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Study Shows Students Who Are Able to Manage Emotions Perform Better in School

According to research published by the American Psychological Association, students who are better able to understand and manage their emotions effectively, a skill known as emotional intelligence, do better at school than their less skilled peers, as measured by grades and standardized test scores.

“Although we know that high intelligence and a conscientious personality are the most important psychological traits necessary for academic success, our research highlights a third factor, emotional intelligence, that may also help students succeed,” said Carolyn MacCann, PhD, of the University of Sydney and lead author of the study. “It’s not enough to be smart and hardworking. Students must also be able to understand and manage their emotions to succeed at school.”

Although there is evidence that social and emotional learning programs in schools are effective in improving academic performance, Dr. MacCann believes this may be the first comprehensive meta-analysis on whether higher emotional intelligence relates to academic success.

Dr. MacCann and her team analysed data from more than 160 studies, representing more than 42,000 students form 27 countries, published between 1998 and 2019. This study cohort comprised of more than from English-speaking countries.

The students ranged in age from elementary school to college. The researchers found that students with higher emotional intelligence tended to get higher grades and better achievement test scores than those with lower emotional intelligence scores. This finding held true even when controlling for intelligence and personality factors.

Results revealed a number of factors come to play relating emotional intelligence to academic performance. However, it was surprising that the association held regardless of age.

“Students with higher emotional intelligence may be better able to manage negative emotions, such as anxiety, boredom and disappointment, that can negatively affect academic performance,” she said. “Also, these students may be better able to manage the social world around them, forming better relationships with teachers, peers and family, all of which are important to academic success.”

The study was published in December 2019 on Psychological Bulletin. [APBN]