The Ability to Follow Your Gut: Emotion-Understanding Ability Leverages Feelings to Avoid Risk
Posted: 12 Oct 2014 Last revised: 28 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 10, 2014
Emotional intelligence facilitates decision-making about risk. We propose that emotionally intelligent individuals make better decisions because they adaptively use their immediate feelings as a source of information about different decision options. We examine whether emotion-understanding ability (a primary dimension of emotional intelligence) helps individuals rely on their skin-conductance responses as signals about the potential danger associated with risky decision options. By correctly identifying the source of their skin-conductance responses, individuals with higher emotion-understanding ability use their feelings as relevant information to avoid choosing risky decision options. As predicted, we find that individuals with higher emotion-understanding ability exhibited a stronger association between skin-conductance responses and avoidance of risky options in the Iowa Gambling Task, relative to individuals with lower emotion-understanding ability. We also find that emotional intelligence enhances decision-making independently of cognitive intelligence. These results suggest that emotional intelligence enables individuals to use their feelings adaptively to guide decisions about risk.
Keywords: risk, decision-making, emotional intelligence, emotion understanding, skin-conductance response
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