School readiness and general life success are not a function of intellectual capacity alone. The development of emotional competence is also critical. The Équipe de recherche sur la compétence émotionnelle (Emotional Competence Research Team), directed by Dale Margery Stack from Université Concordia, has developed a high level of expertise in this area.
In a study whose results will appear in an upcoming issue of Social Development, the researchers examined the contribution of childhood aggression and social withdrawal in the mother on the ability of the next generation to resolve mother-child conflicts. The study showed that maternal childhood aggression and withdrawal can predict inadequate solution generation by both mother and child, as well as antisocial solution generation by the child. A maternal childhood history of withdrawal alone predicts solitary solutions in the child and a lack of direction and structure in decision-making.
In another study, the researchers observed the cognitive component of empathy in infants, by recording and examining the child's eye fixations in the presence of a scene that would normally provoke an empathic response. It was observed, for example, that from the age of 29 months, the children increased their visual fixation on the face of a person who had had an object taken away from them.
A third study examined the long-term risks of poor emotional competence and the negative social factors that increase the probability of developing problematic emotional functioning. The Concordia Longitudinal Risk Project, which has lasted for almost 40 years and now includes three generations, has allowed researchers to show that childhood characteristics and experiences pave the way to becoming well-adapted contributing members of society or, on the contrary, maladapted adults.
These results attest to the critical role of emotional competence and its repercussions on children's well-being and their capacity for adaptation as adults.
Équipe de recherche sur la compétence émotionnelle
Dale Margery Stack, Université Concordia
- Paul Hastings, Université Concordia
- Diane Poulin, Université Concordia
- Alex-E. Schwartzman, Université Concordia
- Lisa A. Serbin, Université Concordia