social Intelligence, whereas insecure attachment style (fearful, dismissing, preoccupied) would be inversely related to emotional and social intelligence (see Table 2).

These findings were also consistent with empirical research literature (Kamel-Abbasi, Tabatabaei, Aghamohammadiyan-Sharbaf, and Karshki, 2016; Ranjbar, 2010) that securely attached individual tends to have positive attributes i.e., self-awareness, self-consciousness, self-esteem, independence and self-confidence, self-actualization, well aware of their emotions, possess adequate interpersonal and coping skills as compared to individuals who had fearful, dismissing, and preoccupied attachments (Donahue, McClure, and Moon, 2014; Saka, Gatti and Kelly, 2008). Furthermore, secure individual appropriately regulate and modify their emotions as per the need of social situations and circumstances but on the other hand insecurely attached individuals (fearful, dismissing, and preoccupied) are defensive and hyperactive due to their narrow emotions which effect their social interaction.

Though, individuals having dismissing attachment style had strong positive self-perception but high negative perception of others which in turn impulsively motivates them to appreciate their own worthiness a lot but they tend to negatively evaluate others, have low/no social intelligence as feel difficulty in emotional perception, regulation / replication according to demands/ personality of people and are reluctant/unable to modify their behavior in consistent to the demands of others therefore repudiate their social relationship (DeWall, Baumeister, and Vohs, 2008; Hess and Bacigalupo, 2011; Nordling, 2014).

Attachment theory also postulated that positive internal emotional working based on caregiver positive response leads to development of secure attachment style (Hong and Park, 2012; Popov and Ilesanmi, 2015). Moreover, securely attached people have better sociability as they show sound interpersonal and social skills which are the main components of one's social intelligence (Berk, 2012; Curran, 2016) and help them to demonstrate empathetic attitudes, guide them to improve their social interaction and their perceived support (Beheshtifar and Roasaei, 2012; Dandurand and Lafontaine, 2013). On the whole it can be concluded that secure attachment style demonstrate high emotional and social intelligence in people as they become more self-determinant, socially adjustable and better in coping the problem.

Therefore, if one has a strong, protective and positive relationship in earlier years then there is a strong possibility of him/her to show and develop secure relationship in future life (adult) with the help of high EI and SI. As earlier role of EI and SI are the predictor of secure attachment styles. However if the situation is opposite in earlier days then later there is a strong possibility for development of insecure attachment style (dismissing, fearful and preoccupied) (Bowlby, 1980; Kafetsios, and Nezlek, 2003).

In the context of attachment theory and its relation to emotional and social intelligence present study hypothesized the moderating role of social intelligence in relationship between insecure attachment style and emotional intelligence that was confirmed by the Hierarchical regression analysis. Model 1 in Table 3 manifests the moderating influence of Social Intelligence on the relationship of Preoccupied Attachment Style and Emotional Intelligence. It is evident from the Table 3 that Preoccupied Attachment Style is a significant predictor of Social Intelligence and contributes for 3.6% variance in it. The direction of relationship is negative ([beta] = -.18, p < .001). In second step, Preoccupied Attachment Style and Social Intelligence both variables were entered and model was found to be significant.

Beta value exhibit that both the variables significantly predict the outcome variable where Preoccupied Attachment Style has a negative association ([beta] = -.20, p< .001). When both values are entered in the predictor list in the form of product, 5.4% variance was caused in the criterion variable which suggests that social Intelligence contributes additional variance in Emotional Intelligence. The third step presents a significant interaction of Preoccupied Attachment Style and Social Intelligence in prediction of emotional Intelligence. Overall model has been found significant.

Furthermore the model 2 of Table 3 depicted the influence of Social Intelligence on the relationship of Dismiss Attachment Style and Emotional Intelligence. First model has been found to be statistically significant. It is evident from the Table 3 that Dismiss Attachment Style is a significant predictor of Social Intelligence and contributes for 5.3% variance in it. The direction of association is negative ([beta] = -.23, p< .001) Attachment Style and Social Intelligence both variables were entered and model was found to be significant. When both values were entered in the predictor list, 6.8% variance was caused in the criterion variable. The step 3 presents an interaction of Dismiss Attachment Style and Social Intelligence in prediction of emotional Intelligence. Overall model has been found to be significant.

The model 3 in Table 3 depicted the influence of Social Intelligence on the relationship of fearful Attachment Style and Emotional Intelligence. First step has been found to be significant. The Table 3 suggests that fearful Attachment Style is a significant predictor of Social Intelligence and contributes for 6.6% variance in it. The direction of association is negative ([beta] = -.26, p< .001). In second step, fearful Attachment Style and Social Intelligence both variables found to be significant. When both values were entered in the predictor list, 16.2% variance is caused in the criterion variable which suggests that social Intelligence contributes additional variance in Emotional Intelligence. The third step presents an interaction of fear Attachment Style and Social Intelligence in prediction of emotional Intelligence. Overall model has been found significant.

Thus, our results depict that social intelligence as a moderator significantly impacts the relationship between preoccupied, dismissing, fearful attachment and emotional intelligence. These results are also confirmed by the Bar-On (2000), and Bakermans-Kranenburg and associates (2011) empirical researches that aspects of emotional-social intelligence i.e., social competencies, interpersonal intelligence, intrapersonal intelligence, stress management, adaptability and emotional intelligence are interrelated concepts, and insecure attachment style negatively predicts the emotional and social intelligence. Although present study found that secure attachment dimension is the significant predictor of emotional and social intelligence in adulthood and it motivates individuals to be socially and emotionally intelligent.

However, current study failed to find the significant correlation between social and emotional intelligence. This can be explained as most recent theorist (Hair, Hult, Ringle, and Sarstedt, 2013; Miller and Champon, 2001) suggests that contrary to commonly held belief no direct path between IV (secure attachment style) and DV (EI) or moderator (social intelligence) and DV (EI) needs to be essentially linked. The moderation effect occurs even if the only interaction effect is significant. For example Field (2013) suggests that the main requisite of moderation is significant interaction effect, irrespective of direct path. Keeping in view that as social and emotional intelligence are two different constructs of intelligence and it is not necessary that emotionally attached individual have high social intelligence.

The social intelligence is the manipulative ability of person to understand and manage other people by perceiving one's own and others' internal states, motives, and behaviors. On the other hand emotional intelligence is the ability of person to monitor and disti nguish one's own and others' feelings and emotions, and guide one's thinking and actions on the bas is of this distinction (Salovey, Mayer, and Caruso, 2002).

In conclusion, present research revealed positive relationship of secure attachment with emotional and social intelligence and negative relationship of preoccupied, dismissing, and fearful attachment patterns with social and emotional intelligence. Moreover social intelligence was found to be significant moderator for the relationship between attachment and emotional intelligence. The findings of this work associates attachment, emotional and social intelligence and are of vital importance. Psychologists, mental health practitioners and educationist can use these findings to promote students' insights related to certain needs of social skills enhancement and emotional intelligence.

Moreover current research finding will also benefit parents, caregivers and educationist to mutually plan interventional strategies for improvement of attachment bond, resolving adults' issues by fostering one's emotional and social intelligence. However, present study also hold some limitations e.g., sole dependence on self-report measures as it gives opportunity to people for hiding their original feelings and faking good/bad, which limit the originality of their responses. The sample size of the current study was limited to young adults that affect the generalizability of finding. So additional integrative research related to different settings and age groups is required to solidify the current findings. Moreover future studies may explore the role of vital contributing factors e.g., gender, parenting styles, family system, SES and personality traits for the relationship between constructs of study.

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