Mediators To Emotional Labour Performance Education Essay

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While it would not be possible (nor relevant) to review every single piece of research on the topic of emotional labour, some of the key findings are now summarised in the following subsections. Research can largely be divided into:

Other categories of work that include emotional labour where any recommendations to support the worker may be of use

Findings which may help organisations moderate the negative effects of emotional labour on their workers

Who is performing emotional labour?

According to Lois (2006); Ray and Street (2007); Stern (2007); and Medved (2007) - emotional labour is not just restricted to the workplace. Families, too, engage in it in ways that go beyond "Feeling rules". Lois (2006) studied mothers who were home-schooling their children, finding they were subject to the same emotional labour as teachers. Similarly Ray and Street (2007) interviewed carers finding their emotional labour as akin to that of nurses; and Stern studied families engaged in "The Family Business" and found that workers were more troubled by performing emotional labour with each other (ie. within the family) than with clients. Medved (2007) in a review paper hypothesised that the role of "mother" was an emotional labour one, and this idea that our private behaviours could even be classed emotional labour - rather than adherence to "feeling rules" (which we can choose to remove ourselves from), was taken up by Hogg (2008) in "The Emotional labour of Ordinary People" where family carers were interviewed and observed.

According to a report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD [1] ) "The services sector now accounts for over 70% of total employment and value added in OECD economies. It also accounts for almost all employment growth in the OECD area." (OECD, 2005:2). As considered within Chapter 1, emotional labour has always had a particular relevance to service encounters as it is the foundation of the service interaction. Steinberg and Fighart (1999) identified the following services as having been the subject of emotional labour research:

Fast Food workers

Disneyland workers





Holiday reps

Call centre workers

Bar staff


Flight attendants

Debt collectors



Detectives or criminal interrogators

Door to door insurance

(Steinberg and Fighart, 1999:15)

2.i.i.) Differentiation within service work: "Levels" of Emotional labour; or Professional versus Occupational emotional labour

Although there is a lot of literature on emotional labour as evident within service, little has been said with regard to distinguishing between the services that require emotional labour. This distinction is arguably important when it comes to understanding the resulting emotional strain that may be evident; the effect of the display rules; and even the recipient expectations of the labourer.

For example, for a checkout worker, the job may entail processing the goods and taking payment, so display rules such as 'Say "have a nice day!"' would arguably "dress up" the emotional labour interaction rather than be a part of the job itself. While Hochschild recognises that we would not want to be greeted by a surly checkout worker, it still has little bearing on whether one gets one's groceries. For a checkout "service" to be performed, an organisation may decide to set out display rules - but they are more efficient training their workers on the checkout system…and with online purchases, there is no need for display rules at all - merely a working purchasing method.

In comparison, the emotional labour performance of a teacher may be different - as a caring persona may be an actual part of their job. According to Hargreaves (1998), emotion is what helps the teacher teach as it enables them to engage better with their students in order to progress learning. In this case display rules may be more important.

However, one may also argue that display rules are less necessary for the teacher, as their professional status (or "professionalism" (Bolton, 2000)) requires a certain standard of emotional performance (Qualified Teacher Standards, 2012). This means that the teacher may have more freedom in their emotional expression. However, professional status does not mean that organisations will not impose further display rules, at the micro-level, and this could cause more emotional strain because teachers may feel that their professional status is being "micro managed".

The results of the effect of display rules on the checkout worker versus the teacher are significant in offering service organisations some insight into how to manage their emotional labourers, and will be discussed after the ways in which service organisations may be differentiated are identified. Morris and Feldman (1996) offer one means of differentiating within emotional labour professions, and together with Marek Korcynski's (2002) review on the categories of service work, clear distinctions may be made.

Korcynski's (2002) book "Human Resource Management in Service work" devotes a chapter to identifying types service work performed. This is an extensive field of study, however his discussion provides a useful summary. Korcynski (2002) cites three categorisations of service as defined by Leidner (1993); Mills (1986); Fitzgeral et al (1991) and Lashley (1997) (Korcynski 2002:11). As organised by Korcynski, these four researchers divide service work into three key areas thus:

Table a. Different labels for similar types of service work


Leidner (1993)

Mills (1986)

Fitzgeral et al (1991)

Lashley (1997)

Level 1

Service where there is weak inseparability

Maintenance-interactive service work

Mass service

Service factory

Level 2

Particular type of experience is part of the product

Task-interactive service work

Service shops

Mass service/Service shops

Level 3

Interaction inseparable from product

Personal interactive service work

Professional services

Professional services

(reprinted from Korcynski, 2002:11)

While each author uses significantly different bases for classification, when tabulated in this way, useful distinctions emerge. For our purposes, these typologies will be referred to as "Level 1", "Level 2" and "Level 3" reading from the top of the table downwards.

