Meta-Analysis shows that emotional intelligence predicts academic performance

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Category: News

A new meta-analysis led by Associate Professor Carolyn MacCann (University of Sydney) in collaboration with researchers from the University of New South Wales and Dr Kit Double a research fellow in the department’s Centre for Educational Assessment (OUCEA) has suggested that emotional intelligence can predict academic performance such as grade point averages (GPA) and assignment marks.

The study is one of the largest ever conducted on emotional intelligence, using data from 158 papers (42,529 students) to examine whether emotional intelligence predicted academic outcomes. The study identified the following three reasons why emotional intelligence is important for academic performance:

  • Emotionally intelligent students are better able to cope with academic emotions like boredom and test anxiety
  • Emotionally intelligent students form stronger relationships with other students and teachers, so have more support in times of stress
  • Emotionally intelligent students are better able to understand the social and emotional content of arts-based subjects like literature and history.

The research team also found that emotional intelligence abilities are the third most important predictor of academic performance, after intelligence and conscientiousness. In addition, emotional intelligence was more important for arts-based than science-based subjects and for males than females. The analysis also concluded that the effect of emotional intelligence cannot be explained by the greater ability and conscientiousness of emotionally intelligent students.

The study forms part of a research agenda within the OUCEA looking at the non-cognitive factors that affect performance on educational assessments.

The full findings were published in a paper titled ‘Emotional Intelligence Predicts Academic Performance: A Meta-Analysis’ in the Psychological Bulletin in December 2019, see doi:

For more information about the Oxford University Centre for Educational Assessment, see: /research/oucea/ or contact Dr Kit Double ( for more information about the study.