A Comparison of Emotional Intelligence and Behavior Problems in Dyslexic and Non-Dyslexic Boys
S. Sadeghieh Ahari,
The objective of the study was to compare emotional
intelligence and behavior disorders in dyslexic and non-dyslexic boys.
A random sample of 15 dyslexic boys were compared with matched controls,
all aged 11-15 years. A causal comparative research method was employed
and data was collected through administration of self report measures
of emotional intelligence and behavior disorders. Results of the study
revealed that emotional intelligence is correlated with behavior problems
(r = -0.54, p<0.05). Furthermore, dyslexic children scored lower on
emotional intelligence and higher on behavior problems than their normal
counterparts. As well as being congruent with earlier research, the present
findings point to the importance of emotional intelligence in school achievement
and behavioral health.
The term learning disabilities has numerous definitions and a vast range in
a way that according to the federal law learning disabilities have been defined
as follow: it is a disorder in one or several fundamental processes which has
caused problems in understanding and applying the spoken and written language
and may appear as an imperfect ability in listening, thinking, speaking, reading,
writing and spelling or in math performance. This term can include cases like
perceptual disabilities, brain damage, brain`s minor malfunctioning, growth
aphasia and dyslexia. However, it does not include those children whose learning
disabilities are due to inborn visual, auditory, motor disabilities, mental
retardation, emotional disorder and cultural, economic, environmental deprivations
According to the above definition dyslexia is also one kind of learning
disorders. Dyslexia is a disorder in which the person is unable to obtain
spelling, speaking, reading skills which is consistent with his intelligence
abilities though he has gained academic experiences. The primary type
of dyslexic disorders results from the disrupted pattern of the nervous
system and it is because of the imbalance of biochemistry or chronic nervous
defect which leads to a disorder called inborn dyslexic retardation. In
the secondary type of dyslexia, the potential learning ability and reading
are normal but this ability is exploited inefficiently.
It is estimated that 4% of US school children are dyslexic. The results of
a study by Chadwich et al. (1999) on a group of
dyslexic children and a nondyslexic group with different measuring instruments
indicated that according to several scales, dyslexic children had a poorer performance
in reading than nondyslexic children. The results of study revealed that in
45.15% of dyslexic people there is lack of behavior adjustment or unfavorable
family relations. Other studies also referred to the simultaneous presence of
behavior problems and dyslexia. The theories of failure in school and poor brain
functioning have declared the direct relationship between delinquent behavior
and learning disorders (Brooks, 1994). Researchers have
pointed out that even though children with learning disabilities are aware of
the social norms, they have a tendency to break these norms and their behavior
disorders are more than those of normal children. They confess that they would
like to do something illegal and antisocial. In other words, they use inappropriate
ways to attract others` attention (Bryan and Bryyan, 1991).
In another study it was found that these children face more social adjustments
than normal children (Swanson and Malone, 1992). Studies
on comparing these children with ordinary delinquents reveal that the percentage
of delinquent people and people with behavior disorders is higher among children
with learning disabilities (Taghavi et al., 1999).
Several studies have shown the relationship between dyslexia and ADHD (Robin,
2005; as cited in Lerner, 1993). Since, behavior problems
in ADHD are considerably observable, the presence of similar and simultaneous
behavior disorders in dyslexia is undeniable.
In a study on 25 dyslexic people in comparison with a control group, it was
found that behavior disorders and problems related to lack of attention were
more in dyslexic children than nondyslexic ones (Heiervang
et al., 2001). Most of the studies show emotional disorders and behavior
disorders in dyslexic children as a case in point studies by
Stanley et al. (1997) showed that one out of three dyslexic children
suffer from aggression, confliction, autism, enuresis type II and sleeping disorders.
Some studies have shown that students with learning disabilities have shown
more aggression and misbehavior (Tur-Kaspa et al.,1998).
It was also found that there are antisocial behaviors, aggression and education
deficiency in dyslexic children (Williams and McGee, 1994).
There have been a few studies on the emotional intelligence and dyslexia. Emotional
intelligence is such an important factor that the emotional capabilities of
which is vitally important in making effective relations. Emotional intelligence
can be applied to expressing the quality of relations, understanding people`s
emotions, sympathizing with others and being able to exploit a favorable mood.
