You are viewing a javascript disabled version of the site. Please enable Javascript for this site to function properly.
Go to headerGo to navigationGo to searchGo to contentsGo to footer
In content section. Select this link to jump to navigation

Emotional labor: A comprehensive literature review

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Despite the obvious importance of emotional labor for employees, organizations, and customers, a lack of coherence and clarity around the construct has impeded its development.

OBJECTIVE:

Our study aims to provide a comprehensive review of emotional labor spanning about 40 years.

METHODS:

Our study used a qualitative literature review method along with a theoretically derived path diagram of key emotional labor constructs. We also used meta-analysis to explore the relationship between emotional labor and outcomes in different national contexts.

RESULTS:

We expect our research to expand the field in five different ways. First, we review contemporary theoretical conceptualizations of emotional labor and its dimensions. Second, we summarize seven existing measures of emotional labor in light of their contents. Third, we map the theoretical and nomological network of emotional labor about its antecedents, outcomes, moderators, mediators. Fourth, we use meta-analysis to explore the relationship between emotional labor and other variables in different contexts. Finally, we conclude by showing a detailed future research agenda to bring the field forward from different perspectives, including theoretical and empirical advancement.

CONCLUSIONS:

Overall, our review provides a whole picture of where the literature has been and where it should go.

hsm-40-hsm200937-g002.jpg Chunjiang Yang is working as a professor at Yantai Nanshan University, Shandong, China. His research interests are organizational behavior and human resource management.

hsm-40-hsm200937-g003.jpg Aobo Chen is a student at the School of Economics and Management, Yanshan University, China. Her research interests include organizational behavior and human resource management.

1Introduction

Approximately 40 years ago, Hochschild [1] proposed that the service sector was creating a new form of labor –emotional labor (EL) –where the worker manages feelings and expressions to help the organization profit. Since her groundbreaking work, the evolving concept of –emotional labor has sparked the interest of researchers and practitioners. The primary reasons for such interest are mainly due to increased competition among service providers and the overall growth of the service economy [2]. Nowadays, the services sector plays an increasingly important role in the global economy and countries’ growth and development. Accurately, services currently account for around three-quarters of GDP in developed economies, and many developing economies are becoming increasingly services-based. In a variety of service organizations, such as hotels, banks, hospitals, airports, stores, call centers, classrooms, in all these workplaces, employees always do emotional labor in the process of customer interaction [3–7]. Moreover, although the service sector is often regarded as the focus of emotional labor research, many researchers consider emotional labor to be a central component of any job requiring interpersonal contact [8]. Thus, the ideas of emotional labor can be applied to a majority of the current workforce.

As the research continues, researchers’ interest in the concept of emotional labor has grown exponentially in academia. As early as in 2012, the lucid introduction by Alicia, et al. [9] of the 10,000 mentions of emotional labor in academic articles, 506 of them with the term in the title. As of 2020, close to 3270, research titles have included the term “emotional labor,” according to Google Scholar. In fact, research on emotional labor can be divided into three development phases. The first phase focused on the conceptual development of emotional labor, focusing on the works of Hochschild [1], Ashforth and Humphrey [2], Morris and Feldman [10] and Morris and Feldman [11]. Second, previous achievements and various conclusions have been made in the measurement stage where the research focused on developing measures of emotional labor and testing relationships between emotional labor and antecedents and outcomes via cross-sectional research [12, 13]. We are currently into the third phase of emotional labor research, which is the model development phase where more sophisticated and novel research designs are being utilized to go beyond simple relationships with outcomes to understand the antecedents, consequences, mediating mechanisms, and boundary conditions of emotional labor [5, 14]. In addition, different conclusions from previous studies, the use of rich theoretical perspectives, and complicated relationships among variables are distinctive features of this stage. In this article, we aim to review the emotional labor literature to create a holistic picture of where it has been and where it will go.

There are five main justifications why we consider it necessary to conduct a comprehensive systematic review of the study of emotional labor. First, since the pioneering work by Hochschild [1] laid a foundation for the development of emotional labor theory, research has demonstrated the empirical and theoretical differentiation of emotional labor. Despite the increasing academic interest in emotional labor, there is still a lack of coherence and clarity in the field. Although the majority of advances have appeared in management journals (e.g., Academy of Management Review [10], Academy of Management Journal [15–17]), research on emotional labor has also appeared in other disciplines, including psychology, sociology, management, and marketing. With four decades of study, we consider the time to be right to take stock of the emotional labor field by gathering experts’ perspectives from various disciplines and theoretical orientations. Thus, this research is fragmented across disciplines and yet to be integrated. Second, there are currently seven main measures of emotional labor worldwide, most of which are yet to be reviewed. We, therefore, provide our evaluation of the seven measures to form the basis of contents. Third, a large number of empirical studies show a significant relationship between emotional labor and outcomes [18–20], and we believe that the time is ripe for a systematic literature review on the nomological network of emotional labor. Fourth, using the meta-analysis method to examine the relationship between emotional labor and other variables in different national contexts has not been deeply discussed, and thus, we know little about the differences of emotional labor under different cultural backgrounds. Finally, to the best of our knowledge, the comprehensive literature review of emotional labor is scarce, highlighting the importance and urgency of our article.

Considering the rationale of this review, we considered four significant questions in our literature analysis:

  • (1) How is emotional labor understood and defined within the literature based on different perspectives and cultures?

  • (2) How is emotional labor measured?

  • (3) What do we know about emotional labor through existing empirical research?

  • (4) What is the future of emotional labor research?

To solve these problems, we conducted a systematic literature review to identify relevant literature on emotional labor. To include an article in our review, it must include emotional labor as a key variable or subject area. We searched seven databases (EBSCO Host, Emerald, Google Scholar, Science Direct, ProQuest, PsycINFO, and Web of Science) using the keywords emotional labor, emotion regulation, and emotional display rules. We also examined the reference lists of all retrieved articles to identify additional literature that was not included in our database search. Moreover, we searched for research on emotional labor in top-tier journals, including Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Journal of Behavior, Personnel Psychology, Journal of Management Studies, Cornell Hospitality Quarterly and International Journal of Hospitality Management. Our review spans about 40 years (1983 to 2020) as 1983 was when Hochschild’s named emotional labor [1].

According to our research questions, this article is divided into five sections. First, a brief definition and dimensions of the construct of emotional labor are described. In the second section, an overview is given of the primary measurement tools of emotional labor that have been used or adapted. The third section maps the nomological network by reviewing empirical work on emotional labor by focusing on the theories used, antecedents, outcomes, as well as the mechanisms of the construct. The fourth section shows the results of the meta-analysis of emotional labor in different national contexts. Finally, we suggest directions for future research and point out the deficiency of existing research through both theoretical and empirical advancement. Overall, this article aims to provide a comprehensive (qualitative and quantitative) review of the key content and empirical articles on emotional labor published as well as an assessment of these research efforts.

2Definition and dimensions of emotional labor

Hochschild defines emotional labor as face-to-face or voice-to-voice interaction [1]. Meanwhile, Hochschild’s definition of emotional labor implicitly presumes that servicers more or less consciously and painstakingly attempt to manage emotion by engaging in surface acting (employees modify their displays without shaping inner feelings) or deep acting (employees modify internal feelings to be consistent with display rules). Ashforth and Humphrey [2] defined emotional labor as expressing socially desired emotions during service transactions. In addition, they viewed the expression of genuine emotion (one spontaneously and genuinely experiences and expresses the expected emotion) as a third means of accomplishing emotional labor based on surface acting and deep acting. A service agent might naturally feel what he or she should express without stirring up emotions discussed by Hochschild [2]. Their definition both emphasizes behavior and decouples the experience of emotion from the expression of emotion, which differs somewhat from Hochschild’s [1] definition of emotional labor. Furthermore, Morris and Feldman defined emotional labor as the effort, planning, and control needed to express organizationally desired emotion during interpersonal transactions [10, 11]. According to this definition, emotional labor has four dimensions: frequency of appropriate emotional display, attentiveness to required display rules, a variety of emotions to be displayed, and emotional dissonance [10]. Their definition is not only embedded in an interactionist model of emotion but also consistent with the interactionist model of emotion. Importantly, this definition provides some standards or rules that specify how and when emotions should be expressed, contributing to the further study of emotional labor. Later, emotional labor is divided into three dimensions, namely frequency of emotional labor, duration of emotional labor, and emotional dissonance. They both emphasized the external behavioral displays of employees [21]. To further simplify the definition of emotional labor, Grandey defined emotional labor as “the process of regulating both feelings and expressions for organizational goals” [22] (p. 97) with a focus on surface and deep acting. Schaubroeck and Jones [13] defined emotional labor as operationalized requirements from the dimensions of suppressing negative efference and expressing positive efference. In general, the definition of emotional labor tends to specific and rigid. It focuses not only on the behavioral outcomes that meet organizational requirements and expectations but also on the dynamic process of emotional regulation or management. Overall, these definitions of emotional labor show that the expression of emotions, once determined by individuals, has become a commodity in the market [10].

