Bar-On EQ-I

Bar-On EQ-I and Ego Defensive Styles

Bar-On EQ-I and Ego Defensive Styles

Ego Defensive Styles as Predictors of Bar-On EQ-i (Emotional Intelligence) and the Effects of Demographic

Bar-On EQ-I and Ego Defensive Styles was investigated in this paper and firstly, we investigated relationships of gender, age and academic educational level of Iranian Mellat Bank’s employees to ego defense styles (333 participants) and Emotional Intelligence (130 participants) with MANOVA. Secondly, we examined the hypothesis that, whether the ego defense styles (mature, neurotic, and immature) can predict the components of Bar-On’s model of EQ with using multiple regression models? Results showed that age and gender produced a significant effect on the ego defense styles and age is a facilitator of stress management. Employees with different grade point averages in ego defensive styles (DSQ-40) questionnaire were significantly different in relation to the 5 main  components of the Bar-On’s model: Intrapersonal, Interpersonal, Adaptability, Stress Management, General Mood  and total EQ scores (P<0.05).

Amirinia et al., Int. J. Rev. Life. Sci., 5(3), 2015, 829-836 

ISSN 2231-2935
Research Article

Mahmood Amirinia1, Parisa Aghazadeh2 and Reyhaneh Bassam3

1 Corresponding author at: Bank Mellat University of applied sciences (General Training) in Tehran, Iran. Tel: +98 2144222995; fax: +98 2133954749.

2 Bank Mellat University of applied sciences (General Training) in Tehran, Iran

IT Department of Bank Mellat (Expert System analyst) in Tehran, Iran


Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the ability to perceive, control and evaluate emotions.  Bar-On focuses on an array of emotional and social abilities, including the ability to be aware of, understand, and express oneself, the ability to be aware of, understand, and relate to others, the ability to deal with strong emotions, and the ability to adapt to change and solve problems of a social or personal nature. Bar-On outlines 5 components of emotional intelligence such as intrapersonal, interpersonal, adaptability, stress management, and general mood. Hypothesizes of Bar-On that saw those individuals with higher than average EQ’s are in general more successful in meeting environmental demands and pressures. In general, Bar-On considers emotional intelligence and cognitive intelligence to contribute equally to a person’s general intelligence, which then offers an indication of one’s potential to succeed in life (Bar-On, 2000, 2003; Mishar, 2014). Past studies indicated that individuals with high levels of emotional intelligence attain more success in the workplace, trust the work environment and are more flexible in stressful situations (Nikolaou, 2002) than those with low emotional intelligence. Therefore, organizations seem to accept EI as one of the possible management tools that can help them in gaining competitive benefits. People with high emotional abilities also have better social capabilities, longer relationships and improved competency in solving conflicts (Rafati, 2004). The direct relationship between emotional intelligence and a healthy life demonstrates that, using emotional intelligence capabilities can bring success in life (Todres, 2010). Bar-On focuses on social intelligence that It appears, will influence interpretations and defense mechanisms in individual as personal traits (Mishar, 2014).  Defense mechanisms, a concept first introduced by Freud, have been defined as automatic psychological processes that protect the individual from awareness of internal or external dangers (Freud, 1966). Defense mechanisms, whose responsibility is to protect the ego from different forms of anxiety (Freud, 1923), may be functional or dysfunctional according to how they are used in the environment (Andrews et al, 1993) categorized three major defense styles based on twenty different defense mechanisms (Valliant, 1976). These three defense styles are named ‘‘mature’’, ‘‘neurotic’’ and ‘‘immature’’ according to which kinds of defense mechanisms are used by the individual (Andrews et al, 1993). The mature defense style represents normal, adaptive and functional method of coping whereas the immature and neurotic styles may be considered to be a consequence of dysfunctional and maladaptive coping strategies (Davanloo, 1990). The association between the components of emotional intelligence including difficulty in identifying and describing feelings and externally oriented thinking with ego defense styles was investigated in past studies. Based on this studies in students of universities, the adaptive defense styles were correlated with overall emotional intelligence but not with the emotional perception and regulation components. Emotional knowledge was correlated with both adaptive and maladaptive defense styles (Pellitteri, 2002) and also, emotional intelligence was positively associated with mature defense mechanisms and negatively associated with immature defense mechanisms (Besharat, 2007; Ghaedi, 2006).  No significant correlation was found between emotional intelligence and neurotic defenses. The results of regression analysis showed that both mature and immature defense mechanisms could be predicted by emotional intelligence and its component of emotional regulation (Besharat, 2007). Whereas In other studies, the use of neurotic defenses is found to be associated with emotional intelligence. Moreover, neurotic defenses could be predicted by emotional intelligence. Of course, it was observed only in males but not in female students (Ghaedi, 2006). In this study, in addition to investigate of EQ modelling based on Bar-on model and psychological defense mechanisms, we study demographic variables such as gender, age and educational level of participants.

