Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department


Major Professor

Paul E. Spector, Ph.D.


Deep acting, Surface acting, Service performance, Emotions at work, Employee well-being


Organizations across the United States and in many parts of the globe are increasingly focused on providing their customers with an excellent service experience by implementing organizational emotion display rules (Hochschild, 1983). These display rules dictate the requisite employee emotions for a particular encounter (Ekman, 1973). However, over the course of a work day display rules may call for expressions that contradict an employee's genuine emotions, thus prompting a discrepancy between felt emotions and required emotions -- emotional dissonance (Hochschild, 1983). Emotional labor involves employee efforts to reduce emotional dissonance in order to adhere to organizational display rules (Hochschild, 1983; Grandey, 2000). Hochschild (1983) identified two emotional labor strategies that may be used by employees --

surface acting (managing observable expressions to obey display rules) and deep acting (corresponds to managing feelings in order to actually feel the emotion required by the display rules). This study examined emotional intelligence, affectivity and gender as potential antecedents of an employee's choice of emotional labor strategy in order to meet organizational display rules. I also investigated the differential impact of the emotional labor strategies on the individual outcomes of emotional exhaustion and job satisfaction, and service performance.Correlation and moderated regression analyses as well as structural equation modeling were employed to test the proposed hypotheses. Two hundred and twenty-three employee-supervisor pairs completed surveys to examine the research hypotheses. Correlation results indicate that emotional intelligence, affectivity and gender related to the emotional labor strategies in the expected directions.

Similarly, deep acting and surface acting displayed differential relationships with emotional exhaustion, job satisfaction and service performance. Moderated regression analyses suggest that females were more likely to report negative outcomes when engaging in surface acting. Structural equation modeling results indicate that affectivity predicted choice of the emotional labor strategies, which in turn predicted the outcomes of emotional exhaustion, job satisfaction and service performance.