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The Role of Emotion and Emotion Regulation in Job Stress and Well Being
 9781781905869, 9781781905852

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RESEARCH IN OCCUPATIONAL STRESS AND WELL BEING Series Editors: Pamela L. Perrewe´, Jonathon R. B. Halbesleben and Christopher C. Rosen Recent Volumes: Volume 1:

Exploring Theoretical Mechanisms and Perspectives

Volume 2:

Historical and Current Perspectives on Stress and Health

Volume 3:

Emotional and Physiological Processes and Positive Intervention Strategies

Volume 4:

Exploring Interpersonal Dynamics

Volume 5:

Employee Health. Coping and Methodologies

Volume 6:

Exploring the Work and Non-Work Interface

Volume 7:

Current Perspectives on Job-Stress Recovery

Volume 8:

New Developments in Theoretical and Conceptual Approaches to Job Stress

Volume 9:

The Role of Individual Differences in Occupational Stress and Well Being

Volume 10: The Role of the Economic Crisis on Occupational Stress and Well Being



PAMELA L. PERREWE´ Florida State University, USA

CHRISTOPHER C. ROSEN University of Arkansas, USA

JONATHON R. B. HALBESLEBEN University of Alabama, USA

United Kingdom – North America – Japan India – Malaysia – China

Emerald Group Publishing Limited Howard House, Wagon Lane, Bingley BD16 1WA, UK First edition 2013 Copyright r 2013 Emerald Group Publishing Limited Reprints and permission service Contact: [email protected] No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted in any form or by any means electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise without either the prior written permission of the publisher or a licence permitting restricted copying issued in the UK by The Copyright Licensing Agency and in the USA by The Copyright Clearance Center. Any opinions expressed in the chapters are those of the authors. Whilst Emerald makes every effort to ensure the quality and accuracy of its content, Emerald makes no representation implied or otherwise, as to the chapters’ suitability and application and disclaims any warranties, express or implied, to their use. British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN: 978-1-78190-585-2 ISSN: 1479-3555 (Series)

ISOQAR certified Management System, awarded to Emerald for adherence to Environmental standard ISO 14001:2004. Certificate Number 1985 ISO 14001













STRESS AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING IN MILITARY ORGANIZATIONS P. D. Harms, Dina V. Krasikova, Adam J. Vanhove, Mitchel N. Herian and Paul B. Lester MOTIVES FOR EMOTION REGULATION IN SERVICE WORK Laura von Gilsa and Dieter Zapf












RESTORYING A HARD DAY’S WORK Melissa L. Cast, Grace Ann Rosile, David M. Boje and Rohny Saylors







Management Department, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, USA

Carrie A. Bulger

Department of Psychology, Quinnipiac University, Hamden, CT, USA

Melissa L. Cast

Management Department, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, USA

Chu-Hsiang (Daisy) Chang

Department of Psychology, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

Amber K. Hargrove

Department of Psychology, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA

P. D. Harms

Department of Management, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA

Renae M. Hayward

Centre for Applied Psychological Research, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

Mitchel N. Herian

Personnel Development and Hiring, LLC, Lincoln, NE, USA; University of Nebraska Public Policy Center, Lincoln, NE, USA

Michael Howe

Department of Management, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

Russell E. Johnson

Department of Management, Michigan State University, East Lansing, MI, USA

Seth Kaplan

Department of Psychology, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA

Dina V. Krasikova

Department of Management, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA




Paul B. Lester

Research Facilitation Team, Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of the Army, Monterey, CA, USA

Ari Malka

PDRI, Arlington, VA, USA

Angela Mazzetti

Business School, Teesside University, Middlesbrough, UK

Grace Ann Rosile

Management Department, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, USA

Cristina Rubino

Department of Management, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA, USA

Rohny Saylors

Management Department, New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM, USA

Susanne Scheibe

Department of Psychology, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands

Michelle R. Tuckey

School of Psychology, Social Work and Social Policy, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

Adam J. Vanhove

Department of Management, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, NE, USA

Laura von Gilsa

Institute of Psychology, Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

Christa L. Wilkin

Department of Management, California State University, Northridge, Northridge, CA, USA

Carolyn Winslow

Department of Psychology, George Mason University, Fairfax, VA, USA

Hannes Zacher

School of Psychology, The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia

Dieter Zapf

Institute of Psychology and Center for Leadership and Behavior in Organizations (CLBO), Goethe University, Frankfurt am Main, Germany

EDITORIAL ADVISORY BOARD Terry Beehr University of Central Michigan, USA

Jeff LePine Arizona State University, USA Paul Levy University of Akron, USA

Chu-Hsiang (Daisy) Chang Michigan State University, USA

John Schaubroeck Michigan State University, USA

Yitzhak Fried Syracuse University, USA

Norbert Semmer University of Berne, Switzerland

Dan Ganster Colorado State University, USA Leslie Hammer, Portland State University, USA

Sabine Sonnentag University of Mannheim, Germany

Russ Johnson Michigan State University, USA

Paul Spector University of South Florida, USA

John Kammeyer-Mueller University of Minnesota, USA

Lois Tetrick George Mason University, USA

E. Kevin Kelloway Saint Mary’s University, USA

Mo Wang University of Florida, USA


OVERVIEW In our 11th volume of Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, we offer ten chapters that examine the role of emotion and emotion regulation in occupational stress and well-being research. The first three chapters broadly consider new directions in emotion regulation, with a focus on developing new models that explain the emotion regulation process or summarizing newer bodies of literature that provide insight into the adaptive aspects of emotion regulation. In our lead chapter, Michael Howe, Chu-Hsiang (Daisy) Chang, and Russell E. Johnson integrate affect within a control theory-based framework to describe how velocity made towards desired states at work affects well-being. In the second chapter, Renae M. Hayward and Michelle R. Tuckey challenge existing paradigms by focusing on the concept of emotional boundary management. In particular, the focus of this chapter is on how adaptive functions of emotion regulation may help to unify disparate findings in the emotion regulation literature. The third chapter of this section, by Amber K. Hargrove, Carolyn Winslow, and Seth Kaplan, provides an overview of research and theory that has considered how self-guided activities can be used to boost employee emotional regulation skills. As such, this chapter provides guidance to employers, organizations, and individuals who are interested in developing self-guided activities that can be used to enhance well-being and emotion regulation at work. The next section of volume 11 focuses on emotion regulation within specific employee populations. The fourth chapter, by P. D. Harms, Dina V. Krasikova, Adam J. Vanhove, Mitchel N. Herian, and Paul B. Lester, examines the role of stress and emotional well-being as antecedents of important outcomes in military contexts. Specifically, this chapter provides a framework for understanding the emotional well-being of soldiers. The fifth chapter, by Laura von Gilsa and Dieter Zapf, focuses on emotion regulation in service work. Specifically, the authors identify how multiple motives for emotion regulation are relevant in the service context and they argue that these motives are important for understanding underlying emotion regulation processes. In the sixth chapter, Susanne Scheibe and




Hannes Zacher integrate the literature on aging, emotion regulation, and occupational stress and well-being. Specifically, they take a lifespan perspective to emotion regulation and develop a conceptual model on how aging affects emotion regulation and the stress process. The final section of this volume focuses on chapters that discuss how considering new variables, or methodological approaches, may be used to enhance our understanding of this literature. The seventh chapter, by Cristina Rubino, Christa L. Wilkin, and Ari Malka, focuses on understanding the role of discrete emotions as a mediator of the effects of workplace stressors on well-being. In this chapter, the authors build on the job demands-resources (JD-R) model by identifying how positive emotions are linked to resources, whereas negative resources are linked to demands. In the eighth chapter, Carrie A. Bulger introduces the concept of selfconscious emotions, which refers to a group of emotions (e.g., guilt, shame, pride, and embarrassment) that are commonly experienced at work. These emotions are considered in the context of how they may reflect a reaction to, or source of, stress that has the potential to impact employee behaviors and attitudes that affect well-being. In the ninth chapter, Melissa L. Cast, Grace Ann Rosile, David M. Boje, and Rohny Saylors introduce the concepts of emotional contagion exchange and emotional restorying of labor to the literature. In particular, the authors construct a model that explains multiple interplaying processes wherein emotional storytelling allows employees to cope with emotional contagion by converting surface-level acting to deep level-acting. The final chapter, by Angela Mazzetti, is unique in that its focus is primarily methodological. In particular, this chapter considers challenges encountered by qualitative researchers and presents recommendations to support qualitative researchers interested in studying workrelated emotions and stress. Together, these chapters offer insight into the role of emotions and emotion regulation in occupational stress research. These chapters challenge our traditional thinking and offer several exciting directions for future research. We hope you enjoy volume 11 of Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being. Pamela L. Perrewe´ Christopher C. Rosen Jonathon R. B. Halbesleben Editors

UNDERSTANDING AFFECT, STRESS, AND WELL-BEING WITHIN A SELF-REGULATION FRAMEWORK Michael Howe, Chu-Hsiang (Daisy) Chang and Russell E. Johnson ABSTRACT Research on self-regulation has tended to focus on goal-related performance, with limited attention paid to individuals’ affect and the role it plays during the goal-striving process. In this chapter we discuss three mechanisms to integrate affect within a control theory-based selfregulation framework, and how such integrations inform future research concerning employee stress and well-being. Specifically, affect can be viewed as a result of velocity made toward one’s desired states at work. Fast progress results in positive affect, which enhances employee wellbeing and reduces the detrimental effects associated with exposure to occupational stressors. On the other hand, slow or no progress elicits negative affect, which induces employee distress. Second, affect can also be considered an input of self-regulation, such that employees are required to regulate their emotional displays at work. Employees who perform

The Role of Emotion and Emotion Regulation in Job Stress and Well Being Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Volume 11, 1–34 Copyright r 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3555/doi:10.1108/S1479-3555(2013)0000011005




emotional labor compare their actual emotional display against the desired display prescribed by display rules. Third, affect can function as a situational disturbance, altering employees’ perceptions or assessments of the input, comparator, and output for other self-regulatory processes. Keywords: Self-regulation; affect; emotions; goals; velocity; discrepancy

Self-regulation, an ongoing process of setting goals and subsequently striving to achieve them (Carver & Scheier, 1998; Johnson, Chang, & Lord, 2006), is a widely studied phenomenon for organizational researchers. At the individual level, the principles of self-regulation are fundamental to understanding and predicting a wide range of individual behaviors and outcomes (Lord, Diefendorff, Schmidt, & Hall, 2010), including the stress process (Beehr & Newman, 1978; Edwards, 1992; French, Caplan, & Harrison, 1982). Moreover, effective management of this process plays an important role in determining organizational performance (Locke & Latham, 1990; Rodgers & Hunter, 1991; Tubbs, 1986). A substantial amount of research demonstrating the importance of goals in a wide variety of settings has been conducted (Austin & Vancouver, 1996; Johnson et al., 2006; Locke & Latham, 2002). Indeed, goals are essential to self-regulation, directing attention, effort, and action when discrepancies exist between one’s current state and a more desirable potential state. However, in order for goal-striving to occur, feedback pertaining to the current state must also be available (Erez, 1977; Neubert, 1998). Without information about the current level of performance, it becomes impossible to compare the current state to the goal state, and this inability to uncover discrepancies precludes any systematic behavioral or cognitive adjustments aimed at reducing the gap. Locke and Latham (2002, p.708) noted the importance of feedback: ‘‘For goals to be effective, people need summary feedback that reveals progress in relation to their goals. If they do not know how they are doing, it is difficult or impossible for them to adjust the level or direction of their effort or to adjust their performance strategies to match what the goal requires.’’ Given the performance orientation of goal theory, a significant portion of self-regulation research is focused on how to best use goals to enhance task performance (Locke & Latham, 2002). Conspicuously missing from this literature is the systematic integration of affect, despite the fact that

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experiencing affect is commonplace at work and such experiences play an important role in influencing employee cognitions, attitudes, and behaviors (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996). While there has been some theoretical work aimed at linking the two concepts within a control theory framework (e.g., Carver & Scheier, 1990; Johnson et al., 2006), empirical work in this area has been sparse and additional conceptual work remains to be done. In fact, a more thorough integration of affect may deepen our understanding of both goal setting and goal striving processes relevant for employee well-being. The purpose of this chapter is to explicate the role of affective experiences during self-regulation and its implications for stress. We begin by presenting a brief overview of a control theory based view of self-regulation, in which actual states are compared against desired states and, when discrepancies are detected, action is taken to redress them (Lord et al., 2010). We consider three ways that affect can impact self-regulation in this framework. We begin by considering affect as an outcome of the self-regulation process, considering how success (and failure) in self-regulation generates affective experiences. Second, we describe the role of affect as an input within the self-regulatory process. This differs from traditional self-regulation conceptualizations that focus on behavioral, task-based regulation. In contrast, people also regulate their emotional state around desired affective states (Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003). Third, we consider how affect can have unintended consequences for the self-regulation process, serving as an external disturbance that influences how actual states and desired states are perceived, how discrepancies between the two states are monitored, and the actions that are taken to minimize discrepancies. Considering each of these ways that affect impacts the process of self-regulation is integral for understanding employee health and well-being.

A CONTROL THEORY VIEW OF SELF-REGULATION Self-regulation refers to the motivational processes that promote goalrelevant behaviors (Carver & Scheier, 1998; Kanfer, 1991; Lord et al., 2010), and within this framework, there are two major sub-processes. One process – goal setting – is related to the establishment of goals, or mental representations of desired states (Austin & Vancouver, 1996). The second process – goal striving – focuses on the subsequent pursuit of these goals. Across a wide range of domains, research has consistently shown that commitment to difficult, specific goals leads to increased performance by



increasing effort, persistence, and attention (Locke & Latham, 2002). Goal striving encompasses all of these mechanisms as well as others that direct individual behavior toward goal attainment (Austin & Vancouver, 1996). Given that both goal setting and goal striving are necessary for goal-directed behavior in organizations, theories of self-regulation must account for both of these processes. One such theory that includes both processes is control theory (Carver & Scheier, 1981, 1998; Powers, 1973). While not without criticism (e.g., Bandura & Locke, 2003), control theory is a prevalent theory in the domain of self-regulation, having received support in a wide variety of contexts (Katzell, 1994; Vancouver, 2005). For example, the discrepancy between actual and desired states has been used to explain the job search behaviors of the unemployed (Wanberg, Zhu, & Van Hooft, 2010) as well as organizational commitment and job turnover (Hollenbeck, 1989). In addition, a lack of progress regarding goal attainment is responsible for negative affective outcomes (Chang, Johnson, & Lord, 2010). In control theory, individuals have numerous goals, and these goals are arranged hierarchically (Powers, 1973). This structure informs goal setting because higher level goals constrain the lower level goal choices made, acting as the standards against which performance at the lower levels is judged (Lord & Levy, 1994). Once established, performance standards influence goal striving behavior via a series of negative feedback loops. Whenever the actual state falls below the desired goal state, a negative discrepancy is created. This discrepancy draws attention to a particular goal and serves as a motivation for action aimed at eliminating the detected discrepancy (Carver & Scheier, 1998). This process is summarized in Fig. 1. As is illustrated in Fig. 1, feedback about one’s actual state originates from the environment. This feedback is interpreted and serves as an input signal for a comparator mechanism. The comparator mechanism evaluates this actual state against the desired state (established during the goal setting process). Based on the relative magnitude of these two states, the comparator determines whether a meaningful discrepancy exists. Control theory predicts that the presence of a discrepancy is undesirable, and in an effort eliminate the detected difference, behavioral (or cognitive) action is taken whenever the comparator detects a discrepancy between the actual and desired states. If the comparator detects a discrepancy, a decision must be made on how to resolve it. This decision point is depicted by the decision mechanism in Fig. 1. There are two general avenues available to alleviate the discrepancy: changing behavior or changing cognition. The behavioral route


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Cognitive Route

Desired State



Behavioral Route Actual State

OUTPUT Person Environment


Fig. 1.



Sample Feedback Loop.

encompasses attempts to alter the current state by targeting the environment. This could be done by increasing effort (e.g., working harder) or adopting a new approach to increase efficiency (e.g., working smarter). The cognitive route involves targeting desired state rather than the actual state. For example, a discrepancy can be reduced by adopting a desired state that is more closely aligned with the actual state. However, task goals or emotional display rules cannot be revised downward arbitrarily because doing so is likely to have adverse effects on higher-level desired states within the goal hierarchy. Accordingly, behavioral change is generally the primary response to a noticed discrepancy while longer duration, stable discrepancies are more likely to elicit cognitive changes (Campion & Lord, 1982; Donovan & Williams, 2003). While each method of discrepancy reduction focuses on modifying a different signal supplied to the comparator, information about the success of the chosen course of action is determined by the difference between the two signals when the comparator subsequently reevaluates them. Reduced or eliminated discrepancies indicate that the chosen course of action is working and no further actions are likely to be induced. In contrast, relatively stable discrepancies may signal the need for further attention and action (Carver & Scheier, 1998). It is also important to note that individual action is not the only source of discrepancy modification. A discrepancy



may be influenced by disturbances from environment acting on the focal task or action as well. For more in-depth coverage of the process illustrated in Fig. 1, readers are directed to Carver and Scheier (1998) and Lord et al. (2010).

The Nature of Feedback Because feedback is critical for self-regulation, it is worth discussing the different types of feedback that exist within negative feedback loops. Feedback is defined as the communication of goal relevant information from a source in the environment to a recipient, who must perceive and subsequently interpret the information (Ilgen, Fisher, & Taylor, 1979). It can originate from any number of sources and take on many forms. Sometimes, the task itself provides feedback while in other instances, feedback is provided by other individuals (e.g., annual performance reviews, customer satisfaction ratings). Regardless of where it originates, feedback speaks to the size of desired– actual discrepancies or the rate at which desired–actual discrepancies are changing over time (Carver & Scheier, 1998; Chang et al., 2010). Discrepancy feedback deals with discrepancy magnitude, or the distance from goal attainment, and velocity feedback is concerned with speed, or how quickly that distance is being covered (Johnson, Howe, & Chang, 2013). In other words, velocity is the first derivative of discrepancy with respect to time (Carver & Scheier, 1998). Distinguishing between discrepancy and velocity feedback is important because they play a unique role within the selfregulation process. For example, velocity feedback is believed to be the primary determinant of affective reactions regarding goal striving (Carver & Scheier, 1990, 1998; Johnson et al., 2006). In order to more fully explore the nature of the relationship between velocity and affect, a discussion of goal hierarchies is necessary.

The Hierarchical Nature of Goals Self-regulation theories posit that goals are arranged hierarchically (e.g., Lord & Levy, 1994; Powers, 1973). As noted by Carver and Scheier (1998), goals at the top of the hierarchy are generally broad, self-relevant ‘‘be’’ goals, while mid-level, ‘‘do’’ goals relate to the execution of programs or routines intended to achieve higher-level ‘‘be’’ goals. In order to accomplish


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mid-level ‘‘do’’ goals, discrete tasks or activities at lower levels in the goal hierarchy must be successfully executed. This type of hierarchy implies that the output of a control loop at a given level serves as the goal for the control loop at the next lower level. More recent theorizing emphasizes that in order maintain an effective goal hierarchy, the nature of the interaction between levels must be more bidirectional, with lower level goal progress serving as a means of evaluating higher level goal accomplishment (Johnson et al., 2006). This function is complicated by the different cycle times of feedback loops at different levels within a goal hierarchy. While months or years are typical for goals at the highest levels, cycle times of hours or days characterize the middle levels, and cycle times measured minutes or seconds exist at the lowest levels. These marked differences in cycle time limit the ability of higher order goals to exert direct control over lower level goals that operate on a much faster timeframe (Lord & Levy, 1994). The differences in cycle times imply that goal-related feedback information concerning low-level goals must be aggregated over time before it can be fed back to higher levels in the goal hierarchy. Lower-level velocity feedback is crucial for upward communication across hierarchical levels because it effectively aggregates this information (Johnson et al., 2006).

Affect and Well-Being Affect has been linked to many aspects of employee health and well-being. Positive affect has been meta-analytically linked to reduced levels of employee stress (Fogarty et al., 1999). Positive affect has also been linked to increased immune function (Davidson et al., 2003), and regularly experiencing positive affect may even reduce the chances of suffering a stroke among older adults (Ostir, Markides, Peek, & Goodwin, 2001). In contrast, negative affect has been meta-analytically tied to increased levels of stress (Spector & Jex, 1998), and occupational injury (Kaplan, Bradley, Luchman, & Haynes, 2009), as well as coronary heart disease and overall mortality from all causes (Miller, Smith, Turner, Guijarro, & Hallet, 1996). Several aspects of affective experience at work also influence both subjective and objective employee well-being. For example, feeling pressure to perform emotional labor has been related to the experience of negative physiological symptoms (Schaubroeck & Jones, 2000). In addition, affective distress has also been found to mediate the relationship between daily reports of workload and well-being (Ilies, Dimotakis, & De Pater, 2010).



Further, affect has been shown to influence job satisfaction, an important indicator of employee subjective well-being (Judge & Church, 2000). While affect and job satisfaction are unique constructs (Hulin & Judge, 2003; Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996), they are far from unrelated. Trait affect, a predisposition to view the world in a generally positive or negative light (Watson, 2000), has long been known to be related to job satisfaction ratings (Staw, Bell, & Clausen, 1986). More recent work has demonstrated the importance of state affect as well finding that a temporary positive mood is associated with higher levels job satisfaction (Brief, Butcher, & Roberson, 1995). In addition, fluctuations in both positive and negative mood within individuals have been associated with individual variation in job satisfaction ratings (Ilies & Judge, 2002). Although the empirical linkages between affect and employee stress and well-being are well established, the processes and mechanisms underlying these relationships are not always clear. In the following sections, we discuss how these linkages may be explained by considering affect, stress, and well-being within a selfregulation framework.

IMPLICATIONS OF AFFECT FOR STRESS AND WELL-BEING WITHIN A SELF-REGULATION FRAMEWORK The stress process can be conceptualized as a negative feedback loop where desired states (e.g., high role clarity) are compared against actual states (e.g., high role ambiguity) and, if a sufficiently large discrepancy is detected, coping action is taken to reduce the discrepancy (e.g., seek clarification about role responsibilities from supervisors and coworkers; see Edwards, 1992). Affect is thought to play a critical role in this process. For example, the presence of persistent desired–actual discrepancies elicit negative affective reactions (Carver & Scheier, 1990) that harm employee well-being. Experiencing strong affective reactions may also necessitate that employees regulate their emotions, which can be conceptualized as a separate feedback loop where felt emotions represent the actual state and organizational display rules represent the desired state (Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003). The self-regulation of stress and coping may also be impacted by affect that originates from outside the feedback loop. That is, affect can function as a disturbance that biases employees’ perceptions of their actual and desired states, and the nature and intensity of coping behavior. In this section we


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discuss the role of affect as an outcome, as an input, and as a disturbance in stress-based feedback loops.

Affect as an Outcome In this section we describe the origins of affective reactions within a negative feedback system. Several theories either explicitly or implicitly posit that emotional and physical strains result from discrepancies between desired and actual states (Edwards, 1992). Such discrepancies are at the heart of prominent models of work stress (e.g., Beehr & Newman, 1978), job satisfaction (e.g., Locke, 1976), coping (e.g., Lazarus, 1966), and person– environment fit (e.g., French et al., 1982). In all of these models it is proposed that the degree to which employees experience strain, dissatisfaction, etc., corresponds to the size of the discrepancies between desired states and actual states. A control theory perspective of stress, however, makes a slightly different prediction. Although affective reactions are an outcome of self-regulation within a negative feedback loop, such reactions depend less on the current size of desired–actual discrepancies as compared to how quickly those discrepancies are shrinking (Carver & Scheier, 1998; Johnson et al., 2006, 2013). Regulating actual states vis-a`-vis desired states not only provides feedback about the size of discrepancies but, as this feedback accumulates over time, it provides feedback about the rate at which discrepancies are changing (i.e., velocity; Johnson et al., 2013). Discrepancy feedback indicates whether coping action is needed, whereas velocity feedback determines the intensity of reactions (Carver & Scheier, 1998). For example, in McGrath’s (1976) model of stress, employees experience strain when discrepancies are detected between situational demands and personal abilities. If demands exceed abilities, it signals to employees that some sort of action (e.g., training, reassignment) is needed to eliminate the discrepancy. The intensity and scope of action, though, depends on velocity. Although the demands–abilities discrepancy may be large, if employees’ abilities are improving quickly (i.e., fast velocity), then there is less urgency for them to take additional action. However, if velocity is slow, then employees will exert considerable effort and pursue multiple courses of action to overcome the discrepancy. Research findings indicate that the intensity of affective reactions is also sensitive to velocity information. For example, Hsee and colleagues (Hsee & Abelson, 1991; Hsee, Abelson, & Salovey, 1991) demonstrated that people



are more satisfied with positive velocity versus no velocity, which in turn is more satisfying than negative velocity. This is true even when a constant outcome (e.g., a fixed salary of $100,000 over three years) results in a larger total payout than a smaller but increasing outcome (e.g., an initial salary of $70,000 with a yearly raise of $10,000). Across a variety of scenarios, Hsee and colleagues replicated the finding that people are more satisfied with improving to a high outcome versus a constant high outcome, and that fast velocities are more satisfying than slow velocities. Using manipulated feedback regarding performance on an ambiguous task, Lawrence, Carver, and Scheier (2002) directly investigated the relationship between velocity and affect. Over multiple trials, participants received manipulated performance feedback (% correct) after each trial, with the goal of achieving a perfect score (100%). Reported performance was identical for all participants on the final trial (50%), but initial performance differed across conditions: participants experienced either positive velocity (initial performance of 30% or 10%), zero velocity (initial performance of 50%), or negative velocity (initial performance of 70% or 90%). Only participants who experienced positive velocity reported an increase in positive affect, despite the fact that they had the lowest average performance across all trials. Negative velocity was associated with a sharp increase in negative affect, even though average performance was highest in this case. Chang et al. (2010) examined discrepancies between desired and actual job characteristics (e.g., autonomy, pay, learning opportunities, etc.). They found that perceived positive velocity (i.e., shrinking discrepancies) predicted additional variance in employees’ reports of satisfaction incremental to the size of desired–actual discrepancies. In a second study, the authors observed significant interactions between velocity and discrepancy, such that the size of discrepancies had no effect on satisfaction so long as velocity was fast. Similar effects of velocity on affective reactions have been observed with respect to life goals (Brunstein, 1993), interpersonal goals (Affleck et al., 1998), academic goals (Chang, Johnson, & Rosen, 2009), and job search goals (Wanberg et al., 2010). Taken together, theoretical and empirical evidence suggest that affective reactions during the course of self-regulation are driven primarily by velocity rather than discrepancy information (Johnson et al., 2013). In terms of the occupational stress process, so long as employees perceive that actual states are progressing toward desired states, then they should experience minimal emotional strain (and possibly other types of strain as well; e.g., physical and psychological strain). Even when the size of desired–actual discrepancies appears daunting, such as when newly hired or promoted

Self-Regulation of Emotions


employees are faced with novel tasks and roles for which they lack experience and expertise, an acceptable rate of velocity will negate the stressful effects of large discrepancies (Chang et al., 2010). Although we are sympathetic to the idea that stress is regulated within a negative feedback loop (e.g., Edwards, 1992), our view differs in that we suspect discrepancies play a secondary role relative to velocity. Proposition 1. Positive velocity (i.e., the rate at which desired–actual discrepancies are decreasing) reduces emotional strain and increases positive affective reactions. Proposition 2. Velocity has a stronger effect on emotional strain and affective reactions than does the size of desired–actual discrepancies. Proposition 3. Velocity moderates the effects of desired–actual discrepancies on emotional strain and affective reactions, such that these effects weaken as velocity increases. The intensity of emotional strain and affective reactions is not only influenced by discrepancies and velocity, but also by the importance of the desired state in question. Not surprisingly, velocity also has stronger effects on affect and satisfaction when desired states are more (vs. less) important to people (Elicker et al., 2010). As discussed earlier, desirable states at the top of the hierarchy are abstract, self-relevant, and long term, and typically reflect ‘‘be’’ states (e.g., the desire to be successful or happy or healthy). Fundamental values like autonomy, competence, and belonging are also high-level desirable states (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Deci & Ryan, 1985). Because of their close ties to the self, high-level desirable states are imbued with great importance, and are therefore capable of eliciting potent affective reactions. It is extremely satisfying when people progress toward high-level desirable states, but extremely frustrating when progress is stalled. In contrast, desirable states at lower levels of the hierarchy are concrete, short-term, and reflect ‘‘do’’ states (e.g., the desire to do well on an activity or complete a project). Although low-level states are linked to high-level ones, and thus attaining the former moves people closer to the latter (e.g., publishing a paper moves people closer to being a successful faculty member), low-level states lack the same affective punch as high-level states. One reason is because numerous low-level states are linked to any one highlevel state. For example, being a successful faculty member involves publishing papers, teaching undergraduate students, training doctoral students, and serving on committees, among other activities. Thus, lack of progress on any one low-level state (e.g., publishing a paper) is offset by the fact that



it is replaceable by other low-level states (e.g., presenting at a conference, giving an invited talk). Low-level desirable states also pack less of an affective punch because, as you move down the hierarchy, states become more concrete and taskspecific. Any activity can be framed in terms of its meaning (i.e., why it is being performed) or in terms of concrete actions (i.e., what is being performed), but it is the former interpretation that has emotional impact (Vallacher & Wegner, 1987). For example, when constructing a wall, greater emotion is aroused when the activity is interpreted at a high level (e.g., building a cathedral) versus a low level (e.g., laying bricks). Framing activities in terms of concrete actions also lessens their self-relevance and the personal value that is attached to them, which also diminishes their emotional impact. Thus, when faced with slow velocities and large discrepancies, it is advantageous to direct people’s attention to the low-level, concrete aspects of activities rather than their high-level meaning and value. Doing so lessens the emotional strain that people experience when confronted with negative feedback (Kluger & DeNisi, 1996). For example, upon receipt of a rejection letter, it is less distressing to interpret the feedback as ‘‘Failure to publish this paper at that journal’’ (concrete, low level) as opposed to ‘‘Failure to be a successful researcher’’ (self-relevant, high level). Thus, the hierarchical nature of desired states suggests that affective reactions to velocities and discrepancies are stronger when they involve high (vs. low) level states or when activities are framed in terms of their high-level meaning (vs. concrete actions). Proposition 4. Velocities and discrepancies involving high-level desired states have stronger effects on emotional strain and affective reactions as compared to low-level desired states. Proposition 5. The emotional strain and negative affect caused by slow velocities and large discrepancies can be mitigated by shifting employees’ focus downward to desired states at lower levels. The unique characteristics of high-level and low-level desires also suggest that the effectiveness of strategies for coping with emotional strain and negative affective reactions may differ across the two states. As we proposed above, slow velocities and large discrepancies involving high-level desired states elicit potent affective reactions. Such reactions serve an interrupt function that pulls attention away from current self-regulatory activities (Carver & Scheier, 1998). In order to resume regulating actual states vis-a`-vis


Self-Regulation of Emotions

desired states, it is necessary to first manage these emotions since the continued, unchecked experience of these emotions consumes personal resources that are then unavailable for other activities (Grandey, 2000). Thus, we suspect that emotion-focused coping is required (at least initially) when discrepancies and velocities concern high-level states. Also, high-level desired states are abstract and, when considered independently from the low-level states that are coupled to them, they offer little insight on how best to attain them (e.g., what does it mean to ‘‘Be successful’’ or ‘‘Be happy’’?). Thus, the abstract nature of high-level desired states can sometimes be frustrating. Emotion-focused coping helps people overcome the frustration and anxiety owing to uncertainty about the means to attain high-level desires. Low-level desired states, in contrast, are concrete and action-oriented (e.g., ‘‘Praise a coworker’’ or ‘‘Finish a report’’). These states are also farremoved from one’s identity and fundamental values. Thus, experiencing setbacks during the pursuit of low-level states elicits weaker affective reactions compared to high-level states. When frustration and anxiety are absent, there is less need to engage in emotion-focused coping (Grandey, 2000). Instead, setbacks involving low-level desires can be tackled directly via problem-focused coping because the concrete nature of these desires provides people with a clear objective and direction. In addition, personal resources not consumed coping with the experience of an intense emotional response can be deployed directly to dealing with the focal discrepancy. Proposition 6. Emotion-focused coping is effective for addressing the consequences of unfavorable velocities and discrepancies involving highlevel desired states. Proposition 7. Problem-focused coping is effective for addressing the consequences of unfavorable velocities and discrepancies involving lowlevel desired states. Affect as an Input Although researchers have traditionally treated affect as an outcome of the self-regulation process, recent work has begun to consider an alternative role of affect. Namely, researchers have applied the control theory framework for understanding the emotional labor process (Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003; Diefendorff & Richard, 2008). Emotional labor typically involves two processes: surface acting and deep acting (Grandey, 2000). Employees who



engage in surface acting suppress their true feelings and express the desired emotional display by faking. Alternatively, employees who engage in deep acting, either by reappraising the current situation or by deploying attentional resources to recall events that reflect the desired emotional display, show the desired emotions by first experiencing them (Grandey, 2000). Regardless of the process employed, emotional displays represent actual states whereas prescriptive display rules function as desirable states. The emotional display is then evaluated against the display rules through the comparator mechanism. Consistent with a control theory perspective, if employees perceive a discrepancy between their emotional display and the desirable display rules, they may respond to the negative discrepancy by either engaging in emotional regulation strategies to alter their behaviors, or cognitively changing the mental representation of the display rules (Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003). Moreover, Diefendorff and colleagues (Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003; Diefendorff & Richard, 2008) apply the goal hierarchy framework to differentiate prescriptive display rules from contextual display rules, and how these display rules are integrated into the general employee performance framework. In particular, they suggest that general work performance goals represent the higher level standards. These higher-level, performance goals can be achieved by conforming to the prescriptive display rules specified by the organization, which represent a lower level desirable state. However, as emotional labor involves regulation of emotional displays during various affective encounters, these individual encounters provide further contextual display rules that guide employees’ emotional displays during an episode. For example, sales employees may have the overall performance goal of making a sale, which leads them to adopt the general prescriptive display rules of displaying positive emotions. However, a particular customer interaction may require the display of calmness to ensure that they address the customer’s questions or concerns adequately, or happiness to facilitate harmonious communication with the customer. Thus, while the general performance goals and prescriptive display rules constrain the contextual display rules for individual interactions, the hierarchical nature of the control loops allows employees the flexibility to set the desirable contextual display rules when regulating their emotions for a specific encounter (Diefendorff & Richard, 2008). Consistent with their model, Diefendorff and Richard (2008) found that the prescriptive display rules expressed by organizational norms and supervisor expectations informed individuals’ perceived display rules at work, leading to the actual display of more positive and fewer negative emotions.

Self-Regulation of Emotions


Perceived display rules were also found to be positively related to employees’ engagement in emotional regulation strategies (Diefendorff, Erickson, Grandey, & Dahling, 2011; Gosserand & Diefendorff, 2005), including both surface acting and deep acting. These positive relationships were particularly strong when employees reported high commitment to these display rules (Gosserand & Diefendorff, 2005). Interestingly, although Diefendorff and colleagues (Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003; Diefendorff & Richard, 2008) view emotional labor as a dynamic process within the control theory framework, their model focuses on the implications of discrepancies between current emotional displays and desired emotional displays, with limited attention on how these discrepancies may change over time. As mentioned earlier, researchers have proposed that velocity feedback at the lower level of the goal hierarchy is accumulated over time to facilitate the upward communication to higher levels of the goal hierarchy (Johnson et al., 2006, 2013). A similar mechanism may operate when affect is the input to the feedback loop. In this case, velocity feedback from the lower level (e.g., individual encounters with customers) serves as input for the higher-level feedback loop, which involves an overall judgment of whether one is behaving consistently with prescriptive display rules. Proposition 8. When affect is the input, discrepancy feedback is more salient for control loops that involve contextual display rules as the desired states. Proposition 9. When affect is the input, velocity feedback is more salient for control loops that involve prescriptive display rules as the desired states. Given that emotional labor involves hierarchically ordered control loops (Diefendorff & Richard, 2008), the adoption of different behavioral strategies to regulate emotional display at the lower level of the hierarchy (i.e., showing desired emotions for individual encounters) may have different implications for how feedback from this level is incorporated over time at higher levels in the hierarchy. Although both surface and deep acting may reduce the discrepancy and allow employees to display emotions consistent with the contextual display rules, these strategies achieve the discrepancy reduction through different means. Surface acting focuses solely on the alteration of outward responses, whereas deep acting requires employees to expend energy to call up the desired emotions first, and then display them naturally.



In this case, surface acting may lead to fast initial reduction in discrepancy (i.e., fast velocity) as it only requires employees to suppress their current feelings to fake the desired emotions. On the contrary, deep acting requires employees to engage in additional cognitive processing (i.e., attention deployment or cognitive reappraisal; Grandey, 2000) prior to showing the desired emotions. Thus, surface acting as a behavioral strategy to reduce the discrepancy between the actual and desired affective display may result in a faster progress rate than deep acting at first. However, as employees continue to regulate their affective display over multiple encounters, the two regulatory strategies have different acceleration patterns. Repeated engagement in surface acting requires employees to constantly monitor and suppress undesirable emotions, and fake the desired affective displays. This will become increasingly difficult over time as suppression and faking both require expenditure of limited mental resources (Wegner, Erber, & Zanakos, 1993). As such, it will become increasingly difficult to rely on surface acting to reduce the discrepancy between the current and desired emotional display over multiple encounters. This suggests that the fast initial velocity associated with adopting surface acting is likely to slow down over time, which is consistent with a deceleration pattern. On the other hand, although the initial preparation work (i.e., recalling relevant situations, reappraising the current situation) for deep acting requires additional time and effort initially, once employees successfully experience and display the desired emotions, it may be easier for them to maintain their authentic emotional display, and this will facilitate emotional regulation for subsequent encounters. Thus, while deep acting may show a slow velocity initially, the progress rate of achieving the goal of showing desirable emotions is likely to speed up over time. Proposition 10. Initial velocity is faster for surface acting compared to deep acting as behavioral strategies to regulate affect. Proposition 11. Subsequent velocity is faster for deep acting compared to surface acting as behavioral strategies to regulate affect. Proposition 12. Surface acting will show a deceleration pattern (i.e., fast initial velocity and then slowing down) when it is applied to regulate emotional displays over time. Proposition 13. Deep acting will show an acceleration pattern (i.e., slow initial velocity and then speeding up) when it is applied to regulate emotional displays over time.


Self-Regulation of Emotions

Finally, the differential effects of surface and deep acting on velocity and acceleration for control loops that involve affect as an input may also explain how these different emotional regulatory strategies lead to long-term well-being. Indeed, surface acting has been consistently related to employee burnout symptoms and lower job satisfaction, whereas deep acting has weaker implications on these well-being indicators (Hu¨lsheger & Schewe, 2011). These differential effects on employee well-being may in part be due to the different velocity and acceleration resulting from repeated regulation over multiple encounters. As mentioned earlier, fast velocity and acceleration have been linked to experiences of positive affect and satisfaction (Chang et al., 2010; Lawrence et al., 2002). In this case, the differential effects of surface and deep acting on employee well-being indicators may in part be explained by their deceleration and acceleration patterns over time, respectively. Proposition 14. The effects of surface acting and deep acting on employee well-being will be partially mediated by the velocity and acceleration associated with how fast employees can achieve the goal of displaying emotions consistent with the contextual display rules.

Affect as a Disturbance Even though we have discussed self-regulation primarily in terms of a deliberate, cognitive-based process thus far, this does not preclude an active role for affect. There are numerous ways in which affect and cognition interact to generate judgments, leading some scholars to view affect and cognition as two components of a ‘‘single interdependent representational system’’ (Forgas, 1995, p. 41). Building on theory and findings from other areas of affect research, we present propositions relating to ways in which affect may influence the input, output, standard, and comparator components of self-regulation and discuss the stress and well-being implications of those effects. We begin our discussion with a brief overview of the evolutionary value to having affectively influenced judgments and then move on to articulate the various ways in which affect can influence the functions of control-theory based self-regulation. It has long been proposed that negative emotions are generally viewed as being evolutionarily beneficial, tending to narrow attention and limit the number of alternatives considered (Fredrickson, 1998; Fredrickson & Levenson, 1998). Such theories of affect generally pair each emotion with



specific action tendencies (Frijda, 1986; Lazarus, 1991a; Levenson, 1994). For example, anger is associated with a desire to confront and engage the stimulus while fear elicits a desire to rapidly extricate oneself from the present situation. In addition, negative emotions are also associated with physiological changes (e.g., increased heart rate and blood flow) that enable these actions to be carried out (Lazarus, 1991a; Levenson, 1992). These theories presume that these changes allow for the rapid selection and enactment of behaviors that had historically proven beneficial to surviving the imminent physical threats that occurred regularly in humankind’s past. More recently, positive emotions have been proposed to have evolutionary value as well (Fredrickson, 1998; Fredrickson & Levenson, 1998). Specifically, positive emotions may speed recovery from the physiological effects of negative emotions, facilitating rest and recuperation (Fredrickson & Levenson, 1998). In addition, they signal the opportunity to develop lasting resources, including social resources and personal skills, during good times that can be deployed to foster survival during bad ones (Fredrickson, 1998, 2001). This seems to be borne out by subsequent work demonstrating that frequent experience of positive affect is associated with success in a variety of domains (Lyubomirsky, King, & Diener, 2005). While the evolutionary benefits of affect have been discussed in general, we hope to inspire new investigations by proposing how these affect-induced changes may influence the process of self-regulation. However, before beginning, we wish to note that in this section we discuss affect rather generically. In line with previous findings relating both trait and state affect to other cognitively influenced evaluations such as job satisfaction (Brief et al., 1995; Ilies & Judge, 2002; Staw et al., 1986) and justice (Barsky & Kaplan, 2007), we expect the general pattern of relationships to hold for either trait or state conceptualizations. In addition, given the relative large number of discrete emotions and the ongoing debate about how best to conceptualize and categorize them (e.g., Carver & Harmon-Jones, 2009; Watson, 2009), our propositions are simply phrased in terms of positive and negative affect. We do not wish to belittle the value to be gained by considering more specific aspects of affect when investigating these proposals. Instead, we concede that given the myriad potential research questions and contexts, it is beyond the scope of this chapter to derive specific hypotheses for each combination. We encourage future researchers to give this aspect of their investigation sufficient consideration, incorporating a conceptualization and operationalization of affect that is suitable for their context and research question.

Self-Regulation of Emotions


Affect as a Disturbance on the Input Signal As mentioned previously, self-regulation within the control theory framework centers around the perceived difference between desired and actual states. The desired state is generally represented by the goal while the actual state is ascertained based on the individual’s subjective evaluation of the available feedback. The feedback can come from multiple sources (e.g., task, coworkers, supervisor), be conveyed via multiple mechanisms (e.g., verbal, written, physical), and exhibit varying degrees of consistency and clarity across these combinations and over time (Ilgen et al., 1979). In such cases, affective processes can impact the construal of the input signal critical to the functioning of the control loop (see Fig. 1) by influencing the evaluation and interpretation of the perceived feedback. It is not unusual for feedback to be contradictory. For example, consider the process of obtaining 360-degree performance feedback. This approach is predicated on the belief that different people will have different perspectives on an individual’s performance in a variety of contexts. Evaluation of the results of this exercise requires the recipient to make sense of complex and often contradictory feedback regarding his or her performance. A similar process occurs when overall performance judgments are made in the context of multiple and often conflicting organizational goals, a common occurrence in modern organizations (Schmidt & DeShon, 2007). In this context of numerous and potentially conflicting signals, affect can influence how ambiguous feedback is interpreted. As mentioned previously, negative affect generally results in more deliberate, careful processing of information because of its historical role in signaling a situation that demands attention (Forgas, 1995). In contrast, positive affect is generally associated with loose, low-effort processing strategies, consistent with its role in signaling a lack of stimuli requiring immediate attention (Forgas, 1995). As a result, positive moods generally increase inferential errors while negative moods tend to decrease them (Forgas, 1998). These effects have been demonstrated in the context of job performance evaluations. Raters high in positive mood rated the performance of others higher than those who were in a negative or neutral mood due to increased recall of positively valenced events, and negative affect was associated with more accurate perceptions of job performance (Sinclair, 1988). In addition, positive affect has been theorized (Seo, Barrett, & Bartunek, 2004) and empirically found (Tsai, Chen, & Liu, 2007) to be positively associated with perceptions of progress on an ambiguous task. This is thought to be due to less frequent and less rigorous evaluation of available information (Seo et al., 2004) by those experiencing positive affect. Based on these related



findings, we propose similar relations between the environmentally provided feedback and the input signal. Proposition 15. In instances of ambiguous feedback, (a) negative affect will be positively associated with the accuracy of the input signal relative to the feedback received, whereas (b) positive affect will be negatively associated with the accuracy of the input signal relative to the feedback received. In addition, there is reason to believe that affect will systematically bias the direction of any inaccuracy of the input signal relative to the feedback presented. There are two main mechanisms by which this biasing can occur: affect as information and affect priming. Affect as information influences judgments when a person uses the affect directly to evaluate the situation (Clore & Parrott, 1991; Neidenthal, 1990; Schwarz & Clore, 1983, 1988). For example, an individual experiencing negative affect may evaluate a subject negatively, arriving at that evaluation solely because of their current feeling; in other words, they attribute their bad mood to the subject of the evaluation and feel negatively toward it as a result. Compared to informing the evaluation directly, affect priming has a more subtle influence on evaluations. This mechanism influences judgments by influencing the information that is recalled and attended to (Forgas & Bower, 1987; Isen, 1984, 1987). Specifically, past events in memory are more likely to be recalled if their valence is consistent with the current affective state or they were stored during an affective state that matches the present state (Bower, 1991). In addition, information currently available that has a valence matching the perceiver’s current affective state will receive disproportionally more attention and weight than information that does not match (Bower, 1991). Proposition 16. In instances of ambiguous feedback, (a) negative affect will bias the input signal downward such that the perceived current state (input signal) is lower than indicated by the feedback received, whereas (b) positive affect will bias the input signal upward such that the perceived current state (input signal) is higher than indicated by the feedback received. In addition, affect may also influence how the source of the feedback is perceived. As previously mentioned, while negative affect narrows attention and allows an individual to focus on details of ongoing tasks (e.g., Larsen & Diener, 1987), broaden and build theory predicts that positive affect broadens attention and encourages investment in developing lasting

Self-Regulation of Emotions


physical, intellectual, and social resources (Fredrickson, 1998, 2001). While the domain in which these resources are built differs along the above listed categories, the method of resource accumulation is common. In each domain, resources are gained by attempting and completing new activities. Be it new forms of play (physical resources), new exploration (intellectual resources), or helping out others (social resources), positive affect is related to broadening out beyond existing boundaries (Fredrickson, 1998, 2001). While the establishment and subsequent striving toward these new goals has the potential to induce stress whenever perceptions fall short of desires (Edwards, 1992), the perceived nature of the stressor may vary. Specifically, challenge stressors are viewed as opportunities to bolster personal growth whereas hindrance stressors are perceived as threats to personal growth (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984; Lepine, Podsakoff, & Lepine, 2005). While these stressors have long been proposed to induce positive and negative affect respectively (Nelson & Simmons, 2003), theory on the ability of affect to alter perceptions of the nature of the stressors is less prevalent. Because positive affect induces goals that are focused on growth potential, it is likely that environmental constraints will be seen in terms of challenge stressors while negative affect’s attention narrowing, threat avoiding nature is likely to induce perceptions of hindrance stressors. These perceptions are important for individual will-being as hindrance stressors tend to induce more strain than challenge stressors (Lepine et al., 2005). Proposition 17. (a) Negative affect is positively related to hindrance stressor perceptions, whereas (b) positive affect is positively related to challenge stressor perceptions. Affect as a Disturbance on the Output Function In addition to influencing the input signal entering the control loop, affect is likely to influence the outcome of the process as well. Seo et al. (2004) proposed that positive affect would be related to the direction, intensity, and persistence components of motivation (cf. Kanfer, 1991). Specifically, positive affect is proposed to be related to an increased focus on gains rather than losses (direction), increased effort (intensity) due to increased expectancies and valences, and increased adherence to the initial course of action (persistence) because of more favorable interpretation of available information. These proposed relations have also been investigated empirically, receiving broad but not universal (e.g., Martin, Ward, Achee, & Wyer, 1993) support. For example, Erez and Isen (2002) found that when no explicit goal for task



performance was provided, positive affect was positively related to task motivation. This manifest in part in increased task persistence, measured as time spent on the task (Erez & Isen, 2002). Tsai et al. (2007) likewise found that positive affect was related to self-reflections of generalized task persistence at work. Finally, in the absence of a specific goal, state positive affect was found to be positively related to persistence, as measured by adherence to the initial course of action (Seo, Bartunek, & Barrett, 2010). In addition, within control theory, there are two behavioral avenues available to address inadequate performance: more effort can be put into the current course of action or an alternative course of action can be employed. This latter approach, the generation of novel alternatives to the current goal striving strategy employed, is closely related to common conceptualizations of creativity (e.g., Mumford & Gustafson, 1988; Perry-Smith & Shalley, 2003). In meta-analysis, positive affect has been found to be positively related to creativity, while no relation was found for negative affect (Davis, 2009). This is consistent with the previous discussions about positive affect signaling the opportunity to employ more simplified, high-level processing (Forgas, 1995) and a broadened attentional focus (Fredrickson, 1998) due to a lack of immediate threats. Further, this seems to lead to the ability to identify more nuanced connections among concepts and objects (Isen, 1999). In summary, ‘‘positive affect increases a person’s ability to organize ideas in multiple ways and access alternative cognitive perspectives’’ (Isen, 1999, p. 3). In light of these well-established links between positive affect and creativity (Isen, 1999) as well as general persistence, we propose that positive affect will be positively related to persistence in regards to goal striving. By thinking creatively and making novel connections, positive affect enables new methods of approach to be attempted. In addition, the expected ability to successfully execute these alternatives and the expected outcomes for successfully doing so should also be heightened due to increased optimism and affect priming associated with past successes (Seo et al., 2004, 2010; Tsai et al., 2007). We propose that this increased persistence provides more opportunities for individuals to remain engaged in problem-focused coping, via increased duration spent implementing the initial approach as well as an increase in the number and breadth of alternative problem solving approaches generated. While emotion-focused coping may be necessary at times due to the ambiguity and uncertainty associated with high-level goal attainment, it is generally not as effective as problem-focused coping because it fails to address the root cause of the stress (Grandey, 2000). Thus, individuals who

Self-Regulation of Emotions


regularly employ problem-focused coping are likely to be more successful at managing their stress and positive affect would likely enable this process. Proposition 18. Positive affect will be positively associated with (a) goal persistence, (b) the number and breadth of alternative goal striving approaches employed, and (c) problem-focused coping. Affect as a Disturbance on the Standard Signal In addition to operating at the boundary between the individual and the environment, affect can also disturb the internal functioning of the control loop as well. For example, affect can influence the level of goals that are active. While negative affect generally serves to narrow attention by acting as a signal that a particular issue needs attention (Frijda, 1986), positive affect tends to broaden attention (Fredrickson, 1998, 2001) and allow for higher-level, more abstract processing (Isen, 1999). As such, negative affect is associated with more discrete and concrete goals. In contrast, positive affect is linked to more abstract conceptualizations. As discussed previously, goals tend to differ in their level of concreteness versus abstractness with their level within an individual’s goal hierarchy with more concrete ‘‘do’’ goals existing at the lower levels while more abstract ‘‘be’’ goals exist at higher levels. In turn, the way that information on discrepancies and progress is processed varies with position within the hierarchy (Johnson et al., 2006; Lord & Levy, 1994). Proposition 19. Negative affect will be positively associated with a focus on (a) lower levels of the goal hierarchy (i.e., ‘‘do’’ goals) and (b) discrepancy feedback. Proposition 20. Positive affect will be positively associated with a focus on (a) higher levels of the goal hierarchy (i.e., ‘‘be’’ goals) and (b) velocity feedback integrated over time. Affect as a Disturbance on the Comparator Function In addition to consuming cognitive and attentional resources, the experience of affect and affective suppression in particular have the potential to consume general regulatory resources (Beal, Weiss, Barros, & MacDermid, 2005). Recent theory and empirics support the notions that regulatory resources are unique from cognitive resources and these regulatory resources may be depleted by regulation in a variety of domains; once depleted, rest is required to replenish regulatory resources so that they may be applied elsewhere (Baumeister, Muraven, & Tice, 2000; Muraven & Baumeister,



2000). As discussed below, affect can consume attentional and cognitive resources via four main mechanisms (Beal et al., 2005). First, people spend resources on appraisal in order to evaluate the cause of the affect and determine potential mitigation strategies (Smith & Kirby, 2001). This can be accompanied by arousal (Lazarus, 1991b), causing people to become highly attuned to the source of the affect, reducing the ability to process additional information effectively (Kahneman, 1973). In addition, experiencing negative affect can lead to continued rumination about the cause of the affect, consuming cognitive and attentional resources (Martin & Tesser, 1996). Finally, efforts may be made to regulate the experience of affect via a variety of mechanisms (Gross, 1998), which consume considerable cognitive and attentional resources. Thus, the experience of emotion, and in particular the regulation and suppression of emotion can temporarily limit the ability to subsequently self-regulate due to consumption of limited cognitive, attentional, and regulatory resources. In such situations, people may be particularly prone to experiencing high levels of stress and over time strain, since the experience of goal challenging events can evoke particularly strong responses when insufficient individual resources are unavailable (Zohar, Tzischinski, & Epstein, 2003). Proposition 21. (a) Experience and (b) regulation of affect temporarily reduces the ability to effectively self-regulate. Affect may also influence the ‘‘deadband’’ with which the comparator function operates. In a control system, there is some amount of difference between the specified and measured attribute that is allowed before a discrepancy is signaled. This range is referred to as the deadband. For a furnace thermostat set at 68 degrees, the deadband may be plus or minus one degree such that a signal to turn the furnace on is sent when the thermostat detects that the temperature has fallen below 67 degrees and the signal remains on until the temperature exceeds 69 degrees. This allows for small, inconsequential temperature variations to be ignored and reduces rapid cycling of the furnace that reduces efficiency and introduces premature wear to ignition and valve components. In order to reduce resource consumption, the comparator function in a self-regulatory frame likely acts with a similar deadband such that small perturbations from the desired state do not constitute a meaningful discrepancy that would draw attention from whatever task was being worked on previously. Affect is likely to influence the width of this deadband. As previously discussed, positive affect generally signals that there are no pressing attentional demands (Fredrickson, 1998) and is related to less

Self-Regulation of Emotions


regimented processing (Isen, 1999) and relatively infrequent environmental sampling and perceptions of sufficient performance (Seo et al., 2004; Tsai et al., 2007). This implies that positive affect would induce loose regulation, equivalent to a wide deadband, such that small discrepancies between desired and actual performance would be tolerated and no problem signal would be sent. In contrast, negative affect is associated with focused attention, accurate, detailed appraisal and perceived threat requiring immediate attention (Forgas, 1995). Negative affect enables individuals to detect even small abnormalities in the environment (Larsen & Diener, 1987). This type of functioning is akin to tight regulation, which is equivalent to a narrow deadband for the comparator function. That is, even minor discrepancies between actual and desired states are detected, perceived as problematic, and attention is redirected to addressing the discrepancy according to control theory principles. Much like the furnace example discussed above, this frequent switching and near constant perception of problems can take its toll on the individual, leading to the experience of chronic stress. In addition to the more frequent experience of desired-actual state discrepancies that induce stress (Edwards, 1992), the ability to effectively cope with any particular problem is apt to be diminished due to the limited resources (time, attention, cognitive, etc.) available to devote to any particular problem when there are so many perceived stressors competing for attention. Proposition 22. (a) Negative affect is positively related to tight regulation, whereas (b) positive affect is positively related to loose regulation. This points to a novel means of explaining how positive affect can help individuals cope with negative information. Researchers have recently begun to understand that positive affect can act as a resource to mitigate the potentially negative and lingering effects of negative feedback (Forgas & George, 2001; Trope, Ferguson, & Ragunanthan, 2001). While this effect is consistent with multiple aspects of Fredrickson’s (1998, 2001) broaden and build theory discussed previously, the tightness or looseness of the regulation employed may further help explain how affect functions in this context. First, positive affect reduces the duration of the aftereffects of the negative affect (Fredrickson & Levenson, 1998), freeing up resources in a more timely manner. This may be due to the wider deadband associated with loose regulation allowing for residual discrepancies to be ignored sooner than they would be with tight regulation. Second, positive affect



signals that the threat is not imminent and facilitates processing of the negative information and extraction of its diagnostic value (Trope et al., 2001). This problem-focused coping requires persistence, and is likely to be hindered by numerous competing attentional demands fostered by tight regulation. In this manner, positive affect encourages exploration and approach activities aimed and reducing and eliminating large negative discrepancies that are apt to be longer lasting, chronic problems.

CONCLUSION In the current chapter, building on the literature around control theory in a variety of domains, we have discussed a number of ways in which selfregulation can impact employee well-being by influencing affective states. In particular, affect can be viewed as a result of velocity toward one’s desired states at work. Positive affect resulting from fast progress can enhance employee well-being, whereas negative affect resulting from slow or no progress can induce employee distress. Next, affect can also be considered an input of a series of hierarchically organized control loops that function to regulate employees’ emotional displays at work. In this case, employees compare their actual emotional display against the display rules prescribed by the organization or the interaction context, which serve as the desirable goal state. Discrepancies between the two result in employees adopting behavioral regulation strategies (i.e., surface or deep acting) to reduce the discrepancies. Finally, affect can function as a situational disturbance, altering employee perceptions or assessment of the input, output, signal, and comparator for other goal-related control loops. In this case, instead of having main effects, affect mainly moderates the associations between progress toward desirable state and employee well-being. In order to empirically examine the various roles affect can play for employees’ well-being within the control theory framework, researchers must pay close attention to measurement issues associated with assessing goal–performance gaps, especially the type of feedback that has unique relevance to affect (i.e., velocity and acceleration). Prior research has typically assessed the effects of velocity using one of the following methods. The first method relies on individual perceptions of actual and desired velocity. This is the approach taken by Chang et al. (2010, Study 1), who measured participant perceptions of both their ideal and perceived velocity and used both as predictors for employee job satisfaction. This approach is consistent with the meta-monitoring framework proposed by Carver and

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Scheier (1998), and it also takes into account individual differences in desired rates of gap closure. This type of approach has long been used in the person–environment fit literature whenever a subjective fit assessment is conducted (French, Rodgers, & Cobb, 1974). However, because it relies on individuals to provide their perceptions of actual and desired velocity level, cognitive biases that influence subjective fit perceptions, such as consistency or dissonance (French et al., 1974), or even affect itself, may also manifest in the measures of velocity (both ideal and current) obtained. A second approach involves providing participants with an objective rate of progress and using that as a direct indication of velocity feedback. Hsee and Abelson (1991) implemented this approach, fixing the velocity of feedback provided to their participants at a given percentage change per year in salary. The primary benefit of this approach is that it allows the researcher to draw inferences about the relationship between velocity feedback and the outcome variables of interest (e.g., persistence, selfefficacy) directly. However, this measure does not take individuals’ desired level of velocity into consideration, which is inconsistent with the framework proposed by Carver and Scheier (1998). The third approach involves a directly calculated velocity measure. This can be done by measuring ideal–actual discrepancies over time. Chang et al. (2009) used this approach. They measured students’ goal level and actual performance in class every three weeks for the entire semester and calculated the velocity by dividing the change in discrepancy across two time points by the time that elapsed between the time points. A similar approach has been used to study the impact of goal–performance discrepancy changes over time on goal revision in college athletes (Donovan & Williams, 2003; Williams, Donovan, & Dodge, 2000). Like the previous approach, this approach utilizes objectively obtained velocity information, avoiding individual self-reports which may reflect cognitive biases. In addition, it has the added advantage of allowing researchers to set the temporal interval between measure collections so that it is appropriate for the task at hand. Unfortunately, this approach also shares the drawback of the previous method in that this objectively calculated velocity measure does not consider individuals’ preferred level of velocity. Given that the examination of velocity, affect, and employee well-being is likely to take place primarily in field settings, the manipulated feedback approach may not be as applicable as the other two approaches. As such, we recommend that future research in this area collect desired states as well as objective and subjective measures for current states utilizing a longitudinal design that allows for the investigation of the discrepancy between current



and desired states at multiple time points. The multiple assessments afforded by a longitudinal design will allow researchers to objectively compute velocity information and compare that to participants’ subjective perceptions. As stated above, affective disturbances (and other biases) may cause these two quantities to diverge, which may create the opportunity to build a more nuanced understanding in this area. Moreover, by measuring both desired goal states and current states at multiple time points, it is possible to better model the dynamics of behavioral (e.g., increased effort), cognitive (e.g., goal revision), and affective responses to discrepancy and velocity feedback over time. Finally, it should be noted that in the preceding discussion, we assumed that goals represented desirable states that individuals move toward. However, Carver and Scheier (1998) discussed another category of end states – avoidance goals. Instead of characterizing an attractive end state, avoidance goals are end states from which individuals try to distance themselves. For example, in the case of affect as input, while the display rules typically require employees to show certain emotions (e.g., happy displays by service representatives), some display rules may require employees to suppress certain emotions (e.g., displays of impatience). While we believe that affect may take on similar roles within the hierarchically organized feedback loops that involve avoidance goals, future research is necessary to better illustrate how affect may influence employee well-being when feedback loops involve avoidance goals.

