New study reveals how emotional intelligence softened the stress of the pandemic and its positive effect on work performance

Researchers at the Universitat Jaume I in Castellón have found that emotional intelligence played a significant role in the impact of the stress generated by the pandemic on work performance. Specifically, the study shows that those with greater emotional intelligence have been able to minimise the influence of the epidemiological situation and have shown better levels of job performance and less counterproductive work behaviours.Edgar, Max and Martín

The study entitled «COVID-19: How the stress generated by the pandemic may affect work performance through the moderating role of emotional intelligence» is the first to examine the moderating effect of emotional intelligence on work performance throughout the coronavirus crisis. It has been published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences by researchers Max Sadovyy, Martín Sánchez-Gómez and Edgar Bresó from the Department of Developmental, Educational and Social Psychology and Methodology at the Universitat Jaume I.

Emotional intelligence is described as the ability to identify, facilitate, understand and manage one’s own and other people’s emotions, and it could be considered as a resource that can fulfil a similar function to that performed by the rest of the labour resources. Therefore, throughout the coronavirus crisis, people with a high emotional quotient seem to have been more aware of the emotions they experienced and were able to manage them in an optimal way. They showed more solidarity towards people affected by the impact of stress and other negative feelings. Therefore, they are more adaptive not only to stress, but also to any kind of disruptive emotions. In short, people with greater emotional intelligence have the advantage of being able to identify sources of stress more easily in order to direct attention to them and deal with them more appropriately, which translates into better performance at work compared to people who do not have this emotional asset.

The study gathered a sample of 1,048 participants with an average age profile of 35 years, work experience of around 13 years and an average length of service of seven years. It included the different educational levels (primary school, secondary school, vocational training and university studies) and various professional sectors (education, health, industry, hospitality, tourism and commerce). The participants completed three questionnaires to assess their level of emotional intelligence, stress generated by COVID-19 and job performance in order to establish the degree of association between these three variables.

The results reveal that there is a correlation between the direct impact of pandemic stress and employees’ job performance and confirm the stress-softening role of emotional intelligence and, therefore, its relevance as a preventive measure. In this sense, the researchers point out the importance of developing and implementing intervention programmes that promote emotional intelligence in order to foster it and achieve healthier work environments.


Max Sadovyy, Martín Sánchez-Gómez, Edgar Bresó. COVID-19: “How the stress generated by the pandemic may affect work performance through the moderating role of emotional intelligence”, Personality and Individual Differences, Volume 180, 2021, 110986