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Strategic emotional display: an examination of its interpersonal and career outcomes

Yongmei Liu (College of Business, Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, USA)
Jun Liu (School of Business, Renmin University of China, Beijing, China)
Longzeng Wu (School of International Business Administration, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Shanghai, China)

Career Development International

ISSN: 1362-0436

Article publication date: 19 October 2012




The purpose of this study is to explore an under‐researched, emotion‐focused influence tactic, strategic emotional display, and its interpersonal and career outcomes.


The authors collected data from 258 matched supervisor‐subordinate dyads in a Chinese sample.


The results indicate that individuals who use positive emotions in social influence tend to enhance their access to network resources and career growth potential, and those who use negative emotions in social influence tend to erode their network resources and hinder career growth potential.

Research limitations/implications

A major limitation of the research is that the authors collected data on both strategic emotional display and network resources from the same source at the same time. Supporting prior research, the results indicate that individuals do use emotional expression as a social influence tactic at work, and that different emotion‐focused influence tactics are associated with different outcomes. The study makes evident the need to integrate the emotion and the social influence literature.

Practical implications

The results of the study indicate that employees may need to develop greater awareness of their own emotions, and cultivate the ability to convey emotional cues to others effectively. It also appears that individuals need to be selective in their use of emotion‐focused influence tactics.


The paper integrates social influence and emotion research, and focuses on a ubiquitous yet overlooked influence tactic, strategic emotional display, and shows evidence that it is associated with interpersonal and career outcomes.



Liu, Y., Liu, J. and Wu, L. (2012), "Strategic emotional display: an examination of its interpersonal and career outcomes", Career Development International, Vol. 17 No. 6, pp. 518-536.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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