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Rising to the Challenge: Deep Acting is More Beneficial When Tasks are Appraised as Challenging

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Cumulative research indicates that deep acting has a nonsignificant relationship with employee exhaustion, despite arguments that deep acting can be beneficial. To illuminate when deep acting leads to more positive employee outcomes, we draw on the resource conservation perspective to propose a within-individual model of deep acting that focuses on service employees’ daily fluctuation of emotional labor and emotional exhaustion. Specifically, we propose that the ongoing experience of felt challenge is a within-person boundary condition that moderates deep acting’s relationship with emotional exhaustion, and model emotional exhaustion as a mediating mechanism that subsequently predicts momentary job satisfaction and daily customer conflict handling. Using an experience sampling design, we collected data from 84 service employees over a 3-week period. Deep acting was less emotionally exhausting for service providers when they saw their tasks as more challenging. Furthermore, emotional exhaustion mediated the deep acting by felt challenge interaction effect on momentary job satisfaction and daily customer conflict handling. The findings contribute to a better understanding of the deep acting experience at work, while highlighting customer conflict handling as a key behavioral outcome of emotional labor.
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Journal of Applied Psychology
Rising to the Challenge: Deep Acting is More Beneficial
When Tasks are Appraised as Challenging
Jason L. Huang, Dan S. Chiaburu, Xin-an Zhang, Ning Li, and Alicia A. Grandey
Online First Publication, March 9, 2015. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038976
CITATION
Huang, J. L., Chiaburu, D. S., Zhang, X.-a., Li, N., & Grandey, A. A. (2015, March 9). Rising to
the Challenge: Deep Acting is More Beneficial When Tasks are Appraised as Challenging.
Journal of Applied Psychology. Advance online publication.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038976
Rising to the Challenge: Deep Acting is More Beneficial When Tasks are
Appraised as Challenging
Jason L. Huang
Wayne State University Dan S. Chiaburu
Texas A&M University
Xin-an Zhang
Shanghai Jiaotong University Ning Li
The University of Iowa
Alicia A. Grandey
The Pennsylvania State University
Cumulative research indicates that deep acting has a nonsignificant relationship with employee exhaus-
tion, despite arguments that deep acting can be beneficial. To illuminate when deep acting leads to more
positive employee outcomes, we draw on the resource conservation perspective to propose a within-
individual model of deep acting that focuses on service employees’ daily fluctuation of emotional labor
and emotional exhaustion. Specifically, we propose that the ongoing experience of felt challenge is a
within-person boundary condition that moderates deep acting’s relationship with emotional exhaustion,
and model emotional exhaustion as a mediating mechanism that subsequently predicts momentary job
satisfaction and daily customer conflict handling. Using an experience sampling design, we collected data
from 84 service employees over a 3-week period. Deep acting was less emotionally exhausting for
service providers when they saw their tasks as more challenging. Furthermore, emotional exhaustion
mediated the deep acting by felt challenge interaction effect on momentary job satisfaction and daily
customer conflict handling. The findings contribute to a better understanding of the deep acting
experience at work, while highlighting customer conflict handling as a key behavioral outcome of
emotional labor.
In service contexts, emotional labor matters. Service providers’
displays of positive emotions enhance customers’ mood (Luong,
2005) and willingness to return (Tsai, 2001). Conversely, emo-
tionally unpleasant service encounters may drive customers away
(Smith & Bolton, 2002). Emotional labor—the public display of
emotions based on display rules—is essential for service delivery
(Hochschild, 1983). With increasing numbers of service workers,
researchers have examined the consequences of emotional labor
(Kammeyer-Mueller, Rubenstein, et al., 2013; Ryan & Ployhart,
2012) in two particular forms: deep acting, defined as the modi-
fication of actual feelings to match required emotional display, and
surface acting, the display of requisite emotions without a corre-
sponding inner emotional adjustment (Hochschild, 1983).
From a conservation of resources perspective (Hobfoll, 1989),
both surface and deep acting consume resources (Totterdell &
Holman, 2003). Yet they differ in whether they can lead to poten-
tial downstream resource gains that may offset such resource
expense (Grandey & Gabriel, 2015). Deep acting, in the form of
modifying felt emotions (or “changing what we feel,” Hochschild,
1983, p. 90), can result in resource gains such as positive social
feedback (Côté, 2005; Côté & Morgan, 2002) and genuine affec-
tive experience (Brotheridge & Lee, 2002; Scott & Barnes, 2011),
which may compensate for the energy losses from deep acting
(Grandey & Gabriel, in press). In contrast, surface acting (“chang-
ing what we feign,” Hochschild, 1983, p. 90) can lead to a net loss
in resources, since the inauthentic display of emotions is less likely
to yield an upswing in positive resources (Grandey & Gabriel, in
press). Consistent with this view, meta-analyses indicate that sur-
face acting positively predicts emotional exhaustion, whereas deep
acting has a nonsignificant prediction (Hülsheger & Schewe, 2011;
Kammeyer-Mueller, Rubenstein, et al., 2013).
Due to obvious resource expenditure during emotional labor
(Diefendorff, Erickson, Grandey, & Dahling, 2011; Grandey,
Jason L. Huang, Department of Psychology, Wayne State University;
Dan S. Chiaburu, Department of Management, Texas A&M University;
Xin-an Zhang, Department of Management Science, Shanghai Jiaotong
University; Ning Li, Department of Management and Organizations, The
University of Iowa; Alicia A. Grandey, Department of Psychology, The
Pennsylvania State University.
The first two authors contributed equally to this article. This study was
supported by a research grant from Mays Business School, Texas A&M
University to Dan S. Chiaburu and Ning Li and by a research grant from
the National Science Foundation of China (Grant 71472123) to Xin-an
Zhang. An earlier version of this paper was presented at the annual meeting
of Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology in Houston, 2013.
We thank Alyssa McGonagle and Ann Marie Ryan for helpful comments
on drafts of this article. We also thank action editor Paul Bliese for
guidance on key arguments during the review process.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Jason L.
Huang, Department of Psychology, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI
48202. E-mail: jasonhuang@wayne.edu
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2015, Vol. 100, No. 3, 000 0021-9010/15/$12.00 http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/a0038976
1
2003; Holman, Chissick, & Totterdell, 2002), researchers have
investigated how social resources in the form of a supportive social
context can alleviate resource losses (Grandey, Foo, Groth, &
Goodwin, 2012; McCance, Nye, Wang, Jones, & Chiu, 2013). For
example, a climate for authenticity can provide employees with
self-regulatory breaks to recover from surface acting’s strains
(Grandey et al., 2012). Given the perspective that emotional labor
can be beneficial (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993; Côté, 2005), there
is a clear need to understand what other factors—particularly those
situated within the individual—can generate necessary resource
gains for deep acting (Grandey & Gabriel, 2015). Such investiga-
tions are particularly needed given the tension between the avowed
benefits of deep acting (Côté & Morgan, 2002; Kammeyer-
Mueller, Rubenstein, et al., 2013) and the disappointing empirical
evidence. In two meta-analytic studies, for example, deep acting
did not significantly predict emotional exhaustion (Hülsheger &
Schewe, 2011; Kammeyer-Mueller, Rubenstein, et al., 2013).