3Cross-cultural differences in emotional labor

Cultural context shapes and influences the emotional expression of people [23]. First, emotions are more essential signifiers of social relations in collectivistic cultures [24–26], social role and position are more likely to influence their expression or suppression. In individualistic cultures, on the other hand, emotions are important not as indicators of social position and relation but in their own right and own sake [23], because they are believed to reflect the true and inner self. Furthermore, collectivistic norms of politeness toward strangers and social harmony with in-group members might lead to the masking of negative emotions and the enforcement of smiling and congeniality [27] consciously or unconsciously. On the other hand, individualistic prescriptions might underline the importance of expressing one’s authentic emotions, regardless of their valence [23]. Second, cultural differences in the perceived personal and interpersonal significance of emotion are also reflected in culture-specific patterns of expression [28]. Members of collectivist cultures tend to downplay their emotions more than members of individualistic cultures [29]. Matsumoto et al. [30] found that Japanese participants reported fewer emotion-associated bodily expressions, verbal reactions (except in the case of joy), and physiological symptoms than North Americans or Europeans. Third, the difference of regulation strategies can be understood from the respective cultural models [31]. In independent cultures, surface acting may be equated with hiding one’s inner feelings, which may be seen as a loss of identity and, in that sense, less preferable than deep acting [2]. In interdependent cultures, on the other hand, deep acting and surface acting can be regarded as potential feasible strategies to achieve the goal of harmonious relationships, and therefore receive equal attention. Consistently, research has also yielded different relationships between deep acting and surface acting for independent and interdependent cultural contexts, respectively: re-appraisal and suppression are negatively correlated in independent, and positively correlated in interdependent cultures [32]. Fourth, the cost of emotional labor is different in different cultures. A cross-national survey study [33] yielded higher costs from emotion regulation in the workplace for American than Chinese service workers. Emotional labor, and particularly surface acting, was personally more costly in terms of job burnout to the American than to the Chinese employees. In fact, emotional labor is less stressful and less costly for people in interdependent than independent cultures. Emotion regulation in Chinese employees could even lead to a higher level of psychological well-being.

4Measures of emotional labor

To the best of our knowledge, there are mainly seven measures of emotional labor in extant literature. Kruml and Geddes [34] empirically identified the dimensions and initiated the development of a measure of emotional labor. Their scale had ten items that measured emotive dissonance, emotive effort, and emotional attachment. In the current study of emotional labor, Brotheridge and Lee [21]’ s scale appears most frequently [35]. Emotional Labor Scale (ELS) was tested on samples of 296 and 238 respondents. The ELS is a 15-item self-report questionnaire that measures six facets of emotional display in the workplace, including the frequency, intensity, and variety of emotional display, the duration of interaction, and surface and deep acting. The ELS had good convergent and discriminant validity. Glomb and Tews [36] designed a conceptually grounded, psychometrically sound instrument to measure emotional labor with an emphasis on the experience of discrete emotions—the Discrete Emotions Emotional Labor Scale (DEELS). This conceptualization and operationalization of emotional labor depart from previous efforts because it focuses on the behavior of emotional expression, encompassing genuine, faked, and suppressed positive and negative emotional displays. Diefendorff et al. [37]’s scale of emotional labor was adapted from Grandey [38] and Kruml and Geddes [34]. The scale included three dimensions of surface acting, deep acting, and expression of naturally felt emotions, with 14 items. In addition, researchers refined emotional labor and developed a series of emotional labor scales based on different people and specific situations. Particularly, Chu and Murrmann [39] developed and validated a 19-item instrument (Hospitality Emotional Labor Scale, HELS), including two dimensions of emotive dissonance and emotive effort for assessing employees’ perception of emotional labor in hospitality organizations. Cukur [40] developed and validated an instrument to measure emotional labor among teachers (Teacher Emotional Labor Scale, TELS), emphasizing emotion regulation strategies during critical work events. 20-item self-report scale supported the four-dimensional structure of emotional labor separating surface acting, deep acting, automatic emotion regulation, and emotional deviance. Moreover, Yang et al. [41] identified four dimensions: surface acting, deep acting, expression of naturally felt emotions and emotion termination, and established the emotional labor scale with 16 items in the Chinese context. In Appendix A, we present these scales.

5Nomological network of emotional labor research

5.1Theories utilized in emotional labor research

The theoretical frameworks for empirical research on emotional labor predominately draw from emotion regulation theory. Emotion regulation theory, defined as “the processes by which individuals influence which emotions they have, when they have them, and how they experience and express these emotions” [42] (p.275), provides a beneficial guiding framework for emotional labor. According to the emotion regulation theory proposed by Gross [42, 43], the individual can regulate emotions at two points. At the first intervening point, an individual can engage in antecedent-focused emotion regulation, where the individual modifies the situation or the perception of the situation in order to adjust emotions. At the second intervention point, an individual could engage in response-focused emotion regulation. In this process, the person tends an emotional response but manipulates how he or she shows that emotional response by “directly influencing physiological, experiential, or behavioral responding” [42] (p.285). Not only that, emotion regulation theory clearly explained why emotional labor might lead to negative outcomes such as burnout and stress.

Although emotion regulation theory has provided an important base for emotional labor research, more and more theories began to be used to explain emotional labor, which promotes the prosperity of emotional labor research [44–46]. Emotional labor, as a stressor throughout the literature, leads to a result of inadequate resources. Conservation of Resources (COR) theory is an overarching framework encompassing resources, the motivational use of those resources, and the strain resulting from a lack of, or threat. Specifically, COR theory assumes that individuals make an effort to obtain, retain, and protect resources, especially resources that they value and are central to fulfilling their core needs and objectives [47]. According to COR theory, stress is experienced after negative events if resources have been threatened, lost, and/or not gained after significant previous investment. The COR suggests that the physical, mental, and emotional well-being of people are resources exposed to loss or depletion by the stress of performing emotional labor. That is, emotional labor leads to the loss of resources and has various negative outcomes such as burnout, negative affect, and low level of performance.

Affective events theory [48] explains that certain events in the workplace elicit certain emotions, causing spontaneously affect-directed behaviors. Rupp and Spencer [49] have argued for emotional labor as an affect-driven behavior. Grandey et al. [50] cite interpersonal stressors or conflicts as examples for affective workplace events that lead to emotional labor. Rupp et al. [51] drew on affective events theory to explain why individuals’ emotional labor is impacted by customer interpersonal and informational injustices. Spencer and Rupp [52] used an affective events theory framework to examine how the experience of customer injustice may be viewed as an affective event that can spur discrete emotions such as anger and guilt. Such emotions lead directly to affect-laden behaviors—such as emotional labor—that carefully map onto the affect-driven behaviors proposed in affective events theory.

Social exchange theory [53] is based on the norm of reciprocity [54] in which an organization provides valued resources and support in exchange for resources and support received from the employees. When employees gain access to organizational resources, they need to reward the organization’s support by increasing their efforts. In jobs prone to high levels of emotional labor, this work effort may be manifested through the enactment of organizationally imposed emotional displays that facilitate the achievement of organizational goals. In addition, Yang et al. [55] posited that subordinates could engage in emotional labor directed at their leaders, and in doing so, shape their relationships with their leaders. Drawing upon the social exchange theory, individuals will seek to distance themselves from unrewarding and even socially costly relationships. Thus, Becker et al. [46] explained the positive relationship between emotional labor and turnover.

5.2Antecedents of emotional labor

Antecedents of emotional labor are broadly divided into two aspects, one is related to individual employees, and the other is external factors other than individuals (e.g., customer [56], organization [57], and culture [14]). However, thus far, in the emotional labor literature, our knowledge is more limited to individual differences and affective states. Although there has been some innovative conceptual work on the antecedents of emotional labor by Lam [58], Luo [14], Lu [59], and Shapoval [57], who suggested fit, leadership, and organizational injustice that may predict emotional labor. It needs to be emphasized that many antecedents related to emotional labor had studied the relevant relationship and influence of surface acting and deep acting, and paid attention to the dimensions of emotional labor. For instance, Lu et al. [59] showed that servant leadership related negatively to surface acting but related positively to deep acting. In Dahling and Perez [61]’s study, they found that age was positively related to the use of deep acting and the expression of naturally felt emotions, and negatively related to surface acting. Grandey [38] demonstrated that affective delivery ratings were negatively related to surface acting but positively related to deep acting.