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EMOTIONAL BOUNDARY MANAGEMENT: A NEW ADAPTIVE APPROACH TO EMOTION REGULATION AT WORK Renae M. Hayward and Michelle R. Tuckey ABSTRACT It is well recognized that emotions support adaptation to environmental demands by guiding cognitions and behavior in line with one’s implicit and explicit goals. This is true in the work context, as in other areas of life. Traditionally, however, research into emotion regulation within the work context has been centered on the problematic aspects of feeling and displaying emotion at work. In order to meet organizational goals, felt emotions need to be subdued or modified, and inauthentic emotions displayed. In this way, conceptualizations of work-related emotion regulation have disconnected emotion from its most basic and adaptive signal function. This disconnection has led to a dilemma regarding the real- and the fake-self and been associated with a range of negative consequences for employee health and well-being. Understanding how emotions can be regulated to help employees meet personal goals for growth and development has also been overlooked. In this chapter, we

The Role of Emotion and Emotion Regulation in Job Stress and Well Being Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Volume 11, 35–74 Copyright r 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3555/doi:10.1108/S1479-3555(2013)0000011006




challenge this existing paradigm, and instead argue that examining emotion regulation in terms of its adaptive functions will help to unify disparate findings from within the emotion regulation literature and progress research in the field of emotion and emotion regulation at work. Keywords: Emotion regulation; adaptive functions; felt emotions; inauthentic emotions

Work-related experiences and displays of emotion have long been recognized within the literature as influencing individual and organizational outcomes (Ashkanasy, 2003; Lawrence, Troth, Jordan, & Collins, 2011). However, in reading the literature pertaining to emotional labor, emotion work, emotional demands, and emotion regulation at work, there is little consideration of the function underlying emotional experiences and the subsequent function of emotional regulatory efforts in the contexts in which they occur (Consedine, Magai, & Bonanno, 2002; Koole, 2009). Experiences of emotion and the way in which emotions are managed, particularly in client-oriented professions, can have far reaching consequences for employees during and long after their work day. Consider the following excerpts from our interviews with nurses describing their management of emotionally arousing interactions inherent within their job role (see Hayward & Tuckey, 2011), depicting the dynamic nature, effort, strain, and addressing of personal needs involved in in situ emotion management. The nurses were asked to describe a recent experience with clients that was emotionally laden, went unexpectedly, or traumatic in some way. Dealing with emotional interactions was described by the nurses we interviewed as a regular experience. To get at the heart of the specific emotion regulation strategies adopted and their impact, we asked the nurses to describe their most recent experience in detail. I had to be there for the parents y to try [to], I guess, bring it back to a clinical perspective and try and remove that emotion for a while y I mean it is just simply out of sympathy for what they’re going through, I will go that extra mile for them y that empathy of what it is that they’re going through, being so more acute than everything, I just want to make it easier for them. In doing so, I may very well be making it easier for me as well, but that’s certainly not my conscious thought y After the parents left, we had to wrap her up, and while we were doing that, yeah, I did actually cry during that. There was another nurse in the room, and I mean, I had no issue being that obviously visually upset in front of that other nurse, but yeah, I just didn’t think it was appropriate in front of the parents. (Nurse A, male)

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


y sometimes I think that’s why you do feel so exhausted, is because, you’ve dealt with it, and you’ve worked an 8 and a half hour day, but, you still, you’ve probably worked another 5 hours on top of that in your head, because you’re still going through everything, so it’s a long day to work. (Nurse B, female)

As illustrated in the quotes, it is clear that these nurses managed their own emotions for a number of reasons, to: (i) influence the experience of the patient’s family, (ii) enhance their own ability to do the job at the time of the interaction with the patient, and (iii) manage their own emotional experiences long after the interaction has ended. Feeling empathy for the family aided Nurse A in ‘‘going the extra mile’’ to make the interaction as comfortable as possible for both the family and himself. In this way, Nurse A drew upon his authentic empathy to enhance the care provided. The emotional experience was managed differently in the presence of the child’s family, with Nurse A refocusing on clinical aspects and diverting attention from emotional aspects to manage the intensity of the emotional experience while suppressing the sadness he felt. After the family had left, Nurse A also described crying over the body of the child, again expressing genuine felt emotion. In this example it is evident that felt emotions triggered an empathic response but the intensity of the emotion needed to be down-regulated in the presence of the family, for the family’s benefit and the nurse’s sense of professional competence and human connectedness. The nurse was then able to dispel and release the tension associated with the strong emotions elicited once the family was no longer present. Nurse B’s description also encapsulates the additional mental work nurses often do when they experience strong emotions during interactions at work, extending their work days into their personal time. In some instances this extra work served to intensify feelings of negative emotions, maintaining the neurophysiological strain experienced by Nurse B as the scenario was replayed over mentally for days after the event (as per the concept of brooding; Treynor, Gonzalez, & Nolen-Hoeksema, 2003). In this case experiences of strain were intensified and maintained, being maladaptive for Nurse B in terms of her health and well-being. However, this extra mental work performed in other interactions was also described in terms of reflection (Treynor et al., 2003) replaying the scenario while intervening with metal images to experiment with different ways of managing the situation and depicting subsequent possible outcomes. Reflecting in this way, may have served the function of learning new strategies or even reinforcing that there was nothing more that could be done. Hence, in the case of reflection Nurse B was more likely to experience a return on her cognitive and



emotional investment in the form of new coping strategies or enhanced sense of competence. Looking at both of these stories, it is clear that examining emotion regulation alone – in terms of its methods and outcomes – without understanding the nature of the emotional experience and the purpose behind managing the emotion, risks missing insights into the adaptive function of emotional experiences and emotion management in work contexts (cf. the resource depleting and generative functions of emotionally demanding interactions described by Lilius, 2012). The concept of emotion regulation should not be disembodied from our understanding of emotion and the function that emotional experiences and expression serve. Spawned by the seminal work of Arlie Hochschild (1983), the field has, to different degrees of specificity, focused how emotion regulation is undertaken (e.g., surface acting, deep acting, antecedent- and response-focused emotion regulation, situation selection, situation modification, attentional deployment, cognitive change, response modulation, reappraisal, suppression; Gross, 1998; Hochschild, 1983) and more recently when in the emotion generative process emotion regulation takes place (Gross, 1998; Sheppes & Gross, 2011). In the example above, Nurse A utilized reappraisal and expressive suppression (how) while the family was present (when) and then genuine emotional expression (how) once the family had left (when). The function of down-regulating the emotional intensity initially, and then releasing felt emotion is only considered in terms of feelings of inauthenticity or dissonance rather than the adaptive nature of the different methods and timing of emotion regulatory efforts. We propose here that a consideration of the function of emotion regulation – the purpose or the why – is the next step in advancing this field of research. In this chapter we develop the concept of Emotional Boundary Management – the management of the emotional space at work and the effort expended in distancing from, or connecting with others (clients, colleagues) in the workplace – to achieve two ends: (i) to protect, maintain, or minimize resource loss (e.g., personal – self-esteem, sense of mastery, energy; social – building social networks, a source of emotional support; instrumental – recruiting the assistance of others, building supervisor’s faith/ belief in one’s abilities thereby enhancing future opportunities) and (ii) to facilitate the growth, development, and enhancement of resources (personal, social, and instrumental; Hayward & Tuckey, 2011). Examining emotion regulation through distancing and connecting processes reconnects the management of emotions in work contexts with its underlying adaptive functions. The focus of this chapter is to build the concept of emotional

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


boundary management, situate it within existing paradigms, and propose future avenues for research and application. Before examining the work-related emotion regulation literature and proposing a new framework from which to guide future approaches to research in this field, we first revisit the literatures on emotion and emotion management/regulation. We begin by briefly introducing the concepts of emotion and emotion generation, and the associated neurophysiological, experiential, and behavioral response tendencies. We then overview theoretical perspectives regarding the regulation of one’s own emotions when interacting with others (clients and coworkers) in the work environment. In doing so, we show that by untangling how and when emotion regulation is performed from why it is performed we can gain a richer insight into the positive and negative impact emotion regulation at work can have on workers’ health and well-being. Next, a major part of the chapter develops the concepts underpinning Emotional Boundary Management in more detail, linking emotional distancing and connecting to adaptive processes associated with resource protection and enhancement. Finally, we propose avenues for future research, arguing for the need to focus on emotion regulation in the work context in terms of its adaptive and functional nature: as (i) a resource protecting and maintain mechanism and (ii) a resource enhancing and developmental mechanism. A key message developed within this section is the importance of examining and integrating understandings of the consequences of emotion regulatory efforts in short- and long-term time frames.

THE CONCEPT OF EMOTION The concept of emotion has nurtured a field of psychological enquiry spanning decades (see Ekman & Cordaro, 2011; Frijda & Parrott, 2011; Levenson, 2011). Despite the lack of a universally accepted definition of emotion, certain characteristics have been reiterated consistently within the literature. Emotions have been described as ‘‘multifaceted, whole-body phenomena’’ (Gross & Thompson, 2007, p. 4) encompassing cognitions, physiological responses (or processes), subjective experiences, and behaviors (Mauss, Levenson, McCarter, Wilhelm, & Gross, 2005). In essence, the term ‘‘emotion’’ refers to feelings or sensations that motivate individuals to carry out goal-directed action (Frijda, 1986). Emotions, and the functional systems that are inherently tied to the elicitation, processing, and experience of emotion, are believed to facilitate



adaptation to environmental demands. Specifically, emotions direct cognitions and behaviors in ways best suited to meet environmental demands in terms of the individual’s implicit and explicit goals (Frijda, 2007; Levenson, 2011; Levenson, Soto, & Pole, 2007). Environmental demands can include the internal environment of one’s cognitions, such as thoughts and memories, as well as external environments, such as social and work contexts.

Emotion Elicitation According to the Modal Model of Emotion (Barrett, Lindquist et al., 2007) the potential for the elicitation of an emotion is initiated when an individual’s attention is drawn, voluntarily or involuntarily, to a stimulus present internally (psychologically) or within the individual’s external environment. Once a stimulus has captured the person’s attention it is then appraised, providing it with some sense of meaning in reference to the individual. The appraisal process incorporates many facets of the situation such as the degree of novelty, complexity, urgency, difficulty, and/or unexpectedness of the situation (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). It may be appraised negatively as a threat to the individual or positively as instrumental in aiding the individual to achieve goals. It is commonly held that the sense of meaning derived through appraisal initiates the emotional response (Gross & Thompson, 2007). A feedback loop is incorporated within the Modal Model to capture the complex and dynamic nature of emotion generation. The nature of the emotional response may alter the situation in some way, which initiates response patterns deemed suitable based on the subsequent appraisal and so on (Barrett, Ochsner, & Gross, 2007; Gross & Thompson, 2007). The simplicity of this model is its strength, and also its weakness. It provides an overarching view of a complex process that may be ongoing yet initiated within milliseconds (Levenson, 2011), but the different elements of this process are underdeveloped within the Model, and worthy of further empirical investigation.

Response Patterns As described above the appraisal process elicits an emotional response, which involves loosely coupled response patterns within the body’s neurophysiological, experiential, and behavioral systems (Gross & Thompson,

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


2007; Mauss et al., 2005). The response tendencies initiated depend on the valence, intensity, and duration of the emotions elicited, and how these factors change as the stimulus event changes. Depending on the emotion elicited and the typical response pattern associated with it, the sympathetic and parasympathetic branches of the autonomic nervous system are activated and initiate changes in the functioning of smooth muscles, internal organs, hormonal secretion, neural activity, and activity of muscles implicated in respiration (Frijda, 1986, p. 155). Cognitive Responses In response to an anticipated or actual subjective emotional experience, cognitions can guide an individual’s response, via emotional schemata, thoughts, strategies, and goals. Emotional schemata represent higher order cognitive processes that form part of the initial appraisal and ongoing emotion eliciting, experiencing, and regulating templates (Izard, 2011). Through this moderating or regulating process, cognitions are able to interact with the subjective experience of the emotion and physiological components to drive the individual to act in a way that is deemed appropriate given the context. This may require suppressing some biologically driven urges, for example, down-regulating the desire to display aggression in certain contexts. Physiological Responses The ideal state for the human body is when functional systems are in balance, such that optimal ranges are maintained for body temperature, heart rate, and glucose levels. However, the neurophysiological changes associated with the emotion response throw the body’s systems out of balance, as the valence, intensity, and duration of the emotion, and the stimulus event, are managed. While in this unbalanced state, the body’s resources are targeted toward meeting the immediate demands of the stimulus and diverted from longer-term processes such as tissue repair, growth, and reproduction (Sapolsky, 2007). The sympathetic nervous system is typically activated by emotions such as anger and nervousness, as well as positive emotions including intense joy. When excited by these emotions, a range of changes takes place targeted toward energy mobilization. These include increased heart rate, blood flow to muscles, bronchial dilation, sweat gland activity, blood glucose levels, and epinephrine secretion, combined with a constriction of blood vessels to the skin, stomach, intestines, and sexual organs (Frijda, 1986, p. 155). The parasympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, is associated with



processes aimed at conserving energy, characterized through decreases in muscular activity and cessation of a state of readiness to act (Frijda, 1986). Examples of emotions that activate the parasympathetic system are despair, apathy, helplessness, and a sense of burnout, calm, or pleasure (Frijda, 1986; Frijda & Parrott, 2011). This system is dominant when one is engaged in activities oriented toward rest and relaxation (Frijda, 1986). Behavioral Responses Behavior is the overt manifestation of an action tendency. Through emotions and their associated neurophysiological changes, the individual is motivated to act in a manner consistent with these changes (Gross & Thompson, 2007). This action can take two forms. First, an individual can direct action toward changing the stimulus event. This might involve approaching the stimulus and acting upon it, or it may involve withdrawing from it. The precise action taken is dependent on the messages elicited through neurophysiological changes. Second, action may be directed at changing the neurophysiological aspects of the body’s emotional response. The physiological activity initiated by the autonomic nervous and neuroendocrine systems is manifested overtly through experiences of heart palpitations, trembling, sweating, having a dry mouth, and feeling out of breath among others (Frijda, 1986, p. 174). Awareness of these consequences may drive actions to alter these symptoms via a range of adaptive (e.g., exercise, meditation, cognitive reframing) or maladaptive (e.g., substance abuse, aggression toward others) strategies (Gross, 1998; Mikolajczak, Tran, Brotheridge, & Gross, 2009). In both cases, behavior may then alter the event in some way, which will lead to reappraisal and further changes in the neurophysiological and behavioral systems.

Summary Emotions involve the engagement of multiple functional systems: neurophysiological, cognitive, and behavioral. It is imperative for human functioning and well-being that these functional systems are balanced so as not to be over- or underactivated over prolonged periods of time. Overactivation of these systems, which drains and exhausts them, can have serious consequences for the individual in terms of physical illness and psychological problems (Sapolsky, 2007). Hence, it is important to recognize that the elicitation of emotion is resource-intensive which may affect an individual’s performance, social functioning, and well-being.

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


EMOTION MANAGEMENT AT WORK The adaptive function of emotion extends to all areas of life, including the world of work. Indeed, emotions are ‘‘an integral part’’ of any workplace (Miller, 2002, p. 588). In the workplace, despite their functional utility, professional and organizational norms may dictate the appropriateness or inappropriateness of expressing particular emotions. For example, while the expression of anger may be appropriate when arguing with a partner in one’s home, the display of anger or frustration toward customers or clients is generally frowned upon (Hochschild, 1983). Hence, emotion regulation – the extrinsic and intrinsic processes involved in monitoring, evaluating, and modifying emotions to accomplish goals (Thompson, 1994, pp. 27–28) – is an implicit though necessary skill for all employees, especially those who work in client-oriented occupations. Emotion regulation has been a topic of interest to organizational scholars for at least 30 years. A number of perspectives have underpinned the study of how and when (and, to a lesser extent, why) employees modulate their own emotions in the workplace. Examining the differences across these perspectives in the conceptualization of emotion regulation is important for understanding the ‘‘fragmented’’ findings within this body of literature (Ashkanasy & Humphrey, 2011, p. 214). It is also vital, however, to look at the similarities across these perspectives. In doing so, it is clear that the adaptive function of emotion has been overshadowed by a focus on the problematic aspects of emotion that drive emotion regulation. In contrast, the contemporary Emotional Boundary Management Framework presented here reconnects emotion with its basic adaptive function to offer a new lens through which emotion regulation in the work context can be studied and understood. In the next sections we overview the evolution of these perspectives and then develop the central ideas of the Emotional Boundary Management Framework in more detail.

Emotional Labor Traditionally, perspectives on managing emotion in one’s work have tended to focus on the aspects of displaying, feeling, and influencing emotions to achieve desired organizational goals. To begin with, the sociologist Arlie Hochschild (1983) focused on the management of feelings and the inner processes required to display organizationally sanctioned emotions in face-to-face or voice-to-voice interactions, defining emotional labor as



‘‘the management of feeling to create a publicly observable facial and bodily display’’ (p. 7). She identified broad processes for managing inner emotions (deep acting) or emotional expression (surface acting) to satisfy organizationally sanctioned display rules which guide how emotions should be expressed. Hochschild’s work was instrumental in drawing attention to the difficulties faced by workers in service-oriented occupations (cabin-crew and debt collectors) where clear display rules were evident and utilized by management to influence the performance of workers, spawning interest in emotion management and emotion labor in work contexts. Deep and surface acting are among the most recognized processes involved in managing one’s work-related emotions. Deep acting refers to the activity of changing or aligning inner feelings (i.e., what the employee feels) with organizationally desired expressions of emotion (Bolton, 2000; Hochschild, 1983). Surface acting involves the work of suppressing felt emotions while at the same time expressing different emotions that are congruent with organizationally sanctioned emotional displays (Bolton, 2000; Brotheridge & Lee, 2002; Hochschild, 1983; Mann & Cowburn, 2005). Notably the management of emotions was examined within the context of work-related interactions and achieving a desired outcome for the organization (i.e., making a sale) by influencing the customer’s mood and cognitions, not in terms of desired outcomes for the individual (i.e., to facilitate coping). Beyond these conceptualizations are later distinctions in processes related to emotional labor. They include: passive deep acting where one essentially feels what one is expressing; active deep acting which is described as a conscious and effortful process implicated in changing inner emotions to be congruent with organizational expectations (Kruml & Geddes, 2000); and emotional dissonance which is the discomfort experienced when expressing emotions that are not felt (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993; Morris & Feldman, 1996). Although considered effortful, deep acting is generally viewed as more adaptive than surface acting for achieving organizational outcomes and in terms of employee health and well-being, because internally experienced and externally displayed emotions are congruent (Bolton, 2000; Hochschild, 1983). Nevertheless, both deep and surface acting imply that employees must manage inauthentic emotion – by changing it, in deep acting, or suppressing it, in surface acting. Hochschild’s (1983) perspective presents two different conceptual ‘‘selves’’ – the professional self: real and fake (Tracy, 2005; Tracy & Trethewey, 2005). Inauthentic emotion produced through deep and surface acting is linked to the fake self, whereas feeling and expressing genuine emotion is associated with the authentic or ‘‘real’’

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


self. Hence, a central tenant of this perspective relates to the authenticity of experienced and expressed emotion rather than the purpose underlying emotion regulatory efforts. Referring back to the examples presented in the beginning of this chapter, Nurse A’s management of felt and expressed emotion facilitated two purposes: (i) enhanced his management of the interaction, as well as (ii) nurtured his need to feel professionally competent yet connected to the family. The issue of authenticity in this case does not aid in understanding why particular regulatory strategies were employed, the timing of implementation, and the purpose behind each strategy. Focusing on these dichotomies – authentic versus inauthentic emotion, and the real versus the fake self – does not recognize the personally adaptive nature of emotion and the management of emotion in work contexts. In their review of the literature, Bono and Vey (2005) indicated that emotional labor has been associated with lowered role identification, job satisfaction, sense of personal authenticity, autonomy and control, and with increased levels of voluntary turnover and physical strain. However, they did suggest that the strength and direction of relationships with these variables depends on the operationalization of the specific facet of emotional labor being measured: ‘‘emotion management, display rule existence and compliance, and role requirements’’ (Bono & Vey, 2005, p. 219). Composite measures of emotional labor (combined emotional dissonance and surface and deep acting) showed a consistent positive relationship with emotional exhaustion and depersonalization as measured by the Maslach Burnout Inventory (Maslach, Jackson, & Leiter, 1996). Emotional dissonance also displayed a similar relationship with poor physical health. In terms of job satisfaction, emotional dissonance and surface acting displayed consistent negative relationships. Research findings on the consequences of deep acting have been mixed. In some instances there has been no relationship with emotional exhaustion and depersonalization (e.g., Brotheridge & Lee, 2002, 2003), in others a negative relationship has been identified (e.g., Kruml & Geddes, 2000), and yet in others a positive relationship (e.g., Grandey, 2003; Mikolajczak et al., 2009). With regard to professional accomplishment and self-esteem, the strength and direction of associations have also lacked consistency. Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) added to Hochschild’s conceptualization of emotional labor by suggesting that, in addition to surface and deep acting, spontaneous and genuine emotion may be felt and displayed without any regulatory effort being required. They defined emotional labor simply as ‘‘the act of displaying appropriate emotion’’ (p. 90) where appropriate emotional displays conformed with organizational expectations. The focus



on observable behavior facilitated investigation of emotional deviance where there is an active choice not to display emotions desired by the organization (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993; Morris & Feldman, 1996). However, by focusing purely (as did Hochshild) on organizationally sanctioned emotion, personal goals linked to understanding the implicit function of engaging in emotion regulation were neglected. Likewise, the processes utilized to produce the observable behavior of interest – the how of emotion regulation efforts – were not considered. Similarly, different motivations – the why or function of emotion regulation – underpinning enacted emotion regulation efforts were not explored. Morris and Feldman (1996) further embellished the concept of emotion labor moving beyond a focus on emotional displays. They outlined four dimensions that characterize emotional labor: emotional display frequency, the intensity and duration of the required emotional displays, the degree of variety in emotions to be displayed, and the emotional dissonance experienced in one’s emotional and social interactions at work (for reviews see Bono & Vey, 2005; Zapf, 2002). Their definition of emotional labor is the ‘‘effort, planning, and control needed to express organizationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions’’ (Morris & Feldman, 1996, p. 987). Hence, the greater the frequency, intensity, variety, and duration of emotional displays, the more effort, planning, and control is required to be exercised by the individual. This perspective promoted a greater understanding between the nature of the job role and the influence of job characteristics on the intensity and demanding nature of emotion work. As in the other frameworks, examining the inner psychological processes that govern how effort, planning, and control are utilized to regulate emotional displays was not a central focus of these authors, nor was the function that emotion regulation served for the individual worker (as opposed to the organization). Further extensions of the emotion labor concept have recognized that inherent within the work of managing one’s emotions to influence others is the need to be sensitive to the actual or potential emotional state and needs of the other party to the interaction (Zapf, 2002; Zapf et al., 2001). Hence, workers must be emotionally attuned with clients, being able to anticipate or recognize emotional states in others, and then understand how to manipulate their own emotional displays to influence the other party in desired ways. It is evident from the synopsis developed in this section that the vast body of literature surrounding the development of the concept of emotion labor has identified many varied facets including: broadly how emotion labor is performed and the specific factors that influence the nature

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


of emotion labor. An understanding of the underlying function in terms of the individual’s needs, functioning, and development is left wanting. Moving Beyond Emotional Labor The inconsistencies in findings and fragmentation of research on emotional labor may lie in two areas: (1) the lack of specificity in conceptualizing and measuring the underlying processes that explicate how inner feelings are changed and inauthentic feelings displayed; and (2) neglect of the function emotion regulation serves for individuals, not just the organization, and the potential for emotion regulatory practices to be adaptive for the individual in meeting implicit and explicit needs. Research on the broad constructs of deep and surface acting has made it clear that different types of emotion regulation are utilized in work contexts to manage emotion. However, the specific processes by which deep and surface acting are carried out (e.g., changing one’s perspective of a situation to yield a new meaning vs. thinking about something else to elicit a different emotion) may actually be the drivers behind the relationships. The adaptive utility of managing emotions, specific to the intrinsic needs and goals of the individual (as per the opening example) as opposed to the organization, are not considered in depth within the emotion labor perspective. The success of these strategies, in terms of meeting the needs of the individual, may underpin the lack of consistency in empirical findings in this field. That is, the purpose behind managing emotions at work may determine the specific processes utilized to do so and therefore be the ultimate driver of individual health and well-being outcomes. The focus within this chapter and the Emotional Boundary Management perspective is on the management of one’s own feelings, elucidating how and linking this to why or the adaptive function underpinning emotion regulation practices within work contexts.

The Management of Work-Related Emotion Gross (1998) defined emotional regulatory processes as those by which individuals influence ‘‘which emotions they have, when they have them, and how these emotions are experienced or expressed’’ (p. 224). In his Process Model of Emotion Regulation, Gross (1998) proposed that, linked to the concepts of deep and surface acting, there are two different types of regulatory processes: antecedent- and response-focused emotion regulation strategies. These two types of strategies are differentiated by the temporal point at which they primarily influence the generation and manifestation of



emotion. Hence, the focus is less on real or fake emotion as per Hochschild (1983) but more on how felt emotion evolves and is regulated. This model is a general model of emotion regulation which scholars have begun to apply to the work context to better understand how emotions are regulated during work and the impact this may have on the individual and the organization (e.g., Grandey, 2000). In line with the conceptualization of Putnam and Mumby (1993) this body of literature considers feelings that are real and not necessarily controlled and dictated by management. Antecedent-Focused Emotion Regulation Antecedent-focused strategies occur before a complete emotion and its associated response patterns are generated. Similar to deep acting, the focus is on modulating the nature or intensity of felt emotion. Gross (1998) describes four families of strategies incorporated under the umbrella of antecedent-focused emotion regulation, specifically suggesting how emotions are actually regulated. They include situation selection (choosing or avoiding specific situations), situation modification (acting to change the environment in some way to alter its emotional impact), attentional reorientation (manipulating one’s attentional focus), and cognitive change (changing the way or how one thinks about the emotionally charged situation). Although this is not a model designed specifically for work contexts, descriptions of the model’s propositions that follow are integrated with work-related examples. Situation selection incorporates actions to influence the situation one is exposed to through avoidance or confrontation strategies (Diefendorff, Richard, & Yang, 2008). As an example, procrastinating is identified as a passive strategy in which one may avoid a situation or as an active strategy to create a sense of pressure to facilitate performance (Chu & Choi, 2005; Mikolajczak et al., 2009). When utilized in a passive manner, procrastination is viewed as maladaptive (Chu & Choi, 2005). The effectiveness of a strategy may depend on the underlying function aimed at being tappedresource protection or growth and development. If an individual chooses to actively invest resources into a situation with a view toward resource growth and development and this does not occur then the process may be experienced as maladaptive leading to negative outcomes such as burnout. Alternatively, if over time, growth and development are experienced, despite the initial drain associated with investing resources, the emotion regulatory process may be experienced as adaptive leading to an enhanced sense of mastery and competence. These alternative outcomes underscore the importance of incorporating the adaptive function associated with

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


emotional regulatory efforts into conceptualizations of emotion regulation at work. In the work context, often it may not be possible for employees to avoid a potentially emotionally laden situation (such as an angry or rude customer); instead they may act to modify it in some way. An individual may act to alter the situation, directly or indirectly, so as to influence its potential emotional impact (Gross, 1998; Gross & Thompson, 2007). An example of direct situation modification in the workplace is enlisting the support of a coworker to help manage an aggressive client and modifying the potential emotion arising out of the encounter. The worker may be motivated to enlist such support by an underlying need to conserve or minimize the drain on his/her resources. Unlike Hochschild’s view, wherein emotion labor is performed to comply with organizational expectations and goals, emotion regulation according to Gross can be entwined with attempts to cope with the environmental demands. Coping efforts are likely to be aimed at protecting one’s resources. Beyond manipulating the situation, employees can also reorient their attention to influence the emotional effects of a situation (Gross, 1998; Nolen-Hoeksema & Morrow, 1993). Workers may distract themselves with thoughts unrelated to the event (e.g., the party they be will be attending that night) or focus on a specific aspect of the situation that aids in minimizing exposure to the emotional content (e.g., on individual tasks rather than the person). Alternatively, they may concentrate their attention in a way that intensifies their feelings by maladaptively ruminating over aspects of an event, their feelings, or on their ability/inability to deal with the situation. However, if employees cognitively replay a scenario (thereby reinvesting their energy in the experience) to focus on what they could have done differently or did well, they are likely to promote growth by, for example, strengthening self-efficacy or learning a new approach to problem solving (as per Nurse B’s experience). This example highlights the importance of understanding the adaptive potential of emotion regulatory efforts in terms of individual needs and the flow-on effects on employee well-being. Moving from attention to the manipulation of appraisal processes, there are numerous ways to change how one thinks about a situation in order to influence the actual or potential emotional impact. Some of these strategies include reappraising the situation, changing the perspective from which one views the situation, looking for some meaning, simply accepting the situation and the feelings that arise, and blaming others (e.g., Affleck, McGrade, Allen, & McQueeney, 1985; Gross, 2008; McCracken & Eccleston, 2003; Mikolajczak et al., 2009; Richards & Gross, 2000). Depending on the



strategies employed, feelings may be altered or even intensified. For instance, reappraising a stressor as a challenge in terms of the benefits to the individual, such as skills and confidence gained, may serve to minimize the intensity of negative or distressing feelings. It may also facilitate approaching the situation, creating an opportunity to experience success, and in the longer term, promote a sense of growth. However, appraising the situation as a threat to one’s position or resources may maintain and intensify such feelings or underpin emotion regulatory effort to affectively distance one’s self to protect personal resources (cf. Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Thus, the appraisal processes adopted are inherently tied to adaptive emotion regulatory processes. In addition to the laboratory work of Gross and colleagues, a number of field studies have identified ways in which these techniques are used on the job in a range of occupations: 911 call-takers focus their attention on giving advice and trying to view the situation from the other’s perspective (Tracy & Tracy, 1998); fire-fighters refocus on nonemotional elements of the job and cognitively reframing the situation (Scott & Myers, 2005); medical students change how they think of situations involving patients, by viewing them as intellectual challenges and learning experiences (Smith & Kleinman, 1989); and bill collectors employ cognitive reappraisal as a strategy to facilitate emotional detachment (Sutton, 1991). The general perspective within the literature is that antecedent-focused regulation is beneficial in terms of the health and well-being for employees as it encapsulates processes that occur before complete response tendencies are generated (Gross & Levenson, 1993; Mikolajczak et al., 2009). Response-Focused Emotion Regulation Response-focused regulation strategies are initiated once a completed emotion and its response tendencies have been experienced. The focus is not on changing the nature or intensity of the felt emotion, but instead on changing the physiological experience and observable expression of that emotion (Gross & Thompson, 2007). Response-focused emotion regulation is similar to surface acting in that inner emotions are not changed but responses to the emotions (e.g., behavioral expressions) are modified in some way. Hochschild (1983), however, focused on observable expression and behavior as opposed to the physiological experience of the emotion, which takes central place in Gross’ work. Response-focused strategies refer to forms of response modulation whereby people exert control over the emotional and physiological experience and/or the behavioral response that has been elicited by the felt emotion (Gross & Thompson, 2007). Individuals

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


may act to suppress the display of their felt emotion (expressive suppression) even to the point of showing the visible expression of a different emotion (Gross, 1998). Drugs, alcohol, relaxation, aggression, venting and interacting with others, and even exercise may be used to deal with the physiological manifestation of the emotions experienced. Within the literature, suppressing negative emotions has so far been assumed to be maladaptive in that it is associated with poor health and well-being outcomes (see Mikolajczak et al., 2009). So far we have highlighted a number of strategies, identified in the literature, that are employed to influence the nature of one’s feelings, when and for how long one feels them, and how one experiences and expresses them. It is important to examine the consequences of utilizing these strategies. For instance, the literature highlights maladaptive consequences of the following strategies: procrastination, avoidance, rumination, and suppression. Although procrastination has been associated with lowered reports of short-term stress, it has been linked to increased use of drugs and alcohol and poorer health over the longer term (Tice & Baumeister, 1997). Avoidance has also been connected to lowered long-term well-being and health (Penley, Tomaka, & Wiebe, 2002). Rumination has been shown to increase the duration and intensity of negative emotions (Bushman, 2002); be positively related to the onset, frequency, and duration of episodes of depression (Alloy & Robinson, 2003); and may negatively affect job performance (Watkins & Brown, 2002). Suppression of negative emotions while expressing contrasting emotions has been associated with poor longterm social and psychological adjustment (Brotheridge & Lee, 2003; Grandey, 2003; Gross & John, 2003), decreases in memory performance (Richards & Gross, 1999), and increased sympathetic nervous system activation (Gross & Levenson, 1993). The abuse of alcohol has been associated with poor mental and physical health (Single, Rehm, Robson, & Van Truong, 2000) and performance (Dawson & Reid, 1997). Hence, these different cognitive and behavioral approaches to managing one’s emotions, when utilized regularly within the work context, can have serious implications for employee health and well-being. Other emotion regulation strategies that can be employed within the workplace may promote the health, well-being, and professional development of employees. Based on the literature, strategies that may be adaptive when employed as part of one’s work role include distraction, direct situation modification, reappraisal, and acceptance. Longitudinal research showed that blue collar workers who utilized distraction to regulate their emotions in conjunction with problem-focused coping also had lowered



stress responses and better levels of performance (Shimazu & Schaufeli, 2007). Directly modifying a situation has been related to enhanced wellbeing and health outcomes (Struthers, Perry, & Menec, 2000). It has also been proposed that acceptance of uncontrollable events may be protective by decreasing pain perceptions and shielding the immune system (McCracken & Eccleston, 2003). Finally, reappraisal has been associated with decreased depressive symptoms (Garnefski & Kraaij, 2006) and decreased cardiovascular activation along with lowered increases in blood pressure in laboratory studies (Richards & Gross, 1999). When these strategies are utilized to influence inner emotions, the outcomes may protect employees against resource drain associated with the continued activation of the body’s functional systems and may even promote the growth of personal resources such as self-efficacy. Hence, the literature on emotion regulation delves deeper to delineate the cognitions and behaviors that underpin how emotions are regulated, offering further insights into adaptive and maladaptive approaches to emotion regulation in the work context. Gross’ (1998) model also incorporates a feedback loop from the responsefocused emotion regulation stage back to any prior stage within the evolution of an emotional experience, thus depicting the potential for emotion regulation strategies to influence employees’ dynamic experiences of their work. In other words, the ways in which employees regulate their emotions in response to particular situations may change the situations in some way, including how the situations are subsequently appraised or aspects of the situations focused on, altering felt emotions. The simplicity of Gross’ (1998) model provides a framework for conceptualizing the temporal progression of emotion elicitation. The model is useful for highlighting the evolution of an emotion and how characteristics of it (i.e., its nature, intensity, and duration) may be modulated. Depicting the work of emotion regulation in such a way provides guidance in understanding emotion regulation in terms of intervening (i) before an emotion is elicited, (ii) during its evolution, or (iii) after complete neurophysiological and behavioral responses have been set in motion. The cognitive and behavioral effort and skills involved at different points in this elicitation process may differ and impact differentially on an individual and across individuals, presenting the opportunity to deepen our understanding of the processes involved in regulating emotions and how emotion regulation may impact on employee performance and well-being. Hence, a significant contribution of this model is in the conceptualization of

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


antecedent- and response-focused emotion regulation processes. The feedback loop captures the complex and dynamic nature of emotion regulation. Gross’ (1998) process model provides a parsimonious and logically attractive framework from which to explore the topic of emotion regulation. However, the flexible, enduring, and dynamic nature of emotion regulation within the work context is not adequately captured with regard to the multiple layers and combination of emotion regulation strategies that may be employed simultaneously (Beal & Trougakos, 2013). A newly developed framework for emotion regulation in the workplace, built from Gross’ (1998) model, attempts to capture the dynamic, complex, and multilayered nature of emotion regulation at work more effectively (Lawrence et al., 2011). Lawrence et al.’s (2011) model depicts how an initial stimulus and its associated immediate emotional experience (actual or anticipated) initiate emotion regulation processes that influence subsequent psychological and physiological experiences and expressions of emotion. Notably, the regulation of the emotional experience is separated from emotional expression. Furthermore, feedback loops between response-focused modulation strategies and experiences of discrete emotions capture the dynamic and complex interplay among the different aspects of emotion regulation in terms of emotion generation and experience. Additionally, in this model the emotional experience taps into two pathways: (i) the emotional experience initiates, through response-focused expression regulation strategies, the expression of discrete emotions which can have short- and long-term implications; and (ii) the experience of emotion itself may have a direct effect on short- and long-term outcomes. These pathways highlight that both the experience and expression of emotions that result from regulatory processes, separately and combined have short- and long-term implications. This model clearly depicts the complex and interlinked nature of processes that engage the generation, experience, and expression of emotion in the work context that are not depicted in Gross’ model. The importance of examining both short- and long-term consequences of emotion regulatory practice in the work context is highlighted in Lawrence et al.’s (2011) framework. Models such as those of Gross (1998) and Lawrence et al. (2011) have added significant depth to the field’s understanding of how and when emotion regulation is performed and offered opportunities to explore a vast array of consequences. Notable, though, an examination of the underlying adaptive processes being tapped is still underdeveloped in the literature.



Summary As demonstrated in the preceding sections, the literature points us toward those strategies that may be more or less adaptive when utilized within the work environment and performed alongside more explicit work-related tasks. The following section builds on the earlier emotion management literature that recognizes the need for workers to manage their own emotions and that has begun to consider the mechanisms involved in doing so. We attempt to reconnect the literature to the basic adaptive function of emotion though the Emotional Boundary perspective. Evident to some extent in Gross’ (1998) and Lawrence et al.’s (2011) models was a shift away from the dichotomies (real and fake selves, authentic vs. inauthentic emotion) associated with emotion labor. The Emotional Boundary Management Framework moves further away ‘‘from the perspective that emotions felt in the workplace are always managed (i.e., masked or modified) in ways that lead to inauthentic emotional experiences, displays, and dissonance’’ (Hayward & Tuckey, 2011, p. 1504). This approach also searches beyond the characteristics (e.g., frequency and intensity) of emotion regulation episodes at work. Despite the importance of these characteristics and the effort necessitated by such demands for employee health and wellbeing, there is little examination into how and why emotion regulation is performed. Instead, we conceptualize emotion management as an adaptive mechanism enacted within one’s job role to promote personal and workrelated goal achievement and employee well-being and development. We argue for the need to deepen understandings of the fine-grained cognitive and behavioral processes involved in the management of emotions at work, especially regarding the functions that these processes serve for workers. Examining cognitive and behavioral processes at this level reflects the dynamic and complex nature of emotion regulation and may better elucidate the applied nature of emotion regulation at work. Hence, there remains a need to understand the processes that underpin emotion regulatory efforts by gaining an insight into the enmeshed nature of how and why emotions are managed during interactions with others in the work context (Diefendorff et al., 2008; Mikolajczak et al., 2009; Tracy, 2005).

EMOTIONAL BOUNDARIES We present the concept of emotional boundaries as the next progression in this line of research that encompasses the adaptive – protective and

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


developmental – mechanisms underpinning emotion regulation in the work context and the short- and long-term implications of such regulatory efforts. Recently, Lilius (2012) also recognized that client interactions, long assumed to be depleting, can also be restorative. Lilius proposed that client interactions vary in two important ways – in the degree to which they require regulatory resources and restore key personal resources. Certain key characteristics of client interactions influence these two dimensions, specifically the (i) quality of the connection between the caregiver and the client, (ii) nature of the task (task difficulty, significance, and level of emotional demands), and the outcome of the interaction. Based on the combination of high and low regulatory requirements and resource generation potential, interactions can be identified as low maintenance, draining, restorative, or break-through. Hence, the depleting and restorative effects of client interactions must be considered in combination to understand the short- and longer-term effects of client-centered occupations. Our framework for Emotional Boundary Management also encapsulates the dual foci – depletion and restoration – by drawing attention to the resource protection and enhancement mechanisms that underpin emotion regulatory efforts inherent within managing client interactions. Rather than focusing on the characteristics of client interactions, however, our perspective centers on how and why emotion regulation is enacted by employees, by controlling the emotional space between themselves and clients. Hence, our emphasis is more on the person, compared to Lilius’ emphasis on the environment. Emotional Boundaries represent the manipulation of the emotional space between an employee and others in the work environment to actively engage (i.e., connect) or disengage (i.e., distance) affectively. As highlighted in the initial sections of this chapter emotions are multifaceted, tapping into functional systems that encompass cognition, physiology, and behavior. The process of regulating one’s emotions necessitates the expenditure of effort and draws upon limited regulatory resources (Muraven & Baumeister, 2000). One way to modulate the elicitation, experience (valence, intensity, duration), and expression of emotion, is though manipulating one’s affective engagement with others while remaining cognitively connected so as to still be able to carry out one’s job. One may choose to affectively distance or connect at an emotional level with others, while at a cognitive level making decisions, problem solving, and performing tasks associated with his/her job role. Emotional distancing and connecting are the core processes within the Emotional Boundary Framework, which facilitate the manipulation of



emotional boundaries. We propose that the distancing and connecting constructs capture emotion regulatory processes aimed at (i) protecting and maintaining resource levels or minimizing the drain on valued resources as a result of experiencing and having to control intense emotions, and (ii) facilitating the longer-term growth, development, and enhancement of resources that may be the product of adaptively engaging at an emotional level with one’s clients. We suggest that the discrete emotion regulation strategies outlined in previous sections of this chapter (e.g., situation modification, reappraisal, suppression) are employed in a dynamic way to enact the protective and growth-oriented processes implicit within distancing and connecting approaches to emotion management. We envisage that the flexible utilization of distancing and connecting represents an adaptive approach to regulating one’s own emotions in the work context in terms of employee well-being. That is, distancing and connecting allow the worker to meet his or her needs and achieve both personal and organizationally driven goals. The concept of emotional boundaries emerged from qualitative interview data as a practice adopted by nurses in managing the potential, or actual, emotions that arise in interactions with patients and their families (Hayward & Tuckey, 2011), although there are parallels in other literature. In their qualitative research, Allan and Barber (2005) discussed relationship and emotion management between advanced fertility nurses and their patients alluding to distancing and connecting processes – ‘‘the management of emotions where a feeling of closeness is created while at the same time maintaining a distance or safe boundary with which both nurses and patients are comfortable’’ (p. 391). Emotional distancing was described as a ‘‘defense against anxiety’’ (p. 393). Additionally, Larson and Xin (2005) propose that making connections in relationships between physicians and patients by conveying warmth, displaying sensitivity, and engaging in helping behaviors promote an empathic connection. They also suggest that connecting in such a way may enhance job satisfaction and reduce burnout in physicians. In our research nurses described emotional boundaries as a part of their ‘‘uniform’’ that they put on when preparing for work, exercising control over the emotional space between themselves and the patients and or the patients’ family members through manipulating these boundaries. We further these arguments that allude to the protective (defense against anxiety and burnout) and possible self-enhancing processes (increased job satisfaction) by distinguishing between: (i) cognitive and affective engagement and (ii) separating the connecting and distancing processes in terms of

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


the underling functions being enacted. Since this initial study further quantitative research (Hayward & Tuckey, 2013; Hayward, Duong, Tuckey, & Boyd, 2013) has confirmed the use of emotional distancing and connecting in a range of service-oriented occupations (e.g., education, health, retail, law, child care, community services). Emotional boundaries were described by the nurses as being strengthened to maximize emotional distance, or else weakened to engage at an emotional level with patients and/or their families. In this way, we conceptualize emotional boundaries as a form of ‘‘emotional control’’ that empowers employees to decide when and how they will manage emotive elements of their daily work. The literature recognizes control as important in promoting active learning and employee well-being by buffering the strain associated with excessive work demands (cf. Karasek & Theorell, 1990; Seery, Holman, & Silver, 2010). As with control over cognitive and physical aspects of one’s work, control over how one manages emotions within one’s work – emotional connecting versus distancing with clients – may also minimize strain and promote well-being and growth. There is potential to integrate our framework with that proposed by Lilius (2012), thereby combining factors from the person with those from the environment. For example, emotional distancing and connecting processes may mediate relationships between interaction characteristics and the extent to which resources are required and restored. Emotional connecting may provide the soil from which replenishing and breakthrough interactions emerge, initiated by certain interaction characteristics. Likewise, emotional distancing may take place in interactions that have high task difficulty and low chance of a good outcome, thereby mediating the connection between the characteristics of the interaction and how the interaction is experienced (e.g., as draining or not). It would also be interesting to explore how emotional boundaries influence the restorative potential of interactions, moderating the effects of the interaction characteristics.

Emotional Distancing Regulating one’s own emotions in work-related interactions is often undertaken while performing more explicit work tasks, compounding the effects of physically and cognitively demanding work environments with those of the hidden emotional demands inherent in client-/patient-oriented occupations. Emotional distancing and connecting strategies should be considered legitimate ways of managing work-related emotional demands.



We propose that emotional distancing prevents or minimizes the complete manifestation of emotions and the cognitive and physiological arousal associated with potential or actual experiences of emotion. Hence, distancing is hypothesized to protect the individual against the resource drain associated with intense or prolonged arousal of functional systems by regulating emotional experiences. To be more specific, we are referring to the arousal associated with the actual, evolving, or anticipated emotion (Gross, 1998; Sheppes & Gross, 2011). For instance, cognitive arousal may take place due to cognitive demands such as making clinical decisions and physiological arousal may occur due to the physical demands associated with performing various nursing tasks. Hence, arousal associated with cognitive and physical tasks is not expected to be directly affected by emotional distancing processes (cf. the triple-match principle of de Jonge & Dormann, 2006). Emotional distancing may indirectly influence experienced demands by facilitating the smoother progression of interactions with clients/customers (cf. Sass, 2000; Stenross & Kleinman, 1989). This strategy is likely to minimize the compounded impact on levels of strain experienced through a combination of emotional, cognitive, and physical demands. Emotional distancing may act as a resource specific to the emotional domain in one’s work environment. Whether emotional distancing reduces experiences of strain, initiated by emotionally demanding interactions, over and above the influence of cognitive and physical demands in the same work environment needs to be tested in future research. We have found in our within- and between-person studies that emotional distancing is associated with increased levels of negative affect, the use of reappraisal strategies, and exposure to aggressive and ambiguous customer social stressors. Thus, when negative affect is anticipated or experienced, particularly as a result of stressors associated with aggressive or ambiguous customer demands, our research shows that employees are more likely to emotionally distance using reappraisal techniques to do so (Hayward & Tuckey, 2013). We suggest that distancing serves to protect or minimize the drain on resources. It is also important to acknowledge the potential for emotional distancing to indirectly affect the well-being and growth of employees in an adverse way if this strategy is utilized consistently across all interactions. Used in this way, the associated effect of avoiding or minimizing emotion elicitation would likely result in lowered experiences of positive emotions. Positive emotions are known to be energizing and restorative, and promote strengthening of personal resources (cf. Fredrickson, 1998). We expect that, as an emotion regulation strategy, emotional distancing (and connecting)

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


must be utilized in a flexible and strategic manner to enhance adaptive outcomes: minimizing negative and maximizing positive emotional experiences. Hence, utilizing a combination of protective as well as growth-oriented strategies may be the better practice.

Emotional Connecting Emotional connecting, on the other hand, facilitates the investment of one’s emotional self into the relationship, allowing emotions to take hold and manifest in changes in the activation levels of functional systems. This may, in the short-term, drain the energetic reservoirs particularly when negative emotions are experienced. Specifically, valuable affective, cognitive, and physiological resources are activated and drawn upon through this emotional investment, leaving reduced resources to meet mental and physical job demands. Additionally, emotionally connecting with one’s clients sets forth emotion-related cognitive and physiological changes which if prolonged may be difficult to switch off immediately (cf. Sapolsky, 2007). Hence, in the short term, if emotional resources are already drained, particularly in affectively, cognitively, and physically demanding situations, emotional connecting as a strategy may be exhausting for the worker. When resources are plentiful or the return on investing one’s emotional self (growth in personal resources) is perceived as greater than the initial outlay of resources, emotional connecting may be more adaptive than when an individual is in a depleted resource state, or not likely to gain from their emotional investment (cf. Hobfoll, 1989; Klein, Austin, & Cooper, 2008). It must be recognized though that the return in terms of a strengthening or growth in personal, social, and instrumental resources may be delayed. In our recent research we found a positive within-person relationship between emotional connecting during a work-related interaction and engagement in mastery activities following the shift (i.e., learning and growth-oriented activities). This finding is consistent with the premise that emotional connecting is indeed a resource-building and developmentally directed strategy. We also found that emotional connecting is associated with increases in experienced positive affect during the interaction (Hayward et al., 2013). Hence, emotionally connecting with patients and/or their families may lead to positive emotional states that enhance cognitive energy and persistence in one’s work and promote the long-term growth of resources. Although emotional connecting may be resource consuming and associated with heightened arousal at the time of use, in the longer term (given



time to evolve), connecting may foster positive emotions and learning and growth in personal resources. The positive affect that may be experienced at this distal time point (i.e., related to a sense of mastery and competence) may serve to ‘‘undo’’ the impact of negative affect originally experienced at the time of the interaction. Positive affect experienced after the interaction may facilitate the strengthening and broadening of intellectual, physical, social, and psychological resources that can be utilized in both professional and personal life domains (cf. the broaden and build theory of positive emotion and the undoing hypothesis of Fredrickson, 1998, 2000, p. 219). In some instances, emotionally connecting while initially experiencing negative affect may be a precursor to experiences of growth where, for instance, there may be an appreciation for what has been learnt or gained through an adverse experience (as per the posttraumatic growth literature; cf. Linley & Joseph, 2004; Shaw, Joseph, & Linley, 2005). Findings from both within- and between person studies indicate that emotional connecting is associated with increased levels of positive affect, reappraisal, focusing on growth, mental vigor, and job absorption (Hayward & Tuckey, 2013; Hayward et al., 2013).

Developing Competence in Emotional Distancing and Connecting Competence in the use of distancing and connecting strategies may evolve with personal and professional development and practice. Competence in emotion management is underpinned by: (i) cognitive flexibility in terms of being able to redirect attentional resources and change the way a situation is viewed (cf. Gross, 1998; Mauss, Bunge, & Gross, 2007; Treynor et al., 2003); (ii) self-awareness and regulation of one’s feelings and behavior and having insight into how one’s response may influence the situation (Ashkanasy, Ha¨rtel, & Daus, 2002; Gross, 1998); and (iii) the ability to anticipate the likely progression of an interaction as well as sensing the emotions of others (Ashkanasy et al., 2002; Zapf et al., 2001). Developing competence in emotional distancing and connecting may be contingent upon developing cognitive flexibility, self-awareness and regulation, and insight into the impact of one’s own behaviors. Expertise in emotional distancing and connecting is likely also to result from personal development and maturity beyond the work context (Consedine et al., 2002). Emotional connecting, as a growth-oriented process may be akin to a skill that is fostered through life experience. It requires a longer-term focus when negative emotions are likely to be

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


experienced in which the individual can see beyond the initial intense feelings, knowing that in time they will feel positively about the experience, strengthening their sense of self and self-efficacy (Klein et al., 2008). This future-oriented focus and anticipated growth in personal resources has been left relatively unexplored in the work-related emotion regulation literature. Viewing emotion regulation in one’s work role as a developmental process, in particular emotional connecting, redirects the focus from experiences of inauthenticity and dissonance. Future research will need to tease out whether distancing or connecting are more (i) likely in certain types of situations and identifying the characteristics of these (e.g., novelty, unpredictability, length, scripted nature of the interaction), (ii) reactive to the resource state of the individual, or (iii) a mixture of characteristics of both the situation and resource state of the individual. Given the pressures experienced within many job roles and the human inner motivation to protect one’s resources (cf. Hobfoll, 1989) employees may be more likely to distance emotionally when sensing that strong negative emotions are likely to ensue. Emotional connecting requires active engagement by the employee and may be more likely when employees feel energized and immersed in their work and where they are able to anticipate future outcomes such as a sense of satisfaction, meaning, and mastery in their work (Klein et al., 2008). Neither approach is better than the other; instead emotional distancing and connecting operate to complement each other, and enhance nurses’ clinical work, tapping into both protective and developmental mechanisms.

The How, When, and Why of Emotional Boundary Management As an emotion regulation strategy it is difficult to categorize the use of emotional boundaries as an approach that is situation-, attention-, or appraisal-focused as per Gross’ (1998) process model. Emotional boundaries are certainly utilized prior to the full manifestation of an emotional experience, but they can also be manipulated after an emotion and the associated response tendencies have been fully activated. Once an emotion has evolved, as opposed to being anticipated or during its elicitation, distancing and connecting processes may be engaged to lessen the intensity or duration of emotions being experienced. This is the when element of emotion boundary management. In terms of how emotional boundaries are managed, emotional distancing and connecting were described in our qualitative research as being enacted



in many different ways. For instance, the nurses described employing many different strategies to create an emotional distance: manipulating monitors to create a visual boundary; avoiding conversation other than that required to perform their tasks; and mentally breaking down the situation into a series of objective tasks to be performed. Examples of engaging emotionally included descriptions of initiating personally focused conversations with patients and their relatives to see the person holistically and not just as a patient, doing that little bit extra such as telling jokes and hugging patients, and taking it upon themselves to distract patients from their sad and sometimes tragic circumstances (see Hayward & Tuckey, 2011). In our quantitative research we found that both emotional distancing and connecting were associated with the interaction specific use of reappraisal strategies, whereas only emotionally connecting was associated with refocusing on growth as a strategy (Hayward & Tuckey, 2013). Hence, there are multiple layers of approaches employed in distancing and connecting emotionally with patients and/or their families, many of which have been identified already through the work of Gross and others. Lawrence et al. (2011) acknowledge that in situ a series of different and overlapping processes may be involved in regulating emotional experiences. Emotional distancing and connecting processes embody these multilayered and dynamic emotion regulation processes. Emotional distancing and connecting are separate constructs that can be used independently within the same interaction, although they cannot be used at the same time. For instance, in the one interaction an employee may begin by creating an emotional distance from the client, thereby enabling an emotionally neutral examination of client and situation characteristics as well as the likely progression of the interaction. The individual can also consider his or her own emotional and energetic state as well as future personal outcomes related to the interaction. Based on these combined considerations of the client, the situation, and the employee’s own state, the employee may then choose to connect emotionally with the client. Although distancing and connecting are separate constructs we suggest that they are complementary, enabling employees to manage their emotional space flexibly in interactions with clients at work. Thus, depending on the state of the individual’s resources, the anticipated strengthening or growth of personal resources as a result of emotional connecting, the demanding nature of client-related interactions, and the employee’s overall workload, both strategies may be adaptive. We anticipate, however, that the adaptive benefits of the two strategies will be experienced in different domains over different time spans. Adaptability is multidimensional in nature. Hence,

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


while emotionally connecting, for example, may be experienced as draining in the short-term, the capacity to exercise control over the emotional aspects of work and project an authentic professional self are likely to be satisfying in the short-term despite the energy drain. It is envisaged, and needs future testing, that the healthiest approach to managing emotions at work will involve the flexible utilization of the two processes that is most suited to the employee’s needs and workload at the time. The examination of multiple dependent variables, in different domains, will be essential in this process. The emotional distancing and connecting concepts also facilitate the conceptualization of emotion regulatory activities in terms of the adaptive functions they tap into: protective or growth and developmentally oriented functions – the why of emotional boundary management. Focusing on the discrete strategies used to regulate emotions, as facilitated by Gross’ (1998) model, has clouded the view of why (and how) these strategies are used in dynamic work contexts, individually and together in an adaptive way. The perspective presented in this chapter breaks new ground by proposing emotional boundaries as an overarching framework for the more discrete strategies.

CONCLUSION AND FUTURE DIRECTIONS Emotional distancing and connecting are emotional regulatory processes enacted within emotional contexts. Work contexts that require interacting with others via face-to-face, voice-to-voice, as well as over electronic mediums create situations in which there are potential for emotions to emerge and hence be regulated. Longer interactions and those which are less tightly scripted are more likely to foster a need to regulate one’s emotions through distancing or connecting processes (Sutton & Rafaeli, 1988). Future research should examine these processes in different client-oriented work contexts to ascertain the generalizability of this concept. The emotional boundary conceptualization of work-related emotion regulation fosters the recognition that the regulation of emotion at work is not necessarily problematic but can protect employees from experiences of strain and promote the performance and development of employees. Emotion regulation practices hold the potential to tap into adaptive processes via the modulation of experiences of emotion that encompass cognitive, physiological, and behavioral manifestations of emotion. In promoting employee well-being and development, the logical progression in emotion research is to examine carefully discrete emotion regulation



processes in terms of their underlying functional nature. The functional mechanisms identified in this chapter through both qualitative and quantitative studies are generally aligned with propositions within the Conservation of Resources Theory: that individuals are motivated to act so as to protect threatened resources or draw upon their resources when they anticipate a future net gain either in strengthening or building resources (Hobfoll, 1989, 2001). Additionally, the protective and developmental functions underpinning emotion regulatory practices proposed in this chapter extend discussions pertaining to the implicit motives promoting approach and avoidance behaviors linked to affective experiences in the literature (see Carver, 2001; Dahling & Johnson, 2013). From a functionality perspective, emotion regulatory strategies may be protective and restorative leading to withdrawal or avoidant cognitions and behaviors, or incentive driven to achieve desired goals such as building personal, professional, and social resources leading to approach cognitions and behaviors (cf. Muraven, Tice, & Baumeister, 1998). The functional processes identified, protective resource maintaining and growth-oriented resource-enhancing, clearly map across to the concepts of protecting or utilizing emotion resources with a longer-term view toward resource gain. Enabling emotions to take hold is not always problematic. Allowing negative emotions to temporarily manifest may not be as harmful if they are viewed by the individual as having the potential to facilitate personal and professional growth. For instance, growth might take the form of promoting positive emotions linked to developing client/people management and coping skills, enhancing a sense of efficacy and satisfaction in one’s work, or maintaining a strong professional identity. Positive emotions are known for promoting the growth of personal resources (cf. Fredrickson, 1998), hence harnessing positive emotions during the course of one’s work may promote energy and well-being. It emerged in our recent research that emotional connecting during a shift was experienced as draining at the end of the shift, particularly when negative emotions were experienced. In contrast, emotional connecting displayed a positive relationship with engagement in challenging and growth-oriented activities following the shift, particularly when positive affect was being experienced (Hayward et al., 2013). These results highlight that, although resource intensive, emotionally connecting holds motivational and energizing potential through: (i) heightened activation and salience of personal resources, (ii) providing opportunities to nurture personal and social resources, and (iii) harnessing one’s innate drive toward growth, development, and adaptation. When an individual is

A New Adaptive Approach to Emotion Regulation at Work


already in a state of depleted energy and experiencing cumulative emotional experiences, the most adaptive approach may be protective. Emotion regulation strategies that tap into protective functions will minimize the elicitation or full manifestation of emotional experiences rather than growth-oriented strategies as this requires an initial investment of emotion associated resources. The literature recognizes the definition of job demands as requiring sustained emotional, cognitive, and physical effort all of which require activation of functional systems (cognitive, physiological, and experiential) and resource utilization (Barrett, Ochsner et al., 2007; Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, & Schaufeli, 2001; Frijda, 1986). Hence, in emotionally demanding occupations, taking control over the management of one’s emotions to instigate protective or growth-oriented processes is a functional and adaptive approach. When sustained emotional effort is likely, one can minimize emotional experiences and the arousal that ensues or choose to allow emotions to be fully experienced, influencing arousal levels and exhaustion in the short term with a view to gaining personal psychological resources (cf. Dahling & Johnson, 2013; Hobfoll, 1989, 2001). Additionally, we perceive the ability to flexibly manage one’s own emotions that arise during the course of employees’ work, as a form of control over how one’s work is performed, and as such may facilitate active learning and foster a sense of self-efficacy in one’s ability to be effective at work (as per the active learning hypothesis of the Job Demands-Control Model; Dahling & Johnson, 2013; Karasek & Theorell, 1990). This supports the longer-term resource-enhancing orientation of emotional connecting. The Broaden-andBuild Theory of Positive Affect (Fredrickson, 1998) proposes that positive emotions broaden an individual’s array of thoughts and actions that motivate the individual to explore, extend the self, and seek new experiences. Thus, experiencing positive emotions through connecting emotionally with others at work, and in reflecting and learning from how one carried out one’s work, is likely to promote personal psychological resource expansion (Dahling & Johnson, 2013).

Future Research An overarching theme of this chapter is the contention that the purpose and function (the why) of emotion regulatory practices (the how and when) need to be considered to promote a comprehensive understanding of the implications of managing emotions at work. This endeavor will require



examining within-person processes over time to complement and help to integrate the existing wealth of literature pertaining to emotional labor job characteristics, as well as between-person differences inclusive of performance, behavior, attitudes, and well-being outcomes (see also Ashkanasy, 2003; Ashkanasy & Humphrey, 2011). By examining interaction-specific emotion regulatory practices within the work context, researchers are able to gain an insight into the variability in the regulatory strategies utilized by employees. Aggregating cognitive and behavioral regulatory strategies at the between-person level restricts our understanding of emotions at work in terms of the multiple layers and dynamic interplay between different strategies and affective experiences enacted on a day-to-day, interaction-tointeraction, and moment-to-moment basis. Understanding these micro-level processes applied to specific interactions at work and interpreting them in terms of the underlying protective or developmental functional mechanisms being tapped into, will facilitate a richer interpretation of the relationships between emotion regulatory efforts and employee well-being and development (cf. Ashkanasy, 2003). Future research is needed to examine the cumulative use of emotion regulatory strategies from one interaction to the next in order to gain a realistic understanding of the daily effects of managing emotions in one’s work. Additionally, adopting a between-person perspective to examine long-term changes across time will develop this area of research further. To capture the dynamic nature of emotion regulation at work, future research should employ momentary, or interaction specific experience sampling methods via handheld electronic devices (e.g., Totterdell & Holman, 2003) combined with shadowing by researchers (e.g., Fineman & Sturdy, 1999) along with longitudinal data collection. For instance, in our study with nurses emotional distancing was described as ‘‘part of their uniform’’ something they enacted at the beginning of most client interactions, then depending on their own and the patient’s circumstances nurses may then choose to affectively engage or withdraw. Hence, in the one interaction there may be a shifting of the emotional space – creating, maintaining, strengthening, or weakening of the affective distance or connection. Of course capturing such dynamic processes would be logistically very challenging. Collecting data as it occurs from two independent sources will help to overcome recall bias, broaden the range of interaction types examined, increase the likelihood of differentiating between affect before and after regulation strategies are utilized, and minimize response bias. Retrospective recall of affective events may be limited to the most affectively intense

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elements of the experience or to the affect experienced at the end of the experience (Fredrickson, 2000). Thus, emotion regulation strategies employed may be related to specific elements within the interaction rather than across the entire interaction. It would be difficult to capture precisely the timeframe in which affect was experienced and regulation efforts were utilized using any retrospective method. With advances in research methods we may in future be able to determine the stage in which the generation and experience of an emotion was targeted and influenced by the particular strategies employed, and hence the stage in which neurophysiological arousal and activation was influenced by these strategies. A mixed methods approach combining both momentary sampling techniques, within- and between-person longitudinal research protocols will need to be employed to examine the causal nature of the effect of emotion regulation strategies on well-being. We suspect that the relationships will be complex, with an employee’s state of well-being also influencing the strategies employed and the effectiveness of each strategy, which will in turn impact on well-being and so forth. Three (or ideally more) time points would help to untangle the reciprocal effects. As emotion regulation skill is a key process within Emotional Intelligence (EI) models, examining distancing and connecting processes in this context may add further depth to the EI field. In the Cascade Model of EI (Mayer, Salovey, & Caruso, 2000) there are sequential links between emotion perception, understanding, and regulation to job performance. Importantly, emotion regulation acts as a full mediator between emotion perception/ understanding and job performance (see Joseph & Newman, 2010). As such, emotion regulation has been described as the ‘‘active ingredient’’ in EI (Newman, Joseph, & MacCann, 2010). The emotional distancing and connecting concepts may prove fruitful in EI research due to their association with adaptive mechanisms for the individual in protecting resources and promoting growth and development, which may also translate into performance-related outcomes. Specifically, examining the flexible interplay between these two processes within this model of EI will provide a greater depth of understanding of the effects of this ‘‘key ingredient’’ in EI research and application.

