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Academic Intelligence is related to Emotional Intelligence

June 25, 2008

Everyone wants to know what it takes to reach the top of their profession. Academic honors? Drive? An x factor?

The general consensus now is that while academic success gives you a leg up in life, it does not make the man or woman. There is some research in this field and even a small study in India (showing that more above average students reach pinnacles of success than the top or the bottom rankers) but what emerges is that there are too many variables that play a role, making future achievement difficult to predict.

Intelligence is not easy to measure
One variable is emotional intelligence – which is the potential to use, describe, identify, learn from, manage, and understand emotions – but Intelligence is much more than just emotional plus academic intelligence. All in all, the various kinds of intelligence cannot be measured accurately. Perhaps that is why it is so difficult to find the connection between intelligence and success. Interestingly, emotional intelligence is said to increase with age, unlike academic intelligence which can deteriorate if the brain is not kept engaged.

The connection between emotional intelligence and academic performance
Researchers have been able to find a connection between Emotional Intelligence and Academic Intelligence though. Something that can certainly help universities identify which students are likely to drop out and/or need that extra help.

There are several studies regarding this but I picked one which I liked the best. It is a study conducted by James DA Parker and Christopher Michael for Trent university. They studied full-time students (new entrants) who joined Trent university within 2 years of leaving high school. For the purpose of the study they selected two groups – academically successful students (who scored 80 percent plus) and academically unsuccessful students (who scored 59 percent or less) and measured their emotional intelligence to see if there was a connection between academic success and emotional intelligence.

To understand their results we need to see how the researchers described emotional intelligence:

  1. How one gets along with people (interpersonal abilities)
  2. How one gets along with oneself (intrapersonal abilities)
  3. Adaptability skills
  4. Stress management skills

What they found was that students who had high academic scores also had high EQ. However the emotional intelligence was not equally high in all the 4 parameters as can be seen from the graph below.

Emotional Intelligence Academic Success

The difference in points between the low scorers and high scorers in interpersonal abilities is only .1
The difference in adaptability and the ability to get along with oneself is .6
Stress management which shows the highest difference – 1.7

If the academically brilliant students beat the other groups in stress management by a large margin, it’s not surprising. The ability to concentrate is dependent on how well one manages stress.

About getting along with oneself, which is related to self-esteem and self image, this could partially be the result of good academic performance. The students were tested as they were entering university on the basis of their high school marks and it is likely that throughout their high school years they were scoring good marks, perhaps right from the primary level. This is sure to have influenced their self esteem to some extent.

In conclusion: A higher emotional intelligence may help academic performance, but this certainly does not mean that all those with high emotional intelligence score well academically. It’s just that emotional intelligence has been proved (in some studies) to be a better predictor of academic success as compared to other variables like academic record, IQ and economic/demographic factors. It has also been found that more than half of those who drop out of university do so because of personal problems.

And when it comes to great achievement in life, there is an x factor that is not possible to predict or measure. It will also vary from person to person and situation to situation.

Related Reading: The relationship between a student’s high school performance and life achievement
IQ tests cannot measure intelligence
Parent-teacher relationships can impact a student’s academic performance

Possibly Related Reading:Science vs Humanities
The impact of coaching classes on us in India

31 Comments leave one →
  1. June 25, 2008 8:24 am

    Nice article, Nita. And I missed the million hits. Congratulations!

    Intelligence cannot be measured in terms of units. IQ tests have a serious flaw in them. Those from a physical science or applied science or engineering background generally perform better than those from a humanities background, for instance. And emotional intelligence is too narrowly defined at the moment. It would be very difficult, if not impossible to devise tests that comprehensively measure emotional intelligence.

    Different people have different kinds of intelligence and the same person’s intelligence may vary from one form to another and not just with age. It can vary with every second. A person may think of an out-of-the-world solution to a baffling problem one moment and then fail to think of a solution to the simplest of problems at the very next moment. While there is a big fuss about academic intelligence and emotional intelligence by researchers, other important forms of intelligence like improvement intelligence and ethical intelligence are ignored. A real shame!

  2. June 25, 2008 8:54 am

    Raj, thanks.
    And it’s true what you said about IQ tests, but remember that I have written about academic performance (which shows academic intelligence only), not IQ. In fact at the end of the article I have clearly mentioned that academic performance is not related to IQ. This is what I have written:

    It’s just that emotional intelligence has been proved (in some studies) to be a better predictor of academic success as compared to other variables like academic record, IQ and economic/demographic factors.

  3. Sakhi permalink
    June 25, 2008 9:50 am

    yesterday night my dayghter uttered these words, “happy mamma, happy daddy and happy me!” 🙂

    I have noticed that when she is more emotionally satisfied she performs well in school and when she is disturbed due to certain reasons (like recently her granpa’s death) she detoriates in studies.

    Even genetic built is also a major factor in the acaedemic performance, but again children of intelligent parents not always do well acaedemically. Here also emotional stability plays major role.

