Developmental Contributions to Emotional Awareness

Ryan Smith, Donald Quinlan, Gary E. Schwartz, Anna Sanova, Anna Alkozei, Richard D. Lane

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


The Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS) has received considerable support as a reliable and valid measure of individual differences in emotional awareness (EA) since the original report involving 40 participants (Lane, Quinlan, Schwartz, Walker, & Zeitlin, 1990). However, the hypothesized developmental nature of EA (conceptualized as a cognitive skill) has thus far only been examined in that 1 early study. Here we report multiple regression analyses on the entire sample of 94 participants who completed the LEAS as part of that original study, as well as the same developmental and affective measures used in the original report. We first observed that different developmental measures, including the Object Relations Inventory and the Sentence Completion Test of Ego Development, accounted for unique portions of the variance in LEAS scores. We also observed that higher LEAS scores were associated with greater within-category variance in the self-reported positive and guilt- and shame-related emotions people reported experiencing on a typical day. Based on these findings, we introduce a 3-dimensional cognitive-developmental framework that LEAS scores plausibly track, including (a) the transition from focusing on external/physical to internal/psychological characteristics, (b) greater conceptual complexity, and (c) self–other differentiation. We then discuss the implications of this framework for understanding the nature of EA and for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)150-158
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Personality Assessment
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 4 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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