Teachers’ emotional intelligence predicts their responses to overt and covert bullying
Teachers are an essential resource for intervening against instances of student bullying in schools. Therefore, identifying characteristics that predict teachers’ responses towards bullying is important for teacher development and training. The central aim of this thesis was to empirically address this important issue by examining the role of teachers’ emotional intelligence (EI) in predicting their responses to instances of overt and covert bullying. To address this aim, one study comprising a sample of 356 practising teachers in Australia was conducted. Teachers completed a self-report measure of EI and then responded to eight vignettes describing physical, verbal, relational, and cyber bullying in schools. For each bullying vignette, teachers rated it along dimensions of perceived seriousness, empathy, self-efficacy, and likelihood to intervene. The results demonstrated that teachers were least likely to intervene in instances of relational bullying, most likely to intervene in instances of physical bullying, and verbal and cyber bullying were rated somewhere in between. Ratings of perceived seriousness, empathy, and self-efficacy were significant predictors of teachers’ likelihood to intervene in all four bullying subtypes. Moreover, teachers’ EI, in particular their ability to understand the emotions of others, significantly predicted their likelihood to intervene in all four bullying subtypes. Ratings of perceived seriousness, empathy, and self-efficacy significantly mediated the relationship between teachers’ other-focused dimension of EI and their likelihood to intervene. These findings contribute to the growing research on emotional competencies in schools, but are the first to demonstrate their value in shaping teachers’ responses towards bullying.