    Parents, however busy they are, should spare quality time with their children which definately makes children emotionally secure and hence perform better! 🙂

    so, dear nita, i fully agree to what you have mentioned here! 🙂 😛

  4. June 25, 2008 11:12 am


    Congratulations for crossing ‘1000000 hits’ mark.

  5. June 25, 2008 1:16 pm

    No wonder I’m so dumb! 😀
    I’ve always wondered… hehe…
    And One Million Hits!! congrats!! 🙂

  6. Bharath permalink
    June 25, 2008 3:16 pm

    It’s very useful write up for me. Thanks

    For me it’s mindset or motivation which helps an induvidual.. for e.g. Passion of getting recognition and achievement, Family background and Financial status.

    WOW! Your blog is above 1000000 hits. Congrats! GREAT…. Hats Off to you Maa’m.

  7. June 25, 2008 5:02 pm

    Sakhi, that was a sweet sentence from your daughter!
    Even I had noticed this, the link of academic performance with emotional stability in people around me and that is what prompted me to write this post. Mostly it is not the fault of the child but parent’s behavior is crucial.

    Anshul, pleasantries and banter is never off-topic!! Thanks. 🙂

    Nikhil, thanks. And I never thought you were dumb. 🙂

    Bharath, true, the ambition and motivation counts a lot. Family background is also an added advantage for people. And thanks for your good wishes. 🙂

  8. wishtobeanon permalink
    June 25, 2008 7:08 pm

    Interesting article, Nita.

  9. zeynepankara permalink
    June 25, 2008 7:27 pm

    Very interesting post. So true…

  10. June 25, 2008 9:05 pm

    Congratulations. Intelligence and success are not necessarily mutually inclusive. This is because, success is a matter of definition and is always an assessment from a particular point of view. Intelligence per se is a highly over rated feature of human existence.

  11. June 25, 2008 9:42 pm

    At first glance, I thought “Emotional Intelligence” isnt that an oxymoron 🙂 ? I also wonder, if one has Emotional Intelligence has per the defn above, then why bother trying to see its correlation it to Academic Intelligence – as a high EQ seems like a sure recipe for success in life (many ways more important than success in academia and career – not a guarantee for success in “life”).

    BTW, visiting after a while – and its a special occasion. 1 million!!!!!! Wow!!!!

  12. June 25, 2008 11:12 pm

    Very very enlightening. This is what I was always trying to explain to my Mom and Dad. 😀

  13. June 25, 2008 11:13 pm

    And Congrats for the 1 million hits. Most of us won’t be able to achieve that in this lifetime. 😀

  14. totalanonimity permalink
    June 25, 2008 11:32 pm

    Wow what an Article.

    What i thought all along. What is the point in memorising and directing your life early on and then getting to about 35 and going
    “Fuck what have I done with my life? what have I done with my emotion? ”

    Emotional intelligence is what i think the world lacks at the moment, but some people seem to manage ok with out any…it seems.

    But ulimately if you have emotional intelligence you realise that intelligence as in learning stuff is actually very important and can be even more important than emotional intelligence, because you deal with facts! emotions’ definition can vary from person to person.

    Emotion is the ” movement in your life” ” the feeling it creates” “affect on you personally” global emotional culutral understanding…what is that?

  15. June 26, 2008 10:22 am

    I think environmental factors are crucial, albeit very difficult to measure. The stability and emotional balance of the home life is imperative. Also, there are many others influences that can determine the ability to focus, retain information, and utilize critical thinking skills. Fluoride, aspertame, electro-magnetic bombardment (cell phone and computers), television and Internet brainwashing and addiction, pharmaceuticals (ADD, hyperactivity, and anti-psych meds), chemicals in the water, and many other factors. Definitely the “X” factor.

  16. June 26, 2008 3:23 pm

    Persons joining merchant navy are tested for Emotional Intelligence. If they fail to meet the minimum level, they are rejected even if they are academically qualified. This is done, as a seafarer has to live with small group of people with multi cultural background in a ship. There are cases of indiscipline as one is unable to get along with others in the ship and is unable to withstand work pressures.

  17. June 26, 2008 10:00 pm

    Wishtobeanon, zeynepankara, totalanonimity, Johnny, thanks for your response.

    Ramana Rajgopal, I do agree that one can be successful without the so-called high IQ!

    Arunk, thanks for your good wishes and welcome back. Well, I think that good academics helps a person get that edge is life but as Ramana said one can get along without it!

    OldSailor, I didn’t know this interesting fact. They should do it for all profession that require dealing with people but instead of rejecting I think perhaps they can train people to improve.

