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Research on ability and trait emotional intelligence in Serbia: Efforts to validate the constructs and latest insights into t

Efforts to validate the constructs and latest insights into their relationships with demographic variables

Ana Altaras Dimitrijevic and Zorana Jolic Marjanovic


The lifetime of the construct of El corresponds to a period of immense changes in Serbia: The year when the construct was introduced (Salovey & Mayer, 1990) was also the year of the first independence referendum in former Yugoslavia - an introduction into the breakup of the federal state, of which Serbia was then a part; in 1995, when El made the cover of Time magazine, Serbia was also making headlines, as it was involved in negotiations to end the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina; in 1999, El was proclaimed to meet the standards for a true intelligence (Mayer, Caruso, & Salovey, 1999), while Serbia was the focus of military intelligence, targeted by NATO airstrikes after another series of fierce ethnic conflicts in Kosovo; in 2000, the English- speaking world got its first handbook on El (Bar-On & Parker, 2000), and Serbia finally got a new government and its hopes up high for a “normal life” - soon to turn into disillusion after the country’s prime minister was assassinated (2003) and its leadership left loopholes for retrogressive ideologies and corruption to shoot up ... And yet, while Serbian intelligentsia has been pouring out of the country, obtaining the necessary permits as they go, El has made it into Serbia with clean papers - a licensed translation of the leading test of ability El (see the next section for more details).

For facts about contemporary life and current socio-economic developments in Serbia the reader is referred to elsewhere (see e.g., the website of the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia, US). Rather than repeat any of these facts, we will spell out several features of life in Serbia - probably also common to other ex-Yugoslavian/Balkan/ Southeastern European countries - which, in our view, lend particular relevance to the notion of El in this part of the world; (1) Due to a chain of turbulent historical events, and lack of both time and willingness to properly confront them, Serbia carries a great burden of unresolved social trauma;

(2) For the same reason, Serbia’s cultural life has diminished, and so too have options for sublimation and catharsis through art; (3) With many national resources destroyed and/or sold below their real value, economic development seems to depend much on individual creativity, private entrepreneurship, and self-motivation; (4) Even since before the collapse of the value system through wars and socio-economic crises, rules and procedures have seldom been applied strictly and impartially, making everyday life relatively unpredictable and often calling upon one’s personal adroitness and wit to get things done; (5) Interpersonal relations are marked by a comparatively high level of emotionality and enmeshment, which also means that emotions may be exchanged with little holding back and mentalizing. In view of these challenges, work on emotional intelligence seems equally important for improving the quality of life in Serbia as sheer material progress.

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