Our within-individual model of emotional labor (Figure 1)
draws on the resource perspective to focus on felt challenge
(Boswell, Olson-Buchanan, & LePine, 2004) as a resource that can
magnify deep acting’s beneficial influence. We do so by engaging
in two extensions of prior work. First, we investigate felt chal-
lenge’s moderating effect on deep acting’s influence in the mo-
mentary context of employees’ ongoing service interactions. The
preponderance of studies on emotional labor, based on between-
individual designs, constitutes a knowledge base for typical emo-
tional labor tendencies for employees. In contrast, emotional labor
processes occur dynamically in real time (Judge Woolf, & Hurst,
2009; Scott & Barnes, 2011; Scott, Barnes, & Wagner, 2012;
Totterdell & Holman, 2003). Importantly, such dynamic within-
individual emotional labor processes are not necessarily isomor-
phic with between-individual aspects (Beal & Trougakos, 2013;
Ohly, Sonnentag, Niessen, & Zapf, 2010). Service employees may
vary in the degree to which they engage in deep/surface acting
across days or even interactions (Judge et al., 2009), and their
ongoing work experience is constantly shaped by the characteris-
tics of customers and tasks at hand (Huang & Ryan, 2011). We
examine felt challenge as a dynamic within-individual moderator
that captures service employees’ ongoing perceptions, thus com-
plementing research on stable individual difference moderators
(e.g., extraversion, Judge et al., 2009; gender, Scott & Barnes,
2011). Felt challenge also answers a recent call to examine
“social–cognitive motivational constructs” (Goodwin, Groth, &
Frenkel, 2011, p. 545) as moderators, which has the potential to
explicate the benefits of deep acting (Judge et al., 2009).
Second, beyond emotional exhaustion, we examine two addi-
tional outcomes relevant to both employees and organizations.
Specifically, we examine employee job satisfaction, which is par-
amount in service contexts (Schneider, 1980), and customer con-
flict handling, which is defined as agents’ behaviors directed at
deterring potential conflict, expertly addressing manifest conflict,
and using constructive strategies for conflict management
(Ndubisi, Malhotra, & Wah, 2008). The inclusion of customer
conflict handling is particularly novel in emotional labor studies.
As MacDonald and Sirianni (1996) noted, service workers’ expe-
rience “is often one of a series of minor complaints assuming
major proportions for the customer” (p. 17). Customers can lash
out (Fisk et al., 2010), with an average of 10 episodes of customer
verbal aggression per day in call centers (Grandey, Dickter, & Sin,
2004). Such hotbeds for emotions and conflict, coupled with the
need to avoid service or relationship failure (Bitner, Booms, &
Tetreault, 1990; Ndubisi, Malhotra, & Miller, 2013), put customer
conflict handling at a premium (Palmatier, Dant, Grewal, & Evans,
2006). Indeed, if agents’ emotional resources are depleted in the
short term, they are less likely to effectively regulate their emo-
tions to handle potential customer conflict in their daily interac-
tions. Focusing on customer conflict handling has another advan-
tage: Because emotional labor-based predictions are more accurate
for criteria with higher relevance (Hülsheger & Schewe, 2011;
Totterdell & Holman, 2003), it has higher criterion specificity
(Hogan & Roberts, 1996) compared with general criteria. Deep
acting’s association with performance is indeed stronger for higher
criterion specification: .01 for (general) task performance com-
pared with .18 for (specific) emotional performance (Hülsheger &
Schewe, 2011). We present specific hypotheses derived from our
model in Figure 1 next.
The Joint Influence of Deep Acting and Felt Challenge
In surface acting individuals manipulate expressions; in deep
acting they manage emotions. Although deep acting is considered
less demanding than surface acting (Goldberg & Grandey, 2007;
Ma & Huang, 2006), it is nonetheless effortful (Beal & Trougakos,
2013; Goodwin, 2011) and consumes emotional resources
(Grandey & Gabriel, 2015; Hülsheger & Schewe, 2011). The idea
that deep acting is effortful has been recognized in the early work
of Hochschild (1983), reinforced later by authors who pointed out
its “excessive energy” requirements (Schaufeli & Enzmann, 1998;
p. 126), and refined more recently by Grandey and Gabriel (2015)
who noted the hidden toll taken by the deep actor’s constant
change of internal emotional signals.
At the same time, resource drains due to deep acting may be
offset by resource gains (Brotheridge & Lee, 2002; Grandey &
Gabriel, 2015). First, approached from an affective experience
perspective, when positive affect is part of the display rules, the
actual experience of positive affect due to deep acting (Scott &
Barnes, 2011) has long been recognized as a self-regulatory re-
source (Aspinwall, 1998; Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005).
Second, based on the social interaction sequence perspective (Dar-
ley & Fazio, 1980), service agents’ amplified positive emotions
during customer service facilitate service interactions and foster
positive social responses from customers (Côté & Morgan, 2002).
Finally, deep acting contributes to personal energy by heightening
service employees’ sense of personal accomplishment (Brother-
idge & Lee, 2002).
When there is an imbalance between emotional effort expended
and resources generated, workers will experience increased strain
Deep Acting
Felt
Challenge
Emotional
Exhaustion
Job
Satisfaction
Customer
Conflict
Handling
Figure 1. Theoretical model.
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2HUANG, CHIABURU, ZHANG, LI, AND GRANDEY
and dissatisfaction. Deep acting is effortful self-regulation, requir-
ing “temporary efforts in generating new thoughts, creating imag-
inations, and trying to feel what should be felt” across customers
and time (Liu, Prati, Perrewé, & Ferris, 2008, p. 2417). The weak
relationships with strain have been explained by the argument that
the energy expenses are “repaid” by social rewards due to the
authentic displays, and intrinsic rewards, due to the feeling of
personal accomplishment (Brotheridge & Lee, 2002; Côté, 2005;
Hochschild, 1983; Hülsheger & Schewe, 2011). However, there is
little research evidence for moderating effects that support these
ideas.
An important question, then, is whether downstream resource
gains in excess of the resource expenditure are possible, and what
would generate them. In what follows, we propose that if service
employees view their work as challenging, they will have access to
greater motivational resources to better manage their emotions in
service interactions, and thus the resource gains from deep acting
can outweigh the cost, manifesting in reduced exhaustion of emo-
tional resources. Following Judge et al.’s (2009) speculation that
employees’ resources can increase when they “frame customer
demands as challenges rather than threats” (p. 81, italics added),
we turn to felt challenge, a resource-enhancing component that can
modify the influence of deep acting.
Felt challenge is the positive appraisal of job demands that
includes interpreting work requirements as potentials for rewards
and opportunities for growth (Boswell et al., 2004; Folkman &
Lazarus, 1985). It originates, in part, from one’s task and role
characteristics (Cammann, Fichman, Jenkins, & Klesh, 1983) and
has been shown to mediate the positive effects of challenge-related
stress on work outcomes (Boswell et al., 2004). Prior research has
established connections between felt challenge and increases in
motivation (LePine, LePine, & Jackson, 2004), effort exertion
(Tomaka, Blascovich, Kelsey, & Leitten, 1993), positive feelings
about the job (Podsakoff, LePine, & LePine, 2007), and perfor-
mance (Lepine, Podsakoff, & Lepine, 2005).