To analyze if the individual differences influence emotional labor, researchers generally choose front-line employees. For example, police-officers [3], nurses [7], hotel workers [60], and airline personnel [5] have different and obvious emotion display rules. Researchers have developed hypotheses concerning the relationships between age [61], emotional intelligence [20], person-job fit, person-organization fit [58], and specific emotional labor strategies (surface acting and deep acting). Research showed that employees who were high emotional intelligence, person-job fit, and elder worker were more likely than others to take deep acting, while individuals with relatively low emotional intelligence, person-job fit, and younger workers were more likely than others to take surface acting. In addition, employees’ affective factors [20, 38, 62, 63], as the more common antecedents, directly influence emotional labor behavior. Overall, it is difficult for the antecedents of emotional labor to go beyond the individual, organization, customer, and affectivity. Therefore, we call upon future studies and meta-analyses to analyze promising antecedents (e.g., leader) to create and expand a more holistic picture of emotional labor theory and research in the category.

5.3Outcomes of emotional labor

While progress has been made on outcomes of employees’ emotional labor, the results of these empirical studies can be divided into three aspects according to different influencing subjects, namely employees, organizations, and customers. The specific outcomes variables of emotional labor can be found in Fig. 1.

Fig. 1

The nomological network of emotional labor research.

The nomological network of emotional labor research.

5.3.1Outcomes of employee

The relationships between emotional labor and employee outcomes (e.g., burnout, job satisfaction, well-being, and affective states) are the most examined in the emotional labor nomological network. Furthermore, surface acting is found to be positively associated with burnout [23, 62, 64] (e.g., less personal accomplishment, more depersonalization, and more emotional exhaustion), job tension [20], work withdrawal [65], negative affective states [65] and insomnia [27], as well as absenteeism [66]. Deep acting is positively related to personal accomplishment [64], positive affective states [65], job satisfaction [67], (affective) well-being [68], Additionally, Pugliesi indicated that “both forms of emotional labor had uniformly negative effects on workers” [12] (p. 125). However, most research results indicate that surface acting has more negative effects on individuals than deep acting. Deep acting may bring some positive outcomes to the employees themselves [67, 69] (e.g., job satisfaction, well-being, role identification), or have a nonsignificant relationship with negative influences [67, 70] (e.g., job satisfaction, emotional exhaustion). Because surface acting can lead to unreal feelings and psychological tension, while deep acting can lead to positive experiences and feelings.

5.3.2Outcomes of organization

Given that emotional labor is an appropriate expression of emotion, it expresses the organizationally desired emotion during interpersonal transactions [10]. Therefore, it is not surprising that emotional labor is found to be positively associated with organizational performance, including organizational productivity and job performance. Research also reveals that surface acting is positively lined with an affective commitment to the organization [71], and turnover intentions [19]. In terms of turnover behaviors, Goodwin et al. [72] had found that surface acting was directly related to employee turnover, and deep acting was not linked to turnover. Chau et al. [19] ’s research results showed that turnover intentions mediated the relationship between deep acting or surface acting and actual turnover. In the same vein, surface acting had indirect effects on turnover behaviors through negative attitudes, including turnover intentions.

5.3.3Outcomes of customer

How the service provider acts and speaks with the customer has attracted increasing attention. Customers are the main object of emotional labor for service providers. Researching the relationship between emotional labor and customers has also become an indispensable part of emotional labor outcomes. From the customers’ perspective, most empirical studies on outcomes of emotional labor have focused on the relationships between customer satisfaction [58], future loyalty intentions [16], service interaction quality [73], and emotional labor. Deep acting is highly positively related to customer satisfaction, loyalty intentions, service quality, and customer treatment [74]. What cannot be ignored is that customer orientation, as an innovative research achievement, enriches the research content of emotional labor. Lee et al. [5] revealed that deep acting positively affects customer orientation, while surface acting affects customer orientation negatively. However, a close look at the customer orientation literature shows that the research fails to identify causal relationships between emotional labor and customer orientation.

5.4Moderators in emotional labor research

A promising start has been made in unpacking the boundary conditions in which emotional labor processes. At the organizational level, the industry the occupation emotional labor requirements, and employees’ views of the overall culture of the organization (perceived organizational support, autonomy, the climate of authenticity) influence the effectiveness of emotional labor on the service performance of the organization, and employees’ job satisfaction, emotional exhaustion, and well-being. More specifically, autonomy was a significant moderator of the relationships between emotional labor strategies and the personal outcomes of emotional exhaustion, affective well-being, and job satisfaction [68]. Autonomy served to alleviate negative outcomes for individuals who used emotional labor strategies often. Perceived organizational support plays a moderating role in the relationship between emotional labor and job satisfaction, job performance. The negative impact of emotional labor on job satisfaction and job performance was significantly reduced by perceived organizational support [75]. A work unit with a climate of authenticity among one’ s coworkers can buffer against strain from emotional labor [76].

Regarding personal traits, the relationship between organizational injustice and emotional labor was moderated by gender [57]. Females were more likely to experience negative consequences when engaging in surface acting, according to Johnson and Spector [68]. Two previous studies examined the moderator role of emotional intelligence and found that it played an important role in the relationship between surface acting and outcomes such as emotional exhaustion, work-family conflict, work-family enrichment [62, 77]. In turn, Johnson and Spector [68] found that emotional intelligence did not moderate the relationship between emotional labor strategies and personal outcomes. Thus, inconsistent conclusions suggest that future research needs further to explore the role of emotional intelligence as a moderator.

At a team level, team help, and team mentoring functions have been analyzed as moderators in the relationships between emotional labor and outcomes [78, 79]. However, it can be seen that team-related moderators are the least common in the emotional labor literature compared to individual and organizational variables.

In addition, in analyzing a large number of hypotheses that have been published, two patterns emerged. The first, and most common, was that the moderation paths were significant, and the mediation paths were also made sense. These mediators tended to be employee-related variables or customer-related variables such as work-family interference [80], emotional intelligence [81], self-efficacy [82], job satisfaction [83], quality of work-life [84], depressed mood [20], and customer treatment [74]. Second, some mediation paths were not significant (e.g., the mediating effect of burnout was not documented in the relationship between surface behavior and work-family conflict [85]). In sum, we encourage future research to include and report non-significant findings to have a more comprehensive understanding of the influence of emotional labor.

We map the theoretical and nomological network of emotional labor about its antecedents, outcomes, moderators, mediators in Fig. 1 and Table 1.

