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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 29  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 255-258

A survey-based study of emotional intelligence as it relates to gender and academic performance of medical students

1 Department of Anatomy, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal, Karnataka, India
2 Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal Campus, Manipal University, Manipal, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Physiology, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication11-Apr-2017

Correspondence Address:
Naveen Kumar
Department of Anatomy, Melaka Manipal Medical College, Manipal University, Manipal Campus, Manipal - 576 104, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/1357-6283.204227


Background: Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the composite set of capabilities that enable a person to identify, assess, understand, and control emotions of oneself and others. This study was conducted to assess trait EI, to examine possible differences in the EI level of medical students in terms of gender, and to investigate the correlation between EI of medical students and their academic performance. Methods: We used a cross-sectional survey consisting of a self-assessment questionnaire distributed to 200 undergraduate medical students after informed consent. Subjects responded on a five-point Likert scale. Data obtained were examined using descriptive frequencies, percentages, and correlations and analyzed with SPSS software. Results: Sixty-five percent of medical students had high EI. EI was significantly higher in females (72.27± 8.84) compared to males (67.47± 15.43) (P = 0.007). There was a positive correlation between EI and academic performance (r = 0.51). Discussion: EI is a necessary component of medical students' skill sets to ensure that they are not only knowledgeable and academically competent in medical school but will also succeed in the future as quality healthcare professionals. There should be a balance between intelligence quotient and EI in students' learning processes to ensure success both personally and professionally. Students with good EI tend to be skilled at interpreting emotions; skills which, in turn, will add on to their performance in medical training and patient care.

Keywords: Academic performance, emotional intelligence, emotional quotient, medical students

How to cite this article:
Aithal AP, Kumar N, Gunasegeran P, Sundaram SM, Rong LZ, Prabhu SP. A survey-based study of emotional intelligence as it relates to gender and academic performance of medical students. Educ Health 2016;29:255-8

How to cite this URL:
Aithal AP, Kumar N, Gunasegeran P, Sundaram SM, Rong LZ, Prabhu SP. A survey-based study of emotional intelligence as it relates to gender and academic performance of medical students. Educ Health [serial online] 2016 [cited 2022 Jan 19];29:255-8. Available from:

  Background Top

Emotional intelligence (EI) refers to the composite set of capabilities that enable a person to identify, assess, understand, and control emotions of oneself, of others, and of groups.[1] Research exploring this concept first appeared in the early 1900s. However, the term became popular with the publication of Goleman's EI.[2] He claimed that EI can be powerful, and at times more powerful than intelligence quotient (IQ) in predicting how successful one is in life. EI is measured as emotional quotient (EQ). Generally, there are two types of EI: ability EI and trait EI. Both differ in terms of measurement techniques and assessment methods. Currently, three models exist: ability, mixed, and trait. The ability EI model was proposed by Mayer and Salovey.[3] It is measured using performance-based Mayer-Salovey-Caruso EI Test. The mixed model, introduced by Goleman, outlined five major factors that drive leadership performance.[4] This is measurable using Emotional and Social Competence Inventory. Moreover, the trait EI model by Petrides and Furnham refers to an individual's personality trait as well as self-perceptions of emotional abilities.[5] It is typically assessed through self-report questionnaires Trait EI Questionnaire (TEIQue).

Emotional competencies are not inborn talents but are learned capabilities that must be worked on and which can be developed through life experiences. Individuals are born with a general EI that defines their potential for learning emotional abilities.[6] Recent research on IQ, a measure of cognitive/general intelligence, has revealed that the contribution of IQ to success in life is not more than 10%.[7] Instead, it has been argued that EI is a better predictor of success in this 21st century.[8]

Learning requires thinking. EI impacts many different aspects of our daily life. It is increasingly referred to in modern medicine and other healthcare disciplines. Emotionally skilled physicians can interact with patients and other healthcare team members effectively to build the bond and trust necessary to establish a solid patient-provider and work relationship. EI assessment is an important factor in determining students' adjustment and educational achievements. Therefore, it is also important to look at EI as a necessary component of the medical student skill set to ensure that students are not only knowledgeable and academically competent in medical school but will also succeed in the future as quality healthcare professionals in the context of primary patient care.

