The study seeks to explain the interactive and relative effects of emotional intelligence and self-efficacy on occupational stress of University academic staff. It made use of simple random sampling in selecting 300 academic staff from all the eight faculties of the institution. The study sample responded to three valid and reliable instruments. Emotional intelligence scale, General perceived self-efficacy scale and occupational stress scale. Data analysis involved the use of Pearson correlation and multiple regression procedure to investigate predictive capacity of the independent variables on the dependent variable. The results indicated that the two independent variables, when taken together, were effective in predicting occupational stress. Each of the variables contributed significantly to the prediction of occupational stress with self-efficacy making higher contribution to the prediction of occupational stress. On the basis of this finding, it is suggested that emotional intelligence programming and self-efficacy intervention techniques will benefit teachers immensely in coping with stress.


Key words: Emotional Intelligence, Self-Efficacy, Occupational Stress, Academic Staff. 



The goal of every organization, whether profit or non-profit oriented, is to work towards achieving the objective for its existence. For example, the major goal of the school at any level is towards attainment of academic excellence by the students. Although there may be other peripheral objectives, emphasis is placed on the achievement of sound education. The extent to which this goal can be actualized depends principally on the workforce--most especially the teaching personnel. They constitute the oil that lubricates the factors of academic performance and educational enterprise as a whole. Teachers, like other employees in various organizations, are crucial in the actualization of the school goals and objectives. However, studies (Cooper and Cartwright, 1994, Kinman, 1998, Spielberger & Rehieser, 1994) have identified, among other things occupational stress as one of the cardinal mititating factors against employee well-being and effective performance.

Stress is an unavoidable characteristic of life and work. It is a generalized non-specific response of the body to any demand made on it. Occupational stress describes physical, mental and emotional wear and tear brought about by incongruence between the requirement of the job and the capabilities, resources and needs of the employee to cope with job demands (Akinboye, Akinboye and Adeyemo, 2002). Occupational stress is pervasive and invasive. Stress in the workplace has assumed increased importance in recent times the world over. In 1992 the United Nations (Akinboye, et al,, 2002) describes “job stress” as the twentieth century disease. In the words of Akinboye et al, (2002) over 70% of employees world-wide describe their jobs as stressful with more than one in five reporting high levels of stress at work on a daily basis.

In further corroboration of this scenario, Winfield (2000) indicated that the prevalence of occupational stress among academic and general staff of universities from across the globe is alarmingly widespread and increasing. In a study on stress in New Zealand universities, Boyd and Wylie (1994) found that half of the academics in their sample indicated that their work is stressful ‘often or almost always’. In addition, 80% believed that their workload had increased and become more stressful in recent years. Finally, 46% expected further increases in workload in the future.

The United Kingdom Association of University Teachers study (AUT, 1990) found that 49% of the university employees reported that their jobs were very stressful and 77% reported an increase in occupational stress over recent years. 

A national survey conducted in the United States of America (USA) indicated that the proportion of workers who reported feeling highly stressed had more than doubled between 1985 and 1990 (Spielberger and Reheiser, 1994). Another study conducted in Britain by the Policy Studies Institute (1993) cited by Keiman (1998) noted that almost one third of respondents reported significant levels of stress as a result of their work, and more than half felt that their levels of stress had increased over the last five years.

The financial costs of occupational stress to organizations and industry are well documented. It has been estimated that at least half of all absences from work are, in some manner, stress related (Cooper and Cartwright, 1994). Job stress can have a wide-ranging and negative impact on the well-being of the individual and his or her day-to-day functioning. This is observable at a physical level (e.g. exhaustion, headaches, high blood pressure), a psychological level (e.g. depression, anxiety, low self-esteem), a cognitive level (e.g. absent-mindedness, failure of attention and memory), and a behavioral level (e.g. absenteeism, substance abuse, aggressive behavior).

Many organizations are experiencing radical transformations as a result of the need to realign their strategies and structures in response to the rapidly changing and highly demanding work environment. The speeds of modern situations create dramatic changes in the concepts of work and the concepts workers have to handle in working (Akinboye & Adeyemo, 2002).