As service employees continuously engage in service delivery,
their momentary assessment of felt challenge captures ongoing
perceptions of their service interactions. When feeling challenged,
agents are more likely to see personal resources at their disposal as
exceeding situational demands (Blascovich & Tomaka, 1996).
Specifically, felt challenge can facilitate service agents’ access to
their memory of emotional experiences or their use of trained
imagination. Using such emotional labor techniques documented
by Hochschild (1983) will delay the onset of emotional exhaustion.
Furthermore, through increasing employees’ attention and focus
on tasks (Rodell & Judge, 2009), felt challenge facilitates a change
of perspective and protects the deep acting employee from expe-
riencing an excessive burden of complying with feeling rules
which are “not completely of their own making” (Hochschild,
1979, p. 562), a cause of emotional exhaustion (Hochschild, 1983).
Taken together, when perceiving their ongoing interactions as
challenges, agents draw on resources to steer their emotional
experiences toward the positive and away from the negative, while
feeling a sense of accomplishment in doing so (Brotheridge & Lee,
2002; Brotheridge & Grandey, 2002). As a result, the joint oper-
ation of high felt challenge and deep acting will reduce exhaustion.
In contrast, when employees do not perceive their service inter-
actions as challenging, they may construe their tasks as boring,
mundane, or taxing—the “default mode” in some service settings.
As one agent reports, “there is one part of your brain that does go
into repetitive mode just so that you can deal with the repetition
over and over again” (Callaghan & Thompson, 2002, p. 245). In
such cases, the limited resource input to deep acting makes it less
effective in generating affective, social, and person resources, and
as a result, resource consumption and gains are offsetting. Thus,
with the perception of low challenge, deep acting is not expected
to influence exhaustion.
It should be noted that we did not expect felt challenge to
moderate surface acting’s influence. Resources that have been
found to interact with surface acting are ones that allow the
employee to disengage and thus either reduce or recover from the
strain which accompanies faking and inauthenticity. For example,
surface acting is less exhausting when one can be authentic with
coworkers (Grandey et al., 2012), or can externally attribute faking
to financial incentives (Grandey, Chi, & Diamond, 2013). In
contrast, felt challenge engages the self, rather than disengages,
and thus is unlikely to reduce the strain from surface acting. In
other words, while perceiving challenges enhances the deep acting
process by representing an additional venue for personal growth
and work satisfaction, the surface acting process requires external
resources that replenish rather than enhance. We nevertheless
include surface acting as a control variable, to allow for compar-
isons with prior within-person emotional labor studies (e.g., Judge
et al., 2009). We also test the felt challenge by surface acting
interaction in an exploratory manner to confirm our reasoning.
Hypothesis 1: The within-individual relationship between
deep acting and momentary emotional exhaustion is moder-
ated by felt challenge, such that employees who engage in
deep acting are less exhausted when they also experience
higher challenge.
The Mediating Role of Emotional Exhaustion
The felt challenge by deep acting interaction effect will likely
impact employee experiences beyond emotional exhaustion. Fol-
lowing research that examined attitudinal and behavioral outcomes
of emotional labor (Kammeyer-Mueller, Rubenstein, et al., 2013),
we turn to momentary job satisfaction and daily customer conflict
handling as outcomes, both being important to service delivery
(Lewig & Dollard, 2003; Palmatier et al., 2006) and from a
within-person perspective (Sonnenschein et al., 2007).
Regarding job satisfaction, the experience of authentic positive
emotions and the feelings of accomplishment stemming from deep
acting are likely to lead service employees to react more positively
to their jobs (Fisher, 2000; Zapf, Vogt, Seifert, Mertini, & Isic,
1999). As for customer conflict handling, the authentic display of
positive emotions may promote rapport building and facilitate
social interactions (Grandey, Fisk, Mattila, Jansen, & Sideman,
2005; Hennig-Thurau, Groth, Paul, & Gremler, 2006), and thus
result in employees being more effective in handling potential
conflicts with customers. Consistent with the rationale for Hypoth-
esis 1, the influx of attentional and motivational resources accom-
panying felt challenge can render deep acting more effective in
influencing both job satisfaction and customer conflict handling.
More importantly, we posit that emotional exhaustion mediates the
proposed deep acting by felt challenge interaction onto job satis-
faction and customer conflict handling. Edwards and Lambert
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3
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
(2007) called such a model first stage moderation model, where the
effect of an antecedent (deep acting) on a mediator (emotional
exhaustion) is moderated by a third variable (felt challenge).
At the between-individual level, emotional exhaustion appears
to be an outcome of deep and surface acting (Martínez-Iñigo,
Totterdell, Alcover, & Holman, 2007; Sliter, Jex, Wolford, &
McInnerney, 2010), and the depletion of employees’ emotional
resources can decrease satisfaction and negatively impact behav-
ioral outcomes (Banks, Whelpley, Oh, & Shin, 2012; Cropanzano,
Rupp, & Byrne, 2003; Grandey, 2003; Wright & Cropanzano,
1998). A similar mediating role can be expected for emotional
exhaustion at the within-individual level, with emotional exhaus-
tion carrying forth the influence of deep acting’s interactive effects
with felt challenge. We discuss the mediating mechanisms for job
satisfaction and customer conflict handling separately below.
First, the availability of personal resources associated with re-
duced emotional exhaustion can lead employees to feel more
positive toward their job (Cropanzano et al., 2003; Lee & Ash-
forth, 1990), perceiving the job as more rewarding and satisfying.
Meanwhile, emotional exhaustion is affectively unpleasant. Thus,
emotionally exhausted service agents may find it difficult to ap-
preciate the positive aspects of their jobs and may try to distance
themselves from their work, which is likely seen as the cause of
exhaustion. This is consistent with past research on emotional
exhaustion’s negative influence on job satisfaction at the between-
individual level (Cherniss, 1980; Wolpin, Burke, & Greenglass,
1991).
Second, the availability of emotional resources associated with
lowered levels of exhaustion will enable employees to better attend
to customers’ needs and to solve potential conflicts. When emo-
tionally exhausted, agents have limited resources to draw on and
invest less of their attention in their immediate customer interac-
tion (Lee & Ashforth, 1990, 1996; Rodell & Judge, 2009). The
current examination of customer conflict handling is particularly
relevant because customer conflict handling reflects service be-
haviors that necessitate high levels of emotional and attentional
resources (Palmatier et al., 2006). Generic service performance
includes technical aspects (e.g., skills in operating specialized
service software) that depend to a lesser degree on agents’ re-
sources (see Goodwin et al., 2011). In contrast, customer conflict
handling requires the service agent to utilize cognitive resources to
recognize conflict cues and employ emotional resources to avert
potential conflicts. As a result, we expect customer conflict han-
dling to be sensitive to the negative influence of emotional ex-
haustion. Taken together, we proposed the following mediated
moderation hypothesis:
Hypothesis 2: Emotional exhaustion mediates the interactive
effects of deep acting and felt challenge on momentary (a) job
satisfaction and daily (b) customer conflict handling.
