Coping mediates the relationship between emotional intelligence (EI) and academic achievement

Carolyn MacCann, Gerard J. Fogarty, Moshe Zeidner, Richard D. Roberts

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research examining the relationships between performance measures of emotional intelligence (EI), coping styles, and academic achievement is sparse. Two studies were designed to redress this imbalance. In each of these studies, both EI and coping styles were significantly related to academic achievement. In Study 1, 159 community college students completed the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT) and problem-focused, emotion-focused, and avoidant coping scales. Collectively, the coping variables significantly mediated the relationship between EI and grade point average (GPA) for Emotion Perception, Emotion Facilitation of Thought and Emotion Management (but not for Emotional Understanding). Problem-focused coping was the only single significant mediator, mediating the relationship between emotion management and GPA (but not other branches and GPA). In Study 2, 293 middle school students completed the Situational Test of Emotion Management for Youths (STEM-Y) and scales measuring the same three coping strategies. In this study, the coping variables again significantly mediated the relationship between emotion management and GPA. Once again, problem-focused coping was a significant mediator. Collectively, these results suggest that better educational outcomes might be achieved by targeting skills relating to emotion management and problem-focused coping.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-70
Number of pages11
JournalContemporary Educational Psychology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by US Army Research Institute (ARI) Contract W91WAW-07-C-0025 to the Educational Testing Service (ETS). All statements expressed in this article are the authors’ and do not necessarily reflect the official opinions or policies of ARI or any of the authors’ respective institutions.


  • Academic achievement
  • Coping
  • Emotional intelligence
  • Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test
  • Situational test of emotional management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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