Stress has now become an area of concern for all types of occupations. There is little doubt, however, that some professions have fared worse than others. It has been argued that workers that are involved in high levels of personal interaction, such as nurses and teachers, are more vulnerable to occupational stress and professional ‘burnout” than those in product-oriented organizations; this belief has been strongly supported by several studies. The survey conducted by the Trade Union Congress (TUC, 1996) concluded that people working in the voluntary sector, and in education, constituted occupational groups most affected by occupational stress. Studies of the teaching profession, in particular, commonly reveal high levels of stress, which often manifest themselves as exhaustion, anxiety, depression, irritability and increased levels of stress-related illness. Travers and Cooper (1991) found teachers to be significantly poorer in mental health in comparison with other highly stressed occupational groups.

Teaching by its nature demands that teachers demonstrate or display emotion they may not actually feel. For instance, teachers are expected to demonstrate unusual love and kindness to their students. They are also expected to serve as mentors and motivate students who are even unwilling to learn. All these are in themselves stressful and amount to what Hochschild (1983) called emotional labor which he defined as ‘the management of feeling to create a publicly observable facial and bodily display; emotional labor is sold for a wage and therefore has exchange value” (p. 7). These expectations lead to a kind of discrepancy between the expected and the actual emotion and thereby leading to emotional dissonance which is an aspect of emotional labor that is detrimental to one’s health and well being.  

Although a high level of stress has been observed in teachers generally, the higher education sector is a relatively new focus of concern. There is strong evidence to believe its workforce could represent a particularly vulnerable occupational group. Most of what is known about stress among university workers is derived from several studies conducted in the USA.  Blix, Cruise, Mitchell & Blix (1994) reported that 66% of a large sample of university lecturers perceived severe levels of stress at work at least 50% of the time. These authors concluded that most of the stress experienced by the respondents related directly to limited resources and shortage of time. There were however, other causes for concern within the profession; these included slow progress in career advancement, poor faculty communication, professional disillusionment and inadequate salaries. Additional sources of academic pressure identified in the literature include heavy workload, role ambiguity, conflicting job demands, frequent interruptions, and publication efforts (Goldenburg and Waddell, 1990). Other studies have concluded that a significant proportion of stress experienced by academics is likely to emanate from the competing demands of career and family life and long working hours (both on and off campus) (Sorcienelli and Gregory, 1987).

A major source of stress among university lecturers is the dramatic increase in the enrollment of students. Student numbers have dramatically increased over the past few years. For instance between 1979 and 1993 in Britain it was reported that the number of university students nearly doubled (Smith & Webster, 1997). Student enrollment in Nigerian universities is no exception in this area. As pointed out by Awopegba (2001) there has been an astronomical increase in student enrollment without a corresponding increase in teaching personnel. The resultant effect is increase in workload and stressed teachers. From whatever point of view one may want to look at the construct of occupational stress, it is evident that there is a strong relationship between academic work and stress.

Numerous studies have identified emotional intelligence and self-efficacy as critical psychological factors in the behavior of individual workers in organizations. Although the construct of emotional intelligence (EI) is relatively new, it has enjoyed unprecedented attention from scholars and corporate gurus. EI started its journey to prominence in 1920 when Thorndike (Thorndike, 1920) formulated the concept of “social intelligence”. Since then other forms of intelligence have been identified by scholars in the field of psychology. Three clusters of intelligences have been identified. These are: abstract intelligence which pertains to the ability to understand and manipulate verbal and mathematical symbols; concrete intelligence, which describes the ability to understand and manipulate objects; and social intelligence, which describes the ability to understand and relate with people.

Thorndike (1920) conceptualized social intelligence as the ability to understand and manage men and women, boys and girls, to act wisely in human relations. Building on the work of Thorndike, Gardener (1983) developed the theory of multiple intelligences, wherein he classified intelligence into two namely categories: interpersonal and intrapersonal intelligences. He described interpersonal intelligence as the ability to understand other people, what motivates them, how they work, and how to work cooperatively with them. He identified teachers, politicians, salespersons, clinicians and religious leaders as individuals who are likely to have a high degree of interpersonal intelligence. Intrapersonal intelligence is a correlative ability turned inward. It is a capacity to form a veridical model of oneself and to be able to use that model to operate effectively in life.

