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Historical overview of the development of the EI construct in Croatia

The study of the emotional intelligence (El) construct in Croatia has a long history that started in 1994 with the doctoral dissertation of Vladimir Taksic for whom Drs. Jack D. Mayer and Peter Salovey provided assistance for the collected literature and proposal. Since El was a relatively new concept there were challenges in justifying its scientific appropriateness and in gaining access to major research journals in the US and also in Croatia. Through much persistence, Taksic completed the thesis titled “Validation of Emotional Intelligence Construct” in 1998, which was based on the Mayer and Salovey (1997) model. Sixteen distinct abilities from the model listed in Mayer and Salovey (1997) were operationalized using self-report scales. Factor analysis revealed three latent dimensions, which were: (1) ability to perceive and understand emotions; (2) ability to express and label emotions; and (3) ability to manage and regulate emotions. These factors became the basis for the Emotional Skills and Competence Questionnaire (ESCQ; Taksic, 2002; Taksic, Mohoric, & Duran, 2009).

Since 1998 several PhD and Master’s theses were written in Croatia, mainly at the University of Zagreb, under the mentorship of three professors: Alija Kulenovic (who unfortunately passed away in 2004), Vladimir Taksic, and Vesna Busko. The dissertation topics were mostly related to the validation of well-known El instruments (Matesic, 2003), or the construction of new scales (Busko & Babic Cikes, 2013; Mohoric, Taksic, & Sekuljica, 2016), which will be presented in more detail in this chapter.

The El field in Croatia was supported in November 2003 by a visit by Dr. Jack Mayer who gave lectures at the Universities of Rijeka and Zagreb and was a keynote speaker at the 11th National Psychological Conference in Zadar. Dr. Marc Brackett presented at the University of Rijeka while visiting Croatia on several occasions (along with Zorana Ivcevic), initiating work on his emotional literacy (EL) program. Radenka Munjas Samarin (2007) adapted the EL program for Croatian settings and found positive effects of EL in several schools in the Rijeka region. International collaborations on the cross-cultural study of emotional competence began at the International Congress of Psychology held in Stockholm in 2000, where a research team from Rijeka presented their work. The first cross-cultural studies of the ESCQ were conducted by a group of researchers (which included Stefan Holmstrom and John Jansson) led by Professor Bo Molander in Sweden. Subsequently Hiroshi Toyota (Japan), Luisa Faria (Portugal), Pablo Fernandez and Natalio Extremera (Spain), Andreja Avsec (Slovenia), Hannu Raty (Finland), Qinmei Xu (China), Sevginar Vatan (Turkey), and their colleagues translated and adapted the ESCQ for use in their countries. The main conclusion derived from these studies was that “the ESCQ proved to be a reliable and valid measure in varied contexts, evidencing construct, convergent, divergent and concurrent validity” (Faria et al., 2006, p. 22). Collaborations in El were further developed in Croatia after hosting the 3rd International Congress in Emotional Intelligence (ICEI) in Opatija in September 2011 (Taksic, 2011).

From the efforts to develop El in Croatia, neighboring countries such as Slovenia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (Lepir, Lakic, & Taksic, 2018), and Macedonia increased the number of doctoral research studies conducted on the topic, often using Croatian measurement instruments that were translated and adapted. Taksic and Vucenovic (2009, 2012) contributed to the international recognition of the El construct in the region through presentations and workshops. In addition, special topics journals - the Slovenian journal Psiholoska obzorja (Horizons of Psychology, 2009) and two editions of the Croatian journal Psihologijske teme (Psychological Topics, 2011 and 2020) have focused on current El research. The following section describes the ESCQ in greater depth and presents other El measures that were developed in Croatia as part of efforts to advance the field.

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