Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1321–1330

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Academic achievement in high school: does emotional intelligence matter?
James D.A. Parker a,*, Ronald E. Creque Sr. b, David L. Barnhart b, Jan Irons Harris c, Sarah A. Majeski a, Laura M. Wood a, Barbara J. Bond d, Marjorie J. Hogan e
Emotion and Health Research Laboratory, Department of Psychology, Trent University, Peterborough, Ont., Canada K9J 7B8 b The Trinity Group, 7500 Memorial Parkway Southwest, Huntsville, Alabama, Canada 35802 c Huntsville High School, Huntsville, Alabama, Canada d Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies, Sir Sandford Fleming College, Canada Department of Human Development & Applied Psychology, University of Toronto, 252 Bloor Street West, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M5S IV6 Received 6 March 2003; received in revised form 31 October 2003; accepted 21 January 2004 Available online 5 March 2004
a

e

Abstract The relationship between emotional intelligence and academic achievement in high school was examined. Students (N ¼ 667) attending a high school in Huntsville, Alabama completed the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i:YV). At the end of the academic year the EQ-i:YV data was matched with studentsÕ academic records for the year. When EQ-i:YV variables were compared in groups who had achieved very different levels of academic success (highly successful students, moderately successful, and less successful based on grade-point-average for the year), academic success was strongly associated with several dimensions of emotional intelligence. Results are discussed in the context of the importance of emotional and social competency on academic achievement. Ó 2004 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
Keywords: Emotional intelligence; Academic success; Secondary school

*

Corresponding author. Tel.: +1-705-748-1011x1283; fax: +1-705-748-1580. E-mail address: jparker@trentu.ca (J.D.A. Parker).

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was estimated at 3. 2001). Newcomb et al. 1997). Bjarnason. (2004) also found evidence that EI was negatively associated with deviant school behaviors (unauthorized absences or being ex- . Brozovsky... 1999. lower earnings. 2000.g. Socioeconomic factors. Introduction Today it is more crucial than ever that secondary students are academically prepared to compete for knowledge and technology based jobs. and Furnham (2004) examined the relationships among EI. For example. As more recent writers have noted. Summerfeldt.A. Academic success was operationalized as the standardized test results from the General Certificate of Secondary Education (the principal means of assessing academic achievement at the end of compulsory secondary education in the UK). & Sprague. Berger & Milem. & Schuyler. peer relationships. Elias et al. as the result of students dropping out in only one school district. Although many educators were quick off the mark to develop or adapt intervention programs for EI (e. 1995).. these early claims were made largely on the basis of very preliminary data (see Matthews. it is somewhat disconcerting to note that there has been an increase in the percentage of US students who do not complete high school. Bruene-Butler. They found that EI moderated the relationship between academic performance and cognitive ability. 1997. & Matthews. Hogan. Roberts. Blum. researchers have become increasingly aware of the need to study a broader range of potential predictors (McLaughlin. it is not surprising that a sizeable literature has evolved on factors promoting academic success in high school. 2001). higher levels of unemployment. 2002). Given these social costs. 1997). Matthews. When students are not prepared the costs to individuals and society can be extremely high. 1995).. In 1994 the number had increased to 12% (Reyes et al. 2000). 2000). Reyes. Parker et al. Since these variables typically account for relatively small amounts of the variability in academic success (Mayer & Salovey. 1997. Some of the documented impacts are poor mental health (Reyes et al. One new area of recent interest has been the impact of social and emotional competency on academic achievement. Zeidner. Frederickson. cognitive ability. 1997). and the quality of the institution have all been linked with academic success in high school (e. Egeland. 2003. / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1321–1330 1. Pasi. Sroufe. Gillock. The fiscal costs for one city. & Roberts. little was know about the efficacy of these types of interventions (Mayer & Cobb. Roberts. According to the US census bureau in 1990.. 1995. Ransdell.D.g. however. 11% of all youth between 16 and 24 years of age were not enrolled in school or had not graduated from high school (Rumsberger. 1995). and increased health problems have been linked to early withdrawal from school (Jimerson. and academic performance in a British sample of 650 Grade 11 students.. 2000. Walker. Not accounted for in these figures are the costs to an individualÕs quality of life (Ellenbogen & Chamberland. Early discussions on the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI) and achievement in various educational contexts were quick to claim a strong association (e. 2000. & Zeidner. 2002). Goleman. Kobus. 2001). 1998). Elias.g. a small body of empirical research has emerged to suggest that there is merit to the idea that EI is associated with academic achievement––as long as careful attention is directed at the methodology for assessing EI and achievement variables (Parker. Petrides. Rumsberger. 2000) and antisocial behavior (Bullis. 2004). & McLaughlin. Even less was known about how EI could be assessed using reliable and valid measures (Zeidner.. & Sanchez.1322 J.2 billion in lost earnings and 400 million in social service costs (Rumsberger. & Carlson. & Majeski. Early efforts focused on cognitive factors. More recently. Petrides et al. Given the increasing importance of a high school degree.

In a longitudinal study examining the transition from high school to university. completing school work. Parker et al. of interest is the potential developmental change in social and emotional competencies between grade 9 and 12. Alabama who completed the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory: Youth Version (EQ-i:YV. Trinidad and Johnson (2002) also found a negative association between EI and deviant behaviors (tobacco and alcohol use) in an American sample of adolescents. regular class attendance. it is anticipated that high school students with higher levels of social and emotional competency will perform better academically. and . Participants The sample consisted of 667 students (304 males and 363 females) attending a high school in Huntsville. 1997. There is consistent empirical evidence that high school students who exhibit behaviors consistent with social and emotional competency (e.19) for males and 16. 1997). 2002). Method 2. 1997. 22% in grade 11. A significant developmental increase in social and emotional competencies from early adulthood to middle age has been established (Bar-On. the mean age was 16.D. adaptability.21 years (SD ¼ 1. ‘‘interpersonal’’ abilities (consisting of related abilities like identifying emotions in others or empathy). (2004) also found that various EI dimensions were predictors of academic success. / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1321–1330 1323 pelled from school) likely to influence academic performance. (2004) study by examining the relationship between EI and academic achievement in younger respondents. Also.J. 2000). and ‘‘stress management’’ (consisting of abilities like delaying or resisting an impulse).. the successful group scored higher than the less-successful group on several dimensions of EI: intrapersonal abilities. Based on available research in the area of social and emotional competencies with post-secondary students.A. At the end of the academic year (May) the EQ-i:Short data was matched with the studentsÕ academic records and two groups were identified: academically successful (1st-year GPA of 80% or better) students and less-successful (1st-year GPA of 59% or lower) students. The present study sought to extend the Parker et al. the association between these variables was examined in a large group of students attending high school. 2000).22) for females. Bar-On. Consistent with expectations. They used a model of EI (Bar-On. ‘‘adaptability’’ (consisting of abilities like being able to adjust oneÕs emotions and behaviors to changing situations or conditions). Students were quite evenly distributed by grade (31% of sample was in grade 9. Parker et al.16 years (SD ¼ 1. and stress management. Bar-On & Parker.1. At the start of the academic term (September) a large sample of 1st-year full-time students attending a small liberal arts university in central Ontario completed the short form of the Emotional Quotient Inventory (EQ-i:Short. 25% in grade 10. To this end. Students ranged from 14 to 18 years of age. and involvement in extracurricular activities) are more apt to be successful in school (Finn & Rock. Students with higher levels of these abilities appear to be better able to cope with the social and emotional demands of making the transition to a post-secondary environment compared to students scoring low on these abilities.g. 2000) that consists of four related abilities: ‘‘intrapersonal’’ abilities (consisting of related abilities like recognizing and labelling oneÕs feelings). 2.

D. less successful students were those with a GPA at the 20th percentile or less (N ¼ 131). Bar-On and Parker (2000) also report that the various scales on the EQ-i:YV have adequate internal reliabilities. or act in most situations. Participants completed the BarOn Emotional Quotient Inventory: Youth Version (EQ-i:YV. Students in the successful group were those with a GPA at the 80th percentile or better (N ¼ 138).89 for the total EI scales. middle and less successful students. a middle group consisted of students who had GPAs between the 20th and 80th percentile (N ¼ 398).A.3. Procedure Participants were recruited by homeroom teachers and asked if they would volunteer to participate in a study on ‘‘personality and academic success’’. 1997). 2. Bar-On and Parker (2000) report that the EQ-i:YV has a replicable factor structure (developed with a normative sample of 9172 school-aged children and adolescents). 3% as ‘‘Asian’’. 2000) in April 2002.’’ to 4 for ‘‘very often true or true of me.84 for the intrapersonal scale to 0. Eighty-one percent of the participants identified themselves as ‘‘White’’. the various scales on the instrument correlate highly with comparable scales on the adult version of the inventory (the Emotional Quotient Inventory. the 20th and 80th percentiles on GPA for the year were identified for each grade. Along with a total EI scale (the sum of the four previous scales). In June of the same year. All students participated in the study on the same day. Responses are rated by the participant on four-point Likert scales. An overall grade-point-average (GPA) was calculated based on all courses taken for the entire year. academic records were used to identify three groups of students. 2.4. A high score on any individual ability scale (or the total score) reflects a high level of social and emotional competency.1324 J. Bar-On. a 12-item stress management scale. and a 10-item adaptability scale.2. EQ-i:YV records were matched with the studentsÕ academic records for the year. 3% as ‘‘Other’’. 3 week test-retest reliabilities for the instrument varies from 0. the EQ-i:YV also has a 14-item general mood scale and a 6-item positive impression validity scale. . Children and adolescents between the ages of 7 and 18 are asked to respond to the statements which best describe the way they feel. Measures The EQ-i:YV is a 60-item self-report measure of EI developed by Bar-On and Parker (2000). 2. a 12item interpersonal scale. / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1321–1330 21% in grade 12). and 1% did not indicate ethnicity. think. Bar-On & Parker. Towards this end.’’ The instrument has a 6-item intrapersonal scale. Parker et al. Students who participated completed the EQ-i:YV during a homeroom period and gave permission for the researchers to track their academic progress at the school. Statistical procedure In an effort to compare levels of emotional and social competency for successful. ranging from 1 for ‘‘very seldom or not true of me. 12% as ‘‘Black’’.

a latent variable path model was tested (using Statistica 6.26Ã – – 0.32Ã 2 3 4 5 6 – 0.J.74Ã 0. adaptability. fit of the model was evaluated using the following criteria: the goodness-of-fit (GFI.40Ã 0.10 (Anderson & Gerbing.13Ã – 0.28Ã 0.56Ã 0.27Ã – 0.41Ã 0. and the root mean-square residual (RMS).D.51Ã 0.24Ã – 0.01 – 0.56Ã )0. 1987).36Ã 0.78Ã 0.73Ã 0.15Ã – 0.28Ã – 0.77Ã 0. intrapersonal abilities.33Ã 0.30Ã – 0. 2002) that examined the relationship between the measured variable of academic success (GPA) and the latent variable of EI (indicated by the four EI scales on the EQ-i:YV). and McDonald (1988). 1986). Parker et al.28Ã 0. 1984.32Ã 0.27Ã 0. Based on the recommendations of Cole (1987) and Marsh. StatSoft.33 0. Results 3.30Ã 0.80. Low to low-moderate correlations were found between GPA and the various EQ-i:YV variables. The pattern of correlations was quite consistent for males and females.33Ã 0. RMS 6 0.32Ã – 0. the adjusted goodness-of-fit (AGFI.A. Cole.35Ã 0. as well as for males and females separately.30Ã – 0. stress management.0.1.58Ã 0. The following criteria were used to evaluate goodness of fit: GFI P 0. Balla.76Ã 0.80Ã 0. 1 and indicate a moderate association Table 1 Correlations among EQ-i:YV scales and GPA Variables Total sample (N ¼ 667) Interpersonal Intrapersonal Adaptability Stress management Total EQ-i:YV GPA Males (N ¼ 304) Interpersonal Intrapersonal Adaptability Stress management Total EQ-i:YV GPA Females (N ¼ 363) Interpersonal Intrapersonal Adaptability Stress management Total EQ-i:YV GPA *p < 0:05 1 – 0. Total sample Table 1 presents correlations among EQ-i:YV variables (interpersonal abilities.80Ã 0. and total EI) and high school grade-point-average (GPA) for the total sample.74Ã 0. To better assess the relationship between EI and academic success. Joreskog & Sorbom. / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1321–1330 1325 3. 1986).27Ã – 0.28Ã 0. AGFI P 0.85. Joreskog & Sorbom.58Ã 0.55Ã 0.75Ã 0.30Ã 0.37Ã – . The results of this analysis are presented in Fig.32Ã 0.08Ã – 0.33Ã – – 0.

and total EI [F ð2.70 16. p < 0:001]. middle group) by grade (9–12) ANOVAs were conducted with each of the EQ-i:YV scales as a dependent variable (intrapersonal.76 43.53 40. adaptability [F ð2.27 SD 3. N for 20th percentile group was 131. Path model for the relationship between the latent variable of emotional intelligence and high school GPA (N ¼ 667).81 6.55* .10 20th percentile M 17.03 6.67 16.A. 643Þ ¼ 13:62. 643Þ ¼ 6:74.48 Note: N for 80th percentile group was 138.20 5.1326 J. Table 2 presents means and standard deviations for the various groups on the various EQ-i:YV scales. stress management [F ð2. and total).21 16.10 29. 643Þ ¼ 15:08.50 Total M 17. stress management. 3. p < 0:001] scales.69 129.79 5.05 6.76* EI Stress Management . 643Þ ¼ 19:28. p < 0:01] scale.98).2.29 15.66 38. Multiple comparisons (Student–Newman–Keuls procedure) found that for the interpersonal.92 6.32 27.04 Middle group M 17.44* Interpersonal . 643Þ ¼ 6:54. with girls scoring higher than boys. 643Þ ¼ 15:35. 20th percentile of less.80 SD 3. Table 2 Means and standard deviations on the EQ-i:YV scales by academic group EQ-i:YV scales Intrapersonal Interpersonal Adaptability Stress Management Total 80th percentile M 17. / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1321–1330 Intrapersonal .74 135. stress management. p < 0:001]. (0.47 SD 3.06) all met the criteria standards for adequacy of fit. Successful vs. AGFI (0.D.81 29.91 7. less successful students To further examine the relationship between academic success and EI.97 5. the 80th percentile group scored significantly higher than either the middle or 20th percentile .29 5. p < 0:01] and interpersonal [F ð1. p < 0:001] scales. N for middle group was 398.64 43. Parker et al.22 31. a series of gender by academic group (80th percentile or better.91 5.91 SD 3.97). interpersonal.83 41.29 36. There was a main effect for academic group on the interpersonal [F ð2.46 122. adaptability. and total EI scales. adaptability.41) between EI and academic success in the total sample.77 45. Boys scored higher than girls on the adaptability [F ð1.82 6.41* GPA .75 130. The main effect for gender was significant for the intrapersonal [F ð1.86 39.67* Adaptability Fig. The GFI (0. and RMS (0. p < 0:001].01 6. 643Þ ¼ 19:97. 1.

the 2-way gender and grade interactions. overall EI was found to be a significant predictor of academic success. 643Þ ¼ 4:99. 1). Science. Parker et al. In the earlier study. Students in the middle academic group also had higher scores on these variables compared to students in the problematic academic group. Discussion When the relationship between academic success and EI was examined using the total sample. The greater predictive ability of the EQ-i:YV for high-school achievement may be the result of more diversity in emotional and social competency in the high school sample. where very successful students (1st year GPA of 80% or better) had significantly higher scores on these abilities than those students who were in the unsuccessful group (1st-year GPA of less than 60%). the middle group also scored significantly higher than the 20th percentile group on these scales. The results of the present study for adaptability and stress management abilities are quite consistent with Parker et al. It should be noted. and stress management abilities than the other two groups. 4. When students of different levels of academic achievement were compared (top 20%. academic success was found to be significantly associated with most of the EI dimensions assessed by the EQ-i:YV. that the earlier study examined achievement on a relatively narrow range of educational subjects (Math. Students in the top academic group had higher levels of interpersonal. (2004). The results for intrapersonal and interpersonal . (2004) in their study of students making the transition from high school to university. adaptability. Since less than half of Canadian and American high school students go on to attend university or college. (2004). and total [F ð3. p < 0:01]. p < 0:05]. middle 60% and bottom 20%). p < 0:01]. and total scales than the other three groups (grade 10. the EQ-i:Short variables were found to predict 8–10% of the variability in 1st year university academic performance (GPA for the year in all courses). The 2-way gender and academic group interactions. and the 3-way interactions were non-significant for all five dependent variables. The magnitude of the prediction was found to be higher than one reported by Parker et al.J. 11 and 12 students). overall EI was found to predict about twice this amount of variability in high school performance (GPA for the year in all courses).A. 643Þ ¼ 3:72. There was a main effect for grade on the intrapersonal [F ð3. p < 0:001] scales. interpersonal. Multiple comparisons found that the grade 9 students scored lower on the intrapersonal. 643Þ ¼ 4:24. 643Þ ¼ 7:83. adaptability [F ð3. interpersonal [F ð3. The present study used GPA across all educational subjects. and English only) and age-groups (grade 11). In the present study (see Fig. the 2-way academic group and grade interactions. post-secondary samples are likely to be more homogeneous with respect to levels of emotional and social competency. The grade 9 students also scored significantly lower on the adaptability and stress management scales compared to grade 11 and grade 12 students. 643Þ ¼ 4:05. p < 0:01].D. and based performance from comprehensive exams at the end of term. however. with success in a particular topic based on performance across the entire term for several different age-groups. stress management [F ð3. The results are consistent with the overall results reported by Petrides et al. who found an association between EI and overall academic performance. / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1321–1330 1327 groups.

multiple years of academic performance). and whether a student withdraws from school (Larose & Roy.e. Fritz. Grade-point-average is only one indicator of how academically successful a student has been.1328 J. Petrides et al. the academic groups did not differ with respect to intrapersonal abilities. This link was evident for students of all grades (9–12) and for male and female students. 1995). and other inner states). (2004) found that EI was differentially associated with educational subjects (better for predicting success on comprehensive exams in English than for Math or Sciences). wishes. / Personality and Individual Differences 37 (2004) 1321–1330 abilities were different from Parker et al. 2002. with students from a more diverse range of ethnic backgrounds. They also found no difference between the two academic groups on interpersonal abilities. 1997. linked to memories. The present study needs to be replicated. Other indicators might include the number of courses taken. 1997). actions. physical processes) to internal representations (i. The focus moves from more of a social orientation to developmental tasks connected to the transition to adulthood (work and family issues). it would be expected that when students are in university their intrapersonal skills will be more developed and would be more predictive of academic performance. friendships become more connected to the work environment. Parker et al. Acknowledgements This study was supported by research grants to the first author from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) and the Ontario GovernmentÕs PremierÕs . according to Bretherton. The discrepancy in findings for interpersonal abilities is likely the result of the changing role of the peer group as students move from late adolescence to young adulthood (Hartup & Stevens. Future research might also examine the stability of emotional and social competency to predict academic success over a longer time period (e. however.e. number of courses dropped or not completed. and Bulka (1989) report that emotional maturation is pronounced during the pre-adult years. Therefore.g. The current study found the reverse pattern of results for high school students: the successful students scored higher on interpersonal abilities compared to less successful students. In addition.A. Bar-On & Parker. Intrapersonal skills generally increase with age (Bar-On. and Ridgeway (1986) the expression of emotion develops from external (i. Further. (2004) may also be a result of development changes in emotional understanding. and expectations of loyalty and trust. it would be useful for future research to include other measures of academic achievement. During middle childhood and adolescence students spend more time with friends than at any other time in their lives. DeVoe. The discrepancy in findings for intrapersonal abilities between the present study and Parker et al. Overall.. 2000) and Labouvie-Vief. As individuals move into young adulthood. adolescence is marked by an increase in the intimacy between opposite-gender friends and a focus on sharing common activities. It would also be useful to examine the relationship between EI and achievement in different educational subjects. The earlier study found that the successful post-secondary students scored significantly higher than the unsuccessful students on intrapersonal abilities. (2004).D. self-disclosure. the link between social and emotional competency and academic success was supported in the present study. Zahn-Waxler. the present study used a sample that was predominately white.

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