Review of selected research in Poland

In the last two decades a wide range of El research has emerged in Poland. El research activity has intensified since 2010 with more studies appearing every year. Academic research tends to focus on El through the ability model while business research and application tends to focus on the trait and competency models. However, El research in Poland is limited to the types of El measures that are available, which tend to be self-report and therefore aligned with traits or self-perception of El abilities. The benefits of El have been established in a variety of contexts. The sample of research studies below cover the areas of gender differences, partner selection, deviant personality traits, mental health and alcohol use, coping, work environments, and El development.

One area of interest in El research in Poland, as in other countries, is gender differences (Knopp, 2012). Jaworowska and Matczak (2005) found a lack of statistically significant differences in the overall El result for men and women. In another study, however, they demonstrated that women from various age groups (middle school, high school, and adults) obtained higher scores compared to men on interpersonal components of El and that adult women scored higher than men on measures of intrapersonal El (Matczak & Jaworowska, 2006). Other studies note that differences between the sexes are particularly visible in the area of reading emotions based on mimic expression, and women’s higher results pertain to the recognition of positive emotions (Matczak, Piekarska, & Studniarek, 2005). Boruc (2009) also found women scoring higher than men in a sample of individuals serving prison sentences in Poland. Surprisingly the convicted group overall had higher ratings of El when compared to non-convicted individuals which may be a function of the need for adaptation in prison conditions.

From a developmental perspective, differences between sexes in expressing emotions are marked since the early childhood. Szczygiet and colleagues (Szczygiel, 2008; Szczygiel & Kietkiewicz-Okrzesik, 2005; Szczygiet & Kolanczyk, 2000) reported differences in verbal emotional expression and a female prevalence in using more diverse vocabulary to describe their own and other people’s emotional states. However, in contrast to emotional expression, Jaworowska and Matczak (2005) found that males from the middle school students group obtained better results in emotional understanding and awareness. Empathy is another component with significant differences in favor of women, with higher scores noted among students as well as adults (Jaworowska & Matczak, 2005; Wytykowska & Petrides, 2007). By contrast Jaworowska and Matczak (2005) found that men obtained higher results in emotional regulation. The pattern of gender differences parallels the mixed results of gender comparison from other countries. Women tend to be better at recognizing and expressing their emotions and in regulating the emotions of others while men tend to be better at coping and regulating their own emotions.

An interesting contrast to these gender patterns comes from a study by Rutkowska and Bergier (2015) who studied gender in female soccer players. They found that the women who scored high on both male and female scales of a gender indicator inventory (indicating more qualities of androgyny) had higher levels of trait El than those who did not score high on both scales. They suggest that the androgyny characteristics, by encompassing both typical male and female qualities, lead one to be more adaptable in a wider range of situations which is also associated with the adaptability and flexibility of high trait El.

Pokorski and Kuchcewicz (2012) studied El with regard to choosing mates. The results showed that El is a significant factor influencing the process of partner selection and the strongest predictor was their own ability to perceive emotions. They found no differences in relationship quality between couples that were married and those that were cohabitating. While women in their study reported lower degrees of relationship satisfaction, this factor was mitigated by greater emotional engagement.

Examples of El research in personality problems include a study by Czarna, Leifeld, Smieja, Dufner, and Salovey (2016), which examined narcissism and popularity and found that El as measured by the Polish designed measure Test of Emotional Intelligence (TIE; Smieja, Orzechowski, & Beauvale, 2007) was advantageous in increasing popularity over time while narcissism features led to a decrease in popularity. Another study challenged the assumption that Machiavellian individuals are high on interpersonal skills in order to manipulate others. El was negatively correlated with such deviant personality characteristics although it did mediate Machiavellianism’s predictive relationship for social competence (Pilch, 2008). A limitation in this study was the use of self-reported El, which could be confounded by the social desirability effect.

The area of mental health is a highly relevant application for El. Kulikowska and Pokorski (2008) studied profiles of adolescents who commit acts of self-injury and found a pattern of fewer emotions directed toward the self, lower ratings of social competence for relationships, and lower assertiveness along with predominance of emotion-focused (rather than problem- focused) coping strategies. Tsirigotis (2016) supports this view in a study with young adults and found that El negatively correlates with intensity of indirect self-destructiveness. Tsirigotis and Luczak (2016) found that women experiencing domestic violence had lower El (as measured by the INTE) than a matched control group.

Kopera and colleagues produced a series of studies on El and alcohol dependence (Kopera et al., 2017). El was associated with the severity of alcohol dependence and relapse where patients who drank more heavily were more likely to report difficulties in identifying feelings and utilizing emotional information. They identified deficits in the El component of emotion regulation as a mediating variable in alcohol-dependent patients. After accounting for other factors, emotion regulation mediated the relationship between depression and physical pain and partially influenced the relationship between anxiety and pain. With regard to suicide, deficits in emotional regulation and low optimism mediated a history of suicide attempts in its relationships with depression and with neuroticism (Kopera et al., 2018).

In contrast to the focus on El deficits in mental health issues and alcohol dependence, other researchers have identified how El can address stress and positive behaviors, and build resiliency. Al Sudani and Budzynska (2015) found that higher El, particularly identifying and using emotions, was associated with the use of physical activity to cope with stress in adolescents. El also predicted increases in pro-health behavior in later adulthood (Sygit- Kowalkowska, Sygit, & Sygit, 2015). A positive psychology variable that plays a role in El as a resiliency factor is hope. Matczak and Salata (2010) explained the role of El in strengthening hope as a moderator of the impact of life events and a prerequisite of life successes.

Research in the workplace found that El is associated with less burnout and greater effectiveness. Szczygiel and Mikolajczak (2018) found that El creates a buffering effect for burnout in a population of nursing professionals. Sales service workers who are required to display “fake smiles” to interact with customers, despite their authentic feelings, tend to experience emotional exhaustion from the continual demands of managing their feelings. In this population, Szczygiel (2018) found that high trait El was associated with the prevention of burnout and lower degrees of emotional exhaustion. Oginska-Bulik (2005) also found a predictive relationship between El and workplace-occupational stress in human service workers. In one of the few studies in Poland that utilized the El abilities-based measure, MSCEIT, Golonka and Mojsa-Kaja (2013) found El to be related to a team role and teamwork effectiveness in the workplace. Higher levels of El were found in first-rate wrestling coaches and instructors in comparison to lower-rated coaches (Rutkowska & Gierczuk, 2012).

Kuk, Guszkowska, and Gala-Kwiatkowska (2019) studied a method of developing El. They found increases in El after a 36-hour program of psychology workshop training and promoted the importance of including El development in educators and coaches. Stachyra (2007) used music therapy techniques involving visualization and music to develop emotional competence. The therapy program consisted of nine sessions, twice a week for a month, and led to decreases in anxiety and increases in self-esteem. In a different creative art modality, Gajda (2014) presented a case study using drama activities in educational settings to work with students exhibiting social, emotional, and behavioral difficulties.

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