Practical Implications In order to understand the influence of emotional aspects inherent within many work roles on individual, group, and organizational factors, it is



imperative to recognize the adaptive nature and function of emotion regulatory practices utilized by employees on a day-to-day basis as well as over time (Ashkanasy, 2003). An appreciation of the short- and long-term implications of adopting protective and growth- and developmentaloriented strategies in managing emotions at work will foster a comprehensive understanding of employee well-being, performance, development, and resilience. This will in turn facilitate processes that focus on building individual and group level competence in flexibly applying both types of strategies and building an organizational culture that promotes adaptive emotion management practices and enhances the well-being of employees. We have linked emotional distancing and connecting processes and their associated adaptive function to the broader theoretical literature in an attempt to highlight their theoretical significance. The arguments presented in this chapter move toward focusing the efforts of emotional labor, emotion work, and emotion regulation researchers on the functionally adaptive motivators that underpin emotion regulation in practice. The experience and expression of emotion will always be prevalent in the work context and even more so in client-oriented occupations. The consequences of over- or underactivating neurophysiological systems associated with emotional experiences over prolonged periods of time can be dire in terms of employee health and well-being. Promoting awareness and skills in managing one’s own emotions that arise during their work will enable employees to flexibly approach emotional facets inherent in their job roles to facilitate (i) buffering themselves against experiences of strain and (ii) actively engaging at an emotion level to foster their own growth and development. Being able to balance both approaches to emotion management is imperative to promoting the health and well-being of employees in emotionally demanding occupations. Developing proficiency in utilizing adaptive emotion regulation strategies is an essential skill for employees. First, employees need to be able to employ emotion regulatory processes flexibly to protect themselves against excessive depletion of their cognitive and physiological energy and resources. Second, through allowing themselves to engage affectively with others, and reflect upon emotionally charged experiences in their work environment, employees create the potential for tapping into growth and developmental processes, such as enhancing psychological, cognitive, and social resources (cf. Fredrickson, 1998; Hobfoll, 1989). Adopting emotion regulatory practices that enable employees to tap into protective and growth-oriented mechanisms will enhance employee well-being, longevity within the profession, performance, and professional growth and development.

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CONCLUSION The Emotional Boundary approach to emotion regulation presented here offers a new perspective and opportunities for knowledge development that examine how employees regulate their emotions for extrinsic and intrinsic goals, and the psychological mechanisms involved in these endeavors. This perspective will ultimately enrich current understandings of adaptive emotion management practices in work contexts. Employing adaptive emotion regulation practices within one’s work, inclusive of the flexible application of protective and developmental processes – emotional distancing and connecting, respectively – may foster employee longevity, well-being, growth and development, as well as resilient individuals and teams.

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SELF-GUIDED ACTIVITIES FOR IMPROVING EMPLOYEE EMOTIONS AND EMOTION REGULATION$ Amber K. Hargrove, Carolyn Winslow and Seth Kaplan ABSTRACT Despite the now sizable body of research documenting the importance of emotions and emotion regulation in the workplace, there is relatively little research investigating methods for improving emotional well-being in organizations. Moreover, well-being interventions that have been historically predominant in psychology are deficient in a variety of ways. In light of these deficits, researchers in other areas of psychology have begun to investigate the role of self-guided activities in enhancing the positive aspects of emotional well-being and emotion regulation. The purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of self-guided activities and interventions. To this end, we provide a review and discussion of $

All authors contributed equally to this chapter. Authorship order was determined randomly. We would like to thank Afra Ahmad for her research and organizational contributions on the chapter.

The Role of Emotion and Emotion Regulation in Job Stress and Well Being Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Volume 11, 75–102 Copyright r 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3555/doi:10.1108/S1479-3555(2013)0000011007




various theoretical ideas and specific interventions that have been, or could be, adapted into self-guided activities to boost emotions and emotional regulation skills in the workplace. The chapter is meant to provide practical guidance to employers, organizations, and individual employees interested in using self-guided activities to improve well-being and emotion regulation at work. Keywords: Emotions; emotion regulation; well-being; positive psychology

During the past few decades, substantial research has pointed to the importance of emotions and emotion regulation at work (e.g., Ashforth & Humphrey, 1995; Elfenbein, 2007; Grandey, 2000). Within this domain, organizational scholars have highlighted the essential role of emotions in influencing a wide variety of work-related attitudes and behaviors, including job performance (Arvey, Renz, & Watson, 1998), job satisfaction (Brief, Butcher, & Roberson, 1995), job stress (Liu, Perrewe´, Hochwarter, & Kacmar, 2004), and withdrawal behaviors (George, 1989). Moreover, a related body of work has delineated linkages between one form of emotional regulation, emotional labor (‘‘enhancing, faking, or suppressing emotions to modify y emotional expression[s]’’ at work; Grandey, 2000, p. 95) and a variety of negative indicators of individual and organizational well-being (Grandey, 2000). For the purposes of this chapter, we define emotional wellbeing as ‘‘the subjective and global assessment of emotional experience.’’ Emotional well-being is one aspect of overall psychological well-being which, following Rath and Harter (2010), we conceptualize as, ‘‘all the things that are important to how we think about and experience our lives’’ (p. 137). Despite this now sizable body of research documenting the importance of workplace emotional well-being, there is relatively little research investigating methods for improving. Put simply, everyone seems to be talking about the importance of emotions and emotion regulation, but nobody seems to be doing much about it. Of course, much has been done in terms of exercises and interventions aimed at reducing work-related stress. However, this area of research is not without its shortcomings. First, and most relevant to the current chapter, workplace stressreduction interventions focus on stress and its prevention and outcomes, not on emotions per se. While emotions and stress certainly are related (Lazarus, 1999), emotions and emotion regulation encompass much more

Activities to Improve Emotions and Emotion Regulation


than just stress. Related to that point, the minimization of stress is only one piece of the puzzle that constitutes overall individual and organizational well-being. Other factors, including emotions and emotional well-being, contribute to overall psychological well-being and also make unique contributions to more distal work-related outcomes (Diener & Seligman, 2004; Harter, Schmidt, & Hayes, 2002). Also, research on work-related stress primarily has been concerned with eliminating negative aspects of well-being (i.e., stress), not on stimulating the positive aspects of it. However, research from the positive psychology literature now makes clear that efforts to quell undesirable outcomes are not sufficient to promote true overall psychological well-being (Ruini & Fava, 2009). Also worth noting is that the research on workplace stress-reduction interventions is quite inconsistent with regard to both the methodological rigor of the studies and the efficacy of the interventions (see Semmer, 2006 for a review). These criticisms of workplace stress management interventions (e.g., a focus on stress and negative aspects of well-being, to the exclusion of positive ones) equally apply to many of the types of well-being interventions historically predominant in psychology (cf. Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005). In light of these deficits, researchers in psychology have begun to investigate the role of self-guided activities in enhancing positive aspects of emotional well-being and emotion regulation (e.g., Lyubomirsky, Dickerhoof, Boehm & Sheldon, 2011; Seligman et al., 2005; Sheldon & Lyubomirsky, 2006a, 2006b). These are activities that individuals can do without the support or guidance of others (e.g., the organization). Some of the activities involve behavioral changes or actively manipulating one’s (work) environment while others work by altering cognitions. Examples of these self-guided activities include: expressing gratitude, learning to savor life experiences, reflecting on events that transpired favorable, and identifying and using one’s core strengths (also see Table 1 for a complete list of the activities discussed in this chapter). Results show that such exercises can have significant and enduring influences on various indices of affect and well-being (e.g., Sin & Lyubomirsky, 2009). These types of self-guided positive activities also seem to offer a viable alternative (or complement) to traditional workplace stress-reduction programs because they emphasize actions people can initiate themselves to enhance their own well-being. That is, unlike many workplace stress interventions, these activities empower individuals to change (their perceptions) of objective stimuli rather than being captive to them. While organizationallevel efforts to improve environmental factors often are effective (Semmer, 2010), working conditions sometimes are not amenable to organizational

Brief Description of Intervention

Completing strengthsbased activities (e.g., Values in Action (VIA) Classification of Character Strengths; Clifton StrengthsFinder; ‘‘Reflected Best Self Exercise’’ (RBSE)

Provide information about core individual strengths and strategies and on how to use these strengths to improve well-being

Increase self-awareness with regard to one’s role in bringing about favorable outcomes and about the personal characteristics underlying those successes

Helps people make better choices regarding when and how they choose to express emotions; aids in the development of situation selection and reflection skills; can also be used to develop emotion regulation skills when people choose situations with the intent of developing those skills

Psychological Outcomes Impacted

This activity, as with many others, requires strong self-directed motivation

Level of organizational support available may be a factor in choosing among these tools; must be careful when focusing on strengths not to overlook managing weaknesses Helpful anytime employees would like to promote selfimprovement or focus on reaping benefits from strengths already possessed

Practical Considerations in Implementing a Program

When employees recognize they may need some assistance in choosing situations or in moderating their emotional reactions in certain situations; also useful when employees want to enhance specific emotion regulation capacities

Recommendations for When it Would Be Most Useful (e.g., Which Types of Organizational Events)

Self-Guided Activities for Improving Employee Emotions and Emotion Regulation.

Activities to use in selecting situations Reflecting on situations Employees record what and their emotional happened or what they consequences expect to happen in emotionally relevant situations (e.g., what emotions were/will be generated and why); for prospective accounts, employees also subsequently record what occurred in reality

Type of Intervention

Table 1.


Training designed to enhance self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and resiliency

Building psychological capital

Attentional deployment activities Self-distancing Individuals are directed to detach from a selfimmersed perspective (imagining the emotional event in first person) and instead to analyze emotions as a

Activities to increase positive affect (e.g., by interacting with others), especially before entering an emotionally demanding situation

Using positive affect to prepare for situations

Situation modification activities Job-crafting The physical, social, or cognitive actions taken by an employee to alter an assigned job role in an attempt to meet certain needs

Fosters appraisals that reduce the emotional significance and duration of the experience, and can lead to increased awareness and understanding

Increases four psychological characteristics associated with success and well-being

Can increase self-control, thus allowing individuals to retain regulatory strength

May lead to greater control over job and work meaning, positive self-image, and greater social connections based on what needs are targeted in job redesign or job reconceptualization

May be especially important to help employees deal with emotionally charged events; consider developing specific self-distancing prompts and activities that

These activities could be used anytime employees or organizations would like to promote selfimprovement

This activity could be especially useful when employees are need to use self-discipline to achieve a desired outcome, and/or prior to entering situations that require emotion regulation

Useful when employees’ psychological are not being met and a need for reconceptualizing or job redesign has been recognized; helpful when employees are unhappy with aspects of their current job

Employees must learn when to use this technique as using it is not always beneficial

Although available free for research, PsyCap is a proprietary training program that must be purchased (Luthans et al., 2006)

Individuals will need the self-insight in order to find a personally relevant means for inducing positive affect; negative affect could inhibit the motivation to induce positive affect

Not everyone becomes driven to job craft – some individuals will meet these needs though the current job design or via some domain other than work

Activities to Improve Emotions and Emotion Regulation 79

Activities to encourage attending to something other than the event and one’s reaction to it (examples include goalsetting and providing access to distractions)

‘‘fly on the wall’’ or observer

Brief Description of Intervention

Cognitive change activities Mindfulness activities Involve noticing and observing emotional reactions (negative and positive) as they are, in the present, without conferring any sort of judgment; acceptance

Distraction activities

Type of Intervention

Useful for reducing distress in the form of anxiety, stress, depression; also associated with enhanced emotion regulation abilities, well-being, prosocial responding, selfawareness

Effective strategy for emotional well-being insofar as it reorients individuals away from the distressing event or situation

Psychological Outcomes Impacted

Table 1. (Continued )

Useful during emotionally difficult workplace interactions and situations; also, helpful insofar as these activities promote the enhancement of the positive aspects of one’s work situation; generally superior to distraction-based techniques discussed above

When actually changing an emotionally charged situation is not feasible, distraction activities are a much better alternative than suppressing emotions

employees could engage in either during times of emotional turmoil or more regularly to foster this skill

Recommendations for When it Would Be Most Useful (e.g., Which Types of Organizational Events)

Mindful awareness is an skill that takes substantial time to develop; also, it may be impractical for individuals to practice some of these activities in the workplace

The nature of the distraction matters in terms of effectiveness; distraction should be active and focused

Practical Considerations in Implementing a Program


(1) Daily listing – keep a diary in which they list three things for which they are grateful; (2) contemplation – people write or write or think about activities for which they are grateful; and (3) behavioral expressions (e.g., people perform a gratitude visit or write and deliver a letter to someone to whom they are grateful)

Response modulation activities Writing activities Writing about traumatic experiences to help individuals make sense of, and find meaning in, events

Gratitude activities

Can reduce absenteeism; helpful in overcoming emotional roadblocks to targeted goals; enables cognitive restructuring to afford understanding and meaning which may serve as a coping mechanism; positive emotion-focused writing may broadens the scope of attention and cognition

Impacts gratitude and often increases positive affect and happiness and reduces negative affect and depression

Can help employees who have experienced a personal trauma or who are reticent in expressing negative emotions; writing about positive aspects may serve to build positive emotions

Impact various aspects of well-being; perhaps particularly in situations when morale may be a concern

Not universally effective – may only be helpful to those who have difficulty expressing emotions and those who are more optimistic; pessimists tend to ruminate and would need additional instruction to identify coping strategies

Some employees may already participate in this activity outside of work

Activities to Improve Emotions and Emotion Regulation 81



level change (Griffin & Clarke, 2011). An individual-level positive intervention therefore has the ability to affect the well-being of employees, possibly without the complexities and costs associated with implementing organization-level interventions. Furthermore, these self-driven exercises specifically focus on improving the emotional aspects of workplace well-being, the development of which is directly related to many important workplace outcomes. Finally, positive self-guided activities shift the focus from solely mitigating negative outcomes to also increasing the positive aspects that allow people and the organizations to thrive. Despite these dual recognitions – that these types of activities can have meaningful results and that organizational contexts would seem well-suited for the activities – very little empirical work has investigated their implementation or effectiveness in workplace settings. Thus, the purpose of this chapter is to provide an overview of self-guided activities/interventions meant to enhance positive emotions and emotion regulation and to discuss considerations in implementing such programs in organizational contexts. More specifically, we endeavored here to provide a comprehensive review of existing concepts and activities that one feasibly could adapt for use in the workplace. Although the chapter obviously does not cover all possible types of activities, we draw from various literatures here in trying to be broad and in offering ideas with which some organizational scholars may not be as familiar. In sum, the chapter is intended to integrate the relevant literature on these activities with what is known about enhancing employee well-being. As such, it is meant to extend theory and also to provide practical guidance to employers, organizations, and individual workers interested in implementing these activities to improve well-being and emotion regulation at work. Below, we offer a review and discussion of various theoretical ideas and specific interventions that have been, or could be, adapted to be self-guided activities to boost emotions and emotional regulation skills in the workplace. Some of these ideas and activities are relevant to emotion regulation specifically, but others are more relevant to emotional well-being (or overall psychological well-being) in general. Also, some, but certainly not all of these concepts and techniques, derive from the positive psychology movement.

EMOTION AND EMOTION REGULATION IDEAS AND ACTIVITIES To provide some structure to this discussion, we follow Gross and Thompson’s (2007) process model of emotion regulation. This model


Activities to Improve Emotions and Emotion Regulation

incorporates several emotion regulation strategies which can be broadly distinguished according to when the strategy affects the emotion generation process: situation selection, situation modification, attention deployment, cognitive change, and response modulation. In Fig. 1, we reproduce Gross and Thompson’s model and include the specific self-guided activities that we discuss for each strategy. We use this model primarily as an organizing framework, acknowledging that not all of the ideas and activities we discuss neatly fit into any of the five phases of emotion regulation while some of them fit into several of these phases. In Table 1, we list each of the activities we describe below. For each activity, this table includes a brief description of the activity, the proposed psychological outcomes the activity should impact, recommendations for when the activity would be most useful, and practical considerations for implementing the activity. This table is meant to be both a summary and also to be an aid in helping organizations and individual employees in choosing and tailoring activities that will provide the greatest benefit.

Emotion Regulation Strategies Situation














Self-Guided Activities •

Reflecting on situations and their emotional consequences

• Job crafting • Using positive affect to prepare for situation

Determining one’s strengths

Activities to foster selfdistancing

Distraction activites

Mindfulness activites

• Writing activites

• Gratitude activites

Activites aimed at increasing psychological capital

Fig. 1. Emotion Regulation Strategies (Reproduced from Gross & Thompson, 2007) and Corresponding Self-Guided Activities. This Figure Illustrates the SelfGuided Activities We Discuss in This Chapter, and How They Map Onto Gross and Thompson’s Process Model of Emotion Regulation.



Situation Selection Activities The first emotion regulation strategy is situation selection. This strategy involves choosing situations with consideration for their emotion and emotion regulation consequences. Of the five strategies, there seems to be the least research on this one. However, we could envision two particular types of activities as quite useful and applicable. Reflecting on Situations and their Emotional Consequences One strategy employees could use here would be to reflect on situations that will occur or have occurred and the emotional consequences of those situations. For instance, employees could maintain a diary about situations, recording why they entered them and the lessons they should take away in terms of future situation selection. A related idea is for people to choose situations with the explicit goal of improving their emotion regulation skills. These are situations in which employees could experience some discomfort. As such, we are not advocating that employees always select scenarios that will produce short-term gains in positive affect. Rather, in order to develop emotion regulation capacities that will serve them more broadly and in the longer term, people will need to choose scenarios in which some level of distress may be present. One can think of this as the emotional development analogue of more traditional ‘‘stretch assignments’’ (e.g., Brutus, Ruderman, Ohlott, & McCauley, 2000). For instance, employees may choose situations that force them to be more empathetic or more assertive than they typically would be or that would require them to practice other emotion regulation strategies (e.g., attentional deployment or cognitive change). Obviously, the effectiveness of asking people to select and enter such situations seems to depend on their motivation to do so (Dragoni, Tesluk, Russell, & Oh, 2009). In our own research, instead of asking people to choose those situations, we essentially ‘‘assigned’’ people to entering them (Kaplan et al., in press). Specifically, employees assigned to an ‘‘increasing social connectedness’’ condition were instructed to engage in and then write about a strategy to increase their social ties at work. Participants were provided with a list of suggestions for increasing social ties such as physically going to talk with a colleague instead of e-mailing him or her and doing something during work with a coworker, such as getting coffee or going for a walk. Participants completed the activity three times a week for two weeks. Our rationale for developing this particular exercise was that social interactions and strong relationships have a very substantial impact

Activities to Improve Emotions and Emotion Regulation


on affective well-being (Myers, 2000) but may be less likely to occur naturally owing to more computer-based (vs. face-to-face) work (SarbaughThompson & Feldman, 1998) and also to a natural resistance among some people to initiate such contact. Results showed that participating in this activity was associated with decreased negative affect immediately after the intervention and also a month later. However, the activity did not have enduring effects on positive affect or job or life satisfaction. While this was just an initial study, the results suggest that ‘‘assigning people’’ to situations can foster certain emotional outcomes. Determining One’s Strengths Another piece of knowledge that should enable employees to appropriately choose situations with respect to emotional consequence is knowledge of their individual strengths. The idea of helping people identify their strengths (vs. just their weaknesses) is a recent idea from the positive psychology movement (Park & Peterson, 2009). Applied to an organizational context, the notion is that both individuals and organizations will benefit from identifying and building the inherent or natural strengths that employees already possess (Ko & Donaldson, 2011). Park and Peterson suggest our character is composed of several virtues where each exists on a continuum, and the composite of these virtues combines to form an individual’s character. There currently are three primary strengths-based programs identified by Ko and Donaldson (2011) in a recent review of applied positive practices. First, the Values in Action (VIA) Classification of Character Strengths ( is a scientific, research-based survey that classifies and measures 24-character strengths organized under 6 categories. VIA surveys are offered to both individuals and organizations at no charge and provide information about individual core character strengths and strategies on how to use these strengths. Another assessment is the Clifton StrengthsFinder, which was developed by the Gallup Organization ( It is based on 34 themes of talent (e.g., achiever, activator, deliberative, empathy, positivity). This particular instrument does require strong organizational support, and often managers are trained as strengths coaches. Finally, the ‘‘Reflected Best Self Exercise’’ (RBSE) provides feedback to participants about who they are when they are at their best (Quinn, Dutton, & Spreitzer, 2003). In this approach, participants request positive feedback from significant individuals in their lives and that feedback then is used to create a description or ‘‘portrait’’ of the person’s ‘‘best self.’’



The literature suggests that these types of tools can lead to increased employee well-being (Ko & Donaldson, 2011; Park & Peterson, 2009). Worth emphasizing, though, is that the level of organizational support available may be a factor in choosing among these tools. Also of note is that researchers agree that we must be careful when focusing on strengths not to overlook managing weaknesses (Ko & Donaldson, 2011; Park & Peterson, 2009).

Situation Modification Activities A second way to regulate emotional experience is by changing the nature of the situation and/or how one behaves in it (Gross & Thompson, 2007). As with situation selection, research is relatively mute on specific activities that people can practice to improve their emotion regulation skills in modifying situations. However, there are relevant streams of research from which to draw in proposing what these activities might look like. Here, we focus on three main ideas. The first concept is that of job crafting, which is a recent idea that speaks to situation modification more generally and conceivably could be tailored to focus on emotions and emotion regulation specifically. The second idea we discuss is using positive affect inductions to increase self-regulatory capacity before entering a potentially emotionally evocative situation. Finally, we also discuss the role of self-guided activities in developing PsyCap (Luthans, Youssef, & Avolio, 2006) which should facilitate beneficial emotional outcomes, at least in part, through its impact on employees’ ability to modify situations. Job-Crafting One concept that seems to have direct relevance to activities that could encourage situation modification and the skills necessary for such modification is job crafting (Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001). Job-crafting is a construct defined as the physical, social, or cognitive actions taken by an employee to alter an assigned job role by changing the formal duties of the job description as established by an organization (Berg, Wrzesniewski, & Dutton, 2010; Wrzesniewski & Dutton, 2001). Obviously, because it contains these various components, job crafting also could be considered a strategy of situation selection and cognitive change. According to the Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001) model, motivations to job craft are rooted in the need for control over job and work meaning, a need for a positive self-image, and the need for social connections. These

Activities to Improve Emotions and Emotion Regulation


needs are satisfied through practices or reappraisals that include changing task boundaries (alter type/number of tasks), changing cognitive task boundaries (view job as part of a larger picture), and changing relational boundaries (alter with whom and how one interacts at work). Several qualitative studies and anecdotal evidence document examples of job crafting practices. For example, in a study that involved hospital cleaning staff, Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001) illustrated how differently people viewed and performed the same job. Some cleaners described their jobs in terms of a list of menial tasks, whereas other cleaners viewed their jobs as providing patient care as part of a healthcare team. The workers who viewed themselves as part of the healthcare team rated their job satisfaction as much higher than those with a limited view of their jobs. This study also highlighted how individuals chose to alter their specific tasks (e.g., changed the timing of their tasks to flow with others providing care) and social interactions at work (e.g., communicated with patients and visitors), creating different work role perceptions. Importantly, Wrzesniewski and Dutton (2001) do indicate that not everyone becomes driven to job craft. Some individuals will meet these needs though the current job design or via some domain other than work. The authors recently published a job crafting workbook (see www. The workbook provides instructions on how to change the parameters of one’s job according to the tenets of job crafting theory (Berg, 2011). Although not an activity specifically designed to affect emotion regulation, we could envision researchers or individual employees adapting it for that purpose as well. Using Positive Affect to Prepare for Situations A second emotion regulation strategy individuals could employ in emotionally charged situations is inducing positive affect. This strategy does not involve changing the situation so much as boosting the emotional regulatory capacities that the situation may require. Studies on ego depletion have shown that positive affect inductions can increase self-control, thus allowing individuals to retain regulatory strength for other tasks (Tice, Baumeister, Shmueli, & Muraven, 2007). Specifically, in four-related studies, participants worked on a self-regulatory task and then received either a positive mood induction, a negative mood induction, or no mood induction. Results showed that the positive mood induction increased self-control on a second, unrelated task, relative to the other conditions. These findings imply that employees may be able to enhance their emotion regulation capacity through regular positive affect inductions (e.g., humor in the workplace,



receiving small gifts). More relevant to the current chapter, we also could envision an activity where participants are tasked with seeking or creating these inductions, perhaps especially before situations where emotion regulation would seem necessary. Psychological Capital (PsyCap) In addition to specifically discussing activities to alter or prepare for emotional situations, we also include in this section Psychological Capital (PsyCap), which is a specific concept that may help with situation modification as well as other emotion regulation strategies. Luthans et al. (2006) describe PsyCap as consisting of four psychological components: (1) self-efficacy, (2) optimism, (3) hope, and (4) resiliency. According to Luthans and fellow researchers, these four psychological components, in combination, promote more success and predictive power than any of the four components in isolation (Luthans, Avolio, Avey, & Norman, 2007). PsyCap is associated with many positive outcomes. In two studies, one with student participants and one with fulltime employees, results indicated that PsyCap was a better predictor of performance and job satisfaction than any of the separate factors (Luthans et al., 2007). PsyCap also predicts lower voluntary and involuntary absenteeism (Avey, Patera, & West, 2006). Important to emphasize is that PsyCap is considered state-like, and thus, malleable (Luthans, Avey, & Patera, 2008). Following from this notion, Luthan and colleagues have developed an intervention to enhance this construct. In one study, two samples participated in a 2-hour, in-person training session that included exercises and group discussions designed to develop self-efficacy, optimism, hope, and resiliency (see Luthans, Avey, Avolio, & Peterson, 2010 for the training description). The control group participated in exercises focusing on group decision-making. Across the two samples, PsyCap training participants reported a significant increase both in their level of reported PsyCap and in their performance compared to the control group. Especially relevant to the current chapter, Luthans and colleagues also have developed and tested a 2-hour online training program designed to develop PsyCap. Results from one study revealed that those in the treatment group had a significant improvement in PsyCap scores post-training compared to those in the control group (Luthans et al., 2008). These initial results are promising, but require replication and demonstration that the effects hold over time. Also, research examining the specific mechanisms underlying these effects would be informative.

Activities to Improve Emotions and Emotion Regulation


Attentional Deployment Activities As seen in Fig. 1, attentional deployment strategies constitute the next set of techniques one may use to regulate emotions. Whereas the first two strategies, situation selection and modification, shape the employee’s environment, attentional deployment and the subsequent two sets of strategies refer to what people do without actually changing the objective work environment. Also in contrast to the first two strategies, there is considerable research on specific strategies about the latter three sets of strategies in Fig. 1 and about their effectiveness (see Webb, Miles, & Sheeran, 2012). Attentional deployment refers to how people direct their attention in a given situation to impact their emotions. Within the construct of attentional deployment, a distinction often is made between distraction, whereby people try not to attend to the emotional situation, and concentration, whereby people attend to their emotions and the causes and consequences of them (Gross & Thompson, 2007). Thus, the following ideas and activities generally reflect one of these two approaches. Activities to Foster Self-Distancing One consistent finding from the emotion regulation literature is that ruminating on one’s emotional reactions is a maladaptive coping strategy (Mor & Winquist, 2002). One way to avoid ruminating about events and one’s reactions to them is to use self-distancing. In the self-distancing paradigm, individuals are directed to detach from a self-immersed perspective (imagining the emotional event in first person) and instead to analyze emotions as a ‘‘fly on the wall’’ or observer (Nigro & Neisser, 1983). Self-distancing is considered adaptive because it can limit ruminative, emotion-focused processing and instead provide a more detached assessment of the situation. Multiple experiments support the idea that using a self-distancing perspective in recalling negative personal experiences may lead one to reappraise the event in a way that reduces the emotional significance and duration (i.e., reactivity) of the experience, but that can lead to increased awareness and understanding (e.g., Kross & Ayduk, 2008, 2011). Although most relevant research has focused on self-distancing with respect to negative emotional experiences, a recent daily diary study investigated its effects for positive experiences (Verduyn, Van Mechelen, Kross, Chezzi, & Van Bever, 2012). Analysis of the diaries revealed that reflecting daily on both negative and positive events from a self-distanced



perspective was associated with shorter emotions compared with reflecting on such events from a self-immersed perspective. Since a self-immersed perspective may prolong emotions, Verduyn and colleagues suggest that context is key in determining if it is desirable to prolong a certain emotion. Since not all positive emotions are good, and not all negative emotions are bad, the authors suggest that we should differentially learn when we should use a self-distancing perspective to shorten an emotion’s duration, and when a self-immersed perspective would better serve our needs in extending the impact of a ‘‘beneficial’’ (but not necessarily positive) emotion. Research indicates that even though some individuals ‘‘spontaneously’’ self-distance, most people remember negative emotional events using a self-immersed perspective (Kross, 2009; Nigro & Neisser, 1983), so an intervention for self-distancing may be especially important to help employees deal with emotionally charged events. We would encourage researchers to consider developing specific self-distancing prompts and activities that employees could engage in either during times of emotional turmoil or more regularly to foster this skill. Distraction Activities Another way to reorient one’s attention is to attend to something other than the event and one’s reaction to it. Recent meta-analytic evidence suggests that distraction can be a somewhat effective strategy for emotional wellbeing (Webb et al., 2012). However, studies also show that the nature of the distraction matters in terms of effectiveness. In particular, evidence consistently demonstrates that the distraction should be active and focused (Najmi, Riemann, & Wegner, 2009; Webb et al., 2012). People must do something else. Simply trying to suppress unwanted thoughts is not effective and, in fact, is generally detrimental to subsequent emotional well-being (e.g., Dalgleish, & Yiend, 2006). Also, trying to do multiple activities also does not seem to be as effective as immersing oneself in one specific activity (Najmi et al., 2009). With respect to the focus of the chapter, these results imply that one could develop self-guided workplace activities for employees to utilize to foster distraction. The nature of these activities could take various forms. For instance, one could envision a goal-setting activity that forces people to concentrate on work-related tasks during tumultuous times. Also, there is evidence that being engaged in creative endeavors, like artwork, can provide emotional benefits via positive distraction (Dalebroux, Goldstein, & Winner, 2008). Thus, we also could imagine employees having access to creative tasks and materials that they could use when they deemed necessary. Although,

Activities to Improve Emotions and Emotion Regulation


admittedly, this seems like a rather unorthodox suggestion, the emotional benefits and resultant individual and organizational ones suggest that strategies like this may be worth investigating.

Cognitive Change Activities The fourth category of emotion regulation strategies involves changing one’s cognitions. More specifically, it refers to changing appraisals to alter a situation’s emotional significance, either by changing how one thinks about the situation or about one’s capacity to manage the demands it poses (Gross & Thompson, 2007). Among the five sets of strategies, there is perhaps the most research on cognitive change techniques and activities. Evidence suggests that these techniques to change appraisals are among the most effective ways to manage emotions (Webb et al., 2012). The literature on thought-changing techniques is vast and varied, much of it related to clinical applications. Here, we focus on two specific psychological principles and their potential translation to self-guided workplace activities: mindfulness and gratitude. Mindfulness Activities Mindfulness is defined as, ‘‘purposeful attention and awareness of the present moment, approached with an attitude of openness, acceptance, and non-judgment’’ (Giluk, 2010, p. 15). It represents an alternative strategy for regulating negative emotions that involves noticing and observing emotional reactions as they are, without conferring any sort of judgment; in other words, ‘‘acceptance’’ (Marianetti & Passmore, 2010). The combination of present-focused awareness and acceptance may lead to better emotion regulation insofar as it allows people to effectively respond to situations rather than simply reflexively react to them (Brown, Ryan, & Creswell, 2007). The impetus for acceptance-based approaches toward emotion regulation is rooted in research demonstrating that recognition and acceptance of negative emotions can lead to more adaptive emotion regulation than strategies that involve suppression. Indeed, a consistent finding is that attempts to control the experience of undesired negative emotions via suppression can actually lead to increases in distress, whereas acceptance leads to reductions in distress (e.g., Aldao, Nolen-Hoeksema, & Schweizer, 2010). Moreover, recent studies suggest that these acceptance-based techniques generally are also superior to the distraction-based ones discussed



above (Webb et al., 2012). In addition, acceptance-based approaches have gained popularity due to the plethora of recent research linking mindfulness (a key component of which is acceptance) to aspects of emotion regulation (Erisman & Roemer, 2010). Numerous researchers have investigated the effectiveness of mindfulnessbased interventions on reducing negative emotions and outcomes. Intensive acceptance-based training programs have been found to successfully reduce self-reported depression, trait anxiety, and trait negative affect rumination, as well as reduce overall autonomic arousal in response to stressful social situations (Kemeny et al., 2012). Researchers also have demonstrated that a relatively brief mindfulness intervention can reduce negative emotions following an event that elicits both positive and negative emotions, and increase emotion regulation abilities in people who previously reported difficulty regulating emotions (Erisman & Roemer, 2010). Perhaps the most widely used therapeutic mindfulness-based intervention is MindfulnessBased Stress Reduction (MBSR; Kabat-Zinn, 1990). Traditional MBSR consists of eight weekly two-and-a-half hour classes and a one-day weekend. Meta-analyses point to its widespread physical and psychological health benefits in both clinical and nonclinical populations (e.g., Chiesa & Serretti, 2009; Grossman, Niemann, Schmidt, & Walach, 2004). In addition to quelling negative emotions, mindfulness-based approaches may also lead to greater awareness of positive experiences and emotions, which in turn can lead to enhanced well-being. A recent meta-analysis of 32 samples in 29 studies conducted by Giluk (2009) supported this idea, citing a moderate positive correlation between mindfulness and positive affect (r=.34) and a negative correlation between mindfulness and negative affect (r= .39). In a similar vein, laboratory studies have demonstrated that individuals who eat while distracted report less enjoyment than those who have been instructed to solely focus on the experience of eating (i.e., eating ‘‘mindfully’’; LeBel & Dube´, 2001). Mindfulness has also been implicated in the enhancement of prosocial responding (Kemeny et al., 2012) and self-awareness (Brown & Ryan, 2003). Mindfulness in the Workplace Unfortunately, few studies have examined the role a mindfulness intervention plays in reducing negative affect and negative outcomes in the workplace, and the results of the few studies that have explored this avenue are mixed. One such study evaluated the effectiveness of traditional MBSR in 27 full and part-time employees holding a variety of jobs (Giluk, 2010). Compared to controls, those enrolled in MBSR demonstrated reductions in

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negative affect pre- to post-intervention, yet MBSR had no effect on the work-related outcomes measured in the study. Another group of researchers (Wolever et al., 2012) evaluated the effectiveness of a similar mind-body stress reduction program (‘‘Mindfulness at Work’’). This is a 14-hour program that is explicitly geared toward helping participants to deal with work-related stress, work–life balance, and self-care. Results were mixed: those in the mindfulness group experienced decreases in perceived stress and sleep problems relative to controls. However, similar results were obtained for those participating in a yoga-based stress reduction group. The results from one qualitative interview study also explored the potential benefits of using mindfulness at work. Interviews with working professionals suggested that those who practice mindfulness show greater acceptance of one’s work situation, enjoyment and adaptability while at work, and more positive interpersonal work relationships (Hunter & McCormick, 2008). Few studies have investigated the usefulness of mindfulness-based interventions and exercises for reducing negative emotions and outcomes, and/or increasing positive emotions and outcomes at work. However, if cultivating mindfulness indeed has such beneficial effects on work-related outcomes as the studies reviewed above indicate, developing ways of cultivating mindfulness in the workplace could quickly become a priority of organizational scientists and practitioners. Gratitude Activities Another way to induce cognitive change is through the use of gratitude activities. Gratitude represents ‘‘a general appreciation for the positive aspects of life’’ (Wood, Froh, & Geraghty, 2010). As both a trait and a state, gratitude has been linked to various aspects of well-being, including emotional ones (see Wood et al., 2010 for a review). Although the specific mechanisms linking gratitude to well-being are not completely clear, its relationship to and influence on cognition seems central (e.g., Wood, Maltby, Stewart, Linley, & Joseph, 2008). As such, we discuss gratitude in this section on cognitive change strategies. Given the findings linking gratitude to well-being, developing activities to help employees increase their level of gratitude seems beneficial. Over the past decade or so, researchers from outside the organizational domain have examined several self-guided gratitude activities. According to Wood et al. (2010), activities to increase gratitude fall into one of three categories: (1) daily listing – people keep a diary in which they list three things for which



they are grateful, each night or when electronically reminded; (2) contemplation – people write or think about activities for which they are grateful (e.g., Watkins, Woodward, Stone, & Kolts, 2003); and (3) behavioral expressions (e.g., people perform a gratitude visit or write and deliver a letter to someone to whom they are grateful). Several studies document the effectiveness of these gratitude increasing activities on both subsequent gratitude and other well-being outcomes such as increased positive affect and decreased negative affect. For instance, Watkins et al. (2003) found that three different types of gratitude exercises (gratitude letters, thinking, and essays) led to increases in gratitude relative to a control condition. Emmons and McCullough (2003) found that inducing a grateful state (compared to focusing on hassles, downward social comparisons, or neutral life events), produced significant increases in positive affect and reduced negative affect. Seligman et al.’s (2005) results showed that writing gratitude letters resulted in prolonged decreased depression and increased happiness. In one workplace study, researchers showed that keeping a gratitude diary led to increased gratitude and positive affect (but not decreased negative affect) one month following completion of the activity (Kaplan et al., in press). Despite these encouraging findings, results also show that the benefits of gratitude activities are not ubiquitous. The activities do not always impact all well-being outcomes, and the benefits seem to vary according to individual characteristics (Seligman et al., 2005; Wood et al., 2010). Notwithstanding these moderating factors, gratitude activities are one of the few self-guided activities discussed here with a proven record of effectiveness. They also are inexpensive and easy to implement, making them promising candidates for the workplace.

Response Modulation Activities As seen in Fig. 1, the final set of emotion regulation strategies involves response modulation. According to Gross and Thompson (2007), response modulation efforts are attempts to influence ‘‘physiological, experiential, or behavioral’’ responses later in the emotion generation process. If one considers emotional experience over a longer duration (rather than regarding a specific event), many of the traditional stress interventions would be categorized as response modulation efforts (e.g., employee assistance programs, relaxation training; see Semmer, 2010). Compared to strategies that occur earlier in the emotion generation process, response modulation

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strategies often are considered less effective because the emotional experience already has begun and potentially has caused psychological and physical damage (Gross, 1998). This said, there recently has been considerable research demonstrating the benefits of various response modulation strategies in improving emotional experience. Many of these are strategies that researchers could leverage in creating self-guided workplace activities such as breath adjustment training (Tang & Posner, 2009), exercise (Oaten & Cheng, 2006), and progressive muscle relaxation (Pawlow & Jones, 2002). While all of these (and other) practices hold promise as potential self-guided activities, there is considerable research about these practices relevant to workplace well-being. Thus, instead of focusing on them, we instead focus here on another technique which has demonstrated utility and which easily could be translated into a self-guided workplace activity, but on which little organizational research exists – expressive writing techniques. Writing Activities We learn from clinical and health psychology disciplines that writing about stressful experiences can provide salutary benefits (Smyth & Greenberg, 2000). Contrary to earlier beliefs, though, the benefit of writing does not seem to occur primarily through a sort of catharsis. Instead, different disclosure or expressive writing techniques affect change via attention and/or through cognitive change. With regard to cognitive change, writing can provide a means of cognitively restructuring an event and allow one to create understanding and meaning in it (Lepore, Greenberg, Bruno, & Smyth, 2002). Given these processes, expressive writing also could be categorized as a form of one of the previously discussed sets of strategies. The use of writing as a technique to promote emotional disclosure developed primarily from psychotherapy (Smyth & Greenberg, 2000). However, in the late 1980s, Pennebaker and Beall (1986) published a study that provided the foundation for the scientific validity for expressive writing. The Pennebaker model of disclosure writing involved directing participants to write about traumatic experiences based on the theory that the writing would increase people’s expression of negative emotions and keep individuals from using avoidance and excessive control of negative emotions. Avoidance and excess control of emotions are associated with negative outcomes such as compromised immune system functioning (Petrie, Booth, & Pennebaker, 1998) and even cancer (Gross, 1989). In addition to the research on writing about negative experiences and emotions, there has also been some scholarly research on the value of writing



about positive experiences. Writing only about the positive aspects of a traumatic experience has been associated with the same health benefits as writing about trauma (King & Miner, 2000). In addition, when researchers scored emotional content of early-life autobiographies of 180 Catholic nuns, they found positive emotional writing was significantly associated with longer life (Danner, Snowdon, & Friesen, 2001). One explanation for the benefit of writing about positive experiences comes from the broaden-andbuild theory of emotion (Fredrickson & Branigan, 2005). Whereas writing about negative experiences and emotions promotes cognitive restructuring of the event, writing about positive ones may serve to build new resources to deal with future challenges and stress. Notably, there is some limited research documenting positive job-related outcomes of disclosure or expressive writing. In one study, university employees participating in a wellness program who were assigned to write about personally upsetting experiences for 20 minutes once a week for four sequential weeks exhibited fewer absences compared to those in a control group (Francis & Pennebaker, 1992). This result suggests that writing exercises may have organizational-level (i.e., fewer absences), as well as individual-level, benefits. In another job-related study, researchers examined the impact of disclosure writing on the negative emotions surrounding job loss. They found that participants who had been unemployed for over six months and wrote about the thoughts and feelings surrounding losing their jobs were significantly more likely to find reemployment in the months following the study than were control participants (Spera, Buhrfeind, & Pennebaker, 1994). Also worth noting, though, is that there have been some mixed results about the effectiveness of these techniques. In particular, some results suggest that some people will benefit more from these practices than will others. For example, employees low in emotional inhibition may derive the greatest gains (Francis & Pennebaker, 1992) as may those who are less pessimistic (Cameron & Jago, 2008). As a final note, consideration must be given to a balance of cognitive and emotion components in a self-regulated writing intervention or, more generally, to any emotion-focused strategy. The writing tasks described above ideally should consist of a two-step process wherein one first uses writing to disclose emotions and then creates plans to mobilize the coping cognitive strategies identified in the writing process. The interplay between the two parts of this process actually highlights the more general relationship between these activities and different coping strategies. To some degree, the first part of the writing process primarily

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entails emotion-focused coping, which targets the emotional response to the stressor, while the second part of the writing activity entails problem-focused coping, which involves cognitive efforts to address the source of the stress (Lazarus, 1999). Although a detailed overview of the coping literature is beyond the scope of this chapter, researchers and practitioners should consider drawing from both the problem-focused and emotion-focused perspectives in developing and implementing activities. The effectiveness of different coping strategies varies across psychological outcomes and depends, in part, on the nature of the underlying problem and on people’s capacity to address that problem (Penley, Tomaka, & Wiebe, 2002). Such findings imply that different types of activities may be more or less effective in different circumstances and also that activities should be tailored to foster the types of coping that are most effective in general and for that particular situation.

CONCLUSION The purpose of this chapter was to provide an overview of self-guided activities and interventions, and to discuss considerations in implementing such programs in organizational contexts. We provided a comprehensive review of various theoretical ideas and specific interventions that have been, or could be, adapted into self-guided activities to boost emotions and emotional regulation skills in the workplace. Also important to emphasize, though, is that these activities should be regarded as supplements to, not substitutes for, organizational initiatives. If organizations themselves promote these activities, they should incorporate the activities as one piece of a broader and multifaceted well-being program (see Lamontagne, Keegel, Louie, Ostry, & Landbergis, 2007). We hope that this chapter provides practical guidance to those interested in implementing these activities to improve well-being and emotion regulation at work, and engenders scholarly work on ways of improving emotional experiences and emotion regulation in the workplace.

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STRESS AND EMOTIONAL WELL-BEING IN MILITARY ORGANIZATIONS P. D. Harms, Dina V. Krasikova, Adam J. Vanhove, Mitchel N. Herian and Paul B. Lester ABSTRACT This chapter examines the role of stress and emotional well-being as critical antecedents of important outcomes in the military context. In it, we provide a framework for understanding the sources of stress among military personnel. Using this model, we review the risk factors associated with combat and deployment cycles in addition to protective factors, such as personality characteristics and social support, which mitigate the effects of stress on emotional well-being and performance. Finally, we evaluate efforts by military organizations to enhance the emotional well-being of service members through training programs designed to build resiliency. Keywords: Emotional well-being; military context; personality; social support; resiliency According to the job web site, military jobs ranked as the most stressful occupation in the United States for the year 2013 (http://www. A variety of factors The Role of Emotion and Emotion Regulation in Job Stress and Well Being Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Volume 11, 103–132 Copyright r 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3555/doi:10.1108/S1479-3555(2013)0000011008




including physical danger, long periods away from home, physical demands, being in the public eye, and being responsible for the lives of others were implicated in this ranking. Among United Kingdom forces, combat deployment has been associated with high rates of mental disorders (19.7%) and alcohol abuse (13%; Fear et al., 2010). According to the most recent report of the U.S. Joint Mental Health Advisory Team (J-MHAT 7, 2011), the result of this general state of stress combined with the acute trauma experienced in combat has resulted in a base rate of 19.8% of American soldiers reporting some sort of psychological problem. With over 2 million service members having been deployed overseas as part of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it is no surprise that senior leadership in the U.S. military has been actively engaged in promoting research aimed at assessing and improving the emotional well-being of service members (e.g., Casey, 2011). The costs of stress to human and psychological capital can be staggering. Beyond the costs associated with long-term mental health treatment for soldiers experiencing emotional or psychological trauma, upwards of 42% of active duty soldiers report an intent to leave the U.S. army after their current obligation ends (MHAT-6, 2009). Not only does this impact military-readiness, but each soldier that must be trained to replace another lost to emotional health problems is estimated to cost the U.S. army between $54,000 and $73,000. When one considers the sheer size of the U.S. military, the magnitude of the problem becomes obvious. Moreover, it is estimated that as many as half of all casualties in war may be attributed to battle fatigue and stress reactions (Mareth & Brooker, 1985). Add to this the increasing trends in violent offending among UK veterans (McManus et al., 2013), and the record levels of suicide completions among American service members in recent years (Kuehn, 2009), and it is clear that understanding the antecedents and consequences of stress in the military has never been more important. This is particularly true for militaries in nations that have recently experienced prolonged bouts of conflict and/or those militaries that are highly likely to experience armed conflict in the near future. In the present paper we first review what is known about emotional health and psychological well-being in military settings. Second, we briefly review the primary stressors underlying those outcomes. Third, we address the major personality characteristics that have been linked with these outcomes. Fourth, we review the impact of social relations on stress outcomes and, in particular, the roles of leaders and spouses as factors that influence the emotional well-being of service members. Finally, we summarize research concerning the development of psychological resilience and well-being in the military context. Throughout, we treat stress responses and emotional .

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problems as both undesirable and potentially preventable things, even though some might argue that the experience of war is horrifying and therefore the resulting stress responses and emotional problems are natural and perhaps even have an adaptive function (Hendrie & Pickles, 2010; Nesse, 2000; Phipps, 2011). Throughout this paper the reader may notice that the primary focus is on U.S. service members. This is largely due to the fact that a substantial body of research examining the well-being of service members has been developed as a result of the prolonged conflicts in which the United States has been involved over the past decade. When available, we incorporate literature that has examined the well-being of service members in other countries. However, we would like to point out that the breadth of this literature is not nearly as substantial as the research on U.S. armed forces. That stress is a significant determinant of performance, emotional wellbeing, and other work outcomes in military settings is not in dispute (Kavanagh, 2005). What is more pertinent is the nature of the stressors that service members face and the factors that can mitigate the relationship between stress and outcomes such as performance. This information is perhaps best explained using the framework of the soldier combat and wellbeing model utilized in the 2008 report of the Mental Health and Advisory Team (MHAT-5, 2008; see Fig. 1). In that model, risk factors or stressors, such as combat exposure and deployment length, lead to a variety of negative outcomes including decreased emotional well-being, poorer performance, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and suicide. However, this relationship is moderated by a number of protective factors such as personality characteristics, sources of personal support such as leaders or spouses, and training. Of course, gathering accurate information concerning the emotional and mental well-being of service members is quite difficult. Not only are there logistical issues surrounding a population that is constantly rotating in and out of combat, but there is also extensive evidence that service members hesitate to acknowledge or report such problems while actively serving (Hoge et al., 2004). Reasons for this hesitancy to report problems range from a distrust in the efficacy of mental health treatment and mental health professionals to concerns about how admitting to emotional problems may impact their career or standing with their fellow service members (Hoge et al., 2004). Another problem with getting an accurate estimate of the true base rate of emotional health problems comes from the fact that such problems often manifest themselves long after combat has ended (Milliken, Auchterlonie, & Hoge, 2007). Recent research has demonstrated that the



Protective Factors Personality Characteristics Leadership Family & Marital Support Training Well-being and Performance Risk Factors Combat Experiences

Emotional Well-Being (Stress & PTSD)

Combat Injury


Deployment Length

Alcohol/Substance Abuse

Multiple Deployments

Performance Turnover

Fig. 1.

Soldier Emotional Well-Being Model (Adapted from MHAT-5, 2008; Bliese & Castro, 2003).

prevalence rates of emotional disorders reported are two to four times higher 120 days after returning from combat than immediately afterwards (Bliese, Wright, Adler, Thomas, & Hoge, 2007). To further illustrate the complex nature of emotional problems in this context it should also be noted that of those reporting PTSD symptoms immediately after returning from combat, 49–59% report an improvement in the severity of their symptoms within that same timeframe (Milliken et al., 2007).

CONSEQUENCES OF STRESS IN MILITARY SETTINGS One of the major consequences of stress in military settings is decreased performance along with a host of related negative outcomes that can impact performance (Bray, Fairbank, & Marsden, 1999; Kavanagh, 2005). According to MHAT-5 (2008) 23% of American soldiers say that they work less carefully as a result of stress and emotional problems, 15% indicate that these problems limit their ability to do their jobs, and 13% report that emotional problems have led to increases in concern from their supervisors. Soldiers also indicated problems at home with nearly 21% of

Stress and Emotional Well-Being in Military Organizations


married enlisted soldiers reporting that they were considering divorce. In terms of drug and alcohol abuse, upwards of 8% of soldiers admitted to using alcohol in theatre and approximately 2% admitted using illegal drugs. Perhaps even more disturbing is the impact of stress on the ethical behavior and decision-making of soldiers in the combat zone. MHAT-5 (2008) reports that as many as a third of American soldiers returning from Iraq admitted to insulting or cursing at noncombatants, 6% reported acting violently toward noncombatants when it was not necessary, and 4% reported ignoring the Rules of Engagement when conducting their missions. Finally, 13% of returning soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan indicated that they had considered suicide in the past four weeks.

SERVICE MEMBER STRESS: RISK FACTORS It is perhaps no surprise that prior research has found that simply being deployed into a combat zone has a detrimental impact on emotional and physical well-being irrespective of what actually happens during that deployment; this is true for both UK and U.S. armed forces (Fear et al., 2010; Vasterling et al., 2010). Soldiers are put in a context that is not only unfamiliar, but also actively hostile. Veterans of recent combat operations report a number of significant stressors unique to the combat zone including the threat of enemy attacks, dealing with the deaths of fellow soldiers, being responsible for killing another human being, and handling human remains (Adler, Vaitkus, & Martin, 1996; Hoge et al., 2004; McCarroll, Ursano, & Fullerton, 1993). Individuals reporting such experiences are much more likely to develop PTSD than those who are deployed but do not experience such events (McCarroll et al., 1993; MHAT-5, 2008; Thomas et al., 2010). Sadly, the number of soldiers reporting such incidents is very high. MHAT-5 (2008) shows that approximately half of deployed U.S. soldiers report being attacked or ambushed, half report seeing dead or seriously injured fellow soldiers, nearly 80% indicate that they were subject to incoming artillery, mortar, or rocket fire, and 40 50% of soldiers report that an improvised explosive device (IED) or booby trap exploded close to them. For American troops currently in Afghanistan, the rates of these events are even higher (J-MHAT 7, 2011). Beyond the stresses associated with simply being in a combat zone, one of the most obvious causes of stress in military settings is not just the threat of becoming injured, but being injured itself. This was perhaps best illustrated by a recent study demonstrating that approximately 32% of American



soldiers who are injured in combat develop PTSD, compared with only 14% of those who were never injured (Hoge, Terhakopian, Castro, Messer & Engel, 2007). The development of emotional and mental health issues also covaries with the degree of injury sustained. For example, individuals who report losing consciousness when they sustained their injury are nearly twice as likely to develop PTSD compared with those who are merely dazed (Hoge et al., 2007). Similarly, meta-analytic evidence suggests that trauma severity is one of the most important determinants of whether or not military personnel develop PTSD (Brewin, Andrews, & Valentine, 2000). Lengthy deployments and repeated combat tours can also play an important role in determining whether or not an individual develops emotional problems. The most common deployment lengths in the U.S. army are 9, 11, and 12 months. Assessments of emotional well-being among American service members in the combat zone demonstrate that morale decreases quite dramatically over the course of deployments with only a small uptick shortly before combat tours end (MHAT-5, 2008). Similarly, the rate of individuals reporting mental health problems increases from around 5% to nearly 20% 10 months after being deployed (MHAT-5, 2008). The association between deployment length and negative outcomes is also reflected in decreased performance, increased substance abuse, and increased likelihood of unethical behavior (MHAT-5, 2008). Although the relationship between deployment length and negative outcomes is strong, there is evidence to indicate this relationship can be explained almost entirely by the increased exposure to traumatic combat experiences. That is, the longer an individual is deployed, the more likely they are to experience a stressful event that will result in emotional or behavioral problems (MHAT-5, 2008). Because the stressors are ongoing and ever-changing, this is not a context that one can ever become fully accustomed to (Diener, Lucas, & Napa Scollon, 2006). Consequently, longer deployments have also been shown to be associated with increased depression and posttraumatic stress symptoms among U.S. service members (Adler, Huffman, Bliese, & Castro, 2005) as well as decreased physical and psychological well-being among both American and non-American service members deployed to combat theatres (Buckman et al., 2011). Research has also shown that American service members who are deployed twice are much more likely to experience PTSD symptoms (Reger, Gahm, Swanson, & Duma, 2009). Moreover, individuals who are on their third or fourth deployment are more than twice as likely to report mental or emotional health problems as those on their first deployment (MHAT-5, 2008). One possible reason for this is that repeated exposures to trauma can

Stress and Emotional Well-Being in Military Organizations


wear down an individual who has not been able to fully recover. Indeed, recent research has demonstrated that individuals going into combat with poor mental health are much more likely to develop PTSD than those who report few problems precombat (LeardMann, Smith, Smith, Wells, & Ryan, 2009).

SERVICE MEMBER STRESS: PROTECTIVE FACTORS Prior research has identified a number of protective factors that can mitigate the effects of stress on the development of emotional and behavioral health problems in military personnel (Brewin et al., 2000; Wald, Taylor, Asmundson, Jang, & Stapleton, 2006). These factors consist of individual differences, environmental factors such as social support relationships, and prior experiences such as training or interventions. Together they are often labeled as resiliency factors (Luthar, Cicchetti, & Becker, 2000; Meredith et al., 2011; Wald et al., 2006). That is, these factors enhance the ability of the individual to adapt to and successfully cope with stress, adversity, and traumatic experiences. Consequently, it is best to think of them as potential moderators of the relationship between risk factors and outcomes such as emotional well-being and behavioral health (Masten, 2001). Moreover, it is heartening to know that resilience, but not necessarily full recovery in the face of trauma, is the norm because so many of these factors are significant and can act in tandem with one another (Bonanno, 2004).

Personality Characteristics Prior literature has established that a number of personality characteristics are associated with greater resiliency. In fact, it has been argued that the term resiliency should be used only when referring to personality traits (Luthar et al., 2000). A recent review of personality characteristics associated with resiliency in high stress and potentially dangerous occupations found that a number of personality factors, but particularly those related to negative affect and neuroticism, were associated with an individual’s level of resiliency (Parrish Meadows, Shreffler, & Mullins-Sweatt, 2011). Related research has demonstrated that emotional adjustment predicts outcomes ranging from leadership to personal discipline in the military context (Hough, Eaton, Dunnette, Kamp, & McCloy, 1990). Likewise, personality



characteristics that foster a positive emotional mindset such as hope, optimism, and grit have been associated with reduced turnover intentions within voluntary forces (Bressler, 2010) and increased likelihood of completing training (Duckworth, Peterson, Matthews, & Kelly, 2007). Closely related constructs such as psychological capital have also been shown to mitigate the effects of combat trauma on health outcomes via their effects on stress appraisals (Schaubroek, Riolli, Peng, & Spain, 2011). Specifically, those individuals who were able to keep a positive mindset were more likely to perceive stressors as a challenge and less likely to view them as a threat or a loss. Consequently, they were less likely to report somatic complaints. Interestingly, this was particularly true for individuals in units that had experienced greater amounts of combat trauma (Schaubroek et al., 2011). Thus, a number of personality characteristics have been demonstrated to predict various emotional well-being and performance outcomes in the military context. However, there are two personality characteristics – coping and hardiness – that have received the most attention of researchers interested in emotional and behavioral outcomes in the military context. Coping Positive coping styles such as problem-focused coping and emotion-focused coping have been shown to predict a number of positive outcomes in military settings. For example, in a longitudinal study of Israeli soldiers who had recently experienced combat, emotion focused coping was associated with decreases in PTSD over 12 months (Solomon, Mikulincer, & Avitzur, 1988). Similarly, in a study of Canadian forces negative coping styles such as venting of emotions and disengagement tended to exacerbate the effect of stressors on reported health symptoms (Day & Livingstone, 2001). More recently, using a sample of active duty U.S. army soldiers and reservists Lester et al. (2011a) demonstrated that positive coping styles were associated with a lower likelihood of suicide completion. Moreover, both positive and negative coping styles were predictive of testing positive for illegal drug usage. A further study of positive outcomes revealed that while positive coping styles were more associated with being promoted early, lower scores on measures of negative coping were more predictive of being promoted to brigadier general and being selected for command positions (Lester, Harms, Bulling, Herian, & Spain, 2011b). Hardiness Perhaps no single personality characteristic has received as much recent attention in the military stress literature as hardiness. Hardiness is a pattern

Stress and Emotional Well-Being in Military Organizations


of characteristics and attitudes that provide both the will and the means to turn stressful conditions into growth opportunities (Maddi, 2007). More specifically, individuals high in hardiness are characterized by a strong sense of commitment to their work, active engagement with their surroundings, a belief that they control their situation, and a propensity to enjoy new challenges (Bartone, Roland, Picano, & Williams, 2008). Research in American military populations has demonstrated that hardiness is predictive of both health outcomes (Bartone & Priest, 2001) and emotional well-being (Bartone, 1999), particularly in high-stress conditions. Other studies using U.S. military populations have linked hardiness to retention and performance (Maddi, Matthews, Kelly, Villarreal, & White, 2012), leader performance (Bartone, 2006), and completion of special forces training (Bartone et al., 2008).

Leadership There is widespread consensus in the literature that social support, from both family and coworkers (and particularly leaders), is an important determinant of how badly stressors impact personal stress and well-being (Carlson & Perrewe´, 1999; Viswesvaran, Sanchez, & Fisher, 1999). But perhaps it is still surprising that meta-analytic evidence suggests that lack of social support is the single largest risk factor for developing PTSD after a traumatic experience (Brewin et al., 2000). Further, the protective effects of social support against PTSD in soldiers are significant even after controlling for individual difference factors such as locus of control and coping style (Solomon et al., 1988). In this section, we review the literature on leadership as a source of social support; we follow this section with a discussion of the effects of service member families on service member well-being. It has long been theorized that the behavior and affect of leaders can impact how their subordinates feel (Brief & Weiss, 2002; Skakon, Nielson, Borg, & Guzman, 2010). The empirical literature reflects this in that studies of positive leadership styles (e.g., transformational, empowering, supportive leadership, etc.) have been shown to predict greater wellbeing (e.g., Kuoppala, Lamminpa¨a¨, Liira, & Vaino, 2008; Nielson, Randall, Yarker, & Brenner, 2008, van Dierendonck, Haynes, Borrill, & Stride, 2004) and reduced stress in subordinates (e.g., Offermann & Hellmann, 1996; Seltzer & Numerof, 1988). Moreover, a recent meta-analysis found that destructive leadership was associated with lower well-being, increased stress, and poorer performance among followers (Schyns & Schilling, 2013).



Leaders can have this impact on stress and well-being by developing a sense of trust and self-efficacy in their followers (Liu, Siu, & Shi, 2010) or developing a sense in followers that their work has purpose or meaning (Arnold, Turner, Barling, Kelloway, & McKee, 2007). Moreover, by showing that they have adequately prepared for potential stressors by providing clear team goals, defining expectations of team members, and laying out a strategy, leaders can reassure their team members that they need not overreact to unexpected events (Zaccaro, Rittman, & Marks, 2001). Another avenue of influence is leader mood contagion. That is, leaders characterized by positivity or charisma can convey an infectious sense of excitement and optimism to their subordinates and change the atmosphere or climate of their work group (Sy, Coˆte´, & Saavedra, 2005) and this in turn increases individual and group performance (Bono & Ilies, 2006). Similarly, when leaders communicate to followers that they have no value, deprive them of personal control over their work, or actively berate them the expected outcome is frustration, emotional exhaustion, resentment, retaliation and decreased performance and well-being (McColl-Kennedy & Anderson, 2002; Schyns & Schilling, 2013; Tepper, 2000). Emotionally intelligent leaders can foster a climate that facilitates performance by modeling positive emotional regulation for followers and being sensitive to the emotional well-being of their followers (Koman & Wolff, 2007). Further, although there is a general resistance to the display of emotions in masculine-oriented professions such as military, the capacity of emotionally intelligent leaders to display emotions such as anger at appropriate times may prove particularly effective for motivating followers (Lindebaum & Fielden, 2011). A similar line of thinking comes from S.L.A. Marshall’s book on military leadership where he declared that ‘‘too much has been said in praise of the calm demeanor as an asset to the fighting commander’’ (Marshall, 1947, p. 138). That said, although it has been noted that there is an expectation that military commanders be capable of rousing their troops through displays of anger, such displays are also nowhere near the top of the leadership competencies valued in field commanders (Abrahams, 2007). Nonetheless, the ability to regulate emotions is often mentioned as a key characteristic of effective military leaders. Current research on the U.S. military reflects the importance of leaders as both a protective factor and a liability. In MHAT-5 (2008) it was demonstrated that while a positive leadership climate was only slightly related to mental health problems of service members who do not experience combat; leadership climate was associated with almost halving the rates of psychological and emotional problems in troops who had experienced a

Stress and Emotional Well-Being in Military Organizations


great deal of combat. Even so, one of the biggest barriers to service members seeking mental health services for the emotional problems was that they felt that their leaders would blame them for the problem. Moreover, a substantial number of service members reported that their leaders actively discouraged the use of mental health services.

Military Families Although service members are directly affected by stressful events inherent with army life and therefore are likely to suffer from short- and long-term consequences of such events, their families are also affected by military member deployment- and combat-related negative experiences (Erbes, Polusny, MacDermid, & Compton, 2008; Galovski & Lyons, 2004). However, it is not only service members’ experiences that affect service member families, but also family members’ behaviors, experiences, and emotions that may negatively (Badr, Barker, & Milbury, 2011; Erbes, 2011) or positively (Badr et al., 2011; Friedman, 2010) influence service member outcomes. In this section we discus two effects of family effects on wellbeing service member families as a source of stress for service members and service member families as a source of support and coping assistance for service members. Service Members’ Families as a Source of Stress for Service Members The importance of family is reflected in recent assessments of emotional well-being in the military in that separation from family is routinely listed as one of the top stressors for American soldiers (MHAT-5, 2008). In fact, married soldiers are almost twice as likely to report that family matters at home have caused them significant stress and have made it difficult for them to do their jobs (J-MHAT-7, 2011). Reflecting these findings, a number of studies have demonstrated that simply having a family might increase the odds of soldier developing PTSD symptoms. For example, a recent longitudinal study of American military families provided some evidence regarding the effects of family factors on service member PTSD (Erbes, 2011). The findings obtained using a sample of U.S. soldiers deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF), revealed that soldiers’ pre-deployment concerns about family disruptions (e.g., being concerned about damaging relationships with family members, worrying about missing important family events; Vogt, King, & King, 2004) were positively related to their PTSD symptoms assessed at the postdeployment stage.