    Amit 🙂

  18. rantingraj permalink
    June 27, 2008 12:00 am

    this is self praise but growing up I was one of those kids teachers point out as brainy, gifted, intelligent but lazy, careless etc.
    Despite all of my grasping power (many teachers told me I had that, so I think I did:)) I still couldn’t achieve greatness in school or college and in fact was bumped of the ‘right track’ wandering here-n-there for quite a while, high IQ definitely does not equal high results, EQ and other kinds of intelligence definitely play a huge part in determining what you achieve…

  19. lallopallo permalink
    June 27, 2008 2:23 am

    Nice post and Iam not surprised to read that EI is related to AI in positive manner.

  20. June 29, 2008 3:04 pm

    Nita, a very intresting point ! I never thought of the connection between the two – enotional intelingence and academic performance.

    But there is something more – the impact of high education on the mind-set, the impact which is much higher than one can even think of!

    I wish all the people could have gone though university – it gives such a wide view on life and much deeper understanding of the processes we are all through… and it would be much more difficult for the politicians and corporations to conptoll a highly educated population…:)

  21. June 29, 2008 10:30 pm

    axinia, you might be confusing a college degree for an education or (self) knowledge. 🙂
    Unfortunately, the sorry state of our world is because of, and not for lack of, so-called “educated” people who, just because some alphabets get added after their name, think they are infallible and know everything, forget humility and act with hubris.
    College degrees, for the most part, only impart skills in a very narrow, compartmentalized field, instead of a wide-ranging education.

  22. June 29, 2008 10:42 pm

    This essay by David Orr makes the point much more eloquently:

  23. June 30, 2008 3:03 am

    Amit, as I got my education in Russia, I can only say that it is exactly what you mean – a wide-ranging education. May be we are lucky enough to have this system 🙂
    I know it is very different in the West, they become a “narrow” specialist and can not see much behind their nose.

    I wonder what kind of high educaton is there in India? It is same like the British model or you have some Indian priciples (I hope you do!!) ..thanks!

  24. June 30, 2008 8:25 am

    rantingraj, doing well in academics means lots of hard work, focus and concentration and without that, nothing! IQ isn’t the criteria but IQ btw starts to deteriorate rapidly if not used!

    Lallopallo, thanks.

    Axinia, while it’s true that you said, about higher education giving you a broad way to look at things, I think it just gives you an opportunity, that’s all. Not everyone takes it and that is what Amit meant. In fact highly educated people can use their knowledge to harm people if they remain within their narrow selfish walls.

    Amit, I agree that one can reach higher levels of understanding without a shred of education. And I have seen people of the type you mean. They feel that their degrees gives them the power and they use that power often to crush people. Academic power can be like political power, very heady. Any kind of power can corrupt, whether it’s money power, political power or academic power!

  25. June 30, 2008 11:27 am

    NIta, I think you got it to the point – it expresses well, that for some strange reasons some educated people become very open-minded and some- extremely conservative! I would not know, how it is exacltly connected with emotional intelligence (it would be logical to suggest there is a connection)…

  26. Bhanu Prakash permalink
    July 3, 2008 11:41 am

    Academic intelligence or performance is like an approximation to the abilities of the student. His intelligent quotient cannot be judged in that way. Because there are many flaws in the modern education system and this will account for the error in estimating the grade of a student.

    For example, Our Educational boards are only prescribing the syllabus, but not how the subject material should be presented. Actually this matter much. the reason is….

    Every individual will be having his own definition of learning.

    these are classified as Learning styles. there will be difference in psychology of learning in each individual. so the teacher and more over the textbook from which he learns should accommodate material in such a way that it should meet the global criteria demanded by each individual.

    Adopting to this way of education is very much recommended. this will not only help the individual to learn his subject but a study of this will improve his ability to learn, which is the crucial key in the meaning of education.

    the IB system goes a long way in meeting this criteria. It is a system where you cannot mug. It’s mostly application – Nita.

  27. July 4, 2008 8:23 pm

    I was wondering why no one took the case of tireless mugging up and memorization that goes on in the Indian system of education – Some times in subjects like mathematics! Has anybody studied state board? Narrow – is a very small word for the education system in India.

    Secondly, for people in India there is no other way of measuring their children’s or wards performance other than marks. Thats what all mothers and fathers want. No one really cares about the overall development of the child. If we want only marks (Irrespective of education levels and quality), thats what we will get. Indian people, I feel, well deserve the kind of stuff that they get in the name of education!

    Destination Infinity.

    I agree there. Our education system is like that. It tests IQ even less than the other systems of education like IB – Nita.

  28. Sarah permalink
    November 11, 2009 10:56 pm

    Do you have a site where you got all this information? I would love to cite this source in my paper but my teacher wants me to use “professional” sources and a blog isn’t considered one. I love the graph so can you tell me where you got this graph. Was it a book or an article online? Please let me know, thanks!


    All my sources are cited. Please look for the links which are always in a different colour. However please appreciate that I have used the information to write something which is entirely mine and I have put different studies together, linked them to arrive at conclusions which are entirely mine. So if you use the whole piece or the conclusions, you need to quote me. If it is not allowed, do not quote me. If you want to use just the graph, please click on the links. Thanks. – Nita


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