Egyptian Nursing Journal

: 2019  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 53--58

Relationship between emotional intelligence and self-esteem among nursing students

Sabah Abo El Fetouh Mohamed 
 Department of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing, Faculty of Nursing, Kafrelsheikh University, Kafr El Sheikh, Egypt

Correspondence Address:
Sabah Abo El Fetouh Mohamed
Assistant professor, post box 33516


Background Emotional intelligence and self-esteem are important factors that determine success in nursing practice. Assessing the levels of emotional intelligence and level of self-esteem for ascertaining student’s progress is important for guaranteeing competent nursing skills training. Aim The aim was to investigate emotional intelligence and self-esteem among nursing students. Design A descriptive cross-sectional design was used in this study. Setting The study was carried out at the Faculty of Nursing, Kafrelsheikh University, Egypt. Patients and methods Four hundred nursing students were randomly selected from different academic levels using simple random sampling. Tools The data was collected using two tools: Schutte Emotional Intelligence Scale and Cooper-Smith Self-Esteem Inventory, in addition to sociodemographic and academic data sheet. Results The results showed that more than half of the studied students had moderate levels of emotional intelligence and the majority had problematic level of self-esteem (low and moderate). There was a positive significant relation between emotional intelligence level and self-esteem among nursing students. Recommendations The present study recommends that the student’s level of emotional intelligence and self-esteem should be evaluated earlier to admission to the Faculty of Nursing, and integrate emotional intelligence into the nursing curriculums.

How to cite this article:
El Fetouh Mohamed SA. Relationship between emotional intelligence and self-esteem among nursing students.Egypt Nurs J 2019;16:53-58

How to cite this URL:
El Fetouh Mohamed SA. Relationship between emotional intelligence and self-esteem among nursing students. Egypt Nurs J [serial online] 2019 [cited 2020 Aug 7 ];16:53-58
Available from:

Full Text


The intelligent use of emotions can provide a balance needed for person’s mental health. It can guide thinking and behavior to enhance the outcomes in a given situation, and to make effective formally developed decisions. Through this intelligent interaction of emotion and thought, the concept of emotional intelligence is emerging (Keltner and Lerner, 2011; Radford, 2010).

Emotional intelligence is the capacity to precisely recognize and control the emotional response and those of others, comprising the capacity to control one’s feelings, and to utilize them to make appropriate choices, to act purposefully and to involve effectively in a given situation. Emotional intelligence is that portion of the human soul which persuades people to perform. It gives people vitality to illustrate behaviors such as deliberateness, tirelessness, inventiveness, drive control, social deftness, sympathy, and keenness (Salovey and Grewal, 2010; Landau and Meirovich, 2011).

Emotional intelligence can assist student nurses in managing their own and their patients’ emotions, showing genuine emotional responses, being empathetic and communicate emotions without introducing conflict. It also helps in dealing with instinctive feelings, such as anger and dissatisfaction, in a nurse–patient relationship. By attempting to view the circumstance from patients’ points of view and empathizing with their feelings, nursing students can manage many clinical situations. When patients are cared for by a nurse who demonstrates emotional intelligence skills, they feel that the nurse is actually concerned about their welfare and health, which is the essence of nursing and caring (Pence, 2010; Costa and Faria, 2015).

In addition, when consideration of emotional skills we should pay consideration to other individual’s psychological domain such as self-esteem. Self-esteem implies self-satisfaction and feeling valuable. Self-esteem means ‘the way individuals think approximately about themselves,’ ‘the degree to which the individual like themselves and if they are fulfilled around their execution and achievements.’ It also includes feeling around social, instructive, and professional status and how much coordination is there between perfect and actual selves (Benson et al., 2010; Hein, 2012).

Emotional intelligence and self-esteem are among the most important factors that determine success in life and psychological well-being. People with high emotional intelligence are competent in focusing and dealing with problems that increase their cognitive capacities. A high emotional intelligence and a high self-esteem offer assistance to preserve a state of concordance in oneself and increase self-confidence in managing the daily life challenges (Ahammed et al., 2011; Ebrahimi, 2013).

Emotional intelligence and self-esteem help nurses for delivering emotionally perfect nursing skills and facilitating communication. It also helps them to cope with environmental changes, feel valued, satisfied, and enthused during a clinical situation. Nursing students are often expected to understand the patients’ emotions, and use cognitive information to evaluate patients’ needs, and choose appropriate emotional interventions to the clients and families through caring and empathizing approaches (Ashvinkumar, 2013; Samuel, 2010).

Numerous considerations had demonstrated that self-esteem may be a clear pointer to create emotional intelligence between nursing students. On the study of Bukhari et al. (2017) about the relation between emotional intelligence and self-esteem, he found ‘a strong significant relationship between the students’ level of self-esteem, and their level of emotional intelligence.’ So, academic staff members must know more about the techniques that improve students’ self-esteem and emotional intelligence to enhance their accomplishment throughout their educational life and also all over their achievements (Samuel, 2010; Bukhari et al., 2017).

It is important to nursing students to have the skills to recognize the perception and needs of different types of people and they should be competent into consideration individual emotional reactions, self-confidence, how to handle stress, and promote social roles. Thus, a high level of emotional intelligence plays a vital role in maintaining a state of equilibrium in oneself and helps the students to be more self-confident in managing life’s challenges (Mayer et al., 2011; Khaledian, 2013; Jenaabadi, 2014).

 Aim of the study

The aim of the study is to assess the level of emotional intelligence and self-esteem among nursing students.

Research question

What are the levels of emotional intelligence and self-esteem among nursing students?

 Patients and methods

Study design

Descriptive, cross-sectional design was used in this study.


This study was carried out at the Faculty of Nursing, Kafrelsheikh University, Egypt. This faculty started in 2013 and is following the credit hours system.


Representative samples of 400 students were selected randomly using the simple random sampling method. The total number of students enrolled at the faculty of nursing during the academic year of data collection 2017–2018, amounted to 1600 students along the four academic levels. The EPI-INFO software (World Health organization and center for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA, Version 2002) was used to estimate the sample size of this study, which showed a sample size of 400 students. This number was distributed along the four academic levels as follows: 100 students from the first academic level, 124 students from the second academic level,100 students from the third academic level, and finally 76 students from the fourth academic level. This is done based on the total number of students in each academic level.

Tools of the study

Two tools were used in this study:

Tool I: Schutte Emotional Intelligence Scale (Schutte et al., 1998)

Schutte Emotional Intelligence Scale developed by Schutte et al. (1998) to assess the level of emotional intelligence. It consists of 33 items, every item is scaled in a five-point Likert type from 1=strongly disagree to 5=strongly agree, with a total score ranging between ‘33’ and ‘165.’ A higher score reflects a higher emotional intelligent individual and vice versa. The total score was calculated and classified as follows:Low= less than 50%.Moderate=50–75%.High= more than 75%.

The Cronbach’s alpha coefficient for this instrument ranged from 0.70 to 0.85, indicating high reliability.

Tool II: Cooper-Smith Self-Esteem Inventory

This tool was developed by Coopersmith and Ryden (1978) and modified by Ryden (1978). It was designed to measure and evaluative attitudes toward the self. It composed of five subscales: public, social, academic, family, and personal areas of experience. It contains 58 questions that should be answered in yes or no, with no scored ‘0’ and yes scored ‘1,’ the five domains are: public domain that includes 26 questions, social domain eight questions, family domain eight questions, academic education domain eight questions, and personal domain eight questions. The inventory has a total score ranging between ‘0’ and‘58,’ classified as follows:0–33 indicates low self-esteem.34–44 indicates moderate self-esteem.45 and above indicates high self-esteem.

In addition a sociodemographic and academic data questionnaire was used. It was designed by the researcher after a review of literatures. To elicit data regarding the sociodemographic and academic characteristics of the studied patients such as sex, age, residence, father’s, and mother’s educational level and students’ academic level.