Methods: Participants, Procedure, and Measures

Our sample consisted of 333 adult employees of 2000 employees of Bank Mellat in Tehran, randomly assigned (Men= 247 & Woman= 86) and (Bachelor’s Degree holders= 216 & Master’s Degree holders = 117) that the youngest participants in our sample was 24 years old and the oldest 64 (range = 40). To illustrate the interaction effects of age in this study, we were divided the participants into two group and used the median of age in the sample (40 years old).  This cut-off also captures empirically meaningful life-cycle phases in a lifetime of an adult, such as the middle adulthood (24–40 years old), on the one hand, and the late adulthood/preretirement (41–65), on the other hand (Bromley, 1966). Firstly, participants were asked to complete the Farsi version of Defense Styles Questionnaire (DSQ-40) that is a 40 item questionnaire developed by Andrews et al. (1993) measuring three categories of defense mechanisms which may be used by respondents. The Farsi version of this questionnaire was translated by Besharat et al. (2001).The 40 items measure three styles labeled mature, immature and neurotic. Respondents respond to each item on a nine point Likert scale ranging from ‘‘Completely Agree’’ to ‘‘Completely Disagree’’. The Mature defense style includes defense mechanisms of sublimation, humor, anticipation and suppression. The Neurotic defense style includes defense mechanisms of undoing, pseudo-altruism, idealization and reaction formation. The Immature defense style includes the following defense mechanisms: projection, passive aggression, acting-out, isolation, devaluation, autistic fantasy, denial, displacement, dissociation, splitting, rationalization and somatization. Cronbach’s alphas of 0.75, 0.73 and 0.72 were reported for the three defense styles of mature, neurotic and immature respectively. Furthermore, test retest reliability of r = 0.81 was reported after a four week interval in 30 subjects (Besharat et al., 2011), but in the present study, Cronbach’s alphas of 0.82, 0.76 and 0.81 were for the three defense styles of mature, neurotic and immature respectively. Secondly, 130 participants completed the Farsi version of Bar-On emotional intelligence inventory according to Dehshiri (2003), and all data were analyzed using PASW. Bar-On EQ-i is a 133-item questionnaire with a 5-point Likert response scale. This test and its subscales do have reliability and validity in Iranian culture. With the adapted version in Iran, the Cornbach’s alpha coefficient was found to be 0.76 and the results of the factor analysis provided some support for the inventory hypothesized structure. This Inventory is a 90-item and responses to each item can range from; ‘1 = very seldom or not true of me’ to ‘5   very often or true of me’ for positively or negatively-keyed items respectively (Dehshiri, 2003). The scales and subscales are; intrapersonal intelligence (emotional self-awareness, assertiveness, self-regard, self-actualization, independence), interpersonal intelligence (empathy, interpersonal relationships, and social responsibility), adaptability (problem solving, reality testing, and flexibility), stress management (stress tolerance, impulse control), and general mood (happiness, optimism). Higher scores indicate a higher level of emotional intelligence. In this study, the questionnaire provides a total score and scores for five principal dimensions. Cronbach’s alpha coefficients were 0.91 for intrapersonal intelligence, 0.87 for interpersonal intelligence, 0.88 for adaptability, 0.85 for stress management, 0.87 for general mood, and 0.96 for the emotional Quotient (EQ).