In fact this intelligence includes identifying one`s own feelings as well as
others` and applying it to make wise decisions in the daily life. Dyslexic students
suffer from several socio-emotional problems which often include poor self-conception,
not tolerating the failure, social anxiety, avoidance of assignments and poor
and slow self management skills. These children fail to do things because of
learning problems. They are confused in social circles and have negative feelings
toward their own values. It seems that their emotional growth is different from
that of normal children. The report from the first seminar of learning disabilities
in Iran shows that most of the children who are incapable of learning in school,
due to failure in their educational progress, become depressed, distressed,
desperate and sometimes angry and have problems in their relations with others.
In regards with educational, social and emotional problems and lack of success
among dyslexic children, it seems that emotional intelligence is different in
dyslexic and nondyslexic people and this conclusion can be the result of poor
self-conception, not tolerating the failure, social alienation and poor self-management
skills and etc. in dyslexic people. Therefore, the following hypotheses were
||There is a difference in emotional intelligence between
dyslexic and nondyslexic people
||There is a difference in behavior disorders between dyslexic and
||There is a relationship between emotional intelligence and behavior
disorders among students
MATERIALS AND METHODS
Population and sampling: The population of this study included
all dyslexic students from learning disabilities centers and Khazra Psychological
Services Center (60 students) and all the students of the third grade
of the ordinary Shahab Middle School (80 students) in the City of Ilam
(Iran, 2007). The samples of this study included 15 dyslexic male students
and 15 non dyslexic male students with an age range of 11-15 which were
selected randomly and with their prior consent the questionnaires were
administered. Administration order was the same and the control group
was matched with the dyslexic group in terms of age and education.
Instruments: For data collection the following instruments were
Behavior problem questionnaire rater B: This questionnaire included
26 items. The teacher chooses the choices 0 meaning it is not true, 1
meaning it is relatively true, 2 meaning it is completely true. The scores
obtained by answering 26 items which will have a maximum 52 will be identified.
The time for completing this questionnaire is 7 min. This questionnaire
will show 4 aspects of normal children, children with conduct disorders,
children with emotional disorders and children with discriminability deficit.
The Alpha Cronbach for this questionnaire has been reported to be 0.91
and validity 0.82.
Emotional intelligence questionnaire: This questionnaire includes
33 items and is made on the basis of 133 baran item scale which has a
5 choice scale. This scale would provide a one-dimensional assessment
of the EQ; that is, it measures only one dimension. The reliability of
this scale is 0.84.
Since, the object of the study was to compare emotional intelligence
and behavior disorders in dyslexic and nondyslexic people, this study
was a causal-comparative study. After data collection, they were analyzed
through manova, one way ANOVA and Pearson correlation coefficient.
The results of Table 1 show that there is a relationship
between emotional intelligence and behavior disorders along with its micro-scales.
There is an adverse relationship between emotional intelligence and behavior
disorders in a way that there is a relationship between high emotional
intelligence and low behavior disorders and vice versa.
|| Relationship between emotional intelligence and behavior
disorders and its micro-scales using correlation coefficient
|*: p<0.05; **: p<0.01
||The results of one way ANOVA to compare the means of
groups having conduct disorders, anxiety and nondiscriminability
||Comparing the mean of groups having conduct disorders,
anxiety and nondiscriminability according to emotional intelligence
The results of Table 2 show that there is a significant
difference in terms of emotional intelligence between groups of students
with conduct disorders, anxiety and nondiscriminability (p = 0.002).
Table 3 shows that children with conduct disorders,
anxiety and nondiscriminability are different regarding emotional intelligence
in a way that children with conduct disorders have a higher emotional
intelligence than other groups (20.63). The results of Table
3 show that children with anxiety disorders show a lower emotional
intelligence than children with nondiscriminability. And this can be an
indicator of the relationship between emotional intelligence and anxiety.
