Abstract

We tested the incremental validity of an ability measure of emotional intelligence (EI) in predicting academic achievement in undergraduate students, controlling for cognitive abilities and personality traits. Academic achievement has been conceptualized in terms of the number of exams, grade point average, and study time taken to prepare for each exam. Additionally, gender differences were taken into account in these relationships. Participants filled in the Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), the Raven’s Advanced Progressive Matrices, the reduced version of the Eysenck Personality Questionnaire, and academic achievement measures. Results showed that EI abilities were positively related to academic achievement indices, such as the number of exams and grade point average; total EI ability and the Perceiving branch were negatively associated with the study time spent preparing for exams. Furthermore, EI ability adds a percentage of incremental variance with respect to cognitive ability and personality variables in explaining scholastic success. The magnitude of the associations between EI abilities and academic achievement measures was generally higher for men than for women. Jointly considered, the present findings support the incremental validity of the MSCEIT and provide positive indications of the importance of EI in students’ academic development. The helpfulness of EI training in the context of academic institutions is discussed.

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