Graduation Year

2014

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Psychology

Major Professor

Tammy D. Allen

Keywords

diary, eating, emotional labor, fatigue, physical activity

Abstract

The present study explores the process through which the regulation of emotions at work, also known as emotional labor, depletes self-regulatory resources, specifically energy, and distally impacts health behaviors in the form of less physical activity and more unhealthy eating. Differences in relationships between two forms of emotional labor, surface acting and deep acting, as well as differences between psychological and physical energy depletion, are explored. Additionally, the roles of trait mindfulness and future temporal focus are examined as between-individual differences moderating the proposed relationships.

Multi-level analysis of daily diary data collected from participants (N = 108 participants) over ten work days (N = 1,273 total days) demonstrates that surface acting at work, but not deep acting, is negatively related to after work energy levels, such that participants reported less energy on days when they engaged in more surface acting. No significant differences in strength of relationships for physical versus psychological energy depletion were found. After work energy depletion related to less time and intensity spent on physical activity, but no support for an overall mediated effect was found. No significant effects were found for unhealthy eating, or future temporal focus, while trait mindfulness did positively relate to energy levels in several models.

Theoretical and practical implications, as well as future research directions, and methodological recommendations for researchers wishing to conduct similar studies are presented. As one of the first attempts to examine the mechanisms linking emotional labor and health behaviors, this study highlights the intricate nature of the relationships examined and the resultant need for both broader and more targeted multi-faceted research at multiple-levels of analyses to further explain the complex story of work and health.

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