[French validation study of the levels of emotional awareness scale].Encephale. 2002 Jul-Aug; 28(4):310-20.E
According to a thesis based on the idea of an influence of cognitions in the structuring of internal reality, emotional awareness, ie the capacity of representing your own emotional experience and that of others, is a cognitive process that goes into maturation. Defining this concept, Lane and Schwartz present a cognitivo-developmental model in five stages of the processes of symbolization, accounting for the differences in levels of emotional awareness observed in individuals. The organization of these cognitive processes would thus be structured in well differentiated stages, in which the development of the emotions would be inseparable from the development of ego and of the relation to others. These authors focus on the capacity of representing in a conscious way the emotional experience and consider that verbal representations used to describe the contents of what is experience constitute a good reflection of the organization structural of the emotional awareness. Therefore, they worked out an instrument of evaluation: the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale (LEAS), which measures the capacity to describe your own emotional experience and the one you allow to others, in an emotional situation. The system of quotation of this scale is based on the analysis of the verbal contents of the provided answers, in direct reference to the authors' theory of the levels of differentiation and integration of the emotional experience. It is therefore an empirical measurement which is centered specifically on the structural organization of the emotional experience. The various studies of validation of this instrument show that it presents solid metrological properties. This work presents the validation of the French version of Lane and Schwartz's LEAS. Validity and fidelity were studied in a group of 121 healthy subjects. This setting is part of a larger clinical evaluation, also including a collection of socio-demographic and clinical data, and other instruments of self-evaluation (Beck Depression Inventory, BDI, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, HAD, and Toronto Alexithymia Scale, TAS). The face validity appears correct: the questionnaire was well accepted and seemed easy to complete. A principal components analysis of the correlation matrix of the set of items was used as the method of extraction of the various factors and made it possible to confirm the unidimensionality of the instrument. The number of factors to be retained was given according to Kaiser and Cattell criteria. The internal consistency was evaluated through computation of the Cronbach coefficient, whose value is 0.75 for the scale's global score. The confidence interval of the margin of error of LEAS scores was also measured; for the global score it is IC=[m 6.1]. The measure given by this rating scale may therefore be considered sufficiently accurate, since this interval is weak. A study of the frequency of quotation of each item of the instrument was carried out, in order to check the homogeneity and the uniformity of quotations, as well as a diagram of distribution of the score, showing that it follows a law which is close to a normal law. The concurrent validity could only be studied via the similar concept of alexithymia, measured with the TAS, for there is not other instrument validated in French evaluating the levels of emotional awareness, and these two instruments seem to measure different notions, because none of the correlations between the scores of these two questionnaires are significant. Concerning discriminant validity, the Pearson correlation coefficients between the global score for the LEAS, the BDI score and the HAD sub-scores for depression and anxiety were measured; it is clear that the level of emotional awareness is independent from negative affects. Furthermore, the study of the reliability made it possible to highlight excellent intra-class correlation coefficients (r=0.993). The French version of the Levels of Emotional Awareness Scale thus appears to be valid and accurate and should allow the study of levels of emotional awareness on psychopathology. It is about an easily acceptable and simple questionnaire of use in varied clinical circumstances.