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Emotional dissonance in call centre work

Jürgen Wegge (Technical University of Dresden, Dresden, Germany)
Rolf Van Dick (Goethe University Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Germany)
Christiane von Bernstorff (University of Dortmund, Dortmund, Germany)

Journal of Managerial Psychology

ISSN: 0268-3946

Article publication date: 17 August 2010




The purpose of this paper is to investigate new hypotheses regarding potential correlates and underpinnings of emotional dissonance experienced in call centre work. It is argued that prior attempts to measure emotional dissonance are incomplete because such measures often do not specify which emotions are actually not shown (e.g. faked, suppressed, veiled) during work.


A field study with 161 call centre agents was conducted. Positive affectivity (PA), negative affectivity (NA) of agents and customer verbal aggression were conceptualized as correlates of emotional dissonance, whereas job satisfaction, health disorders and burnout were assessed as indicators of agents' work motivation and well‐being. To investigate the emotional underpinnings of emotional dissonance the Frankfurt Emotion Work Scales (FEWS) was used and, in addition, agents were asked to report frequency, intensity and “not showing” of 15 separate emotions.


The results show that emotional dissonance was associated with lower work motivation and well‐being. Moreover, NA and customer aggression correlated positively whereas PA correlated negatively with emotional dissonance. Emotional dissonance measured with the FEWS was significantly related to the frequency of longing, the intensity of anger and the not showing of boredom, affection and anger.


The findings support the construct validity of the FEWS. However, based on correlations with agents' self‐rated ability to perform on a high level and interactions between NA and customer aggression that emerged only when emotion‐specific dissonance measures were analyzed, this paper suggests combining emotion‐specific dissonance measures with the FEWS in future research.



Wegge, J., Van Dick, R. and von Bernstorff, C. (2010), "Emotional dissonance in call centre work", Journal of Managerial Psychology, Vol. 25 No. 6, pp. 596-619.



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