According to Korcynski (2002:11), Level 1 services are "...the lowest level of service work ...typified by the fast food worker where the product (the burger) represents an important buffer between production and consumption, between the producer and the consumer, and where there is an organisational focus on the product being delivered, rather than on the service process of the delivery..."

Level 2 services are "...the middle level...Here the service process is an important part of the 'product' being delivered; the organisation has a back office [which furnishes the product] and a front office [interactive] [2] focus; there is an important degree of intangibility." (Korcynski, 2002:11). Examples of this sort of service may be customer service desks in shops.

Level 3 services are "...the upper end...An archetypical example is the work of the psychiatrist in which the service interaction is the product, where the focus is on the process of the interaction rather than on the back office producing a separate product." (Korcynski, 2002:11). Potentially, the work of the teacher, cabin crew, and perhaps waiter or receptionist may feature somewhere between level 2 and level 3 as interaction is as key an element of the product as the knowledge, safety instructions, food, or information being presented.

The "levels of service" typologies especially if combined with distinctions drawn by emotional labour researchers such as Morris and Feldman (1996) categorise emotional labour professions. For Morris and Feldman (1996), emotional labour demands are differentiated into four categories: (i) "The frequency of the interaction; (ii) the intensity (ie: how highly emotionally charged the interaction is); (iii) the variety of emotion required; and (iv) the amount of emotional dissonance experienced between the worker's own mood and that which is needed to be displayed." (Morris and Feldman, 1996:989). It is the first 3 categories that are the most valuable. (Category 4 is deemed not to be relevant as the Chapter has already discussed findings where emotional dissonance can be mediated or managed whether in a shop or on an oncology ward.)

It may therefore be arguable that the higher the emotional labour requirement within the first three categories defined by Morris and Feldman (1996), the higher "level" of service that may be applied. For Morris and Feldman (1996), the emotional "performance" of a teacher is more frequent, than that of a flight attendant, although it may be similar in terms of intensity, the variety of emotion required and the amount of dissonance experienced and so may fall slightly higher within the Level 3 classification. But both types of service undoubtedly require a higher level of emotional labour compared to a retail assistant whose interaction with a service recipient may be fleeting at best [3] . "Lower" level service may also rely more heavily on components relating to the product for customer satisfaction. eg. a worker in a wallpaper factory can tell when his job will satisfy the customer done by counting the number of rolls produced, while the flight attendant needs to check more intangibly whether the customer seems content. "Loving or hating wallpaper is not part of producing wallpaper", Hochschild, (2003:6). It is noted that the components of emotional labour, and the consequences (and antecedents and mediators of its performance) are currently applied on a very general basis. There is a very limited amount of research focussing on differentiating the theoretical findings from emotional labour research within the different types of service work The intensity of a face-to face interaction of a retail assistant may differ from that of a voice-to-voice interaction of a cold-call (Kinman, 2009), yet both are termed "emotional labour" for the purposes of generalising findings. Later research by Kinman (2011) found that mode of delivery (eg. voice-to-voice versus face-to-face) did not affect the amount of strain felt by the labourer, although it affected the way they responded. This notable difference is significant in terms of implications for service managers, and as such a clearer distinction between the emotional labour professions being researched may result in more specific implications and recommendations for organisations.

Robert Leidner (1999) also makes a distinction between the demands on the "…middle frontline workers who are part of what Macdonald and Sirianni (1996) call "the emotional proletariat". In contrast to professionals involved in interactive service work, the emotional labor of these frontline service workers is likely to be guided by employers rather than by professional norms. Employers are more likely to intervene in and supervise the emotional labor of these interactive service workers, who deal primarily with the public." (Leidner, 1999:92).

