Drug initiation, imprudent sexual relations, reckless driving, and alcohol abuse are common health-related risk behaviours in society. The literature has shown how such behaviours are often related to low levels of Emotional Intelligence (EI). In this respect, the factors underlying this relationship have received little attention in empirical research. Different personality traits have previously been linked to risk. In this regard, reward sensitivity and impulsivity are traits that have shown aa strong relationship with the risk construct. The aim of this study was to explore the relationship between EI and health risk behaviour by including reward sensitivity and impulsivity as mediating factors of this relationship.
A community sample of 250 Spanish participants (28.4% male) aged 18-59 years (Mage=23.6) was recruited. Participants were assessed for their levels of EI, health risk behaviour, sensitivity to reward and impulsivity. In this paper we measured EI through a performance test (MSCEIT).
Our results support the relationship between EI and health risk behaviour. In addition, a significant indirect effect was found between EI and health risk behaviour through the mediating role of the dimensions of impulsivity most related to emotional processes (sensation seeking, positive urgency and negative urgency) and sensitivity to reward. Finally, emotional management was the EI ability that had the greatest weight in the prediction of health risk behaviours.
This work sheds light on the understanding of the mechanisms underlying the relationship between EI and health risk behaviour, which may be partially explained by the traits of sensitivity to reward and impulsivity. Further research is needed to confirm the causal relationship between these variables. These findings could form the basis for the establishment of emotional skills training programmes as a strategy to prevent risky behaviour.