Also, in a retrospective cohort study focused on examining factors that increase or protect against the risk of developing combat-related PTSD symptoms among U.S. service members, Skopp et al. (2011) found that having a spouse or a significant other increased the odds of developing such symptoms. The authors explain this result in light of previous research suggesting that deployment-related relationship separation may create additional stress (e.g., worrying about family members’ health and safety and being concerned about spouse fidelity) that make soldiers more vulnerable to the effects of stressors and more prone to the development of PTSD. These finding are in line with previous literature demonstrating that married soldiers are more likely than single soldiers to report negative consequences of deployment, such as missing important family events and deterioration of relationships with spouses (Newby et al., 2005). Married U.S. service members report suffering from more stressors than single service members (Hammelman, 1995; see also Hosek & Martorell, 2011), and single service members have greater odds of reporting good to excellent physical and mental health compared to married service members (Riviere & Merrill, 2011). Although families are commonly considered the major source of social support for service members at the postdeployment stage (Badr et al., 2011; Friedman, 2010), some researchers have argued that spouses’ affect, cognition, and behaviors and quality of service member spouse relationships can exacerbate the development of such problems in service members. Relying on the empirical evidence obtained in the literature on the family members’ role in patient adaptation to health-related stress in the civilian population (e.g., Manne, Taylor, Dougherty, & Kemeny, 1997; Manne et al., 2003), Badr et al. (2011) argue that having unsupportive partners (e.g., who criticize partner’s coping strategies and ways to deal with treatment, avoid being around the partner) is likely to negatively affect injured service members’ ability to cope with distress. In general, service members finding themselves in distant or ‘‘combative’’ relationships with their family members upon return home from deployment are considered likely to experience difficulty recovering from PTSD (Erbes, 2011). Being in such relationships may further strengthen service member trauma-induced beliefs that they are damaged and incapable of developing intimate and trusting relationships with others, thereby reinforcing cognitions underlying PTSD (Erbes, 2011). Further, Monson, Taft, and Fredman (2009) demonstrate that even caring and supporting partners can inadvertently contribute to service member PTSD. They argue that partners who help service members avoid trauma-specific stimuli in an attempt to prevent service members

Stress and Emotional Well-Being in Military Organizations


reliving the trauma (e.g., accompanying them everywhere to protect them, managing their social interactions), can reinforce the symptom of traumaspecific avoidance and contribute to the maintenance of PTSD. Service Members’ Families as a Source of Support for Service Members In line with the findings obtained in more general literatures on coping and the role of relationship quality in improving patients’ physical and psychological well-being (e.g., Berg & Upchurch, 2007; Manne et al., 2004), research on military family functioning has reached consensus that social support is an important source of protection against psychological problems and the family is one of the major sources of social support for service members (Badr et al., 2011; MHAT-5, 2008). Family support at the postdeployment stage is a critical protective factor for service member well-being. Family members actively engaging service members in positive family activities, interactions, and practical responsibilities may help service members avoid experiential avoidance (i.e., behaviors such as substance abuse, thrill-seeking, chronic video-game playing that are used by service members to diminish the occurrence of distressing events, thoughts and memories) that can foster PTSD (Erbes, 2011). In addition to providing emotional support to returning service members and helping them reintegrate into civilian life, family members are considered instrumental in assisting injured service members throughout treatment and rehabilitation. For example, family members often become primary caretakers for injured service members, take care of extra household responsibilities, assist their injured partners with medical appointments, and participate in making medical decisions (Badr et al., 2011).

DEVELOPING SERVICE MEMBER RESILIENCE TO STRESS Resilience and Emotional Well-Being Interventions Growing concern over rates of mental health problems among military personnel (e.g., Hoge et al., 2004; Reger et al., 2009) has led to interest in the use of mental health interventions within the military context. Although a number of programs aimed at improving the mental health of service members have been used by militaries around the world, the lion’s share of such programs have been implemented within the branches of the U.S.



military (see Bowles & Bates, 2010; see also Meredith et al., 2011). Our focus in this section is on the most notable mental health interventions in use within U.S. and other militaries for which formal evaluative evidence exists. Battlemind Battlemind represents the inner strength and confidence in the face of adversity that soldiers must show (Adler, Bliese, McGurk, Hoge, & Castro, 2009a). The Battlemind program is aimed at reducing mental health symptoms by helping U.S. soldiers adapt to stress faced throughout the deployment cycle (Adler, Castro, & McGurk, 2009b). Battlemind interventions include two components training and debriefing. These interventions share some similarities (see Adler et al., 2009a), but differ substantially in goals, methods, and content. Battlemind Training. Battlemind training utilizes the general cognitivebehavioral therapy (CBT) model and incorporates aspects of cognitive adaptation associated with positive psychology and aims to develop mental toughness and self-confidence. It was initially developed to aid soldiers in the transition from combat deployment to life back home, providing specific skills and support relevant for the initial transition and for the subsequent 3 6 month postdeployment transition phase (Adler et al., 2009a). Battlemind training has since been extended to include training for spouses and children and army soldiers, leaders at multiple levels in the army, and healthcare personnel (see Bowles & Bates, 2010; Kubisiak et al., 2009). Soldier Battlemind training is conducted in small and large groups and consists of one hour sessions (see Adler et al., 2009a). Training sessions are supplemented with a series of training modules, with content developed from soldier focus groups and survey feedback (Castro, Adler, McGurk, & Bliese, 2012). Battlemind training also includes supplementary material and content based on the differential needs of soldiers, their spouses and children (separate interventions were developed for different age groups of children), army leaders (separate interventions were developed for immediate and senior leaders), and healthcare providers. Battlemind Debriefing. Unlike Battlemind training, the Battlemind debriefing intervention is best characterized as a stress management intervention, implemented in response to soldiers’ experience of traumatic events. Debriefings are conducted in groups (typically at the unit level; 20 30 participants per session) and revolve around discussions of a specific

Stress and Emotional Well-Being in Military Organizations


traumatic event. Debriefing sessions last approximately 50 minutes (Adler, Castro, & McGurk, 2007a; Adler et al., 2009b). Debriefing interventions implemented within the military context prior to Battlemind have been cited for having a number of shortcomings, including: reexposing participants to the initial trauma, being poorly adapted for the military context (e.g., not adequately dealing with issues surrounding stigma; Adler et al., 2007a; 2009b). Battlemind debriefing attempts to address these potential problems by creating a series of psychological debriefings designed specifically for the military context. In addition, three different debriefing formats exist for different specific stressful or traumatic experiences. Event- and time-driven debriefings are conducted with soldiers during combat deployment (i.e., ‘‘in-theatre’’). Event-driven debriefings are conducted in response to a specific traumatic event experienced by a unit. Time-driven debriefings are conducted on an interval schedule throughout the deployment, with a focus on the cumulative effects of deployment. Postdeployment debriefings are conducted with soldiers returning from deployments and focus on the stressors associated with reintegration (Adler et al., 2007a). Evidence of Battlemind Training and Debriefing Interventions. Four studies have demonstrated the efficacy of Battlemind postdeployment training and debriefing among American soldiers (Adler, Castro, Bliese, McGurk, & Miliken, 2007b; Adler et al., 2009a; Castro et al., 2012; Thomas et al., 2007). Overall, these studies suggest that Battlemind interventions have positive effects on health outcomes and emotional well-being. For example, among a large sample of U.S. soldiers returning from a year-long deployment, the effects of small- and large-group Battlemind training, Battlemind debriefing, and a stress education comparison condition were compared in relation to a series of postdeployment psychological health outcomes (Adler et al., 2009a). Among soldiers reporting high levels of combat exposure, those in all three Battlemind conditions reported fewer PTSD symptoms during a 4-month follow-up, compared to the stress education comparison group (ds ranged from .14 for Battlemind small-group training to .21 for Battlemind debriefing). Across variations in the Battlemind intervention, combat exposure conditions, and outcomes, Battlemind showed a small positive effect on mental health (d=.07). A follow-up study using a sample of soldiers returning from combat showed that those receiving Battlemind postdeployment training reported significantly fewer PTSD symptoms (d=.30) and depression symptoms (d=.23), and significantly greater life satisfaction (d=.18), with nonsignificant differences found for perceptions



of mental health stigma (Castro et al., 2012). A similar program has recently been piloted in the United Kingdom. The results of that trial provided evidence that the program may help reduce binge drinking among UK armed forces who have experienced high combat exposure (Mulligan et al., 2012). Boot Camp Survival Training for Navy Recruits A Prescription (BOOT STRAP) BOOT STRAP was developed to reduce depression rates, increase psychological functioning, and increase performance, with the overarching goal of reducing basic training attrition rates among U.S. naval recruits (Williams et al., 2004). The program was implemented in response to research which demonstrated that depression among naval recruits was likely the result of perceived stress, loneliness, life-changing events, and emotion-oriented coping, and that depression was negatively related to sense of belonging and task-oriented coping (Williams, Hagerty, Yousha, Hoyle, & Oe, 2002). BOOT STRAP consists of nine weekly classroom sessions (approximately 45 minutes each) in which groups of recruits discuss strategies for altering faulty thinking patterns, developing a greater sense of belonging and strengthening peer relationships, assessing oneself and one’s emotional reactions, and are provided training in stress management skills (Williams et al., 2004). Initial assessments of the validity of BOOT STRAP showed that among recruits at-risk for depression, participants randomly assigned to the program reported lower levels of loneliness (d=.32), lower insecure attachment (d=1.04), and higher levels of problem-solving coping (d=.60), compared to those in the nonintervention control group. In addition, individuals receiving the intervention had a significantly higher basic training completion rate than those in the control condition (86% vs. 74%, respectively). A follow-up evaluation of BOOT STRAP training among a group-randomized sample of at-risk and not-at-risk U.S. naval recruits found that those receiving the training reported significantly greater levels of group cohesion, positive coping strategies, perceived social support, and problem solving, and lower levels of negative coping strategies (Williams et al., 2007). Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2) is currently the primary preventive mental health and well-being program used by the U.S. Army (Casey, 2011). It represents the largest psychological health initiative ever implemented within the U.S. military (Cornum, Matthews, & Seligman,

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2011). CSF2 is aimed at developing psychosocial resilience in soldiers and is rooted in the principles of positive psychology in that the focus of the program is on preventing mental health problems and developing psychological strengths instead of attempting to treat psychological problems after they occur (Casey, 2011; Cornum et al., 2011). CSF2 takes a holistic approach which considers both the effects of family relationships on soldier health (Gottman, Gottman, & Atkins, 2011) and effects of military life on the mental health of soldiers’ families (Park, 2011). Consequently, CSF2 defines soldier fitness as a multidimensional construct, emphasizing the importance of emotional, family, social, and spiritual aspects of psychological health. Individual resilience training is provided throughout the army (Corum et al., 2011) and incorporates aspects of Battlemind (Adler et al., 2009a). However, CSF2 resilience training is most closely modeled after the Penn Resiliency Program (PRP; Gillham, Jaycox, Reivich, Seligman, & Silver, 1990), a resilience program previously used as a depression prevention program for adolescents and children (see Brunwasser, Gillham, & Kim, 2009). Individual resilience training is delivered primarily by master resilience trainers (MRTs). Using a train-the-trainer approach, unit leaders (usually Noncommissioned Officers; NCOs) are provided master resilience training prior to conducting individual resilience training within their unit (Cornum et al., 2011). To date, over 13,000 NCOs have completed MRT training (Office of CSF2, personal communication, December 14, 2012). Initial evidence using a large matched sample of nearly 10,000 soldiers has shown that soldiers with MRT trainers in their units are more optimistic, use more effective coping styles, and have better social relations than soldiers without MRTs in their units (Lester, Harms, Herian, Krasikova & Beal 2011c). However, the practical significance of these findings was quite small, as each of the observed effect sizes (Cohen’s d) was less than .10. Follow up analyses using this sample have demonstrated that increases in soldiers’ optimism and adaptability mediated the relationship between exposure to MRTs and reduced odds for mental health diagnoses (anxiety, depression, and PTSD). Furthermore, soldiers with MRTs in their units were diagnosed with substance abuse problems at a significantly lower rate (Harms, Herian, Krasikova, Vanhove & Lester, 2013). Another core component of CSF2 is the global assessment tool (GAT; Peterson, Park, & Castro, 2011). The GAT is a self-assessment inventory intended to measure psychosocial well-being. Feedback for the purposes of building self-awareness is provided to each soldier based on dimensional (emotional, family, social, and spiritual) scores using content that was largely



adapted from other existing measures (e.g., COPE, Carver, Scheier, & Weintraub, 1989; Positive and Negative Affect Schedule, Watson, Clark, & Tellegen, 1988; UCLA Loneliness Scale, Russell, Peplau, & Cutrona, 1980). Spouse and family interventions are completed individually through a series of training modules. For example, predeployment spousal resilience training aims to prepare the spouse for the hardships associated with managing the family while their significant other is on deployment, maintaining a strong relationship with their significant other throughout the deployment period, and teaches spouses resilience-based skills. This program has not yet been formally evaluated. Mental Skills Training Mental Skills Training (MST) consists of enhancing mental and emotional components of psychological functioning through a wide range of exercises, including mental rehearsal, positive imagery, goal setting, and self-talk (Martens, 1987; Rushall, 1992). Prior research on MST in the field of sport psychology has demonstrated positive effects on the self-confidence (e.g., Frey, Laguna, Ravizza, 2003), cohesion (e.g., Hodge & Hermansson, 2007), and performance (e.g., Thelwell & Greenlees, 2003) of athletes. Given the similar physical demands of athletes and soldiers, MST was expected to improve soldier performance (DeWiggins, Hite, & Alston, 2010) and resilience (Hammermeister, Pickering, & Lennox, 2011; Hammermeister, Pickering, & Ohlson, 2009). As a result, MST has been utilized in various resilience-building programs in the U.S. military. Two empirical studies have directly evaluated MST among soldiers. In one, the MST intervention involved 20 minute sessions, 3 4 times a week, for a 10-week period and included goal-setting, self-talk, and relaxation techniques. Participants reported greater self-confidence and resilience, and showed better performance on physical tests (Hammermeister, et al., 2010). In the other study, MST was utilized in a sample of Warrior Transition Units (WTUs), which are units tasked with caring for seriously injured soldiers (Hammermeister et al., 2009). Researchers implemented an education-based training that taught self-confidence building, use of imagery, and mental rehearsal, and found that MST improved the self-esteem of soldiers in WTUs. Trauma Risk Management Trauma Risk Management (TRiM), an intervention used within the UK armed forces, is unique among military interventions in that it does not aim to prevent or to treat mental health disorders. Rather, the purpose

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of TRiM is to identify those who may develop mental health problems in order to provide the appropriate subsequent intervention(s) (Greenberg, Langston, & Jones, 2008). TRiM uses a peer-to-peer support system following a traumatic event in an attempt to reduce stigma among military personnel associated with mental health problems (Greenberg et al., 2008; Greenberg et al., 2010). TRiM support practitioners are volunteer service members (i.e., peers). Practitioners receive basic training in traumatic risk assessment and trauma psychology. After an event, practitioners consult unit leaders regarding next steps and conduct initial (and one month followup) risk assessments of those exposed. Those who experienced trauma and continue to display mental health symptoms are referred to additional services (Greenberg et al., 2010). TRiM has been in widespread use within the UK armed forces in recent years (Greenberg, Jones, Jones, Fear, & Wessely, 2011). However, evaluations of the efficacy of the intervention have only recently been conducted. Findings from a group-randomized trial suggest minimal differences between the TRiM intervention and control groups in reported stress, PTSD, and stigma towards seeking mental health services (Greenberg et al., 2010). However, the authors noted that a limited number of traumatic events occurred during the period of study and that organizational functioning among the warships in the TRiM condition was higher than among control condition warships. In addition, the study did find that the number of disciplinary offenses in the year following the implementation of the program increased from 150 to 152 (1%) on the naval ships receiving the intervention, and from 162 to 205 (21%) on the naval ships not receiving the intervention. A second study tested the longitudinal (predeployment, in-theatre, and postdeployment assessment) effects of the TRiM intervention on mental health problems (Frappell-Cooke, Gulina, Green, Hacker, Hughes, & Greenberg, 2010). Researchers found that the UK Royal Marine company (with greater experience with TRiM) reported fewer instances of psychological distress (3%) postdeployment, compared to the UK Royal Army company (11%; using TRiM for the first time). However, this study used a nonrandomized design in which the company using TRiM for the first time had significantly more reports of psychological distress (21%) predeployment, compared to the company with greater experience with TRiM (8%). Warriors Prevail Stigma associated with mental health issues within the military population has often led soldiers with mental health symptoms to fail to seek the



appropriate resources and support (Hoge et al., 2004). Warriors Prevail addresses this problem by providing US soldiers anonymous access to psychological health resources (Prevail Health Solutions, 2011) via a web-based intervention. Warriors Prevail consists of a nine session (30 45 minutes each) e-learning training program aimed at mitigating mental health symptoms. The program also includes a number of supplemental resources: selfassessments, peer support, and a ‘‘Family Program.’’ Self-assessment scores are used to provide users with feedback and tailor subsequent training content to user needs. Second, peer support, via instant messaging, is provided to actual combat veterans who have been trained and certified to provide peer support. Third, the ‘‘Family Program’’ provides training and resources to the spouses and significant others of service members (Prevail Health Solutions, 2011). Results from preliminary studies suggest the program has been successful at reducing stigma among participants in careseeking attitudes, and that participants generally reacted positively to the program, both in terms of participant involvement and intervention content. A clinical trial involving OEF/OIF veterans is currently being conducted.

The Effect of Military Interventions Taken as a whole, mental health-related interventions appear to have some potential for improving service members’ mental health and well-being. This conclusion is based on the positive, but small effects (do.20) evidenced with regard to the majority of the interventions described above (e.g., Adler et al., 2009a; Lester et al., 2011c). However, the relatively small effect sizes raise the question of whether these small effects are important. To answer this question, it is important to understand the breadth and cost of mental health-related problems among military personnel in the United States and the United Kingdom, where the armed forces have been engaged in conflict for over a decade. Larger intervention effects have typically been found among those with greater levels of combat exposure (e.g., Adler et al., 2009a), thus being at greater risk for mental health problems. This may lend support to the potential value of mental healthrelated interventions. Maybe not surprisingly, it also appears that larger intervention effects have been found when outcomes have been measured more proximally postintervention, as well as when self-reported outcomes have been measured, as opposed to when objective behavioral outcomes have been used.

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Evidence suggests that 56% of the 1.6 million of American OEF/OIF veterans who left active duty between 2002 and 2012 obtained Veterans Affairs (VA) healthcare by the end of 2012 (Bagalman, 2013), with the cost of healthcare for soldiers estimated to anywhere from $422 to $717 billion (Stiglitz & Bilmes, 2008). The number of U.S. veterans who began treatment for PTSD, alone, between the years of 2004 and 2009 was over 100,000, with an estimated cost of $8,000 per patient in the first year of treatment (Congressional Budget Office, 2012). These estimates suggest that even small effects, at the population level, can be important at both the individual level (i.e., preventing mental health problems in individuals and improving their psychological well-being) and the organizational level (i.e., reducing healthcare costs and the burden on the military health care system; see Meyer et al., 2001). This is particularly true when residual effects over longer periods of time are considered (Bliese, Adler, & Castro, 2011).

CONCLUSIONS There is perhaps no context where stress and emotional well-being are more important than they are in the military. These factors play a tremendously important role in determining performance, health outcomes, and turnover intentions in this context. Beyond the rigors of day-to-day life in the military, the negative effects associated with the high stress experience of combat deployments often spill into the family domain as well. Yet despite the importance of these factors and the dedicated efforts of researchers working in this domain, fully capturing the nature of the processes underlying these phenomena remains elusive. Studying emotions and wellbeing in the military context is inherently difficult owing to a variety of factors. First and foremost, the military is an organizational culture characterized by an unwillingness to display emotions or acknowledge personal weakness. This, coupled with a distrust of mental health practitioners, makes gathering reliable, accurate data a constant challenge. Moreover, given the fact that service members are constantly rotating in and out of combat environments, there is an extremely high degree of variability in their reported emotional well-being over time. Add to this the fact that a large number of factors contributing to the experience of stress and wellbeing make a comprehensive study capturing all relevant factors logistically (and potentially statistically) impossible. Thus, we are left with an incomplete picture. Prior literature has identified a number of important risk factors and has established that both personality



and relational circumstances can serve as protective factors, but much is still left to be discovered. A host of relevant personality characteristics (e.g., emotional intelligence, attachment styles) remain relatively unexamined. Further, the relational literature has failed to explore such obvious avenues for research as the importance of family and social networks in nonmarried service members. Perhaps even more intriguing is the potential future directions for interventions designed to increase emotional well-being and develop resiliency against stress. To date, most programs have utilized CBTbased interventions. Although they have proven effective, their impact on emotional well-being and health outcomes is typically quite small and implementing them is often quite expensive. As an example, future research in this area might utilize cognitive bias modification (CBM) techniques as a much less expensive, yet equally effective alternative (see Hakamata et al., 2010 for a review). One final concern in this field of research is that the vast majority of research has been conducted on professional, voluntary forces (e.g. United States, United Kingdom, and Canada) and nearly all studies focus on single countries or specific forces within countries. Consequently, it is difficult to determine what role that organizational culture plays as a determinant of stress and well-being outcomes. For example, it is entirely possible that militaries that utilize conscription will show larger relationships between protective psychological factors and stress outcomes simply because they are not limited by restriction of range issues stemming from selection procedures that screen for potential mental health problems. Cross-national studies comparing military cultures and how they influence stress and well-being outcomes are clearly warranted. The issues surrounding emotional well-being and stress in the military may be complex, but the importance of the problem cannot be overlooked. This is a context that plays a role in the lives of millions of individuals, both directly and indirectly. We have an obligation as scientists to work to better understand these phenomena, to document their effects, and to work to make the lives of our men and women in uniform better if we can.

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MOTIVES FOR EMOTION REGULATION IN SERVICE WORK Laura von Gilsa and Dieter Zapf ABSTRACT This chapter describes the role of service employees’ motives for emotion regulation in interactions with customers. To date, there has been little research and theoretical work on motives for emotion regulation in service work. The reason for this may lie in the fact that there is an implicit general assumption that employees regulate their emotions in customer interactions because of display rules given by the organization. We argue that service employees have more motives for emotion regulation than adhering to display rules. We propose that three fundamental motive categories which are relevant for general emotion regulation are also relevant in the service work context. Moreover, we argue that the different motive categories are important antecedents for the further emotion regulation process. We propose that depending on the motive category different emotion regulation strategies are used as well as moderating effects of the motives with an impact on the consequences of emotion regulation such as well-being. The chapter concludes by pointing to practical implications. Keywords: Emotion regulation; display rules; motives; service context

The Role of Emotion and Emotion Regulation in Job Stress and Well Being Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Volume 11, 133–161 Copyright r 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3555/doi:10.1108/S1479-3555(2013)0000011009




INTRODUCTION Understanding the impact of motivational processes on emotion regulation at work is a relevant topic for present and future research (e.g., Grandey, Diefendorff, & Rupp, 2013; Tamir, 2011). To date, however, research on emotion regulation has focused on how service employees regulate their emotions in interactions with customers (e.g., Brotheridge & Lee, 2002; Diefendorff, Morehart, & Gabriel, 2010; Grandey, 2003; Mann, 1999). As far as we know, there has been little theoretical work and research dealing with the question of why employees regulate their emotions (for exceptions see Bolton, 2005; Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003; Glasø, Ekerholt, Barman, & Einarsen, 2006). The reason for this may lie in the fact that there is an implicit general assumption that service employees regulate their emotions in customer interactions because of display rules such as ‘‘service with a smile’’ (e.g., Hochschild, 1983). Furthermore, as far as we know, there has been no empirical research focusing on the role of the motives as antecedents of the further emotion regulation process. In this chapter we propose that there are also other motives relevant for service employees’ emotion regulation than the fulfillment of display rules. While display rules and their inherent emotion norms play an important role at work, other norms and expectations, such as, for example, authenticity or prosociality, are important as well (Fischer, Manstead, Evers, Timmers, & Valk, 2004). In fact, employees not only try to reach work goals given by the organization but are also motivated by a variety of personal goals such as pleasure, respect, and sincere relations (e.g., Bradley, McColl-Kennedy, Sparks, Jimmieson, & Zapf, 2010; Jahoda, 1981). These work and personal motives may lead to a different use of the different emotion regulation strategies such as surface acting and deep acting. Thus, motives are important antecedents for the further emotion regulation process with different consequences on well-being and performance. In the following sections, therefore we first review the literature with regard to the role of motives for emotion regulation in service work. Thereby, we also refer to findings from general motivation psychology. There is no doubt that service employees regulate their emotions to adhere to organizationally given display rules. However, in the following we argue that, additionally to fulfilling work tasks given by the organization, there are also two kinds of personal motive categories of importance for service employees’ emotion regulation in interactions with customers. Second, we propose that the motives for emotion regulation are antecedents of the different emotion regulation strategies. We provide propositions

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concerning the relationships between the three kinds of motive categories for emotion regulation and the different emotion regulation strategies. Additionally, we discuss the consequences of emotion regulation on wellbeing and performance as well as potential moderator effects of the motives. We finish this chapter with some practical implications by discussing how organizations can benefit from their service employees’ different motives for emotion regulation active in customer interactions. Our aim is to make a significant contribution to the advancement of theory in the field of emotion regulation in the workplace. We provide propositions for future research and practice with the goal of reducing stress and heightening well-being for service employees by gaining more insight into the antecedents and consequences of emotion regulation in service work.

THEORY Motives for Emotion Regulation In the following section, we first define emotion regulation. We proceed with describing work and personal motives for emotion regulation and outline the multi-determination of emotion regulation. Emotion Regulation Emotions always contain regulatory processes because unregulated emotions do not exist (e.g., Campos, Walle, Dahl, & Main, 2011; Kappas, 2011; Thompson, 2011). One reason for this is that emotions lead to the regulation of other processes within the individual and thus always contain emotion regulation in some sense (Kappas, 2011). In this context, an interesting question is why and to what end individuals regulate their emotions. In order to understand the motives for emotion regulation it is necessary also to understand what individuals truly value in terms of emotions (von Scheve, 2012). Nevertheless, the majority of research on emotion regulation still focuses on the question of how emotions are regulated, but not why emotion regulation takes place (Tamir, 2011). However, knowledge of the motives for emotion regulation is important because the motives define the direction of regulation (Tamir & Mauss, 2011). Thus, the current challenge is to examine why, when, and how motives arise and emotion regulation takes place (Tamir, 2011).



So far, little is known about the motives that stimulate individuals to engage in emotion regulation (Gross, 1999; Tamir, 2009). Emotion regulation can be described as individuals’ attempts to influence their emotions because they want to feel a certain way (Gross, 2002; Tamir, 2009). By means of regulating emotions, individuals try to influence which emotions they experience, when they have them, as well as how they express these emotions (Gross, 1998). Given that emotions influence many different areas of human life, emotion regulation is an important goal in itself (Hirt & McCrea, 2000). But what are the specific motives for emotion regulation? For example, why would a person want to change or modify what he/she actually feels? Or why does a person tend to express some emotions and suppress others? Emotion Regulation in Service Work A seemingly straightforward answer to the questions why, when, and how emotions are regulated has been given in the area of service work: Service organizations have clear expectations of their employees’ interactions with customers (e.g., Thoits, 2004). For example, a common organizational goal of service organizations is customer satisfaction, which is to be reached through their employees’ customer orientation (e.g., Groth, HenningThurau, & Wang, 2013; Zeithaml & Bitner, 2000). Customer orientation can be exhibited by employees during interactions with customers, for example, by being very polite or by asking about the customer’s needs (Bradley et al., 2010). In employee customer interactions as in any social interactions, emotions play an important role. Therefore, organizations specify explicit and/or implicit rules that serve as standards for the appropriate expression of emotions (e.g., Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993; Briner, 1999; Hochschild, 1983; Rafaeli & Sutton, 1987). Ekman (1973) coined the rules about appropriate emotional expression ‘‘display rules’’ to describe the norms and standards of behavior that specify which emotions are expected in a certain situation. Display rules dictate which emotions are appropriate and how these should be expressed to others and thus aim to guide employee emotion displays in a particular way (e.g., Brotheridge & Grandey, 2002; Diefendorff, Richard, & Croyle, 2006; Grandey, 2000; van Maanen & Kunda, 1989; Wharton & Erickson, 1993; Zapf, 2002). Such display rules are placed on employees to ensure that customer interactions go well so that organizations’ higher-order performance goals can be reached (Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003). Wharton and Erickson (1993) called the specific rules for the expression of positive and the suppression of negative emotions ‘‘integrative display rules.’’ These kinds of display rules are defined

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as employees’ in-role job requirements in fields of work such as service or health care (Diefendorff et al., 2006). This active emotion regulation to fulfill emotional job requirements by expressing organizationally desired emotions is called emotion work (e.g., Zapf, 2002) or emotional labor (e.g., Hochschild, 1983). Employees are often selected, trained, and monitored for their adherence to display rules (Ashkanasy, Haertel, & Daus, 2002; Hochschild, 1983; Rafaeli & Sutton, 1987), because this is thought to contribute to organizational success (Barger & Grandey, 2006; Pugh, 2001; Tsai & Huang, 2002). A common display rule is ‘‘service with a smile’’ where expressions of friendliness are expected of service employees during interactions with customers (e.g., Brotheridge & Grandey, 2002; Diefendorff & Richard, 2003; Rafaeli & Sutton, 1987; van Maanen & Kunda, 1989). To meet such display rules, service employees often have to actively regulate their emotions in interactions with customers with either positive or negative outcomes on well-being and performance (see, e.g., Grandey & Diamond, 2010; Zapf & Holz, 2006). To conclude, for service workers there is a clear answer why employees regulate their emotions: They do so because it is a part of their work role to adhere to display rules prescribed by the organization (Hochschild, 1983; Rafaeli & Sutton, 1987). Emotion regulation to display organizationally expected emotions is a duty which has to be accomplished by the employees to not endanger their jobs. In the following, we call this broad work motive category instrumental. In a theoretical sociological work by Bolton (2005) which describes types of emotion management in the workplace, it is also argued that employees regulate their emotions because of instrumental work motives. Motive examples of the broad instrumental motive category from this approach are pecuniary motives which are based on commercial display rules and prescriptive motives which are based on professional feeling rules. The results of a qualitative study by Glasø et al. (2006) with eight leaders and eight subordinates which explicitly deals with motives for emotion regulation also give empirical evidence that the obedience of display rules is a relevant motive for emotion regulation. Personal Motives for Emotion Regulation In the following we argue that obeying organizational display rules is not the only reason why employees regulate their emotions. The reason is that human beings have multiple needs and work is more than just an opportunity for earning money for the daily living. In her seminal work Jahoda (1981) differentiated the manifest function of work – the opportunity to earn money – and several latent functions such as the



provision of social contacts outside the family, structuring of time, personal status and identity, and pleasure or the linkage to wider goals. Bradley et al. (2010) argue with reference to Jahoda, that service interactions not only have the function of satisfying work-related material/economic needs, but also have the latent function of fulfilling various psychological needs of employees. Employees in service interactions can have several personal psychological needs such as the needs for cognition, competence, control, justice, power, trust, respect, and pleasing relations. In Bradley et al. (2010) service encounter needs theory, a basic assumption is that work behavior is multidetermined because employees have multiple needs. In line with that, we argue that this also applies for the regulation of emotion: employees not only have work motives but also personal motives for emotion regulation in customer interactions to satisfy their various psychological needs while being at work. Service workers might not only want to regulate their emotions to adhere to an organizational display rule but also because of the various psychological needs described above. They might, for example, regulate emotions to make a competent appearance, to build pleasing relations or to show or demand respect. In psychological literature on general emotion regulation, the basic assumption is that emotions are regulated to satisfy hedonic/pleasure and utilitarian/instrumental motives (see e.g. Erber & Erber, 2000; Keltner & Gross, 1999; Parrott, 2002; Tamir, 2011). In addition, emotion regulation which takes place in social interactions can be considered as a relational process (see, e.g., Barbalet, 2011; Erber & Erber, 2000; Kappas, 2011). The basic assumption hereby is that this interpersonal emotion regulation which is influenced by social processes is motivated by social conflict prevention goals (e.g., Erber & Erber, 2000). In line with these basic assumptions from general psychology, we argue that there are three basic motive categories – consisting of instrumental, pleasure, and prevention motives – relevant for service employees’ emotion regulation at work. Hereby, one important point to note is that although the emotion regulation takes place during work, the employees are not only motivated by work but also by personal goals. Only the instrumental motives are partly based on work goals whereas the pleasure and prevention motives are based on personal goals. Pleasure, Prevention, and Instrumental Motives for Emotion Regulation A fundamental motivation of human beings is hedonism. The major assumption of the hedonic approach is that emotion regulation is primarily driven by immediate affective considerations, also known as hedonic pleasure: individuals are motivated by short-term hedonic goals to increase

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or maintain pleasure and to decrease negative emotions (e.g., Fisher, 2010; Koole, 2009; Larsen, 2000; Tice, Baumeister, & Zhang, 2004; Tice & Bratslavsky, 2000). The focus on hedonic pleasure builds on the assumption that there are pleasant as well as unpleasant emotions. A further assumption is that individuals in general prefer pleasure over pain and therefore, they want to increase pleasant and decrease unpleasant emotions (Tamir, Mitchell, & Gross, 2008). From this personal pleasure motivation point of view, employees use emotion regulation in customer interactions to influence own and customers’ emotions in order to serve personal goals such as having pleasing relations or feeling good (e.g., Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003). Generally, in ongoing relationships the parties like each other and are motivated to improve the interaction because of probable future interactions (Hatfield, Cacioppo, & Rapson, 1994). Moreover, as already described above, the quality of the interactions between employees and customers is a relevant component for both parties. For service employees, the quality of the interactions is an important source as their service interactions are the main part of their workday and therefore must serve to satisfy various psychological needs (Bradley et al., 2010). Thus, we propose that the general hedonic motivation of human beings to feel pleasure results in a personal pleasure motive category which is also relevant for service employees’ emotion regulation at work. Similarly, Bolton (2005) suggests philanthropic emotion management in the workplace which means to regulate one’s own emotions as a ‘‘gift’’ to the interaction partner (and not for instrumental reasons, see below). This motive can be seen as an example for the personal pleasure motive category because a gift usually has positive personal consequences, like for example feeling good, not only for the presentee but also for the giver. A motive example for the personal pleasure motive category from Glasø et al. (2006) is the aim to protect one’s self-worth by avoiding possible discomfort because here the goal is to increase pleasure and to decrease unpleasant emotions. In contrast to the hedonic approach, the instrumental approach to emotion regulation proposes that the main motive for emotion regulation is not to feel good, but to reach a prioritized goal (e.g., Erber & Erber, 2000; Fischer et al., 2004; Martin, 2000; Parrott, 1993; Tamir, 2009). In this approach, the relevance of short- and long-term goals lies in the fact that motives for emotion regulation typically also contain specific long-term goals (Tamir, 2011; Thompson, 2011). To reach long-term utility it is often necessary to abandon instant pleasure because short-term pleasure and long-term utility do not always concur (e.g., Baumeister, 1998; Tamir, 2011). This further implies that unpleasant emotions such as anger or sadness may



be necessary to reach long-term goals (Freitas & Salovey, 2000; Tamir, Chiu, & Gross, 2007). For example, from an instrumental point of view, increasing happiness in anticipation of reward is useful and is also consistent with hedonic considerations. From an instrumental point of view, increasing worry in anticipation of threat is useful but inconsistent with hedonic considerations because it is definitely not pleasant to experience (Tamir et al., 2007). In this respect, emotion regulation belongs to the broader category of self-regulation which contains the exercise of control over oneself to reach important goals (Baumeister, 1998; Tamir et al., 2007). Selfregulation may involve substituting a short-term with a long-term goal (Tice & Bratslavsky, 2000). To maintain long-term goals, individuals often engage in emotion regulation for instrumental reasons (e.g., Kanfer & Kantrowitz, 2002; Tamir, 2009). Thus, instrumental motives for emotion regulation to reach goals in the long run at least imply that people prefer to express useful emotions, even if this is not pleasant for them in this moment, when expected future benefits outweigh immediate benefits (e.g., Frijda, 1999; Kanfer & Kantrowitz, 2002; Koole, 2009; Martin, 2000; Parrott, 1993; Tamir, 2005, 2009). This is in line with emotional intelligence theories according to which one component of emotional intelligence is to use emotions instrumentally to reach specific goals (e.g., Mayer & Salovey, 1997). The work instrumental motive category described above is one element of this general instrumental motive category. Here, the abundance of instant pleasure to reach long-term utility is especially relevant. For example, if customers behave nasty, employees may try not to display their anger because the expression of this negative emotion would be against the rules of the organization and thus would endanger their job; although the expression of anger would do better in that moment. Finally, emotion regulation is affected by social processes because emotions within an individual are influenced by processes from the social environment outside the individual (Kappas, 2011). Moreover, it is argued that most emotions evolve during social interactions and thus are socially constructed (Barbalet, 2001; Parkinson, Fischer, & Manstead, 2005). Thus, although emotions and their regulation happen within an individual, the process often seems to be influenced by the social environment, for example by the emotions of other individuals. In this regard, the development of emotions may be contingent on the process of the on-going interaction in that the individual’s perception of the actual situation influences the emotions. Moreover, the social construction of emotions during interactions is a dynamic process which is always based on the context of the respective developing or on-going relationship with the interaction partner. Related

Motives for Emotion Regulation in Service Work


to this assumption is the view that the development of emotions is influenced by the history of the relationship as well as by future projections of how the relationship will be (Boiger & Mesquita, 2012). This assumption further implies the existence of mutual influence in the form of so-called emotion cycles, in which the evoked emotions also shape the very relationships from which they arose (Hareli & Rafaeli, 2008). Emotion regulation is influenced by perceptions of how the interaction partner is likely to react if certain emotions are expressed or not expressed. Men tend to be more concerned with gaining control and influence by displaying emotions, while women tend to be more interested in maintaining the relationship with the other person. However, everyone has the goal of self-preservation which is based on a general will of personal survival (Manstead & Fischer, 2000). Thus, social constraints and appropriateness concerns as well as conflict prevention often motivate the emotion regulation of individuals (e.g., Erber & Erber, 2000). For example, not showing anger may help to avoid a situation from escalating. Thus, the need for emotion regulation also lies in the need for social conflict prevention. This means that the goal of emotion regulation is not only to reach instrumental goals, but also to pursue interpersonal goals of conflict prevention in social interactions, like, for example, avoiding escalation and keeping control (cf, Fischer et al., 2004). Generally, the main part of service employees’ work is having social interactions with customers. If these customer interactions fail, the consequences may be crucial because, for example, both interaction partners have an important affective and cognitive impact on each other which may result in reciprocal dynamics of negative exchange spirals between the dyads of customers and employees (Groth & Grandey, 2012). Therefore, we propose that for service employees conflict prevention is also a fundamental motive category for emotion regulation at work to satisfy own personal needs such as control and respect. Similarly, Bolton (2005) suggests presentational emotion management in the workplace based on social feeling rules which is done for the stability of the interaction according to social norms. A motive example from Glasø et al. (2006) for the personal prevention category is the consideration of the climate in work interactions. The Multidetermination of Emotion Regulation Emotion regulation is one element of behavioral self-regulation which is done to reach higher-order goals (Larsen, 2000; Thompson, 2011). A basic approach to the understanding of such self-regulation systems is control or cybernetic theory (for more details see, e.g., Carver & Scheier, 1982, 1998; Frese & Zapf, 1994). Hereby, one basic assumption is that behavior is



goal-directed and multidetermined (Frese & Zapf, 1994; Gollwitzer & Bargh, 1996). Diefendorff and Gosserand (2003) apply control theory models of self-regulation and motivation theories to the field of emotion regulation at work in order to explain why and how some employees adhere to organizational display rules and others do not. In this context, the basic assumption is that emotion regulation at work is part of goal-directed action (Zapf, 2002). A goal-directed action consists of a sequence of action steps, which is guided by a pyramid-like hierarchical structure of goals and their inherent subgoals (Frese & Zapf, 1994; Hacker, 1985). Thus, there may be multiple motives active at any given time and an individual’s behavior depends on the integration of all goals which are present in that given moment. Therefore, goals and behaviors are organized hierarchically and thus are increasingly important as one climbs up the goal hierarchy (Broadbent, 1977; Carver & Scheier, 1998; Frese & Zapf, 1994; Hacker, 1985). Goals and their subgoals are organized by a pyramid-like hierarchical structure where the achievement of goals at the lower level is necessary to attain goals at the higher level (Frese & Zapf, 1994). Goals initiate certain actions in the fashion of a cybernetic control loop where feedback processes signal if a goal is attained or not (Frese & Zapf, 1994). The control model of emotion regulation is based on this concept of goal hierarchies where organizational emotional display rules (e.g., being friendly) are sub-goals of higher-order goals (e.g., selling a product) while themselves having sub-goals (e.g., smiling) (Coˆte´, Moon, & Miners, 2010; Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003). However, several goal hierarchies can exist simultaneously. These different goal hierarchies can be positively related or can be in conflict with each other (Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003). The interesting point to note concerning self-regulation in the work context is that also at work multiple needs have to be satisfied (cf, Bradley et al., 2010). More precisely, employees are not only motivated by certain work but also by certain personal goals. Thereby, both kinds of goals are represented in different goal hierarchies which exist simultaneously (cf, Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003). Then, emotion regulation may be relevant for work and personal goal hierarchies at the same time. This is the case, for example, if the work goal is to be friendly and the personal goal is not to fake emotions but to be authentic. Depending on the congruence of work and personal goal hierarchies, there can be positive or negative relationships between the achievement of different goals (Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003). A positive relationship exists, for example, if personal and work goals can be reached through the same emotional displays. An example is, if the personal goal is to build a good relationship with the customer and the work goal is to be


Motives for Emotion Regulation in Service Work

friendly to the customer. A negative relationship exists if the achievement of goals in one hierarchy may be reached at the expense of goals in the other hierarchy. An example is, if the personal goal is not to fake emotions and thus to express negative emotions although the display rules state to only show positive emotions to the customer. However, there can also be no relationships between the achievement of the different goal hierarchies and then, the goals of the most important hierarchy will be pursued (Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003; Frese & Zapf, 1994). Summary Concerning the Motives for Emotion Regulation To summarize, the existence of different motives shows that individuals are not passive when it comes to emotions, but engage actively in the regulation of their affective states even without any external requirement to do so (e.g., Forgas, 2000; Forgas & Fiedler, 1996). Furthermore, control theory is a useful approach to describe how individuals can self-regulate their emotions to serve these different motives. However, most of the research on emotion regulation in the workplace is built on the implicit assumption that employees’ emotion regulation is only motivated by the work goal of adhering to display rules to express organizationally desired emotions. Researchers usually do not examine whether employees have further motives for emotion regulation. However, few authors have already dealt with the question of motives for emotion regulation in the workplace. Fig. 1 gives an integrated overview of our theoretical framework concerning service employees’ motives for emotion regulation in interactions with customers. The figure shows that employees may be motivated by instrumental work motives and personal pleasure and prevention motives.

Work Motives

Fig. 1.

Personal Motives




motive category

motive category

motive category

(e.g. organizational display rule)

(e.g. personal aim to feel good)

(e.g. social norm to prevent conflict)

Motive Categories

Instrumental Work and Personal Pleasure and Prevention Motive Categories for Emotion Regulation in Service Work.



Motives and Emotion Regulation Strategies Employees are supposed to show organizationally expected emotions. Thus, the use of emotion regulation strategies is of great interest for organizations. This may be the reason why research on emotion regulation has mainly focused on how emotions are regulated. So far, there was less focus on the antecedents of the emotion regulation strategies. But why do employees use deep acting in some situations and show only faked emotions in others? We argue that the reason therefore lies in the motives for emotion regulation which are antecedents of the emotion regulation strategies. That means, depending on the kind of motive category which is salient in a situation different emotion regulation strategies tend to be used. Therefore, the aim of this section is to discuss the relationships between the motives for emotion regulation and different emotion regulation strategies. In the first step, we will describe the emotion regulation strategies. Then, we will proceed with our propositions concerning the relationships. Emotion Regulation Strategies The regulation of emotions can be attained via several strategies (see, e.g., Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993; Grandey, 2000; Gross, 1998; Hochschild, 1983; Zapf, 2002). One possible strategy is surface acting, which is defined as the regulation of visible behavior in order to match one’s emotion display to the emotions required while inner feelings remain unchanged. A second possible strategy, called deep acting, is the regulation of inner feelings to match one’s emotion display and the emotions required (Hochschild, 1983). A further strategy is automatic emotion regulation (see Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993: genuinely felt emotions and Hochschild, 1983: passive deep acting), which is executed effortlessly: it is the regulation of inner feelings and visible behavior, like facial and body gestures, in an automatic mode because a desired emotion is automatically elicited by the situation (Zapf, 2002). Finally, emotional deviance is a strategy resulting in displayed and felt emotions that do not match desired emotions, with the deviance either being intentional or unintentional (Rafaeli & Sutton, 1987). Especially the two emotion regulation strategies of deep acting and surface acting have received attention in theory and research (e.g., Grandey, 2000; Gross, 1998). According to Grandey (2000), deep acting is an antecedent-focused emotion regulation strategy (Gross, 1998) which means that the regulation takes place before an emotion fully develops. The goal is to bring the felt emotions in line with the required ones. This is attained, for example, through either changing the situation or through changing the

Motives for Emotion Regulation in Service Work


perception of the situation (e.g., cognitive change or attentional deployment). Surface acting is a response-focused emotion regulation strategy (Gross, 1998) which means that the regulation takes place when the emotion has already developed. The goal is not to change the inner feelings, but to adjust the emotional expression by suppressing and/or faking expected emotions (Grandey, 2000). Relationships between the Motives for Emotion Regulation and the Emotion Regulation Strategies At this point, it is unclear whether there is a difference between emotional expressions which are performed because of display rules and emotional expressions which are displayed for other reasons. For example, social context may influence the adherence of display rules, but also the strength and type of other motivations to regulate the expression of emotions (Zaalberg, Manstead, & Fischer, 2004). Further, employees may use different emotion regulation strategies depending on the underlying motive for emotion regulation (Bolton, 2005). Thus, it is important to understand how each of the three motive categories is related to the different emotion regulation strategies. Instrumental Motives and Emotion Regulation Strategies. The instrumental view of emotion regulation proposes that emotions are regulated to reach instrumental aims (Parrott, 1993; Tamir, 2011). As its main assumption this approach asserts that the aim is not a state of hedonic pleasure, but rather the attainment of a specific prioritized goal (Thompson, 2011). A further assumption of this instrumental approach is that individuals are not necessarily trying to change the emotion they feel when regulating their emotions to attain the instrumental task (Tamir, 2011). As empirically shown display rules increase the likelihood of suppressing negative emotions (Diefendorff, Erickson, Grandey, & Dahling, 2011). We therefore propose that employees who regulate their emotions because of instrumental work motives should more likely engage in surface acting. We base this proposition on the assumption that it is seen as sufficient for the service worker to only show the required emotion in order to meet work goals instead of actually trying to feel it (cf, Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993). Proposition 1. Instrumental motives are positively related to surface acting.



Pleasure Motives and Emotion Regulation Strategies. If the motivation is personal instead of work-based, then it should be more important to really feel the desired emotion and not to fake it because authenticity is a major variable for the personal identity of human beings (e.g., Briner, 1999; Rogers, 1951; Zapf, 2002). Furthermore, in this personal case the desired positive emotion should be more often felt genuinely and expressed automatically (cf, Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993). The personal pleasure motive also includes having pleasing relationships which can be reached by heightening also the pleasure of others, for example. However, only authentic emotions provide the cues relevant to fulfilling these social functions and thus to also have a contagion effect on the interaction partner (Hu¨lsheger & Schewe, 2011). The model of emotion as social information states that emotional expressions provide interaction partners with important information and thus influence their behavior (e.g., van Kleef, 2009). It has been shown that positive emotional expressions only lead to positive reactions if the interaction partner perceives them as authentic (Grandey, Fisk, Mattila, Jansen, & Sideman, 2005). Therefore, the evocation of positive emotions in oneself and others that helps to feel good and to establish or maintain a good relationship only succeeds if the emotions are sincere and authentic. Generally, customers value relationships with employees as good if their expectations of genuine interpersonal relationships are met (Zapf, 2002). Thus, in service employee-customerrelationships the strategy of deep acting may particularly pay off because it leads to positive affect in oneself and others as well as to good relationships which may compensate the employee for the consumption of resources. It has also been empirically shown that employees are more likely to use deep acting in pleasant interactions (Totterdell & Holman, 2003). Thus, we propose, if the motivation is to heighten pleasure, then it should be more important for the service worker to really feel the required emotions instead of only faking them. Thus, employees motivated by pleasure motives should be more likely to either automatically regulate their emotions or to use deep acting to really feel the desired emotion. Proposition 2. Pleasure motives are positively related to automatic emotion regulation and deep acting. Prevention Motives and Emotion Regulation Strategies. In general, individuals continuously manage their emotions which is why this process often runs automatically without conscious awareness (e.g., Lord & Levy, 1994). However, under certain circumstances the regulation does not occur

Motives for Emotion Regulation in Service Work


automatically because, for example, the situation is novel and/or important, discrepancies are large, the appropriate expression is difficult and so forth. If a discrepancy is anticipated (e.g., interactions with this customer are always difficult), employees have more time to prepare in advance or early during the interaction, which may result in deep acting which is antecedent-focused and changes the inner feelings so that an appropriate emotional expression naturally occurs. This strategy may also be used before an event to prevent discrepancies from occurring, which would be a so-called feed-forward mechanism (Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003). If early antecedent-focused deep acting is ineffective or not possible, then – in terms of control theory’s feedback loops – the continued presence of a discrepancy is expected to lead to the use of a response-focused strategy which may be either surface acting or emotional deviance (see Beal & Trougakos, 2013). For example, if a discrepancy is unexpected (e.g., an otherwise friendly customer is rude and this evokes a negative emotion in the employee), employees can use the response-focused strategy of surface acting which changes only the expression but not the felt emotion. Empirical results also show that in unpleasant interactions employees tend to use surface acting more often (Totterdell & Holman, 2003). However, it has been shown that employees who interacted with impolite customers claimed it to be more difficult to express the expected emotions (Rupp & Spencer, 2006). In such cases, if it is not possible for employees to show the required emotions, maybe because the customer is too rude, the strategy of emotional deviance can be used. We argue that if the motive is conflict prevention the service employees try hard not to let the situations escalate. Further, because this is a motive of the personal goal hierarchy, the employees want to show authentic emotions because this is a necessity for solving conflicts in social interactions. Trying to solve a conflict situation by only expressing fake emotions is not a successful strategy because interaction partners often notice and feel offended. Moreover, only employees’ authentic positive emotional expressions evoke positive emotions in customers which build a better basis for solving a conflict (e.g., Grandey, 2003). Thus, we propose that there is a positive relationship between the prevention motives and the strategy of deep acting. However, it may be the case that deep acting is not possible (e.g., the conflict arises suddenly) or not effective (e.g., the negative emotions are too strong). In this case, we propose that the employees will use the strategy of emotional deviance which means to show the emotions which are really felt in that moment because this is the only left possibility then to solve the conflict in a genuine way.



Proposition 3. Prevention motives are positively related to deep acting and emotional deviance. Fig. 2 gives an overview of the hypothesized relationships between the motive categories and the different emotion regulation strategies. Consequences of Emotion Regulation and the Moderating Effect of Motives Emotion regulation has an important impact on well-being and adaptive functioning (Tamir, 2011). There is a lot of empirical evidence for differentiated positive and negative effects of emotion regulation on wellbeing and performance outcomes (e.g., Hu¨lsheger & Schewe, 2011). In the following section, we will shortly describe the consequences of emotion regulation on performance outcomes and well-being. Then, we will proceed with a discussion of the role of motives as moderators of the relationships between emotion regulation strategies and well-being. Consequences of Emotion Regulation on Performance Outcomes Research has revealed that spending resources on the emotion regulation strategy of surface acting may cause a lack of resources needed for the execution of other job-related tasks, which may lead to impaired performance

Personal Motives

Work Motives




motive category

motive category

motive category

(e.g. organizational display rule)

(e.g. personal aim to feel good)

(e.g. social norm to prevent conflict)

Surface Acting

Fig. 2.

Automatic Emotion Regulation

Deep Acting

Emotional Deviance

Motive Categories

Emotion Regulation Strategies

Relationships between the Motive Categories and the Emotion Regulation Strategies.

Motives for Emotion Regulation in Service Work


(e.g., Baumeister, Bratslavsky, Muravan, & Tice, 1998; Richards & Gross, 2000). Moreover, it has been shown that inauthenticity is often noticed in social interactions and elicits negative reactions from the interaction partner (e.g., Henning-Thurau, Groth, Paul, & Gremler, 2006). For example, faking of emotions leads to unpleasant relationships with customers, which are accompanied by less loyalty, lower customer satisfaction and thus impaired performance (Hu¨lsheger & Schewe, 2011). In turn, authentic positive emotional expressions evoke positive emotions in customers and create rewarding customer interactions, because these strong positive relationships with customers help to increase performance (e.g., Grandey, 2003). In the service work context, increased performance is composed of higher customer satisfaction and loyalty on the one hand, and higher selfefficacy and personal accomplishment of the employee on the other hand (Brotheridge & Lee, 2002). This is why automatic regulation and deep acting should lead to positive consequences on outcome variables such as sales performance and personal accomplishment (Zapf, 2002). Hu¨lsheger and Schewe (2011) conducted a meta-analysis on emotion work and its effects on well-being and performance outcomes. Concerning performance outcomes, the authors report small negative relationships between surface acting and performance (in the form of task and emotional performance as well as customer satisfaction) in contrast to the positive relationships found for deep acting and performance (in the form of emotional performance and customer satisfaction). Consequences of Emotion Regulation on Well-Being Especially the emotion regulation strategy of surface acting has been found to be related to reduced well-being (e.g., Brotheridge & Grandey, 2002; Brotheridge & Lee, 2003; Grandey, 2003). One reason why surface acting can be stressful is that it consists of the amplification and/or suppression of emotions (Glomb & Tews, 2004). Such self-regulatory processes are effortful and spend mental resources (e.g., Baumeister et al., 1998; Rohrmann, Bechtoldt, Hopp, Hodapp, & Zapf, 2011). Regulating emotions via surface acting means constantly monitoring actual and expected emotions and investing effort into changing one’s emotional display, which reduces wellbeing and enhances strain, for example in the form of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization (e.g., Coˆte´, 2005; Grandey, 2003; Zapf, 2002). According to Hochschild (1983), individuals want to be authentic and selfexpressive, but especially surface acting might prevent this behavior. Inauthenticity has negative consequences on well-being: for example, it is related to states of depression and stress (e.g., Erickson & Wharton, 1997).



Another argument for the negative effect on well-being is that surface acting is usually done by suppressing negative emotions and faking positive ones, which means that there is still an experience of negative emotions under the mask, negatively affecting the psychological health (Gross & John, 2003; Tschan, Rochat, & Zapf, 2005). Concerning deep acting, past research has yielded mixed findings: some studies have found deep acting to be related to high strain (e.g., Grandey, 2003; Totterdell & Holman, 2003), while others have found it to be related to low strain (e.g., Brotheridge & Grandey, 2002; Brotheridge & Lee, 2002). Yet other studies suggest deep acting to be unrelated to strain (e.g., Beal, Trougakos, Weiss, & Green, 2006). However, with deep acting – as well as with surface acting – it is still unclear whether there are specific antecedents to emotion regulation that are associated with the different positive, neutral, or negative consequences (Coˆte´ et al., 2010). As opposed to surface acting, during which negative emotions are still felt, deep acting actually changes the emotions into positive ones which should have positive or at least no negative consequences for well-being (Hu¨lsheger & Schewe, 2011). Moreover, in Fredrickson’s (1998) broaden-and-build theory it is proposed that positive emotions trigger a positive spiral which results in better well-being in the long run (Fredrickson & Joiner, 2002). There is some evidence, for example based on Brotheridge and Grandey (2002) and Diefendorff and Richard (2003), suggesting that amplifying positive emotions such as pleasure may be related to low strain (Coˆte´ et al., 2010). Furthermore, showing sincere positive emotions in customer interactions through deep acting should result in positive reactions on the side of the customer (Coˆte´, 2005). Moreover, this should lead to good social relationships which are, according to Hobfoll’s (1989) conservation of resources theory, resources that can buffer stress (Hu¨lsheger & Schewe, 2011). Concerning resources, it has long been argued that deep acting requires fewer resources than does surface acting. This assumption is traced back to the fact that it is an antecedent-focused strategy which may take conscious effort to initiate the desired emotion, but the expression of this emotion requires less effort because it is done automatically since the emotion is felt then (e.g., Totterdell & Holman, 2003; Zapf, 2002). Opposed to that, others argue that deep acting might require high levels of motivation, role internalization, and engagement and thus might even be more exhausting than surface acting (Liu, Prati, Perrewe, & Ferris, 2008). The empirical results are mixed here as well. However, it can be concluded that deep acting uses mental resources and thus is effortful to a certain degree (Hu¨lsheger & Schewe, 2011). In their recent meta-analysis, Hu¨lsheger and Schewe (2011) found strong negative

Motives for Emotion Regulation in Service Work


relationships between surface acting and well-being (in the form of emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, psychological strain, and complaints). Concerning deep acting and well-being, the meta-analysis revealed zero relationships, except small but positive relationships with psychosomatic complaints and personal accomplishment. Overall, the consequences of deep acting on well-being still remain unclear. However, a further possible reason why surface acting is more exhausting than deep acting could be due to the fact that surface acting is used to serve work goals. In contrast, deep acting is proposed to be used due to a personal motivation. Satisfying personal goals may be perceived as less exhausting by employees than fulfilling work goals because the effort is for one’s own behalf which can lead to the feeling of lower depletion of resources or a more worthwhile effort. Moreover, satisfying personal motives may lead to positive consequences on well-being because one has reached personal goals which should result in true positive inner feelings and further positive feedback mechanisms as discussed above. Thus, we suppose that the use of deep acting because of personal motives needs effort to a certain degree, but may also have considerable positive consequences. If the overall outcome is positive or negative for well-being may depend on the type of the personal motive category: emotion regulation because of pleasure motives may have different consequences on the relationship between deep acting and wellbeing than emotion regulation because of prevention motives. Maybe deep acting has less or no negative consequences for well-being if used because of pleasure motives because it can be assumed that the overall situation is more positive. In contrast, because the prevention motives arise probably in situations which are conflict-laden, it should be more difficult to change the negative emotions into positive ones. Thus, the use of deep acting is more exhausting than compared to situations in which pleasure motives are salient. This would help to explain why the empirical results show different kinds of relationships - negative, no, as well as positive ones - between deep acting and well-being. Thus, the different motive categories might act as a moderator on the relationships between emotion regulation strategies and well-being. Proposition 4. Pleasure motives moderate the negative (positive) relationship between deep acting and well-being in the sense that the relationship is weaker (stronger) when pleasure is the motive for emotion regulation. Proposition 5. Prevention motives moderate the negative (positive) relationship between deep acting and well-being in the sense that the relationship is stronger (weaker) when prevention is the motive for emotion regulation.



IMPLICATIONS Organizations want their employees to show positive emotions to the customers and therefore state implicit or explicit emotional display rules (e.g., Grandey, 2000). Empirical results show that the perceived service quality and customer satisfaction is higher if employees display authentic emotions (e.g, Groth et al., 2013; Groth & Grandey, 2012). Thus, organizations ought to be interested that their service employees use automatic emotion regulation or deep acting when regulating their emotions in interactions with customers. However, as proposed above, employees use these two strategies only if motivated by the two personal motive categories pleasure and prevention. In turn, if employees regulate their emotions because of instrumental work motives, such as obeying organizational display rules, the strategy of surface acting will be used. Thus, an important implication for organizations is the fact that the different motive categories lead to a varying use of emotion regulation strategies. However, whether emotion regulation is beneficial for both – the organization and the employee – depends on whether or not emotional expressions are authentic or not (e.g., Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993; Coˆte´, 2005). Instrumental motives are expected to be positively related to surface acting only. To bring forth the expected authentic emotional expressions, one important implication is that organizations have to activate the personal motives instead of only the ones of the instrumental category to adhere to display rules. If organizations want their employees not only to display certain expected emotions but also to express them in an authentic way, they should make clear the personal value for employees. The personal value for employees could be that they also reach their personal goals of feeling pleasure, heightening trust and being authentic. Furthermore, organizations could emphasize the employees’ personal importance of emotion regulation for establishing sincere pleasing relations with others. Another possibility would be to strengthen the organizational identification of the employees: Employees who strongly identify with their organization and their organizational role perceive organizational work goals as their own personal goals (cf, Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993). Thus, with a higher identification, instrumental work motives should simultaneously become personally important which is expected to result in more authentic emotional displays either through the strategy of automatic emotion regulation or through deep acting. Described in terms of control theory, employees who are highly identified with the organization internalize the display rules and thus, merge the organizational work goals with their own personal goals

Motives for Emotion Regulation in Service Work


(Diefendorff & Gosserand, 2003). This is supported by a study of Gosserand and Diefendorff (2005): When service workers were highly committed to the display rules, stronger display rules perceptions were related to deep acting. No relation appeared when commitment was low. This means that a former instrumental motivation for emotion regulation has then turned into a personal goal and thus, hierarchical goal conflicts decrease a lot or even do not exist anymore (see Dahling & Johnson, 2013). One possibility to strengthen the organizational identification of the employees is transformational leadership (e.g., Avolio, Zhu, Koh, & Bhatia, 2004; Bono & Judge, 2003). Leaders with a transformational leadership style transform their employees’ self-concepts with the aim of promoting employee identification with the organizational goals (Shamir, House, & Arthur, 1993). Overall, the important fact for organizations is that they can benefit from their service employees’ different motives for emotion regulation. However, the existence of different motive categories also shows that it is neither sufficient nor the only solution for organizations to offer additional material rewards, for example in the form of financial bonuses, because employees are also motivated for emotion regulation by factors other than instrumental ones, such as fulfilling social norms. Further, if only work motives are activated, this will probably not lead to more authentic emotional expressions but only to the higher use of surface acting. Another important implication is that personal pleasure and prevention motives may serve employees’ needs but may nevertheless also be of benefit to organizations. Especially the personal pleasure motives should have positive consequences for the organization because the employees show authentic positive emotions which will result in sincere pleasing relations with customers which lead to higher organizational performance (e.g., Pugh, 2001). However, in some cases, the motives may clash with display rules and job role expectations. This may be the case if prevention is the motive for emotion regulation because this motive can lead to emotional deviance. Service employees may, for example, sometimes feel that they have the right to rebuke a customer because they feel they should deserve more respect although the organizational display rule might be to be friendly and to show positive emotions even in such a case. As proposed above, if the motive is personal prevention and deep acting is not successful, employees may show true emotions although they may be negative. However, this should be very seldom the case because, although service failures happen, customerdirected negative behavior is rare in everyday work (e.g., Bradley et al., 2010; Groth & Grandey, 2012). Moreover, the use of emotional deviance must not always be negative for organizations because this may even help



to improve the situation. If customers recognize that employees show their true emotions – even if negative – they may have the impression that the employee is really hit personally. This can lead to the effect that they themselves may be more willing to solve the conflict. However, in nearly all social interactions, individuals tend to create certain impressions and try to pose a specific role. This impression management goes along with the expression of appropriate emotions following certain situation specific rules (Goffmann, 1959). In the context of service work, past research primarily focused on emotions as a requirement of the job which is called emotional labor/emotion work (e.g., Hochschild, 1983; Zapf, 2002). Concerning emotion work, it is argued that it contains certain characteristics which are: it occurs in interactions with customers/ clients, emotions are expressed to influence the customer/client, and the expression of emotions follows certain rules (Hochschild, 1983; Morris & Feldman, 1997). However, in nearly all social interactions rules about appropriate and desirable emotional expressions exist and thus individuals’ emotional expressions nearly always follow some rules (Briner, 1999; Goffmann, 1959). These rules can exist, for example, in the form of explicit organizational display rules, or professional norms, or implicit societal expectations how individuals should behave in social interactions. Specifically concerning display rules, it is argued that display rules are influenced by organizational and occupational expectations as well as by social norms (e.g., Rafaeli & Sutton, 1987). These rules may be explicitly taught in one’s occupational education, for example, or may implicitly exist in certain social entities (e.g., Briner, 1999; Rafaeli & Sutton, 1987). It could be argued that emotion work based on personal motives for emotion regulation is done to influence own and customer’s emotions as the ultimate goal, for example, to feel good or to prevent a conflict; whereas emotion work based on instrumental work goals is done to influence own and customer’s emotions as the instrumental goal, for example, to let the customer buy a product. However, the important fact to recognize is that motives which do not belong to the instrumental work category but to the two personal pleasure or prevention categories must not conflict with the interest of the organization. Further, from a practical point of view, for most jobs it is anyway difficult to say whether emotion regulation follows a display rule or whether emotion regulation follows more general job role expectations or personal goals. The interconnections of the motives for emotion regulation, social norms, role expectations, and display rules are shown in Fig. 3.


