Emotional clarity development and psychosocial outcomes during adolescence

Emotion. 2019 Jun;19(4):563-572. doi: 10.1037/emo0000452. Epub 2018 May 21.


Past research on emotional clarity (EC), the ability to identify and label one's own emotions, has illustrated an association between EC deficits and poor psychosocial outcomes during the adolescent years. Although past research has connected EC to psychosocial outcomes during adolescence in cross-sectional and longitudinal designs, no studies have traced the trajectory of EC over time to determine the developmental course of the construct during adolescence. Thus, this study investigated how EC developed over five years during adolescence and what factors were associated with the developmental trajectory of emotional clarity. Participants included a diverse sample of 640 adolescents (M age at Time 1 = 12.55 years; 53.0% female; 52.2% African American; 48.0% eligible for free school lunch). Results indicated that EC tended to decrease over adolescence, and females, on average, had a steeper decline of EC over time than males. The trajectory of EC predicted psychosocial outcomes, including depression and well-being. Results are discussed with the ultimate goal of informing novel prevention and intervention programs to promote adaptive emotional functioning during an influential time in human development. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved).

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / psychology
  • Emotions / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Psychopathology / methods*
  • Treatment Outcome