ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

心理学报 ›› 2023, Vol. 55 ›› Issue (7): 1160-1175.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2023.01160

• 研究报告 • 上一篇    下一篇


祝养浩1, 龙立荣1, 刘文兴2()   

  1. 1华中科技大学管理学院, 武汉 430074
    2中南财经政法大学工商管理学院, 武汉 430073
  • 收稿日期:2022-06-07 发布日期:2023-04-21 出版日期:2023-07-25
  • 通讯作者: 刘文兴, E-mail:
  • 基金资助:

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:2022-06-07 Online:2023-04-21 Published:2023-07-25


感激作为中华民族的传统美德, 近年来受到了学者的广泛关注。本文通过结合情绪的社会功能理论和社会等级的双策略理论构建了一个被调节的中介模型, 旨在探讨领导感激表达对员工追随行为的影响效果。通过一个情景实验和一个多时点、上下级配对的问卷调查, 研究结果证实了所提的理论假设: 领导感激表达通过增加感知领导声望进而促进员工的积极追随行为, 通过减少感知领导支配进而抑制员工的消极追随行为。尤其是当领导情绪表达真诚性高时, 上述关系更为强烈。研究结论有助于启示领导者要更多、更真诚地向员工表达感激。

关键词: 领导感激表达, 声望, 支配, 追随行为, 情绪表达真诚性


Gratitude, as a traditional virtue of the Chinese nation, has been widely focused on by scholars, who in recent years have begun to shift their focus from trait gratitude and state gratitude to the interpersonal interaction outcomes of gratitude expression. We drew on the dual-strategy theory of social rank and the social functions of emotion and hypothesized that leader gratitude expression has a positive impact on positive followership behavior via perceived leader prestige and a negative impact on negative followership behavior via perceived leader dominance. Furthermore, we expected that the above relationship is stronger when employees perceive that the emotional expression authenticity of their leaders is high.

We tested these hypotheses in an experimental study (N = 184) and a field sample of leader−employee dyads (N = 192). In Study 1, a between-participant scenario experimental design was used to manipulate the independent variable, namely, leader gratitude expression, with the scenario material developed by Ritzenhöfer et al. (2017) (leader gratitude expression condition vs. neutral condition), and 200 participants were invited to participate in the experimental study. When the test was administered, the participants were randomly assigned to a scenario to eliminate the effect of their own differences on the experimental results. A total of 184 participants who passed the attention test were retained. In Study 2, we collected 192 leader−employee dyadic data at two time points. At Time 1, employees needed to report leader gratitude expression and perceived authenticity as well as provide their demographic information. At Time 2, employees needed to report perceived leader prestige and dominance, while the leader needed to report the followership behavior of employees.

We applied analysis of variance, confirmatory factor analysis, path analysis, and Monte Carlo method to analyze the data. The results were as follows: leader gratitude expression positively impacted the positive followership behavior of employees through perceived leader prestige and negatively impacted the negative followership behavior of employees through perceived leader dominance. Perceived authenticity also moderated the direct effects between leader gratitude expression and perceived leader prestige and dominance as well the indirect effects between leader gratitude expression on the positive and negative followership behaviors of employees through perceived leader prestige and dominance. Specifically, when perceived authenticity is high, the positive effect of leader gratitude expression on positive followership behavior is stronger via the perceived leader prestige of employees, while the negative effect of leader gratitude expression on negative followership behavior via the perceived leader dominance of employees is weaker.

This study has the following theoretical contributions. First, this study examined the effectiveness of leader gratitude expression and expanded the research on the outcomes of such expression. Second, based on the dual-strategy theory of social rank, we revealed the mediating mechanism of leader gratitude expression on the followership behavior of employees, thus responding to Locklear et al.’s (2022) call that “further research is needed to understand fully the mechanisms underlying the effects of gratitude.” Third, this study examined the boundaries of leader gratitude expression based on the social functions of emotion and found that the perceived emotional expression authenticity of leaders plays a moderating role. In the process of emotional expression, many scholars focus on the potency (positive or negative) and intensity (strong or weak) of emotion but ignore the role of emotional expression authenticity. This study answers the call of Locklear et al. (2022) and enriches the empirical research on emotional expression authenticity.

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