Emotional intelligence and cortisol responses: Can laboratory findings be replicated in classrooms and using other EI measures?

Pamela Qualter, S. Wilbraham, M.P Roy

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Abstract

Laboratory studies demonstrate negative relationships between emotional intelligence (EI) and cortisol responses (Mikolajczak, Roy, Luminet, Fillee & De Timary, 2007). The current study examined whether EI influenced stress reactivity in an applied setting, with students giving group oral presentations. Participants were either presenters (high stress condition) or observers (controls); cortisol and mood were measured within subjects at three time points (baseline, time 2 [20 min after onset] and time 3 [40 min after onset]). The stress manipulation successfully increased cortisol scores (AUCg and AUCi) in presenters. No significant relationships emerged between cortisol and either total EI or EI subscales, although the emotional control subscale predicted mood. Results may indicate that EI influences stress processes in some students but not others, they may reflect the study methods and EI measure used, or they may reflect the complexity of group assessments. Content validity of EI measures is a contentious issue and domain coverage varies between measures; coverage of the chosen EI measure may have influenced findings. Additionally, increasing ecological validity decreased experimental control, removing the ability to impose strict timings on saliva collection; potentially impacting on results. Alternatively, EI may have insufficient influence over group assessment to impact on physiological stress responses.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-64
JournalPersonality and Individual Differences
Volume120
Early online date18 Aug 2017
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2018

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