Results: MANOVA results of demographic characteristics revealed that the gender of employees explained significant differences in the mature and neurotic defense styles (Table 1) and the use of these mechanisms were seen in men more than women (Table3).

Table 1: Multivariate analysis of variance summary for defense styles
MANOVA Univariate analysis of variance
Ind.variable Pillai’s Trace F P η2 Dep.variable F df P η2
Education 0.99 0.78 0.504 0.007
Mature Defense Style 0.17 1 0.681 0.002
Neurotic Defense Style 0.49 1 0.483 0.001
Immature Defense Style 0.71 1 0.401 0.002
Age 0.95 5.54 0.001* 0.049
Mature Defense Style 10.95 1 0.001* 0.033
Neurotic Defense Style 0.01 1 0.937 0.000
Immature Defense Style 2.12 1 0.147 0.006
Gender 0.97 3.38 0.018 0.030
Mature Defense Style 7.69 1 0.006* 0.023
Neurotic Defense Style 6.73 1 0.010* 0.020
Immature Defense Style 0.01 1 0.906 0.000
Educ×age 1.00 0.36 0.780 0.003
Mature Defense Style 0.00 1 0.999 0.000
Neurotic Defense Style 0.00 1 0.995 0.000
Immature Defense Style 1.04 1 0.309 0.003
Educ×gender 0.998 1. 90 0.128 0.017
Mature Defense Style 2.97 1 0.086 0.009
Neurotic Defense Style 0.09 1 0.766 0.000
Immature Defense Style 1.24 1 0.265 0.004
Age×gender 0.99 1.23 0.296 0.011
Mature Defense Style 0.28 1 0.594 0.001
Neurotic Defense Style 1.69 1 0.195 0.005
Immature Defense Style 0.09 1 0.894 0.000
Educ×age× gender 0.99 0.63 0. 598 0.006
Mature Defense Style 0.86 1 0.354 0.003
Neurotic Defense Style 0.71 1 0.399 0.002
Immature Defense Style 1.15 1 0.283 0.004

Notes. * The significant at the 0.017 level with hoc Bonferroni correction


Table 2: Multivariate analysis of variance summary for Bar-On EQ-i Score
MANOVA Univariate analysis of variance  
Ind.variable Pillai’s Trace F P η2 Dep.variable F df P η2
Educational level 0.97 0.58 0.748 0.029
  Intrapersonal Intelligence 0.17 1 0.676 0.001
Interpersonal Intelligence 0.79 1 0.374 0.006
Adaptability 0.01 1 0.915 0.000
Stress Management 0.03 1 0.867 0.000
General Mood 0.37 1 0.545 0.003
EQ (total) 0.02 1 0.899 0.000
Age 0.92 1.71 0.125 0.081
  Intrapersonal Intelligence 1.09 1 0.298 0.009
Interpersonal Intelligence 0.12 1 0.727 0.001
Adaptability 2.05 1 0.155 0.016
Stress Management 8.73 1 0.004* 0.067
General Mood 2.08 1 0.152 0.017
EQ (total) 2.79 1 0.097 0.022
Gender 0.93 1.44 0.205 0.069
  Intrapersonal Intelligence 3.70 1 0.057 0.029
Interpersonal Intelligence 5.26 1 0.024 0.041
Adaptability 1.29 1 0.258 0.010
Stress Management 4.19 1 0.043 0.033
General Mood 3.07 1 0.082 0.025
EQ (total) 4.42 1 0.038 0.035
Educ×age 0.98 0.47 0.828 0.024
  Intrapersonal Intelligence 0.00 1 0.955 0.000
Interpersonal Intelligence 0.22 1 0.641 0.002
Adaptability 0.00 1 0.973 0.000
Stress Management 1.18 1 0.279 0.010
General Mood 0.04 1 0.835 0.000
EQ (total) 0.00 1 0.958 0.000
Educ×gender 0.95 1.02 0.419 0.050
  Intrapersonal Intelligence 0.04 1 0.830 0.000
Interpersonal Intelligence 2.45 1 0.120 0.020
Adaptability 0.57 1 0.452 0.005
Stress Management 1.24 1 0.267 0.010
General Mood 0.02 1 0.901 0.000
EQ (total) 0.53 1 0.470 0.004
Age×gender 0.96 0.72 0.634 0.036
  Intrapersonal Intelligence 0.98 1 0.325 0.008
Interpersonal Intelligence 0.00 1 0.965 0.000
Adaptability 1.29 1 0.259 0.010
Stress Management 3.08 1 0.082 0.025
General Mood 1.12 1 0.292 0.009
EQ (total) 1.33 1 0.251 0.011
Educ×age× gender 0.98 0.46 0.838 0.023
  Intrapersonal Intelligence 0.00 1 0.963 0.000
Interpersonal Intelligence 0.29 1 0.591 0.002
Adaptability 0.14 1 0.707 0.001
Stress Management 0.63 1 0.430 0.005
General Mood 0.07 1 0.784 0.001
EQ (total) 0.02 1 0.878 0.000

