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Does Emotional Intelligence at Medical School Admission Predict Future Academic Performance?

Humphrey-Murto, Susan MD, MEd; Leddy, John J. PhD; Wood, Timothy J. PhD; Puddester, Derek MD, MEd; Moineau, Geneviève MD

Academic Medicine:
doi: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000000165
Research Reports

Purpose: Medical school admissions committees are increasingly considering noncognitive measures like emotional intelligence (EI) in evaluating potential applicants. This study explored whether scores on an EI abilities test at admissions predicted future academic performance in medical school to determine whether EI could be used in making admissions decisions.

Method: The authors invited all University of Ottawa medical school applicants offered an interview in 2006 and 2007 to complete the Mayer–Salovey–Caruso EI Test (MSCEIT) at the time of their interview (105 and 101, respectively), then again at matriculation (120 and 106, respectively). To determine predictive validity, they correlated MSCEIT scores to scores on written examinations and objective structured clinical examinations (OSCEs) administered during the four-year program. They also correlated MSCEIT scores to the number of nominations for excellence in clinical performance and failures recorded over the four years.

Results: The authors found no significant correlations between MSCEIT scores and written examination scores or number of failures. The correlations between MSCEIT scores and total OSCE scores ranged from 0.01 to 0.35; only MSCEIT scores at matriculation and OSCE year 4 scores for the 2007 cohort were significantly correlated. Correlations between MSCEIT scores and clinical nominations were low (range 0.12–0.28); only the correlation between MSCEIT scores at matriculation and number of clinical nominations for the 2007 cohort were statistically significant.

Conclusions: EI, as measured by an abilities test at admissions, does not appear to reliably predict future academic performance. Future studies should define the role of EI in admissions decisions.

Author Information

Dr. Humphrey-Murto is associate professor, Department of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Leddy is associate professor, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Wood is a PhD researcher, Academy for Innovation in Medical Education, and assistant professor, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Puddester is associate professor and lead, Postgraduate Evaluation and Innovation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa, and director of physician health, Canadian Medical Association, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. He is also president, Canadian Association of Medical Education, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Moineau is associate professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Ottawa, secretary, Committee on Accreditation of Canadian Medical Schools and Committee on Accreditation of Continuing Medical Education, and president and chief executive officer, Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

Funding/Support: The Ontario Ministry of Health and Long Term Care supported this study with a grant.

Other disclosures: None reported.

Ethical approval: The Ottawa Hospital research ethics board approved this study.

Previous presentations: The findings from this study were shared during an oral presentation at the Canadian Conference on Medical Education, Banff, Alberta, Canada, April 2012.

Correspondence should be addressed to Dr. Humphrey-Murto, Ottawa Hospital–Riverside Campus, Department of Medicine–Division of Rheumatology, 1967 Riverside Dr., Ottawa, ON, Canada, K1H 7W9; telephone: (613) 737-8899 ext. 81850; e-mail:

© 2014 by the Association of American Medical Colleges