In this article, I focus on the low- to

The determination of the emotional labour "level" that should be applied to each service profession is a complex task needing a full thesis to unpick, but the distinction is identified at this point, because it may prove useful when distinguishing findings as relating to the effect of employer demands, recipient demands, or findings relating to reciprocity or "gifting" on the part of the emotional labourer. At Level 1, there is likely, as Leidner (1999) points out, to be a higher level of display rules placed on the worker, based on a perceived asymmetry in respect to the relationship between worker and recipient, which in turn may result in greater emotional strain or perhaps resistance. At Level 1, the customer may perceive the relationship as one of "Master-Slave" as identified by Hall (1993) because of the nature of the interaction. The customer at Level 1 is unlikely to be requiring the labourer to possess any "skill", and the organisation may hold a similar point of view. At Level 2 and above, the relationship may differ because the nature of the service differs. A pupil goes to a teacher to be taught (ie. the teacher has the "skill" of knowledge) and the interaction is secondary to that. Also, at Level 1, if the emotional labourer chooses to "gift" something over and above what is required by the display rule demands, this is more likely to be altruistic as the duration of the relationship is fleeting, and the balance of power in the favour of the customer; whereas findings relating to "reciprocity" may better relate to emotional labour at levels 2 and 3 where there is a greater degree of equality and thus a greater likelihood of a "gift exchange".

With regards to reciprocity, in a follow up to his Levels of Service Korcynski (2005), by making explicit the relationship between emotional labour (the offering of emotional display) and service (within a two way interaction), emphasised that reciprocity (or lack thereof) may certainly be a source of pain for the worker. "…it is the pleasurable emotional labour that occurs in service interactions that service workers regard as one of the most significant and satisfying aspects of their job…The pain occasioned by irate customers is made sharper because customers are also a key source of meaning and pleasure in service jobs…Service workers who are positively disposed to customers and who seek meaning and pleasure from helping [them], but who are confronted with abuse…are, therefore, likely to feel pain from this abuse." (Korcynski, 2005:57). Korcynski continues to suggest that because of this, emotional labourers seek solace in their colleagues and form "communities of coping" (Korcynski, 2005:55) rather than delve deeper into the effect of recipient response. However, Korcynski also does not distinguish between the levels of emotional labour professions in his findings.

Some form of categorisation is needed, in order to generate more meaningful results, and as such, the distinction, that will be used in this thesis, comes from Harris (2002). Harris (2002) speaks of the difference between the emotional labour of "professionals" and "occupations". For Harris a "professional" is defined by someone whose status is defined by a code of practice "…particularly the case in the legal, medical and theological so called 'status professions'" (Harris, 2002:554). He contrasts such professions with "occupations", finding the latter to have "…emotional labour governed by hierarchical bureaucracies [while] professions are typically self-regulating." (Harris, 2002:555). For Harris, the distinction is significant because "…much professional work is distinguished by a reliance on the ingenuity, reflexivity and innovativeness of the individual professional." (Harris, 2002:555), in other words, the emotional intelligence to support the emotional demands is likely to be present in the person trained in the profession and does not necessarily need to be imposed further by the specific organisation.

This is a more visible distinction to make. When grouping emotional labour services, a professional status is objective as it is conferred or it is not. While there is mileage in exploring whether "levels" of emotional labour provide a better means of distinguishing between the services, this thesis' significant contribution is concerned with the other under-researched area namely that emotional labour is interactive, and the effects of that interaction - and as such a distinction needs to be made for the purposes of analysis.

2.i.ii.) The construction of Emotional labour in different services

Looking at Steinberg and Fighart's (1999) list at the start of this chapter, it would not be possible to review every piece of services research that identified emotional labour. As such, this exploration has been limited to five categories: Call centres, Retail, Flight Attendants, Teaching, and Health Care. These are chosen because they have sustained a large amount of interest in the field of emotional labour, and because they occupy different areas along the "levels of service" continuum (Korcynski, 2005). They also often have both males and females working within the profession - at the same status. Each category will be discussed, first, in line with the level of service (and emotional labour) required. They will also be distinguished as a "professional" service or an "occupation", and then the key findings of how emotional labour is performed will be discussed.

2.i.ii.a) Call Centres

Although call centres present voice-to-voice emotional labour, rather than face-to-face, Kinman (2008, 2009, 2011) found that there was little difference between the emotional strain felt by a call centre worker compared to take of a face to face emotional labourer. As such, it might be that face-to-face versus voice-to-voice is not the clearest form of differentiation when asserting a categorisation on emotional labour "type".