Table 1

The empirical research on emotional labor

Author (year)CountryPopulationTheory frameworkAntecedentsMediatorsModeratorsOutcomes
Totterdell P, Holman D. (2003)Service employeesAffective events theoryEmotional eventsGender/positive expressivity/emotional intelligence/timing control/method control/supervisor supportEmotionally drained/emotionally numb/job performance/expressed emotion/proactive customer help
Brotheridge CM, Grandey AA. (2002)CanadaStudentsDemands–control stress theoryBurnout (emotional exhaustion/ depersonalization/personal accomplishment)
Hennig-Thurau T, Groth M, Paul M, Gremler DD. (2006).StudentsEmotional contagion theoryChange in customer Positive affectcustomer–employee rapport/customer satisfaction with transaction/future loyalty intentions
Erickson RJ, Erickson RJ, Ritter C, Ritter C. (2001).U.S.Dual-earner couplesGenderBurnout/inauthenticity
Schaubroeck J, Jones JR. (2000).U.S.EmployeesRequirements for interactionOrganizational identification/job involvement/emotional adaptabilityPhysical symptoms/role identification
Pugliesi K. (1999).Job satisfaction/perceived job stressPerceived job stressDistress
Gosserand RH, Diefendorff JM. (2005)ChinaEmployeesPositive and negative affectivity/integrative emotional display rule perceptionsCommitment to display rulesPositive affective delivery
Johnson HAM, Spector PE. (2007)Multi-countriesEmployeesEmotion regulation theoryAutonomy/gender/emotional intelligenceJob satisfaction/affective well-being/emotional exhaustion
Kim HJ. (2008)U.S.Hotel employeesVariety/duration/ positive display rulesNeuroticism/ extraversionExhaustion/cynicism/professional efficacy
Groth M, Hennig-Thurau T, Walsh G. (2009)Employee/customerService type/customer deep acting detection accuracyPerceived customer orientation/Perceived service qualityCustomer loyalty intentions
Judge TA, Woolf EF, Hurst C. (2009)U.S.EmployeesPositive affect/negative affectExtraversionJob performance/emotional exhaustion
Chau SL, Dahling JJ, Levy PE, Diefendorff JM. (2009)U.S.Bank tellersTurnover theoryEmotional exhaustionTurnover intention/behavior
Holman D, Chissick C, Totterdell P. (2002).U.K.Customer service agentsPerformance monitoringWork contextWell-being
Scott BA, Barnes CM. (2011).Bus driversState negative affectGenderWork withdrawal
Goodwin RE, Groth M, Frenkel, SJ. (2011).AustraliaEmployeesAffective deliveryJob performance/turnover/emotional exhaustion
Diefendorff JM, Erickson RJ, Grandey AA, Dahling JJ. (2011).U.S.NursesPositive/negative affectivityUnit-level integrative display ruleJob satisfaction/burnout
Beal DJ, Trougakos JP, Weiss HM, Green SG. (2006).U.S.Cheerleading instructorsDifficultySelf-rated affective delivery
Montgomery AJ, Panagopolou, E, De Wildt M. Meenks E. (2006).NetherlandsWorkersWork-family interferenceBurnout/psycho-somatic complaints
Rupp DE, Silke Mccance A, Spencer S, Sonntag K. (2008).GermanyBank tellersAffective events theoryCustomer injustice/angerPerspective taking
Spencer S. Rupp, D. E. (2009).U.S.StudentsFairness theory/affective events theoryCustomer justice
Grandey A, Foo SC, Groth M, Goodwin RE. (2012).AustraliaHealth care providersCOR theoryPatient-instigated mistreatmentClimate of authenticityEmotional exhaustion
Liu Y, Prati LM, Pamela L, Perrewé, Ferris, GR. (2008).U.S.Employees/managersCOR theoryEmotional intelligence/negative affectivityDepressed treatmentJob satisfaction/job tension
Dahling JJ, Perez LA. (2010).U.S.Students/employeesSocioemotional selectivity theoryPositive affectAge/trait
Sliter M, Jex S, Wolford K, Mcinnerney J. (2010).U.S.Bank tellersCOR theoryCustomer incivilityEmotional exhaustion/customer service performance
Carlson D, Ferguson M, Hunter E, Whitten D. (2012).SupervisorCOR theoryAbusive supervisionBurnout
Seery BL, Corrigall EA. (2009).U.S.Nurses’ aidesJob satisfaction/affective commitment/turnover intentions/emotional exhaustion
Meier KJ, Mastracci SH, Wilson K. (2006).SchoolAgeOrganizational performance/organizational productivity/turnover/customer satisfaction.
Hülsheger UR, Lang JW, Maier GW. (2010).GermanyTeachersStrain/job performance
Duke AB, Goodman JM, Treadway DC, Breland JW. (2009)U.S.Service employeesCOR theoryPerceived organizational support/organization supportJob satisfaction/job performance
Yanchus NJ, Eby LT, Lance CE, Drollinger S. (2010).U.S.Psychological societyMood congruency theoryVariety/intensity/frequency
Kiffin-Petersen SA., Jordan CL, Soutar GN. (2011).AustraliaEmployeesCOR theoryThe big fiveEmotional exhaustion
van Gelderen B, Heuven E, Van Veldhoven M, Zeelenberg M, Croon M. (2007).NetherlandsPolice officersCOR theoryEmotional dissonance/psychological strain
Wagner DT, Barnes CM, Scott BA. (2014).U.S.Bus driversState anxietyWork-to-family conflict/insomnia
Chi NW, Grandey AA. (2019).ChinaBank tellersRegulatory fit theoryService sabotage/affective delivery
Liu XY, Chi NW, Gremler DD. (2019).ChinaService customersEmotional contagion theory
Chen KY, Chang CW, Wang CH. (2019).ChinaFrontline employeesCOR theoryHarmonious passion/obsessive passionEmotional exhaustion
Moon TW, Hur WM, Choi YJ. (2019).KoreaHospital employeesSocial information theoryAuthentic leadership/identification/trust
Shapoval V. (2019).U.S.Hotel employeesEquity and appraisal theoriesProcedural/distributive/informational injusticeGenderJob satisfaction
Choi HM, Mohammad AA, Kim WG. (2019).KoreaHotel employeesCOR theoryEmotional intelligenceJob stress/burnout
Oh SH, Hwan Y., Kim H. (2019).KoreaFrontline workersSocial identity theoryAffective organizational commitment/corporate social responsibility perception
Yang J, Huang Y, Zhou S. (2019).ChinaEmployeesSocial exchange theorySupervisor supportSubordinate perceptions of LMX
Xanthopoulou D, Bakker AB, Oerlemans WGM, Koszucka M. (2017).Netherlands/PolandEmployeesFlow/exhaustion/need for recovery end of work
Lam W, Huo Y, Chen Z. (2017).ChinaEmployees/customersOrganizational fit theoryPerson-job fit/person-organization fitPerson-organization fitService interaction quality/customer satisfaction
Lee J, Ok CM, Lee SH, Lee CK. (2018).KoreaFlight attendants/airport service employees/center representativesCOR theoryJob position/taskDepersonalization/customer orientation
Chi NW, Wang IA. (2018).ChinaService workersService training/mentoringService performance
Lu J, Zhang Z, Jia M. (2018).ChinaEmployeesSocial information-processing theoryTrust/servant leadership
Luo A, Guchait P, Lee L, Madera JM. (2019)U.S./ChinaFrontline employeesTransformational leadershipService recovery performance
Scott BA, Barnes CM, Wagner DT. (2012).U.S.Service employeesSelf-monitoringJob satisfaction/work withdrawal
Kim E, Bhave DP, Glomb TM. (2013).U.S.University employeesSocial identity theoryDemographic diversitySocial interaction/task interdependence
Gabriel A, Diefendorff J. (2015).U.S.StudentsCustomer incivilityMomentary felt emotionsMomentary vocal tone
Lee YH, Chelladurai P. (2016).U.S.CoachingPositive/neglect affectivityEmotional intelligenceEmotional exhaustion
Uy M, Lin K, Ilies R. (2016).SingaporeCustomer service representativesCOR theoryHelpEmotional exhaustion
Grandey AA. (2003).Administrative assistantsJob satisfaction/display rulesEmotional exhaustionAffective delivery/breaking character
Nguyen H, Groth M, Johnson A. (2013).AustraliaNursesResource depletion theorySurface acting self-efficacyAbsenteeism/affective commitment
Grandey AA, Frone MR, Melloy RC, Sayre GM. (2019).U.S.WorkersEgo depletion theoryWork autonomyAlcohol consumption
Becker WJ, Cropanzano R, Van Wagoner P, Keplinger K. (2018).Direct-care nurses/studentsSocial exchange theoryTeam supportExtra-role behaviors/turnover intentions
Van Gelderen B. R, Konijn EA, Bakker AB. (2016).NetherlandsPolice officersCOR theoryStrainService performance
Zhan Y, Wang M, Shi J. (2016).ChinaCustomer representativesCustomer treatmentEmotional exhaustion/
Diestel S, Rivkin W, Schmidt KH. (2015)GermanyEmployeesWork engagement/psychological strain
Cheung FYL, Tang CSK. (2009).ChinaService employeesCOR theoryQuality of work lifeWork family interference
Hsieh CW, Hsieh, JY, Huang IYF. (2016).ChinaService EmployeesSelf-efficacyJob satisfaction
Cheung FYL, Tang CSK. (2010).ChinaEmployeesSocioemotional selectivity theoryAgeGenderJob satisfaction/psychological distress
Gursoy D, Boylu Y, Avci U. (2011).TurkeyStudentsCOR theoryCulture valuesJob satisfaction
Hur WM, Moon TW, Jung YS. (2015).Koreacustomers/service employeesEmotional contagion theoryJob satisfactionCustomer satisfaction

6A meta-analysis of emotional labor in different national contexts

We further integrated research findings on the relationships between emotional labor and outcome variables in different national contexts, statistically in the form of a meta-analysis. Specifically, we explored the relationship between emotional labor and job satisfaction and emotional exhaustion under the East and West’s diverse cultural backgrounds. Each correlation was corrected for attenuation due to unreliability in predictor and outcome variables. Following corrections, we estimated the sample-weighted mean of these correlations. Both the raw (r) and reliability-corrected (ρ) correlations are presented throughout our analyses. Table 2 demonstrates the relationships between emotional labor constructs. As can be seen, surface acting had a significantly negative relationship with job satisfaction (ρ= –0.305), while deep acting was positively correlated with job satisfaction, but not significantly (ρ= –0.078). Surface acting had a significantly positive relationship with emotional exhaustion (ρ= 0.251), and deep acting was positively correlated with emotional exhaustion, but not significantly (ρ= 0.025).

Table 2

Relationships among emotional labor and job satisfaction and emotional exhaustion

RelationshipsKNMeanrSDrMeanpSDp80% CV95% CI% Variance
SA-JS93108–0.1710.113–0.3050.103[–0.437; –0.173][–0.381; –0.230]22%
DA—JS82745–0.0600.1090.0780.150[–0.114;0.270][–0.032;0.188]12%
SA—EE1132800.2510.1480.2510.148[0.061;0.440][0.157;0.344]12%
DA—EE925580.0250.1770.0250.177[–0.202;0.252][–0.097;0.147]10%

Note: SA = surface acting; JS = job satisfaction; DA = deep acting; EE = emotional exhaustion.