In what looks like a synchronization of Thorndike’s and Gardner’s model, Salovey and Mayer (1990) coined the term emotional intelligence which they conceptualized ‘as the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use information to guide one’s thinking and action (p. 189). To clarify the construct further, Mayer and Salovey (1997) postulated that emotional intelligence involves the ability to perceive accurately, appraise and express emotion, the ability to access and/or generate emotional knowledge, and the ability to regulate emotion to promote emotional and intellectual growth. This definition succeeds not only in clearing the ambiguity inherent in the previous definition; it also is able to carve a distinct image for the construct of emotional intelligence.      

Goleman (1995) formulated the best-known theory of emotional intelligence. Goleman’s explanation of the construct was based on Salovey and Mayer’s (1990) original theory. Among other claims, Goleman theorized that emotional intelligence is equal to, if not more important than, IQ as an important indicator of success in one’s professional and personal life. Elaborating further on the construct, Goleman (1998) explained that an individual’s emotional intelligence can affect one’s work situation. He also applied his conceptual understanding to organization as a whole.

Goleman, Boyatzis and Mckee (2002) assert that the effective use of emotion is basic to the function of successful leadership. They postulated further that leaders are emotional guides influencing not only follower emotions but also follower action through that emotional influence. Leaders exercise this influence through relationship management, motivational appeal, and goal-setting, and the leader’s emotional intelligence is necessary to effectively perform these efforts.

Bar-On (2005) proposed a new model of emotional intelligence which provides a theoretical basis for the EQ-I which was originally designed to assess various aspects of this construct as well as to examine its conceptualization. In this model emotional-social intelligence is a cross section of inter-related emotional and social competencies, skills, and factors that determine how effectively we understand and express ourselves, understand others and relate with them and cope with daily demands. According to Bar-On (2005), this model of emotional and social intelligence has very much in common with the earlier models that have one or more of the following components: (a) the ability to recognize, understand, and express emotions and feelings; (b) the ability to understand how others feel and relate with them, (c) the ability to manage and control emotion; (d) the ability to manage change, adapt, and solve problems of a personal and interpersonal nature and the ability to generate positive effects and be self-motivated. Based on Baron’s model, to be emotionally and socially intelligent is to effectively understand and express oneself, to understand and relate well with others, and to successfully cope with daily demands, challenges and pressures. At the intrapersonal level, it involves the ability to be aware of one self, to understand one’s strengths and weaknesses and to express one’s feelings and thoughts non-destructively. On the interpersonal level, being emotionally and socially intelligent encompasses the ability to be aware of other’s emotions, feelings and needs and to establish and maintain cooperative, constructive and mutually satisfying relationships. Thus, to be emotionally and socially intelligent implies the ability to effectively manage personal, social and environmental change by realistically and flexibly coping with the immediate situation, solving problems, and making decisions.

Emotional intelligence has been found to impact on psychological health-particularly occupational stress (Ciarrochi, Chan & Bajgar, 2001). Garochi, Chan and Caput, (2000), for example, posit that emotional intelligence may protect people from stress and lead to better adaptation. They opine that an objective measure of emotion management skill is associated with a tendency to maintain an experimentally induced positive mood which has obvious implication for preventing stress. Again, Bar-On (2003) found that there was a moderate yet significant relationship between emotional and social intelligence and psychological health. The aspects of emotional and social intelligent competencies that were found to impact on psychological health are: (a) the ability to manage emotion and cope with stress, (b) the drive to accomplish personal goals in order to actualize one’s inner potential and lead a more meaningful life and (c) the ability to verify feelings and thinking.

One of the objectives of the present study was to find out if emotional intelligence will be predictive of occupational stress among academic staffs.   