A call centre would fall within the lowest levels of service and be classified "occupational labour" (Harris, 2002). There is no professional code of conduct offering the call centre operator a professional status. Interaction is often fleeting, and the call centre worker is often the worker of, or "gateway" to the service rather than being the service itself.

Holman (2008) found a high level of emotional strain in call centre workers due to the nature of the display rules and organisation of the service. Studying call centre workers in a bank, Holman found that they were subjected to numerous targets, and constantly assessed (eg. with 'recorded calls') for the quality of their service. This was sometimes exacerbated because the people who called may present with problems that they were unable to solve. The results from call centre research (eg. Rose and Wright, 2005) has also found that a restructuring of service design - eg. offering more incentives to workers, may improve job satisfaction.

This relates closely to Hochschild's original Marxist conceptualisation of emotional labour - if changes are made within the service design, there will be less strain. However, little is said about altering or affecting the nature of the interactions with callers.

Shuler and Sypher (2000) suggest that there may be pleasure to be found within a call centre - through being able to laugh with colleagues at the nature of some of the calls (something made easier because the caller is not present and so is easier to exclude), however, they do not pursue the significance of this any further.

2.i.ii.b) Retail

This would fall within the lowest of the levels of service (Korcynski, 2005), and be "occupational" (Harris, 2002) as there is no professional code of conduct applied to become a retail worker. Interaction is often fleeting, and little more is required of the emotional labourer than common courtesy, unless charged with resolving a problem. However, this is also the level at which Macdonald and Sirianni (1996) would claim the highest level of display rules are impressed upon the worker.

Brotheridge and Lee (2002) whose findings were discussed earlier found that a common response to the demands of display rules was emotional exhaustion. However, their sample included retail clerks as only one of the many professions interviewed. Gabbot et al (2010) found a similar occurrence. However, they related it to the extra pressure often placed on a retail clerk to rectify (or "recover") a service that had previously gone wrong. An interesting finding was that service recipients with a higher level of emotional intelligence, were more able to take a part in how the service encounter was enacted and "…high EI customers are in a better position to achieve their desired service outcomes by managing their emotions and participating in adaptive coping behaviour" (Gabbot et al, 2010: 243). Unfortunately, Boyd (2002); Bishop and Hoel (2008); and Hopp et al (2012) found that a more common response (rather than the use of emotional intelligence and coping strategies on the part of the recipient) is violence and bullying of retail staff, adding to the emotional strain already present through the performance of display rules.

Retail is probably the most basic (Level 1, Korcynski (2005)) of emotional labour performance but its simplicity may also be its strain. The retail clerk is the human mediator between the recipient and the resolution of their problem - which is sometimes neither in the control nor the abilities of the clerk to resolve. As such the retail clerk is there to either give the recipient what they want, or sustain the frustration of the recipient should the environment grow hostile (Hopp et al, 2012).

2.i.ii.c) Flight Attendants

Cabin crew are slightly higher on the level of service continuum, but similarly, an "occupational" profession (Harris, 2002) as while they have training, there is no professional awarding body conferring status, nor professional registration required. Interaction with the service recipient lasts the duration of the flight - which can vary from 45 minutes to 13 hours, but it is not necessarily constant, and nor does it regularly progress from a safety check to serving food. Already, Hochschild (1983, 2003) has identified the demands placed on the flight attendant - a "bubbly personality" as well as specific aesthetic requirements - and these may also be extra to those needed from a retail clerk.

Hoschschild's findings emphasised the high level of training required for the "Delta personality", or being the "Pan Am type" (Hochschild, 2003:98). She found that cabin crew engaged in both surface and deep acting in performing emotional labour. She also found that the more experienced the worker, the more deep acting was used, and further, with experience, the worker was able to "switch" in and out of their performance so the effects (eg. the adrenaline rush of performance) did not affect the seasoned worker as much as the novice.

Hochschild discussed how the service of Delta Airlines, Pan Am, and United Airlines was often constructed to emphasise comfort, and that flight attendants were told to welcome the customers on board as if they were being welcomed into their own homes (Hochschild, 2003). A high level of emphasis was placed on adopting "…the passengers point of view…and relations based on getting and giving money [were] to be seen as if they were relations free of money." (Hochschild, 2003:106). Further, "As at home, the guest is protected from ridicule. A flight attendant must suppress laughter, for example, at seeing a passenger try to climb over the overhead storage rack…Nor will she exhibit any idiosyncratic habits…which might make the guest feel uncomfortable." (Hochschild, 2003:106).

