What is it about?

Students emotional intelligence shows a small to moderate association with student academic performance. The effect is stronger when emotional intelligence is measured with skill-based tasks rather than rating scales. We propose three reasons for this association. Students with higher emotional intelligence are better at: 1) regulating emotions like test anxiety and frustration at school; 2) building relationships with teachers and other students; and 3) understanding human motivations, interactions and social relationships, as required for humanities subjects like history and English literature.

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Why is it important?

We know that differences in students' IQ can explain around 15% of differences in their academic performance. Differences in students' conscientiousness (their detail-focus and planfulness) explain 5%. Our study found that skill-based emotional intelligence tasks (like how well students understand and manage emotions) explain another 4% of differences in academic performance, beyond the effects of IQ and conscientiousness.


I hope this article helps teachers and educators understand that lagging emotional skills can be a barrier even for smart, hard-working students. These students lack the emotional skills needed to do well. They need help and support.

Carolyn MacCann
The University of Sydney

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Emotional intelligence predicts academic performance: A meta-analysis., Psychological Bulletin, December 2019, American Psychological Association (APA),
DOI: 10.1037/bul0000219.
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