Before starting the study, an official letter was addressed to the dean of the faculty of nursing to request her permission and cooperation to collect data.The study tools were submitted to a jury composed of five experts in the psychiatric nursing field in Tanta University to test content validity. Modification was done according to their comments.Cronbach’s alpha was used to test internal consistency of the item to test reliability for tool II 0.78.

Pilot study

Before embarking on the actual study, a pilot study was carried out. The purpose of the pilot study was to test the clarity, applicability of the tools, and feasibility of the research application. In addition, it served to estimate the approximate time required for filling the questionnaire as well as to find out any problem or obstacle faced during data collection. The pilot study was conducted on 40 students after explanation the purpose of the study. The students were selected randomly and excluded later from the actual study sample. After its implementation and according to its results, the necessary modifications were made.

Actual study

The students were interviewed by the researcher in a small group to fill the tools of the study. The time of filling the questionnaire ranged from 30 to 45 min. Data of the study were collected during the second semester of the academic year 2017–2018 over 2 months, between March and April 2018.

Ethical considerations

Throughout the study process the following steps were followed:Every study patient was invited to participate in this study on a voluntary basis.Students were informed about the purpose of the study and a written consent to participate was obtained from each student before inclusion in the study.Privacy and anonymity of the participants were assured. Confidentiality of data was assured.The students have the right to withdraw from the study at any time.

Statistical analysis

IBM SPSS, version 19 was used to organize, and statistically analyze the data. The level of significance was adopted at a P value of less than 0.05.


[Table 1] represents the distribution of the studied students by their sociodemographic and academic characteristics. This table shows that more than half of the studied students were women (59.5); their mean age was 20.19±1.34 years. About half of the students (51.8) were from the rural area and about one-third of the students’ fathers and mothers were graduates from secondary school (34.3 and 30.5).{Table 1}

[Table 2] shows the distribution of the studied students according to the level of self-esteem. Results showed that most of the studied students had a low self-esteem (73.0) and only 1.5% of the students had a high level of self-esteem.{Table 2}

[Table 3] shows the distribution of the studied students according to their level of emotional intelligence. Results showed that more than half of the students (56.3%) had moderate emotional intelligence and about one-third of the students had a low level of emotional intelligence.{Table 3}

[Table 4] shows the relation between emotional intelligence and self-esteem. Results indicate positive significant relation between student’s level of emotional intelligence and their level of self-esteem (P=0.001).{Table 4}

[Table 5] shows the relation between emotional intelligence, self-esteem, and sociodemographic characteristics of the students’ studied. The results indicate a positive significant relation between students’ age, academic level, father’s and mother’s education with student’s emotional intelligence (P=0.001, 0.001, 0.038, and 0.012) and there is a positive significant relation between students’ age and academic level with the students’ level of self-esteem.{Table 5}


Emotion is essential in performing nursing skills as well as emotional intelligence is the one of the most important qualifications of nurses that can influence the quality of the nursing care such as the ‘ability of making decision and critical thinking.’ Emotional intelligence leads to superior performance in the most intellectual careers. Individuals with a high emotional intelligence are more able to focus on issues and using problem-based techniques that improve their mental capacities (Hasanvand and Khaledian, 2012).

The aim of the present study was to assess the level of emotional intelligence and self-esteem among nursing students.

In relation to the nursing student’s level of emotional intelligence, the present studies have shown that majority of students have average and low level of emotional intelligence. This result is congruent with Mahmoud et al. (2013), who stated that nursing students at the Faculty of Nursing, Alexandria University, Egypt had moderate levels of emotional intelligence, although these levels of emotional intelligence did not much progress along the academic semesters. In the same direction, Benson et al. (2010) observed that most of undergraduate nursing students had average emotional intelligence level in contrast with Barkhordari and Rostambeygi (2013).

