ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2019, Vol. 51 ›› Issue (3): 353-365.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2019.00353

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Daily negative affect and emotional labor strategies

FANG Yanran1,WEI Wei1,LUO Ping1,LIU Xiaodong1,SHI Junqi1(),ZHAN Yujie2   

  1. 1 Lingnan (University) College, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou 510275, China
    2 Lazaridis School of Business and Economics, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo 22120, Canada
  • Received:2018-04-20 Published:2019-03-25 Online:2019-01-22
  • Contact: Junqi SHI


Emotional labor refers to the process of regulating both feelings and expressions in response to the display rules for promoting organizational goals. Instead of conceptualizing emotional labor as a stable behavioral tendency, the current study applied self-regulation theory to understand emotional labor (expressing proper emotion at work) as a self-regulation process, and specific emotional labor strategies (i.e., deep acting and surface acting) as approaches employees use to cope with negative moods on a daily basis.
By surveying 210 customer service representatives of a call center for fourteen consecutive workdays, this diary study examined a multilevel model of daily emotional labor, with morning negative affect as a within-person level predictor, and employee job tenure and emotional intelligence as between-person level moderators. Specifically, the main effects of daily negative affect on emotional labor strategies were reflected by mean values of the random slopes at the within-person level. To test the cross-level interactive effects, the random slopes of “morning negative affect-daily emotional labor strategies” relations were regressed on job tenure and emotional intelligence; the interactive effects were indicated by significant effects of between-level moderators on given within-level random slopes.
Results showed that service employees were more likely to engage in deep acting on days when they experience lower levels of negative mood. Further, job tenure and emotional intelligence significantly attenuated the negative effect of morning negative affect on daily deep acting. Specifically, the negative relationship between morning negative affect and daily deep acting was weaker (versus stronger) for employees with longer (versus shorter) job tenure, or higher (versus lower) emotional intelligence. Additionally, employees’ emotional intelligence also moderated the relationship between morning negative affect and surface acting, but in different directions. To be concrete, for employees with higher emotional intelligence, there was a positive relationship between morning negative affect and daily surface acting; whereas the relationship reflected a negative trend for employees with less emotional intelligence.
The current study contributes to the literature of emotional labor in several aspects. First, drawing on self-regulation theory, the current study conceptualized emotional labor as a coping strategy in employees’ daily self-regulation process. In conceptualizing deep acting and surface acting as coping strategies consuming different levels of resources, the current study provided a resources-based mechanism underlying the “negative affect-emotional labor strategy” linkage. Second, the current study also investigated cognitive resource (i.e., job tenure) and self-regulation resource (i.e., emotional intelligence) at the individual level as boundary conditions that shape the impact of daily negative affect on emotional labor strategies. In doing so, we were able to support the resource-based theoretical mechanism between the “negative affect-emotional labor strategy” linkage, and expand the literature on emotional labor.

Key words: daily negative affect, emotional labor strategies, job tenure, emotional intelligence

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