Method
Participants were service employees working in the call center
of a telecommunication company in midwest China.
1
The call
center provides customer support for telephone, cell phone, and
Internet services. Agents (around 100 in total) were invited to
participate, informed that their participation was voluntary, and
ensured that responses would be kept confidential. Eighty-four call
agents participated. On each work day during the next three weeks,
participants completed short questionnaires after receiving a notice
on their working platform at two times, one in the middle and the
other at the end of the workday. Questionnaires were distributed
during each shift, and completed questionnaires were immediately
collected by research assistants after each shift. Respondents were
compensated with up to $30, depending on the number of ques-
tionnaires completed. On average, each respondent completed 25
out of 30 possible surveys. Paired daily data with both surveys
were available for an average of 12.5 days out of 15 possible days.
The sample consisted of 1,054 daily observations nested within 84
individuals. Respondents were primarily female (73%), with av-
erage age of 23 and mean organization tenure of 1.8 years.
Measures
In the middle of the work day, respondents provided information
on deep and surface acting, felt challenge, emotional exhaustion,
and job satisfaction. At the end of the work day, respondents rated
their customer conflict handling. Items were anchored on a five-
point Likert-type scale (1 Strongly Disagree; 5 Strongly
Agree), except where noted below.
Deep acting and surface acting were each captured using three
items (Brotheridge & Lee, 2003). Respondents reported how often
they engaged in actions such as “Make an effort to actually feel the
emotions that you needed to display to others” (deep acting; ¯
[average across days] .94) versus “Resist expressing your true
feelings” (surface acting; ¯.85) during the morning (1 never;
5always). We measured felt challenge using four items (Bo-
swell et al., 2004; Tomaka et al., 1993). Employees were asked to
what extent their tasks were seen as challenging during the first
part of the day (e.g., “I view my tasks as challenging”; ¯.84).
Emotional exhaustion was assessed using six items from
Shirom-Melamed burnout measure (Shirom & Melamed, 2006).
Respondents indicated their present degree of exhaustion (e.g.,
“Feel emotionally drained from my work,” ¯.94; 1 never;
5always). Respondents’ momentary job satisfaction was eval-
uated with three items developed by Cammann, Fichman, Jenkins,
and Klesh (1979). An item reads, “At present, I am satisfied with
my job” (¯.95).
Customer conflict handling (3 items; Ndubisi et al., 2008)
measured the extent to which agents tried to “openly discuss
solutions when problems arise,” “solve conflicts before they oc-
cur,” and “avoid potential conflicts with customers” during the day
(¯.79). Since recovery from resource depletion typically occurs
after work (e.g., Sonnentag, 2003), assessing customer conflict
handling behaviors at the end of the work day allowed us to
capture variance in the eventual outcome that theoretically occurs
after resource depletion.
Results
Descriptive statistics and correlations appear in Table 1. We first
examined the amount of within- versus between-individual vari-
ance in the eight experience-sampled variables. Decomposition of
1
The current data were collected as a part of a larger research effort,
consisting of two other currently unpublished papers based on nonover-
lapping constructs.
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4HUANG, CHIABURU, ZHANG, LI, AND GRANDEY
variance components revealed sizable within-individual variance
on all eight variables, ranging from 25% for emotional exhaustion
to 55% for conflict handling, supporting the examination of
within-individual relationships. At the within-individual level,
deep acting was positively associated with surface acting, r.22,
p.001 and felt challenge, r.19, p.001; surface acting was
unrelated to felt challenge (r.03, ns). Consistent with the
literature, surface acting was positively associated with emotional
exhaustion, r.11, p.001 and negatively with job satisfaction,
r⫽⫺.10, p.01. In contrast, deep acting was negatively
correlated with emotional exhaustion, r⫽⫺.11, p.001 and
positively with job satisfaction, r.14, p.001. In addition,
deep acting, r.13, p.001, but not surface acting (r.00, ns),
had a significant within-person correlation with customer conflict
handling.
Variable centering in multilevel modeling can impact parameter
estimates and subsequent interpretation of results (Enders & To-
fighi, 2007). Given the current substantive interest at the within-
individual level, particularly mediated effects among Level 1 vari-
ables (a 1–1–1 model per Zhang, Zyphur, & Preacher, 2009),
inclusion of between-individual variance in estimation can con-
flate within-individual effects and bias estimates (Preacher, Zy-
phur, & Zhang, 2010; Zhang et al., 2009). To estimate unconflated
multilevel models (Preacher et al., 2010), we applied group mean
centering on all Level 1 variables by removing each individual’s
mean score from each variable (Zhang et al., 2009). Following this
centering method, a Level 1 predictor’s fixed effect can be inter-
preted as the average within-individual change on the dependent
variable uniquely associated with that predictor, whereas the in-
tercept will become zero.
To test the hypotheses, we conducted multilevel modeling using
the nlme package for linear and nonlinear mixed effects models in
R (Pinheiro & Bates, 2000). For Hypothesis 1, we expected em-
ployees to experience less emotional exhaustion when engaging in
deep acting while feeling challenged. We assessed the effects of
deep and surface acting in Block 1 and the effect of felt challenge
in Block 2, before adding the interactive effect (deep acting by felt
challenge) in Block 3 (Table 2). In terms of main effects, deep
acting had a negative (B⫽⫺.12, p.001) and surface acting had
a positive (B.08, p.001) relationship with emotional exhaus-
tion. Felt challenge displayed a negative relationship as well
(B⫽⫺.06, p.05). Supporting Hypothesis 1, felt challenge
interacted with deep acting to predict emotional exhaustion
(B⫽⫺.15, p.001), such that employees were less exhausted
when deep acting while feeling challenged (Figure 2).
For Hypothesis 2, we proposed that emotional exhaustion will
mediate the interactive effect of deep acting and felt challenge on
(a) job satisfaction and (b) customer conflict handling. We first
assessed the total effects of the interaction on the outcomes.
Modeling job satisfaction as outcome, deep acting (B.15, p
Table 1
Descriptive Statistics and Correlations
1234 56MSD
1. Deep acting .50
ⴱⴱⴱ
.22
.03 .11 .50
ⴱⴱⴱ
3.82 0.76
2. Surface acting .22
ⴱⴱⴱ
.10 .21 .12 .24
3.14 0.83
3. Felt challenge .19
ⴱⴱⴱ
.03 .55
ⴱⴱⴱ
.71
ⴱⴱⴱ
.45
ⴱⴱⴱ
3.58 0.75
4. Emotional exhaustion .11
ⴱⴱⴱ
.11
ⴱⴱⴱ
.08
ⴱⴱ
.76
ⴱⴱⴱ
.24
2.43 1.03
5. Job satisfaction .14
ⴱⴱⴱ
.10
ⴱⴱ
.22
ⴱⴱⴱ
.35
ⴱⴱⴱ
.40
ⴱⴱⴱ
3.41 1.14
6. Customer conflict handling .13
ⴱⴱⴱ
.00 .07 .13
ⴱⴱⴱ
.14
ⴱⴱⴱ
4.25 0.57
Within-individual variance 0.38 0.70 0.45 0.34 0.48 0.36
Between-individual variance 0.55 0.63 0.52 1.02 1.26 0.29
Within-individual variance (%) 41 53 46 25 27 55
Note. Within-individual (Level 1) correlations are presented below the diagonal, estimated as BX¡YSDXSDY, where B
X¡Y
unstandardized coefficient
of Xpredicting Yin multilevel modeling; SD
X
and SD
Y
within-individual standard deviations of Xand Y, respectively (see Judge et al., 2009). Percentage
of within-individual variance within-individual variance/(within-individual variance between-individual variance). Between-individual (Level 2)
correlations are presented above the diagonal, with all eight Level 1 variables aggregated to individual means at Level 2 (N84) prior to correlation.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
ⴱⴱⴱ
p.001.
