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EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AND SOCIAL SUPPORT AS PREDICTORS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL WELL-BEING AMONG UNDERGRADUATES OF EBONYI STATE UNIVERSITY
This study investigated Emotional Intelligence and Social Support as predictors of Psychological well-being among undergraduates of Ebonyi state University Abakaliki. Participants were two hundred and sixty six (266) undergraduates of Ebonyi state university, Abakaliki who were randomly selected among the population of undergraduates in the institution. Their ages ranged between 16 to 35 years with a mean age of 23.13 years (SD = 3.27). Cross sectional design was adopted. Regression result showed that control variables age (β = .53, t = -7.98), gender (β = .53, t = -7.98), and marital status were not significant predictors of psychological well-being among undergraduates. Emotional intelligence was a significant positive predictor of psychological well-being among undergraduates (β = .17, t = 2.76, p< .01). It accounted for 3% variance in the explanation of psychological well-being among undergraduates. Social support (β = -.14, t = -2.36, p< .01) was a significant negative predictor of psychological well-being among undergraduates. It accounted for 2% variance in the explanation of psychological well-being among undergraduates. Among the dimensions of social support, family social support (β = .27, t = 2.45, p< .01), and friends social support (β = .33, t = -2.49, p< .01) were significant positive predictors of psychological well-being among undergraduates. But social support from significant other (β = -.67, t = -3.89, p< .01) was a significant negative predictor of psychological well-being among undergraduates. Practical This implications of the findings are that; increasing emotional intelligence of Nigerian undergraduates is a key factor in ensuring high level psychological well-being among students; that social supports from family and friends play more role in undergraduate’s psychological well-being than social support from significant others. Suggestions for further studies were equally made.
Background of the Study
Psychological wellbeing is an aspect of personal wellbeing which includes understanding of an individual’s persistent happiness, satisfaction with life and balance between positive and negative emotion (Elhaam, 2015). According to Hansen and Hausen (2006) Psychological wellbeing is a state of mental health in which the individual recognizes ones’s ability and use them effectively and productively and it is useful to the community that such an individual finds himself. In general. Psychological wellbeing is to create mental health for the prevention of mental illness, controlling the cause factors through early detection, and prevention of factors resulting from mental illness, recurrence and creating a healthy environment in making the appropriate human relation.
Ryff and Keyes (1995) proposed a model of psychological wellbeing in the last decade ;a model, which was widely used in the world by researchers such as (Clark, 2001, Dierendonek, 2005; Cheny and Chan, 2005; Lindfors, 2006), defines psychological wellbeing as a multi component concept and including: Autonomy, Self Acceptance Environmental Mastery, Purpose in life, Positive relation with others and Personal Growth.
- Autonomy: this is described as the ability to exhibit autonomous functioning, and resistance to enculturation. The fully functioning person is also described as having internal locus of evaluation, whereby one does not look to others for approval but evaluates oneself by personal standards. Closely related to this is Individuation which is seen to involve a deliverance from convention, in which the person no longer clings to the collective fears, believes and laws of the masses.
- SelfAcceptance: this is defined as a central feature of mental health as well as characteristics of self actualization, optimal functioning and maturity. It is feelings of satisfaction with one's self despite deficiencies and regardless of past behaviours and choices. Life span theorists also emphasises the importance of acceptance of self and one’s past life. Thus, holding positive attitude towards oneself emerges as the central characteristics of positive psychological functioning and positive relation with others. Many of the preceding theories emphasize the importance of warmth, trust, interpersonal relations.
- Environmental Mastery: This is the sense that we are able to have an influence on the events in one’s life. It symbolizes an individual’s ability to manage or create a suitable environment to accommodate his or her own personal needs and values and create an environment suitable to their own psychic condition.
- Purpose in life: mental health is defined to include belief that gives one the feeling that there is a purpose and meaning to life. This definition of maturity also emphasizes a clear comprehension of life’s purpose, a sense of directness, and intentionality.