Our study assessed trait EI and its relation to personal and social factors in medical students. We also wanted to examine possible significant differences found in EI in relation to gender and the correlation between EI of medical students and their academic performance.

  Methods Top

EI was assessed using the TEIQue-Short Form (TEIQue-SF). This questionnaire was designed to measure global trait EI and was developed by Petrides and Furnham.[5] Our questionnaire was designed and revised based on five major scales: Scale 1: Intrapersonal EQ: assessment of inner self; Scale 2: Interpersonal EQ: assessment of interpersonal capacity; Scale 3: Stress Management EQ: assessment of stress tolerance; Scale 4: Adaptability EQ: assessment of flexibility, problem-solving; and Scale 5: General mood EQ: assess one's general feeling of contentment. Six items from each of the five scales of the TEIQue-SF were selected for the questionnaire. The selection of questions was done by academic faculty and the questions which were found suitable for medical undergraduate students and which focused on four broader factors, i.e., well-being, self-control, emotionality, and sociability, were selected. On the basis of in-depth group discussions and intense online research, a pool of thirty questions was generated.


A total of 200 undergraduate medical students, selected on a random basis, participated in the study: 107 females and 93 males. Ethical clearance was obtained before the study, with respondents giving their informed consent before taking part in the study.

Data collection methods

TEIQue-SF forms were given to the students in their classrooms by the investigators after explaining to them the study objectives. Students were asked to rate statements using a five-point Likert ranging from one which denoted “strongly agree” and five denoting “strongly disagree.” Higher scores indicate a higher level of EI. The form also included questions on gender and 1st year MBBS examination average marks range.

Data analysis

The total score of EI for each student was calculated by summing the item responses. A scale was created based on specific ranges of scores corresponding to a particular range of EQ and EI level as shown in [Table 1], with calculated scores grouped according to this scale. The EI level was examined in percentages for students overall and separately by gender. Data were further broken down into four categories of exam marks: 50%–64% as pass group; 65%–74% as credit group; 75%–84% as distinction group; and 85%–100% as high distinction group. Unpaired Student's t-tests were computed to determine the significance of difference (P < 0.05) in EI scores. Results were expressed as mean ± standard deviation. A Pearson's correlation coefficient was calculated using the values of two variables (EI level and exam marks) to look at level of association. Data were analyzed using SPSS software.
Table 1: Range of score scales corresponding to a particular range of emotional quotient and emotional intelligence level (used to calculate the emotional intelligence level of the students)

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  Results Top

A total of 102 (51%) students had high EI level followed by 56 (28%) students with above average EI; 28 (14%) students had very high EI while 7 (3.5%) students scored low EI and another 7 (3.5%) scored moderate EI. Among the male students, 42 (45%) had high EI followed by 24 (26%) with above average EI; 13 (14%) males scored very high EI, 7 (7.5%) students scored low EI, and another 7 (7.5%) scored moderate EI. For the female students, 60 (56%) had high EI, 32 (30%) students above average EI, and 15 (14%) very high EI. No female students scored moderate or low EI.

Comparison of mean EI scores showed that EI was higher in females (72.27 ± 8.84) than males (67.47 ± 15.43) (P = 007). Further, when we examined the correlation between EI and academic performance of medical students, we found that the majority of students with credit, distinction, and high distinction in the 1st year MBBS examination were in the top three levels of EI [Graph 1]; r = 0.51 which suggested a moderate positive linear relationship between the two variables.

  Discussion Top

We found a significant difference in EI by gender, with females' demonstrating higher EI scores. Our results are in line with the findings from previous research,[9],[10],[11] also concluding that EI may vary related to gender with women scoring higher. According to literature, women tend to be more emotionally expressive than men; they understand emotions better and have a greater ability with regard to certain interpersonal skills.[12] Hence, it might be expected that EI will be higher in women than men. In addition, there is evidence that certain areas of the brain dedicated to processing emotions could be larger in women than in men; this could help explain differences in cerebral activity based on gender.[13]

Results also showed that the majority of students who obtained distinction and high distinction in the 1st year MBBS examination had high EI levels while students who obtained a pass grade had a low or moderate EI level. We found a positive relationship between EI and academic performance. These findings are also similar to previous work.[14],[15],[16] We can postulate that EI plays an important role in predicting one's academic achievement.[17]

EI assessment and training modules should be introduced in medical colleges to foster the emotional development of students. Various methods of education which focus on the learning and teaching of knowledge, attitudes, and skills has been developed and employed; for instance self-determined learning and improvement curriculum, EI skills' workshops, EI courses, books, personal and professional development programs, workshops on improving EI, and engaging experts to teach EI concepts, competencies, and strategies to students.

