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Reduced Emotional Intelligence in Children Aged 9–10 caused by the COVID ‐19 Pandemic Lockdown


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It is necessary to know the influence of the current pandemic situation on children's emotional intelligence (EI). Therefore, this study aimed to analyze the difference in 34 Spanish children's EI (aged 9–10) caused by the lockdown. EI was measured with the BarOn Emotional Intelligence Inventory (EQ-i:YV). Results have revealed a reduction in EI, specifically on intrapersonal, interpersonal, and adaptability scales (all p < .01). Thus, the study highlights the negative influence of lockdown situation on children's EI and considering the impact this may have at a cognitive, social, or academic level, it would be convenient to promote its development at school.
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Reduced Emotional Intelligence
in Children Aged 9–10 caused
by the COVID-19 Pandemic
Katya Martín-Requejo and Sandra Santiago-Ramajo
ABSTRACT— It is necessary to know the influence of the
current pandemic situation on children’s emotional intelli-
gence (EI). erefore, this study aimed to analyze the differ-
ence in 34 Spanish children’s EI (aged 9–10) caused by the
lockdown. EI was measured with the BarOn Emotional Intel-
ligence Inventory (EQ-i:YV). Results have revealed a reduc-
tion in EI, specifically on intrapersonal, interpersonal, and
adaptability scales (all p<.01). us, the study highlights the
negative influence of lockdown situation on children’s EI and
considering the impact this may have at a cognitive, social, or
academic level, it would be convenient to promote its devel-
opment at school.
Because of this current pandemic caused by COVID-19,
many countries have limited mobility, social relations, labor,
or school activity (Berasategi et al., 2020) and this situa-
tion is affecting people’s daily behavior, well-being, men-
tal health, and cognitive skills (Kontoangelos, Economou,
& Papageorgiou, 2020; Li, Wang, Xue, Zhao, & Zhu, 2020;
Yan Jiao et al., 2020). is has increased negative emo-
tions such as anxiety, fear, anger, or sadness and reducing
people’s well-being (Allodola, Buccolo, & Mongili, 2020; Li
et al., 2020). Because of the lockdown, stress problems and
difficulties in emotional control have been observed in 48%
of the population (Wang, Zhang, Zhao, Zhan, & Jiang, 2020a;
Wang et al., 2020b) and psychological problems in 40.4%
of young people (Liang et al., 2020). is situation has a
greater impact on the behavior, emotions, and well-being of
Faculty of Education, Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR)
Address correspondence to Katya Martín-Requejo, Faculty of Educa-
tion, Universidad Internacional de La Rioja (UNIR), Avda. de la Paz,
137, 26006 Logroño, Spain; e-mail:
children (Grechyna, 2020; Kontoangelos et al., 2020; Yan Jiao
et al., 2020), and an increase in negative emotions because of
the lockdown has also been observed (Berasategi et al., 2020;
Kontoangelos et al., 2020), but more evidence is needed
regarding the psychological impact of the pandemic on chil-
dren (García & Cuéllar-Flores 2020; Wang et al., 2020a;
Wang et al., 2020b).
Emotional intelligence (EI), understood as the ability
to cope with environmental demands, has an impact on
success and emotional well-being and includes different
factors (Bar-On & Parker, 2018): intrapersonal (under-
standing and discerning one’s own emotions and feelings);
interpersonal (interact with others with a social conscience);
adaptability (adjust and cope with change); and stress
management (manage adversarial emotions). Because emo-
tional and cognitive systems influence each other (Allodola
et al., 2020; Lahiri, Dubey, & Ardila, 2020), students with
higher levels of EI also show better well-being, psycho-
logical adjustment, interpersonal relationships, behavior,
and higher academic performance (Extremera-Pacheco &
Fernández-Berrocal, 2004).
For all that, children’s EI needs to be addressed (Allodola
et al., 2020) and prevent consequences in cognitive, social, or
academic aspects. is study addresses an area that has been
little studied so far with the objective to study the differences
in children’s EI and its scales (aged 9–10) because of the
lockdown. e hypothesis was as follows: a reduction in EI
and its scales is expected after the COVID-19 lockdown.
e sample consisted of 34 pupils (18 girls) in the fourth
year of primary education (aged 9–10) from three schools
© 2021 International Mind, Brain, and Education Society and Wiley Periodicals LLC 1
Reduction of Children’s EI by COVID Lockdown
Tabl e 1
Demographic Data of the Sample
Age 9.34 .39
Socioeconomic level
Mean 32.4 (11)
Medium-high 17.6 (6)
High 50 (17)
Note: n =34.
in the Basque Country. e schools were selected by means
of cluster sampling with these inclusion criteria: be bilingual
(Spanish-Basque), in a town with a family income and level
of higher education equal to or higher than the average in
the Basque Country (data provided by the Basque Institute of
Statistics). erefore, 58 schools were homogeneous accord-
ing to these criteria and after random selection, three schools
agreed to participate. ese were the participants’ inclusion
criteria: IQ 80 (Kaufman Short Intelligence Test K-BIT),
no mental disorder (DSM-5), medium to high socioeco-
nomic level and sign the consent form. Both the socioe-
conomic level and the diagnosis of a mental disorder were
recorded using a questionnaire. Table 1 shows the sample’s
sociodemographic data.