- Positive Relations with Others: this is the degree to which someone has warmth, satisfaction, trusting relationship with others. It is concerned with the welfare of others. This entails an individual being capable of showing strong empathy, affection, intimacy and understanding, the give and take of human relationship.
- Personal Growth: Optimal psychological functioning requires not only that one achieves the prior characteristics, but also that one continues to develop ones potentials, to grow and expand as a person. The need to actualize oneself oneself and realize one’s potentialities is central to the clinical perspectives on personal growth. Openness to experience, for example is a key characteristics of fully functioning person. Such an individual is continually developing and becoming, rather than achieving a fixed state wherein all problems are solved (Ryff, 1989). However, psychological well being of Undergraduates is seen as the functionalbility of Undergraduates in the six areas of positive functions, during their formative years as a student of a higher institution of learning like Universities , Polytechnics or colleges of education in a bid to obtain their first Degree (Bsc /Hnd honours). These areas as 2 mentioned above are: Autonomy, Self Acceptance, Environmental Mastery, Purpose in Life, Positive relations with others and Personal Growth. The years that someone spends in college are often one of the most stressful periods; Especially the beginning of college and often the transition from childhood to adulthood, (Burris, Brechting, Carlson, Salsman, 2009). Often these stressors can throw students off track, causing a decrease in their psychological wellbeing, (Chao, 2012). Mental health was shown as a concern through several studies. Previous research such as (Bewick, Koutsopoulou, Miles, Slaa, & Barkmam, 2010) pinpointed financial debt and/or concerns as a factor that comes into play in a student’s psychological wellbeing especially while a student is enrolled in a college program. Stressors that college students may encounter can ultimately be a factor in the development of issues such as, concentration difficulty, fatigue, eating disorders, anxiety, and other psychiatric illnesses (Burris, Brechting, Carlson, & Salsman, 2009). When psychological distress interrupts one's life, educational tasks may be placed on hold or even forgotten. Wellbeing and adjustment to college was associated with incoming college student's individuation from parents (Yelle, Kenyon, & Koerner, 2009). Psychological wellbeing increased with high leisure time and physical activity among University students. Hence the best wellbeing oriented lifestyle was to endorse more leisuretime & physical activity into universities (Castillio, MoliniaGarcia, & 3 Queralt, 2011). According to Burris, Brechting, Carlson, and Salsman (2009), female students were more likely to report seeking out and receiving care for psychological issues when compared to their male student counterparts. University students represent the future of families, communities, and countries. They also face the stresses of achieving success in their academic goals despite the financial constraints that many students report. University education is a period of increased responsibility for choices and healthy practices. Lifestyle characterised by unhealthy practices might not show an effect on health in the short and interim terms, but such habits‘could persist into middle and old age to inflict health hazards later in life. Indeed it is challenging for adults to modify the potentially harmful habits instigated in their youth. This is particularly relevant when unhealthy behaviours cluster together (possibly leading to comorbidities later in life).