In addition, the random-effect model is used to estimate the effects of eastern and Western countries. Then, the fixed-effect model’s two groups of literature were tested to calculate the significance of the Q value. If the Q value is significant, the difference between groups is significant. The results are shown in Tables 3, 4, 5, and 6. In the random-effect model, the relationship between surface acting and job satisfaction in the Eastern countries and the relationship between surface acting and job satisfaction in the Western countries are negative, respectively (ρ= –0.315; ρ= –0.253). In the random-effect model, the relationship between deep acting and job satisfaction in the Eastern countries and the relationship between deep acting and job satisfaction in the Western countries are negative, respectively (ρ= 0.329; ρ= –0.057). In the fixed-effect model, there is no significant difference between surface acting and job satisfaction in Eastern and Western countries (Q = 2.53, p > 0.05). In the fixed-effect model, there is significant difference between deep acting and job satisfaction in Eastern and Western countries (Q = 48.82, p < 0.01). In the random-effect model, the relationship between surface acting and emotional exhaustion in the Eastern countries and the relationship between surface acting and emotional exhaustion in the Western countries are negative, respectively (ρ= 0.236; ρ= –0.256). In the random-effect model, the relationship between deep acting and emotional exhaustion in the Eastern countries and the relationship between deep acting and emotional exhaustion in the Western countries are negative, respectively (ρ= –0.121; ρ= 0.103). In the fixed-effect model, there is significant difference between surface acting and emotional exhaustion in Eastern and Western countries (Q = 163.70, p < 0.01). In the fixed-effect model, there is significant difference between deep acting and emotional exhaustion in Eastern and Western countries (Q = 29.26, p < 0.01).

Table 3

Random-effect models of emotional labor and job satisfaction

CorrelationNfisher Z
Surface actingEastern countries–0.316701–0.327
western countries–0.2532407–0.258
Deep actingEastern countries0.3297010.341
western countries0.0572044–0.57
Table 4

Fixed-effect models of emotional labor and job satisfaction

Effect sizeVariance withinWeightCalculated quantities
YVYWWYWY2W2
Surface actingEastern countries–0.3270.001698–227.91874.422487204
western countries–0.2580.0002404–620.684160.2535779216
Sum3102–848.603234.676266738425
Deep actingEastern countries0.3410.001698238.1281.234487204
western countries–0.0570.0002041–116.4636.6464165681
Sum2739121.65787.8794252885
Table 5

Random-effect models of emotional labor and emotional exhaustion

CorrelationNfisher Z
Surface actingEastern countries0.2368950.241
western countries–0.25623850.262
Deep actingEastern countries–0.121895–0.121
western countries0.10316630.103
Table 6

Fixed-effect models of emotional labor and emotional exhaustion

Effect sizeVariance withinWeightCalculated quantities
YVYWWYWY2W2
Surface actingEastern countries.2410.001892214.55651.608795664
western countries–0.2620.0002382–623.408163.1565673924
Sum3274–408.852214.7646469588
Deep actingEastern countries–0.1210.001892–108.01113.079795664
western countries.1030.0011660171.75617.7712755600
Sum255263.74530.853551264

7Discussions

To date, there are nine literature reviews of emotional labor, and they have provided important insights into the literature. Three of these are meta-analyses on the limited predictors and outcomes of emotional labor. More specifically, Bono and Vey [70] reviewed the effects of emotional labor on employee workplace attitudes and behaviors as correlates (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, personal accomplishment, physical complaints, role internalization, self-esteem, and job satisfaction). Hülsheger and Schewe [86] provided a quantitative review of the link of emotional labor (emotion–rule dissonance, surface acting, and deep acting) with well-being and performance outcomes. Mesmer-Magnus et al. [87] understood various aspects of emotional labor through the underlying discordance versus congruence in felt versus displayed emotions and demonstrated that discordant emotional labor states are associated with a range of harmful consequences (health-, attitudinal-, and performance-related) by meta-analytic results.

The other six literature reviews focused predominantly on specific topics in emotional labor research. Grandey [88] reviewed and compared previous perspectives of emotional labor, to provide a definition of emotional labor that integrates these perspectives to discuss emotion regulation as a guiding theory for understanding the mechanisms of emotional labor. Wharton [89] only reviewed theory and research on emotional labor with a particular focus on its contributions to sociological understandings of workers and jobs, which failed to provide enriching insights and guidance from the perspective of multi-disciplinary. Grandey [90] reviewed emotional labor’s (a) construct development and measurement, (b) chronic and momentary determinants, (c) prediction of employee well-being, and (d) influence on organizational performance. They also introduced emotional labor as a dynamic integration of three components (i.e., emotional requirements, emotion regulation, and emotion performance). Jeung et al. [91]’s literature review was conducted to investigate the association between emotional labor and burnout and explore the role of personality in this relationship. Ye and Chen [92] reviewed the literature of Chinese and foreign teachers’ emotional labor research. Humphrey et al. [69] reviewed the bright side of emotional labor.

While contributing to the development of emotional labor, findings of these nine-literature reviews also leave notable research gaps. First, there is a call for an updated literature review as some important variables have not been captured in the extant review. New correlates of emotional labor have been investigated (e.g., specific leader behaviors [93]). There are also outcome variables that have received increasing scholarly attention but were not included in the previous literature review. For example, emotional labor plays an important role in influencing customers’ attitudes and behaviors (e.g., customer satisfaction [94]). Conduct an updated literature review aiming to investigate comprehensive predictors, mediators, moderators, and outcomes of emotional labor, thus helping extend the nomological network of emotional labor research. Second, we also reviewed three important aspects of emotional labor (1) the definition of emotional labor (2) the measurement of emotional labor (3) cross-cultural differences in emotional labor, which provides a clearer understanding of the nature of emotional labor.

Obviously, we are pleased with the attention and progress devoted to the study of emotional labor. Both empirical and theoretical richness is added to the broader academic conversation about emotional labor, whereas emotional labor appears to have increased our understanding of emotions in the workplace, especially in the service interaction [2, 18, 68, 95]. Many empirical and theoretical issues restrain our enthusiasm or cause us to reconsider the contributions to date. Of primary concern are the following areas that require more work.

8Advances in research design and analysis for future research

The overreliance on self-reports and single-time studies in the emotional labor field raises severe warnings about the implications of these findings, especially since none of these studies address endogeneity and common method bias in their design. It is not unique to emotional labor, and there have been some efforts to improve survey design in the emotional area. We recommend some methods to strengthen survey designs in emotional labor research to match the research method with the research problem.

8.1Multi-source, multi-wave studies

During the design phase, the researchers should collect data from multiple time points to reduce common method deviations from multiple sources. In addition, it is generally admitted that causes precede their effects in time. It usually justifies the preference for longitudinal studies over cross-sectional ones. Because causal inference requires following the same individuals over time, and no causal inference can be drawn from cross-sectional data. That is, longitudinal data are required for testing causal conclusions, especially needed in emotional labor research. As the relationship between the frontline employees and the customers matures over time, we would expect to see the dynamic change of emotional labor and the corresponding change of its outcomes. Such a design also would help isolate customers’ and leaders’ characteristics and behaviors that influence employees’ emotional labor from the influence of emotional labor on customers and leaders [96]. If emotional labor and customers’ behavior or leaders’ behavior are assessed at three or more periods, latent change analysis to capture reciprocal spiraling effects would also be possible. Further, this would allow the researcher to test for reverse causation, which has yet to be established in emotional labor.

8.2Experience sampling methodology

Researchers have sought to implement longitudinal designs through experience sampling methodology (ESM), which allows researchers to repeatedly sample individuals’ immediate experiences in their natural environment. Researchers typically employ ESM to survey participants regularly (i.e., every few hours up to daily) across 1 to 2 weeks and even four weeks [97]. Using ESM, researchers can avoid common methodological biases associated with cross-sectional survey design and memory biases, in which individuals must recall specific behaviors [97] or events. While this method has been used for research on the emotion field, it is just beginning to be utilized in emotional research. In addition, data collection tools are becoming more diverse and convenient. For example, Gabriel and Diefendorff [17] utilized a call center simulation to examine how customer incivility changes impacted on continuous measures (captured every 200 milliseconds) of participants felt emotions, surface acting, deep acting. They collected continuous ratings of via a program in EPrime 2.0 Professional that enabled us to playback recordings of the calls and have participants provide continuous ratings of how they felt, how much they surface acted, and how much they deep acted.

8.3Including competing variables

Researchers should consider including as many competing variables within their research design to demonstrate the accrue effects of emotional labor. Through this method, we attempt to capture the true effects of emotional labor. If we introduce multiple mediation variables, we can accurately capture the effects of different mechanisms and compare their effects in the relationships between emotional labor and outcomes. In addition, researchers need to deal with the potential that emotional labor is an endogenous independent variable within their designs. As endogeneity is not dealt with across the vast majority of emotional labor studies, we wondered if emotional labor truly predicts y (outcomes), as there could be an infinite amount of potential causes of Y, which have not been modeled. Including an instrumental variable helps purge emotional labor models of endogeneity bias, which could not depend on other variables. The instrumental variables should satisfy the following criteria: a) strongly predicts emotional labor (assuming emotional labor is the independent variable) is unrelated to the outcome variables measured in the study. Some potential example instrumental variables could include individuals’ personalities, positive emotions, and negative emotions.

