The role of trait emotional intelligence in emotion regulation and performance under pressure
This study explored the role of trait emotional intelligence (EI) in emotion regulation and performance under pressure. Twenty-eight tennis players performed two series of 35 serves, separated by a pressure manipulation. Reaction to pressure was assessed using both subjective (self-report emotion questionnaire) and objective (cortisol secretion, tennis serve success) measures. The pressure manipulation was successful with observed increases in anxiety and decreases in self-confidence and tennis serve performance. Trait EI was found to predict cortisol secretion over state emotion measures. Performance under pressure was predicted by self-confidence and cortisol secretion, but not by trait EI. These findings provide some preliminary evidence that trait EI and cortisol secretion are important in athlete responses to pressure situations.