Self-efficacy is another independent variable whose contribution to occupational stress was investigated in the present work. According to Bandura’s (1998) theoretical analysis, perceived self-efficacy is people’s beliefs about their capabilities to produce designated levels of performance that exercise influence over events that affect their lives. A strong self-efficacy enhances human accomplishment and personal well-being in many ways; people with high assurance in their capabilities approach difficult tasks as challenges to be measured rather than as threats to be avoided. They approach threatening situation with assurance that they can exercise control over them. Such an efficacious outlook produces personal accomplishment, reduces stress and lowers vulnerability to depression (Multon, Brown and Lent, 1991; Pajare, 1996, 1997; Bandura, 2000). In contrast, people who doubt their capabilities shy away from difficult tasks which they view as personal threats. They have low aspirations and weak commitment to the goals they choose to pursue. When faced with difficult tasks, they dwell on their personal deficiencies, on the obstacles they will encounter, and on all kinds of adverse outcomes rather than concentrate on how to perform successfully. They slacken their efforts and give up quickly in the face of difficulties; they fall easily to stress and depression. Efficacy beliefs influence the amount of stress and anxiety individual experience as they engage in an activity (Pajare, 1994; Bandura, 1997).

Since Bandura (Bandura, 1977) introduced the concept of self-efficacy over a quarter century ago, it has been widely tested in varied disciplines and settings and has received support from a growing body of findings from diverse fields. For example, self-efficacy beliefs have been found to be related to clinical problems such as addiction (Marlatt, Baer, and Quigley, 1995); depression (Davis and Yates, 1982); social skills (Moe and Zeiss, 1982), assertiveness (Lee, 1983, 1984), to stress (Jerusalem and Mittag, 1995) to pain control (Manning and Wright, 1983); and to health (O’ Leary 1985). With reference to the educational setting, self-efficacy has been found to positively correlate with academic achievement. Research findings have established that students’ self-efficacy beliefs are correlated with other motivation constructs and with students’ academic performance and achievement (See, Ashton and Webb, 1986; Lent and Hackett, 1987).

Several studies have also established that teachers with a strong sense of efficacy tend to exhibit greater levels of planning, organization, and enthusiasm. They persist when things do not go smoothly and are more resilient in the face of setbacks. They tend to be less critical with students who make errors and “work longer with a student who is struggling” (Ashton and Webb, 1986; Coladarchi, 1992, Gibson and Dembo, 1984; Tschanhen–Moran and Woolfolk 2001). Also, Ross (1994) reviewed 88 teacher efficacy studies in pre-college settings and identified potential links between teachers’ sense of efficacy and their behaviors. He reported that teachers with higher levels of efficacy are more likely to learn and use new approaches and strategies for teaching, provide special assistance to low achieving students, and persist in the face of student failure. Considering these powerful submissions, the question of how much self-efficacy contributes to the prediction of occupational stress becomes pertinent.

In summary, the present study investigated the interactive and relative effects of emotional intelligence and self-efficacy on occupational stress of university academic staff.

Research Questions

The following two research questions were posed and investigated in the study:

·   What are the combined effects of emotional intelligence and self-efficacy on occupational stress of university staff?

·   What is the relative contribution of emotional intelligence and self-efficacy to occupational stress of university academic staff?

Research Design

The ex-post-facto design was adopted in this study. The researchers were interested in knowing the influence of the independent variables on the dependent variables without necessarily manipulating the independent variables.


The population of this study comprised all academic staff of Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria. Simple random sampling was used to select (300) out of (586) academic staff of the institution. The subjects were made up 110 females and 190 males. Their ranks ranged from Assistant Lecturer to Professor. Their ages ranged from 28 years to 63 years. The mean and standard deviation of the ages were 39.24 years and 4.67 respectively.


Three instruments were utilized in this study.

Emotional Intelligence Scale (EIS)

The emotional intelligence scale (EIS) developed by Schutte, Marlouf, Hall, Harggerty, Cooper, Golden and Donheim (1998) assesses emotional intelligence based on self-report responses to 33 items tapping the appraisal and expression of emotions in self and others, regulations of emotions in self and others, and utilization of emotions in solving problems. Participants respond by indicating their agreement to each of the 33 statements using a five-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). The EIS has demonstrated high internal consistency with Cronbach’s α ranging from 0.87 to 0.90 and a two-week test-retest reliability coefficient of 0.78 (Schutte et al, 1998).

General Perceived Self-efficacy Scale (G.P.S.S.)