Notes. * The significant at the 0.008 level with hoc Bonferroni correction

Table 3: Pairwise Comparisons of individual variables-employee’s age, gender, and education level for defense styles

Scale Age in years Gender Educational level
(I) 24-40 (J) 40-56 (I) Men (J) Women (I) Bachelor (J) Maste
N=174 N=159 N=247 N=86 N=216 N=117

Difference (I-J)Mean

Difference (I-J)SEPMean

Difference (I-J)Mean

Difference (I-J)SEPMean

Difference (I-J)Mean

Difference (I-J)SEPMature-4.504.501.3610.001*a3.77-1

Notes. Based on estimated marginal means at the 98.3% Confidence Interval for Difference (significant at the 0.017 level with hoc Bonferroni correction)

*a Denotes significant Mean difference between the middle adulthood (24–40 years old) and the late adulthood (41–65).

*b Denotes significant Mean difference between men and women.

Table 4: Pairwise Comparisons of individual variables-employee’s age, gender, and education level for Bar-On EQ-i Score

Scale Age in years Gender Educational level
  (I) 24-40 (J) 40-56 (I) Men (J) Women (I) Bachelor (J) Master
N=76 N=54 N=98 N=32 N=70 N=60

Notes. Based on estimated marginal means at the 99.2% Confidence Interval for Difference (significant at the 0.008 level with hoc Bonferroni correction)

*a Denotes significant Mean difference between the middle adulthood (24–40 years old) and the late adulthood (41–65).

Moreover, employee’s age was demonstrated significant differences in the mature defense styles (Table 1) and stress management for EQ-i score (Table 2) which shows that employees in the late adulthood behave maturely and have a better stress management (Table 3 & 4). Inter-partial correlations among of the EQ-i and its subscale values and three defensive styles revealed that the EI and all five components was positively associated with mature and neurotic defenses and negatively associated with immature defense mechanisms except intrapersonal intelligence and general mood (Table 5). The results of multiple regression analysis showed that the Bar-On EQ-i and its subscale values could be predicted by all three defense styles (Table 6).

Table 5: Inter-partial correlations among of the Bar-On EQ-i and three factor scores of the defense styles on employees

Pearson Correlation 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Educt Age Gender
  1. IA
1 0.143 0.142 -0.337*
  1. IE
0.553* 1 0.075 0.142 -0.257*
  1. AD
0.781* 0.615* 1 0.112 0.151 -0.233*
  1. SM
0.630* 0.499* 0.652* 1 0.090 0.309 -0.368*
  1. GM
0.838* 0.640* 0.729* 0.638* 1 0.138 0.185* -0.343*
  1. EQ (total)
0922* 0.738* 0.895* 0.790* 0.897* 1 0.138 0.214* -0.358*
  1. Mature
0.451* 0.363* 0.473* 0.488* 0.585* 0.544* 1 0.131 0.270* -0.305*
  1. Neurotic
0.640* 0.516* 0.629* 0.486* 0.593* 0.676* 0.551* 1 0.121 0.159 -0.368*
  1. Immature
-0.140 -0.207* -0.270* -0.224* -0.117 -0.223* 0.140 -0.061 1 -0.125 -0.071 0.43

Notes. * Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).


