Validating the MEOS: Examining the Associations of the Managing Emotions of Others Scale with Empathy, Theory of Mind, Personality and Alexithymia.
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Abstract Many measures of emotional intelligence (EI) have a distinctly positive slant in their assessment of the construct. The Managing Emotions of other Scale (MEOS) (Austin & O’Donnell, 2013) is a recently developed measure of trait EI that gives a more inclusive picture of behaviours relevant to emotional management. This questionnaire indexes an individual’s tendencies to manage emotion prosocially and non-prosocially as well as assessing skills in emotional management and tendency to conceal emotions. Here we sought to validate the MEOS by reassessing the factor structure, replicating previous associations and examining further associations with well-established measures of Empathy (The Interpersonal Reactivity Index), Personality (The HEXACO), Theory of Mind (The Eyes Test), and Alexithymia (The Twenty-Item Toronto Alexithymia scale). An exploratory factor analysis supported the MEOS’s factor structure and personality correlations largely replicated associations in previous validations based on the five-factor model. Correlations with empathy confirm its importance to prosocial emotional management tendencies and suggest that manipulative non-prosocial strategies are actually related to some forms of cognitive and affective empathy. The Eyes Test was included as an ability measure and indicated the importance of theory of mind to skilled emotional management and prosocial orientation. Regression analyses gave further insights into how the different measures predicted Eyes Test performance. Alexithymia correlations suggested that, as expected, individuals incapable of recognizing and describing their own emotions are impaired in managing the emotions of others and tend to use non-prosocial strategies. Overall, associations indicate good internal reliability, construct validity and discriminant validity. Recommendations for further validation, future research and potential application of the MEOS in clinical settings are discussed.