The general perceived self-efficacy scale (G.P.S.S.) developed by Schwarzer and Jerusalem (1995) assesses a self-efficacy based on general personality disposition. Participants responded by indicating their extent of agreement with each of the 10 statements using a four-point scale of 1 (Not at all true), 2 (Barely true), 3 (Moderately true) and 4 (Exactly true). The GPSS has demonstrated high internal consistencies with Cronbach α ranging from .75 and .90 (Schwarzer and Jerusalem, 1995).

Occupational Stress Scale (OSS)

The occupational stress scale (OSS) developed by Hassan and Hassan (1998) measures a variety of stressful job situations. Participants respond by indicating their level of agreeableness to each of the 60-item statements using a five-point scale ranging from 1 (Never like me to 5 Always like me). The OSS has also demonstrated a high internal consistency (Cronbach α ranged from 0.79 to 0.87). The scale also has a test-retest reliability coefficient of 0.76.


The scales were personally administered to the participants by the researchers. While some of the instruments were collected immediately after completion, the rest were retrieved about a week later. The nature of the respondents’ job and the number of scales involved in the study, as well as the number of items contained in each of these scales, accounted for the delay in the completion and collection of the scales.
Data Analysis

The data were analyzed with two statistical tools, namely: Pearson correlation and multiple regression. Multiple regression was used to find out the combined and relative contributions of the two independent variables (emotional intelligence and self-efficacy) to the prediction of occupational stress.


Two issues were addressed by the present study. One of the issues was to know the extent of the contribution of emotional intelligence and self-efficacy to the prediction of occupational stress of university academic staff. The second issue of concern was to find out the variable that made the greater contribution to the prediction of occupational stress of university academic staff. The results of the data analysis that provided answers to the research questions are presented below.

The results of the data analysis indicating the mean standard deviation and intercorrelation matrix of all variables are shown in Table 1.

Table 1: Descriptive Statistics and Correlations between Variables





Emotional Intelligence


Occupations Stress

Emotional Intelligence


Occupational Stress

















The correlation coefficient between the two independent variables (emotional intelligence and self-efficacy was positive and significant (r = .320).However, results revealed significant negative relationships between emotional intelligence and occupational stress. (r = -.632); and self-efficacy and occupational stress (r =- .672).

Table 2: Summary of Multiple Regression Analysis between the Predictor Variables (Emotional Intelligence and Self-efficacy) and the Outcome Measure (Occupational Stress)


Multiple R (Adjusted) = 0.803

Multiple R2 (Adjusted) = 0.643

Stand error estimate = 6.382

Source of variation


Sum of Squares

Mean Square






















Going by the result presented in table 2, the two independent variables (emotional intelligence and self-efficacy) when put together yielded a coefficient of multiple regression (R) of 0.803 and a multiple correlation square of 0.643. This shows that 64.3% of the total variance in occupational stress of the participants is accounted for by the combination of the two variables. The table also indicates that the analysis of variance of the multiple regression data produced an F-ratio value significant at 0.05 level (F(2,286) = 258.465; P < 0.05).

These findings beg the question of emotional intelligence and self-efficacy as independent variables.  The literature cited in this piece defines EI as a conglomerate of other behavioral traits making EI dependant upon those variable traits.  EI/EQ is widely accepted to be distinct from conventional intelligence in that it can be dramatically enhanced by awareness of and education in its constituent elements (self awareness, self management, social awareness, social skills).  The confirmation of EI and self-efficacy levels inversely correlating with occupational stress is a useful finding and should be the focus of further research.

Table 3: Relative Contribution of the Independent Variables to the Prediction of Occupational Stress




Unstandardised Coefficient

Standardised coefficients 






Emotional intelligence






Self efficacy







From the results display in table 3 above, each of the independent variables made significant individual contributions to the prediction of occupational stress. The results indicated that the following beta weights which represented the relative contribution of the independent variables to the prediction were observed. Emotional intelligence (b = -.464, t = 12.445; P < 0.05) and self-efficacy (b = -.524, t = 14.041, P < 0.05). Although the two variables made significant relative contribution to the prediction of occupational stress, self-efficacy is a more potent predictor.