Regarding students’ level of self-esteem, the result showed that the majority of students had a problematic level of self-esteem (low and moderate). This may be due to the move to a higher level of education that one of the most difficult time of a student’s life in which self-esteem can be affected, besides young age of the students; this is considered as an adjustment phase associated with negative emotions like ‘anxiety, fear, and insecurity’ also due to that the students must choose between faculty courses, that a wrong decision can affect student’s achievement and can cause frustration and disappointment and may reflect the way of making decision throughout their lives, in addition to being overloaded by university duties.

This result is congruent with Ibrahim (2015) who studied assessment of self-esteem among nursing students. He stated that the self-esteem level among Mosul nursing students in general is acceptable and male students shows more perception of self-esteem than female students. In the same vein, Edwards et al. (2010) found nursing students complain of low confidence in themselves as they approached graduation and revealed sex differences in self-esteem, while the result of the present study contradict with Chaves et al. (2013), who stated that most of the nursing students have high self-esteem, in his study of nursing students’ self-esteem at a university in the South of Minas Gerais (Brazil).

Regarding the relation between nursing student’s level of emotional intelligence with level of self-esteem, the present study shows a positive statistically significant relation between the level of emotional intelligence with the level of self-esteem among students. This can be explained by that emotional intelligence is the way to get excellence of education, which is imperative to take into consideration during the teaching process. Also, high emotional intelligence increases the academic achievement throughout increasing the capacity to understand the information received. Therefore, higher emotional intelligence induces higher self-satisfaction thus leading to a high level of self-esteem, academic success, and ultimate success in life. For instance, students with higher emotional intelligence could manage and regulate their emotions to avoid experiencing a high level of stress and prevent burnout. Thus, emotional intelligence is extremely essential for students to deal with stress and anxiety in meeting high academic demands.

Consistent with these findings, the study of Chaves et al. (2013) found ‘a relationship between the students’ self-esteem, and emotional intelligence and there is a positive significant correlation between self-esteem and emotional intelligence.’ In the same stream, Tosang (2013) and Yadalijamaloye et al. (2013) focus on the importance of emotional intelligence on improving the level of self-esteem and it affects each other.


On the basis of the findings of the present study, it can be concluded that the majority of the nursing students had an average level of emotional intelligence and also had a problematic level of self-esteem. Besides, there are positive significant relations between the nursing student’s level of emotional intelligence and level of self-esteem.


The following recommendations are yielded from the result of this study:Preselection measuring of the student’s self-esteem and emotional intelligence should be included among the criteria for students’ selection to be affiliated to the Faculty of Nursing.Emotional intelligence concept and domains should be involved into the nursing curriculums to improve emotional intelligence among nursing students to work with patients in different clinical settings.Educational workshops and seminars should be conducted regularly for the nursing students on how to develop and improve students’ self-esteem and emotional intelligence skills.Further research is necessary to investigate and evaluate the effect of implementation programs to develop students’ self-esteem and emotional intelligence skills.


The researcher express gratitude, thanks, and appreciations to the dean of the Faculty of Nursing, Kafrelsheikh University for her support and cooperation. Also, great thanks for all students who

participated in this study for their acceptance sincerely in fulfilling the data for the study.[27]


