Emotional Arousal and Regulation: Further Evidence of the Validity of the "How I Feel" Questionnaire for Use With School-Age Children

J Sch Health. 2016 Mar;86(3):195-203. doi: 10.1111/josh.12370.


Background: The ability to understand and manage emotional experience is critical to children's health. This study confirmed the validity of the How I Feel (HIF) Questionnaire, a measure of children's emotional arousal and regulation, exploring its associations with measures of emotional and social functioning.

Methods: The sample was comprised of 1379 Italian students (aged 8 to 12 years) who attended schools interested in the study aims. Participants completed the 30-item HIF scale, and measures of emotional self-efficacy and social desirability (SD). Factor structures were assessed using confirmatory factor analysis. Invariance by age and gender, internal consistency, temporal stability, and concurrent validity were also tested.

Results: A 3-factor model was identified: frequency and intensity of (1) positive emotion--PE (8 items, α = .82), (2) negative emotion--NE (12 items, α = .86), and (3) positive and negative emotion control--EC (10 items, α = .77). This factor structure was invariant across age and gender groups. The HIF displayed moderate longitudinal stability over a 15-month period and a low social desirability effect. Positive emotion was positively associated with social acceptance and visibility, and negatively with social withdrawal.

Conclusions: The HIF is a reliable and valid measure for research and school intervention promoting students' emotional and mental health.

Keywords: child and adolescent health; emotional health; instruments; youth social functioning.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Arousal*
  • Child
  • Emotions*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Peer Group
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Self Efficacy*
  • Self Report
  • Sex Factors
  • Social Desirability
  • Surveys and Questionnaires / standards*