Table 2
Test of Hypothesized Effects
Block: Predictor
DV Emotional exhaustion DV Job satisfaction DV Customer conflict handling
Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 4 Block 1 Block 2 Block 3 Block 4
1. Deep acting .12
ⴱⴱⴱ
.11
ⴱⴱⴱ
.09
ⴱⴱ
.19
ⴱⴱⴱ
.15
ⴱⴱⴱ
.14
ⴱⴱ
.10
ⴱⴱ
.11
ⴱⴱⴱ
.10
ⴱⴱⴱ
.10
ⴱⴱ
.09
ⴱⴱ
1. Surface acting .08
ⴱⴱⴱ
.08
ⴱⴱⴱ
.09
ⴱⴱⴱ
.12
ⴱⴱⴱ
.11
ⴱⴱⴱ
.12
ⴱⴱⴱ
.08
ⴱⴱ
.03 .03 .03 .02
2. Felt challenge .06
.06
.19
ⴱⴱⴱ
.19
ⴱⴱⴱ
.17
ⴱⴱⴱ
.02 .02 .01
3. Deep acting Felt challenge .15
ⴱⴱⴱ
.12
ⴱⴱ
.07
.08
.07
4. Emotional exhaustion .37
ⴱⴱⴱ
.09
ⴱⴱ
Pseudo R
2
.03 .03 .04 .04 .07 .08 .17 .01 .01 .02 .03
Note.DVdependent variable. The multilevel modeling for each DV included an autoregressive term (AR1), which provided significantly better fit to
the data than the corresponding model without the autoregressive term.
p.10.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
ⴱⴱⴱ
p.001.
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5
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
.001) and felt challenge (B.19, p.001) both had positive,
whereas surface acting had negative (B⫽⫺.11, p.001) rela-
tionships. In line with Hypothesis 2a, the relationship between
deep acting and job satisfaction was accentuated for higher felt
challenge (B.12, p.01; Figure 3). For customer conflict
handling, deep acting had the only significant main effect (B
.10, p.001). In line with Hypothesis 2b, felt challenge magnified
deep acting’s positive relationship with customer conflict handling
(B.08, p.01; Figure 4). Thus, we proceeded to test emotional
exhaustion’s mediating role by estimating two paths: path a(pre-
dictor to emotional exhaustion) and b(emotional exhaustion to
outcome, controlling for the predictor). While paths afor deep
acting and Deep acting Felt challenge interaction were esti-
mated in the earlier analysis, we estimated path bby adding
emotional exhaustion in Block 4 to the models predicting job
satisfaction and customer conflict handling (see Table 2). Emo-
tional exhaustion added significantly to the prediction (B⫽⫺.37
and .09, respectively, ps.01), supporting the condition for
mediation.
The commonly used Sobel (1982) mediation test assumes nor-
mal distribution for the ab product, an oftentimes violated assump-
tion (MacKinnon, Lockwood, Hoffman, West, & Sheets, 2002).
Instead, we used Monte Carlo analyses (Selig & Preacher, 2008) to
estimate confidence intervals and the significance of indirect ef-
fects (Hayes, in press; Preacher & Selig, 2012). As presented in
Table 3, deep acting influenced momentary job satisfaction
through emotional exhaustion (indirect effect B
ab
.04, p
.001). Supporting Hypothesis 2a, the Deep acting Felt challenge
interaction was also mediated by emotional exhaustion (B
ab
.04,
p.001). Similarly, emotional exhaustion mediated the main
effect of deep acting (B
ab
.01, p.01) and, supporting Hy-
pothesis 2b, the interaction of Deep acting Felt challenge on
customer conflict handling (B
ab
.01, p.01). The Deep
acting Felt challenge interaction term was no longer significant
after controlling for emotional exhaustion, indicating complete
mediation.
Although not hypothesized, one might wonder whether the
benefits from the influx of resources due to felt challenge would
extend to surface acting, thus buffering surface acting’s resource
drains. Exploratory analyses indicated otherwise: felt challenge did
not attenuate surface acting’s association with any of the three
outcomes.
2
Thus, the evidence suggests that having additional
resources from feeling challenged is unlikely to mitigate the det-
rimental effects of surface acting, possibly due to surface acting’s
inauthentic nature.
Discussion
In concluding her influential emotional labor study, Grandey
(2003) stated that her study provides evidence for “encouraging
and training service personnel in deep acting when ‘the show must
go on’” (p. 94). As reviewed at the outset, both between- and
within-person studies indicate deep acting’s lack of influence on
emotional exhaustion. Given that deep acting is not as detrimental
as surface acting, a logical extension of extant research is to
examine what may enhance its potential benefits. As our findings
reveal, deep acting coupled with felt challenge is associated with
lower emotional exhaustion, greater job satisfaction, and better
daily customer conflict handling. Further, mediation analyses in-
dicate that emotional exhaustion carried forth the influence of this
joint effect on job satisfaction and customer conflict handling.
2
Adding Surface acting Felt challenge to the model did not change
the pattern of results for the Deep acting Felt challenge interaction term
for any of the three outcomes.
-.70
-.50
-.30
-.10
.10
.30
.50
.70
Low Deep Acting High Deep Acting
Outcome = Job Satisfaction
Low Felt Challenge
High Felt Challenge
Figure 3. Interactive effects of felt challenge and deep acting on job
satisfaction.
-.60
-.40
-.20
.00
.20
.40
.60
Low Deep Acting High Deep Acting
Outcome = Customer Conflict Handling
Low Felt Challenge
High Felt Challenge
Figure 4. Interactive effects of felt challenge and deep acting on conflict
handling.
-.60
-.40
-.20
.00
.20
.40
.60
Low Deep Acting High Deep Acting
Outcome = Emotional Exhaustion
Low Felt Challenge
High Felt Challenge
Figure 2. Interactive effects of felt challenge and deep acting on emo-
tional exhaustion.
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6HUANG, CHIABURU, ZHANG, LI, AND GRANDEY
Theoretical Implications
Extending existing research on the effects of deep acting at the
between-individual level of analysis, our study helps advance the
understanding of emotional regulation processes. In service con-
texts, employees engage in deep acting in a dynamic manner,
showing meaningful intraindividual variations (Beal & Trougakos,
2013; Groth, Hennig-Thurau, & Walsh, 2009; Huang & Ryan,
2011). The large within-individual variations observed in our data
support the need to understand emotional labor as a within-
individual process. Such within-person ebb and flow influence
service employees’ ongoing perceptions and behaviors, represent-
ing meaningful differences that warrant theoretical and empirical
modeling.
