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Customer aggression, felt anger and emotional deviance: the moderating role of job autonomy

Ruhama Goussinsky (Department of Human Services, Emek Yezreel College, Afula, Israel)

International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences

ISSN: 1756-669X

Article publication date: 16 March 2015




The purpose of this study is to examine whether emotional deviance in response to customer aggression and employees’ feelings of anger is likely to be influenced by perceived job autonomy. To date, studies on emotional labor have focused primarily on emotional regulation strategies. Little is known about the factors that may serve to increase emotional deviance (i.e. situations in which felt and expressed emotions match but are at odds with organizational display rules).


Three samples of service workers were recruited from northern Israel, and data were collected using self-reported questionnaires. Research hypotheses were tested using hierarchical regression analyses.


Study 1 revealed that under conditions of frequent exposure to customer aggression, more perceived job autonomy was associated with more frequent instances of emotional deviance. The results of Study 2 and Study 3 demonstrated that the relationship between anger and emotional deviance was stronger for employees reporting high levels of perceived job autonomy.

Practical implications

Given the potentially negative impact of emotional deviance on customer satisfaction, organizations should find a balance between satisfying employees’ desire for control and discretion and ensuring employee compliance with display rules.


This study contributes to the existing literature by pointing out that job autonomy may have a “dark side”, in the sense that it provides employees with a certain level of perceived freedom, which might then be extended to include freedom from rule compliance, especially when negative emotions are experienced.



Goussinsky, R. (2015), "Customer aggression, felt anger and emotional deviance: the moderating role of job autonomy", International Journal of Quality and Service Sciences, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 50-71.



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Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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