Facing Anxiety, Growing Up. Trait Emotional Intelligence as a Mediator of the Relationship Between Self-Esteem and University Anxiety
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SourceFRONTIERS IN PSYCHOLOGY, 2019 Vol. 10 art. 567
The current study analyzed how trait emotional intelligence (trait EI) mediates the relationship between self-esteem and state anxiety and trait anxiety. The sample was composed of 153 undergraduate students from the University of Cádiz, Spain (71.9% women and 28.1% men). Students completed measures of self-esteem, state anxiety, trait anxiety, and trait EI. Mediation analyses were completed with three trait EI dimensions (EA, emotional attention; EC, emotional clarity; and MR, mood repair) as mediating variables, self-esteem as the independent variable, and state anxiety and trait anxiety as the dependent ones. Our results confirmed that self-esteem scores explained and predicted both, state and trait anxiety values (13% for state and 21% for trait anxiety). This explanatory capacity is increased by 8% when accounting for all trait EI dimensions. Considering state anxiety, the results of the direct effects showed that a decrease in their levels is predicted through the increases in the levels of both, self-esteem and MR. Regarding trait anxiety, the results of the direct effects showed that a decrease in their levels is predicted, in addition to an increment of self-esteem and MR values, by an increase of EC and a decrease of EA. Conversely, indirect effects revealed that higher levels of self-esteem were associated with worse scores in EA and worse MR, which in turn would enhance both state and trait anxiety levels. Moreover, regarding trait anxiety higher levels of self-esteem were associated with worse scores in EA and worse EC, therefore increasing trait anxiety levels. As shown, the negative association found between self-esteem and EA becomes a key element. The effect of self-esteem on EA and the influence that the latter had on EC and MR exerts an indirect mediated effect with the power to invert the influence that self-esteem wields on both types of anxiety. In this sense, the apparent protective role of self-esteem changed, turning into a risk factor that promotes higher anxiety values.