Factor Structure of the Emotions as a Child Scale in Late Adolescence and Emerging Adulthood

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Abstract

Although the Emotions as a Child Scale (EAC) has been widely used in research with children and adolescents, no peer-reviewed studies have examined its factor structure using factor analytic methods. Likewise, the measurement equivalence of the scale across gender and race/ethnicity has never been investigated. To address these gaps, this study examines the factor structure of the scale in late adolescence and emerging adulthood, compares it to previous theory-driven models, and evaluates its measurement invariance across gender and 2 racial/ethnic groups. Participants were 1,087 individuals participating in a larger community-based study of adolescent health (M = 19.35 years, SD = 1.19). Results of exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses suggest that a 2-factor model from a shortened version of the scale (3 items were eliminated from each emotion scale), involving supportive and unsupportive socialization strategies, is a good alternative model to the original 5-factor structure for researchers interested in broader conceptualization of emotion socialization strategies. This 2-factor model of the shortened scale showed stronger measurement invariance across gender than racial/ethnic groups. Future studies addressing racial/ethnic differences with this measure should compare the results with and without imposing corresponding invariance constraints on noninvariant items. Findings of this study should be replicated in other age and racial/ethnic groups, and examine the predictive utility of the abbreviated 2-factor model for emotion-related outcomes across development.

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