Table 6: Multiple regression of the Bar-On EQ-i and three factor scores of the defense styles on employees

Dependent variable R2 R2Change F (3,123) P Ind.variable β t P
Intrapersonal 0.397 0.274 18.657 0.000
  Mature Defense Style 0.242 2.88 0.005*
Neurotic Defense Style 0.371 4.33 0.000*
Immature Defense Style -0.186 -2.59 0.011*
Interpersonal 0.265 0.193 10.746 0.000
  Mature Defense Style 0.186 2.01 0.047*
Neurotic Defense Style 0.279 2.96 0.004*
Immature Defense Style -0.249 -3.09 0.002*
Adaptability 0.386 0.319 21.321 0.000
  Mature Defense Style 0.302 3.55 0.001*
Neurotic Defense Style 0.333 3.86 0.000*
Immature Defense Style -0.274 -3.76 0.000*
Stress Management 0.404 0.220 15.120 0.000
  Mature Defense Style 0.281 3.36 0.001*
Neurotic Defense Style 0.207 2.43 0.017*
Immature Defense Style -0.290 -4.04 0.000*
General Mood 0.431 0.299 21.521 0.000
  Mature Defense Style 0.391 4.79 0.000*
Neurotic Defense Style 0.262 3.15 0.002*
Immature Defense Style -0.165 -2.36 0.020*
EQ (total) 0.491 0.343 27.580 0.000
  Mature Defense Style 0.312 4.04 0.000*
Neurotic Defense Style 0.355 4.51 0.000*
Immature Defense Style -0.265 -4.00 0.000*

Notes. * Multiple regression is significant at the 0.05 level.


We found that academic educational level did not affect three defense styles and EI. Moreover we found difference at the age-related change in the mature defense style, with this difference indicated the employees in the preretirement more use of this mechanism. These findings are consistent with some studies (Singer, 2003; Diehl et al., 2014). Women and men differed in the use of the defensive styles of mature and neurotic mechanisms across the adult life span, with men reporting greater use of these mechanisms than womenwhich corresponded with the findings showing that for men, positive changes during midlife often involved the reevaluation of assertive and dominating behaviors and the adoption of caring and self-reflective behaviors (Haan, 1986). With regard to the relationship between gender and emotional intelligence, in this study, it was not observed the significant differences. However, it was indicated that employees in the late adulthood showed better stress management that of course, some researches show depression, anxiety, emotional overreaction and stress are more prevalent in younger than in older adults (Carstensen et al., 2000; Gross et al., 1997 and overall, older adults in general possess a greater sense of control over their Emotions (Gross et al., 1997; Lawton, 1992). Furthermore, older adults are more inclined to view problems and challenges as being a transient and manageable part of life. They are better prepared to manage different unpredictable and difficult life situations (Carstensen et al., 2000; Wechtler, 2014). In summary, results of the present study showed that significant correlations exist between the Bar-On EQ-i and its 5 major components and ego defense styles. These results not only confirms results of previous researches in positively associated the mature defense mechanisms and negatively associated the immature defense mechanisms with  emotional intelligence (Pellitteri, 2002; Besharat, 2007; Ghaedi, 2006), also indicated positively associated the neurotic defense mechanisms with EI beside of demographic characteristics variables in employees. In addition to nature of neurotic defense mechanisms, the reason that, probably, in previous researches were conducted only on students and also, not using of Bar-On’s model. As the Mishar in 2014 proposed an EQ modelling instrument based on Goleman and Bar-On models with psychological defense mechanisms, in the present research, revealed with defense styles, particularly with DSQ-40 questionnaire, would be predicted Bar-On EQ-i and its components. Thus, this findings could be have highly beneficial to emotional intelligence training to employees in the workplace to control and reducing bad impact of negative defense mechanisms and reduce the cost of selection and recruitment in personnel interviews.


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Mahmood Amirinia

Researcher and Author of Emotional Intelligence, Body Language, Behavioral Emotion , Effective Communication , Art and Literature Psychology

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