Indeed studies (Walid El Ansari, Christiane, Sherrill, Xiaoling, Sian , Shân , Jill, Adetunji, Mary, Pat , Ceri & Andi Mabhala 2011) have suggested that university students‘ physical and psychological/mental health and wellbeing are important and comprise a wide range of aspects. Some research showed that university students reported more health complaints than their working peers, but did not appear to seek help for these problems (Walid El Ansari et al 2011). A high prevalence of such complaints has also been documented in university students from different Universities in Nigeria which included nervousness, headache and back ache or neck/shoulder ache, but comparative data from the Nigeria are lacking. Poor ratings of one‘s perceived health, along with self reported symptoms are often mirrored in unfavourable ratings of one‘s quality of life. Not surprisingly, students in Sweden reported lower perceived quality of life when compared with their working peers, and similar findings have been reported in the UK. Overall, it could be argued that psychosomatic health complaints and impairments in quality of life observed in university students might be associated with study related burdens and stressors. Few studies including (Mikolajczyk, R.T.; Maxwell, A.E.; El Ansari, W.; Naydenova, V.; Stock, C.; Ilieva, S.; Dudziak, U.; Naydova. 2008) have examined the perceived burdens of university students, such as the challenges of achieving good grades and competition, career and future achievements, the many demands and deadlines of course works and academic assessments, as well as the financial and health related burdens and their impact on health . Mikolajczyk, R.T.; et al (2008) concluded that perceived burdens were positively associated with higher depression scores among students, not only by mediation through perceived stress but also directly. Although university students are confronted with potential stressors as outlined above, it has also been reported that the majority of students have a high level of social support. Certainly, social support has 5 been viewed as a potential buffer against harmful effects of psychological stress and has therefore the potential of being a resource for health in this population group. Factors that influence Psychological wellbeing in undergraduate students include stress, mindfulness, self efficacy, resilience, Financial constraints, Religiosity, Coping strategies, psychological adjustment, Emotional intelligence and social support in university students. Research suggests that Individuals who experience a greater sense of wellbeing are more able to learn and assimilate information in effective ways; more likely to engage in healthy and fulfilling social behaviours; more likely to invest in their own and others’ wellbeing and in the sustainability of the planet, as they take up their social, professional and leadership roles in adulthood (Awartani, Whitman & Gordon, 2008). it is trite to say that the period of life as an undergraduate of any Higher institution of learning is most times a difficult period that is filled with environmental, emotional and psychological stressors that threaten the physical and psychological wellbeing of individuals, which may frequently leads to burnout, Inferiority complex, depression, schizophrenia, academic failure and general life dissatisfaction. Therefore the maintenance of psychological wellbeing during this phase cannot be overstated; hence the emergence of this study that seeks to identify Emotional Intelligence and social support as predictors of psychological wellbeing. 6 Emotional Intelligence is the ability or tendency to perceive, understand, regulate and harness emotions adoptively in self and others. Emotional intelligence is a dynamic construct influenced by diverse biological, psychological, and social factors. A good deal of research has been conducted on emotional intelligence and it was found to be appearing as an important factor in the prediction of personal, academic and career success. (Nishat Afroz 2016). There are currently two predominant models of Emotional Intelligence the Mixed and Ability models (Mayer, Roberts & Barsade, 2008). Mixed models describe EI as a broad conception of intelligence that combines social skills, traits, and dispositional behaviour. On the other hand, Mayer & Salovey (1997) ability model of EI involves the ability to carry out accurate reasoning about emotions and the ability to use emotions and emotional knowledge to enhance thought, thus enabling the subject to solve social problems and to adapt effectively to the environment (Mayer, Roberts & Barsade, 2008). It is to be noted that in the definition of EI, these authors distinguish four specific skills: (1) The ability to identify and express emotions; (2) The ability to use emotions in decision making; (3) The ability to understand emotions, and; (4) The ability to regulate emotions, both in oneself and in others. The concept of emotional intelligence (EI) was first proposed by Mayer & Salovey (1990) which was then popularized by Goleman: Why it can matter more than 7 IQ". Since then, this area has got much attention in the field of healthcare delivery systems, leadership, human resource management, organizational behaviour Positive Psychology as a whole. Emotional Intelligence came up from the work of social intelligence by Thorndike (1920) & Gardner’s (1983) concept of intrapersonal and interpersonal intelligence. Dimensions of emotional intelligence comprises four abilities, Appraisal and Expression of Emotion (own and others), Use of Emotions and Emotional