It seems that the variables of emotional intelligence and behavior disorders
have a strong effect on each other in a way that the higher emotional intelligence
will expect lower abnormal behaviors. Learning is such an effective factor that
it influences on both variables in that learning will affect emotional intelligence
and emotional intelligence will affect behavior disorders. In reviewing literature
on learning disabilities, it refers to speech problems perceptual disorders,
socio-emotional problems (Brayan, 1989) memory problems
(Torgeson, 1989), attentional problems and metacognitive
deficit. According to the difference between behavior disorders and emotional
intelligence in the present study groups (confirming hypotheses 1 and 2), it
can be inferred that emotional intelligence can be a very important factor in
behavior disorders in dyslexic children. The findings show that normal students
enjoy a higher emotional intelligence and lower behavior disorders since people
with high emotional intelligence are more successful in different fields than
people with low emotional intelligence. These findings, in addition to concordance
with the results of the present study, state that learning disabilities may
be an important factor in the increase of emotional problems and vice versa,
especially in that emotional problems might appear as a result of the efforts
to get along with learning disorders in dyslexic children and frequent failures
in comparison with normal nondyslexic children (Abrams, 1986).
Considering the third hypothesis, the present study showed that there is a relationship
between emotional intelligence and behavior disorders (-0.054), in other words
the higher emotional intelligence, the lower behavior disorders. This finding
is consistent with the findings of Taghavi et al.
(1999) and Cicchetti and Toth (1998) in terms of
simultaneity between behavior problems and communication limitations and in
terms of social problems, not tolerating failures that all of which are the
indicators of low emotional intelligence in children with learning disabilities.
Studies show socio-emotional problems in dyslexic children and teenagers cause
social defects and behavior problems, in other words most of these students
lose the skills required for understanding others` feelings and their precise
responses and having these skills require having a level of emotional intelligence
consistent with their age. According to the results of the fourth hypothesis
children with conduct disorders, anxiety and nondiscriminability problems are
different regarding emotional intelligence; in other words, children with conduct
disorders have a higher emotional intelligence and children with anxiety disorders
have a lower emotional intelligence than the group with nondiscriminability.
According to the findings of this study about the relationship between emotional
intelligence and behavior disorders and about the limitations of the earlier
studies, it can be said that dyslexic children compared to nondyslexic children
have more behavior problems in all micro-scales that one of which could be low
emotional intelligence. Earlier studies have shown that students with learning
disabilities have lower socio-emotional qualifications (Brayan,
1974). Also it is clear that students with learning disabilities in comparison
with normal students experience a great deal of general anxiety (Margalit
and Zak, 1984; Rodriguez and Routh, 1989). It is
estimated that 25% of the children with learning disabilities show the criteria
for anxiety disorders (Gresham et al., 1999).
Since, it is been found in this study that children with anxiety disorders have
lower emotional intelligence than the other two groups, it can be stated that
emotional intelligence is one of the factors which affect the anxiety level
since children with lower emotional intelligence show worries and less effective
and determined conversational behaviors (Wojinalower and
Gross, 1998). They generally are alienated more by their peers (Swanson
and Malone, 1992) which is in contrast with the traits of people with high
emotional intelligence. Considering the relationship between emotional intelligence
and conduct disorders (another finding of the study) it can be inferred that
certain learning disabilities does not necessarily lead to aggression and delinquent
behavior. Yet dyslexic children in the early years of school are apparently
more vulnerable in conduct disorders and this may be due to the fact that the
origins of delinquency can be found in those behavior problem that are followed
by learning disabilities (Haney and Durlak, 1998).
According to the findings of the study on the relationship between dyslexia
and behavior problems and relationship between dyslexia and emotional
intelligence, some certain programs like social skills training, normal
emotional training along with liberal arts and value systems can be used
to increase emotional intelligence and its major indicators like emotional
self-consciousness, self-regulation, self-actualization, independence,
empathy, happiness, optimism, impulse control and above all children`s
adjustment. In other words, emphasis on education and improving different
aspects of emotional intelligence can be effective in achieving the goal
of education faster which is treating disorders and reducing behavior
problems. The number of factors contributing to behavior problems can
be reduced if adjustment is more emphasized and more successful along
with other factors and if the focus of education is on treating dyslexia
since emotions create priorities in thoughts, shape the memory, create
different views on solving problems and facilitate creativity.
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