1Ahammed S, Abdullah AS, Hassane SH (2011). The role of emotional intelligence in the academic success of United Arab Emirates University students. Int Educ 41:7–25.
2Ashvinkumar R (2013). A study of the relationship between academic achievement motivation and home environment among standard 10th pupils. Int J Res Educ 2:48–51.
3Barkhordari M, Rostambeygi P (2013). Emotional intelligence in nursing students. J Adv Med Prof 1:46–50.
4Benson G, Ploeg J, Brown B (2010). A cross-sectional study of emotional intelligence in baccalaureate nursing students. Nurse Educ Today 30:49–53.
5Bukhari SR, Fatima SI, Rashid A (2017). Emotional intelligence and self esteem in male and female school students. Int J Indian Psychol 4:40–44.
6Chaves ECL, Simão TP, Oliveira IS, Souza IP, Iunes DH, Nogueira DA (2013). Assessment of nursing students’ selfesteem at a university in the South of Minas Gerais (Brazil). Invest Educ Enferm 31:261–269.
7Coopersmith S, Ryden M (1978). An adult version of the Cooper smith Self-Esteem Inventory: test-retest reliability and social desirability. Psychol Rep 43:11-89–119.
8Costa A, Faria L (2015). The impact of emotional intelligence on academic achievement: a longitudinal study in Portuguese secondary school. Learn Individ Diff 37:38–47.
9Ebrahimi A (2013). The relationship between emotional intelligence, perceived stress and academic performance among Iranian High School students. J Nat Soci Sci 2:509–522.
10Edwards D, Burnard P, Bennett K, Hebden U (2010). A longitudinal study of stress and self-esteem in student nurses. Nurse Educ Today 30:78–84.
11Hasanvand B, Khaledian M (2012). The relationship of emotional intelligence with self-esteemand academic progress. Int J Psychol Behav Sci 2:231–236.
12Hein S (2012). EQ for everybody: a practical guide to the developing and using one’s emotional intelligence. 3rd ed. Steve’s book, 20–24.
13Ibrahim RH (2015). Assessment of self esteem among nursing students. Int Peer-rev J 16:34–37.
14Jenaabadi H (2014). Studying the relation between emotional intelligence and self esteem with academic achievement. Proc Soc Behav Sci 114:203–206.
15Keltner D, Lerner JS (2011). Emotion. In: Gilbert DT, Fiske ST, Lindsay G. The handbook of social psychology. 5th ed. New York: McGraw Hill. 312–320
16Khaledian M (2013). The relationship between emotional intelligence (EQ) with self-esteem and test anxiety and also their academic achievements. Psychol Soc Behav Res 1:1–8.
17Landau J, Meirovich G (2011). Development of students’ emotional intelligence: participative classroom environments in higher education. Acad Educ Leadership J 15:3.
18Mahmoud HM, Abd El-Dayem SM, Abd El-Gawad M (2013). Emotional intelligence among baccalaureate students at the Faculty of Nursing, Alexandria University, Egypt: a crosssectional study. J Educ Pract l.4:4.
19Mayer JD, Salovey P, Caruso DR, Cherkasskiy L (2011). Emotional intelligence. In Sternberg RJ, Kaufman SB, eds. The Cambridge handbook of intelligence. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. 528–549.
20Pence P (2010). Emotional intelligence, motivation, and retention among undergraduate students attending associate-degree nursing programs in Illinois [doctoral dissertation]. Phoenix, AZ: School of Advanced Studies, University of Phoenix. Available at: [Accessed 16 February 2012].
21Radford M (2010). Emotional intelligence as a predictor of nursing student success [doctoral dissertation]. School of Education, Union University. Available at: [Accessed 2 July 2011].
22Salovey P, Grewal D (2010). The science of emotional intelligence. Curr Direc Psychol Sci 14:282–285.
23Samuel O (2010). Emotional intelligence, self efficacy, psychological well being and students’ attitudes: implications for quality education. Eur J Educ Stud 2:245–257.
24Schutte NS, Malouff JM, Hall LE, Haggerty DJ, Cooper JT, Golden CJ, Dornheim L (1998). Development and validation of a measure of emotional intelligence. Pers Individ Diff 25:167–167.
25Smith KB, Profetto-McGrath J, Cummings GG (2011). Emotional intelligence and nursing: an integrative literature. Int J Nursing Stud 46:1624–1636.
26Tosang MA (2013). Relationships between self-esteem with emotional intelligence in Karaj in Iran world of science journal. World Sci J Behbahan 1:123–130.
27Yadalijamaloye Z, Khaledian M, KamarZarin H, Shoshtar M, Ahrami R (2013). Relationships between self esteem and marital satisfaction among women. Psychol Behav Sci 2:124–129. 125