Sensitivity to emotional distress among intelligent adolescents: A short-term prospective study

Suniya Luthar, Carol H. Ripple

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


In this 6-month prospective study, interactions between intelligence and emotional distress were examined in predicting social competence among 138 inner-city adolescents. The attempt was to extend previous cross-sectional findings obtained with a similar sample of disadvantaged youth. Intelligence was assessed via a nonverbal test of cognitive abilities, and social competence was operationalized based on teacher and peer ratings and school grades. Distress variables examined in interaction with intelligence included internalizing and externalizing symptomatology as well as the more specific internalizing symptoms of depression and anxiety. Interaction effects obtained indicated that intelligent youth who reported high depression and anxiety at Time I showed decreases in social competence over time, whereas those low on initial distress showed improvements in social competence levels. No such associations between initial distress and subsequent social competence were seen among the less intelligent children. Findings are discussed in terms of theoretical issues and empirical evidence in developmental psychopathology, and implications for future research are noted.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)343-357
Number of pages15
JournalDevelopment and Psychopathology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1994
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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