Department or Program



Emotional intelligence (eIQ), a normally-distributed, multi-faceted construct, describes one’s ability to monitor emotions in self and other, discriminate among feeling states, and regulate emotions. As low eIQ is often considered a risk factor for mood and anxiety disorders, there is clinical value in understanding the biological contributions of eIQ. Interestingly, while the neurochemistry of affective disorders, particularly with respect to brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and serotonin (5-HT) systems, is well studied, the relationship between these two neurotransmitters and facets of emotion processing across the full continuum of eIQ levels is unknown. In this study, peripheral levels of BDNF and 5-HT, self-report (Toronto Alexithymia Scale, Mood Awareness Scale, Trait Meta-Mood Scale) and performance-based indices of emotional intelligence (Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test) and other aspects of affective processing (Questionnaire Measure of Emotional Empathy, Reading the Mind in the Eyes Test, Auditory Emotional Stroop Test) were measured in a non-clinical, young adult sample to test the hypothesis that high levels of BDNF and 5-HT are associated with high eIQ and superior affective processing skills. While BDNF was related to poor emotion management, higher serotonin levels were associated with superior self-report and performance-based emotional clarity and perceptive ability as well as better performance-based social management skills. Low levels of both BDNF and serotonin were related to a memory bias to recall or recognize negatively-valenced words. The results of this study suggest that serotonin plays a critical role in emotional clarity and perceptivity.

Level of Access

Restricted: Archival Copy [No Access]

First Advisor

Koven, Nancy

Date of Graduation


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Number of Pages


Components of Thesis

1 pdf file