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What is Emotional Stability?

Emotional stability refers to an individual's capacity to maintain a consistent and balanced emotional state, demonstrating resilience and control in the face of challenges. People with high emotional stability are less prone to extreme mood swings and are better equipped to handle stress, adversity, and daily fluctuations in emotions.

1:00 Lead consultant, Ben Schwencke, explains what emotional stability is.

Emotional stability is a personality trait which determines how calm, collected, and emotionally consistent a person is. Emotional stability is a reversal of the personality trait “Neuroticism”, which determines how much negative affect, emotional volatility, and mood fluctuation a person displays. People who score highly on emotional stability (and thus low on neuroticism) are likely to remain calm during periods of stress, rarely experiencing mood fluctuations while showing lower levels of negative emotionality. Those scoring low on emotional stability (and thus high on neuroticism), are more likely to experience emotional outbursts, struggling to contain their emotionality during difficult times.

Emotional stability is a major constituent of the Big Five personality traits, alongside conscientiousness, openness to experiences, agreeableness and extraversion.

Emotional Stability or neuroticism are both commonly included in other models of personality, including the HEXACO model of personality and the 16PF model. Therefore, emotional stability is very frequently included into commercial personality questionnaires, along with the specific sub-traits which collectively underpin emotional stability.

In employee selection, emotional stability shows a weak, but consistent positive relationship with job performance.

Barrick & Mount, 1991

By acting as a buffer against stress related illness and burnout, helps employees to stay focused and continue performing. Emotional stability is also a major component of the core-self evaluations, which is an even stronger predictor of performance in the workplace.

Bono & Judge, 2003
For maximum effect, emotional stability should be reserved as an employee selection criterion for particularly stressful or high-pressure roles, helping to avoid adverse stress related health outcomes.