versión On-line ISSN 1668-7027
GONGORA, Vanesa C. y CASULLO, María Martina. Protective factors in mental health: A comparative study on values, self-esteem and emotional intelligence in clinical and general populations. Interdisciplinaria [online]. 2009, vol.26, n.2, pp. 183-205. ISSN 1668-7027.
Clinical Psychology is trying to find new approaches to treat psychopathological problems. For this purpose, it takes the contributions of Positive Psychology for promoting mental health. In Clinical Psychology, the positive aspects are tackled in two main ways: as factors to strength in periods of health, and as factors to enhance in periods of illness. Positive or protective factors from Positive Psychology perspective are not conceived as prevention of illness but as promotion of health. Although many studies have focused on several protective factors such as hope, psychological well-being or effective coping, there are other factors much less studied. That is the case of emotional intelligence in a clinical context, the values that a person sustains and its relation with the level of self-esteem. The aim of this study is to present a com parative research of three protective factors of mental health: emotional intelligence, personal values and selfesteem between general and clinical populations. Specifically, it aims to: compare the three protective factors between the two populations and to assess what aspects of emotional intelligence, what type of values and what level of self-esteem relate to low levels of anxiety and depression. The sample was composed of two groups: one group of general population (n = 60) and one group of clinical population (n = 60) formed by patients with a diagnosis of anxiety disorders and/or depression. The general population sample was matched with the clinical sample by age and gender. The mean age in the clinical sample was 34.72 years old (SD = 10.23) and 34.23 years old (SD = 11.96) in the general population sample. The clinical group was composed of 12 men and 48 women whereas in the general population group there were 13 men and 47 women (79.2% of women in the whole sample). Participants signed informed consent and completed the questionnaires in presence of a researcher. The instruments used in this study were the Schwartz´s Portrait Values Questionnaire (1992), the Emotional Intelligence Inventory of Bar-On (1997), the Rosenberg Self-esteem Scale (1965), the STAI-trait Scale (Spielberger, Gorsuch, Lushene, Vagg, & Jacobs, 1983), and the Beck-II (Beck, Steer, & Brown, 2006). Results indicated that Selfesteem, the value Self-direction and the aspects of emotional intelligence (Emotional Self-awareness, Assertiveness, Selfregard, Self-actualization, Interpersonal relationship, Reality Testing, Stress Tolerance, Happiness, and Optimism) were significantly different between the two groups. The clinical sample scored significantly lower in all the aforementioned variables. In order to examine which of these variables discriminated between the two sample groups, a discriminant analyses was carried out. Self-esteem and, an aspect of emotional intelligence, Happiness, were the only variables to clearly differentiate between the clinical and the general samples. However, both variables could only classify a 71.1% of participants. On the basis of percentile values of STAI and Beck scales (cut-off point 70th percentile), both samples were divided into two groups: high and low anxiety level and high and low depression level. Two components of emotional intelligence, Stress Tolerance and General Mood, clearly distinguished between participants with high or low anxiety level. Both aspects allowed a correct identification of 91.7% of participants. On the other hand, low Self-transcendence personal values, high Selfesteem, and high General Mood component of emotional intelligence discriminated between subjects with high or low depression level, with a correct identification of 85.3% of participants. Results are in consonance with the fundamentals of Positive Psychology in terms that positive aspects also relate to pathological variables and, thus, may be enhanced with positive interventions. Both self-esteem and the different dimensions of emotional intelligence have specific structured programs to promote them.
Palabras clave : Protective factors; Values; Emotional intelligence; Self-esteem.