8.4Experimental designs

A randomized experimental approach with manipulations also would be useful to test assumptions and contribute to findings of causal relationships among constructs. The use of experimental designs is gaining attention in management research. Scenarios can induce a participant’s vivid interpretation of a problem situation in a real-time setting. They allow participants to make decisions that closely reflect their actual intentions and reactions in realistic situations. The context maintains flexibility as scenarios are based on simple language understood by participants. Scenario-based designs are participant-centered and allow participants to reflect on alternatives in the real-world. The use of scenarios has the advantages of reducing recall biases, controlling the impact of irrelevant variables, and ensuring higher internal reliability. More specifically, experimental designs have made recent strides in the study of employees’ emotional labor. Mahoney [98] used a scenario-based experiment to examine relationships between positive display rules, personality, emotional labor, and performance.

9Theoretical advances in future research

9.1The bright side of emotional labor

Lots of researchers have documented how faking emotions in the name of customer service is bad for employees. We acknowledge that emotional labor often has negative effects on employees’ well-being, job satisfaction [99], and performance and has positive effects on their burnout, emotional exhaustion [100], and stressor. However, more and more evidence is emerging and pointing out that emotional labor can benefit some conditions. For instance, Hülsheger and Schewe [86] concluded that emotional labor in the form of deep acting improves performance without causing a reduction in well-being. Wang et al. [101] found that deep acting had a positive relationship with job satisfaction. Kammeyer-Mueller et al. [67] used a meta-analytic structural model and demonstrated that deep acting was unrelated to stress/emotional exhaustion and positively related to job satisfaction and job performance. Humphrey et al. [69] suggested a significant upside to the role of identity in emotional labor. Surface and, especially, deep acting are often used to uphold and reinforce a valued identity, thereby facilitating the sense that one is actually being true to oneself. Much more research still needs to be carried out about the negative effects of emotional labor. For example, researchers can focus on natural and genuine emotional labor. More research needs to be accomplished on the genesis and dynamics of this more positive form of emotional labor, and include it in their studies of emotional labor, rather than limited to surface acting and deep acting. The important role of identities and identification in the emotional labor process should be further in an ongoing manner. In addition, some scholars have indicated that in all seemingly monotonic positive or negative relations, there may exist context-specific inflection points that provide clues that previous research has failed to investigate the nature of emotional labor comprehensively. For example, Goodwin et al. [72] indicated that deep acting was not linked to the outcome of turnover. However, a result showed that turnover intentions mediated the relationship between deep acting and actual turnover, according to Chau et al. [19]’s research. Faced with inconsistent conclusions in previous literature, non-linear relationship and more various relationships between emotional labor and its antecedents or consequences may exist.

9.2The dynamic of emotional labor

Although much has been learned about the relations among emotional labor variables (see meta-analyses by Hülsheger and Schewe [86]; Kammeyer-Mueller et al. [67]; Mesmer-Magnus et al. [87]), most research focused on broader, trait-level conceptualizations of the constructs (that is, “in general” levels of emotion regulation, dispositional affect, and emotional performance: Brotheridge and Grandey [64], Brotheridge and Lee [102], Grandey [38]). Recently, research has considered the relationships among emotional labor constructs over briefer periods. For example, Wagner et al. [27] explored drivers’ emotional labor during work shifts. The extant cross-sectional and longitudinal research studies demonstrate that individuals differ from one another in their average levels of emotional labor, but also that a given individual may differ in his or her specific level of emotional labor at any given point in time. At an even more finely grained level of analysis, capturing and describing dynamic processes of emotional labor is necessary. Some related questions remain unanswered. How does emotional labor change over time? How employees use different emotional labor tactics over time? More careful consideration of temporal issues is needed in emotional labor theory and research. Gabriel and Diefendorff [17] are the first to provide empirical evidence of moment-to-moment, within-episode changes in emotional labor variables, capturing the ebb and flow of felt emotions, emotion regulation, and vocal tone during a customer service interaction.

9.3The multilevel of emotional labor

Recent advances in emotional labor research have spanned all levels of organizational analysis. However, the discussion of emotional labor at group-level questions needs a step further development. The issue of whether emotional labor can be generalized to the group itself remains an open question. In other words, for team members who are better at emotional labor, is it possible to translate this emotional labor into higher team performance and efficiency. We should turn our attention toward understanding collective emotional labor. Also, the general organizational literature, except for a few [103], has not paid sufficient attention to emotional labor and its organizational implications. A few studies have viewed emotional labor as an individual stressor and speculated that the organization-level emotional labor pattern might negatively affect firms’ productivity and performance based on individual-level findings and theories. However, the conceptual and empirical patterns identified at one level may not automatically apply to another level (cf. multilevel homology versus heterogeneity). Further research should extend the research on individual emotional labor to the team level and organization level by conceptualizing it as the injunctive social norm (i.e., team emotional labor, and firm emotional labor).

9.4The spillover and crossover of emotional labor

The workplace is not an island in employees’ lives: attitudes, stress, emotions, and behaviors spillover between work and family domains [104]. For instance, Yanchus et al. [77] examined emotional labor also in the family domain, arguing that there are also expected behaviors in the family, which may create another form of emotional labor. However, despite the growing interest in analyzing emotional labor at work, only a few studies have examined emotional labor at home. Moreover, there is a lack of research on how the work environment affects those with whom employees interact outside the work domain, such as their partners and their family [105]. Spillover refers to a process in which “reactions experienced in the work domain are transferred to and interfere with the non-work domain” [106] (p. 267). Crossover refers to a process in which job emotions, attitudes, and even behaviors are transmitted from job incumbents to other people, which occurs within a particular domain [107]. Sanz-Vergel et al. [108] are the first to investigate the spillover and crossover of emotional labor. However, research on the spillover and crossover of emotional labor is far from enough. How does emotional labor at work spill over into the home domain over time? How does emotional labor in the family spread to the organization over time? Moreover, the emotional contagion process [109] may explain the crossover of emotional labor. If an employee’s partner engages in surface acting at home, it is more likely that she/he performs this type of emotional labor as a negative reaction to the lack of authenticity or an automatic imitation. In further, more theoretical perspectives should be incorporated to provide a complete picture of the spillover and crossover of emotional labor.

10Conclusion

In response to this increased interest in emotional labor, and the proliferation of studies, our objectives for this paper were five-fold. First, we reviewed how emotional labor was understood in different perspectives and cultures. Second, we presented a whole of the measures used in emotional labor research. Third, we mapped the nomological network of emotional labor research, offering scholars an overview of what has been studied thus far. Fourth, we provided a meta-analysis of emotional labor in different national context. Finally, we detailed a research agenda explicitly targeted to improve how the field studies emotional labor. The review has demonstrated that the emotional labor field has made progress in the last 40 years; however, emotional labor still has its gaps. We hope by heeding the advice offered in this review to resolve these problems, the emotional labor research can continue to offer significant insights to further research.

Acknowledgments

The authors are grateful for the financial support from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (71572170).

Author contributions

Conception: Chunjiang Yang

Interpretation or analysis of data: Chunjiang Yang and Aobo Chen

Preparation the manuscript: Chunjiang Yang

Revision of important intelectual contents: Chunjiang Yang and Aobo Chen

Supervision: Chunjiang Yang

Supplementary material

References

[1] 

Hochschild AR . The managed heart. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1983.

[2] 

Ashforth BE , Humphrey RH . Emotional labor in service roles: The influence of identity. Academy of Management Review. 1993;18(1):88–115.

[3] 

Van Gelderen B , Heuven E , Van Veldhoven M , Zeelenberg M , Croon M . Psychological strain and emotional labor among police-officers: A diary study. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2007;71(3):446–59.

[4] 

Chen K-Y , Chang C-W , Wang C-H . Frontline employees’ passion and emotional exhaustion: The mediating role of emotional labor strategies. International Journal of Hospitality Management. 2019;76;163-72.

[5] 

Lee J , Ok CM , Lee SH , Lee CK . Relationship between emotional labor and customer orientation among airline service employees: Mediating role of depersonalization. Journal of Travel Research. 2018;57(3):324–41.

[6] 

Kim HJ . Hotel service providers’ emotional labor: The antecedents and effects on burnout. International Journal of Hospitality Management. 2008;27(2):151–61.

[7] 

Diefendorff JM , Erickson RJ , Grandey AA , Dahling JJ . Emotional display rules as work unit norms: A multilevel analysis of emotional labor among nurses. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 2011;16(2):170–86.

[8] 

Diefendorff JM , Richard EM , Croyle MH . Are emotional display rules formal job requirements? Examination of employee and supervisor perceptions. Journal Of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. 2006;79(2):273–98.

[9] 

Grandey A , Diefendorff J , Rupp DE . Emotional labor in the 21st century: Diverse perspectives on emotion regulation at work, Routledge Press, 2013.

[10] 

Morris JA , Feldman DC . The dimensions, antecedents, and consequences of emotional labor. Academy of Management Review. 1996;21(4):986–1010.

[11] 

Morris JA , Feldman DC . Managing emotions in the workplace. Journal of Managerial Issues. 1997;9(3):257–74.

[12] 

Pugliesi K . The consequences of emotional labor: Effects on work stress, job satisfaction, and well-being. Motivation and Emotion. 1999;23(2):125–54.

[13] 

Schaubroeck J , Jones JR . Antecedents of workplace emotional labor dimensions and moderators of their effects on physical symptoms. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 2000;21(2):163–83.

[14] 

Luo A , Guchait P , Lee L , Madera JM . Transformational leadership and service recovery performance: The mediating effect of emotional labor and the influence of culture. International Journal of Hospitality Management. 2019;77;31–9.

[15] 

Scott BA , Barnes CM , Wagner DT . Chameleonic or consistent? A multilevel investigation of emotional labor variability and self-monitoring. Academy of Management Journal. 2012;55(4):905–26.

[16] 

Groth M , Hennig-Thurau T , Walsh G . Customer reactions to emotional labor: The roles of employee acting strategies and customer detection accuracy. Academy of Management Journal. 2009;52(5):958–74.

[17] 

Gabriel AS , Diefendorff JM . Emotional labor dynamics: A momentary approach. Academy of Management Journal. 2015;58(6):1804–25.

[18] 

Hennig-Thurau T , Groth M , Paul M , Gremler DD . Are all smiles created equal? How emotional contagion and emotional labor affect service relationships. Journal of Marketing. 2006;70(3):58–73.

[19] 

Chau SL , Dahling JJ , Levy PE , Diefendorff JM . A predictive study of emotional labor and turnover. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 2009;30(8):1151–63.

[20] 

Liu Y , Prati LM , Perrewe PL , Ferris GR . The relationship between emotional resources and emotional labor: An exploratory study. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 2008;38(10):2410–39.

[21] 

Brotheridge CM , Lee RT . On the dimensionality of emotional labour: Development and validation of the Emotional Labour Scale. Paper presented at the First Conference on Emotions in Organizational Life, San Diego; 1998.

[22] 

Grandey AA . Emotional regulation in the workplace: A new way to conceptualize emotional labor. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 2000;5(1):95–110.

[23] 

Allen JA , Diefendorff JM , Ma Y . Differences in emotional labor across cultures: A comparison of Chinese and US service workers. Journal of Business and Psychology. 2014;29(1):21–35.

[24] 

Markus HR , Kitayama S . Culture and the self: Implications for cognition, emotion, and motivation. Psychological Review. 1991;98(2):224–53.

[25] 

Matsumoto D . Cross-cultural psychology in the 21st century. The many faces of psychological research in the 21st century: Society for the Teaching of Psychology. 2001:98-115.

[26] 

Semin GR , Görts CA , Nandram S , Semin-Goossens A . Cultural perspectives on the linguistic representation of emotion and emotion events. Cognition & Emotion. 2002;16(1):11–28.

[27] 

Wagner DT , Barnes CM , Scott BA . Driving it home: How workplace emotional labor harms employee home life. Personnel Psychology. 2014;67(2):487–516.

[28] 

Safdar S , Friedlmeier W , Matsumoto D , Yoo SH , Kwantes CT , Kakai H , Shigemasu E . Variations of emotional display rules within and across cultures: A comparison between Canada, USA, and Japan. Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science. 2009;41(1):1–10.

[29] 

Tsai JL , Chentsova-Dutton Y , Freire-Bebeau L , Przymus DE . Emotional expression and physiology in European Americans and Hmong Americans. Emotion. 2002;2(4):380–97.

[30] 

Matsumoto D , Kudoh T , Scherer K , Wallbott H . Antecedents of and reactions to emotions in the United States and Japan. Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology. 1988;19(3):267–86.

[31] 

Novin S , Banerjee R , Dadkhah A , Rieffe C . Self-reported use of emotional display rules in the Netherlands and Iran: Evidence for sociocultural influence. Social Development. 2009;18(2):397–411.

[32] 

Ramzan N , Amjad N . Cross cultural variation in emotion regulation: A systematic review. Annals of King Edward Medical University. 2017;23(1):77–90.

[33] 

Allen J , Diefendorff J , Ma Y . Differences in emotional labor across cultures: China vs. the United States. Unpublished Manuscript. 2012.

[34] 

Kruml SM , Geddes D . Exploring the dimensions of emotional labor: The heart of Hochschild’s work. Management Communication Quarterly. 2000;14(1):8–49.

[35] 

Kiffin-Petersen SA , Jordan CL , Soutar GN . The big five, emotional exhaustion and citizenship behaviors in service settings: The mediating role of emotional labor. Personality and Individual Differences. 2011;50(1):43–8.

[36] 

Glomb TM , Tews MJ . Emotional labor: A conceptualization and scale development. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2004;64(1):1–23.

[37] 

Diefendorff JM , Croyle MH , Gosserand RH . The dimensionality and antecedents of emotional labor strategies. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2005;66(2):339–57.

[38] 

Grandey AA . When “the show must go on”: Surface acting and deep acting as determinants of emotional exhaustion and peer-rated service delivery. Academy of Management Journal. 2003;46(1):86–96.

[39] 

Chu KHL , Murrmann SK . Development and validation of the hospitality emotional labor scale. Tourism Management. 2006;27(6):1181–91.

[40] 

Cukur CS . The Development of the Teacher Emotional Labor Scale (TELS): Validity and Reliability. Educational Sciences: Theory and Practice. 2009;9(2):559–74.

[41] 

Yang CJ . Emotional labor: Scale development and validation in the Chinese context. Frontiers in Psychology. 2019;10:2095.

[42] 

Gross JJ . The emerging field of emotion regulation: An integrative review. Review of General Psychology. 1998;2(3):271–99.

[43] 

Gross JJ . Antecedent-and response-focused emotion regulation: Divergent consequences for experience, expression, and physiology. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. 1998;74(1):224–37.

[44] 

Glomb TM , Kammeyer-Mueller JD , Rotundo M . Emotional labor demands and compensating wage differentials. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2004;89(4):700–14.

[45] 

Diefendorff JM , Gosserand RH . Understanding the emotional labor process: A control theory perspective. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 2003;24(8):945–59.

[46] 

Becker WJ , Cropanzano R , Van Wagoner P , Keplinger K . Emotional labor within teams: Outcomes of individual and peer emotional labor on perceived team support, extra-role behaviors, and turnover intentions. Group & Organization Management. 2018;43(1):38–71.

[47] 

Hobfoll SE . Conservation of resources: A new attempt at conceptualizing stress. American Psychologist. 1989;44:513–24.

[48] 

Weiss HM , Cropanzano R . Affective events theory: A theoretical discussion of the structure, causes and consequences of affective experiences at work. In: Staw BM, Cummings LL, editors. Research in organizational behavior: An annual series of analytical essays and critical reviews. Elsevier Science/JAI Press; 1996. pp.1-74.

[49] 

Rupp DE , Spencer S . When customers lash out: The effects of customer interactional injustice on emotional labor and the mediating role of discrete emotions. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2006;91(4):971–8.

[50] 

Grandey AA , Tam AP , Brauburger AL . Affective states and traits in the workplace: Diary and survey data from young workers. Motivation and Emotion. 2002;26(1):31–55.

[51] 

Rupp DE , Silke McCance A , Spencer S , Sonntag K . Customer (in) justice and emotional labor: The role of perspective taking, anger, and emotional regulation. Journal of Management. 2008;34(5):903–24.

[52] 

Spencer S , Rupp DE . Angry, guilty, and conflicted: Injustice toward coworkers heightens emotional labor through cognitive and emotional mechanisms. Journal of Applied Psychology. 2009;94(2):429–44.

[53] 

Blau PM . Social exchange. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. 1968;7:452–7.

[54] 

Gouldner AW . The norm of reciprocity: A preliminary statement. American Sociological Review. 1960;25:161–78.

[55] 

Yang J , Huang Y , Zhou S . Emotional labor directed at leaders: The differential effects of surface and deep acting on LMX. The International Journal of Human Resource Management. 2019;1-20.

[56] 

Sliter M , Jex S , Wolford K , McInnerney J . How rude! Emotional labor as a mediator between customer incivility and employee outcomes. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 2010;15(4):468–81.

[57] 

Shapoval V . Organizational injustice and emotional labor of hotel front-line employees. International Journal of Hospitality Management. 2019;78:112–21.

[58] 

Lam W , Huo Y , Chen Z . Who is fit to serve? Person–job/organization fit, emotional labor, and customer service performance. Human Resource Management. 2018;57(2):483–97.

[59] 

Lu J , Zhang Z , Jia M . Does servant leadership affect employees’ emotional labor? A social information-processing perspective. Journal of Business Ethics. 2019;159(2):507–18.

