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Linking Students’ Emotions and Academic Achievement: When and Why Emotions Matter


  • This paper’s editorial review was conducted by Phil Zelazo.

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Carlos Valiente, Arizona State University School of Social and Family Dynamics, Tempe, AZ 85287-3701; e-mail:


Abstract—  Few studies include associations of emotions, or of individual differences in emotionality, to academic competence, and there are virtually no empirical data on when or why relations exist (or do not exist). The few studies of emotion and achievement have largely focused on anxiety, but there has been scant theoretical and empirical attention devoted to the treatment of other emotions. It is suggested that considering the moderated and indirect effects of students’ emotions on their academic functioning may provide an understanding of whether and under what circumstances emotions are related to achievement. This article briefly reviews findings linking situational and dispositional negative or positive emotions to academic achievement and suggests that researchers can learn much about relations between emotions and achievement by considering the potential moderating role of effortful control, as well as considering the mediating roles that cognitive processes, motivational mechanisms, and classroom relationships play in linking emotions and achievement.