Management (own and others) (Wong & Law, 2002). Appraisal and expression of emotions is the first factor of EI and is the ability to properly determine and express one’s own emotions as well as to be sympathetic, appraise and express emotions of others (Goleman, 2002). Every individual’s ability varies in precisely identifying, appraising and expressing his own emotions as well as the emotions experienced by others. Some people are attentive of their feelings they experience and can express their emotions whereas, some people cannot express their feelings and emotions or they are unaware of their emotions (Zhou & George, 2003). A recent line of research has focused on the unique contributions of EI in explaining the psychological adjustment and Psychological wellbeing of different collectives while controlling for classical constructs like stress and depression (Zeidner, Matthews & Roberts, 2012). The results of this research indicate that EI is negatively related to stress and depression (AugustoLanda et al., 2008; Salguero, Extremera & 8 Fernandez Berrocal, 2012), and positively related to various indicators of Psychological wellbeing (Gallagher & VellaBrodrick, 2008; Por et al., 2011). Studies on emotional intelligence with respect to various psychosocial correlates have been found in a variety of fields. Empirical studies investigating the relationship of emotional intelligence with numerous psychological and psychosocial factors were reported by several researchers and simultaneously revealing the significance of emotional intelligence and its beneficial aspects with remarkable contribution in the field of interpersonal relationships, success in work and personal life, health psychology, managing occupational stress, academic field, improving personality, enhancing performance and many more positive behavior patterns (Gallagher & VellaBrodrick, 2008; Mavroveli, Petrides, Reiffe, & Baker, 2007; Van Rooy & Viswesvaran, 2004; Schute, Malouff, Hall, Haggerty, Cooper, Golden, & Dornheim, 1998;Adeyemo, 2005; Tsaousis & Nikolaou,2005; Trinidad & Johnson, 2001; Brackett & Mayer, 2003; Asha & Hangal, 2001). In spite of the technological advances in the last 30 years, today’s University Undergraduates must still contend with aspects that technology cannot address: emotional self awareness, interpersonal skills, adaptability, impulse control, and many other uniquely human challenges. Even academically competent students may be in jeopardy when entering college if certain aspects of emotional competence are lacking. 9 Recent studies (Crossman, 2007; LaCivita, 2003; Parker et al., 2005; Schutte & Malouff, 2002) suggest that students are under an increasing level of stress and their ability to manage that stress, adapt to a rapidly changing and dynamic environment while managing to keep impulse control in check are all factors that may jeopardize a first year student’s successful transition to the second year of college. Understanding emotional intelligence, using a reliable assessment of emotional intelligence, and studying the correlation of traditional measures of academic success such as GPA and persistence might help institutions identify students who are at risk of dropping out or failing for non academic reasons beyond those which have already been identified such as financial hardship. Identifying at risk students might be particularly significant at the State Universities where even fewer studies related to emotional intelligence have been conducted. Social support can be described as the Emotional Instrument or tangible aid exchanged between members of a social network (House, Landis & Umberson 1988) Sherboume and Hays (1990) found an indirect effect of social Support on Psychological health. Low levels of social support are associated with increased level of depression, complicated grief, poorer coping levels, lower levels of quality of life, Poorer Mental Health and decreased psychological wellbeing (fry, 2001; Oto, 2003, Lee, 2001). 10 The concept of social support that is possible to be positively efficient upon psychological wellbeing of individuals has grabbed the attention of researchers since the mid1970s (G. Zimet, Dahlem, S. Zimet, & Farley, 1988). Social support can be defined as the resources provided to the individuals by the others (Cohen & Syme, 1985). Social support can also be seen as the help provided to the individuals by the individuals creating the social network. For that reason, social support creates the functional dimension of social network (MartínezHernáez, CarcellerMaicas, DiGiacomo, & Ariste, 2016). Social support can be generally categorized into different types as emotional, instrumental, informational and evaluation support (Kef, 1997; Langford, Bowsher, Maloney, & Lillis, 1997; Wong et al., 2014). This social support can come from various sources such as Families, friends and other special people create the most important social support sources of individuals (You & Lu, 2014; Zimet, Dahlem, Zimet, & Farley, 1988). Lakey and Cohen (2000) stated that Social support is strongly associated with self-evaluation and that perceived support promotes selfesteem and thereby promotes psychological wellbeing. Evidence for this perspective applied to the relationship between Social support and academic performance was found among undergraduate students by (Cutrona, Cole, Colangelo, Assouline & Russell, 1994) and among students in grades 1–2, 4–5 and 8–9 by Levitt et al. (1994). Cutrona et al. found parental support 11 to predict academic performance in a direct way, but this prediction was the result of