People with high emotional intelligence (EI) and low stress weathered the pandemic better than those with lower EI and high stress, according to a recent study in Personality and Individual Differences.

Previous research has demonstrated relationships between stress, work performance, and EI. The researchers in the current study wanted to test that relationship in the context of the pandemic.

The researchers recruited 1,048 individuals (39.3% men, 60.7% women) and used the Impact of Event Scale, The Wong and Law Emotional Intelligence Scale, and the Individual Work Performance Questionnaire to develop a survey for the participants.

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COVID-19 stress correlated negatively with EI and work performance and positively with counterproductive work behavior (CWB). The interaction between EI, COVID-19 stress, and task performance was significant. Work experience and seniority were significant covariables in the study. The researchers found that EI acts as a buffer in the interaction between pandemic stress and work performance.

Limitations includethat cross-sectional data complicated analysis. The study also relied only on self-report questionnaires and did not contain any performance tests.

The researchers concluded EI bears “a significant role when it comes to understanding work performance in emotionally demanding contexts such as the current one we are witnessing,” they stated. “What is more, this research has extended the little previous literature about COVID-19 as a potential precursor of PTSD in turn offering more scientific support to comprehend its consequences over employees’ outcomes — particularly fathomed through job performance and CWB.”


Sadovyy, M, Sánchez-Gómez M, Bresó E. COVID-19: How the stress generated by the pandemic may affect work performance through the moderating role of emotional intelligence. Pers Individ Dif. Volume 180, 2021, 110986. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2021.110986

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor