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To date, the majority of research on emotional labor has focused on outcomes that occur in the workplace. However, research has yet to consider the possibility that the daily effects of emotional labor spill over to life outside of work, even though a large body of literature examining the spillover from work life to home life indicates that work experiences influence employees after they leave the workplace. Accordingly, we examined the influence of day-to-day surface acting on 3 types of theoretically derived stress outcomes experienced at home: emotional exhaustion, work-to-family conflict, and insomnia. In an experience sampling field study of 78 bus drivers, we found that daily surface acting was connected to increases in each of the outcomes noted above. Moreover, surface acting had an indirect effect on emotional exhaustion and insomnia via state anxiety.
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PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
2013, 00, 1–30
DRIVING IT HOME: HOW WORKPLACE EMOTIONAL
LABOR HARMS EMPLOYEE HOME LIFE
DAVID T. WAGNER
Singapore Management University
CHRISTOPHER M. BARNES
University of Washington
BRENT A. SCOTT
Michigan State University
To date, the majority of research on emotional labor has focused on
outcomes that occur in the workplace. However, research has yet to
consider the possibility that the daily effects of emotional labor spill
over to life outside of work, even though a large body of literature ex-
amining the spillover from work life to home life indicates that work
experiences influence employees after they leave the workplace. Ac-
cordingly, we examined the influence of day-to-day surface acting on
3 types of theoretically derived stress outcomes experienced at home:
emotional exhaustion, work-to-family conflict, and insomnia. In an ex-
perience sampling field study of 78 bus drivers, we found that daily
surface acting was connected to increases in each of the outcomes noted
above. Moreover, surface acting had an indirect effect on emotional
exhaustion and insomnia via state anxiety.
Employee affective states vary over time (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996).
However, many service-oriented jobs require employees to follow inte-
grative display rules mandating the display of positive affect and the
suppression of negative affect (Brotheridge & Grandey, 2002; Groth,
Hennig-Thurau, & Walsh, 2009; Van Maanen & Kunda, 1989), in a process
referred to as emotional labor (Hochschild, 1979, 1983). The literature on
emotional labor has distinguished between two primary ways in which
employees may conform to display rules: deep acting and surface acting.
Deep acting involves attempting to change actual feelings to match re-
quired displays. In contrast, surface acting involves attempting to change
affective displays without altering underlying feelings (Grandey, 2000;
We thank Fred Nelson for providing access to participants and for facilitating data
collection. We also thank Maria Kraimer and two anonymous reviewers for their productive
feedback throughout the review process.
Correspondence and requests for reprints should be addressed to David Wagner, Lee
Kong Chian School of Business, Singapore Management University, 50 Stamford Road
#05-01, Singapore 178899; dwagner@smu.edu.sg.
C
2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc. doi: 10.1111/peps.12044
1
2 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
see also Gross, 1998b). Although research indicates that deep acting may
have both advantages and disadvantages, surface acting has consistently
been shown to be detrimental to employees, inducing psychological strain
(H¨
ulsheger & Schewe, 2011).
The majority of studies on emotional labor have been cross-sectional,
focusing on differences in employees’ typical levels of surface acting and
deep acting. However, recent longitudinal investigations have uncovered
the dynamic effects of emotional labor, revealing that employees differ in
their day-to-day use of surface acting and deep acting, with these daily
fluctuations influencing important work outcomes such as day-to-day job
satisfaction and work withdrawal (Judge, Woolf, & Hurst, 2009; Scott
& Barnes, 2011). These recent investigations have advanced research on
emotional labor by illustrating that an employee’s day-to-day engagement
in surface acting is associated with important consequences. However,
these specific examinations of the dynamic nature of emotional labor, as
well as theories of emotional labor in general (e.g., Grandey, 2000), have
focused almost exclusively on outcomes observed in the workplace. A
large body of literature examining spillover effects from work to home
indicates that work experiences influence employees even after they leave
the workplace (Eby, Maher, & Butts, 2010; Greenhaus & Beutell, 1985;
Ilies et al., 2007; Ilies, Wilson, & Wagner, 2009; Kossek & Ozeki, 1998),
suggesting that the daily effects of emotional labor might not be restricted
to the workplace but may also spill into other domains.
Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to extend theory and research
on emotional labor by examining the extent to which the daily effects
of emotional labor transcend the work boundary and are thus evident in
the home domain. To do so, we integrated Grandey’s (2000) model of
emotional labor with Lazarus and Folkman’s (1984) framework of stress
reactions. These reactions include three specific dimensions of individual
outcomes: emotion (morale), social functioning, and somatic health. Given
both theoretical (Grandey, 2000) and empirical (Judge et al., 2009; Scott &
Barnes, 2011) indications that daily well-being is affected more by surface
acting than deep acting, we focus our investigation on surface acting.
Specifically, we hypothesize that surface acting—a workplace stressor—
on a given work day creates anxiety, which in turn influences outcomes
that are experienced later in the day in the form of emotional exhaustion,
work-to-family conflict, and insomnia. Overall, this integration extends
Grandey’s model beyond strictly workplace-relevant outcomes to also
include outcomes that bridge work and other domains, and does so at the
daily level.
In addition to the theoretical reasons for our choice of outcomes, there
are also good practical reasons for focusing on these outcomes. First, stress
outcomes, including emotional exhaustion, work-to-family conflict, and
DAVID T. WAGNER ET AL. 3
insomnia, have been linked to employee well-being and quality of life
(Fritz, Yankelevich, Zarubin, & Barger, 2010; Kossek & Ozeki, 1998;
Silva et al., 2010). Given that employees spend more time outside of
work than they do working (Barnes, Wagner, & Ghumman, 2012), gen-
eral health and well-being is a meaningful consideration for managers
and scholars. Second, these outcomes have been linked to a number of
important attitudes and behaviors at work. For instance, emotional exhaus-
tion is not simply an unpleasant state for an employee to deal with after
work, but it also has been linked to important work outcomes such as in-
role performance, organization-directed citizenship behaviors, voluntary
turnover, organizational commitment, and job satisfaction (Halbesleben
& Bowler, 2007; Lee & Ashforth, 1996; Wright & Cropanzano, 1998).
Likewise, research has found that work–family conflict not only harms the
family domain, but it also increases job stress (Hammer, Saksvik, Nytro,
Torvatn, & Bayazit, 2004) and turnover intentions (Kossek & Ozeki,
1999). Finally, insomnia, or lost sleep, has been linked to many work-
relevant outcomes such as injuries (Barnes & Wagner, 2009), unethical
behavior (Barnes, Schaubroeck, Huth, & Ghumman, 2011; Christian &
Ellis, 2011), cyberloafing at work (Wagner, Barnes, Lim, & Ferris, 2012),
and job dissatisfaction (Scott & Judge, 2006). In short, the stress out-
comes examined in this study are both theoretically relevant (Lazarus &
Folkman, 1984) and relate to a number of important attitudes and behav-
iors at work, thus holding dual importance for employees. In the sections
below, we first describe the construct of emotional labor and then we
provide the conceptual justification for each of our hypotheses.
Emotional Labor
Research indicates that employee affective displays have important
effects on organizational outcomes, such as customer service ratings
(Grandey, Fisk, Mattila, Jansen, & Sideman, 2005; Groth et al., 2009;
Sharma & Levy, 2003; Tsai & Huang, 2002; Wagner & Ilies, 2008).
Recognizing this, many organizations encourage front-line employees to
“put on a happy face,” regardless of their actual underlying feelings (e.g.,
Brotheridge & Grandey, 2002; Hochschild, 1983; Van Maanen & Kunda,
1989). Employees are recruited, selected, and retained in part on the ba-
sis of how well they conform to these “display rules” (Rafaeli & Sutton,
1987). However, as noted at the outset, affective states experienced by
employees vary over the course of short periods of time (Weiss & Cropan-
zano, 1996). Thus, there will be instances when a given employee expe-
riences affect that is inconsistent with organizational display rules. When
a mismatch between experienced emotion and organizational display
4 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
rules occurs, employees can attempt to comply with display rules by
engaging in one of two forms of emotional labor: surface acting or deep
acting.
Grandey (2000) drew from Gross’s (1998a, 1998b) taxonomy of emo-
tion regulation to highlight surface acting as a form of response-focused
emotion regulation in which affective states are manipulated after they
have originated. In contrast, deep acting is a form of antecedent-focused
emotion regulation, whereby undesired affective states are replaced by
emotional states consistent with organizational display rules (Gross &
John, 2003). Although both surface and deep acting have the same in-
tended outcome of conformance to display rules, Grandey (2000) noted
that with surface acting, individuals attempt to suppress unwanted feelings
and simply fake appropriate displays, whereas with deep acting individuals
actually generate desired affective states via strategies such as attentional
deployment and cognitive reappraisal of the situation (Gross, 1998b).
Hence, deep acting aligns experienced affect with display rules, whereas
surface acting aligns displayed affect with display rules, even if doing so
increases the gap between experienced affect and displayed affect (Gross
& John, 2003; Scott & Barnes, 2011). The upshot is that surface acting is
associated with a greater number of negative work-related outcomes than
is deep acting (H¨
ulsheger & Schewe, 2011; Mesmer-Magnus, DeChurch,
& Wax, 2012).
Despite growing evidence that surface acting is bad for employees at
work, there has been very little research examining the implications of
surface acting for employees’ home lives. The studies that have examined
the influence of emotional labor on outcomes that may be experienced
in the home domain have taken a between-person approach, examining
how surface acting correlates with outcomes such as work-to-family con-
flict or work–family interference (Cheung & Tang, 2009; Montgomery,
Panagopolou, deWildt, & Meenks, 2006; Seery, Corrigall, & Harpel, 2008;
Yanchus, Eby, Lance, & Drollinger, 2010). Although these studies have
raised the important question of whether surface acting influences stress
outcomes experienced in the home domain, they have all taken a between-
person, static approach to understanding these relationships, each using a
cross-sectional design to address this question. Moreover, the above stud-
ies have not uncovered the process by which emotional labor influences
these outcomes.
In contrast to these between-person studies, there are yet to be found
intra-individual studies connecting variations in daily work behaviors
(e.g., surface acting) to theoretically coherent groups of outcomes em-
ployees may experience at home. We address this sizable omission in
the literature by outlining how emotional labor, a pervasive workplace
DAVID T. WAGNER ET AL. 5
stressor, breaches the home domain to influence each of the three dimen-
sions specified by Lazarus and Folkman (1984)—emotional, social, and
somatic. Specifically, we examine how surface acting influences (a) emo-
tional exhaustion (emotional), (b) work-to-family conflict (social), and
(c) insomnia (somatic), all experienced at home. Moreover, given that
Lazarus and Folkman (1984) argue that emotions generally, and anxiety
in particular, might mediate the processes leading to these outcomes, we
examine state anxiety as a primary causal mechanism for these effects.
We develop our hypotheses in the following section.
Hypotheses
Surface Acting and Anxiety
One mechanism through which surface acting can be expected to influ-
ence home outcomes is anxiety. Anxiety is a negatively valenced emotion
with a high level of activation or arousal (Russell, 1980). As such, anxi-
ety is also situated near other emotions on the affect circumplex, such as
fear, with both emotions described as activated displeasure or unpleasant
activation (Yik, Russell, & Steiger, 2011). Anxiety is characterized by
tension and “physiological hyperarousal” (Watson, 2000, p. 242); tension
and hyperarousal are active, unpleasant states (Russell, 1980; Yik et al.,
2011) that draw upon an individual’s emotional resources. Research sug-
gests that there are two primary reasons why surface acting could be ex-
pected to result in anxiety: emotion suppression and inauthentic emotion
expression.
The notion that suppressing or “bottling up” one’s emotions could
be psychologically harmful was suggested more than a century ago by
Breuer and Freud (1957/1895, cited in Gross & Levenson, 1997). Con-
temporary empirical research has shown this to be the case, also showing
that the suppression of emotion influences physiological outcomes. For
example, Gross and Levenson (1997) showed participants either a sad,
funny, or neutral video and instructed them either to express no emotions,
such that an observer would not be able to discern which type of video
the participant was watching, or gave no specific instructions regard-
ing the display of emotions. Their results indicate that participants who
suppressed their emotions experienced heightened cardiovascular activity
even though they had lower metabolic demands due to their lowered so-
matic activity. Similar research has shown that individuals in an emotion
suppression condition experienced higher levels of sympathetic activation
(e.g., increased heart rate, constriction of blood vessels) than participants
who were not instructed to suppress their emotions (Gross, 1998a). These
6 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
outcomes, Gross observed, are consistent with what Watson (2000) de-
fined as anxiety, which is characterized by tension and hyperarousal.
A second primary reason why surface acting should elicit anxiety is
due to the inauthentic expression of emotions. Diefendorff, Croyle, and
Gosserand (2005, p. 340) note that “many occupations have the general
expectation that positive emotions should be displayed.” Although many
employees view this inauthenticity as part of the job, some might con-
strue such behavior as lying. For instance, a participant in Ashforth and
Tomiuk’s (2000, p. 193) qualitative study revealed, “you do feel some-
times as a liar. You have to lie sometimes to be able to get a sale,”
illustrating how employees might interpret the insincerity associated with
surface acting. Research in different fields has illustrated that lying is
associated with various psychological and physiological responses. For
instance, a study of bilingual speakers found that arousal, measured via
skin conductance response, was due to the emotions associated with ly-
ing (Caldwell-Harris & Ayc¸ic¸e˘
gi-Dinn, 2009). Likewise, Tomura (2009)
found that stress and anxiety resulted when participants lied. Research
in child psychology has shown associations between deception or lying
and emulative anxiety (Shi & Su, 2007) and attachment-related anxiety
(Ennis, Vrij, & Chance, 2008). Finally, research in the field of counseling
has found that guilt and anxiety are the emotions most often associated
with defensive lying (Miller, 1992).
Together, the above suggests that when employees surface act, they
may experience the anxiety that stems from acting inauthentically. Indeed,
Hochschild (1983) notes that an individual might threaten his or her sense
of self by acting contrary to what he or she internally experiences at a
given moment. This threat to self can generate anxiety (Lazarus, 1991)
because viewing the self as coherent is extremely important and personally
meaningful (Festinger, 1968; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; see also Grandey,
2003; Pugh, Groth, & Hennig-Thurau, 2011).
Given the evidence suggesting that both the suppression of felt emo-
tions and the expression of unfelt emotions result in anxiety, we hypothe-
size the following:
Hypothesis 1: Daily surface acting is positively related to anxiety.
Surface Acting and the Persistence of Emotional Exhaustion at Home
Grandey’s (2000) model of emotional labor proposed burnout as an
outcome of surface acting; emotional exhaustion is the key component
of burnout and is described as a state of depletion in which an individual
is not able to fully exert him or herself psychologically or emotionally.
Maslach and Jackson (1981, p. 99; italics added) noted that as employees’
DAVID T. WAGNER ET AL. 7
emotional resources are depleted, workers feel they are no longer able to
give of themselves at a psychological level”. Thus, emotional exhaustion
“refers to feelings of being overextended and depleted of one’s emotional
and physical resources” (Maslach, Schaufeli, & Leiter, 2001, p. 399; italics
added).
By contrast, anxiety—which we have argued is a likely emotional
response to surface acting—is defined as tension and hyperarousal, rep-
resenting an active and unpleasant state (Russell, 1980; Watson, 2000).
When an individual reacts to emotional labor by experiencing anxiety, the
individual will draw upon emotional resources. As the individual contin-
ues to experience anxiety over a given day, thereby continuing to draw
upon his or her emotional resources, those resources become depleted,
eventually resulting in a state of emotional exhaustion. This illustrates
that anxiety, a tense and emotionally aroused state, is distinct from emo-
tional exhaustion, a state of emotional and psychological depletion, and
that the former can lead to the latter (Boyd, Lewin, & Sager, 2009). Like-
wise, accumulating evidence suggests that surface acting can result in
employee emotional exhaustion (H¨
ulsheger & Schewe, 2011; Mesmer-
Magnus et al., 2012). However, a complete understanding of emotional
exhaustion would not only address stable, between-individual differences
that are associated with emotional exhaustion at work but would also ex-
amine: (a) how fluctuations in day-to-day behaviors (e.g., daily surface
acting) connect to day-to-day fluctuations in outcomes such as emotional
exhaustion and (b) how these effects persist into other domains.
Although depleted employees are likely to arrive at emotional exhaus-
tion in the work domain, cross-domain research illustrates that attitudes,
emotions, and other states can spillover from work to home (e.g., Eby
et al., 2010; Ilies et al., 2009). Thus, it is likely that emotional exhaustion
attained at work will persist into the evening at home unless steps are
taken to replenish the depleted emotional resources (e.g., Sonnentag &
Fritz, 2010). Thus, we would expect that employees who become emo-
tionally exhausted at work due to their surface acting are likely to continue
experiencing emotional exhaustion into the evening at home.
In addition to the anxiety evoked by surface acting, there are other pos-
sible reasons why surface acting might result in emotional exhaustion. For
instance, the modulation of emotional expressions in a way that allows
the employee to satisfy organizational emotional display rules requires
the use of the employee’s self-regulatory resources. When an individual
draws upon these resources, he or she becomes depleted and subsequently
unable to exercise self-regulation in work or home domains (Baumeister,
Bratslavsky, Muraven, & Tice, 1998; Schmeichel, Vohs, & Baumeister,
2003). This presents a problem because, despite the apparent costs of
inauthenticity and emotional labor, some have argued that there is social
8 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
value to following norms and meeting expectations for social behavior,
even when doing so is not completely genuine (Waskul, 2009). Thus, em-
ployees who have depleted their self-regulatory reserves at the workplace
are less likely to function appropriately at home, in part because they will
not be able to give of themselves emotionally or psychologically.
Taken together, these arguments suggest that surface acting should
lead to emotional exhaustion and that at least part of this effect will be
mediated by anxiety. We therefore hypothesize the following:
Hypothesis 2: Daily surface acting conducted at work is positively as-
sociated with daily emotional exhaustion experienced
at home.
Hypothesis 3: State anxiety partially mediates the relationship be-
tween daily surface acting and daily emotional exhaus-
tion experienced at home.
Surface Acting and Work-to-Family Conflict
Lazarus and Folkman’s (1984, p. 183) second dimension of stress
outcomes deals with the “manner in which the individual fulfills his or
her various roles.” Although fulfilling these roles might be hindered by
time constraints imposed by one domain on the other, or by the spillover
of behaviors that are not effective in the subsequent domain (Greenhaus
& Beutell, 1985), research suggests that conflict arising from workplace
stressors can make it difficult for an employee to be fully engaged in home
life and family roles. This could include an employee arriving home from
work feeling frazzled, making it difficult to engage in family activities. For
example, when the employee’s child asks for help on trigonometry home-
work, the employee may have insufficient energy or focus to effectively
help. Or an employee may arrive home from work on a given day feeling
frustrated and irritated, leaving him or her less able or less motivated to
engage in family activities that the employee would typically enjoy that
evening (Carlson, Kacmar, & Williams, 2000). Such instances are illus-
trations of strain-based work-family conflict, which “exists when strain in
one role affects one’s performance in another role” (Greenhaus & Beutell,
1985, p. 80). Research reveals that there are both between-individual and
within-individual differences in this type of conflict (e.g., Scott & Barnes,
2011; Scott, Barnes, & Wagner, 2012), suggesting that strain-based con-
flict is a particularly well-matched outcome to the demands imposed by
day-to-day emotional labor.
Given the permeability of many employees’ boundaries between work
and home domains (Ashforth, Kreiner, & Fugate, 2000; Bulger, Matthews,
& Hoffman, 2007; Desrochers, Hilton, & Larwood, 2005; Matthews
DAVID T. WAGNER ET AL. 9
& Barnes-Farrell, 2010; Matthews, Barnes-Farrell, & Bulger, 2010;
Nippert-Eng, 1996), it is quite possible that the strain at work generated
from surface acting is likely to persist, such that employees experience
strain at home. This suggests that employees who experience strain at work
due to emotional labor on a particular day are likely to carry the strain
home with them, which in turn affects employees’ behaviors at home that
evening. Empirical evidence indicates this is the case, with high task de-
mands at work leading to negative emotions, such as distress, that bridge
the work–home divide (Ilies et al., 2007; Williams & Alliger, 1994). Such
a spillover process is consistent with models of work–family conflict (Eby
et al., 2010; Edwards & Rothbard, 2000) and with research showing that
negative work emotions mediate the influence of work demands on home
emotions and work-to-family conflict (Ilies et al., 2007). This supports
the notion that the demands present in emotional labor could influence
work-to-family conflict via discrete emotions such as anxiety.
Thus, in summary, we contend that on days in which employees engage
in high levels of surface acting at work they are more likely to arrive home
filled with anxiety and are likely to experience work-to-family conflict, as
the negative emotion contributes to a sense of feeling frazzled, making it
difficult to turn off work and turn on the family self. Likewise, employees
engaged in a day full of surface acting are also likely to harbor a sense
of strain, which increases the likelihood of strain-based work-to-family
conflict and can also make them less likely to engage in family social
interactions (Ilies et al., 2007). Based on these theoretical and empirical
arguments, we hypothesize that surface acting will influence strain-based
work-to-family conflict, and that state anxiety will mediate part of this
effect.
Hypothesis 4: Daily surface acting conducted at work is positively
associated with daily strain-based work-to-family con-
flict experienced at home.
Hypothesis 5: State anxiety partially mediates the relationship be-
tween daily surface acting and daily strain-based work-
to-family conflict experienced at home.
Surface Acting and Insomnia
Lazarus and Folkman’s (1984) third dimension of stress outcomes is
somatic health. A large body of research indicates that a crucial means of
preserving one’s health is to get adequate sleep. In addition to the wide
variety of health problems stemming from insufficient sleep, our introduc-
tion highlighted several organizational maladies that arise from inadequate
employee sleep (see also Barnes & Hollenbeck, 2009; Harrison & Horne,
10 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
2000; Sonnentag, Binnewies, & Mojza, 2008). Hence, employee sleep is
essential for both somatic and organizational health. In contrast to the or-
ganizational consequences of poor sleep, research also reveals a reversed
causal order, with work experiences influencing sleep. For example, in-
justice and bullying in the workplace have both been linked to difficulties
sleeping (Greenberg, 2006; Niedhammer, David, Degioanni, Drummond,
& Phillip, 2009). Similarly, research clearly indicates that various types
of work demands undercut sleep quality and lead to difficulties sleeping
(Akerstedt, Fredlund, Gillberg, & Jansson, 2002; Akerstedt et al., 2002;
Kalimo, Tenkanen, Harma, Poppius, & Heinsalmi, 2000).
Insomnia, which is defined as difficulty falling and staying asleep,
is common among a wide range of employees and can vary within in-
dividuals on a nightly basis (Scott & Judge, 2006). Consistent with the
theoretical argument that the psychosocial environment influences biolog-
ical outcomes via anxiety—a “mediator of somatic illness” (Lazarus &
Folkman, 1984, p. 211)—research indicates that stress and anxiety share
part of the blame for sleep problems as they involve physiological arousal
and sympathetic nervous system activation, which oppose the physiolog-
ical processes involved in falling asleep (LeBlanc et al., 2009; LeDuc,
Caldwell, & Ruyac, 2000; Vahtera et al., 2007). Given that the suppres-
sion of emotions results in heightened cardiovascular activation (Gross &
Levenson, 1997; Richards & Gross, 1999) and anxiety, and that individu-
als in an activated state are less prepared to sleep, we expect surface acting
to influence insomnia through these means as well as through anxiety. We
therefore hypothesize the following:
Hypothesis 6: Daily surface acting conducted at work is positively
associated with insomnia experienced that night.
Hypothesis 7: State anxiety partially mediates the relationship be-
tween daily surface acting and insomnia experienced
that night.
Method
Sample
Our sample consisted of bus drivers working for a single transit com-
pany in the northwestern United States. All of the participants were full-
time employees of the organization. A manager at the organization served
as liaison between researchers and participants. The manager placed a
letter in each bus driver’s mail slot, inviting him or her to participate
in the study. Approximately 100 employees were invited to participate,
DAVID T. WAGNER ET AL. 11
and a total of 81 signed up for the study by completing an online sur-
vey capturing demographic data and various individual differences. Of
these 81 employees, 78 completed sufficient daily reports to be included
in our analyses. The average age of participants was 52 years and 44
were male. The sample of participants was largely Caucasian (61.5%)
but also included African-American (23.1%), Hispanic/Latino (3.9%),
Asian/Pacific Islander (2.6%), and American Indian or Alaskan Native
(2.6%) employees, with 6.8% of employees indicating “other” or not
reporting ethnicity.
Bus drivers frequently interact with customers as each passenger who
boards the bus passes by the driver. The nature of the bus driver’s job
presents many opportunities for interactions with customers, and thus
opportunities to express or not express positive emotions toward the pas-
sengers. Of course, the interactions a bus driver has with passengers are
limited, particularly in comparison to other customer service occupa-
tions where lengthy customer-employee interactions occur. Nonetheless,
as Ashforth and Tomiuk (2000) argue, employees identify to varying ex-
tents with the emotional display requirements of their role. Thus, even
though bus drivers may engage in lower mean levels of surface acting
than other occupations, these workers are nonetheless accustomed to these
levels of emotional display rules, and day-to-day fluctuations in their emo-
tional labor may take them out of their “comfort zone” on a given day. As
such, bus drivers are well suited for participation in a study of emotional
labor. From a practical perspective, bus drivers also hold a critical job, as
their performance determines the safety of passengers, other drivers, and
pedestrians. Given that one of our criteria in this study deals with sleep,
the findings of our study should provide important insights for an industry
concerned with customer and employee safety.
Procedure
As noted above, to initiate their participation in the study, employees
completed a one-time survey capturing measures of various constructs,
including trait emotional stability, and demographics such as age and
ethnicity. Two weeks following the enrollment survey, we began the daily
portion of the study. A computer terminal was set up at the transit company
headquarters, near the bus driver lounge. Prior to beginning their work
shifts for the day, bus drivers each filled out a survey assessing how many
hours they had slept the prior evening and the extent to which they had
experienced symptoms of insomnia. Following their work shift, drivers
used the computer terminal to fill out another online survey, this time
assessing the extent to which they engaged in emotional labor during
12 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
their shift and the level of their anxiety at the moment they completed
the survey. Finally, each evening of the 2-week study, participants were
instructed to complete a paper-based survey just prior to retiring to bed.
The nighttime survey assessed the participant’s emotional exhaustion at
the present moment and the extent to which the individual experienced
work-to-family conflict that evening. Participants were compensated for
their participation via a random drawing of monetary awards.
Measures
Surface acting. Daily surface acting was measured immediately after
each work shift with the five items developed by Brotheridge and Lee
(2003) and Grandey (2003). Instructions for the measure asked partici-
pants to indicate the extent to which each of the five statements described
their work that day, with sample items including “Today, I put on an act
in order to deal with customers in an appropriate way” and “Today, I just
pretended to have the emotions I needed to display on the job.” Responses
were rated from 1 =very slightly or not at all to5=very much. The
reliability of this measure, averaged across days, was α=.94.
State anxiety. We measured state anxiety by asking respondents to
indicate the extent to which they felt each of four adjectives at the mo-
ment they were completing the afternoon survey (nervous, distressed,
scared, and afraid; Mackinnon et al., 1999; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen,
1988). These adjectives represent activated, negatively valenced emotion
(Russell, 1980) or activated displeasure (Yik et al., 2011), which is consis-
tent with the conceptualization of anxiety. Responses to these items were
given on a scale from 1 =very slightly or not at all to5=very much, and
the internal consistency reliability of this measure, averaged across days,
was α=.73.
Work-to-family conflict. Each evening participants responded to the
three-item measure of strain-based work interference with family (Carlson
et al., 2000). The questionnaire prompted them to indicate the extent to
which each of the statements described them that evening. An example
item was “When I got home from work I was too frazzled to participate in
family activities/responsibilities,” with items rated from 1 =very slightly
or not at all to 5 =very much. The internal consistency reliability of this
measure, averaged across days, was α=.89.
Emotional exhaustion. During the evening survey, participants also
responded to four items from the emotional exhaustion scale (Maslach &
Jackson, 1981), asking them to report the extent to which they felt each of
the statements at that moment. Example items include “Right now, I feel
used up” and “Right now, I feel like I’m at the end of my rope,” and were
DAVID T. WAGNER ET AL. 13
rated on a scale from 1 =very slightly or not at all to 5 =very much. The
internal consistency reliability of this measure, averaged across days, was
α=.88.
Insomnia. Each morning participants completed an online survey prior
to starting their shift. On this survey, they reported the nature of their sleep
the prior evening with the four-item measure developed by Jenkins and
colleagues (Jenkins, Jono, & Stanton, 1996; Jenkins, Stanton, Niemcryk,
& Rose, 1988). This scale asks participants to report the extent to which
they experienced various symptoms the prior night and includes statements
such as “Woke up after your usual amount of sleep feeling tired and worn
out” and “Woke up several times during the night.” Items were rated
on a scale from 1 =very slightly or not at all to 5 =very much. The
internal consistency reliability of this measure, averaged across days, was
α=.79.
Daily controls. To enable us to examine how surface acting on a given
day is related to increases in the criteria from one day to the next, we con-
trolled for the prior day’s report of each respective outcome measure (e.g.,
when examining the effect of surface acting on work-to-family conflict, we
controlled for the prior evening’s work-to-family conflict). Given that most
examinations of emotional labor examine both surface acting and deep act-
ing, we also included a common three-item measure of deep acting in our
analyses (Brotheridge & Lee, 2003; α=.93). Finally, because the number
of hours of sleep obtained on one night will have an influence on sleep (and
insomnia) the next night, during the morning survey we asked participants
to report the number of hours they had slept the prior night (the night be-
fore the night of interest), utilizing the Pittsburgh Sleep Diary (Monk et al.,
1994).
Trait emotional stability. Past research on stressors and strains has
dubbed trait negative affectivity and neuroticism as “nuisance factors”
(e.g., Burke, Brief, & George, 1993; Watson & Pennebaker, 1989).
Moreover, recent research has linked emotional stability to both emo-
tional exhaustion and insomnia (Perry, Witt, Penney, & Atwater, 2010;
Ramsawh, Ancoli-Israel, Sullivan, Hitchcock, & Stein, 2011). Thus, prior
to the diary portion of the study, we assessed trait emotional stability with
the measure validated by Saucier (1994). Respondents indicated how ac-
curately each of eight adjectives describes them; the measure included
adjectives such as “fretful,” “relaxed,” and “moody” with responses given
on a scale from 1 =extremely inaccurate to 5 =extremely accurate.
Reliability for the measure was α=.77.1
1Individual-mean centering effectively controls for between-person differences that may
confound results; nevertheless, we controlled for emotional stability at Level 2 given that
14 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
Analyses
The hypotheses and measures in this paper focus on 2 weeks of daily
experiences for each employee, meaning that the daily data are nested
within individuals. The nested nature of the data violates the independence
assumption in OLS regression; thus, we utilized a hierarchical linear
modeling (HLM) framework to examine our data. This approach allows us
to examine day-to-day fluctuations in employee work behavior and home
outcomes while removing between-person variance in these constructs.
When testing our hypotheses, we included surface acting that work day as
a substantive predictor; we also included the prior day’s outcome variable
as a control in the regression, allowing us to demonstrate how surface
acting on a given day is associated with an increase or decrease in the
criterion from one day to another; all Level-1 predictors were individual-
mean centered. At Level 2 of the model, we included direct effects of
emotional stability on each criterion (intercept-as-outcome model). In
order to test the mediating role of anxiety, we followed the guidelines
offered by Krull and MacKinnon (1999) for computing indirect effects in
multilevel models.2
Results
Daily (within-individual) correlations among the focal variables,
shown in Table 1, indicate that surface acting was positively related to
evening emotional exhaustion (r=.24, p<.05), evening work-to-family
conflict (r=.23, p<.05), and nighttime insomnia (r=.19, p<.05),
providing initial support for our hypotheses. Table 1 also indicates that
state anxiety was related to the evening and nighttime outcome measures.
Hypothesis 1 predicted that daily surface acting is positively related
to state anxiety experienced at the end of an employee’s shift. The re-
sults of the HLM regression testing this hypothesis, presented in Table
2, indicate that the two were positively related (B10 =.16, p<.01),
supporting Hypothesis 1. Our second hypothesis predicted that daily
it has been shown to be related to our predictors and outcomes; results of our hypothesis
tests remained the same with or without this control.
2An anonymous reviewer suggested that in the presence of stable emotional display
rules, our analyses may reveal the effect of emotions on our specified outcomes rather than
the effect of surface acting on these outcomes. To test this possibility, we also conducted
analyses that included a measure of state positive and state negative affect assessed prior
to the employee’s work shift along with the measures of emotional labor just specified.
The results of these analyses showed no substantive differences from the analyses reported
below on our variables of interest, suggesting that it is surface acting that drives the effects.
Therefore, we report our findings with surface acting as the primary predictor as described
in this section.
DAVID T. WAGNER ET AL. 15
TABLE 1
Descriptive Statistics and Correlations
Var i a b l e s Mean SD 123456
1. Daily surface
acting
1.38 .64 –
2. Daily deep
acting
2.00 1.02 .05 –
3. Afternoon
anxiety
1.15 .51 .32 .03 –
4. Evening
emotional
exhaustion
1.71 .86 .24 .01 .25 –
5. Evening
strain-based
work-to-
family
conflict
1.71 .89 .23 .03 .14 .52
6. Nighttime
insomnia
1.77 .79 .19 .01 .31 .10 .04 –
7. Trait
emotional
stability
3.74 .68 .22 .04 .28 .34 .20 .28
Note. Variables 1 through 6 were assessed daily and the means and standard deviations
reported in the table are based on the day-level responses; correlations among these vari-
ables are within-individual correlations; trait emotional stability was measured once at the
beginning of the study; correlations with emotional stability were at the between-individual
level (Level 1, n=425 to 644; Level 2, n=78). All daily correlations greater than .11, and
between-individual correlations (with trait emotional stability) above .25, are significant at
p<.05.
TABLE 2
Effects of Daily Surface Acting on Afternoon Anxiety
Afternoon anxiety
Predictor BSET-value
Intercept (B00 ) 1.15 .05 25.15**
Level-2 predictors
Emotional stability (B01 ).16 .07 2.19*
Level-1 predictors
Daily surface acting (B10 ) .16 .03 4.62**
Daily deep acting (B20 ).00.01 .11
Note. All Level-1 predictors were centered at individuals’ means. All Level-2 predictors
were grand-mean centered. B=unstandardized regression coefficient obtained in HLM
(Level 1, n=644; Level 2, n=78).
*p<.05. **p<.01.
16 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
TABLE 3
Effects of Daily Surface Acting and Afternoon Anxiety on Evening Emotional
Exhaustion
Predictor BSET-value BSET-value
Intercept (B00 ) 1.73 .09 19.59** 1.73 .09 19.30**
Level-2 predictors
Emotional stability (B01 ).35 .14 2.57* .39 .14 2.82**
Level-1 predictors
Emotional exhaustion prior evening (B10) .09 .07 1.26 .01 .07 .08
Daily surface acting (B20 ) .23 .09 2.64** .25 .09 2.74**
Daily deep acting (B30 ).01 .05 .16 .03 .05 .57
Afternoon anxiety (B40 ) .77 .26 3.04**
Note. All Level-1 predictors were centered at individuals’ means. All Level-2 predictors
were grand-mean centered. B=unstandardized regression coefficient obtained in HLM
(Level 1, n=356; Level 2, n=78).
*p<.05. **p<.01.
surface acting at work is positively related to evening emotional exhaus-
tion. As shown in Table 3, surface acting was associated with an increase
in emotional exhaustion from one day to the next (B20 =.23, p<.01),
supporting Hypothesis 2. Our next hypothesis predicted that state anxi-
ety mediates the relationship between daily surface acting at work and
evening emotional exhaustion. We added state anxiety to the model used
to test Hypothesis 2 (Table 3, Model 2), with results indicating that state
anxiety predicted evening emotional exhaustion (B40 =.77, p<.01). A
test of the indirect effect of surface acting on emotional exhaustion via
anxiety indicated a significant indirect effect (b=.12, p<.05). Despite
this significant indirect effect, a comparison of the main effect of surface
acting on emotional exhaustion did not significantly change from Model
1 to Model 2 (Z=.19, p>.10). This suggests that even though surface
acting had a significant effect on emotional exhaustion via anxiety, state
anxiety did not explain the main effect of surface acting on emotional
exhaustion. Thus, we do not have support for mediation, and Hypothesis
3 was not supported. However, we do have support for an indirect effect
of surface acting on emotional exhaustion via anxiety, consistent with our
arguments.3
3In addition to the conceptual support for the differentiation between anxiety and emo-
tional exhaustion, we also conducted additional analyses in which we regressed anxiety on
the measures of surface acting, deep acting, and emotional exhaustion. The results of these
analyses indicate that emotional exhaustion is not a statistically significant predictor of
anxiety (B=.11, p>.10); by contrast, when regressing emotional exhaustion on anxiety,
surface acting, and deep acting, anxiety does significantly predict emotional exhaustion
DAVID T. WAGNER ET AL. 17
TABLE 4
Effects of Daily Surface Acting and Afternoon Anxiety on Evening Strain-Based
Work-to-Family Conflict
Predictor BSET-value BSET-value
Intercept (B00 ) 1.72 .09 18.60** 1.72 .09 18.49**
Level-2 predictors
Emotional stability (B01 ).26 .15 1.70 .27 .16 1.72
Level-1 predictors
Work-to-family conflict prior evening (B10 ) .01 .06 .13 .02 .06 .30
Daily surface acting (B20 ) .33 .08 4.24** .27 .08 3.37**
Daily deep acting (B30 ).04 .04 1.22 .06 .04 1.79
Afternoon anxiety (B40 ) .84 .43 1.93
Note. All Level-1 predictors were centered at individuals’ means. All Level-2 predictors
were grand-mean centered. B=unstandardized regression coefficient obtained in HLM
(Level 1, n=347; Level 2, n=78).
**p<.01.
Hypothesis 4 predicted that daily surface acting is positively related
to strain-based work-to-family conflict experienced in the evening. As
shown in Table 4, surface acting was associated with an increase in
work-to-family conflict from one day to the next (B20 =.33, p<.01;
Model 1), supporting Hypothesis 4. Hypothesis 5 predicted that anxiety
mediates the relationship between surface acting and work-to-family con-
flict. Results indicate that the coefficient for anxiety on work-to-family
conflict approached traditional statistical cutoff levels (B40 =.84, p=
.057; Table 4, Model 2). Examination of the regression coefficient for sur-
face acting indicates that the effect was reduced by 18% when including
anxiety as a predictor. However, a test of the indirect effect of surface
acting on work-to-family conflict via anxiety approached statistical sig-
nificance (b=.13, p=.075) but failed to reach traditional cutoff levels.
Thus, Hypothesis 5 was not supported.
Hypothesis 6 predicted that daily surface acting is positively related
to insomnia at night. As shown in Table 5, surface acting was positively
associated with nighttime insomnia (B30 =.19, p<.05; Model 1), sup-
porting Hypothesis 6. Hypothesis 7 predicted that the relationship between
surface acting and insomnia is partially mediated by employee anxiety.
Model 2 (Table 5) indicates that anxiety strongly predicted insomnia
(B50 =.48, p<.05) and that the effect of surface acting on insomnia was
reduced by 37%, suggesting that anxiety mediated part of the effect of
surface acting on insomnia. Computation of the indirect effect indicated
(B=.77, p<.05), as reported in Table 3. This supports our argument that the causal order
is from anxiety to emotional exhaustion.
18 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
TABLE 5
Effects of Daily Surface Acting and Afternoon Anxiety on Nighttime Insomnia
Predictor BSET-value BSET-value
Intercept (B00 ) 1.81 .07 26.38** 1.81 .07 26.32**
Level-2 predictors
Emotional stability (B01 ).19 .09 2.00* .16 .09 1.92
Level-1 predictors
Insomnia prior night (B10 ).05 .05 1.05 .03 .05 .66
Hours sleep prior night (B20 ) .06 .03 1.86 .06 .03 1.75
Daily surface acting (B30 ) .19 .10 2.03* .12 .09 1.31
Daily deep acting (B40 ) .01 .05 .21 .01 .04 .14
Afternoon anxiety (B50 ) .48 .19 2.54*
Note. All Level-1 predictors were centered at individuals’ means. All Level-2 predictors
were grand-mean centered. B=unstandardized regression coefficient obtained in HLM
(Level 1, n=448; Level 2, n=78).
*p<.05. **p<.01.
that the effect of surface acting on insomnia via anxiety was significant
(b=.07, p<.05), providing support for Hypothesis 7.
Discussion
Employees in organizations are often asked to engage in emotional
labor in order to conform to organizational display rules. To date, the
emotional labor literature has primarily focused on work-based outcomes
of emotional labor. A small number of studies have recently made impor-
tant contributions by raising the question of how emotional labor might
influence the home domain. These studies have taken a cross-sectional,
between-person approach to this question (Cheung & Tang, 2009; Mont-
gomery et al., 2006; Seery et al., 2008; Yanchus et al., 2010). By integrating
Grandey’s (2000) model of emotional labor with Lazarus and Folkman’s
(1984) framework of stress outcomes, we were able to show that day-to-
day fluctuations in surface acting at work determine the extent to which
each of the three dimensions of stress outcomes is evident in the home
domain.
Much like recent research examining emotional labor over time within
a given employee (Judge et al., 2009; Scott & Barnes, 2011), we also found
evidence for daily variation in emotional labor. Our model predicted strain-
based outcomes, including emotional exhaustion experienced at home in
the evening, work-to-family conflict experienced at home in the evening,
and insomnia experienced at night. Not only did we find that surface acting
was positively related to these outcomes but also that it explains increases
DAVID T. WAGNER ET AL. 19
and decreases in the outcomes from one day to the next. Moreover, we
also found evidence of an indirect effect of the day’s surface acting on
the evening’s emotional exhaustion via anxiety. Although we did not
find evidence for mediation, a special type of indirect effect, we did
uncover a significant indirect effect (Mathieu & Taylor, 2006). Thus, our
findings indicate that anxiety does connect surface acting to emotional
exhaustion and that there is also a persisting main effect attributable to
other mechanisms. Our findings also indicate that surface acting conducted
during a workday positively influenced insomnia experienced that night,
with state anxiety mediating part of the effect. Finally, surface acting
conducted during a workday positively influenced strain-based work-to-
family conflict experienced at home that evening, although we failed to
find support for state anxiety as a mediator of this effect.
Given these findings, this study is important to the broad literature
on emotional labor because it (a) theoretically extends the literature to
consider discrete mechanisms that connect workplace behaviors to home-
based outcomes; (b) presents a dynamic model of employee responses
to emotional labor that illustrates how day-to-day variations in behavior
predict employee outcomes; (c) employs a rigorous design that allows us
to test the dynamic model; and (d) measures constructs in their relevant
domains, increasing the validity of the measures and reducing the likeli-
hood that responses could be tainted by item context effects (Podsakoff,
MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsakoff, 2003).
Theoretical Implications
Our theoretical extension of Grandey’s (2000) seminal model of emo-
tional labor presents important theoretical implications for the emotional
labor literature. One such implication is that the strain-based effects of
surface acting spill over to influence employees’ outcomes beyond the
workplace. For example, whereas previous research has shown the ef-
fect of surface acting on emotional exhaustion experienced at work, our
research shows that this effect extends beyond the work domain to in-
clude emotional exhaustion and work-to-family constructs at employees’
homes. Thus, our study illustrates that the effects of surface acting persist
not only throughout the workday but also throughout the entire subsequent
evening as well. Indeed, the effects of surface acting on a given day do
not appear to stop even at the end of the evening. As our model and data
indicate, employees will have difficulties falling asleep and staying asleep
throughout the night following days on which they performed high levels
of surface acting.
20 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
A second theoretical implication is that surface acting influences the
families of employees as well as the employees themselves. Although
our study did not measure the outcomes of other family members, our
study showed that, after engaging in high levels of surface acting on a
given day, employees experience strain-based work-to-family conflict that
evening. Given that work-to-family conflict has previously been linked
to how employees interact with their spouses and families (Greenhaus
& Powell, 2003; Ilies et al., 2007; Song, Foo, Uy, & Sun, 2008), our
findings suggest that spouses and families can be negatively impacted by
employees’ surface acting in the workplace.
Third, this study makes a case for examining discrete emotions that
mediate the relationship between work and home domains. Past research
has examined how broad measures of affect link work and home domains
(e.g., Ilies et al., 2007), and our study suggests value in examining discrete
emotions and their role in linking work and nonwork domains.
Overall, our research indicates that a major shortcoming of previous
models of emotional labor is that they have omitted the effects of emotional
labor on a wide range of stress outcomes observed beyond the workplace.
As the spillover literature would suggest (e.g., Eby et al., 2010), the effects
of emotional labor persist after employees leave work; this study serves
to broaden the domain of emotional labor research by considering some
of these outcomes.
Practical Implications
An important practical implication is that after a day of heavy surface
acting, an employee will likely come to work the next day tired, having
had insufficient sleep the prior night. Managers who fail to anticipate
the influence of surface acting on sleep will be less prepared for the prob-
lems (e.g., loafing, injuries, unethical behavior) that plague sleep-deprived
emotional laborers. Although the ideal solution is to help employees get
sufficient sleep, there are tools for mitigating the effects of poor sleep.
Barnes (2011) summarizes many of these strategies, such as assigning
complex, novel, and important tasks to those who are rested and routine,
simple, less critical tasks to those low on sleep. However, for the bus
driver sample studied in this paper, other strategies suggested by Barnes
may be more feasible, including naps, work breaks, caffeine, working in
teams, and job rotation. Each of these strategies takes a different approach
to combating the negative effects of working while sleep deprived. Man-
agers can pick the fatigue countermeasure strategy most suited to their
context. For example, a consultancy firm may provide beds for napping,
and a fast food chain may provide regular breaks and opportunities to
switch tasks.
DAVID T. WAGNER ET AL. 21
Another practical implication is that on days in which employees en-
gage in high levels of surface acting, they should engage in recovery
activities after work. Effective recovery activities include relaxation,
psychological detachment, exerting personal control, and engaging in
mastery experiences (Sonnentag et al., 2008; Sonnentag & Fritz, 2007).
However, it is likely that there are other activities that aid recovery, such as
exercise (Erfurt, Foote, & Heirich, 1992). Research indicates that engag-
ing in recovery activities after work results in better sleep for employees
and leads them to be more effective and prepared the next morning at
work (Sonnentag, Binnewies, & Mojza, 2008, 2010). Moreover, the re-
covery experience of psychological detachment can help to erase the link
between stressors experienced in the workplace and strain experienced by
employees (Sonnentag, Kuttler, & Fritz, 2010). Indeed, recovery activities
are directly negatively related to the experience of emotional exhaustion
(Fritz et al., 2010). Given the findings in this study, one potential reason
for this finding could be that recovery activities counteract and minimize
the anxiety produced by strainful influences at work, such as surface act-
ing. Thus, on days in which employees engage in high levels of surface
acting, they should attempt to mitigate the strain-based outcomes by en-
gaging in recovery activities after work or even during work breaks (e.g.,
Trougakos, Beal, Green, & Weiss, 2008).
Strengths and Limitations
It is important to note the strengths and limitations of this study.
One limitation is that all of our data were collected through self-reports.
Studies relying upon self-reports are often at risk of being vulnerable
to common method variance (e.g., response tendencies, trait affectivity).
However, three aspects of our research design minimize such concerns.
First, our measures were separated in time. Our independent variable—
surface acting—was measured at the end of each day’s work shift. Two of
our dependent variables—emotional exhaustion and strain-based work-
to-family conflict—were measured before employees went to bed that
night. Thus, several hours elapsed between the independent variable and
those dependent variables. Our third dependent variable—insomnia—
was measured the next morning, prior to an employees’ work shift. Thus,
a full evening plus a night of sleep separated the measurement of our
independent variable from our measure of insomnia. Second, we utilized
a within-participant design. This design allowed us to center the data on
each participant’s respective mean, which parses out response tendencies
and individual differences such as trait affectivity. Third, we collected and
utilized participant responses on the prior day’s outcome variables for use
22 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
as a control in the respective analyses. This means that our results describe
the relationship between surface acting and increases or decreases in the
respective outcome variables from one day to the next.
A second limitation is that all of our participants were drawn from
a single occupation in a single organization. On one hand, this strategy
eliminated noise due to differences between organizations or occupations.
On the other hand, it did not provide the opportunity to compare effects
across different occupations or across different organizations. Moreover,
as evident in our data, bus drivers reported relatively low mean levels of
surface acting. Thus, one might suspect that our findings are a conserva-
tive test of the effect of surface acting on home outcomes; an examination
of these relationships among employees who demonstrate higher levels
or greater variability in emotional labor might yield even stronger ef-
fects. Future research examining employees in different service-related
occupations and/or from different organizations could determine the ex-
tent to which our findings generalize and the extent to which effect sizes
vary.
