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Emotional labor: links to work attitudes and emotional exhaustion

Brenda L. Seery (State University of New York College at Oneonta, Oneonta, New York, USA)
Elizabeth A. Corrigall (Millersville University, Millersville, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 6 November 2009




The purpose of this study is to explore the links from self‐focused emotional labor (surface acting) and other‐focused emotional labor (emotional enhancement) to job satisfaction, affective commitment, emotional exhaustion, and intentions to quit.


The study employed a cross‐sectional survey of 363 nurses' aides and childcare workers.


Surface acting, a type of self‐focused emotional labor, was related to negative work outcomes (lower job satisfaction and affective commitment as well as higher turnover intentions and emotional exhaustion). Emotional enhancement, a form of other‐focused emotional labor, was related to positive outcomes (lower turnover intentions and emotional exhaustion) when performed for clients' family members, but not for clients.

Research limitations/implications

The cross sectional design of this study limits the ability to map the temporal ordering of these relationships, and thus to determine if emotional enhancement is a job resource or response to positive work experiences. In addition, two helping occupations – nurses' aides and child care workers – were sampled, and thus, the findings may not generalize to other types of occupations.


This study adds to the research about job‐related emotional labor because other‐focused emotional labor largely has been neglected in previous research. In addition, it is the first to differentiate workers' emotional labor with different groups of clients (patients/children; family members).



Seery, B.L. and Corrigall, E.A. (2009), "Emotional labor: links to work attitudes and emotional exhaustion", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 24 No. 8, pp. 797-813.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2009, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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