Higher levels of emotional intelligence have been associated with better inter and intrapersonal functioning. In the present study, 59 healthy men and women were randomized into either a three-week online training program targeted to improve emotional intelligence (n = 29), or a placebo control training program targeted to improve awareness of nonemotional aspects of the environment (n = 30). Compared to placebo, participants in the emotional intelligence training group showed increased performance on the total emotional intelligence score of the Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test, a performance measure of emotional intelligence, as well as subscales of perceiving emotions and facilitating thought. Moreover, after emotional intelligence training, but not after placebo training, individuals displayed the ability to arrive at optimal performance faster (i.e., they showed a faster learning rate) during an emotion-guided decision-making task (i.e., the Iowa Gambling Task). More specifically, although both groups showed similar performance at the start of the Iowa Gambling Task from pre- to posttraining, the participants in the emotional intelligence training group learned to choose more advantageous than disadvantageous decks than those in the placebo training group by the time they reached the “hunch” period of the task (i.e., the point in the task when implicit task learning is thought to have occurred). Greater total improvements in performance on the Iowa Gambling Task from pre- to posttraining in the emotional intelligence training group were also positively correlated with pre- to posttraining changes in Mayer–Salovey–Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test scores, in particular with changes in the ability to perceive emotions. The present study provides preliminary evidence that emotional intelligence can be trained with the help of an online training program targeted at adults; it also suggests that changes in emotional intelligence, as a result of such a program, can lead to improved emotion-guided decision-making.
- Iowa Gambling Task
- emotion-guided decision-making
- emotional intelligence
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