A third limitation of our study is that, although we had temporal sep-
aration of our independent variable from all of our dependent variables in
a manner that establishes temporal precedence and facilitates inferences
that can be drawn from our design, our mediator (state anxiety) was mea-
sured at the same time as our independent variable. This limits the degree
to which we can assert that surface acting causes state anxiety. Never-
theless, recent research has provided some initial evidence that emotional
labor may elicit emotional reactions (Scott & Barnes, 2011), providing a
conceptual basis for our arguments.
Finally, although we had sound rationale predicting that anxiety
would mediate the effects of surface acting on the outcomes studied,
the indirect effects were modest. One reason for this may have been
that our operationalization of anxiety utilized some words that may
have aligned more closely with fear. Consultation with a common the-
saurus indicates that anxiety and fear are related emotions; moreover,
the two emotions are near one another on the affect circumplex—both
exhibit high activation and negative valence (Russell, 1980). However,
respondents in our sample may have interpreted the measure as being
focused on fear and therefore interpreted the measure differently than
we intended. If it is the case that participants were careful enough to
distinguish between two negative emotions that are closely aligned on
the affect circumplex, then it highlights the value of differentiating be-
tween discrete emotions when conducting organizational research rather
than merely examining broad measures of positive or negative affect.
Researchers would do well to consider the role of discrete emotions
DAVID T. WAGNER ET AL. 23
in future organizational research and emotional labor research in
particular.
Suggestions for Future Research
Our research indicates that there are at least three stress-related out-
comes of engaging in surface acting on a given day. These fall within
the broad dimensions of outcomes presented by Lazarus and Folkman
(1984): emotion (morale), social functioning, and somatic health. We rec-
ommend that future research continue to extend models of emotional labor
to include other constructs that fall within these three dimensions. Recent
research indicates that work experiences can influence health (Carlson
et al., 2011) and quality of life (Greenhaus, Collins, & Shaw, 2003). Thus,
it is reasonable to expect that surface acting may influence each of these
outcomes as well as the outcomes examined in our paper. Future research
should also examine a broader view of who is impacted by an employee’s
emotional labor on a given day. Research indicates that work experiences
can influence spousal stress (Song, Foo, Uy, & Sun, 2011) and decisions
to participate in work or family activities (Greenhaus & Powell, 2003;
Ilies et al., 2007). Thus, future research should examine specific spouse
and family member outcomes of an employee’s day-to-day surface acting.
Another series of research questions relates to the persisting main
effects of surface acting on emotional exhaustion and work-to-family
conflict. Even when accounting for the indirect effects via anxiety, the
remaining main effects on these outcomes suggest that additional mecha-
nisms explain the connections among these constructs. One possibility is
that the connection is due to ego depletion; research seems to suggest that
engaging in emotional labor consumes the individual’s self-regulatory re-
sources (Grandey, Foo, Groth, & Goodwin, 2012; Muraven & Baumeister,
2000), resulting in what is called ego depletion. Achieving a state of ego
depletion means that the individual has utilized all of his or her available
self-regulatory resources, which could subsequently make it difficult to
defer immediately desirable activities in favor of more valuable activities
that might require the employee’s attention at home or which might make
it difficult to self-regulate in the face of emotionally challenging stimuli.
Another potential research question deals with the possibility that the ef-
fect of a predictor on different aspects of the outcome decays differentially
over time. For instance, perhaps the portion of emotional exhaustion at-
tributable to anxiety decays at a different rate than the portion of emotional
exhaustion attributable to broader ego depletion. Such differential decay
models may also be applied to understand how, for example, the spillover
24 PERSONNEL PSYCHOLOGY
of the affective and cognitive components of job satisfaction decay over
time. Future research may also find that other variables, such as various
forms of fatigue (cf. Barnes & Van Dyne, 2009), link workplace stressors
to stress outcomes experienced at home. Finally, the harmful effects of
emotional labor have been traced in part to its generation of dissonance
within the employee (Pugh et al., 2011), and thus future research could
examine the extent to which this dissonance persists and how it influences
employee reactions in the home domain.
In addition to examining the mechanisms connecting work and home
domains, there is also room to contribute to our understanding of this
interface by examining moderators of these relationships. For instance,
it may be that high levels of job control (Karasek, 1979) or adequate
social support (Kossek, Pichler, Bodner, & Hammer, 2011) can mitigate
the effects of surface acting on the outcomes in our model. Likewise,
individuals’ coping styles (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) may determine the
extent to which surface acting drives the outcomes studied herein.
Conclusion
In summary, research on emotional labor has progressed from ex-
amining between-individual outcomes to within-individual relationships
between emotional labor and work-based outcomes. This study serves to
extend research on the processes of emotional labor by showing that sur-
face acting affects employees’ emotional, social, and somatic outcomes,
due in part to experienced anxiety. We hope that this study will trigger re-
search on the broader impacts of surface acting and will alert organizations
to the far reaching harmful effects of emotional labor at work.
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"In private life, we try to induce or suppress love, envy, and anger through deep acting or "emotion work," just as we manage our outer expressions of feeling through surface acting. In trying to bridge a gap between what we feel and what we "ought" to feel, we take guidance from "feeling rules" about what is owing to others in a given situation. Based on our private mutual understandings of feeling rules, we make a "gift exchange" of acts of emotion management. We bow to each other not simply from the waist, but from the heart. But what occurs when emotion work, feeling rules, and the gift of exchange are introduced into the public world of work? In search of the answer, Arlie Russell Hochschild closely examines two groups of public-contact workers: flight attendants and bill collectors. The flight attendant's job is to deliver a service and create further demand for it, to enhance the status of the customer and be "nicer than natural." The bill collector's job is to collect on the service, and if necessary, to deflate the status of the customer by being "nastier than natural." Between these extremes, roughly one-third of American men and one-half of American women hold jobs that call for substantial emotional labor. In many of these jobs, they are trained to accept feeling rules and techniques of emotion management that serve the company's commercial purpose. Just as we have seldom recognized or understood emotional labor, we have not appreciated its cost to those who do it for a living. Like a physical laborer who becomes estranged from what he or she makes, an emotional laborer, such as a flight attendant, can become estranged not only from her own expressions of feeling (her smile is not "her" smile), but also from what she actually feels (her managed friendliness). This estrangement, though a valuable defense against stress, is also an important occupational hazard, because it is through our feelings that we are connected with those around us. On the basis of this book, Hochschild was featured in Key Sociological Thinkers, edited by Rob Stones. This book was also the winner of the Charles Cooley Award in 1983, awarded by the American Sociological Association and received an honorable mention for the C. Wright Mills Award. © 1983, 2003, 2012 by The Regents of the University of California.
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Interest in the problem of method biases has a long history in the behavioral sciences. Despite this, a comprehensive summary of the potential sources of method biases and how to control for them does not exist. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to examine the extent to which method biases influence behavioral research results, identify potential sources of method biases, discuss the cognitive processes through which method biases influence responses to measures, evaluate the many different procedural and statistical techniques that can be used to control method biases, and provide recommendations for how to select appropriate procedural and statistical remedies for different types of research settings.