Journal of Child and Family Studies

, Volume 28, Issue 12, pp 3286–3295 | Cite as

Exploring Emotional Intelligence and IQ as Predictors of Success of Foster Care Alumni

  • Tom D. KennedyEmail author
  • Yuri Flach
  • David Detullio
  • Danielle H. Millen
  • Nicole Englebert
  • W. Alex Edmonds
Original Paper



The most common reason for foster care placement is child maltreatment. Sadly, once in the foster care system over 17% of children in the United States continue to experience multiple forms of maltreatment. After they “age out”, these alumni are particularly vulnerable to a host of adverse situations, such as low educational success and homelessness. The primary aim of this study was to explore individual characteristics that could predict the quality of life and level of distress of foster care alumni. Specifically, we were interested in the predictive ability of emotional intelligence (EI) and general intelligence (IQ) on quality of life and distress.


Two multiple regression models were evaluated for the primary analyses. Both models included general intelligence and emotional intelligence as predictors, with one model containing quality of life and the other model level of distress as the criterion variables.


The analyses demonstrated that general intelligence was not a significant predictor of quality of life or level of distress when controlling for emotional intelligence. In contrast, emotional intelligence was a significant predictor of improved quality of life and decreased level of distress when controlling for general intelligence.


Emotional intelligence appears to be a characteristic that is amenable to change and a predictor of positive outcome among foster care alumni. Moreover, emotional intelligence may bolster resiliency against the higher levels of instability and stress experienced by foster care children.


Foster care Emotional intelligence General intelligence Quality of life Resilience 


Author Contributions

T.D.K. designed and executed the study, assisted with methods, data analyses, and helped write the final manuscript. Y.C.F. conceptualized the introduction and helped write the introduction and discussion sections. D.D. helped with data analyses and writing the results and limitations. D.H.M. collaborated with conceptualizing the structure of the manuscript and edited the overall paper. N.E. helped with data collection and aspects of the article. W.A.E. assisted with the design and execution of the research and helped complete the IRB and edited the manuscript.


This study was funded by a Nova Southeastern University internal Quality of Life grant.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards (IRB approval # 11240808). Nova Southeastern University provided IRB approval for the study.

Informed Consent

All participants provided written informed consent for this study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Nova Southeastern University, College of PsychologyFort LauderdaleUSA
  2. 2.Nova Southeastern University, College of EducationFort LauderdaleUSA

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