Motives for Emotion Regulation in Service Work

Work motive category

Personal motive category Display Rules Role expectations social norms

Fig. 3.

The Interconnections of Emotion Regulation Motive Categories, Social Norms, Role Expectations, and Display Rules.

CONCLUSION This work is one of few dealing with motives for emotion regulation in service work. Usually, research on emotion regulation in the workplace examines how employees regulate their emotions and not why. Thus, most previous research assumed display rules provided by an organization to be the motives for emotion regulation of service employees. Adhering to display rules is definitely a major reason for service employees to regulate their emotions in customer interactions. However, by only focusing on emotion regulation due to obeying display rules, other important motives for emotion regulation in service work remain unattended. In this chapter, we have introduced an integrated approach of motives for emotion regulation in service work which resulted in three different kinds of motive categories: one work motive category containing instrumental motives as well as two personal motive categories, one containing pleasure and the other containing prevention motives. Furthermore, we pointed out the relevance of the motives as antecedents of the further emotion regulation process. We proposed that depending on the motive category different emotion regulation strategies are used. Furthermore, we proposed that the motives act as moderators of the relationship between the emotion regulation strategies and consequences such as well-being. These propositions lead to several practical implications for organizations. To conclude, our aim was to contribute significantly to the advancement of theory in the field of emotion regulation in the workplace. Further, the goal of our propositions is to reducing stress and heightening well-being by gaining more insight into the role of motives as antecedents for employees’ emotion regulation in the workplace.



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A LIFESPAN PERSPECTIVE ON EMOTION REGULATION, STRESS, AND WELL-BEING IN THE WORKPLACE Susanne Scheibe and Hannes Zacher ABSTRACT Researchers in the field of occupational stress and well-being are increasingly interested in the role of emotion regulation in the work context. Emotion regulation has also been widely investigated in the area of lifespan developmental psychology, with findings indicating that the ability to modify one’s emotions represents a domain in which age-related growth is possible. In this chapter, we integrate the literatures on aging, emotion regulation, and occupational stress and well-being. To this end, we review key theories and empirical findings in each of these areas, summarize existing research on age, emotion regulation, and stress and well-being at work, and develop a conceptual model on how aging affects emotion regulation and the stress process in work settings to guide future research. According to the model, age will affect (1) what kinds of affective work events are encountered and how often, (2) the appraisal of and initial emotional response to affective work events (emotion generation), and (3) the management of emotions and coping with

The Role of Emotion and Emotion Regulation in Job Stress and Well Being Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Volume 11, 163–193 Copyright r 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3555/doi:10.1108/S1479-3555(2013)0000011010




affective work events (emotion regulation). The model has implications for researchers and practitioners who want to understand and facilitate successful emotion regulation and stress reduction in the workplace among different age groups. Keywords: Aging; age; lifespan; emotion regulation; stress; well-being

Progressively, the workforce is aging, and organizations are increasingly interested in attracting, retaining, and motivating older employees. In spite of this demographic trend, existing theories and empirical research on work stress and well-being have by and large ignored possible age-related differences in the occupational stress process (see Rauschenbach & Hertel, 2011; Rauschenbach, Krumm, Thielgen, & Hertel, in press, for two recent exceptions). Existing studies have either included only young adults (such as employed college students), or have treated age as a noise variable that needed to be controlled. Similarly, extant research on the regulation of emotions in the workplace as a way to prevent occupational stress and increase employee well-being has not paid attention to age-related differences (Lawrence, Troth, Jordan, & Collins, 2011). This leaves us with a striking lack of knowledge about work stress and emotion regulation in aging employees who make up an increasingly larger proportion of the workforce. Fortunately, several decades of research in lifespan developmental psychology have created a rich knowledge base on general age-associated changes in life contexts as well as emotional experience and regulation, which can form a fruitful basis for theoretical assumptions about how aging affects work stress and well-being. For example, research shows that emotional changes with age are surprisingly positive and characterized by maintenance and even growth (Charles & Carstensen, 2010; Scheibe & Carstensen, 2010). At the same time, such positive age trends in emotional functioning are qualified by important individual and contextual differences. The goal of this chapter is to weave together two hitherto disconnected streams of literature – the literature on occupational stress, well-being, and emotion regulation and the literature on emotional aging – to develop a model of how aging and age-related changes affect emotion regulation and the stress process in work settings. The model is depicted in Fig. 1, and its elements and underlying propositions will be explained in the following sections. We will first provide the foundations of the model by reviewing how affective work events influence employee strain and well-being, and we will


Lifespan Perspective on Emotion Regulation and Stress at Work

Affective Work Events

Attention and Appraisal

Emotional Responses (Strain and Well-Being) Proposition 3

Proposition 1

Proposition 2 Life Context

Emotion Generation

Emotion Regulation and Coping (Motivation and Competence)

Age Chronological Functional Psychosocial Organizational Life stage

Fig. 1.

Schematic Overview of How Aging may Affect Occupational Stress and Well-Being processes.

describe how emotion generation and emotion regulation may impact on stress and well-being processes. Second, we describe when and how emotional experience and reactivity change across the adult life span, and how these changes may be driven by age-related changes in life contexts, emotion generation, and emotional regulation. Finally, we integrate these perspectives to outline an integrative set of propositions on how the process of aging creates shifting internal and external contexts that affect occupational stress and well-being processes via event occurrence, emotion generation, and emotion regulation. We close by proposing directions for future research.

OCCUPATIONAL STRESS AND WELL-BEING AND THE ROLE OF EMOTION REGULATION The basic elements of our model shown in Fig. 1 are adapted from the transactional stress model (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984), which is a wellestablished stress theory that outlines the processes leading from work stressors (i.e., objective events in the work environment that are perceived as challenging by most employees) to employee strain (i.e., short-term



psychological reactions to the stressor). The transactional stress model suggests that people’s responses to stressors are influenced by individual differences in stressor appraisal (i.e., people’s initial interpretation and reinterpretation of the objective stressors and their own resources) and coping strategies (e.g., problem-focused and emotion-focused coping; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). Based on affective events theory (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996), we include not only negative work events (i.e., stressors) but also positive work events as predictors in our model. In addition, our outcomes comprise both employee strain and well-being as emotional responses. The link between affective events and responses is mediated by attention and appraisal processes. In recent years, increasing attention has been paid to emotion-regulatory processes as moderators of relationships among occupational stressors, strain, and well-being (Lawrence, et al., 2011). As noted by Gross and Thompson (2007), people do not just passively witness their emotional reactions to the events that occur, including affective work events, but are trying to influence what they feel, how intensely they feel and show their emotions, and how long emotions last. This perspective suggests that emotional reactivity to a discrete event is the result of two interactive processes, emotion generation and emotion regulation (Gross, Sheppes, & Urry, 2011). Emotion generation refers to the initial emotional response that arises when persons encounter a situation that impedes or facilitates their personal goals, allocate attention to the goal-relevant aspects of the situation, and make the primary appraisal that the situation facilitates or interferes with current goals (Gross & Thompson, 2007; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). For example, encountering an angry customer on the phone may impede a call center employee’s goal to do his job smoothly and quickly, which when attended to and appraised as such, may lead to a subjective, physiological, and behavioral anger response. Emotion regulation refers to a person’s attempt to modify the emotiongenerative process, such as when the call center employee tries to reframe the situation to feel less angry or to not let his anger show in his voice. This example illustrates the concept of emotional labor, defined as ‘‘the effort, planning, and control needed to express organizationally desired emotion during interpersonal transactions’’ (Morris & Feldman, 1996, p. 987). Even though it is difficult, if not impossible, to dissect the processes of emotion generation and regulation empirically (Gross, et al., 2011), the distinction is useful when trying to understand age differences in emotional responses to affective work events. As shown in Fig. 1 and discussed in the next section,

Lifespan Perspective on Emotion Regulation and Stress at Work


aging-associated processes can influence the generation and the regulation of emotions. Emotions can be regulated in many different ways. Gross’ (1998) influential model of emotion regulation distinguishes five families of emotion regulation strategies according to the time point that they intervene in the emotion-generative process. Antecedent-focused strategies intervene before the emotion-generative process has fully unfolded, and hence, before the emotional response has been fully activated. These include situation selection (e.g., postponing or avoiding an unpleasant phone call), situation modification (e.g., saying something to calm down an angry customer), attentional deployment (e.g., ignoring an angry commentary by the customer), and cognitive change (e.g., reframing the unpleasant phone conversation as a learning opportunity). Coping strategies as discussed in the transactional stress model (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) can be placed in this framework; problem-oriented coping would mostly fall under situation modification, and emotion-focused coping would fall under either situation modification (e.g., seeking emotional support) or cognitive change (e.g., reappraisal). The family of response-focused strategies targets the emotional response itself; thus, they act after the emotional response is fully evolved. An example is suppressing any outward sign of anger when feeling angry subjectively and physiologically. A related distinction between strategies proposed by Lawrence et al. (2011) is that between emotion experience regulation (comprising all four families of antecedent-focused strategies) and emotion expression regulation (comprising the response-focused strategies of suppression or amplification). In the literature on emotional labor, deep acting is an example of emotional experience regulation and has been mapped onto attentional deployment and cognitive change, while surface acting corresponds to emotional response regulation (Grandey, 2000). Sometimes, employees’ emotional experience aligns naturally with organizational display rules, such that no emotion regulation is necessary, at least at the conscious level; this is called naturally felt emotions (Diefendorff, Croyle, & Gosserand, 2005). Many studies have shown that people’s habitual use of emotional labor strategies is an important moderator of the link between interpersonal stressors and occupational well-being (Lawrence et al., 2011). Consistent with predictions by Gross (1998) that response-focused emotion regulation strategies are less effective and more costly than antecedent-focused strategies, surface acting appears to be the most harmful emotional labor strategy as it is linked with increased levels of emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. In contrast,



deep acting does not appear to impair well-being; positive associations were found between habitual use of deep acting and personal accomplishment, job satisfaction, and work performance (Lawrence et al., 2011). Naturally felt emotions are assumed to require the least mental energy and thus, are the least harmful (Diefendorff et al., 2005). Further evidence that habitual emotion regulation strategy use is linked to occupational strain and well-being comes from research on psychological detachment, the active attempt to refrain from job-related thoughts when being away from the workplace – a form of attentional deployment. For instance, Sonnentag, Binnewies, and Mojza (2010) demonstrated that psychological detachment buffered the detrimental effects of high job demands on emotional exhaustion, psychosomatic complaints, and work engagement. Additionally, the large literature on coping supports the moderating role of emotion-regulation in occupational stress. For example, a two-wave panel study with blue collar workers across one year showed that seeking emotional support during times of distress (a form of emotionfocused coping, or situation modification) buffered the effect of emotional job demands on emotional exhaustion (Van de Ven, van den Tooren, & Vlerick, 2013). Using experience-sampling, Schmitt, Zacher, and Frese (2012) showed that the use of selection, optimization, and compensation strategies – which represent examples of situation selection, modification, and coping – was positively related to daily job satisfaction, and buffered the positive relationship between daily problem solving demands and fatigue. In sum, the transactional stress model and models of emotion regulation highlight the key factors and processes leading from affective work events to occupational strain and well-being, as well as potential moderators of these processes (Fig. 1). Employee age may not only impact directly on core factors in the stress and well-being process, but may also influence relationship among affective work events, strain, and well-being.

HOW AGING AFFECTS EMOTIONAL EXPERIENCE AND REACTIVITY TO AFFECTIVE WORK EVENTS In the following section, we review the state of knowledge on age-related differences in emotional experience and reactivity, and present different explanations for the generally positive trajectory of emotional aging, which likely impacts how older employees experience and react to affective work events.

Lifespan Perspective on Emotion Regulation and Stress at Work


Age Differences in Everyday Affective Experience Studies of affective experience across adulthood show that the overall profile of affective experience in daily life becomes more positive with age at least until after people reach retirement age (Carstensen, Pasupathi, Mayr, & Nesselroade, 2000; Kessler & Staudinger, 2009; Lawton, Kleban, Rajagopal, & Dean, 1992). For example, a recent longitudinal study of repeatedly sampled emotional experience across 10 years showed increased affect balance (operationalized as the average difference between momentary positive and negative affect) with age until a peak is reached at age 64, after which the increase levels off (Carstensen et al., 2011). The same study and others (e.g., Brose, Schmiedek, Lo¨vde´n, & Lindenberger, 2011) found that mood fluctuations decrease as people age, and periods of negative mood are more short-lived than in young adulthood (Carstensen, et al., 2000). Age-related changes in the personality traits neuroticism and extraversion, as well as general job attitudes, parallel age trajectories toward more positive and stable emotional lives. A comprehensive meta-analysis on personality change across adulthood found that just as younger adults differ from each other, so do older adults, with rank-order stability remaining largely constant (Roberts & DelVecchio, 2000; Roberts, Walton, & Viechtbauer, 2006). At the same time, mean-level change is found such that mean levels of neuroticism are reduced at older ages, whereas some facets of extraversion – particularly social dominance – are increased. Increased positivity with age is also evident in job attitudes; older employees tend to report higher satisfaction with their job, pay, and supervisor, higher levels of organizational identification and loyalty, and lower levels of burnout and interpersonal conflict (Ng & Feldman, 2010). A closer look at different types and dimensions of affective life reveals that emotional experiences tend to be less negative and calmer at older ages. On the valence dimension, reduced negative affect is more consistently found than increased positive affect (Senescac & Scheibe, in press). Arousal also matters. Within positive affect, low-arousal positive states (e.g., relaxation, peace of mind) show the strongest age-related increase (Kessler & Staudinger, 2009; Scheibe, English, Tsai, & Carstensen, 2013), while within negative affect, high-arousal states (especially anger) show the strongest age-related decrease (Ross & Mirowsky, 2008; Stone, Schwartz, Broderick, & Deaton, 2010). In sum, there is an age-related increase in the quality and stability of emotional experience in everyday life, which is mainly due to reductions in the experience of negative and high-arousal affective states, such as anger.



Age Differences in Affective Reactivity Apart from investigating typical emotional experiences in everyday life, lifespan researchers have studied how adults of different ages react to discrete affective events in the laboratory and in daily life. At an early attentional stage, a well-documented finding is the positivity effect, indicating a relative avoidance of negative material and prioritization of positive material in older adults compared to younger adults (Reed & Carstensen, 2012). For example, when shown pairs of faces, one sad or angry and one neutral, older adults orient away from the negative faces more so than young adults (Mather & Carstensen, 2003) and are better able to inhibit negative information when asked to do so (Hahn, Carlson, Singer, & Gronlund, 2006). When given a choice between positive and negative information, older adults show a relative preference for the positive material (e.g., Charles, Mather, & Carstensen, 2003). Related biases are found in decision-making and memory for emotional material (Reed & Carstensen, 2012). Older adults appraise and react to many laboratory stimuli in a less negative way than younger adults (Charles & Carstensen, 2010). In one study where younger and older adults listened to audiotapes of people supposedly making negative remarks about them, the older adults made less critical appraisals of the people speaking and reported feeling less angry, though they felt equally sad (Charles & Carstensen, 2008). According to meta-analytical evidence, physiological responding, in particular heart rate reactivity, is also relatively reduced in older adults in laboratory studies of emotional reactivity, with an important qualification: when the stressful event is highly intense, age differences often reverse and systolic blood pressure reactivity in particular tends to be larger with age (Uchino, Birmingham, & Berg, 2010). Older adults also appraise daily hassles in their lives less negatively and their affective reactivity to daily stressors is reduced across many (though not all) studies (Riediger & Rauers, in press). Daily hassles are minor stressors, such as arguments, acute health problems, or work overload, which lead to temporary changes in affect (Almeida, 2005). In the large-scale National Study of Daily Experiences, a diary study across eight days with a sample spanning young to old adulthood, relatively older adults were found to appraise daily hassles as less severe than younger adults (Charles & Almeida, 2007). The same study and others found that affective reactivity (operationalized as increase in negative affect on stress days compared to non-stress days) tends to be reduced with age, especially for interpersonal

Lifespan Perspective on Emotion Regulation and Stress at Work


conflicts (e.g., Birditt, Fingerman, & Almeida, 2005). One study also found that physical reactivity (the occurrence of mild health problems on stress vs. non-stress days) was reduced with age (Neupert, Almeida, & Charles, 2007). Few studies have considered physiological stress reactivity in daily life. Uchino, Berg, Smith, Pearce, and Skinner (2006) report a dissociation between subjective and physiological responding to daily stressors from middle to later adulthood: compared to middle-aged adults, older adults displayed less of an increase in subjective distress but heightened blood pressure reactivity to daily stress. Important moderators of stress reactivity and age differences therein are also apparent. First, as the emotional load of daily hassles increases, age differences appear to reverse. Emotional load could be indicated by high severity, chronicity, or complexity of daily stressors. Older adults display larger affective reactivity than younger adults when stressors are weighted by their perceived severity (Mroczek & Almeida, 2004), and larger affective and physiological reactivity when stressors concern multiple life domains as compared to just one domain (Wrzus, Mu¨ller, Wagner, Lindenberger, & Riediger, 2012). Second, affective stress reactivity is moderated by chronic stress. Among people with many chronic health conditions, older adults were found to react more strongly to daily hassles than younger adults (Piazza, Charles, & Almeida, 2007). Perceiving one’s life as generally stressful was associated with a higher frequency of stressors in older adults, though it was also associated with increased affective reactivity to stressors in younger adults (Stawski, Sliwinski, Almeida, & Smyth, 2008). A study among teachers compared responses of the autonomic nervous system (heart rate, cortisol excretion, and psychosomatic symptoms) to work periods of low and high global perceived stress (Ritvanen, Louhevaara, Helin, Va¨isa¨nen, & Ha¨nninen, 2006). In young teachers, autonomic responses were elevated during high work stress periods, relative to low work stress periods. In contrast, older teachers’ autonomic responses remained high even in low work stress periods, indicating reduced recovery from the stress. Third, affective reactivity is moderated by perceived control. A high sense of mastery was found to buffer reactivity to interpersonal stressors for all age groups, the physical effects of work stressors in young and older adults, and the emotional reactivity to network stressors (something happened to a friend or family member) in middle-aged adults (Neupert et al., 2007). Fourth, affective reactivity is moderated by the type of affective work events. Using a sample of service employees, nurses and academics, Mauno, Ruokolainen, and Kinnunen (2012) investigated whether the relationships



between a number of indicators of job stressors (i.e., job insecurity, workload, and work–family conflict) and several measures of well-being (i.e., work–family enrichment, job and life satisfaction, vigor at work) were moderated by age. Younger nurses and service employees were less affected by high levels of job insecurity than their older counterparts with regard to some of the outcome variables. In contrast, older service employees and academics were less affected by high levels of workload and work-family conflict, respectively. Thus, what type of event is perceived as stressful may differ by age. In conclusion, most studies of negative affective reactivity to discrete events indicate that, on average, older adults react less strongly than their younger counterparts. At the same time, affective reactivity and age differences therein are moderated by several factors. High emotionregulatory load and chronic stress diminish or reverse age advantages, while high personal control buffers against strong reactivity in all age groups. Age differences in negative affective reactivity may also depend on the type of stressor (e.g., interpersonal conflict vs. workload).

Explaining Age Differences in Affective Experience and Reactivity Several explanations have been formulated to account for age-related differences in affective experience and reactivity across adulthood. Four prominent explanations focus on changes in life contexts, biological changes in emotion-generative systems, changes in emotion regulation motivation, and changes in emotion regulation competence (Senescac & Scheibe, in press). These will be reviewed next, together with evidence supporting or qualifying them. Changes in Life Contexts A first way in which aging may affect emotional experience and reactivity is via changes in normative demands and control opportunities arising from life phase-specific roles and developmental tasks (Almeida & Horn, 2004). These shifting demands and roles create different life contexts in which affective events are encountered. Young adulthood is often the time where people choose an occupation, start a career, and establish marriage and a family. Midlife is the time where people juggle work and family demands, experience career transitions, reenter work after years of caring for small children, or renegotiate family relationships. Caregiving tasks in midlife do not only involve children, but increasingly also caring for aging parents

Lifespan Perspective on Emotion Regulation and Stress at Work


(Zacher & Winter, 2011). The later part of the working lifespan falls into the early stages of older adulthood, marked by an increasing prevalence of chronic health problems, cognitive slowing, physical decline, and declining career opportunities. The working lifespan ends with retirement, which is considered a major role change associated with loss of status but also greater freedom in selecting activities of daily life (Wang & Shultz, 2010). These age-related patterns of changing demands and roles across life have led to the hypothesis that daily life is particularly stressful during midlife, which may explain age differences in occupational stress (Almeida & Horn, 2004; Warr, 1992). This hypothesis is consistent with findings by Rauschenbach and Hertel (2011) of an inverted U-shaped relationship between employee age and strain, as indicated by both general and daily experience measures. Namely, strain was highest in middle-aged employees (aged 36 to 50 years), relative to younger and older employees, which the authors interpreted as result of increased stress during midlife (see also Warr, 1992; White & Spector, 1987). But do middle-aged adults really encounter stressful events more frequently than other age groups? Studies of daily hassles among young and middle-aged adults do not fully support this assumption, but instead show that age differences in stressor exposure may depend on the type of stressor. Almeida and Horn (2004) find no difference between younger adults (25–39 years) and middle-aged adults (40–59 years) in the overall number of stressful daily events, but both age groups reported more events than older adults (60–74 years). Neupert et al. (2007) found that middleaged adults report less interpersonal events (whether an argument or potential argument occurred) than young adults, but equal numbers of work events (whether anything happened at work other than interpersonal conflicts that could be stressful). At the same time, there is consistent evidence that life becomes less stressful after midlife. Studies comparing discrete groups of young or early-middle-aged and older (mostly retired) individuals show that advanced age is associated with reporting fewer daily hassles (Brose et al., 2011; Folkman, Lazarus, Pimley, & Novacek, 1987; Stawski et al., 2008). Age differences in event exposure can account for affective outcomes. It is harder to maintain high levels of well-being when more stressful events are encountered not only because of the accumulation of threats to well-being, but also because perceived global stress is associated with increased reactivity to single events (Stawski et al., 2008). Indeed, a recent study found that stressor profiles explain part of the age advantages in affective well-being (Brose, Scheibe, & Schmiedek, 2013). Matching groups of young and older



adults on contextual factors, including the number of experienced stressors, stressor heterogeneity, and stressor impact on daily routines significantly diminished age-related differences in affective stability (operationalized as mood fluctuations across 100 days). However, matching of age groups on stressor profiles did not explain why older adults had lower affective reactivity to stressful events. Importantly, midlife has also been identified as a life phase characterized by a peak in personal control in terms of social status and financial resources (Heckhausen, Wrosch, & Schulz, 2010; Lachman, Lewkowicz, Marcus, & Peng, 1994). High levels of personal control reduce affective reactivity to daily stressors (Neupert et al., 2007), which may balance out the effects of increased global stress. In sum, age-graded differences in life contexts are one plausible factor underlying improved emotional outcomes at advanced age, and a possible peak in occupational strain in midlife. Due to different normative demands and resources, the kinds of stressful daily events encountered differ across age groups, for example, interpersonal conflicts are reduced with age. Overall, there appears to be a high density of stressful events in midlife compared to older adulthood, though midlife does not necessarily appear to be more stressful than young adulthood. Biological Changes in Emotion-Generative Systems The biological perspective on age differences in emotional well-being emerged out of a variety of findings that older adults are less physiologically reactive to emotional events in the laboratory (Tsai, Levenson, & Carstensen, 2000). This perspective suggests that physical changes with age, such as degradation of interoceptive, neural and autonomic systems, inhibit the emotion-generative process (Cacioppo, Berntson, Bechara, Tranel, & Hawkley, 2011; Mendes, 2010). As a result, negative stimuli and events would lose some of their potency to challenge emotional well-being at older ages. There is evidence of decline in interoceptive systems, lowering older adults’ awareness of bodily signals such as sensory sensations, heartbeat, and pain, which are important signals that contribute to the emotional experience (Mather, 2012). More striking are neuroimaging findings that emotiongenerative brain areas, particularly the amygdala, are less reactive to negative stimuli at higher ages (Kisley, Wood, & Burrows, 2007; Mather et al., 2004), which in turn should result in diminished physiological arousal responses to affective events. Structural degradation and functional slowing of the autonomous nervous system may further diminish the physiological arousal response (Cacioppo, et al., 2011). All of these biological changes could lead older adults to experience negative events as less impactful.

Lifespan Perspective on Emotion Regulation and Stress at Work


Even though biological processes are probably important, the biological perspective can at best partially explain emotional gains in well-being with age. Reduced responding of the amygdala could well indicate increased emotion regulation. Neuroimaging studies in which younger and older participants are instructed to down-regulate negative feelings while viewing emotional material show a coupling between reduced amygdala activation and increased activation in prefrontal brain regions responsible for emotional control (Samanez-Larkin & Carstensen, 2011). The amygdala also remains sensitive to stimulus characteristics other than valence, such as novelty (Wright, Wedig, Williams, Rauch, & Albert, 2006). Furthermore, the hypothesis of diminished emotion generation in older individuals contrasts the findings reviewed above that under high emotional load, affective and stress reactivity is actually increased in older adults relative to younger adults. Charles (2010) recently proposed the model of strength and vulnerability integration, suggesting that older adults are well able to maintain affective well-being when confronted with mild to moderate stressors, or when they are able to avoid negative events, due to emotional competence acquired throughout their lives (see below). However, when the emotional event becomes intense, enduring, or unavoidable, the slowing of physiological systems may backfire. That is, when the affective event is strong enough to arouse older adults’ physiological systems, older adults appear to have difficulty down-regulating arousal. Taken together, biological changes with age affect the emotion-generative process to some extent, but the emotional load of the event and older adults’ control resources likely determine whether biological changes improve or worsen emotional outcomes. Biological changes with age are assumed to reduce the negative impact of mild or controllable stressors, while increasing the impact of strong or unavoidable stressors. Changes in Emotion Regulation Motivation A third way in which aging may influence emotional experience and reactivity is via changes in emotion regulation, including the motivation to experience or avoid certain affective states. Even if a negative affective event initially leads to a comparable emotional response (subjectively and/or physiologically), it is possible that older adults are more motivated than younger adults to defuse the negative response quickly and maintain positive affect. Several lifespan theories propose that older adults are by default more motivated than younger adults to regulate emotions in a prohedonic way (i.e., maximize positive and minimize negative affect), with each theory highlighting a different mechanism for this motivational shift.



In her socioemotional selectivity theory, Carstensen (2006) suggests that individuals’ future time perspective determines goals, preferences, and even cognitive processing. The theory makes a distinction between emotional goals (i.e., goals related to experiencing emotional meaning and satisfaction in the present moment) and resource acquisition goals (i.e., goals related to learning, building up a social network, or taking risks to improve future outcomes). Whenever people’s sense of remaining time is limited, either because of advanced age or when encountering situations where endings are salient, people are inclined to prioritize emotional goals. Vice versa, when sense of remaining time is expansive, as is typical at younger ages, people are inclined to prioritize resource acquisition goals that serve them well in the future. The theory has been the basis of a large variety of studies on the above mentioned positivity effect in processing, appraising, and remembering emotional stimuli (Reed & Carstensen, 2012, provide a recent overview). The basic rationale is that older adults prioritize positive over negative information because it serves their emotional goals to optimize well-being. Dynamic integration theory by Labouvie-Vief (2003) makes a similar prediction as Carstensen’s theory that older adults are more motivated to optimize well-being, but conceptualizes this motivational shift as a compensatory response to later-life decline in cognitive resources. The theory assumes that processing negative information and tolerating negative states, especially those high in arousal, is cognitively demanding. Consequently, cognitive limitations as typically seen with aging lead people to prefer affect optimization over affect complexity. Yet, such a motivational shift away from affect complexity does not appear to be linear; instead, empirical data shows a peak in affect complexity in midlife (the 50s). In essence, both theories predict that older adults are – as a default – more motivated to regulate emotions so as to optimize well-being, which should be driven – and likely modulated – by changes in future time perspective and cognitive abilities. This hypothesis was empirically supported in an experiencesampling study by Riediger, Schmiedek, Wagner, and Lindenberger (2009). In this study, which included adolescents all the way to the very old, age was associated with higher pro-hedonic motivation such that relatively older participants were more likely than younger participants to report that they wanted to dampen negative affect and maintain positive affect across multiple measurement occasions. A more recent prediction that follows from the above described theories is a shift in arousal preferences. Namely, with age, people may increasingly prefer low-arousal states over high-arousal states, independent of valence. Both the model of strength and vulnerability integration (Charles, 2010) as

Lifespan Perspective on Emotion Regulation and Stress at Work


well as dynamic integration theory (Labouvie-Vief, 2003) suggest that older adults have difficulty tolerating or regulating high arousal, due to decline in physiological flexibility and cognitive control. In particular, shifts in arousal preferences were demonstrated for positive affect (Scheibe et al., 2013). Participants aged 18–94 were asked how often they want to ideally experience two types of ideal positive affect, low arousal positive affect (relaxation, peacefulness) and high-arousal positive affect (excitement, enthusiasm). Results indicate that with increasing age, low-arousal positive affect is increasingly preferred over high-arousal positive affect. Ideal affect also better matched older adults’ experienced affect across a week of experience-sampling. Related to this, a linguistic analysis of personal blogs published on the internet revealed that younger people are more likely to associate happiness with excitement (a high-arousal positive emotion), whereas older people are more likely to associate happiness with peacefulness (a low-arousal positive emotion) (Mogilner, Kamvar, & Aaker, 2011). This age difference is thought to be driven by a redirection of attention from the future to the present, an assumption consistent with socioemotional selectivity theory (Carstensen, 2006). Within the negative affect space, arousal preferences were not yet directly assessed, but evidence indicates that high arousal negative states are perceived as more aversive at higher ages. When rating emotional pictures, older adults rate highly arousing negative pictures as more negative than younger adults (Gru¨hn & Scheibe, 2008; Keil & Freund, 2009). In sum, higher age is associated with a higher motivation to avoid or defuse affective states that are negative and/or high in arousal. This shift in motivation is attributed to shifting priorities as time becomes limited, as well as decline in physiological flexibility and cognition. Changes in Emotion-Regulation Competence A fourth way that aging may influence emotional experience and reactivity is via improvements in emotion regulation competence (Blanchard-Fields, 2007; Senescac & Scheibe, in press). Imagining a situation where two people, young and old, are equally motivated to defuse negative or high arousal states, the older person may be more successful in achieving their regulatory goal. Throughout life, people encounter affective events, both minor and major, and to the extent that they learn to successfully resolve these situations, they likely accumulate expertise in regulating their emotions. Emotion regulation competence refers to setting adaptive emotion regulation goals, selecting appropriate strategies of emotion regulation, and implementing strategies effectively and efficiently.



Strategy Choice. When considering Gross’ (1998) model of emotion regulation, a general hypothesis is that older adults use antecedent-focused emotion regulation strategies more often, and response-focused strategies less often than younger adults (Charles & Carstensen, 2010). Antecedentfocused strategies are generally more effective and less cognitively demanding than response-focused strategies, because the emotiongenerative process is interrupted before the full emotional response has developed (Gross, 1998). Cross-sectional evidence attests an age-related increase in the self-reported use of reappraisal, coupled with an age-related decrease in use of suppression (John & Gross, 2004). Similarly, in work contexts that involve emotional labor, older employees report using deep acting more often, and surface acting less often than younger employees (Cheung & Tang, 2010; Dahling & Perez, 2010). Zooming in on antecedent-focused strategies, a variety of findings suggest that older adults prefer less cognitively demanding strategies over more demanding strategies. The motivational theory of lifespan development (Heckhausen et al., 2010) holds that people adjust coping strategies to their changing ability to control their environment. In young age, primary control strategies that change external circumstances are preferred. In contrast, older adults shift to using secondary control strategies that change the self in order to adjust to environmental demands; these are often less cognitively demanding than primary control strategies. Supporting this view, Folkman et al. (1987) found older adults to employ less active, interpersonal, and problem-focused coping behaviors, but more passive, intrapersonal, and emotion-focused strategies than younger adults. Research on everyday problem solving shows when confronted with emotionally laden problems, which are mostly interpersonal in nature, older adults include emotionfocused coping as part of their problem solving more than younger adults (Blanchard-Fields, 2007). Experts rate older adults’ strategy choices in such types of situations as more effective (Blanchard-Fields, Mienaltowski, & Seay, 2007). One study in the work context found that when dealing specifically with interpersonal conflicts at work, older employees tend to use more often nonconfrontational responses (yielding, delay responding), while they were equally likely to make an effort to solve the problem constructively, as assessed via peer reports (Davis, Kraus, & Capobianco, 2009). Importantly, when dealing with instrumental problems (e.g., resolving a computer failure), both young and older adults appear to use problem-focused coping (Blanchard-Fields, 2007). This suggests that older adults tailor their coping strategies to contexts (interpersonal vs. instrumental) more so than younger adults, and tend to choose less cognitively

Lifespan Perspective on Emotion Regulation and Stress at Work


demanding regulatory strategies especially during emotionally laden everyday problems. Strategy Effectiveness. Due to their increased life experience, older adults may be more effective in implementing emotion regulation strategies. In selfreport studies, older adults report higher general control of their emotions than younger adults, which statistically mediates age-related improvements in affective well-being (Kessler & Staudinger, 2009; Lawton et al., 1992). In terms of emotional labor, older employees are more likely to report that their felt emotions naturally align with organizational display rules (Dahling & Perez, 2010), a sign of successful enactment of either antecedentfocused emotion regulation strategies and/or more implicit forms of emotion regulation (Gyurak, Gross, & Etkin, 2011). Older adults were further found to score higher than younger adults on the emotion management subtest of the MSCEIT, a widely used multiple-choice test of emotional intelligence (Kafetsios, 2004). Experience-sampling evidence suggests that older adults are more effective in avoiding arguments in interpersonal conflict situations, a form of situation modification, and their affective benefit from avoiding arguments is higher than that of younger adults (Charles, Piazza, Luong, & Almeida, 2009). Several laboratory studies have instructed participants to use particular emotion regulation strategies to down-regulate negative emotion responses to pictures, film clips, or personal problems. In these studies, older adults showed superior ability to implement some regulatory strategies, though not others. Namely, positive refocusing (a kind of attentional deployment) and positive reappraisal (a form of cognitive change) are more effectively implemented by older adults than younger adults, as indicated by subjective and physiological outcomes (Phillips, Henry, Hosie, & Milne, 2008; Shiota & Levenson, 2009). In contrast, older adults are no more effective than younger adults to implement expressive suppression, and are even less effective than young adults in implementing detached reappraisal (thinking about the emotional situation in an objective way; Shiota & Levenson, 2009). Likely these kinds of strategies are less often utilized by older adults, leaving them less well practiced. Cognitive Costs of Strategy Implementation. Implementing any emotion regulation strategy requires some level of cognitive control, but the amount of cognitive control needed to successfully enact a given strategy may decrease when it becomes automatized (Chein & Schneider, 2005). If people routinely and successfully use particular emotion regulation strategies in



particular contexts over a long period of time, these strategies should become activated more automatically and therefore are less effortful (Senescac & Scheibe, in press). Such automatization processes may occur with aging. As a result, emotion regulation can become more efficient with age, so that fewer cognitive resources are needed to reach the same regulatory outcome. Supporting this idea, Scheibe and Blanchard-Fields (2009) found that when younger adults were instructed to defuse negative affect after a disgust induction, their performance on a concurrent working memory task was compromised, but no performance drop occurred in older adults. Emery and Hess (2011) found older adults, relative to young adults, had lower memory costs when instructed to suppress emotional expressions while viewing negative pictures. This finding could indicate that older adults had to devote fewer attentional resources to maintaining a neutral expression, so that more attention could be devoted to encoding the emotional material. A further study showed differential cognitive effort was needed to enact emotional experience regulation versus emotional expression regulation in younger and older adults (Senesac, 2010). Older adults required more resources (indicated by performance drops in a Stroop task performed after the emotion regulation task) to regulate (i.e., suppress) emotion expressions than emotion experience, while the opposite applies to young adults. This may partly explain age differences in strategy choices mentioned above. Taken together, emotional competence in many ways appears to increase with age. There is evidence that older adults (1) choose more effective and/or less cognitively demanding emotion regulations strategies, (2) are more effective in implementing certain (though not all) emotion regulation strategies, and (3) require less cognitive resource to implement specific strategies.

TOWARD AN INTEGRATIVE MODEL: HOW AGING AFFECTS THE OCCUPATIONAL STRESS AND WELL-BEING PROCESS In the previous sections, we reviewed theories and findings on occupational stress and well-being as well as emotional aging, two bodies of literatures that have been disconnected to date. In the current section, we will draw together these two literatures to formulate an integrated model of how aging – via associations with changing life context, emotion generation, and emotion regulation – may influence the occupational stress and well-being

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process (see Fig. 1). The model includes core elements and processes of the transactional stress model (Lazarus & Folkman, 1984) and affective events theory (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996) and outlines how recent advancements in the study of emotion regulation in the lifespan literature may inform our understanding of work-related stress and well-being. We will further identify moderating factors that likely determine when age-related differences or change will be positive or negative. We describe our model in terms of a set of propositions.

Specifying the Nature of the Variable ‘‘Age’’ Before discussing the role of age in the occupational stress and well-being process, it is important to have a closer look at the variable ‘‘age.’’ Throughout the chapter we have mentioned normative age-related changes, such as reductions of future time perspective, cognitive decline, physiological slowing, motivational shifts, and life context changes, which have been used to explain age-related changes in emotional functioning. This list highlights one important theme, namely that chronological age by itself is an ‘‘empty variable’’ that is only given meaning through its association with normative changes in different domains of functioning. Even though normative changes occur, there are large interindividual differences in ageassociated change (Nesselroade, 1991). People ‘‘age’’ at very different rates within and across domains, and at any point in the lifespan, development is plastic and modifiable (Baltes, Lindenberger, & Staudinger, 2006). Indeed, while chronological age is a reliable predictor of what people are capable to do, strive for, and are willing to do in childhood and at very advanced ages, this is much less true for the working lifespan. Consistent with this notion, several recent meta-analyses on age differences in the work context find only minimal or no age differences (Kooij, De Lange, Jansen, Kanfer, & Dikkers, 2011; Ng & Feldman, 2010; Rauschenbach et al., in press). Consequently, we suggest that employee strain and well-being will be the result of multiple, interacting processes related to chronological age. Researchers should pay attention to variables beyond chronological age and consider their additive and interactive effects on the stress and wellbeing process. Kooij, De Lange, Jansen, and Dikkers (2008) have summarized five different conceptualizations of age. Besides (1) chronological age (years since birth), these include (2) functional age (e.g., health status, cognitive abilities), (3) psychosocial or subjective age (e.g., how old individuals feel, look, and behave), (4) organizational age (years spent in an



organization, i.e., tenure), and (5) life stage (e.g., family status). These different factors may interact, add up, or sometimes even cancel each other out in their impact on the occupational stress and well-being process. Moderation effects need attention. For example, age differences in prohedonic emotion regulation motivation may only be found at low levels of future time perspective or at low levels of cognitive functioning. Age-related improvements in emotion regulation competence may be enhanced to the extent that individuals have experienced the to-be-regulated event in the past and have learned to successfully regulate it. This in turn, could be indicated by tenure. Hence, occupational researchers interested in lifespan effects are well advised to measure multiple, if not all five of the above mentioned ‘‘meanings of age,’’ and assess their additive and interactive effects on occupational strain and well-being.

Aging and the Occurrence of Affective Work Events Consistent with the notion of age-related changes in life contexts reviewed above, employees’ age may influence what types of affective work events they encounter and how frequently they encounter them. This is because people’s external circumstances change as they age (Farr & Ringseis, 2002). Younger employees may face higher levels of job insecurity than other age groups. Middle-aged employees might experience more conflict between their work and home lives (e.g., caring for children and aging parents) than young and older employees (Zacher & Winter, 2011). While some stressors may become less frequent with age, others may occur more often, such as age discrimination. Older employees may be exposed to more negative interactions at the workplace than younger employees because many people still have negative stereotypes about older employees that influence how they treat these employees (Posthuma & Campion, 2009). Additionally, multiple changes occur in people’s health, cognitive abilities, personality, motives, and self-concept as they age (Kanfer & Ackerman, 2004; Warr, 2001). These changes may influence people’s interaction with their environment and, in turn, the experience of affective work events. For example, due to their increased generativity motive, older adults may seek out mentoring experiences more often than young adults. This in turn, may give rise to particular hassles (and also uplifts) associated with mentoring relationships. Due to their longer tenure and job experience, older adults may be given more challenging assignments, or less time to complete work tasks, which could make work overload and time pressure

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more likely. For the same reasons, older adults may be given more job-related autonomy, which could help them avoid certain stressors. For instance, White and Spector (1987) found that perceived job congruence partially mediated the positive association between age and job satisfaction. These considerations underscore the need for a fine-grained look at types and frequencies of affective work events that different age groups encounter. For instance, a number of studies have suggested a U-shaped relationship between age and occupational well-being (Clark, Oswald, & Warr, 1996; Rauschenbach, et al., in press); however, hardly any research has examined the life context changes that may explain this relationship. Lifespan researchers have suggested multiple role commitments and increased responsibility as potential mediators (Heckhausen et al., 2010). Proposition 1. Changes in employees’ life contexts mediate the relationships between age and age-related factors on the one hand and the occurrence of affective work events on the other. Proposition 1a. Middle-aged workers experience higher levels of strain and lower levels of occupational well-being due to increased work-life conflict and work responsibilities.

Aging, Emotion Generation, and Emotional Response As affective work events occur, age and age-related changes in physical and cognitive functioning, personality, and motivation may influence how the emotion-generative cycle unfolds and, in turn, people’s level of strain and well-being. By emotion generation, we mean the (unregulated) attentionappraisal-response sequence specified in basic models of emotion (Gross & Thompson, 2007; Lazarus & Folkman, 1984). The biological perspective on emotional aging suggests that in many contexts of everyday life, biological changes of interoceptive systems, emotion-sensitive brain areas, and the autonomic system lead older adults to appraise and experience negative events as less impactful (Cacioppo et al., 2011). Above, we have also reviewed evidence that older adults appraise stressful events as less negatively and attend more to positive than negative cues in their environment. The existing evidence suggests this will mainly affect social stressors, such as interpersonal conflicts. Yet, there can also be situations where older adults appraise affective work events, especially physical stressors (noise, heat) and psychological



stressors (workload, time pressure) as more severe than younger adults. For example, Kanfer and Ackerman (2004) suggested that older employees might experience jobs that require high levels of rapid information processing as more stressful than younger employees due to age-related declines in fluid intelligence. In addition, these authors argued that tasks requiring high levels of effort should have lower utility for older employees due to their career stage and preference for emotionally meaningful work goals. The model of strength and vulnerability integration (Charles, 2010) further suggests that older adults will have difficulties dealing with intense, chronic, or unavoidable stressors, because their physiological system once activated takes longer to recover. According to the ‘‘overpowering hypothesis’’ put forward by Wrzus et al. (2012), older adults’ self-regulatory resources are overpowered in highly resource-demanding situations. Consequently, researchers should pay attention to the nature and emotion-regulatory load (intensity, duration, chronicity, and complexity) of affective events that employees encounter, to attentional processes, and to primary appraisals employees make when faced with stressful work events. Proposition 2. The effect of age on the emotional response to affective work events is mediated by emotion generation (via attention and appraisal processes), which in turn is moderated by the nature of events. Proposition 2a. With increasing age, individuals are less strongly affected by interpersonal stressors and more strongly affected by non-interpersonal stressors. Proposition 2b. When stressful events have a high emotion-regulatory load (indicated by high intensity, duration, chronicity or complexity) older adults are equally or more strongly affected than younger adults, independent of event type. Aging, Emotion Regulation, and Emotional Response It is further likely that age moderates the event-response relationship by impacting emotion regulation and coping. Above, we have reviewed the current state of knowledge on age-related differences in emotion regulation motivation and competence (indexed by strategy choice, strategy implementation, and strategy efficiency). To the extent that older adults perceive their future as more limited and are ‘‘cognitively and physically aged,’’ they may be more motivated to defuse negative and high-arousal states quickly. To the extent that older adults have acquired life experience dealing with

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potentially distressing situations, they may make better choices in emotion regulation strategies and/or enact strategies more effectively and efficiently. At the same time, the work environment will determine the range of regulatory options that older employees have at their disposal. For example, service jobs rarely provide the option to use situation selection in interaction with customers (e.g., avoiding talking to an unpleasant customer; Grandey, 2000). This may be the reason why older employees value work autonomy, or job control highly (Kooij, et al., 2011); it gives them the opportunity to use many antecedent-focused emotion regulation strategies that they prefer and can implement effectively. In a recent study, Weigl, Mu¨ller, Hornung, Zacher, and Angerer (2012) investigated age differences in work ability in a sample of nurses as a function of job control and the use of self-regulatory strategies. Results showed that the negative relationship between age and work ability was weakest for employees with high job control and high use of self-regulatory strategies. This points to important interactive effects of people’s self-regulatory strategies and characteristics of the work environment in shaping occupational outcomes. Proposition 3. The effect of age on the emotional response is mediated by emotion regulation. Proposition 3a. Older adults are more motivated than younger adults to avoid or down-regulate negative and/or high-arousal affect associated with affective work events. Proposition 3b. Older adults are more effective and efficient in avoiding or down-regulating negative and/or high-arousal affect resulting from affective work events, especially when the occupational context supports the free choice of regulatory strategies.

FUTURE RESEARCH DIRECTIONS Future research needs to employ suitable research designs to test the propositions outlined in our model. It is notable that many of the reviewed studies on emotional aging, especially those conducted in the laboratory, have employed so-called ‘‘extreme age group designs.’’ Thus, most of the laboratory studies have compared discrete groups of young adults (typically in their 20s) and older adults (typically in their 60s–80s), with no middle-aged group in between. Given that older employees are technically



middle-aged, and given that age-related differences may not follow linear trends, the conclusions that can be gained for middle-aged and older employees are restricted, though we believe a general pattern of findings emerges from that literature that allows making predictions about aging and work stress. That being said, more research on curvilinear relationships between age, emotion regulation, and the components of the stress process is needed (Clark, et al., 1996). In Ng and Feldman’s (2010) meta-analysis on age and different job attitudes, the relationship between age and emotional exhaustion was one of the few relationships that were curvilinear in nature. However, the studies included in the meta-analysis varied in the extent to which samples with employees from different ages were included. Thus, future research with sample spanning the whole working life span is needed. Another limitation of most previous research on age and stress is the use of cross-sectional research designs. These designs are useful to address the question whether people of different ages differ with regard to different aspects of the stress process; however, they do not answer the question whether the same people, over time, encounter different stressors, appraise affective work events differently, and change in their strain and well-being as they age. Longitudinal cohort-sequential studies on aging are needed to disentangle aging and generational effects; unfortunately, such studies are very time consuming and cost-intensive. Additionally, due to selectivity and the ‘‘healthy worker effect,’’ some of the mechanisms underlying age-related change in emotional functioning may not apply to work settings. For example, people with low cognitive status or poor health, which are hypothesized to drive shifts in emotion regulation motivation, are likely to retire early. Consequently, the range of cognitive or health variation may be diminished, reducing predictive power. Another avenue for future research may be to integrate factors in the external work environment in our model as resources and constraints. So far, the work environment is only represented in the form of environmental demands or affective work events. We only hinted at the potentially important role of job characteristics such as job autonomy, and how they might interact with age in influencing the stress process. Two recent studies illustrate the importance of examining interactions between employee age and work characteristics. Shultz, Wang, Crimmins, and Fisher (2010) demonstrated that perceived job demands interact differently with job control in different age groups in predicting occupational well-being. Among younger employees, only the availability of sufficient time to complete tasks buffered the effects of problem solving demands on strain.

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For older employees, sufficient time to complete tasks and autonomy buffered the effect of deadlines on strain, and schedule flexibility buffered the effect of problem solving demands on strain. More recently, Besen, Matz-Costa, James, and Pitt-Catsouphes (2012) showed that perceived job and personal control had different effects in the context of high job demands among younger and older employees. Namely, job control buffered the negative relationship between job demands and mental health among younger employees with high personal control. Among older employees, only personal control buffered the link between job demands and mental health. Thus, not only individual appraisals and skills, but also work characteristics may impact how employees of different ages react to affective events. In conclusion, we aimed in this chapter to integrate the literatures on aging, emotion regulation, and occupational stress and well-being. Our integrative conceptual model is based on a review of key theories and empirical findings in each of these areas. Future research that tests the propositions of our model is now needed. Such research will contribute to a better understanding of emotion regulation across the working life span, and to derive practical implications for organizations interested in managing stress and maximizing well-being in the workplace among different age groups.

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UNDER PRESSURE: EXAMINING THE MEDIATING ROLE OF DISCRETE EMOTIONS BETWEEN JOB CONDITIONS AND WELL-BEING Cristina Rubino, Christa L. Wilkin and Ari Malka ABSTRACT Recent years have seen an explosion in the study of emotions in organizations, and although emotions play a central role in the job stress process, their role is largely neglected in empirical stressor–strain studies. Our chapter aims to build consensus in the literature by showing that discrete emotions provide a mechanism through which stressors exert their impact on well-being. By examining a larger domain of stressors, emotions, and well-being, we begin to develop and expand upon the nomological network of emotions. In an effort to build on the job demands–resources (JD-R) model, which includes both job demands (i.e., negative stimuli such as time pressure) and resources (i.e., positive stimuli such as autonomy), we include both negative and positive discrete emotions with the expectation that negative emotions will generally be linked to demands and positive emotions will be linked to resources.

The Role of Emotion and Emotion Regulation in Job Stress and Well Being Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Volume 11, 195–223 Copyright r 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3555/doi:10.1108/S1479-3555(2013)0000011011




We also propose that there may be circumstances where demands trigger negative discrete emotions and lead to greater experienced strain, and conversely, where resources arouse positive discrete emotions, which would positively affect well-being. The model in our chapter sheds light on how discrete emotions have different antecedents (i.e., job demands and resources) and outcomes (e.g., satisfaction, burnout, performance), and as such, respond to calls for research on this topic. Our findings will be of particular interest to organizations where employees can be trained to manage their emotions to reduce the strain associated with job stressors. Keywords: Discrete emotions; job demands–resources; affective well-being

Recent years have seen an explosion in the study of emotions in organizations (e.g., Barsade & Gibson, 2007). Emotional experiences permeate the workplace and have an impact on critical individual and organizational outcomes such as job performance (Arvey, Renz, & Watson, 1998), decisionmaking (Bechara, 2004), turnover (Abraham, 1999), citizenship behavior (Spector & Fox, 2002), teamwork (Kelly & Barsade, 2001), negotiation (Druckman & Olekalns, 2008), and leadership (Bono, Foldes, Vinson, & Muros, 2007). Not surprisingly, emotions play a central role in the job stress process, as they represent immediate responses to stressful events (e.g., Lazarus, 1991). Employee well-being is an area of research that has received a great deal of attention in the last few decades (Sparks, Faragher, & Cooper, 2001). Due to increasing demands placed on employees, a wealth of research has focused on better understanding how job conditions (e.g., time pressure, ambiguity) and personal factors (e.g., emotional stability) affect employee well-being (e.g., engagement, burnout; Houkes, Janssen, de Jonge, & Bakker, 2003). Relative to the amount of literature devoted to investigating antecedents of strain, the role of emotions is largely neglected in empirical stressor–strain studies. To date, emotions are not included in any of the prominent stressor–strain models used to better understand antecedents of employee well-being. Additionally, the narrow range of studies that do examine emotions in the stressor–strain process typically limit the theoretical domains of stressors, emotions, and strain outcomes (e.g., Fox & Spector, 1999; Fox, Spector, & Miles, 2001; Penney & Spector, 2005) or ignore the discrete nature of



emotions (e.g., Van Katwyk, Fox, Spector, & Kelloway, 2000). For example, Penney and Spector (2005) examine the effect of job stressors (e.g., conflict, incivility, constraints) on negative affectivity – not discrete emotions – and counterproductive work behavior (CWB), which is only one type of strain outcome. Similarly, Fox et al. (2001) operationalize strain as CWB and emotions as negative affect, not discrete emotions. Thus, there is still much to be understood regarding how specific emotions relate to job conditions (e.g., demands, resources) and well-being outcomes. The investigations that include emotions within the stressor–strain framework, however, leave us with fragments of the larger nomological network of emotions. Therefore, this chapter aims to build consensus in the literature by showing that discrete emotions provide a mechanism through which a variety of job conditions exert their impact on well-being outcomes and behavior. Our proposed model, the Job Conditions-Emotion-Well-Being Model, depicts this relationship (see Fig. 1). Given the pervasiveness and impact of emotions at work (Lord & Kanfer, 2002), we offer two potential reasons for the lagging scholarly attention: (1) discrete emotions have rarely been measured despite theoretical support and (2) prolonged exposure to job demands leads to strain, which makes it difficult to capture the temporary nature of emotions. Therefore, the proposed model aims to address these concerns by contributing to theory in a few ways. Our model integrates the stressor–strain and emotions literatures by expanding a well-established model – the Job Demands–Resources Model (JD-R; Demerouti, Bakker, Nachreiner, & Schaufeli, 2001) – to include

Positive Emotions

Daily Job Resources Decision Latitude Decision Autonomy Support

Content Enthusiasm Attentiveness

Daily Challenge Demands Workload Task Complexity

Daily Hindrance Demands Conflict Constraints

Daily Well-being Job satisfaction Performance Engagement

Negative Emotions

Emotional Exhaustion

Anxiety Anger Fatigue

Fig. 1.

The Job Conditions-Emotion-Well-Being Model.



discrete emotions. Though emotions are implicit in the theoretical framework that links job conditions to strain outcomes, discrete emotions have not been explicitly included in stressor–strain models. One exception (Balducci, Schaufeli, & Fraccaroli, 2011) is a study that accounts for emotions in the JD-R model, but does not examine discrete emotions, which provide the explanatory mechanism in which job conditions impact strain outcomes. Integrating emotions theory, particularly Affective Events Theory (AET; Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996), we position discrete emotions as mediators in the JD-R model. Incorporating these two literatures, the proposed model makes predictions in how job demands (including both challenge and hindrance stressors; Cavanaugh, Boswell, Roehling, & Boudreau, 2000) and resources evoke specific emotions, which in turn impact well-being outcomes. Given the transitory nature of emotions, the model takes into account the differences between chronic and daily job conditions and their impact on strain. To our knowledge, no model has done this to date, as most of the stressor–strain research focuses on chronic or general job conditions. Furthermore, current theory fails to take into account how job conditions (e.g., time pressure) can fluctuate daily and how this fluctuation affects employee outcomes. Thus, our model will not only shed light on how job conditions impact well-being outcomes, but also take into account chronic and daily job conditions. It is thought that only chronic stressors may impact strain, but we propose that job conditions (i.e., challenge stressors, hindrance stressors, and job resources) affect discrete emotions and in turn, well-being outcomes on a daily basis. Additionally, by examining a larger domain of stressors, resources, emotions, and strain, we begin to develop and expand upon the nomological network of emotions. By proposing a more comprehensive stressor–strain model, we also answer calls for research on examining the relationship between organizational stress and emotions (e.g., Perrewe´ & Zellars, 1999). Although the research literatures of stress and emotions have developed separately, treating the research as such is counterproductive (Lazarus & CohenCharash, 2001). Indeed, stress research has experienced ‘‘the beginnings of an affective revolution,’’ which suggests the need for scholarly attention linking stress and subsequent emotions (Barsade, Brief, & Spataro, 2003, p. 316). Studying discrete emotions will provide a better understanding of how individuals react to their life circumstances by examining reported levels of stress (Dewe, O’Driscoll, & Cooper, 2010). In the sections that follow, we first discuss stressor–strain theory, focusing particularly on the JD-R model (Demerouti et al., 2001). We then present emotions theory and discuss research linking emotions to the stressor–strain



framework. Next, we integrate the JD-R model and emotions literatures to present the Job Conditions-Emotion-Well-Being Model. Finally, we discuss further the theoretical and practical implications of this model, followed by areas for future research.

STRESSOR–STRAIN THEORY Over the past 30 years, occupational stress research has demonstrated that stressful job conditions (i.e., stressors) are related to a variety of adverse employee reactions (e.g., Beehr, 1995; Sparks, Cooper, Fried, & Shirom, 1997; Jex, 1998; Jex & Beehr, 1991). Given their relationship to strain, workplace stressors or demands have become a main focus for academics and practitioners (de Jonge & Kompier, 1997). Job demands (e.g., time pressure, workload, ambiguity; Sonnentag & Kruel, 2006) are physical, psychological, social, or organizational aspects of the job that require sustained physical and/or psychological effort or skills (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Karasek, 1979). As scholars began to further explore the stressor–strain relationship, they found that other job conditions such as decision latitude, autonomy, and resources positively affected well-being outcomes (de Jonge & Kompier, 1997; Demerouti et al., 2001; Karasek, 1979). One of the most influential stressor–strain frameworks, the JD-R model (Demerouti et al., 2001), proposes that conditions in the workplace can be classified into two categories – job demands and job resources. Resources help employees manage workplace demands, reduce the amount of energy needed on the job, or stimulate growth (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). The JD-R model suggests that demands and resources have differential impacts on well-being outcomes (de Jonge & Kompier, 1997; Demerouti et al., 2001; van der Doef & Maes, 1999). Whereas job demands are traditionally thought to lead to decrements in employee well-being (e.g., burnout), resources serve a motivational purpose and lead to positive wellbeing outcomes (e.g., engagement, commitment; Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Although the JD-R model specifies that demands primarily predict burnout and resources generally predict engagement (Demerouti et al., 2001), other studies have found that both demands and resources lead to burnout and engagement (Hakanen, Schaufeli, & Ahola, 2008; Llorens, Bakker, Schaufeli, & Salanova, 2006). Indeed, an abundance of research has amassed linking job demands and job resources to various psychological, physiological, and behavioral strain outcomes including depression,



burnout, cardiovascular disease, withdrawal behaviors (e.g., absenteeism), and dissatisfaction (e.g., Bakker, van Veldhoven, & Xanthopoulou, 2010; Crawford, LePine, & Rich, 2010; Fox, Dwyer, & Ganster, 1993; Gilboa, Shirom, Fried, & Cooper, 2008; Ha¨usser, Mojzisch, Niesel, & Schulz-Hardt, 2010; Schaufeli, Bakker, & Van Rhenen, 2009). More recently, scholars have found that two different types of demands exist that may be categorized as challenge and hindrance stressors. Hindrance stressors (e.g., ambiguity, constraints) are job demands that act as obstacles to achieving goals or personal growth and, thus, are energy depleting (Cavanaugh et al., 2000). Challenge stressors (e.g., time pressure, job complexity), however, are stimulating as they facilitate personal growth and development, yet are still stressors because they are energy depleting (Cavanaugh et al., 2000). As such, these two types of stressors have notably different effects on employee outcomes (Cavanaugh et al., 2000; Podsakoff, LePine, & LePine, 2007). Although both types of stressors negatively impact employee psychological strain (e.g., emotional exhaustion; LePine, Podsakoff, & LePine, 2005; Podsakoff et al., 2007), these two types of stressors have different effects on employee attitudes and behavior (Cavanaugh et al., 2000; LePine, LePine, & Jackson, 2004, LePine et al., 2005; Podsakoff et al., 2007). Challenge stressors, because they can facilitate personal growth, have a positive impact on employee attitudes such as satisfaction, motivation, and turnover (Lepine et al., 2005). Conversely, hindrance stressors behave in a way more consistent with the traditional conceptualization of job demands and negatively impact employee attitudes and behavioral strain outcomes, such as turnover (Podsakoff et al., 2007). These types of stressors affect strain by threatening valued resources (e.g., time, energy, job security). Due to our understanding of job demands and resources, scholars have reexamined the relationships theorized by the JD-R model (Van den Broech, De Cuyper, De Witte, & Vansteenkiste, 2010). As originally proposed by the JD-R model, job resources help employees manage workplace demands and are motivational or stimulating in nature (Demerouti et al., 2001). As such, they help employees accomplish workplace goals, add to satisfaction, and positively impact well-being (Van den Broech et al., 2010). Although according to the original JD-R model, job stressors were linked to strain through a depletion of energy, Van den Broech et al. (2010) suggest that job challenges are stimulating and lead to goal accomplishment, as well as deplete employee energy. Therefore, these job demands have both positive and negative effects on employee well-being outcomes. Job hindrances, however, only negatively impact employee well-being by depleting individuals of



their energy and impeding them from achieving their goals. Though the relationships between these types of job conditions with strain are welloutlined by the original model, emotions are not explicitly taken into account. Research in this area does suggest, however, that these job conditions first elicit emotions that then lead to well-being outcomes (Folkman & Lazarus, 1985). In presenting our proposed model, we now look to integrate discrete emotions within the JD-R framework, taking into account the role of both challenge and hindrance stressors.

