The Role of Emotional Competence in the Association Between Optimism and Depression Among Chinese Adolescents

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)171-185
Journal / PublicationChild Indicators Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017


Positive psychology is the scientific study of positive emotions, positive thoughts and positive behaviors that serve as protective factors to help people bounce back and recover from stress. Fredrickson’s broaden and build model postulates that positive emotions catalyze upward spirals toward future well-being by broadening people’s positive thoughts and behaviors. This study investigated direct and interactional effects of emotional competence and dispositional optimism on depressive symptoms among a sample of secondary school students in Hong Kong, China. A cross sectional survey design was adopted, and data was collected from 513 adolescents (197 males, 316 females, mean age=13.80) from four secondary schools. Results showed that dispositional optimism and emotional competence were significantly and negatively associated with depressive symptoms. In addition, emotional competence enhanced the protective effects of dispositional optimism on depressive symptoms. Therefore, despite their culture-specific meanings in the Chinese context, dispositional optimism and emotional competence were found to independently and jointly protect Chinese adolescents to offset depression, which lends empirical support to the cross-cultural validity of the two positive psychological constructs and the Broaden and Build model of positive emotions. This study sheds light on promoting a positive psychology model that includes both cognitive and emotional positive psychological factors for depression prevention or early intervention.

Research Area(s)

  • Adolescents, Chinese, Depressive symptoms, Dispositional optimism, Emotional competence, Emotional intelligence