Higher emotional intelligence leads to better decision-making

The anxiety people feel making investment decisions may have more to do with the traffic they dealt with earlier than the potential consequences they face with the investment, but not if the decision-maker has high emotional intelligence a recent study published in Psychological Science suggests.

The study shows that understanding the source and relevance of emotions influences how much sway they have over individuals' decision-making and can affect the willingness to take risks.

"People often make decisions that are influenced by emotions that have nothing to do with the decisions they are making," says Stéphane Côté, a professor at the University of Toronto's Rotman School of Management, who co-wrote the study with lead researcher Jeremy Yip of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. "Research has found that we fall prey to this all the time.

"People are driving and it's frustrating," says Prof. Côté. "They get to work and the emotions they felt in their car influences what they do in their offices. Or they invest money based on emotions that stem from things unrelated to their investments. But our investigation reveals that if they have , they are protected from these biases."

The study's first experiment showed that participants with lower levels of emotional understanding allowed anxiety unrelated to decisions they were making concerning risk influence these decisions. Those with higher emotional intelligence did not.

A separate experiment involving the willingness to sign up for a flu clinic found that people with lower levels of emotional intelligence can also block unrelated emotions from influencing their decisions about risk, simply by making them aware that their anxiety was not related to the decisions at hand.

"The findings suggest that an emotionally intelligent approach to making decisions is if you're feeling anxious because of something unrelated to the decisions, to not make the decisions right away," suggests Prof. Côté.

The findings likely apply not only to a person may experience but positive ones too, such as excitement. And far from suggesting people should try to rid themselves of all influence in their decision-making, the paper points out that learning to pay attention only to those feelings that are relevant to the decisions being made is what counts.

"People who are emotionally intelligent don't remove all emotions from their decision-making," says Prof. Côté. "They remove emotions that have nothing to do with the decision."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How about dessert?

May 30, 2008

People with highly developed emotional sensibilities are better at making product choices, according to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research.

Recommended for you

Brains transform remote threats into anxiety

Nov 21, 2014

Modern life can feel defined by low-level anxiety swirling through society. Continual reports about terrorism and war. A struggle to stay on top of family finances and hold onto jobs. An onslaught of news ...

Mental disorders due to permanent stress

Nov 21, 2014

Activated through permanent stress, immune cells will have a damaging effect on and cause changes to the brain. This may result in mental disorders. The effects of permanent stress on the immune system are studied by the ...

Could there be a bright side to depression?

Nov 21, 2014

(Medical Xpress)—A group of researchers studying the roots of depression has developed a test that leads them closer to the idea that depression may actually be an adaptation meant to help people cope with ...

User comments

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Jim4321
not rated yet Nov 20, 2013
Um. Is this a tautology?

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.