EMOTIONS AT WORK Before discussing how job conditions elicit various emotions, it is important to first thoroughly define emotions and differentiate them from other related, yet distinct concepts, such as mood and trait affect. Although defining emotions is complex, Izard (1993a) noted that experiencing emotions (e.g., pain, anger, joy) can manifest themselves as driving our behavior, biasing our perceptions, or simply feeling a certain way. Neural, sensorimotor, motivational, and cognitive systems serve as the activators of experiential emotions, however, neural systems can activate emotions before or even without cognition (Izard, 1993a). Whereas emotions are more transitory and are typically manifested as strong feelings toward a specific object, moods are considered more diffuse, low-intensity feeling states, and trait affect is a disposition to experience positive or negative emotional states. Thus, both moods and traits are longer in duration without a known cause (Frijda, 1993). Emotions are thought to play a pivotal role in stressor–strain relationships because they represent individuals’ response to stressful situations in the environment (Lazarus, 1991; Lovallo, 1997; Payne, 1999) and are influential in predicting individual behavior (Cartwright & Cooper, 1997; Kelly & Barsade, 2001; Spector, 1998). Generally, emotions can be classified into two broad categories: negative and positive. Negative emotions are thought to mediate the effect of job demands on strain outcomes (Fox et al., 2001; Penney & Spector, 2005; Spector, 1998). Other scholars (e.g., Lazarus, 1991) also discuss this process wherein workplace situations elicit emotional responses from individuals, which in turn affect strain experiences. Positive emotions, compared to negative emotions, are paid less theoretical and empirical attention in the literature. Research shows, however, that positive emotions contribute to favorable work outcomes (e.g., Staw, Sutton, & Pelled, 1994). Moreover, the study of positive emotions is consistent with



the literature on positive organizational behavior, which is characterized by the development of employees’ positive capacities to improve their performance (e.g., Luthans, 2002). Discrete emotions are unique feeling states that include specific emotions such as anger and distress (Barrett, 1998). Emotions are discrete because they have distinctive properties with different associated feelings, thoughts, action tendencies, actions, and goals (Roseman, Wiest, & Swartz, 1994). For example, individuals who are angry may experience pent up energy (feeling), think negative thoughts about others (thinking), feel like striking out at someone (action tendency), say something unpleasant to others (action), and experience the desire to hurt someone (goal). Researchers often group emotions into broad measures of positive or negative emotions (e.g., my job makes me feel bad) without considering specific emotions within those domains (e.g., my job makes me feel frustrated; Fox et al., 2001; Penney & Spector, 2005). Broad measures are comprised of positive or negative discrete emotions that form an overall measure or composite index of affect (Weiss, Suckow, & Cropanzano, 1999). For example, emotions that may be considered negative (e.g., anger, fury, anxiety) are combined into a single measure of negative emotions for the purpose of analysis. Some scholars posit that we should examine discrete emotions such as anger or disappointment (e.g., Weiss et al., 1999), whereas others suggest that we should group them more broadly (e.g., Van Katwyk et al., 2000). Although parsimony can be beneficial, broadly grouping emotions into a single measure may be problematic as some of the measures have not been validated and are not grounded in theory (Cohen-Charash & Byrne, 2008). Research is needed that explores how discrete emotions influence specific behaviors (Bagozzi, Baumgartner, Pieters, & Zeelenberg, 2000; Barsade et al., 2003; Brief & Weiss, 2002; Briner & Kiefer, 2005; Cohen-Charash & Byrne, 2008; Lazarus & Cohen-Charash, 2001; Weiss et al., 1999). These calls for research are based on the notion that broad measures of emotions ignore the specific consequences that may result from discrete emotions (Spencer & Rupp, 2009). For the current chapter, we adopt the perspective presented by Weiss et al. (1999) because grouping emotions neglects the possibility that discrete emotions may have different predictors and consequences. As a result, our chapter answers calls for more research on how discrete emotions, rather than broad measures or moods, influence important strain outcomes (e.g., Cohen-Charash & Byrne, 2008; Lazarus & Cohen-Charash, 2001; Weiss et al., 1999).



RESEARCH LINKING STRESS AND EMOTIONS In response to an increased focus on emotions, several scholars have sought to integrate emotions in stressor–strain frameworks. One area of research is the organizational justice literature. The literature on organizational justice that has amassed makes it the most commonly studied workplace stressor (Krischer, Penney, & Hunter, 2010). Organizational justice typically manifests itself through fairness perceptions of: the distribution of outcomes (i.e., distributive justice), procedures used to derive outcomes (i.e., procedural justice), and interpersonal treatment (i.e., interactional justice). Low organizational justice has been shown to predict workplace aggression, low work commitment, job dissatisfaction, retaliation, and withdrawal (Folger & Konovsky, 1989; Masterson, Lewis, Goldman, & Taylor, 2000; McFarlin & Sweeney, 1992; Moorman, 1991), and is also associated with higher psychiatric disorders, mental distress, poor self-rated health status, cardiovascular disease, and cardiovascular death (Elovainio, Heponiemi, Sinervo, & Magnavita, 2006; Kivimaki et al., 2005; Kivima¨ki, Elovainio, Vahtera, & Ferrie, 2003; Kivima¨ki, Elovainio, Vahtera, Virtanen, & Stansfeld, 2003; Tepper, 2001). Organizational justice researchers have recognized the pivotal role that emotions, even discrete emotions, play in the stressor–strain process. Weiss et al. (1999), for example, found that fairness perceptions were related to discrete emotions (i.e., happiness, guilt, and pride). Barclay, Skarlicki, and Pugh (2005) found that emotions mediated the link between fairness perceptions and retaliation. Rupp and Spencer (2006) found that anger (a discrete emotion) mediated the link between fairness perceptions and the probability of complying with display rules in treating customers. Even further, there are several studies linking emotions to behavior that impedes organizational goals, or in other words, CWBs. The models predicting CWBs and the associated research find that emotions mediate the relationship between organizational justice and CWBs (e.g., Fox & Spector, 1999; Fox et al., 2001). Individuals engage in CWBs to cope with the negative emotions that they experience (Penney & Spector, 2007). Despite this wealth of research, few studies have empirically tested the mediating role of discrete emotions with other commonly studied stressors (e.g., uncertainty, time pressure, constraints). Some stressors have been examined in relation to CWBs such as workload, role conflict, interpersonal conflict, role ambiguity, organizational constraints, and workplace incivility (Andersson & Pearson, 1999; Chen & Spector, 1992; Fox & Spector, 1999;



Fox et al., 2001; Miles, Borman, Spector, & Fox, 2002; Penney & Spector, 2002), but few studies account for the mediating role of discrete emotions. A study by Balducci et al. (2011) found that a broad measure of positive emotions mediated the relationship between job resources and work engagement, whereas a broad measure of negative emotions mediated the relationship between job demands and abuse/hostility. Another study examined the emotional impact of workaholism and found that positive and negative emotions mediated the relationship between workaholism and aggressive behavior (Balducci, Cecchin, Fraccaroli, & Schaufeli, 2012). Although this work is helpful in that it empirically shows a relationship between job stressors, emotions, and strain, it is limited in its predictive validity because the discrete emotions were aggregated to single measures of positive or negative emotions. Another study by Rodell and Judge (2009) has also contributed to our understanding of the central role that emotions play. They found that challenge stressors were indirectly related to citizenship behaviors through attentiveness and anxiety and were positively related to CWBs through anxiety. They also found that hindrance stressors were negatively and indirectly related to citizenship behaviors through anxiety and positively and indirectly related to CWBs through anxiety and anger. Their results are noteworthy as they suggest that challenge (i.e., ‘‘good’’) stressors can lead to negative behaviors (i.e., CWBs), however, this study does not examine the differential effects of daily and chronic stressors, nor does it relate stressors and emotions to a broader range of strain outcomes. Although there is a plethora of research examining the relationships between stressors, emotions, and strain, the existing literature fails to take into account: (1) the effect of discrete emotions, (2) a broad range of stressors, emotions, and strain, and/or (3) the differential effects of daily and chronic stressors. Our chapter fills in these gaps and answers calls for more research on how discrete emotions, rather than broad measures of emotions, influence behaviors (e.g., Cohen-Charash & Byrne, 2008; Lazarus & Cohen-Charash, 2001; Weiss et al., 1999). In an effort to build upon the JD-R framework, which includes both job demands (i.e., a negative stimulus) and resources (i.e., a positive stimulus), we include both negative and positive discrete emotions with the expectation that in general, positive discrete emotions will relate to resources and negative discrete emotions link with demands. However, we are aware that individuals react differently to stressors, and may consequently, experience a range of emotions and also vary in how they appraise work events. One employee may interpret a job characteristic positively, whereas another employee may see a negative



aspect to a particular job characteristic such as workload. As a result, there may be circumstances where resources trigger negative discrete emotions and have a negative impact on strain, and conversely, where demands arouse positive discrete emotions, which would positively affect well-being. By including both poles of the emotion circumplex, we aim to move away from fragmentation and piece together a larger nomological network of emotions.

PROPOSED MODEL As we begin developing the nomological network of emotions, it is important to include both negative (i.e., job demands) and positive (i.e., job resources) factors that impact well-being outcomes. Longitudinal and cross-sectional studies have documented the role of job demands and resources on strain and other well-being outcomes (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007). Most studies, however, assess job demands and resources at one point in time, which assumes that these are stable conditions that do not change over time. Recently, scholars have questioned this assumption by taking into account how job conditions may vary on a day-to-day basis and how these variations affect well-being and behavior (Xanthopoulou, Bakker, Heuven, Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2008). Indeed, longitudinal research extends this work by taking into account the more dynamic nature of job demands and resources, suggesting that there is within-person variation (e.g., Beal, Weiss, Barros, & MacDermid, 2005; Simbula, 2010; Xanthopoulou, Bakker, Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2009; Xanthopoulou et al., 2008); in line with this research, we explore within- and between-person variations in daily demands and resources on daily indicators of daily well-being such as performance. Although our model depicts how job conditions impact strain through emotions and thus focuses on daily stressors and resources, we also note that it is important to consider the long-term impact of job demands and resources on strain outcomes. Taking into account theory that strain results from exposure to chronic jobs stressors (Demerouti et al., 2001), some strain outcomes (e.g., turnover, physical symptoms) likely only result if individuals experience daily stressors and strains over time. If that is the case, it is plausible that some strain outcomes may fluctuate daily, whereas others may result from prolonged exposure to daily job conditions and experienced strain. For example, if individuals experience uncertainty or time pressure, they may feel anxiety and emotional exhaustion that day. Another example may be that individuals who experience an interpersonal conflict may feel



angry that day, and consequently, be less productive because they are unable to focus on the task at hand or may be gossiping with others about the conflict. Daily and chronic job resources may also differentially impact well-being outcomes. To some extent, job resources may fluctuate in the short term, and possibly on a daily basis depending on the nature of the work and the organization. Some jobs, especially those with instability and frequent rotations such as temporary work, may provide individuals with high levels of organizational support such that in one assignment, individuals may receive support from their supervisors, whereas in other assignments, they lack support. Moreover, some organizations do not provide consistent resources for their employees. Some organizations give their employees complete latitude in deciding how to complete projects, whereas others may give some latitude but it varies depending on the issue and the supervisor. Though daily support should affect daily well-being and help individuals manage daily demands, if individuals experience a prolonged lack of support, it will not have a long-term impact on well-being. By looking at daily job conditions, we are able to integrate the role of discrete emotions to build a comprehensive model (see Fig. 1) that includes well-established job demands (e.g., time pressure, workload), job resources (e.g., autonomy, decision latitude), and highly valued outcomes of stressors: attitudes (e.g., satisfaction), general well-being, and behavior (e.g., performance). We position discrete emotions as mediators in the demands and resources – strain relationships and focus on commonly studied negative and positive discrete emotions (e.g., anger, anxiety, attentiveness; Shaver, Schwartz, Kirson, & O’Connor, 1987; Spencer & Rupp, 2009; Weiss et al., 1999). We base this on theoretical accounts that job stressors generally induce negative emotional reactions and job resources elicit positive emotional reactions, which then impact the extent to which individuals experience strain (Spector, 1998). We further explore the role of challenge and hindrance job demands, as challenge job demands or stressors may lead to both positive and negative emotions (Van den Broech et al., 2010). It is important to note that in providing a framework in which job conditions impact emotions and strain, we have selected only a subset of each of these categories. Other job conditions, emotions, and outcomes could also be investigated using our framework. For example, scholars studying the impact of incivility (a job stressor) on absenteeism (a strain outcome) might include embarrassment as a mediating emotion. The job conditions and well-being outcomes depicted in our proposed model were selected because of their presence in the established literature (e.g., Bakker & Demerouti, 2007;



Demerouti et al., 2001; Karasek, 1979; Xanthopoulou et al., 2008, 2009). Although there are various accounts as to what constitutes the range of discrete emotions (e.g., Izard, 1993b; Roseman et al., 1994, Weiss et al., 1999), we include the positive and negative discrete emotions of contentment, attentiveness, enthusiasm, anger, anxiety, and fatigue for three reasons. First, attentiveness, anger, and anxiety have all been theoretically and empirically linked with a variety of stressors and strain outcomes (e.g., Barclay et al., 2005; Rodell & Judge, 2009; Rupp & Spencer, 2006; Weiss et al., 1999). Second, contentment, enthusiasm, and fatigue are also commonly experienced emotions, however, they have not received attention commensurate with their pervasiveness. Finally, despite wanting to include commonly experienced emotions that have and have not been explored in the literature, we also wanted to strike a balance between positive and negative emotions. Affective Events Theory Affective events theory (AET) is useful in understanding the underlying mechanism of emotions. According to this theory, work events trigger emotional reactions from employees, which in turn, influence their attitudes and behaviors (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996). In essence, work events facilitate or hinder employees’ goal attainment and consequently, arouse positive or negative affective responses, which then predict attitudinal and behavioral outcomes such as job satisfaction, trust, turnover, and productivity. Work events may be positive, such as a receiving support from a supervisor or negative such as a conflict. Positive affective responses are generally associated with events that lead to the fulfillment of goals, while negative emotions are usually associated with events that hinder goal fulfillment (Lazarus, 1991). Work events may also be characterized along the following categories: work conditions, physical settings, rewards and punishment, organizational leaders, and interpersonal and group conditions (Brief & Weiss, 2002). Although research on AET is still in early stages of development, the central tenants of the model have received empirical support in the literature (Ashton-James & Ashkanasy, 2005). Job Demands At first glance, one may assume that job demands such as conflict and workload are characterized as negative work events that arouse negative discrete emotions that lead to strain, but we adopt a more nuanced



approach toward understanding job demands. Some job demands are considered to be hindrance stressors, which as noted above, refer to obstacles to achieving personal growth or goals (Cavanaugh et al., 2000). Challenge stressors, on the other hand, stimulate personal growth and development, but may also be energy depleting (Cavanaugh et al., 2000). Hindrance Stressors We suggest that employees will appraise hindrance stressors as negative obstacles that hinder the attainment of their goals (Brown, Westbrook, & Challagalla, 2005), which has been theorized to elicit negative discrete emotions such as anger (Plutchik, 1980). Hindrance stressors, which include interpersonal conflicts and organizational constraints, can be conceptualized as obstacles as they often interfere with goal accomplishment and deplete employees of energy. Because hindrance stressors are characterized by negative work events, we predict that employees will feel angry when they experience interpersonal conflicts and organizational constraints. Anger is a multifaceted emotion that includes feeling irritated, mad, resentful, bitter, furious, annoyed, and displeased (Spencer & Rupp, 2009). Indeed, there is some empirical evidence showing that anger is related to hindrance stressors such as constraints (Chen & Spector, 1991). Because anger is a high-arousal emotion, employees who experience it will likely feel the need to aggress or attack imposing obstacles (Plutchik, 1980). As such, we suggest that employees are more likely to engage in CWBs to retaliate against others at the individual and organizational levels, which is consistent with the literature that suggests that negative emotions increase the likelihood of these types of harmful behaviors (e.g., Rodell & Judge, 2009; Spector & Fox, 2002). Also, because employees are diverting their attention to workplace behaviors that harm individuals and organizations, they may be less productive in their job, hence decreasing task performance. Indeed, negative emotions have been shown to decrease productivity (Hersey, 1932). In line with AET (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996), employees may also experience lower job satisfaction and higher turnover intentions because emotions, such as anger, are said to be the cause of work attitudes. Extending this notion, anger may influence appraisals of satisfaction through a mood-congruency effect (Rusting & DeHart, 2000). This hypothesis proposes that emotions provide the organizing framework for information stored in memory. Specific emotions are represented by particular nodes within a cognitive framework. When experiencing anger, the associated node becomes activated and in turn, memories and cognitions consistent



with that emotion are also activated. As a result, during positive (negative) emotional experiences, pleasant (unpleasant) information is activated and retrieved. Therefore, this hypothesis implies that experiencing anger should impact job satisfaction evaluations and turnover intentions. Organizational constraints may also elicit anger because employees find it difficult to do their jobs because of work conditions such as their supervisor, interruptions by others, faulty equipment, and incomplete information. When individuals experience these job demands, the resulting discrete emotion will likely be anger such that they are irritated, mad, and displeased. If these constraints are experienced on a daily basis, individuals who are angry may be unhappy with their jobs (low job satisfaction), have difficulty focusing on tasks (low task performance), and attending work even when they feel unwell (low presenteeism). Challenge Stressors Challenge stressors, on the other hand, may elicit both positive and negative discrete emotions because although they serve a motivational function, they are also energy depleting. Employees may experience negative emotions such as fatigue when they have high amounts of work because of the requirements imposed by these types of stressors. Fatigue refers to ‘‘an enduring, subjective feeling of generalized tiredness or exhaustion’’ (Woo, 1995, p. 11). In turn, the emotion of fatigue can lead to burnout because individuals are chronically depleted of energy. High amounts of work can also make employees feel anxious (Totterdell, Wood, & Wall, 2006), which often has negative consequences. The high arousal emotion of anxiety often triggers a desire to escape (Plutchik, 1980) because employees are overwhelmed with their workload and have difficulty managing all of their tasks. When their workload and the resulting anxiety are not managed, employees may in time experience withdrawal symptoms such as burnout and turnover. Anxiety has also been shown to increase CWBs and decrease citizenship behaviors (Rodell & Judge, 2009). But in some cases, some amount of anxiety may have positive consequences for employees. Anxiety may enable individuals to mobilize their resources to avoid a threat (Grandey, 2008). For example, employees may fear that they will not accomplish all of their tasks on time, which motivates them to work harder and put in extra hours to do the job, thus increasing task performance. A high workload can also trigger positive emotions. It is a faulty assumption to suggest that stressors only elicit negative emotions (Lazarus & Cohen-Charash, 2001). To some individuals, having a high amount of work



makes them feel enthusiastic because they can work on a range of tasks, the work may seem new or different, or they may feel productive once they have accomplished some of the tasks and use this energy toward completing more tasks. Enthusiasm refers to the extent that individuals are motivated and excited (Lee & Dubinsky, 2003). As a result, task performance increases because individuals use the motivation and excitement that they feel and direct it toward accomplishing their tasks. Engagement may also increase because employees are making reasonable progress toward their goals and become more enthusiastic about their work. High amounts of work can also trigger the positive discrete emotion of attentiveness, which has also been shown to increase organizational citizenship behaviors based on the notion that attentiveness is a pleasant and engaging emotion that is consistent with the nature of citizenship behaviors (Rodell & Judge, 2009). The discrete emotion of attentiveness may give individuals a heightened ability to observe the need to help others in the workplace. Attentiveness is a positive discrete emotion that is characterized by feelings of determination, alertness, and concentration (Rodell & Judge, 2009). Task complexity is another challenge stressor that may elicit a number of positive discrete emotions such as attentiveness and enthusiasm. Task complexity has frequently been studied in the context of goal-setting and job design, and much of this research has found that although at high levels of task complexity, goal-setting does not have the same desired effect, relative to simple tasks (Wood, Mento, & Locke, 1987), and that moderate levels serve a motivational purpose. Indeed, other scholars have found that goalsetting does in fact increase performance when tasks are of moderate complexity. This is consistent with other challenge stressors, which present an opportunity for growth but also require the expenditure of energy to meet the demand. In a similar vein, the relationship between task complexity and the experience of positive emotions may vary depending on the level of task complexity. In particular, task complexity may arouse positive emotions as people feel challenged and motivated to accomplish the task. Research shows that attentiveness relates to engagement (e.g., Watson & Tellegen, 1985) and task-related outcomes (Weick & Roberts, 1993). Meeting this demand, however, also will require individuals to expend energy or time and, therefore, may also result in negative emotions (e.g., fatigue, anxiety). If employees are faced with a highly complex and new task, they may become overwhelmed and anxious which in turn, may lead to disengagement and dissatisfaction. Indeed, research shows that high levels of task complexity are associated with higher levels of anxiety and self-doubt



(Campbell, 1988), which may then lead to burnout (Shirom, Nirel, & Vinokur, 2006). Conversely, individuals who experience low task complexity will neither be anxious nor attentive compared to those higher on task complexity. Proposition 1. Do discrete emotions mediate the relationship between job demands and well-being outcomes? Job Resources Using AET, job resources such as decision latitude, decision autonomy, and support can be characterized as positive work events that likely elicit positive discrete emotions. Although these have usually been conceptualized as chronic job resources, we suggest that jobs can fluctuate daily in regards to decision latitude, decision autonomy, and support and thus, act as specific work events that trigger emotions. For example, a supervisor experiencing pressure from his boss may not give employees decision latitude or autonomy that day, and as a result, the employee does not benefit from these resources or the resulting positive emotions. As these job resources fluctuate, the positive discrete emotion that is aroused may depend on the particular job resource. As noted above, discrete emotions may have varying antecedents and consequences based on patterns of appraisals (Perrewe´ & Zellars, 1999; Weiss et al., 1999). Employees who appraise a work event that involves the gain of valuable resources, facilitates growth, or helps them achieve their goals will likely cause them to experience positive discrete emotions such as contentment or enthusiasm (Plutchik, 1980). Decision latitude and decision autonomy can be conceptualized as gaining valuable resources in the sense that employees have the resources necessary to make important work-related decisions and manage workplace stressors. We suspect that the discrete emotions that result from gaining control over work-related decisions will result in high-arousal emotions such as enthusiasm because they provide employees with the opportunity for growth and development, as well as facilitate goal accomplishment. Research suggests that employees are intrinsically motivated by these types of opportunities and, thus, when they experience these resources, they will likely be enthusiastic about their jobs (e.g., Deci & Ryan, 1985). As a result of experiencing enthusiasm, employees will experience positive energy directed toward their job. Thus, we also predict that employees are more likely to engage in higher levels of task performance and organizational citizenship behaviors because this positive energy would be directed toward



accomplishing work-related tasks (e.g., performance, OCBs). Enthusiasm will also increase the extent to which employees are engaged (e.g., involved with work) because these employees are enthusiastic about their work and fully involved by expending energy toward accomplishing work-related and personal goals. In a related vein, employees who appraise work events that are helpful in giving them valuable resources or attaining their goals may experience low arousal emotions such as contentment, which refers to feeling satiated or satisfied (Berenbaum, 2002). For example, support is helpful to employees because it helps employees handle workplace demands, but we suspect that support elicits contentment because employees feel that they have the tools necessary to accomplish workplace goals. Although the lack of support or autonomy may not cause negative emotions, we suspect that experiencing these positive job conditions leads to positive emotions (e.g., contentment). Although we predict that the discrete emotion of contentment will also increase task performance, because low arousal emotions are associated with somewhat different behaviors (Fredrickson & Cohn, 2008), we also propose that people who experience a sense of satisfaction or happiness (e.g., contentment) will also be happier with their jobs (i.e., experience high job satisfaction) and feel good psychologically. Using AET, we also predict that, in general, positive work events will predict positive discrete emotions and positive strain outcomes, but there may be circumstances where a positive work event elicits a negative discrete emotion and has a negative impact on strain. For example, a positive work event such as decision autonomy may elicit anxiety, which is considered to be an unpleasant discrete emotion. Anxiety refers to an anticipatory emotion that employees experience when their values are threatened (Lazarus, 1991). Employees who receive more control over work-related matters may become anxious with the amount of autonomy that they have and consequently, task performance may suffer because anxiety leads to the inefficient use of energy. Rather than using energy to accomplish tasks, energy is depleted as one tries to cope with this negative emotion (Sullivan & Bhagat, 1992). Proposition 2. Do discrete emotions mediate the relationship between job resources and well-being outcomes? Moderating Role of Job Resources Based on the JD-R model (Demerouti et al., 2001) and other stressor–strain theory (Karasek, 1979), we also propose that daily resources can help



individuals manage both challenge and hindrance demands. These theories suggest that although demands are energy depleting, individuals are motivated and engaged when these demands are coupled with resources. Previous scholars have hypothesized that when employees have a greater amount of control in their jobs, strain decreases and learning increases (van der Doef & Maes, 1999). A greater amount of control enables employees to better cope with job demands, and consequently, job resources will mitigate the negative effects of work stressors. Although studies have typically focused on the moderating role of job resources on the job demands-strain relationship, we propose that resources will mitigate the extent to which individuals experience the negative emotions (e.g., anger, anxiety) that result from job demands. We expect that individuals with more resources, compared to those with few resources, experience fewer negative emotions and, in line with the JD-R model, may also experience some positive emotions (e.g., attentiveness) when they experience workplace demands. Although challenge demands do not result in the same negative emotions as hindrance demands, they still lead to some negative emotions (e.g., anxiety) through energy depletion. Therefore, both individuals experiencing challenge and hindrance stressors should benefit from having job resources. Proposition 3. Do resources moderate the relationship between demands and emotions, such that the positive relationship between demands and negative discrete emotions is weakened as daily resources increase?

THEORETICAL AND PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS The proposed research aims to impact and integrate both the stressor–strain and emotions literatures. Though many scholars theoretically position emotions as an explanatory mechanism in the stressor–strain relationship, research has yet to empirically test it in stressor–strain frameworks. In responding to calls for increased attention on how discrete emotions influence specific behaviors (e.g., Cohen-Charash & Byrne, 2008; Lazarus & Cohen-Charash, 2001; Weiss et al., 1999), our goal is to contribute to the extant literature on the stressor–strain relationship through our proposed model. We build on JD-R theory by suggesting that positive and negative discrete emotions provide a mechanism through which stressors impact well-being outcomes. In doing so, we also answer calls for further research on organizational stress and emotions (e.g., Perrewe´ & Zellars, 1999).



Additionally, though negative and positive emotions have typically been grouped together, we investigate whether discrete emotions are more likely to impact employee well-being. In doing so, we hope to develop a nomological network that integrates the antecedents (e.g., job demands, job resources) and consequences (e.g., strain) of emotions. We also propose that a more nuanced understanding of how discrete emotions impact the stressor–strain relationship is warranted. Although we generally predict that job demands will elicit negative discrete emotions and job resources will arouse positive discrete emotions, we also propose that individuals differ in how they appraise work events, and consequently, there may be situations where positive discrete emotions are linked with demands and negative discrete emotions are linked to resources. Our model is also consistent with AET such that we propose that discrete emotions mediate the relationship between positive or negative work events and job attitudes and behaviors. Although AET is useful to depict the mediating role of emotions, it does not help us understand which emotion mediates the relationship between job conditions and outcomes. It also does not account for circumstances where positive work events arouse negative discrete emotions and strain, whereas negative work events elicit positive discrete emotions and well-being. The framework also does not delineate between daily and chronic work events, as well as daily and chronic outcomes. Our model builds on the AET framework by offering a greater understanding of which discrete emotions may be influential in the mediating process between job conditions and outcomes, a more nuanced view of the circumstances in which negative discrete emotions result from positive events and positive discrete emotions stem from negative events, as well as depict work events and outcomes on a daily and chronic basis. In addition to contributing to theory advancement, the findings of this research will have practical implications for both employees and managers. Managing emotions can be learned through conscious practice. Indeed, according to emotion regulation theory (Gross, 1998a), individuals are able to regulate their own emotions, often by modifying their perception of the situation or the situation itself. Furthermore, individuals can also adjust their responses to situations (i.e., response-focused emotion regulation; Gross, 1998b). If discrete emotions are found to mediate the stressor–strain relationship, employees can reduce the strain associated with some job stressors by successfully managing their emotions. From a managerial standpoint, research shows that supervisors can impact the emotional experiences of their employees (Bono et al., 2007).



Generally, results point to the benefits of having a transformational leader (e.g., decreased employee strain). Additionally, managers and organizations can provide training or development workshops for employees that focus on techniques to best manage emotions and, as a result, minimize strain. Supporting this contention, emotional intelligence training has been found to be successful in reducing strain (Slaski & Cartwright, 2003). By identifying the discrete emotions that occur as a result of job demands, training can be geared toward addressing and managing those specific emotions. Thus, it seems that both employees and managers alike play a role in how emotions are manifested at work. To understand these manifestations, however, it is important to understand the mechanisms linking stressors, emotions, and strain. Additionally, organizations that are concerned with negative strain outcomes (e.g., job dissatisfaction, poor job performance) may benefit from paying attention to the effect that challenge and hindrance stressors have on experiential emotions. For example, organizations can reduce hindrance stressors by streamlining processes, providing clearer objectives and goals to employees, and ensuring adequate resources for employees. Regarding challenge stressors, however, organizations should take care in identifying ways to maximize the benefits of these types of stressors, while also limiting their negative effects (Rodell & Judge, 2009).

FUTURE DIRECTIONS Though this model provides a theoretical framework for how daily job conditions impact strain through discrete emotions, an empirical investigation that tests our proposed model is warranted and the boundary conditions of the model may be further explored. Thus, we present areas for future research aimed at empirically testing and extending the proposed model. One avenue of future research, and arguably the most important area, is for our proposed model to be empirically tested. Future research is needed to capture how individuals experience stressors over time to take into consideration daily and chronic stressors. To fully capture both the fluctuation of daily job conditions and emotions as well as their long-term effects, a longitudinal design is needed to measure job conditions and strain on a daily and chronic basis, as well as measuring emotions at daily levels. Studies should include not only the job conditions, emotions, and well-being outcomes depicted in our proposed model, but also other types of these



constructs to fully capture how different job conditions may impact discrete emotions and well-being differently. Another area for future direction is to further explore the element of time needed to consider stressors as chronic stressors. Though we make the assertion that some strain only occurs after prolonged exposure to job conditions, emotions, and other types of strain, we do note that little is known regarding how ‘‘chronic’’ is defined. One study assessed individuals three years apart and found that those who experienced strain at both time points had the highest physiological strain (i.e., ambulatory blood pressure), compared to those who only experienced it at one time point or not at all (Schnall, Schwartz, Landsbergis, Warren, & Pickering, 1998). It remains unclear, however, how long individuals must be exposed to stressors before they experience more serious forms of strain. Future studies should explore this line of inquiry further in a longitudinal design so that the relationship between daily and chronic stressors and the resulting impact on strain is more clearly understood. An additional area for future research is to include other types of resources that likely impact well-being and moderate the relationship between job demands and well-being. To be somewhat parsimonious, our model focuses on the traditional JD-R model which includes job demands and resources. Scholars, however, now also conceptualize personal factors as resources (Giardini & Frese, 2006; Guenole, Chernyshenko, Stark, McGregor, & Ganesh, 2008; Halbesleben & Buckley, 2006; Hobfoll, 2001). These personal resources are inherently possessed by an individual (e.g., selfefficacy, emotional stability). They affect the extent to which individuals experience strain and impact how individuals manage on-the-job stressors. For example, individuals low on emotional stability likely experience higher levels of stress when they encounter stressors and are unable to use their personal resources to help manage those stressors, compared to those high on emotional stability (Rubino, Perry, Milam, Spitzmueller, & Zapf, 2012). Other types of personal resources include coping, conscientiousness, and hardiness. Future studies should broaden the conceptualization of resources to determine how other types of resources may differentially impact emotions and, thus, well-being.

CONCLUSION Our chapter enriches the understanding of the process by which discrete emotions affect the relationship between job conditions and well-being.



In our proposed model, we include both negative and positive discrete emotions, offer explanations as to why positive work events may elicit negative discrete emotions and negative work events may arouse positive discrete emotions, and predict that discrete emotions will have varying antecedents (i.e., job demands and resources) and outcomes (e.g., burnout, engagement) on both a daily and chronic basis. Taken together, our model gives us a more nuanced understanding of nomological network of emotions and ways in which we can reduce the strain associated with job stressors.

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SELF-CONSCIOUS EMOTIONS: A NEW DIRECTION FOR EMOTION RESEARCH IN OCCUPATIONAL STRESS AND WELL-BEING Carrie A. Bulger ABSTRACT The aim of this chapter is to define and explore the group of emotions known as self-conscious emotions. The state of the knowledge on guilt, shame, pride, and embarrassment is reviewed, with particular attention paid to research on these four self-conscious emotions in work and organizational settings. Surprisingly little research on self-conscious emotions comes from researchers interested in occupational stress and well-being, yet these emotions are commonly experienced and may be a reaction to or even a source of stress. They may also impact behaviors and attitudes that affect stress and well-being. I conclude the review with a call for more research on these emotions as related to stress and well-being, offering some suggestions for areas of focus. Keywords: Self-conscious emotions; guilt; shame; pride; embarrassment

The Role of Emotion and Emotion Regulation in Job Stress and Well Being Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Volume 11, 225–256 Copyright r 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3555/doi:10.1108/S1479-3555(2013)0000011012




The past two decades have seen an increased research interest in emotion, emotion regulation, and emotion work in organizations evidenced by published research in journals (e.g., Fisher & Ashkanasy, 2000), books (e.g., Lord, Klimoski, & Kanfer, 2002), and at academic conferences (e.g., Culbertson, 2013). Such research has increased our understanding of the impact of emotions on work behavior and, recently, in occupational health and well-being (e.g., Smith, Rasmussen, Mills, Wefals, & Downey, 2012; Van de Ven, van den Tooren, & Vlerick, 2013). During the same time frame, there was a growing interest in understanding the group of emotions known as self-conscious emotions, namely guilt, shame, pride, and embarrassment (Tracy, Robins, & Tagney, 2007). However, despite these coinciding trends, little research in the occupational stress and health literature has explicitly focused on self-conscious emotions; my search of the two premier journals in the field, the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology and Work and Stress resulted in a total of three articles that directly examine self-conscious emotions. There have been some studies published on self-conscious emotions in the organization sciences in general, many of which will be reviewed below. The lack of attention to these self-conscious emotions should be remedied because it seems likely that, like other emotions, self-conscious emotions are motivators of behaviors related to occupational stress and health, and it may also be important to understand the relationships between self-conscious emotions and other emotions in the context of occupational stress and health. In this, I echo Tangney, Stuewig, and Mashek (2007a) who suggest that more research should be focused on SCEs in specific settings (e.g., work). Some researchers have begun to examine the self-conscious emotions in work settings with a view to understanding the impact on job performance and, importantly, on well-being (e.g., Groenvyck, Dillen, & Fontaine, 2011). This chapter will review the state of knowledge on self-conscious emotions in general, as well as the current research on self-conscious emotions at work. I will pay special attention to the studies that have implications for occupational stress and well-being.

THE SELF-CONSCIOUS EMOTIONS Self-conscious emotions (SCEs) are defined by some researchers as those emotions that arise from self-reflection and self-evaluation (Tangney, Stuewig, & Mashek, 2007b). Leary (2007) indicates that SCEs can also be elicited by perceptions or inferences about the way the self is viewed by

Self-Conscious Emotions


others, particularly in situations of norm-violations or social transgressions. Self-evaluation and self-perception have been increasingly extensively discussed by researchers in many areas and some of those discussions have bearing on this exploration of self-conscious emotions. Given that, I will briefly discuss some theoretical and empirical work on self-evaluation and self-perception. Sedikides and Strube (1997) explore various processes and motives related to self-evaluation and ultimately propose a framework wherein selfevaluation consists of an information stage and an action stage. During the information stage, people gather information about themselves from their environment as well as from their self (i.e., emotions or cognitions). The information gathered then influences the type of self-evaluation engaged in during the action stage. They also suggest that there are likely many moderators of this process, including affective state and more stable traits. Though they do not directly discuss self-conscious emotions, it seems likely that experiencing an aversive emotion like shame would influence one’s selfevaluation processes differently than a pleasant emotion like pride. Other researchers have begun to incorporate some of the theoretical work on perceptions of others’ views of (or treatment of) the self into the literature on organizational justice. De Cremer and Tyler (2005) argue that perceptions of injustice are damaging precisely because of the social nature of the self. That is, injustice perceptions result in a feeling of being disrespected by others in the organization. Some people who perceive injustice engage in retaliatory behaviors, but not all people do so. It may be that perceived injustice influences a state of shame or embarrassment that the social self, and thus one’s identity, has been disrespected. On the other hand, perceptions of having been treated fairly may influence feelings of pride to the extent that fair treatment is perceived as a sign that one is accepted by others. De Cremer and Tyler (2005) further suggest that self-identity is highly tied to one’s roles in an organization. This is echoed by Semmer, Tshcan, Meier, Facchin, and Jacobshagen (2010) who found that work tasks considered to be ‘‘illegitimate’’ to one’s role in the organization are related to engaging in counterproductive work behaviors. The authors suggest that illegitimate tasks are perceived to be a threat to one’s identity and that they are therefore perceived as a stressor. It may be that engaging in illegitimate tasks is also related to experiencing self-conscious emotions that are stressful and motivate counterproductive work behaviors. The most commonly studied SCEs are guilt, shame, pride, and embarrassment. Yet, even these four emotions are understudied as compared to other



types of emotions, often referred to as ‘‘basic’’ emotions. Tracy and Robins (2007a) suggest that this may be because SCEs are more difficult to elicit in a laboratory setting than are basic emotions, and the antecedents of guilt, shame, pride, and embarrassment are less well-understood. It is important to understand some of the distinguishing features of SCEs.

Distinguishing Features of Self-Conscious Emotions One central component of the SCEs is that they require both self-awareness and the ability to form self-representations. In addition, SCEs require that the individual make self-evaluations. Note that these self-referential processes may come into play for basic emotions, such as fear (i.e., reflecting on why I am frightened in this situation), but they must be enacted to experience SCEs, such as guilt (i.e., evaluating one’s actions). In some ways, then, the SCEs can be thought of as cognition-based emotional experiences. And, the cognitions involved in experience SCEs are complex: not only must the individual be aware of her own self and how her actions influence her self-reflection, but she must also reflect on how her actions are perceived by others (Tracy & Robins, 2007a). This may be the case for most or all emotions, to the extent that emotional reactions or interpretations involve a cognitive appraisal (cf. Moors, Ellsworth, Scherer, & Frijda, 2013). Because of the need for this level of self-referential cognition, research has shown that the SCEs develop later in childhood than the basic emotions. Lagatutta and Thompson (2007) suggest that the preschool years are when children achieve the cognitive developments needed to experience SCEs. And, they suggest, that this is also the stage of development when children develop the understanding that their actions are evaluated by others, such as parents, friends, and other significant individuals (e.g., preschool teachers). This combination of factors suggests that children do not experience complex SCEs, like guilt and shame until around age 3. The underlying assumption for most emotion research is that emotions must have had an adaptive function in order to have become a basic human experience. With regard to SCEs, researchers suggest that the adaptive process is likely the attainment of a socially oriented goal (as opposed to a survival goal; Tracy & Robins, 2007a). For example, an emotion like guilt is experienced in response to some violation of a social norm or a transgression against another individual. Gruenewald, Dickerson, and Kemeny (2007), in their social self-preservation theory, argue that the

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experience of guilt or other SCEs in response to a violation or transgression is an indication that the individual strives to preserve a positive view of his social self. As such, SCEs indicate to others that the individual knows a transgression was committed and, as I will discuss later, the individual is motivated to react to the SCE. Finally, while research on basic emotions has found many universals across cultures (Ekman, 2003), the SCEs do not seem to be as widely universal. Research on basic emotions, like fear and sadness, has found that there are discrete, universally recognized facial expressions by which people identify someone else’s emotion (Ekman, 2003). Of the SCEs, embarrassment seems to have distinct, universally recognizable set of physiological ‘‘giveaways’’ (Goetz & Keltner, 2007; Miller, 2007). Recent research suggests that pride may also be recognized cross-culturally via nonverbal cues (Tracy & Robins, 2007b). Some research has shown that shame has some recognizable nonverbal cues. However, the nonverbal expressions of guilt might look different across cultures. In addition, the types of situations that elicit SCEs can differ across cultures, as can the consequences of experiencing SCEs (e.g., Bagozzi, Verbeke, & Gavino, 2003). Much of this research has examined cultural interpretations in Western and/or individualist cultures. A recent study compared guilt and shame reactions of salespeople in Turkey and the Netherlands and showed that while salespeople from both nations reported both guilt and shame, there were cross-cultural differences in the level of guilt and shame experienced: Turkish salespeople reported higher levels of both SCEs. Clearly, more work needs to be done on whether, when, and how SCEs show cultural universals.

The Most-Studied Self-Conscious Emotions While there may be many emotions that fall into the family of SCEs, the four emotions that have received the most attention in the research literature are guilt, shame, pride, and embarrassment. Of these, guilt and shame are the most-studied SCEs, but there is an increasing body of literature on pride and embarrassment. Guilt Guilt and shame are both aversive emotional experiences, are often used interchangeably in colloquial speech, and are even used interchangeably (or are linked) in the literature on negative emotions or affective experiences (e.g., Shockley, Ispas, Rossi, & Levine, 2012). It may be the case that guilt



and shame are elicited by similar situations (Keltner & Buswell, 1996), but much research based in clinical and social psychology suggests that guilt and shame have a different self-focus and different responses (e.g., Stuewig & Tangney, 2007). Guilt is considered an other-oriented emotion in that the focus is on the behavior that was in the wrong, not on the self as the wrongdoer (Tangney & Dearing, 2002). In focusing on the transgression or behavior, the experience of guilt tends to result in a desire to make amends for the wrong that was done. Research has shown that guilt therefore tends to elicit other-oriented empathy (Tangney et al., 2007a). In studies that have investigated the ways in which guilt elicits other emotional responses, the influence of guilt on anger tends to be constructive reactions, such as a tendency toward conflict resolution (Tangney, Wagner, Hill-Barlow, Marschall, & Gramzow, 1996). In addition, there is conflicting evidence on the relationship between guilt and psychological symptoms, such as depression. That is, studies that specifically distinguish guilt and shame in the measurement of emotions show no relationship between guilt and psychological symptoms, but when guilt and shame are linked on the measurement tool, there is evidence for a relationship (Tangney et al., 2007a). Shame While shame also seems to result from the perception of having done wrong, the focus of the affective experience is on the self as the transgressor. Shame, therefore, seems to negatively affect self-perceptions, such as self-esteem or self-worth (Tangney & Dearing, 2002). Those who experience shame more often express a desire to hide or escape from those who may have been transgressed against. In that way, shame is often seen as a more painful emotional experience than guilt because it elicits self-oriented distress. Shame also seems to elicit anger, but a more destructive form of anger, such as hostility or other-blame. In addition, research has shown that shameproneness is correlated with other psychological symptoms, such as low selfesteem, anxiety, depression, and even post-traumatic stress and disordered eating (cf. Tangney et al., 2007b). Pride Early research on pride indicated that experiencing it influenced prosocial and adaptive behaviors, such as altruism and achievement (Hart & Matsuba, 2007) and that loss of pride was associated with antisocial behaviors (Bushman & Baumeister, 1998). Despite this evidence for the important personal and social function of pride, it is only recently that the structure of pride has been articulated. Tracy and Robins (2007a, 2007b)

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argue that there are two facets of pride: altruistic pride and hubristic pride. Hubristic pride is global sense of pride in one’s self which is not tied to any particular achievement or action. Their research suggests that hubristic pride is an attribution to the self that is stable but uncontrollable. Altruistic pride arises from a specific achievement or prosocial action, as such, this facet of pride is an attribution to the self that is unstable but controllable. Tracy and Robins also found that there are distinct antecedents of the two facets of pride. There remain some questions as to whether these two facets of pride are indeed part of one overarching construct or two different constructs. Embarrassment As a SCE, embarrassment has social functions, but it also has social characteristic that is somewhat unique among SCEs: it almost always occurs in the presence of others (Tangney, Miller, Flicker, & Barlow, 1996). That is, behaviors that one may engage in with impunity while alone, engender embarrassment when they occur in the presence of others (e.g., spilling one’s drink). Embarrassment is an acute, negative affective state, which is often felt as chagrin or sheepishness (Miller, 2007). Embarrassment has a particular physiological response that involves sympathetic nervous systems activation. Typically, this is visible as blushing in the face, a response seen almost exclusively with embarrassment (Edelmann, 2001). In addition, the nonverbal behavior displayed when embarrassed seems to be distinctive, involving averted gaze, sheepish grins, and bowed heads (Miller, 2007). Interestingly, these behaviors seem to be recognized as embarrassment across cultures (Goetz & Keltner, 2007). Miller argues that embarrassment is a ‘‘mixed blessing’’ in that it serves an important social function of letting others know we are aware of our minor transgression, yet many people react to their own embarrassment by overcompensating for the minor transgression, thus making the situation worse.

Measuring Self-Conscious Emotions Self-conscious emotions are generally measured either via self-report scales or through assessments of nonverbal behaviors. Clearly, the use of nonverbal behaviors to measure SCEs is most useful (a) as a way to overcome some of the problems with self-report measures (e.g., unwillingness to disclose emotions; Robins, Noftle, & Tracy, 2007) and (b) when the SCE has nonverbal cues that are widely recognized. As noted above,



embarrassment has universally recognized nonverbal cues (Miller, 2007) as does shame (Izard, 1971). Recently, research has shown that pride may also have recognizable nonverbal cues (Tracy & Robins, 2004). One interesting finding in the research on nonverbal indicators of SCEs is that, unlike basic emotions (e.g., joy), they seem to involve more than just facial expressions (Robins et al., 2007). In their review of the various published self-report measures of shame, guilt, pride, and embarrassment, Robins et al. (2007) note that most of these focus on shame and guilt, likely because much of the research on SCEs has had a clinical focus. Self-report measures can be distinguished by whether they focus on measuring trait SCEs (i.e., dispositional tendency) or state SCEs (i.e., sometimes called ‘‘online’’ emotional experience). Four types of self-report measures have been developed: situation-based, scenario-based, statement-based, and adjective-based. Situation-based scales ask the participant to read descriptions of a number of situations; generally these are designed to elicit specific SCEs. Participants indicate, for each situation, the extent to which they would be likely to feel that specific emotion. One example of a situation-based scale used in research is the Dimensions of Conscience Questions (DCQ; Gore & Harvey, 1995). Scenario-based measures look similar in that the participants read descriptions of a hypothetical scenario, but rather than rate the level of emotional response, participants are asked to rate the likelihood they would experience multiple responses. These response options typically include behaviors and feelings that are indicators of different SCEs. One of the most frequently used scenario-based measures is the Test of Self-Conscious Affect-3 (TOSCA-3; Tangney, Dearing, Wagner, & Gramzow, 2000). The TOSCA measures guilt, shame, pride, and a related variable externalization. Statement-based scales present participants with a list of statements that describe feelings, cognitions, and behaviors; participants are instructed to indicate on a rating scale the extent to which they experience those feelings, cognitions, and behaviors. A frequently used statement-based measure is the Shame, Guilt and Hostility Inward Subscales of the Differential Emotions Scale (Izard, Libero, Putnam, & Hayes, 1993). Finally, adjective-based scales present a list of adjectives related to different feelings and participants indicate the extent to which they experience each. One frequently used adjective-based measure consists of the guilt-related items from the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule (PANAS; Watson & Clark, 1994). One measure has been developed specifically for measuring SCEs at work. Groenvyck et al. (2011) developed and validated a measure that uses eight scenarios related to work. Though their scenarios are unique, the

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researchers modeled the measure after the above-mentioned TOSCA-3 (Tangney et al., 2000). Results from two studies indicate that the SCEs elicited by the work scenarios were guilt, shame/humiliation, and anger. The researchers indicate that these dimensions of responses are in line with the types of responses seen in the more general TOSCA. To date, this scale has not been widely cited, but the development of a specific work-scenario based measure of SCEs seems warranted.

SELF-CONSCIOUS EMOTIONS AND BEHAVIOR One reason SCEs are of interest is that, like other emotions, they seem to influence behavior in a variety of ways. Baumeister, Masicampo, and Vohs (2011), underscored the cognitive component of emotions in general. Specifically, they conclude that behavior is influenced by both conscious and unconscious thought processes. Thus, anticipating experiencing SCEs, such as anticipated guilt, is a conscious process that motivates behavior so as to avoid experiencing the SCE. Leary (2007) suggested that SCEs are a component of self-regulation of behavior. The process by which this occurs involves knowledge of norms and moral standards and an interest in abiding by these. Further, SCEs can serve as a guide to help individuals choose a course of action and they can motivate adherence to those social norms and standards. SCEs, such as guilt or shame, can also punish violation of norms and standards via the negative affect that accompanies them. Finally, some SCEs, such as guilt or embarrassment, can also influence behavioral responses that serve to remediate in the case of a social transgression. Leary notes that the research on the influence of SCEs on behavior points to their social and interpersonal function, rather than to self-directed behavior. Tangney et al. (2007a, 2007b) highlight the ways in which the SCEs can be considered ‘‘moral’’ emotions. In essence, by providing feedback on our actions (both negative and positive), SCEs connect our values with our behavior. SCEs provide fairly immediate reinforcement or punishment for an action thereby providing people with information about their behaviors in a cultural or social context. This may occur in the moments following a norm violation or social transgression, prompting some behavior such as an apology. Or, as noted above, anticipated emotional reactions also influence our moral behavior (Baumeister et al., 2011; Tangney et al., 2007a, 2007b). Research on anticipated emotional reactions has shown that there may be dispositional tendencies to experience SCEs. In other words, some people may be more guilt-prone or shame-prone than others



(Cohen, Panter, & Turan, 2012a; Tangney & Dearing, 2002). Tangney et al. (2007a) suggest that the moral influence of SCEs is more likely related to situational behaviors than to a dispositional tendency, but I would argue that more work needs to explore this idea. Given that self-evaluation theories suggest that people sometimes seek to verify their self-concept and sometimes to enhance their self-concept, among other possible motives, the influence of SCEs on moral behavior may be situational, but could also be linked with trait-based SCEs. Much of the extant research on SCEs in work and occupational settings has focused on the link between SCEs and behaviors. As I will outline below, there is also some research that focuses on SCEs and occupational stressors and strains, as well as research that has examined predictors of SCEs in the workplace.

SELF-CONSCIOUS EMOTIONS AND WORK Researchers interested in work-related SCEs are interested in both the antecedents and consequences of SCEs (e.g., Flynn & Schaumberg, 2012; Krehbiel & Cropanzano, 2000). Developing an understanding of the workrelated antecedents of SCEs will help us develop a fuller picture of how organizational actions impact emotions. There have actually been many studies that mention SCEs in connection with organizational actions or events, but these have not often directly or explicitly measured SCEs. For example, studies on whistle-blowing and reporting errors or cover-ups have sometimes noted the possibility of shame or guilt as a response to reporting errors but these have not usually been measured (e.g., Rybowiak, Garst, Frese, & Batinic, 1999; Zhao & Olivera, 2006). Likewise, pride in goal achievement is likely to be an important component of the motivating power of goal-setting, yet pride has not usually been analyzed explicitly as a component of goal achievement (e.g., Gabriel, Diefendorff, & Erickson, 2011). Further, developing an understanding of the work-related consequences of SCEs will provide a clearer picture of the ways in which individuals respond to SCEs. In particular, I argue that it is important to understand the role that SCEs play in occupational health and well-being. The primarily clinical research already reviewed has shown that SCEs like guilt, shame, and embarrassment are aversive, thus if SCEs are elicited by organizational actions, the SCE itself may be a stressor or strain. There is also growing evidence that SCEs are related to physiological systems. For example,

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Gruenewald et al. (2007) suggest that threats to the social self, key to the activation of SCEs, have been shown to influence physiological reactions in the hypothalamic-pituitary adrenal (HPA) system, which controls the release of the stress hormone cortisol. It may also be that trait SCEs (e.g., guilt-proneness) influence the experience of strains. Lewis (2007) suggests that stress reactivity may be related to the intensity or frequency of experiencing SCEs and to the intensity of the response to SCEs (i.e., higher cortisol response). In a diary study, Rohleder, Chen, Wolf, and Miller (2008) found that trait shame was associated with sympathetic nervous system activity, as well as higher inflammatory activity and glucocorticoid sensitivity, but trait shame was not related to HPA activation. The authors suggest that HPA activation may be more related to online experiences of shame. This may be the case: a study by Dickerson, Mycek, and Zaldivar (2008) showed that participants who were exposed to negative social evaluation in a laboratory study, and who reported higher levels of negative SCEs (i.e., shame), had the highest increases in cortisol relative to those who reported fewer negative SCEs. Given the ideas already discussed relative to the mechanisms of selfevaluation and behavior, it will also be important to investigate the ways in which SCEs influence particular outcomes. Meier, Gross, Spector, and Semmer (2013) found that task conflict at work was related to angry mood, but not at the immediate end of the work day. Rather task conflict was related to angry mood at bedtime and the following morning. The authors speculate that people may have ruminated on the event and therefore continued to have affective and cognitive reactions to the conflict, which likely influenced later angry mood. One component of rumination could be experiencing SCEs in the process of thinking and rethinking about the task conflict. I also wonder whether the results of this study could be helpful in understanding antecedents of SCEs in future studies. Given that much of the recent research on occupational health and wellbeing stems from positive psychological theories, I will also consider the positive aspects of SCEs in work and in occupational health and stress. From a positive perspective, pride based in work-related experiences may influence other positive work behaviors and attitudes and, as such, be a component of occupational health and well-being. Finally, as noted above, SCEs have sometimes been included at the item level, but not the focus of the analysis, in the measurement of emotions in various studies on work and occupational stress and health. I will consider some of these studies, particularly with a view to articulating how they could help us understand SCEs and work as well as the possible relationships between SCEs and other



emotions. Much of this work I review in the following has focused on the relationships between SCEs and work behaviors or attitudes, but there is also some research on SCEs and occupational stress and well-being.

Guilt, Shame, and Work Behaviors and Attitudes Performance and Effort Consistent with the findings that guilt and/or guilt-proneness has a motivating function, some research in the organization sciences has investigated the impact of guilt and guilt-proneness on job performance and associated attitudes. Grant and Wrzesniewski (2010) showed that anticipated guilt mediated the moderator relationship between core self-evaluations, sense of duty to the organization, and job performance for call center employees. The authors suggest that the highly other-oriented employees may have experienced more anticipated guilt, which likely led to increased effort to increase job performance, thereby avoiding a future guilt-inducing situation. Flynn and Schaumberg (2012) found that guilt-proneness was associated with increased affective commitment, and that this relationship can be at least partly explained by increased task effort on the part of guilt-prone employees. The findings from both of these studies are consistent with the notion that guilt is an adaptive SCE in that it is related to other-oriented empathy, influences positive remediation, and promotes a moral ethic. To the extent that anticipated guilt is a dispositional tendency, these studies provide some evidence that suggests that trait-based SCEs are related to moral attitudes and behaviors. It would be interesting to investigate the impact of state or online guilt on some of these variables studied. There is one empirical study to date that has focused on the relationship between work-related shame and job performance. Bagozzi et al. (2003) examined first whether there were differences between Filipino and Dutch salespeople in terms of their experiences of shame and second whether there were any differences between the two groups in terms of their responses to shame. Results indicated that Filipino and Dutch salespeople experienced work-related shame in highly similar ways. Specifically, both groups reported feeling threatened by the emotion, a strong desire to hide, feeling as if attention directed at them was heightened, and a similar set of physiological symptoms. This is an interesting finding given that there is not yet consensus on whether all of the SCEs look similar across cultures. Also interesting is the finding that there were significant differences in the responses to shame across cultures. Dutch salespeople who felt shame

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indicated a significantly stronger desire to hide from others whereas Filipino salespeople indicated a significantly stronger tendency to repair the damaged relationship that was the source of shame. Importantly, there were further differences in that the Dutch salespeople showed a detriment to job performance following shame experiences, whereas the Filipino salespeople showed enhanced job performance. This seems directly tied to the difference in the response to shame. On the other side of performance is the individual who must give feedback related to job performance. Performance appraisals and performance management have long been considered a stressful part of organizational life, both for the feedback seeker and the giver of feedback. Because seeking feedback involves a deliberate self-focus, it has been shown to be related to affective reactions such as self-conscious emotions (Belschak & Den Hartog, 2009). It seems likely that both positive and negative SCEs could result from feedback-seeking in a performance management scenario. From the perspective of the supervisor providing feedback, some researchers have suggested that one reason performance appraisals are not accurate is due to the affective reaction the supervisor anticipates in the subordinate as well as him or herself (Murhpy, 2008). Counterproductive Work Behavior Meta-analytic research by Shockley et al. (2012) showed that guilt and shame were significantly positively related to counterproductive work behavior. These findings are based on results from four studies and the constructs of guilt and shame are not analyzed separately in the metaanalysis. Unfortunately, this may be masking the relationships between guilt, shame, and counterproductive work behavior. Guilt as the more adaptive, prosocial of the two SCEs may be likely to have a negative relationship with counterproductive work behavior in that it may motivate people to behave such that they do not commit a transgression of this type. Recently, Moore, Detert, Trevin˜o, Baker, and Mayer (2012) investigated the influences on employees’ propensity to morally disengage, which they define as an individual difference variable related to cognitive processing and ethical behavior. This tendency includes moral justification, distancing from the behavior, diffusion of responsibility, among other characteristics. Their results showed that the propensity to morally disengage was negatively related to guilt-proneness. In other words, the tendency to experience guilt was related to lower propensity to morally disengage. Similar findings were reported by Cohen, Panter, and Turan (2012b) in that people high in guilt-proneness were significantly less likely to report engaging in



counterproductive work behaviors. Clearly future research should investigate the impact of guilt and guilt-proneness on counterproductive work behavior separate from other SCEs. In a cross-cultural study that examined the impact of hypothetical counterproductive work behaviors on SCEs, Ersoy, Born, Derous, and van der Molen (2011) presented participants with one of two scenarios, each of which described an incidence of a counterproductive work behavior. Each scenario specifically described a behavior that involved a norm violation, but one scenario described violation of an interpersonal norm (i.e., lying to a colleague) and the other a violation of a work-related norm (i.e., disobeying a rule). The goal of the research was to investigate whether there were cultural differences in the SCEs elicited by the scenarios. In broad strokes, in both Turkey and the Netherlands, participants reacted with both guilt and shame to both types of scenarios. However, Turkish participants reacted more strongly to interpersonal norm violations and Dutch participants reacted more strongly to work norm violations. Organizational Justice Perceptions Three studies have examined organizational justice and SCEs. Wiesnefeld, Brocker, and Martin (1999) found that participants in a laboratory study who were exposed to unfair layoff processes reported more negative emotions, particularly guilt, than those exposed to a fair layoff process. Krehbiel and Cropanzano (2000) exposed participants to fair or unfair procedures in an experimental ‘‘survival’’ task and also manipulated outcome favorability for the participants. They found that participants exposed to favorably biased (i.e., unfair) procedures who believed their own outcome was favorable experienced significantly stronger guilt than participants in other conditions. This suggests that procedural justice perceptions may be contributing to attributions about outcome favorability, thereby influencing guilt. Barclay, Skarlicki, and Pugh (2005) surveyed employees who had been laid off. Like Krehbiel and Cropanzano, they were interested in the impact of outcome favorability on SCEs as related to perceptions of fairness. Barclay et al. use two items to measure SCEs: one measured guilt about being laid off and the other shame about being laid off. These two items were treated as one measure of ‘‘inward-focused’’ emotions. In this study, participants rated both procedural and interactional justice. The results indicated that when either procedural justice or interactional justice was low, outcome favorability did not impact SCEs. However, when procedural or interactional justice was high, outcome favorability was significantly negatively related to SCEs. The authors

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suggest that when the respondents perceived they were fairly treated, the unfavorable outcome could not be attributed to external factors and would therefore impact guilt and shame. The study by Barclay et al. is interesting in that it uses a measure of SCEs that is very specific to the work setting: guilt and shame about being laid off. This is likely an important direction for research on SCEs in the workplace because it may be that work-specific measures of the SCEs will be of more value to researchers than general measures of SCEs. However, Barclay et al. do not distinguish between guilt and shame in their investigation, which may explain why their findings are somewhat different than those reported by Krehbiel and Cropanzano. One study has also found that organizational action can impact embarrassment. In an interview study of male executives who had been downsized, Parris and Vickers (2010) found that one consistent theme that emerged in the stories told by these men was a feeling that they were embarrassed about being downsized. The authors speculate that the manner in which the executives were laid off might contribute to feeling embarrassed. This is an interesting suggestion and is in line with the research on the impact of downsizing and organizational justice on guilt and shame. However, Parris and Vickers also provide examples of the stories told by these executives that contain references to being negatively evaluated by others, hiding the truth, lower self-esteem, feeling inadequate and/or like a failure, and anger. Each of these cognitions and emotional responses are part of the experience of shame outlined by many SCE scholars (e.g., Tangney & Dearing, 2002). Shame and embarrassment are related – some have described shame as embarrassment’s ‘‘darker, angrier, more intense’’ cousin (Miller, 2007, p. 246) – so it may be that what the male executives were experiencing was both embarrassment and shame, or it may be that shame is what they were describing, despite self-labeling their responses as embarrassment. Tangney and Dearing discuss findings that people can usually describe different experiences of or reactions to SCEs, but they often use the labels as synonyms (i.e., guilt and shame). Future research should carefully investigate both embarrassment and shame as related to organizational actions and should aim to distinguish the experiences of and responses to each.

Guilt, Shame, Embarrassment, and Occupational Stress and Health Much of the research on stress and health related to SCEs seems to be focused on health conditions and the relationships these have with SCEs.