An important contribution of this study is to theoretically pro-
pose and empirically uncover felt challenge as a boundary condi-
tion for deep acting’s influence. Felt challenge emerged as a
consistent moderator for all three outcomes. Supplementing exist-
ing research that examined individual difference moderators of
emotional labor processes (Judge et al., 2009), the identification of
felt challenge as a momentary moderator contributes to a closer
understanding of service employees’ ongoing daily experience.
From a transactional stress standpoint, a potential stressor can
result in positive consequences if perceived as offering potential
for individual growth or mastery of the situation (Lepine et al.,
2005). Indeed, the direct relationships between felt challenge and
both emotional exhaustion and job satisfaction, although not hy-
pothesized, point to such benefits.
Another contribution is outlining the process through which the
joint influence of deep acting and felt challenge is carried forward.
Felt challenge, a “good” stressor (Blascovich, 2008; Boswell et al.,
2004; Cavanaugh, Boswell, Roehling, & Boudreau, 2000), exerted
its effect in conjunction with deep acting through decreasing
agents’ emotional exhaustion. The mediated moderation held for
both job satisfaction (an attitude) and for customer conflict han-
dling (a behavior). Moreover, our inclusion of customer conflict
handling in employees’ daily experiences helps focus emotional
labor research on a specific and relevant criterion. Together, these
findings extend within-person studies of emotional labor mecha-
nisms (Judge et al., 2009; Scott & Barnes, 2011) by delineating
one process by which deep acting affects service behavior.
Although we focused on emotional exhaustion as the key me-
diating mechanism in our model, it is worth noting that we in-
cluded momentary positive and negative affect (PA and NA,
respectively) as potential mediators of the Deep acting Felt
challenge interaction effect on emotional exhaustion. We assessed
momentary PA and NA by asking participants to reflect how they
felt “at the moment” in the middle of the work day. Results
indicate that PA, but not NA, partially mediated the Deep acting
Felt challenge joint effect on emotional exhaustion. This explor-
atory result indicates that positive affective experience is part of
the downstream resource gains of deep acting, magnified by the
presence of felt challenge.
Furthermore, our findings point toward the reinforcing effects of
both how employees regulate their emotions (deep acting) and how
they perceive their task (challenging). Based on findings consistent
with ours (Rodell & Judge, 2009), there are reasons to believe that
the benefits uncovered in this study may extend to broader work
effectiveness outcomes, including withdrawal behavior, citizen-
ship behavior, and proactive performance. That is, resources con-
served from decreased emotional exhaustion can become available
to other work-related tasks and interactions. The presence of such
resources may create positive spillovers not only toward custom-
ers, but also toward colleagues and supervisors. Our findings
highlight the theoretical relevance of felt challenge in emotional
labor research and suggest the potential of including challenge
stressors to reconcile inconsistencies in findings regarding the
effects of deep acting.
Finally, felt challenge’s interaction with deep acting comple-
ments prior research that identified extrinsic social and financial
rewards as moderators buffering the negative consequences of
surface acting but not deep acting (Grandey et al., 2012; McCance
et al., 2013). Our results support that, for deep acting, intrinsic
motivators provide emotional and motivational resources that
compensate for the effort expended. This suggests that not all
resources are created equal: The effort of surface acting is recu-
perated by resources that allow employees to disengage or exter-
nalize their behavior, whereas the effort of deep acting is compen-
sated by resources that internalize their behaviors such that they
may experience pride from the effort. This reasoning would also
suggest that future research should pursue other intrinsically mo-
Table 3
Monte Carlo Estimation of the Mediated Effects Through Emotional Exhaustion
IV to mediator pathway
a
(a)Mediator to DV pathway
b
(b)Indirect effect (ab) 95% Confidence interval
Mediator Emotional exhaustion
DV Job satisfaction
IV: Deep acting 0.10 (0.03) 0.37 (0.03) 0.04
ⴱⴱⴱ
0.017–0.060
IV: Deep acting Felt challenge 0.12 (0.03) 0.37 (0.03) 0.04
ⴱⴱⴱ
0.020–0.069
DV Customer conflict handling
IV: Deep acting 0.10 (0.03) 0.09 (0.03) 0.01
ⴱⴱ
0.002–0.018
IV: Deep acting Felt challenge 0.12 (0.03) 0.09 (0.03) 0.01
ⴱⴱ
0.002–0.021
Note.DVdependent variable; IV independent variable. Standard errors for a,bpaths are presented in parentheses. Levels of significance and
confidence intervals were estimated using Monte Carlo simulation with 20,000 repetitions (Selig & Preacher, 2008).
a
The model for estimating pathway (a) included deep acting, surface acting, felt challenge, and Deep acting Felt challenge interaction.
b
The model
for estimating pathway (b) included emotional exhaustion in addition to deep acting, surface acting, felt challenge, and Deep acting Felt challenge
interaction.
p.05.
ⴱⴱ
p.01.
ⴱⴱⴱ
p.001.
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7
RISING TO THE CHALLENGE
tivating work conditions, such as task variety and social feedback
(Humphrey, Nahrgang, & Morgeson, 2007), to determine when
deep acting will have fewer costs and more gains for employees.
Practical Implications
In managing customer conflict, representatives are often advised
to use a “take the heat” approach (e.g., listen to customers’
complaints, empathize, take responsibility, and apologize; Amer-
ican Water Works Association, 2007, pp. 37–38). The effective-
ness of such an approach is premised on service employees’ emo-
tional responses, particularly deep acting. Yet the continuous emotional
labor may consume agents’ emotional resources and erode perfor-
mance. Unlike interventions targeted at enhancing emotional labor
skills (Pugh, Diefendorff, & Moran, 2013), felt challenge can be
increased with on-the-job interventions by magnifying job respon-
sibility, creating competition, or increasing task significance. Man-
agers may also increase on-the-job autonomy support by providing
a rationale for doing the task and emphasizing choice rather than
control (Deci, Eghrari, Patrick, & Leone, 1994). These potential
interventions may augment service employees’ deep acting to
result in less exhausting service provisions for employees and
more pleasant service experiences for customers.
Limitations and Future Research
We note several limitations of the present investigation. First,
generalizability needs to be evaluated, given the current study’s
potentially unique features (e.g., sampling context). However, our
main effects of deep acting and surface acting were largely con-
sistent with existing within-individual studies (Judge et al., 2009;
Scott & Barnes, 2011), suggesting some commonality of within-
individual studies of emotional labor across settings. Second, we
could not establish strong causal inferences, despite our attempts to
rule out some competing explanations—for example, establishing
temporal precedence by modeling customer conflict handling at
the end of the day. Reverse causality, with prework emotional
exhaustion (Kammeyer-Mueller, Simon, & Judge, 2013) influenc-
ing employees’ selection of emotional labor strategies (Hülsheger,
Lang, & Maier 2010), should be considered. While we assume that
employees recover after an exhausting day and resume their effort
and performance (Binnewies, Sonnentag, & Mojza, 2009), this
may not always be the case. Future research can assess employees’
exhaustion at the beginning of their day or shift as potential
predictor of their subsequent emotional labor.
