Instruments constructed in Croatian settings

Self-reported scales

Emotional Skills and Competence Questionnaire

As previously noted, the Emotional Skills and Competence Questionnaire (ESCQ) was the first self-reported El scale from Croatia (Taksic, 1998). The items of the ESCQ were generated using a standard procedure. Experts in psychology of emotion as well as trained students were involved in creating, reviewing, and categorizing 300 items for the 16 categories from the Mayer and Salovey (1997) model. Items were kept on a scale if at least two-thirds of judges placed them in the same category. The next phase included iterative sub-steps in which the goal was to find the best possible combination of items maintaining decent internal consistency (Taksic, 2001; Taksic, Jurin, & Cvenic, 2001). The final scale was composed of 136 items divided into 16 subscales with six to ten items in each. The reliability coefficients of the subscales varied from .68 to .83. A common factor analysis was applied to these subscales and the results suggested the existence of three significant factors: perception and understanding of emotion (PU), expression and labeling emotion (EL), and management and regulation of emotion (MR). The items in each scale were retained according to high loading with common factor and positive orientation (Taksic, 1998). Having in mind that self-reported measures do not reflect actual performance, “it might be better to say that these measures assess emotional ‘competence’ rather than intelligence” (Ciarrochi, Chan, Caputi, & Roberts, 2001, p. 44), and so as to avoid misunderstandings related to criticism that self-rating scales do not assess intelligence (ability), the scale was therefore named the Emotional Skills and Competence Questionnaire.

Several empirical studies were conducted to examine the convergent- divergent validity of the ESCQ (Avsec, Taksic, & Mohoric, 2009; Taksic, 1998, Taksic 2001) and found correlations with different measures of emotional intelligence, alexithymia, social skills, Big Five personality dimensions, and Block’s ego-resiliency. As expected, the highest correlations were obtained with the Schutte self-report Emotional Intelligence Scale, and the Alexithymia exhibited negative correlation coefficients with ESCQ subscales (Taksic, 2001).

Among the social skills, the strongest correlations were found with emotional sensitivity and social expression (Taksic, 1998). The highest correlation of ESCQ subscales with the Big Five factors has been found with Openness/ Intellect (Taksic, 2001), stressing the connection of emotional ability and the cognitive aspects of the personality traits. The correlations with the other four dimensions of the Big Five were somewhat lower, and in a range from .30 to .50. It allowed for the conclusion that the ESCQ had demonstrated decent divergent validity from well-known personality traits (Avsec et al., 2009). Especially interesting in terms of convergent validity of the ESCQ was finding a relationship with Block’s ego-resiliency concept, which is defined as “the linkages of the ego structures that keep the personality system within tenable bounds or permit the finding again of psychologically tenable adaptation modes” (Block & Kremen, 1996, p. 350). A possible explanation for the strong connection between emotional competence and the construct of ego- resiliency was given by Carolyn Saarni (1999) who treats resilience as a basic ingredient of emotional competence.

Predictive validity of the ESCQ was examined using various criteria such as life satisfaction, empathy, quality of leadership, engaging in unhealthy and risk behaviors (in adolescence), and school achievement (Taksic, Stokalo, & Kolic Vehovec, 2003). Life satisfaction and empathy were chosen as the main criteria according to the authors of El theory (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000) and the ESCQ satisfied both. High correlations have been found between the ESCQ and a cognitive aspect of empathy (perspective-taking). These correlations confirmed a close connection between emotional competencies and empathy, a result also found in many other studies (e.g., Austin, Evans, Goldwater, & Potter, 2005; Mayer et al., 2000).

High correlations between the ESCQ and various measures of life satisfaction emerged in almost every study (Extremera & Fernandez-Berrocal, 2005; Ruiz-Aranda, Extremera, & Pineda-Galan, 2014; Taksic, 1998; Taksic & Mohoric, 2009). Moreover, the ESCQ explained a high percentage of variance of life satisfaction over and above various variables from the self-concept domain, as well as social skills (Riggio & Throckmorton, 1986), confirming its incremental validity (Taksic & Mohoric, 2009). In comparison with other variables from the self-concept construct, the stepwise regression analyses confirmed that emotional management and regulation skills were the most important predictors of life satisfaction.