There is a growing body of research on SCEs related to the work–family interface, particularly on guilt. There has also been some speculation as to whether there is a type of stress related to morality. I will review findings on each of these areas here. SCEs and Health Conditions A recent study in the United Kingdom focused on the work-related supports for common health conditions (i.e., musculoskeletal pain; Buck et al., 2011). The results showed that presenteeism in the face of such conditions was strongly influenced by guilt, particularly guilt related to leaving coworkers with extra work if one stayed out sick. This is an intriguing finding because the concern for others evidenced by the study participants is in line with what we know about the prosocial nature of guilt responses. And yet, occupational health researchers are now quite clear that presenteeism is detrimental to individual and organizational performance (Gosselin, Lemyre, & Corneil, 2013). Researchers and practitioners interested in reducing presenteeism may want to consider the role of guilt and other SCEs in this phenomenon. Hochwarter and Byrne (2010) directly examined the impact of guilt and perfectionism on the relationship between chronic pain and two outcomes, job satisfaction and job tension. The authors suggest that chronic pain should negatively affect job satisfaction and positively affect job tension, and that these effects should be heightened by both guilt and perfectionism. They argue that chronic pain affects guilt responses and that, while guilt responses engender increased effort, chronic pain makes meeting goals and accomplishing tasks physically difficult. Perfectionism, or the need to be flawless, should intensify the impact of guilt on the relationship between pain and outcomes because perfectionism tendencies may lead an individual to exaggerate the need to remediate in the face of guilt. The results of the study support their hypotheses: guilt and perfectionism interact to amplify the relationship between chronic pain and job outcomes. Interestingly, though perhaps not surprisingly, most organizational studies of embarrassment seem to focus on embarrassment related to health issues at work. One example is a study by Grunfeld, Drudge-Coates, Rixon, Eaton, and Cooper (2013), who interviewed men who survived prostate cancer about their return to work. Among their interviewees, returning to work was viewed as a crucial component of life after cancer treatment, and they cited support for their recovery needs as paramount in a successful return to work. Yet, many of the respondents reported that they chose not to disclose their disease due to embarrassment over some of the side effects

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(e.g., incontinence, erectile dysfunction). This may be understandable, but given that support and help from the organization is needed, nondisclosure could end up being harmful. In a study of patients with chronic fatigue syndrome, Knudsen, Henderson, Harvey, and Chalder (2011) found that those who had been on long-term sickness absence (i.e., sickness absence of more than three months) were more likely to engage in embarrassment avoidance than those who had been on short-term sickness absence or who were currently at work. Embarrassment avoidance involves staying away from social situations due to feelings of shame and embarrassment over symptoms (e.g., the embarrassing nature of my symptoms prevents me from doing things). This behavior may ultimately negatively impact whether someone returns to work at all, or whether he does well once he does return if the embarrassment avoidance behavior influences avoiding social situations at work. There may also be SCEs related to treatment for work-related stress disorders or illnesses. Reger et al. (2012) found that deployed soldiers reported less anticipated embarrassment and shame toward non-medication treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder than pharmaceutical treatments. Given the findings about embarrassment about illnesses noted above, the relatively negative attitude toward medication might be due to anticipated discrimination against people with mental disorders, or it might be linked to fear of side effects occurring while deployed (e.g., at work). Work–Family Guilt The work–family interface has been an important area of study in occupational stress and well-being for many years. A recent review by Eby, Maher, and Butts (2012) outlines some of the ways work–family researchers have begun to look at the role of affect in various work–family interface relationships. These include investigations of dispositional tendencies that influence the work–family interaction (e.g., more conflict or more enrichment), state-based reactions to work–family conflict or enhancement (e.g., negative mood), as well as global affective responses which the authors suggest are often treated as outcomes. While most research on emotions and the work–family interface focuses on other emotions, some researchers have begun to incorporate experiences of SCEs, particularly guilt, into studies on the ways people manage their work and family demands. In a qualitative study of women high school teachers, Guendouzi (2006) found that one of the most common themes to emerge from the interview data was the experience of guilt related to being a working mother, and the constraints that the demands of both roles created for success in either. Judge, Ilies, and



Scott (2006) also found that work–family conflict was related to increased guilt at the individual level of their analysis. They further found that those people higher in trait guilt had a stronger emotional reaction to work–family conflict. A few studies have found that guilt related to the work–family interface seems to motivate other behaviors that may help people manage their work and family demands. Hochwarter, Perrewe´, and Meurs (2007) developed a measure of work-induced guilt that assessed guilt arising from work interference with family. Their findings indicated a negative impact of workinduced guilt on both job and life satisfaction, although there was a stronger effect on life satisfaction. They also found that the perception of having resources available to manage work demands moderated the relationship between work-induced guilt and both job and life satisfaction, such that the negative relationship was exacerbated when resources were perceived to be low, and the relationship between work-induced guilt and satisfaction was positive when resources were perceived to be high. The authors suggest that, similar to other findings described here, guilt may have an adaptive, motivating effect on behavior, although this study may indicate that working conditions must be conducive or supportive of the behaviors in question. This effect should be further explored because it may be that supervisors and organizations who are supportive of employees who are attempting to navigate work–family demands are offering their employees ways to deal with those demands that circumvent aversive emotional responses. This is reminiscent of Edmondson’s (1999) finding that the construct of psychological safety, defined as a belief that the group (in her study: team) is a safe space in which to take risks, was related to performance of the group. Though this is clearly an empirical question, it may be that the perception of resources available to manage work and family demands is an indicator of the psychological safety of the organization. Cho and Allen (2012) found that work interference with family impacted the amount of time parents spent in parent–child activities, such that high interference was related to fewer active (e.g., taking a walk) and passive (e.g., watching television) activities. But, the relationship for active activities was moderated by trait guilt: those higher in trait guilt demonstrated a weaker relationship between interference and active activities. This is consistent with the idea that guilt-proneness motivates behavior; in this case, guilt-prone parents may be motivated to reduce future experiences of guilt by putting more effort into spending time with their children regardless of perceived work interference with family.

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Botsford Morgan and King (2012) investigate the construct work–family guilt, which they operationalize to mean ‘‘an emotion that can occur when one’s behavior violates the norms of how one believes they should balance the demands of work and family responsibilities and adversely affects an individual’’ (p. 686). They developed a measure that assessed both directions of work–family guilt, that is work-to-family guilt and family-to-work guilt which they used as part of a study that included both qualitative and quantitative measures of work–family guilt and responses to it. Both the qualitative and the quantitative data suggested that when people experience family-to-work guilt they report engaging in more organizational citizenship behaviors, particularly those directed at others (e.g., helping or providing support). The results also suggested that experiencing more work-to-family guilt influenced counterproductive work behaviors, particularly those directed toward the organization (e.g., withdrawal). The authors suggest that individuals who perceive that they have not been as engaged in work due to family demands seem to try to make up for that lack of engagement. This suggestion is consistent with the notion that guilt motivates behavior, and that it can have a prosocial component. On the other hand, perceiving that work has interfered in some way with family life may engender behavior that is viewed as counterproductive. The authors suggest that may be because this type of interference results in a norm violation related to being a good family member. This may be, but I would argue that it is also likely that work-to-family interference may foster anger or resentment toward the organization, both emotional reactions that are related to SCEs, including guilt. Several studies have investigated the issue of roles and role orientation in relation to guilt and the work–family interface. Livingston and Judge (2008) found that work–family conflict was related to guilt, and that the relationship between the two was moderated by gender role orientation. Specifically, people who espouse traditional gender roles (i.e., male breadwinner, female nurturer) experienced more guilt from family interference with work and those who espouse egalitarian gender roles experienced more guilt from work interference with family. In addition, their study indicated a gender effect: men who espoused traditional role orientation showed stronger relationships between family interference with work and guilt than egalitarian men or women of both role orientations. This raises the question, which is nearly inevitably asked about research on the work–family interface: is there a gender difference in guilt related to work and family? In terms of self-conscious emotions in general, a recent meta-analysis found there are small differences in shame and guilt, with



women slightly more likely to experience both SCEs (Else-Quest, Higgins, Allison, & Morton, 2012). Specific to work–family guilt, the Livingston and Judge (2008) study indicated a difference for some men, but no across-theboard gender differences. Meisenbach (2010) conducted an interview study of women breadwinners, who report that they experience guilt from related to work and family in two ways: (1) the time they spend on the job and (2) the fact that they enjoy their job. The author suggests that this is likely related to the traditional role expectation that these women violate by being a breadwinner. Given that no men were included in this study, it is not possible to discuss gender differences but it does help us understand that women experience guilt regarding the work–family interface. Similarly, Nowak, Naude, and Thomas (2013) surveyed women health professionals in Australia about their plans to return to work following maternity leave. The questionnaire contained open-ended questions that asked respondents to describe how they were thinking and feeling about their return to work. One theme that emerged from the data analysis pertained to feelings of guilt and stress about having others provide childcare. No men were included in this study, but again we see a form of guilt for these women arising from the work–family interface. Unfortunately, we cannot know whether men experience guilt related to childcare, at least not from this study. Recently, Martı´ nez, Carrasco, Aza, Blanco, and Espinar (2011) studied guilt experiences of Spanish dual earner couples. In Spain, as in other Western countries, both men and women have seen changing expectations related to gender. More and more women have taken on a provider role in addition to the traditional nurturer role, and more men have taken on a nurturing role in addition to the provider role. The findings from this study indicate that both men and women in Spain experience guilt related to both roles (i.e., provider, nurturer), suggesting no gender differences. Further, both men and women report more guilt associated with the nurturer role. This finding is interesting in that it suggests no gender difference in work– family guilt, yet the expectation of nurturing for men and women is likely to be different, given that for women the role is traditional and for men it is a newly developing expectation. On the other hand, Glavin, Schieman, and Reid (2011) investigated what they refer to as boundary spanning demands and distress. Boundary spanning occurs when the demands of one role (i.e., work) intrude into the other role (i.e., home). The authors suggest that a boundary spanning behavior, defined in this study as contact with work while on personal time, is likely to lead to experiences of stress. They further suggest that this relationship is influenced by the emotional response to the boundary

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spanning demand. The results support these predictions: Boundary spanning is related to both distress and to guilt, but only for women. Further, guilt mediates the relationship between boundary spanning and distress for these women, which indicates that boundary spanning only influences distress if the boundary spanner has a guilt response. The authors speculate that this finding may explain why previous research on gender differences in work–family conflict has not reached consensus on whether there are gender differences. Guilt related to the work and family interaction is clearly a common experience, probably for both men and women. More research is needed to better define exactly what work–family guilt is, when it occurs, and how it is related to trait guilt in general.

Pride, Work Behaviors, Work Attitudes, and Occupational Stress and Health Pride has been incredibly understudied in research on emotions at work. This may be because the construct of pride as a SCE is just beginning to be carefully explored in the literature (Tracy & Robins, 2007a, 2007b, 2007c). Bodolica and Spraggon (2011) also suggest that most of the literature on pride in the organization sciences has focused on the darker side of pride, which may be related to the hubristic pride identified by Tracy and Robins. Bodolica and Spraggon argue that there needs to be more research on authentic pride because it likely has important prosocial implications for the workplace. Antecedents of Pride Some research has shown that work itself can be a source of pride. For instance, Dunn, Wewiorski, and Rogers (2008) found that work was a source of pride for people recovering from a mental illness who had returned to work or were planning to return to work. Flackma¨n, Hansebo, and Kihlgren (2009) found that pride in work was negatively impacted by the threat of job loss in nursing home caregivers. Characteristics or aspects of the job may also impact pride. Ghorpade, Lackritz, and Singh (2006) found that positive perceptions of employee involvement programs were related to pride in craftsmanship (similar to pride in task). Haslam, Jetten, and Waghorn (2009) found that people who identified strongly with their team showed higher pride than low identifiers. Finally, Krehbiel and Cropanzano (2000) found that outcome favorability positively impacted pride in their



laboratory study, but this was not impacted by the perceived fairness of the process, either from procedural or interactional justice perceptions. Consequences of or Responses to Pride Hodson (1998) found that pride in task was positively related to organizational citizenship behavior, and that this relationship was stronger than the relationship between job satisfaction and organizational citizenship behavior. Shockley et al. (2012) included pride in their meta-analysis and found that pride is significantly related to organizational citizenship behavior, underscoring that idea that pride may be a prosocial SCE. Pride and Occupational Health and Well-Being As of this writing, I could locate only two studies related to occupational health and pride. In one focus group study, Wa¨rna˚, Lindholm, and Eriksson (2007) asked people to reflect on and discuss virtues at work, including pride. They found that pride and health seem to be strongly related. In fact these authors suggest that pride may be the ‘‘backbone of workplace health’’ (p. 194). Wa¨rna˚-Furu, Sa¨a¨ksja¨rvi, and Santavirta (2010) provide some support for this notion in their study that showed that pride was an important virtue and contributed to predicting lower sickness absence and depression, and higher happiness and health.

A Call for Research on Self-Conscious Emotions and Occupational Stress and Well-Being Clearly more research is needed on the SCEs in a work setting, particularly with regard to understanding how SCEs factor into occupational stress and well-being. The research reviewed here indicates that these emotions may play a role in understanding important stressors and strains, and they may contribute to health and well-being. Quite simply: we need to know more about the antecedents, consequences, and correlates of SCEs in work and organizational settings, particularly as these relate to stress and well-being. Work and organizations are such complex systems and such an important part of a health and well-being. Understanding how state-based SCEs and dispositional tendencies to experience SCEs factor into these systems will help us to better understand stress and well-being and to design proper organizational systems that reduce or eliminate unhealthy working conditions. In addition, it is worth repeating here that researchers should also investigate the inter-relationships between SCEs and other emotions,

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including some studies that articulate the differential or relative importance of various emotions for stress and well-being, among other organizational outcomes. Future research on SCEs in work settings should be grounded in theories related to the self, identity, and self-evaluation (e.g., De Cremer & Tyler, 2005; Sedekides & Strube, 2007). Based on my review of the extant literature, I would like to offer a few suggestions for the focus of future research. Measurement of Self-Conscious Emotions in Work Settings As noted earlier, there are four categories of SCE measures that differ in the responses participants are asked to make, among other characteristics. In the case of the situation and scenario-based measures, it may be that using work-related, or stress-related, descriptions would be more beneficial or valid to the study of SCEs at work. There is certainly precedent and solid rationale for creating different forms of some of these measures for children (Tangney & Dearing, 2002), which may suggest that creating work-relevant forms would demonstrate similar utility. Though developing work-related measures might be most critical for the measures that use descriptions of events or behaviors, the statement-based measures might also be more useful with statements related to work and stress. A few researchers have developed work-related measures, though none of these have undergone extensive validation study (Bulger & Glynn, 2013; Glynn & Bulger, 2013; Groenvyck et al., 2011; Hochwarter et al., 2007). In addition, work on measurement tools should distinguish between and account for state-based versus trait-based SCEs. Much of the research reviewed in the previous sections on work and occupational health and stress seemed to focus on dispositional or anticipated SCEs. In the main, results from these studies seemed to lean toward positive or prosocial outcomes related to anticipated SCEs. But being in a state of guilt or of embarrassment is generally experienced as aversive. It may be that diary studies are needed to illuminate the impact of online SCEs on occupational health and stress. Contributing to Theory and Model Building by Studying Self-Conscious Emotions Related to the issue of measures of work- and stress-related SCEs, researchers should investigate appropriate theoretical models through which



to study antecedents and consequences of SCEs for stress and well-being. It may be that researchers need to propose new models or ways of thinking about stress, well-being, and SCEs, but it may also be the case that existing models or theories of occupational stress and health can be modified with a view to exploring the role of SCEs. In an example of the latter approach, Perrewe´ and Zellars (1999) outline a process of how emotions factor into the stressor appraisal process and how these emotions influence the coping strategy selected. Specifically, they argue that when an individual attributes the source of a particular stressor to controllable internal mechanisms (i.e., I didn’t try hard enough), the likely emotional response is guilt. Guilt, due to its motivating component, is likely to influence problem-focused coping. On the other hand, shame, with its focus on the self as the transgressor, results from attributing stress to an uncontrollable internal mechanism (i.e., I’m not smart enough). Shame, thus, is likely to influence emotion-focused coping strategies. Therefore, one possible model or framework for research SCEs in occupational stress and well-being is through their role in the stressor appraisal process. Some scholars in the organizational sciences have begun to examine the construct moral stress (DeTienne, Agle, Phillips, & Ingerson, 2012; Reynolds, Owens, & Rubenstein, 2012). Reynolds et al. suggest that while other researchers have discussed stressors and strains related to moral issues (i.e., moral distress in nurses, cf. Wilkinson, 1987/1988), there has been little empirical or theoretical work focused on defining a general construct of moral stress in organizations. They propose a model of moral stress for managers, in which they define moral stress as ‘‘a psychological state (both cognitive and emotional) marked by anxiety and unrest due to an individual’s uncertainty about his or her ability to fulfill relevant moral obligations’’ (p. 493). In relation to SCEs, particularly guilt and shame, Reynolds et al. suggest that moral stress occurs as a result of a decision that must be made and that this differentiates it from guilt and shame, outcomes the authors suggest are felt ‘‘downstream’’ of the moral stress (p. 493). Based on the literature on trait-based SCEs, I would argue that a model of moral stress should include the impact of traits like guilt- and shameproneness. While it may be the case that state or online guilt and shame are felt after the individual encounters moral stress, the decision making process that triggers moral stress is likely to be impacted by guilt- or shameproneness. This could be an important line of research, particularly examining moral stress in relation to other models of stress, because there is some emerging evidence that moral stress impacts job strains.

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DeTienne et al. (2012) found that moral stress affects fatigue, decreased job satisfaction, and increased turnover intentions over and above other job stressors. Resource theories, such as the Job Demands-Resources model (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007), the Conservation of Resources Theory (Bakker & Demerouti, 2007; Hobfoll & Shirom, 2001), Broaden and Build Theory (Fredrickson, 2001) are quite frequently used as theoretical background for studies in occupational health and stress. Some of the studies noted above might link to the tenets of these models, but some theory building is needed to best understand how SCEs impact our occupational stress and well-being. It is also important to employ the biopsychosocial model to determine whether the relationships between SCEs and physiological responses are indicative of some important component of SCEs.

Understanding Means of Fostering Self-Conscious Emotions and their Outcomes It would be useful for other researchers to know the impact of organizational culture or values on SCEs. Syed (2008) articulates a link between emotional labor and SCEs. He argues that individuals who must dress or talk in a certain way due to their background (i.e., wearing a burqa) may interfere with emotional display rules, thus, engaging in emotional labor might ultimately be an important cultural or values-based stressor. Other emotions are sometimes considered to be contagious, in that people can pick up on and are influenced by the emotions of those around them (Niedenthal & Brauer, 2012; O’Fallon & Butterfield, 2012). No research has been done directly on the contagion of any SCEs. However, O’Fallon and Butterfield found that peer unethical behavior, which may be tied to moral stress or moral behavior, can be influenced by peers. Finally, a small body of literature has examined leaders in terms of their influence on SCEs and moral behavior, as well as how SCEs impact leader behavior. One study found that leaders can affect moral behavior and moral emotion (Zhu, Avolio, Riggio, & Sosik, 2011). That same study also showed that followers can also impact leaders’ SCEs and associated behavior. Michie (2009) found that leaders who experienced authentic pride engaged in more prosocial behaviors related to social justice (i.e., showing concern for the rights of others, displaying respect for others) and altruism (i.e., sacrificing personal benefits in favor of organizational benefits, sacrificing self-interest in favor of employee well-being). While this study did not look



at employee outcomes related to leader pride and prosocial behaviors, it seems likely that leader social behaviors that stem from pride would have positive effects for employees. These few findings, as well as those reported above, suggest that there are likely to be important practical considerations for supervisors and organizations with regard to promoting positive SCEs and avoiding inducing negative SCEs. However, what these considerations are is open to question and probably relatively complex. As noted above, while anticipated guilt, for example, seems to have a prosocial component, actually experiencing guilt in the moment is a negative experience. Pride, generally thought of a positive emotion, can be perceived by others as hubristic or negative.

CONCLUSION Researchers interested in emotions and occupational stress and well-being should attend to the role of self-conscious emotions. Issues of measurement, theoretical background, as well as antecedents and consequences will be fruitful avenues of exploration. Some researchers have suggested that guilt may be one of the most commonly experienced emotions (Baumeister et al., 2011), and it seems to have at least some motivating and prosocial impact. Research indicates that shame is a powerful and very painful experience (Tangney & Dearing, 2002) which may indicate that it is a stressor. There is also room for research on pride as a potential contributor to well-being and health. So little attention has been paid to pride in the research literature that there are many unanswered questions. Embarrassment seems to be a less painful experience, but the impact of being embarrassed at work is worth exploring. If shame is related to counterproductive work behavior, perhaps its cousin embarrassment is also linked with at least some types of counterproductive work behaviors.

ACKNOWLEDGMENT I would like to thank Chelsea D. Glynn for brainstorming about selfconscious emotions at work; those early discussions led directly to the work that went into this chapter.


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RESTORYING A HARD DAY’S WORK Melissa L. Cast, Grace Ann Rosile, David M. Boje and Rohny Saylors ABSTRACT The chapter summarizes existing conceptualizations of emotional regulation and extends existing organizational behavior literature that focuses on emotional labor by the introduction of two processes new to the literature: emotional contagion exchange (ECX) and emotional restorying of labor. More specifically, emotional restorying may allow employees to cope with emotional contagion by converting surface-level acting to deep-level acting, in ways which benefit both employees and organizations. In explaining this process, this chapter constructs a model of multiple interplaying processes. Keywords: Emotional contagion exchange; restorying; emotional labor; surface and deep-level acting

INTRODUCTION And so in the country that most publicly celebrates the individual, more people privately wonder, without tracing the question to its deepest social root: What do I really feel? (Hochschild, 1983, p. 198) The Role of Emotion and Emotion Regulation in Job Stress and Well Being Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Volume 11, 257–281 Copyright r 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3555/doi:10.1108/S1479-3555(2013)0000011013




Emotion is an oft-neglected process occurring in the workplace. According to Russell (2003, p. 145), ‘‘Psychology and humanity can progress without considering emotion – about as fast as someone running on one leg.’’ Further, the above quote by Hochschild (1983) illustrates the confusion imminent when we are not in touch with our true emotions. This confusion and its consequences were at the heart of Hochschild’s (1983) work on emotional labor – a situation in which an employee expresses organizationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions (Langton, Judge, & Robbins, 2011, p. 109). Hochschild’s (1983) work was the first of its kind to consider emotion in the workplace in such an in-depth manner. This chapter contributes to the crossover process prevalent in the stress and strain literature by linking emotional contagion and storytelling. Integrating a recent call by Groth and Grandey (2012), the restorying narrative work of Rosile and Boje (2002), and the very specific storytelling steps found in Rosile, Boje, Carlon, Downs, and Saylors (2013), we consider the storied perspectives of the served (i.e., customer/service agent) and the server (i.e., agent/management) simultaneously. In their examination of the emotional contagion literature, Groth and Grandey (2012) identified how the interaction between the two parties could create a ‘‘negative exchange spiral.’’ Further, Boje (2008) presents a spiral perspective on storied sensemaking. We integrate these two perspectives and call this integration emotional contagion exchange (ECX). Defined as the transactional exchange of affective states and storied experiences between the served (customer/service agent) and server (service agent/management), ECX differs from emotional contagion which is defined as ‘‘the process by which peoples’ emotions are caused by the emotions of others’’ (Langton et al., 2011, p. 118). ECX relies on storytelling as the process by which emotional contagion occurs. This is essential because the extant literature has made little of cognitive processes, such as story, that may interact with emotional states. Furthermore, we offer a way to change this process through the emotional restorying of labor, defined as the process by which an employee alters the narrative of a lived labor experience. We do this by seeking to explore the processes by which surfacelevel acting may become deep-level acting and deep-level acting may become surface-level acting within the context of emotional narratives. Drawing from the existing literature on emotions and storytelling, we create an integrated model for understanding and changing simultaneous instances of both phenomena. Our process model can also be applied to work by Zimmermann, Dormann, and Dollard (2011) to demonstrate how a positive interaction between a customer and employee propagates itself


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into the future. To further explicate the theoretical and practical domain of these concepts and our contribution, this chapter is organized as follows. First, the chapter will summarize existing conceptualizations of emotional regulation (i.e., surface vs. deep-level acting) (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993; Grandey, 2000; Gross, 1998; Hochschild, 1983). Second, we will extend existing organizational behavior literature that focuses on emotional labor by the introduction of two processes new to the literature: ECX and emotional restorying of labor. Lastly, in exploring the interplay between these processes, this chapter will provide a deeper understanding of the theoretical processes whereby the empirical observations of surface and deep-level acting occur. More specifically, emotional restorying may allow employees to cope with emotional contagion by converting surface-level acting to deep-level acting and deep-level to surface-level acting, in ways which benefit both employees and organizations. In explaining this process, this chapter constructs a model of multiple interplaying processes. We begin with a review of the literature linking emotion, emotional labor, and emotional contagion.

EMOTION As pointed out by Elfenbein (2007) in her attempt to integrate the academic literature on emotion to date, the consideration of emotion in the workplace was once seen as the ‘‘antithesis of rationality.’’ Emotions did not belong in the workplace. As such, their treatment in research was scant – why study what has no relevance? In the 1990s, however, with the work of scholars such as Fineman (1996) and the reconsideration of prior works (Hersey, 1932), academia began to again recognize the impact of emotions in the workplace. For Hochschild (1983, p. 56), emotion is a private system, ‘‘free of observation.’’ Similarly, Elfenbein (2007, p. 316) states that emotion is something we ‘‘tend to think that we knowywhen we see it.’’ As such, a myriad of definitions are available to researchers, the most common of which considers emotion as an adaptive response to the environment’s demands (Ekman, 1992; Elfenbein, 2007; Scherer, 1984; Smith & Ellsworth, 1985). This definition is supported by Russell (2003, p. 167) in his attempt to synthesize competing theories by conceptualizing emotion as a continuous intrapersonal process (core affect), ‘‘refer[ring] to a heterogeneous cluster of loosely related events, patterns, and dispositions.’’ We will utilize this inclusive and intrapersonal conceptualization of emotion for this chapter.



In accordance with Beedie, Terry, and Lane (2005), we focus here exclusively on emotion as distinguishable from mood. Emotions can be differentiated from moods in that moods can last for a longer period of time and can be created by a stimulus of low intensity or become the fragments of an intense emotion, whereas emotions are usually short-term experiences in response to a salient stimulus. Strides have been made (utilizing both qualitative and quantitative methods) to link emotion in the workplace and culture (Van Maanen & Kunda, 1989), organizational change (Tobey & Manning, 2009), dyads (Hareli & Rafaeli, 2008), and selection (Arvey, Renz, & Watson, 1998). While these new directions are important, they are not the focus of this research. This chapter will integrate two of the subtopics of emotion in the workplace which are most explored: emotional labor and emotional contagion. Hochschild’s (1983) seminal work is credited with drawing attention to emotional labor as it exists in the workplace, particularly as it is managed by individuals in their work roles, and by those seeking to optimize customer satisfaction. From this work followed a large body of literature examining the effects of emotional labor (e.g., surface vs. deep-level acting) and attempts to place emotional labor under a broader heading of ‘‘emotion regulation’’ (Grandey, 2000; Gross, 1998; Gross & Levenson, 1997). Thus, scholars first neglected emotion in the workplace, then frantically embraced it in piecemeal fashion, specifically focusing on the suppression of emotion in work roles. What happens, however, when emotion is not suppressed but expressed? Scholars have considered the impact of such expressed emotion (Rafaeli & Sutton, 1989) on other employees in the same organization. For example, Barsade (2002), in a quantitative piece, considered group emotional contagion, including a consideration of how higher-order group emotion can influence the individual. The existence of some sort of emotional contagion effect has thus become a major subtopic of literature considering emotion in the workplace. Both emotional labor and emotional contagion contain the underlying assumption that emotions are manageable, with managers seeking to suppress (in the case of emotional labor) or influence (in the case of emotional contagion) emotions toward positive organizational ends and mitigate negative outcomes. While the reemergence of interest in the topic of emotion in the workplace is arguably appropriate, the studies conducted to date have taken a fragmented approach to what many scholars suggest is best conceptualized as a process model (e.g., Elfenbein, 2007; Russell, 2003). Thus, the current state of research on the topic is quite scattered, with no one study

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undertaking an examination of the entire process of emotion in the workplace. This chapter responds to these critiques by expanding the process of emotion to include ECX. We introduce ECX as process that reflects a consideration of both the role of emotion within the individual and the interaction between customer and service agent. We next explore acting in the workplace.

ACTING OF EMOTION AT WORK Research on emotional labor emerged from, among other sources, a seminal piece on acting in the workplace. Hochschild (1983) defined emotional labor as requiring one ‘‘to induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others’’ (Hochschild, 1983, p. 7). For Hochschild (1983), emotion was not independent of management’s influence. Hence, she introduced surface and deep-level acting as terms to explain the emotion management she discovered in her study of flight attendants. Surface-level acting is defined as ‘‘ydisguising what we feel, of pretending to feel what we do notythe box of clue is hidden, but it is not changed’’ (Hochschild, 1983, p. 33). Hochschild (1983) describes this in terms of deception. When we are performing surface-level acting, we are deceiving others, but not ourselves. An example is the sly politician, charming his way through the crowd. On the other hand, deep-level acting makes ‘‘yfeigning easy by making it unnecessary’’ (Hochschild, 1983, p. 33). In this form of acting we deceive ourselves as well, ‘‘ytaking over the levers of feeling production, by pretending deeplyy’’ (Hochschild, 1983, p. 33). Such pretending actually alters the true emotion as experienced by the self. Hochschild’s (1983) work has since spawned numerous extensions, recategorizations, and reconsiderations of what it means to feel emotion in the workplace and actively manage such feelings. This section will summarize the most relevant of these variations on the theme in order to illustrate the importance of this topic for the reader. Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) sought to extend the focus of research on emotional labor from the underlying experienced emotion to behavioral outcomes. To this end, they sought to define emotional labor in a manner which ‘‘both emphasizes behavior and decouples the experience of emotion from the expression of emotion’’ (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993, p. 3). Further, they added a third dimension to emotional labor in addition to surface and deep-level acting – a genuinely experienced and expressed



emotion, or lack of acting. Positing that individuals may not have to consistently manage their emotions, Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) provide the example of a nurse who feels genuine sympathy upon seeing a sick child. In this instance, the nurse doesn’t have to act. Essentially, the 1993 work sought to extend Hochschild’s (1983) work by moving away from the dramaturgical perspective of the ‘‘actor’’ taking on the world of customer service, manipulating his or her actions for the ‘‘audience.’’ However, Ashforth and Humphrey (1993, p. 108) do offer an important suggestion for future research at the interpersonal level: the relevance of ‘‘emotional contagion’’ to the experience and expression of emotion during service interactions. This chapter seeks to expand on the notion of emotional contagion by considering the interaction between customer and service agent as the unit of analysis and the exchange process (the contagion) which occurs within that interaction. Gross (1998) reviews emotional regulation and takes an evolutionary perspective. Drawing from (Frijda, 1988), Gross (1998) links motivation to emotional regulation and suggests that our individual well-being is most likely to occur when three conditions are met: (1) the pursuit is of value to us. That is, we are ‘‘emotionally engaged’’ with the pursuit, (2) we are attentive to our emotions, allowing us to notice the changes in our responses. That is, we are cognizant of our own emotional display, and (3) we appreciate the immediate and long-term consequences of our emotional displays and grasp our capacity to adjust our emotional responses. In taking this approach, Gross (1998) provides a middle ground. Emotions do not have to be only silenced or only felt, they can be regulated as we choose. Grandey (2000) attempted to synthesize the work of Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) and Gross (1998) by positioning emotional regulation as the overarching label containing these works. Relying on Gross’s (1998) review of emotional regulation as a guiding theory, Grandey (2000) attempts to place emotional labor within the context of emotional regulation. Unlike Ashforth and Humphrey (1993), she allows for the inclusion of emotion and notes two places in the emotion regulation process where emotion can be regulated. Further, she notes how these regulation procedures are similar to surface and deep-level acting. First, service agents may regulate emotion by focusing on their responses. Termed ‘‘response-focused emotion regulation,’’ Grandey (2000, p. 99) likens this term to surface-level acting and provides the example of an employee who ‘‘may paste a smile on her face though she is feeling ‘blah’ (adjusting intensity) or may put on a empathic ‘mask’ in order to remain polite toward the customer who is annoying (fake the display).’’ This technique has employees actively managing their emotions by focusing on the response

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provided to the customer – the service agent may have to ‘‘come up with’’ more emotion than they actually feel or work to suppress genuine feeling and then display the corresponding behavior. There are two ways by which employees can manage emotions in a manner similar to Hochschild’s (1983) concept of deep acting. In the first, attentional deployment, the service agent works to change his or her personal thoughts, perhaps focusing on something which presents a positive emotion. Grandey (2000, p. 99) provides the example of an opera singer ‘‘whistling arias while serving customers in a coffeehouse.’’ In doing this, the service agent focused on her personal positive emotion, which allowed her to express this emotion. In essence, she was not responding to the emotions initiated by the customers, instead focusing on her own positive emotion. The second method whereby employees can manage their emotions in a manner similar to deep-acting is cognitive change. This method hinges on the service agent’s ability to alter his or her perception of the situation so as to lessen its emotional impact (Lazarus, 1991). Grandey (2000, p. 99) provides an example from Hochschild (1983) in which flight attendants are ‘‘trained to cognitively reappraise passengers as children so that they would not become angry with passengers’ potentially infantile behaviors.’’ This regulation method is deep because it relies on the service agent to fundamentally modify his or her actual felt emotion so that the expressed behavior is reflective of genuine emotion. For Grandey (2000), the difference between attentional deployment and cognitive change is that attentional deployment allows the service agent to actually change the focus of his or her personal thoughts to something personally pleasing so that they are no longer responding to the external situation. Cognitive change, on the other hand, allows the service agent to cognitively alter the external situation. This consideration of emotion acting begs the question, particularly in instances of surface-level acting in which it is apparent to others that such acting is taking place, is such acting contagious? If so, how may it be contagious? We will explore prevalent existing conceptualizations of emotional contagion in the next section and then introduce ECX.

EMOTIONAL CONTAGION AND THE DEVELOPMENT OF EMOTIONAL CONTAGION EXCHANGE As we’ve demonstrated, scholars first neglected emotion in the workplace, then frantically embraced it in piecemeal fashion, specifically focusing on the



suppression of emotion in work roles, or emotion acting. What happens, however, when emotion is not suppressed but expressed – how is emotion contagious? Further, how does the exchange of such emotion affect the service agent-customer dyad? In this section we discuss the prevalent emotional contagion work to date and introduce ECX as a transactional exchange.

Emotional Contagion Scholars have considered the impact of such expressed emotion (Rafaeli & Sutton, 1987) on other employees in the same organization. For Rafaeli and Sutton (1987), the expressions displayed by employees were inextricably linked to their expected work roles. The authors expanded on the service agent-customer model, linking work-role theory to the idea of emotion expression. They posited that emotional expression was shaped by two factors: the organizational context and emotional transaction. The organizational context includes the dimensions of selection, socialization, and reward. For purposes of this chapter’s focus, however, we are more concerned with the second factor, or ‘‘emotional transactions.’’ Rafaeli and Sutton (1987, p. 26) explained that ‘‘emotional transactions comprise the sequence of communication that occurs when an employee displays emotion, notes the reaction of a ‘target’ person, and adjusts or maintains expressed feelings.’’ We recognize that this exchange is dynamic, and while we utilize the labels ‘‘service agent’’ and ‘‘customer,’’ the actors’ roles are much less solidified than our labeling may indicate. Note here that a target person can be any individual with whom the employee interacts as part of his or her work role. This conceptualization extended emotional contagion such that employees could now affect one another’s emotions, supervisors and subordinates could affect one another’s emotions, etc. This paved the way for scholars including Rapson, Hatfield, and Cacioppo (1993), Pugh (2001), and Barsade (2002) to explore the role of emotional contagion in the workplace. In their undertaking of emotional contagion Rapson et al. (1993) first outline the evidence for the existence of emotional contagion. They then extend the construct by positing that there are those who are ‘‘powerful communicators’’ as well as those who are particularly susceptible to emotional contagion. In suggesting directions for future research, the authors point out that they have uncovered a ‘‘puzzling incongruity.’’ While individuals are capable of mimicry and this mimicry allows them to become

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a part of others’ lives, they also fail to recognize their own susceptibility to emotional contagion in social situations. Not only is this failure puzzling, but more so in light of a failure to understand just how quickly and wholly individuals can ‘‘track’’ others’ emotional expressions. Essentially, the majority of individuals do not recognize their own capacity for tracking emotion, nor do they conceive of how easily they assume the emotions of others. This work was subsequently extended when Barsade (2002) purposefully and successfully manipulated the emotions of a group by using a confederate. Barsade (2002), in a quantitative piece, considered group emotional contagion, including a consideration of how higher-order group emotion can influence the individual. For us, however, Pugh (2001) has provided the beginnings of a theoretical framework upon which we can introduce ECX. Pugh (2001) posited that customers could ‘‘catch’’ employees’ emotions – bringing Rafaeli and Sutton’s (1987) work back to the interaction between service agent and customer. Pugh (2001) did find that in those instances where employees displayed positive emotions, there was a positive relationship to the positive affect of customers. Further, there was a positive relationship between the employees’ displays of positive emotions and customers’ service evaluations. Pugh (2001) does point out that his findings make the assumption that emotional contagion is responsible for the positive relationship. As always, only a true experimental design could confirm causality. However, this is the first instance in the literature known to these authors wherein a scholar has considered that emotional contagion can take place between a service agent and employee and sought to measure such contagion. In order to provide agency over the ECX process, we will next present emotional restorying of labor.

EMOTIONAL RESTORYING Emotional restorying of labor is the process by which an employee alters the narrative of a lived labor experience. It is a kind of narrative therapy, in that it utilizes narrative to rehabilitate a dominant narrative. A dominant narrative is, simply, the assumed real, valid, and useful way of thinking about one’s work (Boje, Helmuth, & Saylors, 2013). For example, if the employee approached customer relations from a surface-level acting perspective and experienced positive ECX then the employee may come to believe that she or he was engaged in deep-level acting throughout the entire exchange. Further, a sincere attempt at approaching customer relations



from a deep-level acting perspective may be remembered as surface-level acting in the context of negative ECX. A living story web is the web of story that lives in every other person with whom an employee interacts. Living story web is the entirety of the relational system in which narrative therapy unfolds (White & Epston, 1990). These webs of living story are preexisting. That is, they are already present when an employee starts work. As such, it is the multi-vocal aspect of work that is repressed by the universal themes that are created by dominant narratives (Boje, 2008). Because this web of living stories underlies dominant narrative, we can restory the meaning of work by following a number of very specific steps (Boje & Rosile, 2011; Boje et al., 2013; Rosile & Boje, 2002). We move through the specific steps of the restorying process by presenting an example from an autoethnographic account by one of the authors. It is essential, though, to temper these steps by remembering that all the other people in the living story web are themselves the heroes of their own narratives. For example, in our second example we show how a troublesome worker might restory deep-level acting into surface-level acting by questioning the dominant narrative. Thus, as with the conceptualization of emotion itself, narrative is an intrapersonal occurrence; individuals are the ‘‘stars’’ of their own emotions and their own narratives. We begin with an outline of these specific steps. We then present an example of how this process can change surface-level acting into a new story of deep-level acting. We conclude this section with an acknowledgment of the dark side of this phenomenon by explaining how restorying can lead to dissention instead of acceptance.

Restorying a Hard Day’s Work The following steps outline the process whereby emotional restorying occurs: 1. Characterize – Portray emotional difficulty as being the employee’s dominant narrative so that the difficulty is the tricky thing and not the employee. 2. Externalize – Recognize the dominant narrative as a desperate thing that exists within the web of living story, thus turning into an externalized character. 3. Sympathize – Analyze the assistance that the dominant narrative is providing to the employee.

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4. Problematize – Separate out the expenditures that go along with adhering to the dominant narrative. 5. Strategize – Create a new story around the employee’s involvements within the web of living story. This should detach from the dominant narrative that allows for the problematic emotions to grow. The employee can now reclaim the ‘‘little wow moments’’ that had been repressed by the dominant narrative. 6. Re-historicize – Keep bringing the ‘‘little wow moment’’ episodes of employees out of the disenfranchised space created by the dominant narrative. This will create a new web of historical story that keeps the dominant narrative from regaining control. 7. Publicize – Engage the emotional contagion network, in and outside of work, in order to help maintain the variation. This will involve making clear to bosses, customers, coworkers, and even family the new meaning of the work experience. Since it is likely the employee has embedded particular narratives of work in each of these parts of the living network, being overt about the ‘‘little wow moments’’ upon which this new conceptualization is built is essential. We next present an example to clarify for the reader how these steps occur. This autoethnographic account is not meant to be generalizable. For example, demographically the majority of service agents are female while in this case, the service agent is male. Because of this, we must reflexively note that some may read into our story paternalistic undertones, which may well reflect aspects of society worthy of criticism. However, it is not uncommon for service agents in any industry to receive follow-up complaints from customers and regardless of demographic characteristics of either party to ECX, restorying may occur as exemplified below.

From Surface to Deep A young computer entrepreneur starts a company that builds and sells computers. Having no family wealth, he starts the company on the back of the slim profits off a few sales he has personally made. After numerous failed attempts at making a go of salesmanship, he brings together three former black-market brokers, turned Pentecostal, and starts making sales to local small municipalities and nonprofit organizations. He starts to make enough sales that he has to bring on a few other folks to assemble the computers. While the income ebbs and flows, the need to pay the folks working for him



a basic salary does not. Now two months late on his rent and living on huevos rancheros (eggs, beans, and tortilla), a client calls in demanding a refund. What follows is how he enacts the restorying of an emotional exchange. Characterize: Client: ‘‘This computer is hideous, get it away from me and give me my money back. I’m the boss here and I was expecting something like GateWay, and I get this!’’ Entrepreneur: ‘‘If that’s what you want I’m entirely happy to do that for you, but could you tell me what’s wrong with it’’; Client: ‘‘The other girls are making fun of my gold nail polish-colored computer.’’ Here in the living story network of emotional exchange, the meaning of an aesthetic experience that does not match the expectations of the social network has perpetuated a grand narrative of ‘‘GateWay is the Right Way.’’ There is a great deal of socialization that goes into the rightness of an existing emotional state, a sense of self that will not accept being assailed. A characterization of the problem allowing for the disentanglement of emotions from the person follows. Externalize: Entrepreneur: ‘‘So the functional issue you’re having is that you have to look at it?’’ Client: ‘‘Yes, it’s hideous,’’ Entrepreneur: ‘‘Yea, I think the cow-computers are a lot more fun.’’ The next step of the process takes the role played by the emotional stance and turns it into an external entity. This allows the emotional state to become a reified thing – by naming the emotional state we turn it into a thing. Now that the emotional situation in question is unraveled from the worker, it becomes essential to accept the perspective of the employee. Sympathize: Entrepreneur: ‘‘When I got my first computer I wanted a GateWay too and I got one,’’ Client: ‘‘Right, it’s cute, not like this monstrosity.’’ Sympathizing allows the employee to accept the emotional state with which she is dealing. This makes the emotional-thing its own entity but an entity with a specific value, a comparable value. By placing the intervening person in the perspective of the employee we allow for a sympathetic stance, one where problematizing is something both parties face. Problematize: Entrepreneur: ‘‘When I started using mine, though, I found out that they had traded a cute plastic case for heat problems,’’ Client: ‘‘The girl’s computers are fine.’’ Entrepreneur: ‘‘I’m sure they are, for playing MP3s and writing word documents, but when people like you and I use a computer we have real work to do and we can’t afford to lose it to a blue screen of death.’’

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Now that the value of the previous emotional state has a weight, a different affective position is possible. By taking the pervious weighting, presenting the new emotional perspective as more valuable, differently valuable, and in contrast with the old perspective, the employee can become willing to believe – the first step in changing belief. This belief comes about by finding memories that reinforce the new emotional perspective. Strategize: oover laughing clientW Entrepreneur: ‘‘Do you remember those old yellow computers that would lay sideways?’’ Client: ‘‘Yes, very slow, loud, and crashing all the time,’’ Entrepreneur: ‘‘That’s what those GateWays will look like in a couple of years because plastic cases are bad design.’’ By drawing on a number of past moments, those that are emotionally resonant but which had not been accounted for, the meaning of the emotional-thing changes. Previously, the emotional experience was in the context of what others recently said, but now the context is within personal experiences from the past. This new strategy of drawing from one’s own new set of past experiences is the key to drawing a new history of emotions at work. Re-historicize: Entrepreneur: ‘‘When did you have to last upgrade your computers for the girls?’’ Client: ‘‘We purchased new ones from GateWay after about two years because the old Dells kept crashing.’’ Entrepreneur: ‘‘Dell, GateWay, Hewlet Packard, they all use the same, least expensive, parts. There is nothing you can’t do on the two year old computers that you do on a new one; but they make them to break down so you have to buy a new one. This case is designed to last and help the components last. Computers stand on their side now because people like me said that was better, our friends and family started demanding side-standing computers and now everyone has one, the same will happen with metallic computersy’’ When a single emotion has its own new meaning there are many other emotions that may draw the individual back. By building a network of ideas, a series of historical moments, and by filling out the storied experiences needed for a new narrative, a full re-historicizing of the experience is possible. Emotions and memories of the past are not the only thing that threatens the new story, so too does the existing network in which emotional contagion exchanges between employees. Publicize: Client: ‘‘It’s still ugly’’ Entrepreneur: ‘‘Not for long, and not for people in the know. Let’s bring a couple of girls back and explain why you’ve got the best damned computer in the office.’’ In taking an active role in spreading the new emotional stance, those that previously upheld and validated the supreme value of the grand emotional



narrative can themselves experience restorying. By having a network that will support, motivate, and encourage the new way of approaching the work experience surface acting can be restoried as deep-level acting. Just as the meaning of the surface acting affect against the computer was built on being emotionally compliant in the ECX, so did the deep-level acting take hold and spread among the ECX network once the emotions drawn upon by the individual employee were restoried.

From Deep to Surface Restorying within the context of ECX also allows the employee with negative experiences to restory deep-level acting into surface-level acting. This may have practical implications for those trying to start a union, or trying to get repressed workers to move against exploitation. Characterize: First, the resistant worker would find the dominant repressive narrative accepted by the employees in general. For example, a lead artist at a mouse-based organization finds the ‘‘family narrative’’ created by the leader, ‘‘pater familia,’’ to be a way of covering up movement from respecting artists as craftsmen to utilizing them as assembly line workers. Externalize: Next, the existence of this narrative would be made apparent, as oftentimes the repressive narrative is implicit, tacit, or even taken as common sense. By comparing the existing derogatory working conditions that this ‘‘family of artists’’ endures with the respect that they previously had as artisans, the existence of ‘‘family as a narrative’’ manifests. Sympathize: The resistant worker accepts the emotional narrative and points out what is right and useful about it. This simultaneously helps accept the emotional usefulness the employees find in the grand narrative and gives greater credence to the worker’s next emancipatory act. If the artist in our story then finds others that have experienced this extreme change in working conditions and begins to sympathize with them as to why the new system may actually have its merits, this artist no longer fights against the ‘‘family,’’ but rather remains part of the ‘‘family’’ trying to work from within, ostensibly to make it stronger. Problematize: The worker then finds the problems with the emotional narrative, be it lower pay, poor working conditions, or simply dehumanizing labor under the auspice of a mouse. For example, in an attempt to make the ‘‘family’’ stronger, the artist may show how pay per hour has decreased, work per day has increased, and overall the intrinsic rewards of the job have

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been replaced with a manufacturing system – such as when a few elite artists paint key frames while the majority of artwork done in between is performed in an assembly line like manner by people dehumanizingly called ‘‘inkers.’’ Strategize: Once what seemed like deep-level acting becomes something that the employee can see as having been surface-level, the worker can restory other instances of exploitation via emotional narrative. The slow erosion of the family unit in place of the ‘‘family narrative’’ of the organization and the near-worshipful tone required when addressing the ‘‘father’’ of this ‘‘family’’ are other instances of exploitation via this emotional narrative of ‘‘family.’’ Re-historicize: Next, the worker helps emancipate a single individual, someone well-respected for her or his opinion, someone network central, and helps that employee see a different set of moments from which to draw a narrative. Here, our artist may find someone that has much to gain from this narrative, such as a key frame artist. Explaining to the key frame artist the aforementioned problems with the ‘‘family narrative,’’ our artist would now help to build a dyad in which there is solidarity and a new shared narrative. Publicize: Once two emancipatory workers share this network of historical thought, other employees involved in the ECX will similarly restory the dominant narrative. At this point, both our artist and the key frame artist will share their newly agreed-upon narrative with others in order to form a union and resist control and dehumanization by the ‘‘family narrative.’’ While not similar in content, both of the aforementioned stories demonstrate how one individual can change the narrative surrounding lived work experiences. In the first excerpt, the service agent restoried a lived work experience to improve a customer’s outlook, while our artist in the second excerpt restories his own experience so as to give voice to his coworkers. Whether restorying surface-level acting into deep-level acting so as to mitigate stress or deep-level acting into surface-level acting so as to emancipate workers, both emanate through the emotional exchange network in a similar process manner.

A PROCESS MODEL OF EMOTIONAL RESTORYING The process model in Fig. 1 does not indicate a series of testable hypothesis or operationalizable propositions. There is an implicit proposition present here – restorying emotions can moderate the relationship between ECX and



Restorying Emotions i.e. Forming new solidarity narrative

Deep-Level Acting

Surface Acting

Emotional Narrative i.e. ‘Family narrative’

Little Wow Moments i.e. Dehumanization realized

Emotional Contagion Exchange ECX

Acting by People Served i.e. customer

Non-Linear ECX Processes

Fig. 1.

Acting by People Serving i.e. agent

Acting that interacts with ECX

Story Components

The Process Model of Emotional Restorying.

surface versus deep-level acting. However, this proposition is not the focus of this chapter, but an outcome of the model we developed to explain how restorying emotions interact with ECX and surface versus deep-level acting. In order to do this we will first explain how the ECX process works and where it interacts with other aspects of our model. Next, we will explain how acting interacts with ECX. Finally, we will conclude with how various story components work in relation to both ECX processes and acting. First,

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though, we present our process model, including a number of examples from the deep to surface example of restorying. ECX Process: The ECX process embeds itself throughout, making description of it a difficult undertaking. In many ways, the inward and outward spirals of emotions are similar to those incivility spirals as described by Andersson and Pearson (1999). In particular, there are social interactions that build off one another, deviation-amplifying loops that eventually reach a tipping point where they create a new system wherein they become stable. The ECX process draws together a pool of multiple interrelations, from acting by others to internalized acting, through grand narratives and little wow moments. The ECX process is both influenced by and influences almost the entirety of the life world of emotion in the workplace. The acting of others, as broken into those served (customer) and those serving (service agent) have within it the same surface and deep-level acting that we see in the rest of the model. By adding to the spiraling morass of emotional context, those being served give legitimacy to the service of others. By providing service to others, those that serve seek legitimacy for their own behaviors. The interplay of all of these service-serving relationships is the emotional context through which contagion of emotions spreads. While the status of serving or server makes a difference regarding other’s contextual interface with ECX, that the acting is surface-level or deep-level is always salient to the ECX process. If acting is deep-level then it has greater potency when being positively emotionally contagious, while surface-level acting is more open to the spread of negative emotional valances. In dialectical opposition, often, are the grand narrative of work emotions, often situated for the betterment of the power elites, and little wow moments that question the single voice of the grand narrative’s influence. With this in mind, it is important to consider the process by which the foam of the ECX process is stirred up, acting that interacts with ECX. Acting Interacting with ECX: Each action is acting either in service to or in request of service by some other entity in the action network (Latour, 2005). It is important to note that often the leader is the serving party and the served party, the worker, is the one with the power. Similarly, a customer will have power over the legitimacy of a work behavior that a worker will not. While analysis of acting that interacts with ECX means that we must hold ECX constant, it is important to note that both the meaning of the dyadic relationship and the influence it has on ECX is precipitated by the larger context. The constant dyadic relationship between served and serving



has a complex set of emotional contexts, driven by the surface versus deeplevel acting on the part of both parties. The key to understanding the interacts between the ECX context and the dyad is that deep-level acting is stronger because it is more authentic, and the served is the member of the dyad with the strongest position, because this person is the one with the power to give legitimacy that the serving party desires. When a person that is serving follows through with her behavior because of deep-level acting, and there is deep-level acting on the part of the served person, then the influence of ECX on the dyadic relationship is at its weakest and the influence of the dyad on ECX is at its strongest. When both the served and the serving parties are involved in surface-level acting, the ECX context has the greatest influence. The most interesting emergent situations occur when one part of the dyad is surface-level acting and the other part is deep-level acting. When the server is undertaking surface-level acting the context provided by the ECX provides a buffer against the strong influence of the served if the served moves toward denial of legitimacy. This is because the meaning of a service action is attached to the contagious emotional meaning attributed to it by the ECX. Paradoxically, this buffering against negative emotional valence for the individual has a strong impact on the ECX context. Alternatively, if the served is undertaking deep-level acting and accepts the legitimacy of the serving, there is no cost or benefit provided by the ECX, and as such there is little influence on the ECX context. If, on the other hand, the served is surface-level acting and the serving party is deep-level acting a different configuration of influences is at play. We next explain what this looks like in more detail. When surface-level acting is the served party’s stance and the serving person is deep-level acting the role of the context of the ECX reverses. When the surface-level acting served party dismisses the legitimacy of the deeplevel acting serving party the deep-level acting serving party does not need ECX as a buffer, but rather internally buffers through appeal to the deeplevel of feeling felt by the serving party. Interestingly, this turns the power balance and influence around, leaving the served party in need of buffering against her own denial of legitimacy and without the ECX context as a buffer. So, while the served party is in a more powerful position than the serving party when deep-level acting, the emotional danger in the dyad changes when the served party is only surface-level acting. On the other hand, if the surface-level acting grants legitimacy to serving by a deep-level actor, cracks and extensions can form in the ECX context. This is because the surface-level actor, placed in an unusual place of danger, and not

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protected by the ECX context, is more likely to grant legitimacy to new kinds of emotional exchange. It is within this context that the meaning and outcomes related to each of the story components works. Story Components: There are three basic components to restorying an emotional experience, the grand narrative that locks someone into a beginning–middle–end narrative, a series of little wow moments (making up the rest of the story), and the restorying of emotions (through a change in antenarrative bets). The previously mentioned contexts have a large influence over how emotional grand narratives are received and which little wow moments are drawn upon. This leaves restorying of emotions as the phase that offers the greatest potential impact. The restorying process has three distinct phases, exposing the grand narrative (steps 1–4), drawing on little wow moments (steps 4–6), and solidifying the restorying process (steps 6 and 7), we start with an explication of the emotional grand narrative. The role of ECX in the characterization of the emotional grand narrative as a problem, outside of the individual, is to at once bolster the strength of the grand narrative and provide the grounds upon which externalization is possible. Externalizing the grand narrative as a small part of a larger story web requires either a willingness to separate out from deep-level acting or admit to surface-level acting; to move against what deep-level acting is present due to the emotional grand narrative requires sympathizing. Sympathizing with the usefulness of the grand narrative, seen particularly in the previously mentioned dyadic served–serving relations, allows for a deep-level dyadic service of the individual that is going through the restorying. The problematization of the emotional grand narrative makes the most sense when we draw on instances of surface-level being-served where denial of service legitimacy took place, something that could be seen as a little wow moment. The denial of the service legitimacy of the deep-level acting serving person by a surface-level acting served person is a little wow moment as it is in this context that the value of the emotional grand narrative breaks down and the acceptance of a static coherence in the ECX context no longer makes sense. It is in this kind of problematization that a strategy can form, where different little wow moments can be reclaimed and utilized to move forward the change from either deep to surface, or surface to deep, level acting; once enough are drawn forth to achieve this goal a sustaining network of little wow moments becomes important. By re-historicizing the myriad ways in which the emotional grand narrative has given meaning to various dyadic served–serving relationships a new overall meaning to the ECX context comes into view. This context starts to solidify the restorying of emotions.



The process of restorying emotions at work is solidified as a move from surface to deep or deep to surface-level acting brings forth a new way of looking at the served–serving dyad. When the history around little wow moments brings someone into deep-level acting, the meaning of this change can be publicized through management and informal social networks so that others can follow suit. This move generally improves the perceived work environment. When the little wow moment’s history brings someone from deep-level to surface-level acting, the change can be made public and meaningful through sharing of the reasons with others in informal social networks, or through the formalization of the problematic through unionization. This move hopes to improve the material conditions of the worker. Be it in improving the outlook of employees regarding their jobs, or improving the physical conditions under which workers toil, this model presents a great number of practical implications.

PRACTICAL IMPLICATIONS Much of the organizational behavior research to date has focused on the ‘‘dark side’’ of emotion acting. Such work has considered the negative effects of emotion acting as encouraged by managers on stress and wellbeing, as in Maslach and Jackson’s (1981, p. 99) declaration that ‘‘Burnout is a syndrome of emotional exhaustion and cynicism that occurs frequently among individuals who do ‘people-work,’ where ‘people work’ refers to the interactions an employee has with those outside the organization.’’ As we’ve conceptualized it here, this refers to the service agent–customer interaction, or the served–serving dyad. Burnout is often pinpointed as the long-term consequence of such people work because of the emotion acting required. For example, Mann (2004) extends this work to the counseling and guidance field, positing that such emotional dissonance is parallel to cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957) in that ‘‘whenever an individual simultaneously holds two cognitions that are psychologically inconsistent, they experience a negative drive state called dissonance which is a state of discomfort or tension’’ (Mann, 2004, p. 211). This chapter presents one way in which employees may attempt to avoid such emotional dissonance. Restorying emotional labor allows the service agent to take charge of an interaction and pull him or herself from the dominant narrative of the interaction. This detachment further allows the service agent to remove the customer from the dominant narrative as well. Together, the emotional experience of the dyad is restoried by the service agent and supplemented by the customer.

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Through ECX, the stress of the interaction is mitigated for the service agent, as he or she is no longer preoccupied with the appropriate ‘‘acting rule’’ for the situation. Instead, the dyadic interaction becomes a more honest exchange. Therefore, this chapter provides a process whereby ‘‘catching’’ another’s emotions can actually have a positive effect, in response to the suggestion posed by Rapson et al. (1993) that future scholars investigate the advantages or disadvantages of ‘‘catching’’ another’s emotions. In this section we next outline the implications for managers, including possible boundary conditions. Managers who wish to encourage emotional restorying of labor should recognize that this is a brave undertaking, necessitating a shift from the status quo of ‘‘service with a smile.’’ Further, managers must also realize that the process model as outlined herein may not work in every situation. There are times when both parties are surface-level acting, a situation that leads to little influence on restorying the ECX context. Next, there are times when things are going well, which is to say, there is no way to problematize the surface or deep-level acting of an employee or deep-level acting of a repressed worker. Further, there may be other social and pragmatic reasons for attachment to the grand emotional narrative. If this is the case, even if the narrative is problematized, there may be a highly limited level of willingness to disengage the grand emotional narrative. Finally and most importantly, if a positive emotional future where the grand narrative is dismissed is not believable or if the person taking on the emotional restorying is unwilling to believe the ability to draw on a different set of little wow moments is blocked. Thus, understanding how the emotional restorying of labor occurs does not necessarily mean that a manager should automatically begin encouraging the process. While context is important in a broader sense, the context of service agent/customer dyad is also important. For instance, it may be that a more long-term service agent–customer relationship stands to benefit more from undertaking this process and understanding its components. This is because both parties are cognizant of their place in the relationship and there is a shared history from which to pull. The ability to recognize the level of acting engaged in by the other person changes one’s ability to utilize the emotional grand narrative of the present ECX to defend against not gaining legitimacy from service. In this case it is not in finding problems with the ECX that seeing problems will take place, but instead through direct knowledge of little wow moments and knowledge of the other party’s hopes. This sort of intimate knowledge can lead to an understanding of gradations of, and contextualization for, surface and deep-level acting. Personal intimate



knowledge of the other person in a dyadic relationship is a special case of experience level. Lastly, while the broader context and the dyad context are key, something as simple as the experience level of the service agent may also be important. For example, in order to move through the model as it’s outlined here, we are presupposing that a service agent is aware of the dominant narrative in a particular industry and/or organization. If an unsocialized agent is not aware of the dominant narrative, restorying may not be a viable alternative because the model would break down as the agent would not even be engaged in the contextual ECX. A great deal of organizational training, team building, and the like allows for a greater ascription to ECX. Further, experience level with the existing ECX context will change how immutable the rules seem. When there are negative social consequences to a behavior those consequences make the ECX feel more real; however, as greater experience with the context comes about, the parts of the emotional grand narrative that are malleable become much more salient.

CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE RESEARCH Because we have introduced ECX and emotional restorying of labor and since we are proposing a process model whereby these processes interplay with those typically found in the organizational behavior literature, future research likely needs to rely on a qualitative method to extend the exploration of this model. We envision the use of participatory action research, a method which involves practitioners throughout the research conducted – from initial meetings to project design through data collection and analysis to final conclusions and potential actions with which participants can move forward (Whyte, 1991). Specifically, we propose that researchers could intervene in the service agent–customer dyad, openly explaining the process of emotional restorying to the dyad. Diaries could also be utilized as a data collection method (Balogun, Huff, & Johnson, 2003; Balogun & Johnson, 2004; Burgess, 1984; Denzin, 1989; Perlow, 1997, 1999; Taylor & Bogdan, 1984) if both parties were willing to participate. Researchers could then analyze these diaries with the participants, utilizing an open action research setting to create a dialogue around episodes of emotional restorying. We specifically outline our vision for this model in its initial presentation – because it is a process model, we do not encourage breaking it down into pieces and testing each relationship or set of relationships quantitatively at


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this point. To do so would undermine what we believe is most important about the model – it presents a process by which the service agent–customer dyad can be strengthened. This move could be seen as taking the strategy as practice rational and creating a kind of organizational psychology as practice perspective. When we move beyond invisible mechanisms that supposedly reside in individuals’ minds and, instead, look at the world from the perspective of people within a matrix of processes, we open new vistas into the social psychological conversation. These vistas may allow for new conceptualizations of concepts such as core self-evaluation, and positive psychology from a social storytelling versus a mechanistic perspective. Most importantly, we are hopeful that such a perspective may provide an increased awareness for managers of their employees’ struggles to ‘‘reclaim the managed heart’’ (Hochschild, 1983, p. 197).

REFERENCES Andersson, L. M., & Pearson, C. M. (1999). Tit for tat? The spiraling effect of incivility in the workplace. Academy of Management Review, 24(3), 452–471. Arvey, R. D., Renz, G. L., & Watson, T. W. (1998). Emotionality and job performance: Implications for personnel selection. In Research in personnel and human resources management (Vol. 16, pp. 103–147). Greenwich, CT: Elsevier Science/JAI Press. Ashforth, B. E., & Humphrey, R. H. (1993). Emotional labor in service roles: The influence of identity. Academy of Management Review, 18(1), 88–115. Balogun, J., & Johnson, G. (2004). Organizational restructuring and middle manager sensemaking. Academy of Management Journal, 47(4), 523–549. Balogun, J., Huff, A. S., & Johnson, P. (2003). Three responses to the methodological challenges of studying strategizing. Journal of Management Studies, 40, 197–225. Barsade, S. G. (2002). The ripple effect: Emotional contagion and its influence on group behavior. Administrative Science Quarterly, 47, 644–675. Beedie, C. J., Terry, P. C., & Lane, A. M. (2005). Distinctions between emotion and mood. Cognition & Emotion, 19(6), 847–878. Boje, D. M. (2008). Storytelling organizations. London: Sage. Boje, D. M., Helmuth, C., & Saylors, R. (2013, in press). Spinning authentic leadership living stories of the self. In D. Ladkin & C. Spiller (Eds.), Reflections on authentic leadership: Concepts, Coalescences, and Clashes. Cheltenham, UK: Edward Elgar. Boje, D. M. & Rosile, G. A. (2011), Restorying the authentic and inauthentic self. Seminar at Benedictine University, Saint Louis, MO. Burgess, R. G. (1984). In the field: An introduction to field research. London: Allen & Unwin. Denzin, N. (1989). The research act: A theoretical introduction to sociological methods. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. Ekman, P. (1992). An argument for basic emotions. Cognition and Emotion, 6, 169–200. Elfenbein, H. A. (2007). Emotions in organizations: A review and theoretical integration (Chapter 7). The Academy of Management Annals, 1, 315–386.



