In the education system
Stemming from the rise of social and emotional learning programs, increasing research has measured the validity of emotional intelligence in schools, and its association with academic outcomes. Extending from a previous study that examined the role of emotional intelligence in the transition from high school to university, Parker and colleagues chose to specifically examine the relationship between EI and academic achievement in high school students.16 Based on the existing literature, the researchers hypothesized that high school students with higher levels of social and emotional competencies would perform better academically.
Sampling 667 students from a high school in Alabama who were evenly distributed from grades 9 through 12, students completed the Emotional Quotient Inventory: Youth Version (EQ-i:YV). Although the EQ-i:YV was a self-report measure of emotional intelligence, it has been reported to be reliable, such that the scales in the youth version correlate highly with comparable scales on the adult version. Students were also tracked on their academic progress from April through June and received an overall grade-point-average (GPA) based on the courses they took throughout the year.
The researchers found that overall emotional intelligence was a significant predictor of academic success, and predicted for 16-20% of variability in high school performance, based on students’ GPAs. When students across different academic levels – the top 20%, middle 60%, and bottom 20% – were compared, students in the top group had higher levels of adaptability, interpersonal, and stress management skills than the rest of the students. Students in the middle academic group also had higher levels of these skills, compared to the lowest academic group. Successful students scored higher on interpersonal abilities than less successful students, possibly explained by the fact that friendships become more connected with work and school as students enter high school. Overall, the results support the link between social and emotional competencies. It’s important to remember, however, that the link is simply that: an association does not explain why the researchers found this relationship. There could be a direct link, or there could be other factors included in the relationship.
In the business world
Recognized as important for success in a work environment and positions of leadership, Forbes magazine published a piece on emotional intelligence.7 The article outlines five components of EI (self-awareness, self-regulation, internal motivation, empathy, and people skills) before discussing why exactly EI is important in business. It also cites a study involving over 2,600 hiring managers, which found that 71% valued high emotional intelligence over high general intelligence. When asked why, the hiring managers indicated that those with high emotional intelligence are better at handling high-pressure situations, make more thoughtful business decisions, take criticism well and learn from their mistakes, and can effectively resolve conflict, to name a few. To this end, the article suggests ways to increase emotional intelligence, such as listening to others, attempting to control one’s thoughts, paying attention to body language, trying to understand other people’s perspectives, and communicating feelings. Considering the global recognition afforded to Forbes, statements such as “[emotional intelligence] is a necessary tool for providing social and economic solutions to people of vastly different circumstances and needs” suggest that businesses are indeed paying more attention to EI, also evident in the academic literature.