Emotional intelligence (EI) is the presumed ability to successfully understand and manage emotion. EI may affect the ability of security personnel to gauge the relevance of emotional cues in determining whether a suspect is a terrorist. 180 participants decided whether "virtual reality" animated characters were to be designated as terrorists, in a discrimination-learning paradigm. Three types of identifying cue (positive or negative facial emotion, and an emotion-neutral cue) were manipulated, and the number of errors was recorded, over 100 trials. EI, personality, and general cognitive ability were assessed pre-task. Subjective state was assessed pre- and post-task. Results showed faster learning with emotive cues. EI and personality failed to predict performance; but EI predicted subjective state, which predicted rate of learning with emotive cues. Practical techniques for support of security personnel should focus on how subjective states may impact attention to potentially relevant cues to the status of a suspect.