[60] 

Choi H-M , Mohammad AA , Kim WG . Understanding hotel frontline employees’ emotional intelligence, emotional labor, job stress, coping strategies and burnout. International Journal of Hospitality Management. 2019;82:199–208.

[61] 

Dahling JJ , Perez LA . Older worker, different actor? Linking age and emotional labor strategies. Personality and Individual Differences. 2010;48(5):574–8.

[62] 

Lee YH , Chelladurai P . Affectivity, emotional labor, emotional exhaustion, and emotional intelligence in coaching. Journal of Applied Sport Psychology. 2016;28(2):170–84.

[63] 

Oh SH , Hwang Y , Kim H . Is deep acting prevalent in socially responsible companies? The effects of CSR perception on emotional labor strategies. Frontiers in psychology. 2019;10:308.

[64] 

Brotheridge CM , Grandey AA . Emotional labor and burnout: Comparing two perspectives of “people work”. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2002;60(1):17–39.

[65] 

Scott BA , Barnes CM . A multilevel field investigation of emotional labor, affect, work withdrawal, and gender. Academy of Management Journal. 2011;54(1):116–36.

[66] 

Nguyen H , Groth M , Johnson A . When the going gets tough, the tough keep working: Impact of emotional labor on absenteeism. Journal of Management. 2016;42(3):615–43.

[67] 

Kammeyer-Mueller JD , Rubenstein AL , Long DM , Odio MA , Buckman BR , Zhang Y , Halvorsen-Ganepola MD . A meta-analytic structural model of dispositonal affectivity and emotional labor. Personnel Psychology. 2013;66(1):47–90.

[68] 

Johnson H-AM , Spector PE . Service with a smile: Do emotional intelligence, gender, and autonomy moderate the emotional labor process? Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 2007;12(4):319–33.

[69] 

Humphrey RH , Ashforth BE , Diefendorff JM . The bright side of emotional labor. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 2015;36(6):749–69.

[70] 

Bono JE , Vey MA . Toward understanding emotional management at work: A quantitative review of emotional labor research. In: Hartel CEJ, Zerbe WJ, Ashkanasy NM, editors. Emotions in Organizational Behavior. London: Lawrence erlbaum associates; 2005. pp. 213-34.

[71] 

Seery BL , Corrigall EA . Emotional labor: Links to work attitudes and emotional exhaustion. Journal of Managerial Psychology. 2009;24(8):797–813.

[72] 

Goodwin RE , Groth M , Frenkel SJ . Relationships between emotional labor, job performance, and turnover. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2011;79(2):538–48.

[73] 

Lam W , Chen Z . When I put on my service mask: Determinants and outcomes of emotional labor among hotel service providers according to affective event theory. International Journal of Hospitality Management. 2012;31(1):3–11.

[74] 

Zhan Y , Wang M , Shi J . Interpersonal process of emotional labor: The role of negative and positive customer treatment. Personnel Psychology. 2016;69(3):525–57.

[75] 

Duke AB , Goodman JM , Treadway DC , Breland JW . Perceived organizational support as a moderator of emotional labor/outcomes relationships. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 2009;39(5):1013–34.

[76] 

Grandey A , Foo SC , Groth M , Goodwin RE . Free to be you and me: A climate of authenticity alleviates burnout from emotional labor. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 2012;17(1):1–14.

[77] 

Yanchus NJ , Eby LT , Lance CE , Drollinger S . The impact of emotional labor on work-family outcomes. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2010;76(1):105–17.

[78] 

Uy MA , Lin KJ , Ilies R . Is it better to give or receive? The role of help in buffering the depleting effects of surface acting. Academy of Management Journal. 2017;60(4):1442–61.

[79] 

Chi N-W , Grandey AA . Emotional labor predicts service performance depending on activation and inhibition regulatory fit. Journal of Management. 2019;45(2):673–700.

[80] 

Montgomery AJ , Panagopolou E , de Wildt M , Meenks E . Work-family interference, emotional labor and burnout. Journal of Managerial Psychology. 2006;21(1):36–51.

[81] 

Sliter M , Chen Y , Withrow S , Sliter K . Older and (emotionally) smarter? Emotional intelligence as a mediator in the relationship between age and emotional labor strategies in service employees. Experimental Aging Research. 2013;39(4):466–79.

[82] 

Hsieh C-W , Hsieh J-Y , Huang IY-F . Self-efficacy as a mediator and moderator between emotional labor and job satisfaction: A case study of public service employees in Taiwan. Public Performance & Management Review. 2016;40(1):71–96.

[83] 

Anafarta N . Job satisfaction as a mediator between emotional labor and the intention to quit. International Journal of Business and Social Science. 2015;6(2):72–81.

[84] 

Cheung FY-L , Tang CS-K . Quality of work life as a mediator between emotional labor and work family interference. Journal of Business and Psychology.. 2009;24(3):245–55.

[85] 

Carlson D , Ferguson M , Hunter E , Whitten D . Abusive supervision and work–family conflict: The path through emotional labor and burnout. The Leadership Quarterly. 2012;23(5):849–59.

[86] 

Hülsheger UR , Schewe AF . On the costs and benefits of emotional labor: A meta-analysis of three decades of research. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 2011;16(3):361–89.

[87] 

Mesmer-Magnus JR , DeChurch LA , Wax A . Moving emotional labor beyond surface and deep acting: A discordance–congruence perspective. Organizational Psychology Review. 2012;2(1):6–53.

[88] 

Grandey AA . Emotional regulation in the workplace: A new way to conceptualize emotional labor. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 2000;5(1):95–110.

[89] 

Wharton AS . The sociology of emotional labor. Annual Review of Sociology. 2009;35:147–65.

[90] 

Grandey AA , Gabriel AS . Emotional labor at a crossroads: Where do we go from here? Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior. 2015;2(1):323–49.

[91] 

Jeung DY , Kim C , Chang SJ . Emotional labor and burnout: A review of the literature. Yonsei Medical Journal. 2018;59(2):187–93.

[92] 

Ye M , Chen Y . A literature review on teachers’ emotional labor. Creative Education. 2015;6(20):2232–40.

[93] 

Dasborough MT . Cognitive asymmetry in employee emotional reactions to leadership behaviors. The Leadership Quarterly. 2006;17(2):163–78.

[94] 

Groth M , Hennig-Thurau T , Walsh G . Customer reactions to emotional labor: The roles of employee acting strategies and customer detection accuracy. Academy of Management Journal. 2009;52(5):958–74.

[95] 

Leidner R . Emotional labor in service work. The annals of the American academy of political and social science. 1999;561(1):81–95.

[96] 

Dashuai R , Bin Z . How does paradoxical leadership affect innovation in teams: An integrated multilevel dual process model. Human Systems Management. 2020;39(1):11–26.

[97] 

Beal DJ . ESM 2. State of the art and future potential of experience sampling methods in organizational research. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior. 2015;2(1):383–407.

[98] 

Mahoney KT . Individual differences and emotional labor: An experiment on positive display rules. Personality and Individual Differences. 2012;53(3):251–6.

[99] 

Gorenak M , Edelheim JR , Brumen B . The influence of organizational values on job satisfaction of employees. Human Systems Management (Preprint). 2020;1-15.

[100] 

Wang X , Wang X , Liu X . Chinese construction worker alacrity toward mobility. Human Systems Management. 2019;38(1):43–54.

[101] 

Wang G , Seibert SE , Boles TL . Synthesizing what we know and looking ahead: A meta-analytical review of 30 years of emotional labor research. Research on Emotion in Organizations. 2011;7:15–43.

[102] 

Brotheridge CM , Lee RT . Testing a conservation of resources model of the dynamics of emotional labor. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology. 2002;7(1):57–67.

[103] 

Meier KJ , Mastracci SH , Wilson K . Gender and emotional labor in public organizations: An empirical examination of the link to performance. Public Administration Review. 2006;66(6):899–909.

[104] 

Greenhaus JH , Beutell NJ . Sources of conflict between work and family roles. Academy of Management Review. 1985;10(1):76–88.

[105] 

Grzywacz JG , Demerouti E . editors. New frontiers in work and family research. Hove: Psychology Press; 2013.

[106] 

Demerouti E , Bakker AB , Schaufeli WB . Spillover and crossover of exhaustion and life satisfaction among dual-earner parents. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2005;67(2):266–89.

[107] 

Westman M . Stress and strain crossover. Human Relations. 2001;54(6):717–51.

[108] 

Sanz-Vergel AI , Rodríguez-Muñoz A , Bakker AB , Demerouti E . The daily spillover and crossover of emotional labor: Faking emotions at work and at home. Journal of Vocational Behavior. 2012;81(2):209–17.

[109] 

Bakker AB , Schaufeli WB . Burnout contagion processes among teachers. Journal of Applied Social Psychology. 2000;30(11):2289–308.