There are a number of limitations to our study. Study participants were all medical students. We did not involve students from other disciplines. A more varied population of students and comparison between students of other disciplines will provide a better understanding of EI. Our results are also focused on students at one medical school, limiting generalizability of findings. Finally, our finding regarding the correlation between EI and academic performance was at a level on the border of statistical significance, calling for a larger study sample for future investigation.

  Conclusion Top

In recent years, the importance of EI is gradually being acknowledged. It has been considered to play an important role in success across varied professions. The high overall EQ score in our study indicates that most medical students have good EI. Those with good EI tend to be skilled at interpreting, understanding, and acting upon emotions; skills which, in turn, will add on to their performance in medical training and patient care.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Salovey P, Mayer JD. Emotional intelligence. Imagin Cogn Pers 1990;9:185-211.  Back to cited text no. 1
Goleman D. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More than I.Q. New York: Bantam Books; 1995.  Back to cited text no. 2
Mayer JD, Salovey P. What is emotional intelligence? Emotional Development and Emotional Intelligence: Implications for Educator. New York: Basic Books; 1997. p. 3-31.  Back to cited text no. 3
Goleman D. What makes a leader? Harv Bus Rev 1998;76:93-102.  Back to cited text no. 4
Petrides KV, Furnham A. The role of trait emotional intelligence in a gender-specific model of organizational variables. J Appl Soc Psychol 2006;36:552-69.  Back to cited text no. 5
Boyatzis R, Goleman D, Rhee K. Clustering competence in emotional intelligence: Insights from the emotional competence inventory (ECI). In: Bar-On R, Parker JD, editors. Handbook of Emotional Intelligence. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; 2000. p. 343-62.  Back to cited text no. 6
Martinez MN. The smarts that count. HR Mag 1997;42:72-8.  Back to cited text no. 7
Goleman D. An EI-based theory of performance. In: Cherniss C, Goleman D, editors. The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass; 2001. p. 27-44.  Back to cited text no. 8
Austin EJ, Evans P, Goldwater R, Potter V. A preliminary study of emotional intelligence, empathy and exam performance in first year medical students. Pers Individ Dif 2005;39:1395-405.  Back to cited text no. 9
Singh D. Emotional Intelligence at Work: A Professional Guide. New Delhi: Sage Publications; 2002.  Back to cited text no. 10
Katyal S, Aswathi E. Gender differences in emotional intelligence among adolescents of Chandigarh. Hum Ecol 2005;17:153-5.  Back to cited text no. 11
Sanchez-Nunez MT, Fernandez-Berrocal P, Montanes J, Latorre JM. Does emotional intelligence depend on gender? The socialisation of emotional competencies in men and women and its implications. Electron J Res Educ Psychol 2008;6:455-74.  Back to cited text no. 12
Tapia M, Marsh GE 2nd. The effects of sex and grade-point average on emotional intelligence. Psicothema 2006;18:108-11.  Back to cited text no. 13
Grehan PM, Flanagan R, Malgady RG. Successful graduate students: The roles of personality traits and emotional intelligence. Psychol Sch 2011;48:317-31.  Back to cited text no. 14
Parker JD, Creque S, Barnhart DL, Harris JI, Majeski SA, Wood LM, et al. Academic achievement in high school: Does emotional intelligence matter? Pers Individ Dif 2004;37:1321-30.  Back to cited text no. 15
Parker JD, Summerfeldt LJ, Hogan MJ, Majeski SA. Emotional intelligence and academic success: Examining the transition from high school to university. Pers Individ Dif 2004;36:163-72.  Back to cited text no. 16
Chew BH, Zain AM, Hassan F. Emotional intelligence and academic performance in first and final year medical students: A cross-sectional study. BMC Med Educ 2013;13:44.  Back to cited text no. 17


  [Table 1]


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