Third, similar to most experience sampling investigations, our
study relied on self-report data and may be susceptible to common
method bias (Podsakoff, MacKenzie, Lee, & Podsakoff, 2003).
Concern over common method bias is somewhat alleviated be-
cause of lower demand characteristics in experience sampling,
where respondents report current states rather than reconstruct
overall responses from memory. Also, findings based on interac-
tion effects are less prone to common method bias (Siemsen, Roth,
& Oliveira, 2010). Some constructs are, however, amenable to
objective measurement (e.g., felt challenge as indexed by cardio-
vascular reactivity; Blascovich, 2008; Tomaka et al., 1993), which
can be considered in future research.
Future research can complement the current model to examine
the likely deleterious influence of threat (rather than challenge)
appraisal. Furthermore, dispositional and contextual factors that
would increase felt challenge can be uncovered. Approach (vs.
avoidance) orientations—both dispositional and induced—may
increase agents’ perceptions of challenge (Elliot & Harackiewicz,
1996; Stout & Dasgupta, 2013). A focus on resources (vs. de-
mands) may accomplish the same purpose (Blascovich & Tomaka,
1996). More interestingly, perceptions of challenge may be idio-
syncratic (Blascovich & Tomaka, 1996, p. 39). Fine-grained
experience-sampling studies with the unit of analysis at the level of
one service interaction (Groth et al., 2009) or a succession of them,
coupled with both objective and subjective measurement of felt
challenge, may help discern its variation and preconditions.
Future research may expand on the current model to investigate
the underlying causes of emotional labor strategies and processes.
Within-individual studies of emotional labor, including our study,
have reported positive within-person correlations between deep
acting and surface acting at the .20 range, similar to the meta-
analytic estimates based on between-individual analyses (Hül-
sheger & Schewe, 2011; Kammeyer-Mueller, Rubenstein, et al.,
2013). There is reason to expect deep acting to be positively
related to surface acting, since they both indicate employees’
adherence to rather than disobedience of emotional display rules.
However, deep acting is also conceptually opposite to surface
acting as to whether service employees experience authentic emo-
tions. Beyond deep acting and surface acting, research on emo-
tional labor processes should include employees’ naturally felt
emotions that are consistent with display rules (Diefendorff,
Croyle, & Gosserand, 2005; Zapf, 2002), whereby requisite emo-
tions are experienced effortlessly and their subsequent expression
is, therefore, less exhausting. Future work should also consider
motives behind emotional labor, such as Bolton’s (2005) typology
of motives for workplace emotion (i.e., pecuniary, prescriptive,
philanthropic, and presentational). Disentangling the complex
causes and mechanisms of emotional labor in real time, albeit
challenging, can provide a more comprehensive depiction of ser-
vice employees’ on-the-job experience.
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Received June 4, 2013
Revision received January 27, 2015
Accepted January 29, 2015
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... Building on these insights, the current study explores the role of WS and emotional labor in shaping the relationship between emotional exhaustion and job satisfaction, two of the paramount and most studied wellbeing outcomes in service jobs (Huang et al., 2015). We focus on WS as opposed to other approaches to spirituality because of its ability to be fostered in the workplace (Zou & Dahling, 2017). ...
... We identify WS as an important boundary condition for utilizing the benefits of DA due to the value fit between these two motivational vectors. As a key factor in generating the necessary resource gains for DA, WS can bridge the gap in the literature between theoretical assumptions about the benefits of DA and the lack of empirical evidence that DA mitigates emotional exhaustion, as noted by several researchers (e.g., Grandey & Gabriel, 2015;Huang et al., 2015). ...
... COR theory (Hobfoll, 1989) provides one of the primary theoretical explanations for the differential outcomes of SA and DA (Grandey & Gabriel, 2015;Huang et al., 2015;Zou & Dhaling, 2017). According to this theory, people experience detriments to wellbeing when their tangible or intangible resources become depleted due to an imbalance between efforts expended and resources generated. ...
Article
Full-text available
Is emotional labour a burden or a boon to service providers who have greater workplace spirituality (WS)? We test a moderated mediation model in which emotional exhaustion mediates the conjoint effect of WS and emotional labour on job satisfaction. Linking conservation of resources (COR) theory with the mechanism of ‘value congruence’ in person–environment fit theory, we theorize that spiritual values are a key factor in generating necessary resource gains for deep acting (DA) due to the value fit of these two motivational vectors. As a boundary condition for use of the benefits of DA, WS can bridge the gap between theoretical assumptions concerning the benefits of DA and the lack of empirical evidence that DA mitigates emotional exhaustion. Concurrently, we challenge the perception of WS as universally beneficial to employees’ wellbeing by proposing that WS amplifies the detrimental effects of surface acting because the externalized and inauthentic nature of this type of emotional regulation transgresses basic spiritual values. Our hypotheses find support in a study of 196 Israeli service providers at inbound call centres.
... One potentially fruitful area of primary research may lie in exploring why the resource loss cycles of COR theory appear to be more impactful than the resource gain cycles (Hakanen et al. 2008;Hobfoll 2001). Scholars concerned about this noteworthy omission stress that emotional labor can also be beneficial and call for an examination of the positive aspects of emotional labor rather than just the negative ones (Ashforth and Humphrey 1993;Côté and Morgan 2002;Hakanen et al. 2008;Halbesleben et al. 2014;Huang et al. 2015;Kim et al. 2015, Huang et al. 2019. In answering this call, our study uses COR theory to explore the possible connections of both DA and SA to SWB. ...
... A few noteworthy contributions to the literatures of WS, emotional labor, COR theory and SWB may be gleaned from our study. Prior studies reveal that using a DA strategy requires service employees to identify new ideas, to elicit specific emotional responses, and to experience requisite feeling during working processes (Huang et al. 2015). However, specific factors that could motivate service employees to employ a DA strategy have yet to be completely elucidated. ...
... The results of our study not only sheds light on how WS facilitates and hinders the strategies of emotional labor, but also discloses how resource gain and investment can help service employees change their internal service motivation and the rationale behind why service employees may choose to employ a DA strategy. Although some researchers suggest that social and intrinsic rewards are the key levers of DA (Hülsheger and Schewe 2011), we question this simple "repayment" explanation and see a need to probe deeper in identifying the actual antecedents of DA used by service employees to recoup their emotional resource expenses (Brotheridge and Lee 2002;Huang et al. 2015). This presents a dilemma, as we mentioned before, regarding what actual motivates service employees to serve others rather than themselves. ...
Article
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This study examines whether workplace spirituality can influence the emotional labor strategy choices and the subjective well-being of service employees. We integrate conservation of resources theory and social role theory to examine the joint effects of workplace spirituality and gender differences on deep acting and surface acting. Our findings suggest that deep acting and surface acting differentially mediate the relationship between workplace spirituality and subjective well-being. Through a moderated mediation analysis, we demonstrate a stronger connection for females between subjective well-being and workplace spirituality through deep acting than for males. The results of this study shed light on how and why workplace spirituality and individual differences influence the emotional labor and subjective well-being of service employees. These results also expand our knowledge of how to help service employees gain and invest resources during their work processes and also provide a new practical way the service organization can decrease the potential negative effects of emotional labor on service employees.
