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Faking it or feeling it: The emotional displays of surface and deep acting on stress and engagement

Lindsey Lee (Conrad N. Hilton College of Hospitality and Restaurant Management, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)
Juan M. Madera (Conrad N. Hilton College of Hospitality and Restaurant Management, University of Houston, Houston, Texas, USA)

International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management

ISSN: 0959-6119

Article publication date: 13 February 2019

Issue publication date: 30 April 2019

2551

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is to examine how emotional labor strategies (deep and surface acting) impact engagement through stress via two different emotional displays (suppressing negative emotions and expressing positive emotions) in coworker-to-coworker relationships.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used psychological and temporal separation techniques to survey hotel managers (Study 1) and hospitality students with frontline service jobs (Study 2).

Findings

Across both samples, the results showed that surface acting was related to suppressing negative emotions, which was positively related to stress, deep acting was related to expressing positive emotions, which was negatively related to stress, and stress was negatively related to engagement, suggesting that emotional labor affects engagement through either deep acting or surface acting and their related emotional displays.

Practical implications

The results show that hospitality employees either genuinely express positive emotions as a strategy to deep act or suppress negative emotions as a strategy to surface act with coworkers. Both emotional displays were related to engagement, suggesting that employers should alter expectations for emotional displays among coworkers and train employees how to manage their emotions to have a positive impact on engagement.

Originality/value

The unique contribution of the current paper is showing how emotional labor is related to engagement in the context of coworker-to-coworker emotional labor, which is rarely found in customer-based emotional labor. The results also provide a better understanding of how surface and deep acting are used in a hospitality context, because the measures of surface and deep acting usually focus on broad emotions rather than discrete emotions.

Keywords

Citation

Lee, L. and Madera, J.M. (2019), "Faking it or feeling it: The emotional displays of surface and deep acting on stress and engagement", International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, Vol. 31 No. 4, pp. 1744-1762. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJCHM-05-2018-0405

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2019, Emerald Publishing Limited

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