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Power and Emotion Recognition: The Moderating Role of Work Stress

Emotions and Leadership

ISBN: 978-1-83867-202-7, eISBN: 978-1-83867-201-0

Publication date: 26 August 2019



Based on the situated focus theory of power, this chapter empirically investigates the relationship between an individual’s organizational power position and emotion recognition accuracy (ERA), and it examines individuals’ stress experiences at work as a boundary condition for this relationship.


Survey data were collected in a field sample of 117 individuals employed across various organizations in Germany. We used an established, performance-based test of ERA and applied hierarchical regression analysis to examine our model.


An individual’s power was negatively related with his or her ability to decipher others’ emotional expressions among individuals experiencing higher work stress, whereas this relationship was not significant for participants with lower stress.

Research Limitations/Implications

Although the cross-sectional study design and data collection within one country are relevant limitations, the findings promote a better understanding of the complex relationship between power and ERA.

Practical Implications

Given the relevance of accurate emotion perception, the results indicate that stressful work environments may be an important risk factor for organizational power holders’ personal and professional success.


The findings advance the literature on power and emotion recognition by highlighting the role of work stress as an important, heretofore neglected boundary condition that may explicate the ambiguous results in prior research.



Faber, A. and Walter, F. (2019), "Power and Emotion Recognition: The Moderating Role of Work Stress", Emotions and Leadership (Research on Emotion in Organizations, Vol. 15), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 3-20.



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