... Surface acting is akin to fraudulent behavior because individuals match their external emotional displays with the organizational rules, without adjusting their inner and real emotional experiences (Moon et al., 2019;Ozcelik, 2013;Rafaeli and Sutton, 1987). In contrast, deep acting is defined as a more sincere act in that individuals adjust their inner emotions and feelings to display emotions per organizational requirements (Brotheridge and Grandey, 2002;Huang et al., 2015). To summarize, surface acting is the process of controlling and displaying external emotional display, whereas deep acting is the process of controlling internal thoughts and feelings to meet the mandated display rules. ...
... Specifically, when customers perceive that employees are adopting surface acting strategies, they are likely to Emotional labor and customer incivility think employees are just serving in a standardized way expected by the organization, such as providing warmly service, following the service-with-a-smile rule, and being always patient and kindly (Diefendorff et al., 2006;Hong et al., 2017). Different from surface acting, deep acting is more likely to be viewed as authentic because employees have adjusted their actual feelings and external emotional expressions in a more consistent way (Huang et al., 2015;Rafaeli and Sutton, 1987). For instance, deep acting employees are likely to serve customers with smiles because they really enjoy the process of serving others. ...
Article
Full-text available
Purpose Prior studies have mainly attributed customer incivility to dispositional characteristics, whereas little attention has been paid to exploring service employees' role in triggering or reducing customer incivility. The purpose of the present study is to propose and test a model in which service employees' emotional labor strategies affect customer incivility via influencing customers' self-esteem threat, as well as examine the moderating role of customer's perception of service climate. Design/methodology/approach Based on a matched sample consisting of 317 employee-customer dyads in China, multiple regression analysis and indirect effect tests were employed to test our model. Findings The study shows that employee surface acting is positively related to customer incivility, whereas deep acting is negatively associated with customer incivility. Moreover, customer self-esteem threat mediates the relationship between both types of emotional labor and customer incivility. Customer perception of service climate moderates the relationship between deep acting and customer self-esteem threat. Originality/value The current research broadens the antecedents of customer incivility from the employee perspective and sheds more light on the role of customer self-esteem in the interactions between employees and customers. It also demonstrates a complementary relationship between service climate and individual employees' emotional labor strategies, thereby expanding the existing understanding of the management of employees' emotional labor.
... Second, we respond to calls to include authentic displays in studies on emotional labor (Huang, Chiaburu, Zhang, Li, & Grandey, 2015;Humphrey et al., 2015). Our results show that -as suggested by Humphrey and colleagues -authentic emotional displays are a Emotional Displays and Empathy 18 positive alternative to surface acting and provide support for the inclusion of authentic emotional displays in emotional labor theory and research. ...
... This study also suggests how jobs can be designed to enhance employee outcomes in conjunction with selection and training (to increase empathy) -challenge stressors facilitate the expression of empathy through increased authenticity and decreased surface acting, which has implications for job satisfaction and performance. Organizations could find ways to increase employees' job challenge (Huang et al., 2015), by providing them with more autonomy and Emotional Displays and Empathy 19 responsibility, and highlighting the positive impact their work has on others. ...
Article
Full-text available
With the rise of jobs in the healthcare sector, research on emotional labor has become of increasing importance. In this study, we follow calls for scholars to include authentic emotional displays alongside the more traditionally examined emotional labor strategies (surface and deep acting) when examining the effects of employees’ emotional performance at work. We theorize that dispositional empathy is an individual difference variable that influences whether and how employees regulate their emotional displays at work, and examine the indirect relationships between dispositional empathy and employees’ self-reported job satisfaction, and objectively measured job performance and sickness absenteeism, through these emotional displays. Additionally, we examine how different types of job stressors act as boundary conditions for the relationships of empathy with emotional displays and employee outcomes. Results from a study of 156 employees in a public hospital mostly supported our theoretical model. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
... Having a wide variety of occupations in Study 2 sample was important mainly for one reason: the majority of studies sampled in Study 1 came from homogeneous occupations (e.g., Almeida et al., 2016;Clinton et al., 2017;Debus et al., 2014) and from employees who often worked for the same company and/or department (e.g., Huang et al., 2015;Ilies et al., 2007;Rudolph et al., 2016). This sample homogeneity in the studies analysed in Study 1 may be reflective of a threat to the ecological validity of the results obtained. ...
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Within-person analysis of data from longitudinal designs has become popular in the field. However, important characteristics of the design can influence that variability. In this paper, we examine how the number of measurement points obtained per participant influences in the within-person variance in work motivation. Using two sources of evidence (a systematic review and an empirical study) we show how the number of assessments substantially influences the amount of within-person variance reaching values of 52%-54% of total variance. We found that a minimum of 25-30 measurement points per participant is required to be rigorous.
... However, if employees engage in momentary emotional labor, EI also have a positive impact on the use of surface acting strategy because individuals high in EI use the right one to suit their situations (Yin et al. 2013). Emotionally intelligent employees may attempt to minimize the reduction of their resources by displaying the desired emotions superficially without seeking emotional authenticity in some situations (Huang et al. 2015). For example, when relationships between co-workers are shaped to reduce pain through emotional labor or when financial rewards according to emotional labor are explicitly given, the employees are less exhausted from surface acting (Grandey et al. 2012). ...
Article
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Previous literature on organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) has emphasized that service employees’ emotional intelligence (EI) is an essential antecedent to perform OCB. However, the malleability of EI is not always guaranteed, so it is necessary for the success of the organization to make the employee who lacks the EI perform OCB. In this regard, this study aims to discover other competencies that complement EI by reflecting the organic nature of individuals and organizations. This study collected data from 310 hair salon employees working at 20 different locations of the same franchise. The data were analyzed through a method of hierarchical multiple regression and bootstrapping. The results of the present study reassured that service employees’ EI is positively related to their OCB, which is consistent with previous literature. More importantly, this study showed that managers’ EI and service employees’ perseverance increase employee’s OCB, especially for the employee low in EI compared to those high in EI. The results also showed that the effects of service employees’ EI and perseverance on OCB are mediated by deep acting strategy among emotional labor acting strategies. This paper initially found that service employees low in EI can perform beneficial extra-role behaviors with supervisors’ or own support. Additionally, the present research examines the interplay of emotional ability, personality trait, the emotional labor acting strategies, and OCB in an integrated framework.
... Managers also need to provide training by suggesting ways to engage effectively in deep acting. One such approach uses "take the heat" technique (e.g., listen to customers' complaints, empathize, take responsibility, and apologize) or cognitive reappraisal strategy that alters emotional responses by changing one's interpretation of a situation (Gross and John, 2003;Huang et al., 2015). Regarding employees' surface acting, the recommendation is against using surface acting. ...
... Moreover, highly complicated work procedures allow individuals to utilize their skills and talents well and to become highly competent, focused, and persevering. When these individuals perceive their work as challenging, they draw on additional resources to steer their work experiences toward positive outcomes while feeling a sense of accomplishment when performing their jobs (Huang, Chiaburu, Zhang, Li, & Grandey, 2015). Consequently, the well-being of individuals with high RCW depends on what types of tasks they perform and whether their jobs could offer high levels of achievement and positive experience (Man & Lam, 2003). ...
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