Pediatricians-in-training scored 10 percent higher on emotional intelligence than the general population, according to a new study in the Journal of Contemporary Medical Education.

There are a few specific character traits that make up your larger emotional intelligence, or EI — things like empathy and your sense of social responsibility, assertiveness and independence, as well as impulse control. Researchers from the Loyola University Medical Center found that pediatricians-in training scored above average all all of those measures. (The doctors-to-be took a 133-question online survey assessing their emotional intelligence.) Their combined median score on all measures of EI was 110 — the average score for the general population is 100, according to the study press release.

Having high emotional intelligence is obviously important for a doctor — good bedside manner, for example, and the ability to empathize with patients makes for a better physician. And of course, people who already want to devote their careers to helping kids probably lean towards compassion in the first place. But we can all benefit from improved awareness, control, and ability to express our emotions.

That’s the heartening thing about emotional intelligence, too: Unlike IQ, emotional intelligence can be learned. As this Harvard Business Review piece explains, changing your EI is hard but not impossible, and getting feedback from others on your progress can prevent your own biases from muddling your growth. (Like thinking you’re making amazing strides at practicing self control or empathy when your partner or friends can see that the progress is, well, slow.)

If you need motivation to improve your EI, consider the wealth of research the HBR piece points to linking high EI to better physical health, happiness and work performance.

Read more about the study findings here.

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