Festinger, L. (1957). A theory of cognitive dissonance. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press. Fineman, S. (1996). Emotion and organizing. In S. R. Clegg, C. Hardy & W. R. Nord (Eds.), Handbook of organization studies (pp. 543–564). London: Sage. Frijda, N. H. (1988). The laws of emotion. American Psychologist, 43(5), 349. Grandey, A. A. (2000). Emotion regulation in the workplace: A new way to conceptualize emotional labor. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 5, 95–110. Gross, J. (1998). The emerging field of emotion regulation: An integrative review. Review of General Psychology, 3, 271–299. Gross, J., & Levenson, R. W. (1997). Hiding feelings: The acute effects of inhibiting negative and positive emotion. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 106, 95–103. Groth, M., & Grandey, A. (2012). From bad to worse negative exchange spirals in employee– customer service interactions. Organizational Psychology Review, 2(3), 208–233. Hareli, S., & Rafaeli, A. (2008). Emotion cycles: On the social influence of emotions in organizations. Research in Organizational Behavior, 28, 35–59. Hersey, R. B. (1932). Rates of production and emotional state. Personnel Journal, 10, 355–364. Hochschild, A. R. (1983). The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Langton, N., Judge, T., & Robbins, S. P. (2011). Fundamentals of organizational behaviour. Pearson Prentice Hall. Latour, B. (2005). Reassembling the social – An introduction to actor-network-theory (316pp.). Foreword by Bruno Latour. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lazarus, R. S. (1991). Progress on a cognitive-motivational relational theory of emotion. American Psychologist, 46, 819–834. Mann, S. (2004). ‘People-work’: Emotion management, stress and coping. British Journal Of Guidance & Counselling, 32(2), 205–221. Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1981). The measurement of experienced burnout. Journal of Occupational Behavior, 2, 99–113. Perlow, L. A. (1997). Finding time: How corporations, individuals and families can benefit from new work practices. Ithaca, NY: ILR Press. Perlow, L. A. (1999). The time famine: Toward a sociology of work time. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44, 57–81. Pugh, S. D. (2001). Service with a smile: Emotional contagion in the service encounter. Academy of Management Journal, 44(5), 1018–1027. Rafaeli, A., & Sutton, R. (1987). Expression of emotion as part of the work role. Academy of Management Review, 12, 23–37. Rafaeli, A., & Sutton, R. I. (1989). The expression of emotion in organizational life. Research in Organizational Behavior, 11, 1–42. Rapson, R. L., Hatfield, E., & Cacioppo, J. T. (1993). Emotional contagion. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. Rosile, G. A., & Boje, D. M. (2002). Restorying and postmodern organizational theater: Consultation to the storytelling organization. In Ron Sims (Ed.), Changing the way we manage change (pp. 271–289). Westport, CT: Quorum Books. Rosile, G. A., Boje, D. M., Carlon, D. M., Downs, A., & Saylors, R. (2013). Storytelling diamond: An antenarrative integration of the six facets of storytelling in organization research design. Organizational Research Methods.

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Russell, J. A. (2003). Core affect and the psychological construction of emotion. Psychological Review, 110(1), 145. Scherer, K. (1984). Emotion as a multicomponent process: A model and some cross-cultural data. In P. Shaver (Ed.), Review of personality and social psychology (Vol. 5, pp. 37–63). Beverley Hills, CA: Sage. Smith, C. A., & Ellsworth, P. C. (1985). Patterns of cognitive appraisal in emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 48, 813–838. Taylor, S. J., & Bogdan, R. (1984). Introduction to qualitative research methods: The search for meaning (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Wiley. Tobey, D. H., & Manning, M. R. (2009). Melting the glacier: Activating neural mechanisms to create rapid large-scale organizational change. In R. W. Woodman, W. A. Pasmore & A. B. Shani (Eds.), Research in organizational change and development (Vol. 17, pp. 175–209). Bingley, UK: Emerald Group Publishing. Van Maanen, J., & Kunda, G. (1989). ‘‘Real feelings’’: Emotional expression and organizational culture. Research in Organizational Behavior, 11, 43–103. White, M., & Epston, D. (Eds.). (1990). Narrative means to therapeutic ends. New York, NY: Norton. Whyte, W. F. E. (1991). Participatory action research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc. Sage. Zimmermann, B. K., Dormann, C., & Dollard, M. F. (2011). On the positive aspects of customers: Customer-initiated support and affective crossover in employee–customer dyads. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 84(1), 31–57.

OCCUPATIONAL STRESS RESEARCH: CONSIDERING THE EMOTIONAL IMPACT FOR THE QUALITATIVE RESEARCHER Angela Mazzetti ABSTRACT Leading occupational stress researchers have highlighted the need for more qualitative research to advance our understanding of occupational stress as a complex and dynamic process. However, qualitative research can be challenging particularly when it involves the exploration of emotive issues such as occupational stress. Although research institutions provide ethical guidelines for the protection and support of research participants, much less emphasis is placed on the impact of such research on the researcher. Yet in qualitative studies of occupational stress, participants often display a range of emotions to a researcher who is expected to be both empathetic and professional in his/her conduct. If qualitative researchers are inadequately prepared for the emotions they may experience in the field and poorly supported through the research process, then they may lose confidence and eschew qualitative research in favor of quantitative work thereby maintaining the status quo in occupational stress research. This chapter draws on both the literature on researcher

The Role of Emotion and Emotion Regulation in Job Stress and Well Being Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Volume 11, 283–310 Copyright r 2013 by Emerald Group Publishing Limited All rights of reproduction in any form reserved ISSN: 1479-3555/doi:10.1108/S1479-3555(2013)0000011014




emotion and the author’s own research experience to explore some of the problems encountered by qualitative researchers, and presents a number of recommendations to support qualitative researchers involved in the study of occupational stress. Keywords: Qualitative research; emotions; occupational stress

Much of the literature on researcher emotion is situated within health and social sciences and is focused on ‘‘sensitive’’ research (see Dickson-Swift, James, & Liamputtong, 2008a for a contemporary review) with limited reference to the issue in management and organization studies (Down, Garrety, & Badham, 2006; Hubbard, Backett-Milburn, & Kemmer, 2001; Munkejord, 2009; Whiteman, Mu¨ller, & Johnson, 2009). Yet qualitative1 researchers involved in the study of ‘‘normal settings’’ (Munkejord, 2009) may trespass into ‘‘sensitive’’ territory (Lee, 1993) and may encounter many situations which evoke emotional reactions (Mohrman, 2010). Lee (1993) notes that the term ‘‘sensitive’’ is often used as if the phrase were selfexplanatory, and yet there are many debates as to what constitutes ‘‘sensitive research’’ (Dickson-Swift et al., 2008a). Often these debates focus too narrowly on either the sensitivity of the research topic or on the ethical implications for research participants (Dickson-Swift et al., 2008a). However, Lee (1993) suggests that in determining what constitutes sensitive research, we need to consider the potential threat involved for all of those taking part in the research, including the researcher. He defines these threats as being intrusive in nature (e.g., the study of private or emotion-laden topics); incriminating (e.g., a study which may expose deviant behaviors); or political (e.g., a study which may expose power imbalances or coercion). Although research institutions provide ethical guidelines for the protection and support of research participants, much less emphasis is placed on the impact of sensitive research on the researcher (Dickson-Swift, James, Kippen, & Liamputtong, 2008b; Kleinman, & Copp, 1993; Malacrida, 2007; Rager, 2005). Yet engaging in sensitive research can pose similar threats for researchers. For example, qualitative research investigating emotionladen topics requires researchers to engage in significant emotion work2 (Hochschild, 1983) to manage their own emotions and their participants’ and yet this emotion work is often overlooked (Dickson-Swift, James, Kippen, & Liamputtong, 2009; Down et al., 2006; Hubbard et al., 2001; Lee, 1993; Rager, 2005). Qualitative researchers often become the ‘‘secret

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keepers’’ as participants open up aspects of their lives which they may not have discussed before (Dickson-Swift, James, Kippen, & Liamputtong, 2007) including ‘‘confessing’’ to deviant behaviors. This places significant responsibility on the researcher and may cause ongoing dilemmas in the reporting and publishing of research data. Researchers may also encounter significant ‘‘political’’ conflicts when they encounter organizational power imbalances which threaten to constrain or manipulate their research (Lee, 1993). Lee (1993) stresses therefore that ‘‘sensitivity’’ is a ‘‘highly contextual matter’’ (Lee, 1993, p. 5). For example, attitudes to what is considered emotion-laden vary across individuals and cultures and what may seem a fairly innocuous topic may become a highly emotive topic because of the situational context in which it is investigated.3 Lee (1993) therefore suggests that we should focus on the conditions under which sensitivity may arise during a research study rather than on the topic per se and this has wider methodological implications for how researchers plan, conduct and publish the results of their research studies. Preparing researchers for the threats they may encounter is significant because if qualitative researchers conducting sensitive research are not adequately prepared for the emotions they may experience in the field or supported through the research process, their experiences may have a negative impact on their emotional or physical well-being (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007, 2008b; Malacrida, 2007; Rager, 2005) or they may lose confidence and be discouraged from engaging with future qualitative studies (Hubbard et al., 2001; Malacrida, 2007; Mohrman, 2010; Rager, 2005). Within the field of occupational stress research, there is a recognized need for more qualitative research to advance our understanding of stress as a complex and dynamic process (Briner, Harris, & Daniels, 2004; Jones & Bright, 2001; Lazarus, 2000, 1999; Wainwright & Calnan, 2002). However, researching this dynamic process can pose a number of challenges for the researcher. Stress defined in transactional terms, focuses research on understanding the individual/environment relationship and on researching stress as a process (Lazarus, 2000, 1999). The stress process involves: an assessment of the personal significance of a situation, encounter, or event (primary appraisal); an assessment of the available resources to cope with the situation (secondary appraisal) and the deployment of cognitive and behavioral efforts to manage and reduce the stress reaction to situations appraised as significant (coping) (Folkman & Lazarus, 1988; Folkman, Lazarus, Dunkel-Schetter, DeLongis, & Gruen, 1986; Lazarus, 1999). An emphasis on appraisal (an individual’s assessment of the significance of an event, an encounter or a situation) distinguishes the transactional approach



to stress from other approaches by focusing attention on capturing the meaning of the stress experience (Lazarus, 1999). This approach emphasizes that stress is not solely an individual factor or solely an environmental factor, but that stress is a process involving both in a changing and adapting relationship (Lazarus, 1999, 1993, 1990). It is the individual who makes sense of the situation as stressful through the recognition that the event is in some way personally significant (Lazarus, 2000, 1999) and has the potential to impact significantly on personal values, aspirations or beliefs, tax available demands and potentially threaten individual well-being (Folkman et al., 1986; Lazarus, 1999). Appraisal is therefore a critical dimension in the stress process and failure to explore its significance, impacts our understanding of the subjective nature of stress (Lazarus, 1999, 2000). Lazarus (1999) suggested that a range of individual and environmental factors influence appraisal. These include an individual’s confidence in his/her abilities, the situational demands and constraints, and the opportunities available to the individual (Lazarus, 1999). Qualitative research studies are crucial to enable us to explore this subjective sense-making and interpret why an encounter has been appraised as stressful (Aldwin, 2007; Briner et al., 2004). However, to capture this sense-making the researcher must engage in ‘‘sensitive’’ discussions with participants. For example, during my research studies, participants have engaged in emotion-laden discussions about stressful work and life events (e.g., ongoing line-manager difficulties, redundancy, the death of a lovedone), personal and situational factors which have impacted their appraisal of these events (e.g., being seriously ill, prolonged exposure to the stressor, too many stressful events in quick succession), and the ways in which they have coped (or not) with the stressors they have encountered (e.g., long-term sickness absence, drinking too much). Participants have displayed a range of emotions and I have engaged in significant and at times prolonged emotion work to be both empathetic and professional in conduct. I have also experienced a significant sense of responsibility at being their ‘‘secret keeper’’ as participants have discussed some very personal and previously concealed episodes in their lives, or have ‘‘confessed’’ to ‘‘inappropriate’’ behaviors. However the sensitivity of conducting stress research and the impact on the researcher are rarely referred to within the occupational stress literature. This chapter aims to address this issue. In the next section, I review the literature on researcher emotion to highlight some of the threats involved for qualitative researchers. I also discuss the wider impact on other members of the team, for example, those involved in transcribing or coding. I then

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present a series of examples from my own research experiences highlighting some of the issues I have encountered in the research of stress appraisal and coping in an organizational context. In the final section, I put forward a series of recommendations to assist research teams in their development of support interventions for qualitative researchers involved in the research of occupational stress and therefore reduce the ‘‘shock impact’’ (Van Maanen, Manning, & Miller, 1993) by better preparing them for the difficulties they may encounter.

EMOTION AND THE RESEARCHER: AN EXPLORATION OF THE LITERATURE The emotional aspect to conducting qualitative research is often omitted from published research accounts (Dickson-Swift et al., 2008b; Kleinman, 1991; Kleinman & Copp, 1993), which has led to a poor discussion of the issue within the academic community (Kleinman, 1991; Wray et al., 2007). There are a number of reasons why this may be the case. First, in an academic culture dominated by professionalism, objectivity, and science (Kleinman, 1991; Kleinman & Copp, 1993) researchers may fear that making reference to their emotions may in some way contaminate their work and lead to questions being asked regarding the rigor and trustworthiness of their research (Carroll, 2012; Dickson-Swift et al., 2009; Kleinman, 1991; Kleinman & Copp, 1993; Lee, 1993). Researchers may therefore suppress displaying their emotions, as to disclose them may lead to disapproval and criticism from colleagues (Kleinman, 1991; Kleinman & Copp, 1993; Wray et al., 2007). Second, there is limited reference made to researcher emotions in the training and guidance we receive (Hubbard et al., 2001; Kleinman & Copp, 1993; Malacrida, 2007). For example, although there are a plethora of qualitative research methods handbooks available, these tend to focus on the techniques for conducting qualitative research rather than the skills required (Cassell, Bishop, Symon, Johnson, & Buehring, 2009, 2005; Shaffir & Stebbins, 1991), or on the ethical implications for participants (Hubbard et al., 2001; Malacrida, 2007). The emotional impact for researchers is often ignored (Hubbard et al., 2001) leaving the new researcher unprepared for the emotions they may encounter (Rager, 2005). When researchers experience emotions they may therefore feel it is not normal and that they are in some way inadequate or incompetent as a researcher if they raise the issue (Carroll, 2012;



Kleinman & Copp, 1993). This also leads to problems in the disclosure of emotion in the written narrative. Within management and organization studies, the emotional impact of conducting qualitative research rarely surfaces in academic writing and therefore there are few role models on which to base our writing (Down et al., 2006; Whiteman et al., 2009). This may lead researchers to write in a sanitized way with those who are willing to integrate their emotions into their writing, experiencing difficulties in translating their emotional encounters into a textual research narrative (Carroll, 2012; Whiteman et al., 2009). In this section I present some of the key themes which have emerged from an exploration of the literature on researcher emotion. These include the emotion work required by researchers to manage both their own emotions and their participants’, the impact that long-term exposure to emotional research can have on researcher well-being, the emotion work required to manage relationship boundaries, and feelings of guilt at having upset, exploited, or misrepresented participants.

Emotion Work A particularly important aspect of qualitative research on emotive topics is to encourage participants to ‘‘open up’’ and share their stories (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007, 2009; Hubbard et al., 2001). Researchers therefore need to be able to develop rapport with their participants and create an environment in which participants will feel relaxed (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007, 2009). To maintain rapport, researchers need to able to demonstrate empathy with their participants and be able to transmit this empathy to their participants (Dickson-Swift et al., 2009). Hochschild (1983) used the term ‘‘bows from the heart’’ to symbolize how individuals exchange overt signs and gestures of how they are feeling when they interact with others. She explained that ‘‘payment’’ is made through facial expressions, tone of voice, and choice of words and that these exchanges are governed by ‘‘feeling rules.’’ Feeling rules are culturally scripted norms and expectations about how we should ‘‘feel’’ in response to a given situation or event and our feeling responses are judged by others as contextually appropriate or inappropriate. Feeling rules can lead to a number of dilemmas for researchers. For example, we may feel such a debt of gratitude to our participants for sharing so much with us that we may overpay our debt leading us to feel the need to self-disclose our own experiences in order to equalize the exchange (Dickson-Swift et al., 2009; Hubbard et al., 2001). Alternatively, we may feel pressure to remain ‘‘professional’’ and therefore not display emotion (Carroll, 2012;

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Hoffmann, 2007; Kleinman, 1991; Kleinman & Copp, 1993; Lee, 1993). Indeed some researchers may force a display of neutrality as a coping mechanism (Dickson-Swift et al., 2009; Hoffmann, 2007), resulting in a mispayment to the participant who perceives us to be cold and detached. Hoffmann (2007) suggests that the solitary nature of qualitative research poses particular problems for researchers in displaying the appropriate feeling rules as they often do not have coworkers’ displays to draw on, or coworkers’ guidance on controlling or altering emotional responses. Qualitative researchers need to be able to present an outward display of interest, understanding and empathy with their participants’ stories (Dickson-Swift et al., 2009; Hubbard et al., 2001), but when being empathetic, it is difficult for researchers not to get drawn into the emotion that their participants may experience (Dickson-Swift et al., 2009). For example, we may experience an intense emotional response when a participant’s story resonates with our own personal story (Agar, 1980; Carroll, 2012; Dickson-Swift et al., 2009; Hubbard et al., 2001; Kleinman & Copp, 1993), stories in which we can substitute ‘‘I’’ (the researcher) for ‘‘he’’ or ‘‘she’’ (the participant) (Agar, 1980). It is important that we acknowledge the reasons why we investigate the areas we research as we may be naturally drawn to research topics to which we feel a personal connection or which resonate with our own lives (Agar, 1980; Dickson-Swift et al., 2009; Loftland & Loftland, 1995; Van Maanen, 2010) However, it is unrealistic to expect that we will always experience positive emotions for our research participants (Kleinman & Copp, 1993; Munkejord, 2009) and at times we may experience ambivalence or even negative feelings for those we research (Down et al., 2006; Kleinman & Copp, 1993; Van Maanen, 1988). When we encounter negative feelings for our participants, we wrestle with conflicting feeling rules of trying to establish rapport and display empathy while suppressing our negative feelings (Down et al., 2006; Van Maanen, 2010; Van Maanen, 1988). This may require ‘‘deep surface acting’’ (Hochschild, 1983) to consciously ‘‘push down’’ negative feelings we are feeling to render them inaccessible to our participants (Carroll, 2012). Kleinman (1991) suggests a number of issues for consideration when we experience negative emotions toward those we research. First, she highlights that we are socialized into a romanticized view that we should love our research and feel empathy for our participants and therefore if we fail to establish rapport for our participants, we may feel incompetent as a researcher. These negative feelings regarding our abilities may have long-term consequences for our continued engagement in qualitative research. Second, she suggests we may become less enthusiastic



about our research and avoid engaging with our participants because they make us feel bad. Third, this may prevent us from asking probing or indepth questions which ultimately results in us failing to make sense of the phenomena we set out to explore. The continuous self-management and suppression of emotions in order to remain professional in the field, means that researchers have to ‘‘hold on’’ to their emotions until it is safe to release them (Dickson-Swift et al., 2009). Prolonged exposure to emotionally intense experiences can result in researchers suffering from emotional and physical exhaustion (DicksonSwift et al., 2007, 2009; Wray, Markovic, & Manderson, 2007). Researchers may also start to experience physical responses such as headaches, nightmares, insomnia, and gastrointestinal problems (Dickson-Swift et al., 2008b; Dunn, 1991; Wray et al., 2007) and multisensory memories (sights, sounds, and smells) may become embedded in the subconscious and lived out in dreams and nightmares (Wray et al., 2007). In some cases researchers may start to develop the physical symptoms of those they study (Kleinman & Copp, 1993; Malacrida, 2007) or vicariously, the emotional trauma of those being studied (Rager, 2005; Stamm, 1995). Alternatively, repeated exposure to emotional responses may have an inoculation effect resulting in the researcher becoming immune to difficult stories (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007) and therefore emotionally detached from their participants and estranged from experiencing genuine feelings of empathy (Carroll, 2012).

Boundary Management Dickson-Swift et al. (2007) suggest that in addition to the emotion work required to create and maintain an environment conducive to participants sharing their stories, researchers also engage in significant emotion work to manage relationship boundaries. They explain that participants often share very private aspects of their lives which they may not have previously discussed and that this can ‘‘open up a can of worms’’ for researchers. Having invested in developing rapport with their participants, researchers may be vulnerable to crossing the boundary from ‘‘researcher’’ to ‘‘friend.’’ For example, we may feel uneasy at ‘‘ending’’ our relationship with our participant and this may particularly be a risk for researchers who are engaging in longitudinal research studies which require repeated encounters with the same participants (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007). We may also encounter situations when our participants become upset and we may feel the need to reach out and touch them, again blurring the boundary


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between ‘‘researcher’’ and ‘‘friend’’ (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007). For the participant, taking part in qualitative research is often an extremely therapeutic and cathartic experience and this may alter our participants’ expectations as to the purpose of the research which may result in participants blurring the boundaries between ‘‘researcher’’ and ‘‘therapist’’ (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007). In the field of organization and management studies, qualitative researchers may encounter additional boundary management issues. To conduct research in an organizational setting, researchers have to negotiate access and gain permission from senior organizational managers. This may lead to power imbalances between a researcher and the research organization (Bell & Bryman, 2007). To gain access researchers need to offer something in exchange and this may situate a researcher in a weaker bargaining position and the organization in a stronger position of being able to set boundaries to the research and expectations regarding the output (Bell & Bryman, 2007). This may lead to difficulties with how researchers are perceived by participants who may feel suspicious of why the research study has been approved and also threatened by a researcher who asks questions and takes notes with the permission of their management (Crang & Cook, 2007; Lee, 1993). For example, in his study of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Brewer (2004) suggests that gaining permission for the research from the chief constable led to retrenchment in the lower ranks as they were suspicious as to why management had agreed to the research. Researchers will not be liked by everyone (Brewer, 2004; Crang & Cook, 2007) and researchers who spend extended time in the field interacting with participants may experience feelings of ‘‘discomfort, feeling out of place, like a spy or parasite’’ (Down et al., 2006, p. 95).

Feeling Guilty Researchers may also experience feelings of guilt throughout the research process (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007) which can arise because of worries about the negative impact on participants (Bar-On, 1996; Dickson-Swift et al., 2007; Kleinman & Copp, 1993) or worries that participants have been exploited for researcher gain (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007, 2008b; Loftland & Loftland, 1995). The emergent nature of qualitative research means we have little control over the stories people may tell us and no matter how much we prepare, we can never be fully prepared for what we may encounter (Cassell, 2009; Dickson-Swift et al., 2007). The open-ended and unstructured nature



of qualitative research means participants can shape the direction of the conversation and researchers may find themselves discussing topics they had not anticipated (Cassell, 2009; Hoffmann, 2007; Hubbard et al., 2001). Furthermore, the exploratory nature of qualitative research means we are entering the lives of our participants and actively engaging their responses on difficult and sensitive issues (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007, 2008b). For participants this process can be therapeutic and cathartic as it offers them the opportunity to tell their stories and their secrets to someone who is willing to listen (Bar-On, 1996; Dickson-Swift et al., 2007, 2008b; Rager, 2005). However, researchers may feel guilt at having upset participants by encouraging them to open up (Bar-On, 1996) and worry that the impact of the encounter may have lasting impact (Murphy & Dingwall, 2007). Increased self-awareness is not always a good thing for participants (Murphy & Dingwall, 2007) and we need to be sensitive to the fact that we have entered our participants’ worlds (Waddington, 2004) and although we can leave the field having captured our data, we leave our participants behind (Waddington, 2004) potentially in ‘‘bits’’ (Broussine, 2008). We carry a tremendous sense of responsibility as a researcher and knowing we have caused pain or made someone cry goes against our view of ourselves as being good people (Kleinman & Copp, 1993). However, King (2004) emphasizes that when someone becomes upset, it is not necessarily due to insensitivity on the part of the researcher. He suggests that in such situations to stop the interview would be disrespectful to the participant and instead that researchers should remain patient and foster an environment in which participants can answer in their own time or if participants are very upset, to reassure them that it is ok to move on and come back to the matter later if they wish. During this process King (2004) highlights the need for researchers to be aware of their own nonverbal displays (e.g., looking at the clock, or fidgeting which may indicate that they are getting impatient) to ensure they are not disrespectful to participants. We may also experience feelings of guilt that we are exploiting our participants (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007). As qualitative researchers we choose qualitative research methods with the objective of getting rich data, yet in the research of sensitive topics, this rich data can mean discussing and ‘‘opening up’’ the misfortunes of others (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007, 2008b; Kleinman & Copp, 1993). We may experience an ‘‘ethical hangover’’ (Loftland & Loftland, 1995) feeling elated that we have uncovered such rich data and at the same time guilty because to capture the data we have had to encourage our participants to bare their souls (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007; Loftland & Loftland, 1995). For example, when discussing his five month

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study as participant-as-observer exploring the feelings and experiences of workers on strike during the 1981 Ansells brewery strike, Waddington (2004) discuses his recurring feelings of guilt that he was one of the few to benefit from the strike, leaving with something tangible in the form of research data while his participants lost their jobs. We are also presented with these dilemmas when interpreting the data we have collected (Murphy & Dingwall, 2007). As researchers we have been allowed to temporarily enter our participants’ lives and in doing so, we achieve a privileged position. We may therefore judge that to tell others about their (our participants) lives, is a betrayal (Agar, 1980). This can lead to further feelings of guilt regarding what we should or should not publish (Agar, 1980; Bar-On, 1996; Josselson, 1996). A researcher’s version of the ‘‘truth’’ may be very different to that of the participants and may therefore rob them of their ‘‘voice’’ (Josselson, 1996). When we enter a research setting we neglect to explain to our participants how we may reframe their version of ‘‘reality’’ (Murphy & Dingwall, 2007) and in some cases, participants may share information which could be misinterpreted by others and therefore damaging to their image (Hartley, 2004; Murphy & Dingwall, 2007)

Considering the Wider Research Team Finally it is not just the emotional impact on the researcher which needs to be considered, we also need to ameliorate the negative impact on support personnel who may be emotionally affected by the research (Dickson-Swift et al., 2008b; Malacrida, 2007; Rager, 2005). For example, transcriptionists who are transcribing data from sensitive or emotional interviews may also be emotionally affected through the repeated listening and absorption of the data (Dickson-Swift et al., 2008b; Malacrida, 2007; Rager, 2005; Wray et al., 2007). Dickson-Swift et al. (2008b) suggest that transcribing data may have even more of an emotional impact when it is the original researcher who is also transcribing as this means repeated reliving of the original emotional experience. Woodby, Williams, Wittich, and Burgio (2011) also highlight the emotional impact of the coding process which involves the repeated reading of the transcripts and the repeated reviewing of the participant’s and researcher’s voices which results in an ongoing attachment to the experience. They explain that during the ‘‘physical’’ interview the researcher maintains composure and behaves professionally, however, when the participant is not present there is no need for emotion work and



therefore we are more vulnerable to distress and feelings of hopelessness (because we can no longer reach out to comfort the participant), and guilt (if we feel we failed to alleviate a participant’s distress).

RESEARCHING STRESS APPRAISAL AND COPING: EXAMPLES FROM A RESEARCHER’S DIARY A number of key themes emerged from reviewing the literature on researcher emotion. First, conducting research in ‘‘sensitive’’ territory requires us to engage in significant emotion work as we create an atmosphere conducive to open discussion, demonstrate empathy with our participants and remain professional in our conduct and emotional response. Second, we may experience difficulties in maintaining relationship boundaries with our participants and at times we may trespass into the role of counselor or friend. Within organization and management studies we may also find ourselves caught-up in organizational power struggles and inadvertently trespassing into the role of management ‘‘spy.’’ Third, we may experience feelings of guilt at having upset or exploited our participants and this ‘‘ethical hangover’’ may persist into our data presentation and publishing. In this next section I present seven examples taken from my research diaries to highlight how these key themes emerge when researching stress appraisal and coping. My intention is not to engage in self-indulgent introspection (Van Maanen et al., 1993) but to be open and reflexive about the emotional impact of researching stress appraisal and coping in order to highlight the potential threats of engaging in qualitative research in this field. The first three vignettes focus on emotion work and I have selected these examples to specifically highlight different aspects of emotion work. The first vignette illustrates the impact that failing to establish rapport with a research participant has on the success of a qualitative research interview. The second illustrates how we can experience personal resonance in a multisensory way and the third illustrates the emotion work required when dealing with hostile research participants. I then present a further two vignettes which focus on boundary management conflicts. The first illustrates a ‘‘researcher as counselor’’ conflict and the second a ‘‘researcher as management consultant’’ conflict. My final two vignettes focus on feelings of guilt and ethical dilemmas. The first vignette highlights the worries we may experience when we feel we have upset our participants or that we may be responsible for causing long-term damage to our


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participants. The second vignette demonstrates the ethical hangover we may experience when we come to publish our work.

Emotion Work Vignette 1: Failing to Establish Rapport The following vignette highlights the impact that failing to make that emotional connection with a research participant has on the successful outcome of a research interview. On the run up to this one-to-one interview I had developed flu symptoms and on the day of the interview was feeling very ill. Today was a disaster! I wish I had gone with my gut instinct and cancelled it. I sat in the train station shivering, feeling like death just wanting to go home and go to bed. But these meetings are hard to arrange and these managers in particular have been proving elusive to catch. I could not risk losing this key informant. However, I was so ill that I feel this had a negative impact on the meeting. This had an impact on my personality and I feel this came across. We did not gel during our meeting. The notes I took were scant. Less than a page! Was I not picking up on what he was saying? Was I not attuned to asking the right questions? I have another interview planned for this week. I need to cancel it. I cannot go through another meeting like this.

This example exemplifies the pressures we encounter as researchers in gaining access to conduct our research (Brewer, 2004; Crang & Cook, 2007; Hammersley & Atkinson, 2007). I was anxious about cancelling the interview and potentially not being able to rearrange and therefore losing this ‘‘precious’’ participant, but also anxious about going ahead with the interview knowing that I was ill. I decided to go ahead although on reflection this was the wrong decision as I considered the interview had been a failure (Nairn, Munro, & Smith, 2005). I perceived the interview to be a failure because I could not engage in the necessary emotion work to develop rapport with my participant (Dickson-Swift et al., 2009). All of my efforts were going into trying to convince myself that I was well enough to conduct this interview and therefore there were no remaining reserves to support the required emotion work. As a result, I failed to display the appropriate feeling rules (Hochschild, 1983) and on reflection, perhaps my participant considered that I was indifferent to his story which prevented him from opening up during our meeting (Hoffmann, 2007). The sanitized nature of the interview was also reflected in my notes from the meeting which were scant and superficial. I had failed to interpret what he was saying and I had not been attuned to asking the right questions.



This example also highlights a number of issues for consideration in how researchers engaging in qualitative research are supported. Using a reflexive research diary provided me with an outlet for the release of my emotions (Kleinman & Copp, 1993; Malacrida, 2007; Nadin & Cassell, 2006) and I would frequently use very expressive and emotive language in recounting my experiences. Second, as a mature researcher, I was able to take this knockback ‘‘on the chin’’ whereas a less experienced researcher may have been less resilient (Rager, 2005). Third, none of the research guidance or training I had received had ever discussed ‘‘what to do if you are unwell.’’ Sometimes research is a purely practical matter (Hammersley & Atkinson, 2007). Surely, I cannot have been the first researcher to fall ill during research? And yet reflecting on this experience, this purely practical matter had a significant impact on my being able to engage in the emotion work necessary to establish rapport and demonstrate empathy with my participant (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007). Vignette 2: Personal Resonance It is not just the spoken word that resonates with our personal experiences evoking strong emotions, the experience can be a multisensory experience. For example, during my three year ethnographic study with firefighters I had not anticipated the personal impact of sounds, smells, and images as these experiences triggered deeply embedded memories of sights, sounds and smells I had experienced as a child growing up in Northern Ireland during the ‘‘Troubles.’’4 For example, in my research diary I made repeated references to the smell of smoke. For example, The smell of the smoke brought back those memories of home, of walking down town after an incendiary attack and smelling the rancid, bitter smoke which hung in the air for days. I wondered if firefighters got used to this smell or if the smell continues to sicken them after the fire. Each time they encounter the smell do images and memories of past fires come flooding back into their consciousness?

This example not only highlights the multisensory impact of research (Wray et al., 2007) but also how being attuned to our ‘‘emotional radar’’ (Whiteman et al., 2009) can lead us to investigate and explore issues in more depth which may have a direct impact for addressing theoretical issues (Whiteman et al., 2009). One of the key findings from this ethnographic study with firefighters was how they appraise in a multisensory way. If I had not experienced emotion as a result of the smells and sounds I encountered, I may not have pursued this line of enquiry with the firefighters and this essential aspect of their appraisal would have remained unexplored.

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By using my emotions I had formed an attachment that increased my understanding (Kleinman & Copp, 1993) and this attachment was formed through empathy with my participants (Munkejord, 2009). Vignette 3: Dealing with Hostility Researchers are not always welcome in organizations (Brewer, 2004; Crang & Cook, 2007; Van Maanen, 1988) and in research studies in which senior managers have granted access, participants may be suspicious of the intentions of the researcher (Brewer, 2004; Crang & Cook, 2007). In this next example taken from my research diary, I reflect on a focus group interview in which I had to engage in significant emotion work to remain ‘‘professional’’ despite dealing with a hostile group of participants. He commented ‘‘You can take all the notes you like but I am not going to let you out of here with them.’’ At first I considered his remark to be tongue-in-cheek but as our interview progressed his hostility towards me became more evident through his language, his tone and his mannerisms. He also had a silencing impact on the rest of the group. Only the new (and perhaps naive) one engaged with me. I actually started to consider if I would be leaving with my notes. So I put my note book down and I just listened. I had no option but to just sit there and take it.

This experience was extremely uncomfortable and highlighted the power my participants held over my research by withholding both their emotion and their dialogue. I was frustrated with myself because I could not engage them and I felt very out of place (Down et al., 2006) in this hostile environment. But I was also frustrated because I was powerless in this environment. During my time as a manager I had dealt with much more hostile situations but in those situations, I held the power. In this situation I did not and therefore all I could do was ‘‘to sit there and take it.’’ This example also highlights the importance of experience. As a mature researcher (and an experienced manager) I had my experience to draw on. A less experienced researcher may have ‘‘panicked’’ in this situation having no previous experiences to relate to. However, this example also demonstrates how our ‘‘grievances’’ (Van Maanen, 2010) can drive our research. What was lost in this interview in terms of discussion was compensated by this glimpse into their culture (Hammersley & Atkinson, 2007). In the context of an organization going through significant change this experience exemplified their growing suspicions of their management’s policies (Brewer, 2004) and in this encounter they associated me with their management. This enabled me to pursue the reasons for their suspicions and disconnect in greater depth in both the literature and in subsequent focus group interviews.



Boundary Management Vignette 4: Researcher as Counselor During a one-to-one interview, I experienced a significant boundary management dilemma. During this interview, the participant disclosed a number of traumatic experiences and at the disclosure of one specific incident, the participant started to cry. I felt such a tremendous sense of responsibility and anxiety that I had caused my participant to cry (Kleinman & Copp, 1993). I also felt quite unsure how to handle the situation. I had never knowingly made anyone cry before in a research interview and all sorts of questions were rushing through my head (Should I stop the interview? Should I reach out and comfort them?). As the interview progressed, the participant started to talk about a negative relationship at work which had resulted in a period of sickness absence. I could hear myself starting to engage in a conversation about how to manage these difficulties. My researcher voice was shouting ‘‘NO!’’ but my ‘‘counselor’’ voice was demanding ‘‘YES!’’ Reflecting on this experience, this participant had offered me so much open disclosure that I felt that there was an unfair exchange and the least I could do was to offer some comfort and advice (Hubbard et al., 2001). However, this encounter continued to worry me as I felt I had crossed the boundary between researcher and counselor and in doing so had acted unprofessionally (Dickson-Swift et al., 2008b). Vignette 5: Researcher as Management Consultant During an ethnographic study with the fire and rescue service I encountered a recurring disconnect in ideologies between firefighters and their managers. During a focus group meeting with firefighters, their attention turned to me and they asked me how I would improve things in their organization. This presented me with a dilemma on how to respond. They were fully aware of my management background and also that I had been working with the organization for some time and was therefore familiar with their systems and culture. However they did not appreciate that I was able to see the issues from multiple perspectives, as both ‘‘sides’’ had told me their version of reality. I had to remain noncommittal. To take the side of their managers could have further widened the gap in ideologies and damaged any further participation from other firefighters (Down et al., 2006; Brewer, 2004; Hoffmann, 2007; Hubbard et al., 2001). However to acknowledge that improvements should be made by their management would have given the firefighters’ claims legitimacy (Hoffmann, 2007; Hubbard et al., 2001) and therefore I would be taking their side against the management team who had granted me the access to conduct my research.


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Ethical Dilemmas Vignette 6: The Opening of a Can of Worms The following vignette taken from my research diary highlights a number of issues about the impact of long-term exposure to emotional encounters. At the end of our meeting, they (a group of firefighters) asked me about the stressors in my job and an argument between them on tuition fees5 ensued. One of them jokingly made the comment, ‘‘See what you have started!’’ and then another piped in, ‘‘We were ok before you came and now we are all stressed!’’ Although said in jest, this seemingly insignificant comment had a real impact on me. During the meeting they shared some very graphic incidents with me to highlight the nature of their work. They talked about these incidents at length and I worried that in so doing, I had evoked painful memories. What if one of them gets upset by the things we discussed? I did not encourage this open discussion of vivid traumatic experiences but they had offered them. I now know why self-report questionnaires are so prominent in stress research. No need to engage in difficult discussions and examples of personal and group stress. No need to ride out the silences, remain non-committal to the conflict in ideologies, to manage so many ideas and voices being expressed at the same time.

This example highlights a number of significant issues. First, I was becoming increasingly anxious about the impact my research might have on my participants (Broussine, 2008; Murphy & Dingwall, 2007) and I frequently reflected on this issue in my research diary. Second, it was not just the impact on my participants that concerned me. It was also the impact on me. This was one of my final interviews after a three year study with the fire and rescue service and I was becoming more sensitized to the incidents they shared with me. This was exemplified in the manner in which I had started to record these incidents in my fieldnotes. I was no longer providing detailed notes on the specifics of the incidents they shared with me as I had previously done, as this involved a reliving of the experience in writing the notes and multiple reliving of the experience on reading and coding the notes (Woodby et al., 2011). I had instead opted for limiting the vivid detail and I would simply write metaphors such as ‘‘The Blazer’’ (an incident in which someone had set themselves alight), ‘‘The Impaled’’ (an incident in which someone had been impaled on iron railings). Third, this encounter also exposes my weariness as a qualitative researcher and for the first time my consideration of alternative research methods (in this example, the selfcompletion questionnaire). This highlights the need to provide ongoing support for even experienced researchers to ensure they do not ‘‘throw in the towel’’ (Loftland & Loftland, 1995) but continue to make a contribution to our understanding of the social world in which we live (Kleinman & Copp, 1993).



Vignette 7: The Ethical Hangover At times I would feel an immense sense of burden at holding in all of the secrets my participants had disclosed. I felt I could not talk to others about their stories. I had promised them confidentiality and they would have that. I felt that by telling others I would be betraying the trust they had placed in me. Therefore, I held onto their secrets and told no one, not my director of studies, not my husband, not even the cat! Their secrets would stay with me. After a particularly emotional series of research interviews, I expressed in my research diary my concerns about how I would present the data I had captured. How could I reproduce some of the things they told me? That they had been so low they had contemplated suicide, that they had been on antidepressants for years, that they were having a secret affair, or that they drank themselves silly most nights to escape the pain? Yet by not reproducing their stories am I letting them down? They shared the information with me openly in an overt research setting with me clearly wearing the badge of ‘‘researcher’’ and them ‘‘participant.’’

Taking on the role of ‘‘secret keeper’’ can be an emotionally draining experience and therefore consideration needs to given to how this emotion can be released. My research diary provided a therapeutic outlet but there may also be a need for more formalized support systems, for example, the allocation of a research ‘‘buddy’’ with whom one can discuss ‘‘the secrets,’’ or the provision of professional support such as access to a counselor. This example also demonstrates a practical issue regarding the timing and frequency of research interviews and the need to consider building ‘‘recovery time’’ (Wray et al., 2007) into research plans. Finally, this example illustrates how the ‘‘ethical hangover’’ (Loftland & Loftland, 1995) can persist after fieldwork. I was concerned about how I would translate these ‘‘secrets’’ into published work without betraying my participants. This highlights the need for ongoing support for the entire lifecycle of a research study beyond the fieldwork stage.

A SUPPORT FRAMEWORK FOR QUALITATIVE RESEARCHERS In this final section, I present a support framework to assist research teams who engage in the qualitative exploration of stress appraisal and coping. The framework which draws on best practice as expressed in the literature and my own research experience as a qualitative occupational stress

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researcher, aims to address each stage of the research process, and consider the needs and obligations of all of the stakeholders involved. Although research institutions provide ethical guidelines for the protection and support of research participants, much less emphasis is placed on the impact on the researcher (Dickson-Swift et al., 2008b; Kleinman & Copp, 1993; Malacrida, 2007; Rager, 2005). In acknowledging that sensitive research is an emotional experience and that there is the potential for long term psychological and physical impact, we need to ‘‘create a space’’ (DicksonSwift et al., 2008b) for the open discussion of the inherent risks for those who engage in qualitative research on emotive issues. I therefore suggest that as part of the ethical clearance process for a research study, research institutions should conduct a formalized risk assessment to assess the potential threats to the research team. The output from this process should include a documented action plan and an individualized support plan for each member of the research team. This process should be initiated by the nominated director/supervisor for the research study and involve a full discussion with the research team. This process is now discussed in more detail and an example of a risk assessment action plan and an individualized support plan are presented in Tables 1 and 2.

Formalized Risk Assessment The research team should first consider the potential for threat based on the research topic and setting. Adopting Lee’s (1993) categories of assessment of potential threat, the team can assess if the study is intrusive in nature (e.g., the study will involve an exploration of private issues or emotion-laden topics); incriminating in nature (e.g., the study may expose deviant behaviors); or political in nature (e.g., the research setting or context may pose a threat). In defining occupational stress research as sensitive research, I suggest that qualitative studies will always involve some element of intrusive threat. However, both the topic and the setting need to be considered in this assessment as the setting may increase the potential threats. For example, studying occupational stress in the context of an emergency services setting increased my exposure to discussions of trauma, an issue I had not encountered in other research settings. There also needs to be an assessment of the risks involved for each member of the research team, including those who will be responsible for transcribing and coding. The team should consider the experience of each member and any prior training they may have received. This will enable an

Data presentation and publication How will the data be presented? Where will the research be published? What are the potential threats to the research team and the institution?

Research methods What research methods will be used? Do the methods pose risks? What will be the frequency of research encounters? Will researchers, coders or transcribers be working alone or in teams?

Research team Who will make up the research team? What is their role in the research study and what is their exposure to risk? What level of training have they had? What is their level of experience?

Research topic and setting Does the research pose intrusive threats? Does the research pose incriminating threats? Does the research pose political threats?

Issues for discussion

Research study director/supervisor:

Research study timescales:

Research study title:

Risk Assessment Template.

Actions required Responsibility for action Timescales for action Review comments

Table 1.


Formalized debriefing

Professional counselor

Research ‘‘buddy’’

Reflective writing

Boundary management

Emotion work

Introduction to emotion and research

Basic counseling skills training

Psychoanalyst’s interview


Research study director/supervisor:

Research study timescales:

Research study title:

Research role:




Individualized Support Plan.

Required YES/NO

Table 2.

Date Completed


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individualized training and support plan to be completed for each member of the team. The issues of ongoing support and training are discussed in more detail below and an example of an individualized support plan is presented in Table 2. The research team should also assess the proposed research methods. This process should include the consideration of practical planning issues to reduce the potential risk of emotional and physical exhaustion associated with intense periods of emotion work (Dickson-Swift et al., 2007). For example, Dickson-Swift et al. (2009) suggest allocating sufficient time in between emotionally intense face-to-face interviews to facilitate researcher debriefing and recovery. However, Wray et al. (2007) highlight the difficulties in scheduling recovery time when conducting concentrated participant observation. They also highlight the added problems for recovery time owing to the multisensory impact of such concentrated research as memories of sounds and smells can become embedded in the subconsciousness of the researcher and which can resurface in nightmares and dreams giving no respite for the researchers. Although this chapter focuses on qualitative research, there may also be risks involved for quantitative studies. For example, Porath & Erez’s (2007, 2009) laboratory studies of the impact of rudeness on performance, involved researchers acting as both ‘‘victims’’ (receiving emotional mistreatment from experimenters) and ‘‘perpetrators’’ (inflicting emotional mistreatment on participants). In both of these cases researchers may have been exposed to strong emotions making the assessment of risk equally as important for a quantitative study because of the research methods employed. Finally, the risk assessment should consider the potential for risk when the research data is presented and published and any ongoing support and training that the research team may need in the final stages of the research study. Although the risk assessment should be conducted prior to the commencement of the research study, there also needs to be an acknowledgement that the process cannot anticipate every risk or anticipate circumstances under which the context of the research or the research team may change. The team should therefore agree to review the assessment at regular intervals as the research study progresses. A suggested template for the risk assessment action plan is presented in Table 1.

Training and Development The guidance we receive as researchers tends to focus on technique (Cassell et al., 2009) rather than the emotional impact of conducting research


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(Shaffir & Stebbins, 1991). I therefore propose a comprehensive training package which should acknowledge the prior training and experience of each member of the research team. For example, Agar (1980) suggests that new researchers should receive a ‘‘psychoanalyst’’ interview. He suggests that an experienced researcher should take on the role of psychoanalyst to interview the novice researcher to investigate why they have chosen to research in their chosen field. Agar (1980) suggests that this will expose any potential conflicts or risks which the researcher may experience in the field. New researchers would also benefit from a formalized training package which introduces them to the context of researcher emotions, emotion work and boundary management issues. Drawing on the guidelines for other professions who engage in emotive work, I suggest that role-play offers the opportunity for a wide range of skills to be practiced (Cassell et al., 2009). Role-play enables emotions to be encountered, expressed, and reflected upon in a ‘‘safe’’ environment (Agar, 1980). Finally, there is much debate regarding the need for basic counseling skills training for researchers involved in sensitive research (see Dickson-Swift et al., 2008a for a comprehensive discussion). However, I would propose that in the research of stress appraisal and coping, basic counseling training would both equip researchers with the skills to deal with face-to-face displays of emotion and also the knowledge to deal with difficulties in relationship boundaries to ensure that they do not inadvertently trespass into the role of counselor (Dickson-Swift et al., 2008a).

Ongoing Support Researchers emphasize the importance of having others with whom to ‘‘ventilate’’ their emotional experiences (Bar-On, 1996) either informally with family and friends (Rager, 2005), more formally through debriefing with other researchers (Dickson-Swift et al., 2008b; Hubbard et al., 2001; Wray et al., 2007), or through the use of professional debriefing with a counselor (Dickson-Swift et al., 2008b; Rager, 2005; Wray et al., 2007). I therefore propose a balance of informal and more formalized debriefing including the allocation of an experienced research ‘‘buddy’’ to provide informal and ad hoc support, formalized team debriefing sessions, and the provision of professional support in the form of a counselor. Research institutions therefore have an obligation to provide the necessary resources to enable this support to be accessed and each member of the research team has an obligation to access these support interventions when they are required.



A number of researchers suggest the use of reflective/reflexive journaling as a vital support mechanism during a research project (Dickson-Swift et al., 2009; Hubbard et al., 2001; Kleinman, 1991; Kleinman & Copp, 1993; Malacrida, 2007; Nadin & Cassell, 2006; Rager, 2005). Malacrida (2007) suggests that the use of self-reflective journaling enables those involved in emotional research to freely and openly reflect on the difficulties and emotions they are experiencing. Kleinman (1991) further suggests that researchers should write in a reflective manner taking on the persona of another researcher who is observing the encounter, for example, questioning ourselves as to what we said, how we felt, and why. By writing in this way, she suggests that we can gain a deeper understanding of the experience and our emotional responses. Rager (2005) highlights an additional benefit to reflective journaling and describes how that the use of a journal enabled her to acknowledge the impact of her research on her health. In her journal she captured the real and psychosomatic symptoms and the compassion stress she was experiencing. She suggests that an awareness of any changes in our psychological and physical health would give both researchers and research teams an early indication of when additional support and self-care mechanisms may be necessary. I therefore propose that researchers engaging in appraisal and coping research should be encouraged to maintain a reflective research diary to record their experiences and to take recourse to support interventions in a timely manner. This may also be advisable for those involved in transcribing and coding research data.

CONCLUSION There is a recognized need for more qualitative research to advance our understanding of stress appraisal and coping. However, conducting research on such an emotive topic is demanding for both participants and researchers and while we consider and mitigate the risks for our participants, the emotional impact to the researcher is rarely discussed. During my time researching stress appraisal and coping I have encountered a range of emotions, at times intense and prolonged, and at times unpleasant. However, this is part of the job (Hochschild, 1983) of being a qualitative researcher and so therefore we need to acknowledge and prepare for this aspect of our work. Therefore, it is important that research teams put in place early and ongoing interventions to support researchers and prevent them from ‘‘throwing in the towel’’ (Loftland & Loftland, 1995).


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NOTES 1. Although the focus of this chapter is qualitative studies, some of the issues discussed may also be relevant to quantitative studies which involve an interaction between research participant and researcher, for example, in laboratory studies. This point is further developed in the final section of this chapter. 2. Hochschild (1983) used the term emotional labor to refer to the management of feeling sold for a wage and the synonymous term emotion work to refer to the same act done in a private context. I have used the term emotion work rather than the term emotion labor as the research that we do is not necessarily work done for wage. 3. Lee (1993) illustrates this point citing the work of Brewer (1991) whose study of routine policing (an apparently innocuous topic) was highly ‘‘sensitive’’ as a result of the violent social conflict in Northern Ireland at the time of the study. 4. The ‘‘Troubles’’ started in Northern Ireland in 1969 and lasted until the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 (Muldoon, 2004) during which time over 3,700 people were killed and over 40,000 were injured (Davidson, 2010). 5. At the time of this research project, universities in England were raising their tuition fees and this fee increase would have a direct impact on these firefighters as they had children of university age.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS David M. Boje is a distinguished Achievement University professor and Bill Daniels Ethics Fellow in the Management Department at New Mexico State University. He was awarded an honorary doctorate from Aalborg University, Denmark in 2011 for his contributions to quantum storytelling. He also initiated a research stream on his ‘‘antenarrative’’ approach to story scholarship. He does keynote conference presentations and university seminars around the world on storytelling and is founder and president of standing conference for management and organizational inquiry ( and founder and past editor, Tamara Journal. Most recently, he has initiated a new annual international conference on quantum storytelling, entering its third year in 2013. He is also an amateur blacksmith artist. Carrie A. Bulger is a professor and chair of the Department of Psychology and professor in the Department of Medical Studies at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut where she teaches courses in industrial/ organizational (I/O) psychology and occupational health psychology. She has a doctorate in I/O psychology from the University of Connecticut. Her research interests focus broadly on employee stress, health, and well-being, as well as on employee attitudes. Most recently, she has focused on the ways technologies like e-mail are impacting the boundaries around and between work and home and how the potential for blurry boundaries impacts work/ personal life balance for employees. Her work has been presented at various national and international conferences and has been published in journals such as the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Journal of Vocational Psychology, and Sex Roles. She is a charter member of the Society for Occupational Health Psychology. Melissa L. Cast is a Ph.D. student at New Mexico State University. Her interests broadly include the micro application of organizational behavior and human resources topics to contexts unexplored in the management literature. In particular, she is interested in the collaboration of private sector nonprofits and public sector government entities and the resulting 311



implications for employees, volunteers, and management involved in such collaborations. Most recently, she has completed work considering emotion in the workplace and counterintuitive emotion-workplace outcomes. She was recognized for ‘‘outstanding research’’ in August 2012 by the New Mexico State University Management Department. Chu-Hsiang (Daisy) Chang is an associate professor at the Department of Psychology of Michigan State University. Prior to joining Michigan State, she was a faculty member at the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health of University of South Florida, and Department of Psychology of Roosevelt University. She received her Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Akron in 2005. Her research interests focus on occupational health and safety, leadership, and motivation. Specifically, she studies issues related to occupational stress, workplace violence, and how employee motivation and organizational leadership intersect with issues concerning employee health and well-being. Her work has been published in Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Psychological Bulletin, and Work & Stress. Amber K. Hargrove is an industrial/organizational (IO) psychology graduate student at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. She earned her BS in psychology from George Mason University in 2012. Her primary research interests include workplace well-being interventions, retirement adjustment and positive aging, and team communication patterns in crisis-like scenarios. Other research interests include employee emotion, resilience, proactive behavior, and individual motivations in the workplace. P. D. Harms received his Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2008. He is currently an assistant professor of Management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His research focuses on the assessment and development of personality, leadership, and psychological well-being. His research has appeared in such outlets as Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, Leadership Quarterly, Human Resource Management Review, Psychology and Health, and the Journal of Organizational Behavior as well as popular media outlets such as CNN, Scientific American, and the BBC. He has been invited to speak to audiences around the world and was selected by the

About the Authors


St. Gallen symposium as one of the ‘‘100 Knowledge Leaders of Tomorrow’’ in 2011. More recently, he has served as the primary investigator for the program evaluation of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, a resilience-development initiative of the US army. Renae M. Hayward recently completed her doctoral studies in which the emotional boundary framework was developed. While completing her clinical training she conducts her research through the University of South Australia’s Centre for Applied Psychological Research. She has lectured and coordinated courses in organizational psychology and professional development for counselling and psychology and has worked as a human resource consultant specializing in work related injury. She works with fire and emergency service workers promoting stress prevention and management and providing crisis intervention support. Her research interests lie in the areas of work stress, emotional and traumatic stress, and health and well-being at work. She is a reviewer for the International Journal of Stress Management and International Journal of Management Reviews. Her research has so far been published in Applied Psychology: An International Review and Human Relations. Mitchel N. Herian is a faculty fellow with the University of Nebraska Public Policy Center and a researcher with Personnel Development and Hiring, LLC. He currently provides research support for the US army’s Comprehensive and Soldier and Family Fitness Program. His work has been sponsored by the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Justice, the US Department of the Army, and a variety of state and local agencies. His work has appeared in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, Psychology, Public Policy, and the Law, Policy Studies Journal, and the American Review of Public Administration. Michael Howe is a doctoral candidate in the Management Department of the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. He began this quest with an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from the University of Cincinnati followed by a MBA in supply chain management from Michigan State University and worked full time in a large manufacturing organization for several years before beginning work on his doctoral degree. His research interests include adaptation, decision making, multi-team systems, and research methods. His work has been published in Human Resource Management Review, Organizational Psychology Review, and Organizational Research Methods.



Russell E. Johnson is an assistant professor of management in the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. He received his Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Akron. His research examines the role of motivation- and leadership-based processes that underlie employee attitudes and behavior. His research has been published in Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Personnel Psychology, and Psychological Bulletin. He is an associate editor at Journal of Business and Psychology and currently serves on several editorial boards including Academy of Management Journal, Academy of Management Review, Journal of Applied Psychology, and Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes. In 2013, he received the Distinguished Early Career Contributions Award for Science from the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Originally from Canada, he still dreams of one day playing in the National Hockey League. Seth Kaplan is an associate professor of industrial/organizational (IO) psychology at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. He earned his Ph.D. in IO psychology from Tulane University in 2006. His research focuses on employee emotion and well-being and on team dynamics in crisis-like scenarios. His work has appeared in Psychological Bulletin, Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, Journal of Organizational Behavior, and other academic journals. Dina V. Krasikova is a postdoctoral research associate in the Department of Management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. She received her Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from Purdue University. Her research interests include leadership, employee health and well-being, and statistical methods. Her work has been published in the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Management, and Organizational Research Methods, among others. Paul B. Lester is an army officer and is the director of the Research Facilitation Team in Monterey, California. His research interest includes leadership development, trust, mentorship, personal courage, and leadership in combat environments. Paul has published papers in the American Psychologist, Harvard Business Review (Online Edition), Academy of Management Learning & Education, Leadership Quarterly, Journal of Positive Psychology and Human Resource Development Review, as well as many book chapters. He is a coeditor with Drs. Patrick Sweeney and

About the Authors


Michael Matthews of the recently published book Leadership in Dangerous Situations. Ari Malka is a human capital consultant at PDRI. Most of his project work involves competency models, training needs analyses, and assessment development and validation. In addition to consulting, he is also actively involved in teaching and research. His main areas of interest include personality in the workplace, diversity, and organizational teams. As such, he continues to try and contribute to the field by working on research papers for publication. He is a member of the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) and the Personnel Testing Council – Metropolitan Washington (PTC-MW). He has presented papers at a variety of conferences, including SIOP, Academy of Management, European Association of Work and Organizational Psychology, and Work, Stress, and Health. Angela Mazzetti is a principal lecturer in business strategy and MBA programmes director at Teesside University, UK. Angela has held a number of senior management positions in the UK education sector and has worked at a national level on the development of management curricula. Angela’s research area is occupational stress. She is currently researching how group culture influences appraisal and coping and how this information can be used to develop occupationally focused stress intervention strategies. Angela is also exploring how alternative research methods can be used to better enhance our understanding of workplace stress. Grace Ann Rosile is an associate professor of management and Daniels Ethics Fellow at New Mexico State University. Her most recent work focuses on storytelling ethics, restorying, and indigenous storytelling and includes her film Tribal Wisdom for Business Ethics (2013). She is a founding board member of the standing conference for management and organizational inquiry and review board member for the Journal of Management Education and the Journal of Organizational Ethnography. She is founder of Horse Sense at Work (human development through working with horses at Cristina Rubino is an assistant professor in management at California State University, Northridge. She received her Ph.D. in industrial/organizational psychology from the University of Houston. Her major research interests include employee health and well-being, diversity, and teams. Her work focuses on expanding established stress-strain models, examining diversity



at both the individual and team levels, and integrating well-being research within the team context to identify additional factors that impact team outcomes. She has published academic articles in journals such as Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Stress & Health, and International Journal of Selection and Assessment. She also has applied her expertise by working with numerous organizations, including ExxonMobil, NASA, and SaudiAramco, on a variety of large-scale projects. She has presented her research at the top conferences in psychology, including the Society of Industrial and Organizational Psychology and Academy of Management annual meetings. Rohny Saylors is a Ph.D. student at New Mexico State University. He published in the journal Organizational Research Methods. His passion is the advancement of human creativity, hope, and authentic compassion through, and within, organizational scholarship. Accordingly, he focuses on storytelling in sustainability, the ethics of identity, and entrepreneurial sensemaking. He envisions a scholarly world where research advances human potential and a work world that values scholarship as art instead of authority. His work is a natural extension of antenarrative storytelling theory when unified with strategy as practice and rhetorical pragmatics in institutional entrepreneurship. His applied contributions involve strategic level leadership in sustainability, ethics, and entrepreneurship. Susanne Scheibe obtained her Ph.D. at Free University Berlin (Germany) in 2005 and was a researcher at the Center for Lifespan Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development Berlin from 2001 to 2007 and at Stanford University from 2007 to 2010. She is currently associate professor of organizational psychology at the University of Groningen (The Netherlands). Her research interests concern how emotional experience and emotion regulation change as people age, and how such changes affect work life and the aging worker. Her work was published in Psychology and Aging, Developmental Psychology, and Psychological Science and is regularly covered in the media. Michelle R. Tuckey is a senior lecturer in the school of psychology, social work, and social policy at the University of South Australia. Her program of research examines ways to protect and promote employee psychological health and well-being, concentrating on the topics of workplace bullying, emotion regulation, and psychosocial working conditions. By invitation she currently serves on the editorial board of two international

About the Authors


journals: International Journal of Stress Management and Stress & Health. Importantly, her research has been translated into policies and practices that protect the psychological health of workers, nationally and internationally, as evidenced by changes within the Norwegian national surveillance system for psychosocial risks at work, SA Fire and Emergency Services Commission, SA Country Fire Service, SA State Emergency Service, and NSW Police Force. Adam J. Vanhove is a post-doctoral research assistant in the Department of Management at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. In addition to topics related to employee resilience and well-being, his research interests include employment discrimination, employee selection, and performance management. His research has appeared in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. Laura von Gilsa is a postdoctoral research and teaching assistant in the Department of Work and Organizational Psychology at Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany. She received her PhD in industrial and organizational psychology from Goethe University, her master degree in business administration from University of Applied Science Mannheim, and her diploma degree in psychology from Goethe University. Her research interests include job stress and well-being, emotion regulation, as well as leadership. She also works as a consultant for various industries, especially for the banking sector. Christa L. Wilkin is an assistant professor of management at California State University. She received her Ph.D. from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada. Her research interests could be broadly characterized as being in the area of employment relationships with two arching streams of research: (1) individual and team factors that influence work behavior and (2) nonstandard employment relationships. She studies factors such as the impact of emotions, personality, and organizational justice on task and contextual performance. Her research on non-standard work arrangements includes contingent workers and volunteers. Her work is published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior, International Journal of Selection and Assessment, and International Journal of Human Resource Management. She has also contributed chapters to several books including Underemployment: Psychological, Economic, and Social Challenges, Raising Student Engagement and Retention through Classroom Response Systems and Other Technologies, and Management and Organization of Temporary Agency Work.



Carolyn Winslow is an industrial/organizational (IO) psychology graduate student at George Mason University, Fairfax, VA. She earned her BA in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania in 2011. Her research interests include employee well-being, as well as the role of emotions and individual differences in the workplace. Hannes Zacher received his Ph.D. in industrial and organizational psychology from the University of Giessen (Germany) in 2009. He was a postdoctoral fellow at the Jacobs Centre on Lifelong Learning and Institutional Development at Jacobs University in Bremen (Germany) from 2009 to 2010. He is currently lecturer and research fellow in the School of Psychology at The University of Queensland (Australia). His research focuses on different forms of organizational sustainability, with emphases on successful aging in the work context, innovation and entrepreneurship, and proenvironmental employee behaviors. His work has been published in journals such as the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Journal of Vocational Behavior, and Psychology and Aging. In 2012, he received a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award from the Australian Research Council. Dieter Zapf is a professor for work and organizational psychology at the Institute of Psychology and Scientific Director at the Center for Leadership and Behavior in Organizations (CLBO) at Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany. He is also a visiting professor to Manchester Business School, University of Manchester, UK. He studied theology and psychology and received his diploma degree in psychology and his Ph.D. degree in psychology both from the Free University of Berlin. He received his habilitation in psychology from University Giessen. His research interests include stress at work and well-being, bullying/mobbing, service psychology, emotion work, and work design. He is currently associate editor of the European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology.