Levels of emotional awareness: Theory and measurement of a socio‐emotional skill

Richard D. Lane, Ryan Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Emotional awareness is the ability to conceptualize and describe one’s own emotions and those of others. Over thirty years ago, a cognitive‐developmental theory of emotional awareness patterned after Piaget’s theory of cognitive development was created as well as a performance measure of this ability called the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS). Since then, a large number of studies have been completed in healthy volunteers and clinical populations including those with mental health or systemic medical disorders. Along the way, there have also been further refinements and adaptations of the LEAS such as the creation of a digital version in addition to further advances in the theory itself. This review aims to provide a comprehensive summary of the evolving theoretical background, measurement methods, and empirical findings with the LEAS. The LEAS is a reliable and valid measure of emotional awareness. Evidence suggests that emotional awareness facilitates better emotion self‐regulation, better ability to navigate complex social situations and enjoy relationships, and better physical and mental health. This is a relatively new but promising area of research in the domain of socio‐emotional skills. The paper concludes with some recommendations for future research.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number42
JournalJournal of Intelligence
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • Cognitive development
  • Emotion
  • Levels of emotional awareness
  • Socio‐emotional skills

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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