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Eur J Sport Sci. 2019 Mar;19(2):225-233. doi: 10.1080/17461391.2018.1510037. Epub 2018 Aug 22.

The effect of athletic expertise and trait emotional intelligence on decision-making.

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a School of Psychological and Social Sciences , York St John University , York , UK.
b Department of Performance Psychology , German Sport University Cologne , Cologne , Germany.
c Université de Caen Basse-Normandie , University of Caen , Caen , France.
d School of Psychology , University of Ulster , Ulster , UK.


The quality of decision and assessment of risk are key determinants of successful sport performance. Athletes differ fundamentally in their decision-making ability according to their athletic expertise level. Moreover, given the influence of emotions on decision-making, it is likely that a trait reflecting emotional functioning, trait emotional intelligence, may also influence decision-making. Therefore, the aim of this research was to investigate the respective contribution of athletic expertise and trait emotional intelligence to non-athletic decision-making. In total, 269 participants aged between 18 and 26 years with a range of athletic experience i.e. none (n = 71), novice (n = 54), amateur (n = 55), elite (n = 45) and super-elite (n = 44), completed the Emotional Intelligence Scale and the Cambridge Gambling Task. Regression modelling indicated a significant positive relationship of athletic expertise and trait emotional intelligence with the quality of decision-making, and a negative relationship with deliberation time and risk-taking. Cognitive skills transfer may explain the higher decision-making scores associated with higher athletic expertise, while individuals with higher trait emotional intelligence may anticipate better the emotional consequences linked with a gambling task, which may help individuals make better decisions and take less risks.


Trait emotional intelligence; decision-making; elite athletes; expertise; non-expert athletes

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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