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

Robert Vaughan, Sylvain Laborde, Christopher McConville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


The quality of decision and assessment of risk is a key determinant 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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)225-233
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Sport Science
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 22 Aug 2018


  • Trait emotional intelligence,
  • decision-making
  • expertise,
  • elite athletes
  • non-expert athletes


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