ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2023, Vol. 55 ›› Issue (7): 1160-1175.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01160

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Can leader gratitude expression improve employee followership behavior? The role of emotional expression authenticity

ZHU Yanghao1, LONG Lirong1, LIU Wenxing2()   

  1. 1School of Management, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan 430074, China
    2School of Business Administration, Zhongnan University of Economics and Law, Wuhan 430073, China
  • Received:2022-06-06 Published:2023-07-25 Online:2023-04-21
  • Contact: LIU Wenxing
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(72172157);National Natural Science Foundation of China(72132001)


As a traditional virtue of the Chinese nation, gratitude has received much attention from scholars in recent years. This paper constructs a moderated mediation model by combining the social function theory of emotion and dual-strategies theory of social rank to explore the effect of leader gratitude expression on employee followership behavior. Using a scenario experiment and a multi-wave, leader-employee dyad survey, the findings confirm the proposed theoretical hypothesis that leader gratitude expression promote positive followership behavior by increasing perceived leader prestige and inhibit negative followership behavior by decreasing perceived leader dominance. The above relationship is especially strong when leader’s emotional expression authenticity is high. The findings of the study help to enlighten leaders to express appreciation to their employees more often and more sincerely.

Key words: leader gratitude expression, prestige, dominance, followership behavior, emotional expression authenticity