The highest predictive validity of the ESCQ has been found for the quality of leadership from Yukl’s taxonomy (Yukl, 1994). The correlations of supervisors’ leadership abilities, perceived by their followers, with the scores on the ESCQ were surprisingly high (between .46 and .61; Taksic, Tkalcic, & Brajkovic, 2001). Additionally, using structural equation modeling, a significant indirect effect of emotional competence on productivity via leadership abilities was found. A detailed analysis revealed that around two-thirds of team productivity was due to the mediating effect of the supervisor’s emotional competencies, and only one-third belonged to a direct effect of the perceived quality of supervising. An empirical argument could be that leaders with high emotional competencies create an encouraging atmosphere and could motivate followers to be more productive. Gruicic and Benton (2015) used the ESCQ in a study of the effects of mind-body training on the development of emotional competences of managers. Results showed that the experimental group achieved around 15 percent higher scores after training compared to the results before training on all three subscales of the ESCQ. Among many sociodemographic and personality predictors of unhealthy and risky health behaviors in adolescents, a significant and unique contribution has been found for the Manage and Regulate emotion subscale of the ESCQ. Adolescents with higher scores on the ESCQ were significantly less involved in health risk behaviors such as smoking, drinking alcohol, and using drugs (Taksic & Rafajac, 2002). In addition, adolescents with high emotional sensitivity, but low ability to regulate and manage emotions, were more susceptible to developing symptoms of depression and engaging in unhealthy behavior (Vucenovic, 2009).

A low, but significant correlation with school achievement was found for the ESCQ subscales (Taksic et al., 2003). Moreover, the ESCQ score offered a significant contribution in explaining the variance of school achievement over and above four classical IQ tests. This stresses the importance of the ability to manage and regulate emotions in academic settings. The findings were confirmed in a follow-up study with the same IQ tests (Taksic & Mohoric, 2007). Correlations between emotional intelligence and school achievement were found in a research conducted by Costa and Faria (2016). They used the ESCQ in a longitudinal study of Portuguese secondary school children, together with the Vocabulary of Emotion Test (VET; Taksic, Harambasic, & Velemir, 2004a). According to their results, El showed different developmental trajectories, with the ESCQ results remaining stable over time. Students from lower sociocultural and lower professional status backgrounds demonstrated a significantly greater increase on the ESCQ.

The ESCQ was translated and adapted for use in many countries. It has revealed good psychometric properties in several cultural settings (Faria et al., 2006; Taksic et al., 2009), confirming the three-factor structure. It shares a moderately high amount of common variance with the scales derived from similar constructs, but also a great deal of unique variance remains. This unique variance of the ESCQ scales had an incremental validity in life satisfaction as the crucial criterion for El but also in other real-life criteria. The relationship of the ESCQ with related constructs supports the hypothesis that the emotional competence is a distinct construct of so-called (positive) “emotional traits” (Mayer, 2001), and that “El appears as a variable on the boundary between personality and cognition” (McCrae, 2000, p. 268). However, as the reliability of the MR subscale turned out to be lower especially in cross-cultural studies, improvements of some items might help to raise its value (Molander, Holmstrom, & Taksic, 2009, 2011). The ESCQ is somewhat vulnerable to the influence of cultural values, as several items have demonstrated a larger degree of social complexity. It is likely that specific Croatian values have influenced such items during the construction of the questionnaire.

What is surprising is that the number of DIF items seems to be a strong indicator of the cultural distance between countries. Since item bias can be caused by culture-specific factors or cultural specifics inherent in the content and connotation of the item (van der Vijver & Tanzer, 2004), a large number of DIF items can indicate cultural dissimilarities (Mohoric & Taksic, 2016b). If this finding is supported in future studies, a better understanding of the cross-cultural variation of emotional intelligence will emerge.

Since the ESCQ is a widely used instrument, a version that can be utilized with a younger population is a necessity. Therefore, we developed and validated the Emotional Skills and Competence Questionnaire for Children, which contains fewer items than the adult version and had some language adaptations (Mohoric, 2020; Stupin, Mohoric, & Ilijasic Versic, 2017). We plan to continue our work on this instrument.

Emotional Regulation and Control Questionnaire

Following the idea of Watson and Clark (1997), that pleasant and unpleasant emotions and moods have independent effects in various real-life situations, the Emotional Regulation and Control Questionnaire (ERIK) contains 20 items (out of the original version of 136 items) dealing with the unpleasant context. It contains items from Branch В of the Mayer and Salovey model, dealing with the effect emotions have on thinking and on behavior. Also, some items deal with the ability to control (unpleasant) emotions and moods. Different models of factor structure of ERIK were tested using confirmatory factor analysis on various samples, respecting the gender and educational level of participants (Taksic et al., 2003). The model’s congruence with obtained data was compared using standard goodness-of-fit indices. The results have shown that the one-factor model satisfies all the criteria. The three-factor model had the best goodness-of-fit indices, but the problem of weak reliability of the third factor emerged in every sample. The results also suggested that greater experience (and higher educational level) leads to better regulation and control over negative emotions. ERIK has satisfactory prognostic validity especially for unhealthy and risk behaviors (Taksic, 2003).

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