The results of the multiple regression analysis revealed that emotional intelligence and self-efficacy either collectively or separately are potent predictors of occupational stress. The magnitude of the relationship between the independent variables in predicting occupational stress of university academic staff is reflected in the values of coefficient of multiple regression (0.803) and in multiple R-squared adjusted (0.643) as shown in Table 2. Thus it could be said that 64.3% of the total variance in the occupational stress of university academic staff is accounted for by the combination of emotional intelligence and self-efficacy. The F-ratio value of 258.465 which is significant at 0.05 further attests to the fact that the predictive capacity of the independent variables could not be attributed to chance factor.

As for the extent to which each of the two independent variables contributed to the prediction, it could be inferred from Table 2 that self-efficacy is a better predictor of occupational stress among the participants. The result of the correlational analysis in Table 1 shows that both emotional intelligence and self-efficacy have negative relationships with occupational stress, meaning that higher EQ and self-efficacy scores are inversely correlated to occupational stress.

This result is not surprising. By the nature of the construct of emotional intelligence, it is expected that the understanding of one’s and other people’s emotions, and one’s ability to regulate and manage them will have a buffering effect on work related stress. The findings of the present study corroborate the assertion of Ciarrochi et al (2001) that an objective measure of emotion management skills is associated with a tendency to maintain an experimentally induced positive mood which has obvious implications for preventing stress. The finding of Ciarrochi, Chan and Caputi (2001) and Bar-On (2003) lend additional support to the present finding. In a workplace like the education industry where success is dependent upon teamwork, collaboration and good interpersonal relationships, the importance of emotional intelligence, which reflects one’s ability to interact with others in an effective manner cannot be over emphasized. People skilled in managing others’ emotions help people regulate moods in a positive direction and try to establish intimacy with them (Schutte et al 1998). Such behavior should lead to closer friendships and greater social support which could be of psychological benefits in terms of stress and crisis in the workplace.    

The result that self-efficacy is a more potent predictor could be attributed to the fact that a strong sense of efficacy enhances human accomplishment and personal well-being in many ways including the ability to cope with stress. People with a low sense of efficacy on the other hand may have the tendency to look at things as if they are tougher than they really are, a belief that fosters stress, depression and a myopic vision of how best to tackle problems. Supporting the positive impact of self-efficacy on stress Leiter (1992) indicated that individuals with high self-efficacy tend to use active coping strategies, whereas those with low self-efficacy tend to employ avoidance strategies and have a greater tendency to worry about job-related stressors. As indicated in Table 1, self-efficacy has a very high negative correlation with occupational stress. And as pointed out by Bandura (2000) people with high confidence in their capabilities handle stress related factors effectively and approach difficult task as challenges to be mastered rather than as threats to be avoided.      

Implication of Findings

A number of implications have emerged from the results of the present study. First, when a stressful situation arises in the workplace, preventive strategies could include the enhancement of employees’ emotional intelligence and self-efficacy. For instance, helping employees to acquire emotional intelligence competencies (e.g. perception, appraisal and expression of emotion, emotional facilitation of thinking, understanding and analyzing emotion and employing emotional knowledge) may have a buffering effect on the occupational stress of employees. Similarly, improving employees’ self-efficacy via vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, active domain and anxiety management, may have a therapeutic effect on employees’ experience of occupational stress.


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About the authors:


Adeyemo, D.A. Ph.D.

D.A. Adeyemo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Nigeria. He received his M.Ed and Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. He is presently  Senior Lecturer in the Department of Guidance and Counselling, University of Ibadan, Ibadan, Nigeria. He has written several articles in local and international journals. His present areas of research interest are emotional intelligence, self efficacy, career counseling, parental involvement, academic self efficacy and achievement.


Bola Ogunyemi, M.P.P., M.Ed.

Bola Ogunyemi holds a Bachelor of Education (B.Ed) and Masters in Personnel Psychology from Ogun State University (now Olabisi Onabanjo University) Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria. He also holds a Master of Education degree in Counseling Psychology with specialization in Career Counseling from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. He is currently a doctoral student at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria where he is also a lecturer in the Department of Educational Foundations and Counseling. His current areas of interest are emotional intelligence, creativity and career counseling. He has authored and co-authored several publications in these areas.







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