one single component of parental support: reassurance of worth. This suggests that social support may enhance students’ self esteem and thereby indirectly influences academic performance. This indirect relationship between social support and academic performance through self esteem was also found by Levitt et al. Cutrona et al. furthermore stated that support from peers and romantic partners, but particularly support from parents would enhance Psychological wellbeing and therefore would add to the explained variance in academic performance. Parental support is supposed to be most influential, because a lifetime of parental support contributes to the development of high self worth and self efficacy, and allows the acquisition of skills and self confidence to master new situations and cope effectively with challenges (Cutrona et al. 1994; DuBois et al. 1994; Dubow et al. 1991; Levitt et al. 1994). Research has shown that social support plays an important role in managing psychological problems. Lack of social support has been found to be one of the factors that lead to many psychological problems among students. Support from family and friends have been found to reduce the impact of psychological problems among students (Calvete and ConnorSmith, 2006). Villanova and Bownas (1984) for example found that social support could help students to cope with everyday life stressor and lighten the burden of academic workload. Without enough support from family and 12 friends, they would be in trouble and are vulnerable to depression, stress and anxiety. This finding was supported by Dollete et al. (2004) who found that social support could act as a protective factor that could decrease psychological problems among students such as stress. A study by Wentzel (1998) found that social support provides motivational influence on students’ performance. This study is supported by the findings by Quomma and Greenberg (1994) who found that less social support from these sources would lead to failure. Furthermore, a negative correlation between anxiety, stress, and depression, and social support has been reported by Nahid and Sarkis (1994) in that low level of support have been associated with high level of anxiety, stress, and depression in college students.
Statement of the Problem
Young adults which makes up a large number of the university population especially in Nigeria comes under a lot of stress and psychological distress during their university educations days which emanates from activities inherent in the course of acquiring a higher degree. This distress affects their academic achievement and negatively influences their life especially in areas concerning autonomy, self acceptance, environmental mastery, purpose in life and positive relation to others which have been identified by Ryff & Keyes (1995) as components of psychological wellbeing. The alleviation of the problem associated with psychological wellbeing of undergraduates have not been achieved and also what can be done to improve the psychological wellbeing of undergraduates during school years have not been put in place and that is why we see undergraduates facing a lot of life challenges, depression, mental illness and social crisis and engagement in anti social behaviours’ thereby necessitating this study. These have led to the following research questions:
- To what extent will Emotional Intelligence assist in predicting Psychological Wellbeing of undergraduates?
- Would there be composite effect of social support on Psychological well being of Undergraduates?
- Would there be a significant effect of Emotional Intelligence and Social Support on Psychological well being of undergraduates?
Purpose of the study
The major purposes of this study are as follows:
- To describe the effect of emotional intelligence on psychological well being of undergraduates.
- To determine if social support influences psychological wellbeing of undergraduates. 14
- To examine if emotional intelligence and social support, precipitates psychological wellbeing of undergraduates.
Significance of the Study
i. This study will serve as a reference material for further studies of either or all the the variables involved.
ii. This study will be pertinent to the extent it will explore the effects of Emotional Intelligence and Social Support on Psychological well being of undergraduates. 3. The discovery of a positive effect in this study will lead to a greater reliance on the improvement of Emotional intelligence and Social Support in the maintenance of psychological well being/health and academic performance.
Operational Definitions of Terms
Emotional Intelligence: Ability to monitor one’s own and other people’s emotions, to discriminate between different emotions and label then appropriately and to use emotional information to guide thinking and behaviour. as measured by the Schutte Self Report emotion intelligence scale ( Schutte 1998).
Social Support: This has to do with interactions or relations that provide individuals with actual assistance or with a feeling of attachment to a person or a group that is perceived 15 as caring or loving as measured by the Multidimensional scales of perceived social support (G. D Zimet, N.W. Dahlem 1988)
Psychological Well being: Psychological wellbeing here is an aspect of personal wellbeing which includes understanding of an individual from persistent happiness, satisfaction with life and balance between positive and negative emotions as measured by the Ryff psychological wellbeing scale (Ryff 1989)
Undergraduate: A student at a university who has not received a degree.