BarOn EQ Inventory: version for young people (7–18 years
old) (EQ-i:YV). Evaluates EI and interpersonal, intraper-
sonal, adaptability, and stress management scales. It can
be applied individually or collectively (20–25 min). It has
51 items (e.g., “Iliketohavefun”) with 4-point Likert
scale and provides an IQ score for EI and each scale (69
extremely low; 70–79 very low; 80–89 low; 90–109 medium;
110–119 high; 120–129 very high; and 130 extremely
high). EQ-i:YV has proven validity, an internal consistency
between 0.69–0.79 and adequate psychometric properties
(Bar-On & Parker, 2018).
Initially, this exploratory study with a prospective
single-group ex post facto design was approved by the
Research Ethics Committee of the International University
of La Rioja (PI: 006/2019). After completing the question-
naire about the inclusion criteria, K-BIT was applied individ-
ually. EQ-i:YV, firstly (evaluation 1), was applied collectively
in each school (October–November), but then (evaluation 2)
it was applied online (May–June), because of the lockdown.
SPSS (v. 25) program was used to carry out descriptive anal-
yses and Student t-test for paired samples (after checking
the assumption of normality) with p.05 significance level.
G-Power program was used to calculate Cohen’s deffect
size (means: difference between two dependent means) with
these interpretations: .20 (small), .50 (medium), and .80
Table 2 shows that in the first assessment all the data are
within the normal range (medium level), while in the second,
the interpersonal and adaptability scales have been reduced
to a low level, while the rest have remained at a medium level.
Ttest for paired samples has shown that the scores are
statistically lower in the second evaluation compared to
the first: intrapersonal (p=.002), interpersonal (p=.003),
adaptability (p=.004), and EI (p=.001). However, the stress
management scale has not shown significant differences.
is study has revealed a reduction in EI and intrapersonal,
interpersonal, and adaptability scales. is pandemic situ-
ation is having a negative impact on children’s emotions
(Berasategi et al., 2020; Kontoangelos et al., 2020; Liu, Huang,
Shi, & Lu, 2020) and this study shows that this, in turn,
negatively impacts on children’s EI. Because children are
more vulnerable to negative effects in adverse situations, it
could explain the observed reduction (Yan Jiao et al., 2020).
erefore, these authors highlight that the prolonged situ-
ation they have had to deal with during the lockdown has
increased negative emotions, favoring the reduction of EI.
In contrast to previous studies (Berasategi et al., 2020; Kon-
toangelos et al., 2020; Liang et al., 2020; Wang et al., 2020a;
Wang et al., 2020b), stress management has shown a slight
improvement but no significant difference. ese results
could indicate that children have had to assess the stressful
situation and make a cognitive effort to try to minimize its
emotional impact (Echavarría, 2012).
Low levels of EI decrease well-being and academic perfor-
mance (Extremera-Pacheco & Fernández-Berrocal, 2004),
which highlights the need to enhance EI development in all
children affected by this pandemic situation. erefore, it
is necessary to develop personal resources and transversal
skills that allow for an effective confrontation of this situa-
tion (Allodola et al., 2020). e school represents a key in this
process, because in addition to promoting academic devel-
opment, it also influences the socioemotional development
of students (Wang et al., 2020a; Wang et al., 2020b).
e main limitations of the study are the small sam-
ple size and that EQ-i:YV was applied under different con-
ditions (because of the lockdown). erefore, the results
can only be generalized to children aged 9–10 years, so for
future studies, it would be convenient to study other age
Katya Martín-Requejo and Sandra Santiago-Ramajo
Tabl e 2
Descriptive and Comparative Data of the Study Variables
M SD 95% CI t p d
Evaluation 1 101.47 10.39 [97.85–105.10] 3.388 .002 .58
Evaluation 2 90.18 16.63 [84.37–95.98]
Evaluation 1 103.00 13.50 [98.23–107.71] 3.181 .003 .55
Evaluation 2 89.35 19.33 [82.61–96.10]
Evaluation 1 99.59 14.83 [94.41–104.76] 3.141 .004 .54
Evaluation 2 87.79 14.15 [82.86–92.73]
Stress management
Evaluation 1 100.85 11.57 [96.82–104.89] 1.652 .108 .28
Evaluation 2 104.74 12.76 [100.28–109.19]
Emotional intelligence
Evaluation 1 102.53 13.16 [97.94–107.12] 3.666 .001 .63
Evaluation 2 90.06 16.40 [84.33–95.78]
Note: n =34.
groups in a larger sample and carry out data under the same
e study concludes by highlighting a decrease in chil-
dren’s (aged 9–10) EI and its scales (intrapersonal, interper-
sonal, and adaptability) after the lockdown by COVID-19.
e pandemic situation, in addition to cognitive and aca-
demic aspects, is also affecting student’s EI, so it would
be advisable to enhance its development at school. us,
the possible consequences that low levels of EI may have
on cognitive, psychological, or academic processes could be
Allodola, V. F., Buccolo, M., & Mongili, S. (2020). Representations
and emotions on Covid-19 in Italy: An exploratory research.
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