Psychology ETDs

Publication Date

Summer 5-11-2018


Emotional intelligence (EI) is form of social intelligence that is important for navigating one’s social environment. Deficits in these abilities have been associated negative psychological outcomes such as anxiety, substance use, and aggression. Here, we extend current literature that suggests that EI is correlated with gray matter volume (GMV) in limbic regions (e.g. insula ventromedial prefrontal cortex, anterior cingulate, and cerebellum) in healthy samples, by using voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to assess the relationship between GMV and EI. In study 1, emotional intelligence was positively correlated with GMV in the cerebellum and anterior cingulate cortex in a sample of incarcerated adult males, and in study 2, emotional intelligence was negatively correlated with GMV in the precuneus and posterior cingulate cortex in a sample of incarcerated adolescent males. In study 3, we demonstrate that age moderates the relationship between EI and GMV in these regions. Because incarcerated populations tend to experience increased rates of negative outcomes associated with reduced emotional intelligence, it is important to understand EI in this population to determine whether it is a viable target for treatments to reduce future negative outcomes, including recidivism, upon release.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name


First Committee Member (Chair)

Kent Kiehl

Second Committee Member

Ronald Yeo

Third Committee Member

James Cavanagh




emotional intelligence, fMRI, VBM, criminal behavior, antisocial behavior, cognitive neuroscience

Document Type


Included in

Psychology Commons