Bolton and Boyd (2003) developed Hochschild's research further, finding that while the display rule demands were present, flight attendants were not oppressed "puppets", but individuals who had quite an enjoyable time with their colleagues whether faced with hostility or not. "One respondent provides an example of a fake review: '…I have suggested that crew member X refrains from picking her nose and scratching her arse when walking through the cabin.'" (Bolton and Boyd, 2003:298). Humour was invariably present in the daily lives of the flight attendants as a means of "…relieving boredom…'letting off steam'… and offering support and friendship." (Bolton and Boyd, 2003:298). Further the support generated within the crew included not calling in sick in order to protect a colleague from having to do "standby".

Of course, unpleasant instances within the job were also reported, such as having to deal with sick passengers, or encountering verbal abuse such as being held personally responsible for delays or lost baggage. Workers from this study, too, reported a high emphasis on training - although for Bolton and Boyd, respect for safety as part of the professional standards was seen as more important than passenger demand…although only slightly. Further, Bolton and Boyd found that sometimes flight attendants were willing to accept beyond what was asked as one flight attendant reported "As I walked past the toilet an elderly passenger fainted. I crouched down to assist and she immediately vomited over both of us. I had to help her to clean her clothes and try to calm and reassure her. It was very traumatic for both of us but I did not mind." (Bolton and Boyd, 2003:299).

Bolton and Boyd's key contribution was the recognition of the enjoyment that a service profession could provide; where emotional labour could be a source of fun, or even conspiracy within colleagues, or something that might even make the performer feel good about themselves. Within this service too, emotional labour is again the key requirement.

2.i.ii.d) Teaching

Teachers may fall within the Level 2 or services - they would also fall within the status of "professional" (Harris, 2002) as recognition needs to be gained from the General Teaching Council and training requires teachers to meet a minimum of 33 professional standards before the qualification is awarded. The duration of the interaction can range between one hour and 6 hours (depending on type of educational organisation), and is often regular - daily, one or twice a week, or more for at least a term, or an academic year. The intensity of the interaction is arguably higher than that of retail or flight attending as the nature of the subject (learning) can be anxiety provoking. French (1997), drawing from psychoanalytical research, highlighted a further area of emotional distress for the teacher - their role as a "container" of learning anxiety. Thus, instead of the grateful pupil thanking the teacher and continuing independently, the teacher whose emotional labour and aptitude for care has built a level of trust within the classroom, is instead "bearing the pain" of the feelings the pupil wishes to unload (French, 1997:491). Further, the variety of emotion expected is heightened because in order to impart knowledge, Hargreaves (1998, 2000) finds that not only do teachers need to manage their emotional displays to deal with the issues arising within the classroom (such as a sick pupil, forgotten homework, a poor work ethic) but actually use them to deliver an engaging lesson. This finding that emotions enhance teaching delivery is supported by Naring et al (2011).

For Hargreaves, "Good teaching is charged with positive emotion. It is not just a matter of knowing one's subject, being efficient, having the correct competencies, or learning all the right techniques. Good teachers are not just well-oiled machines. They are emotional, passionate beings who connect with their students and fill their work and their classes with pleasure, creativity, challenge and joy." (Hargreaves, 1998:835). Naring et al (2011) also emphasised that emotion was central to a teacher's job. The teacher is not just there to nurture and support their pupils, but also to discipline and chastise when necessary as well. This sentiment was echoed by Salisbury et al (2006) who found emotion to be central to teaching. How, otherwise, could enthusiasm for a subject be displayed, alongside disappointment or anger to curtail poor attendance (Salisbury et al, 2006:18).

Thus, another difference between teaching and retail (and cabin crew) is that teachers themselves are the product that the "customer" wishes to "consume". The teacher is the giver of knowledge for the student to pass their exam and as such they form the product as well as the "server". Thus a complaint about the teacher may encompass a slur on the product (their ability to teach) as well as the service (their ability to interact).

Certainly display rules, and unpleasant service recipients (pupils) are sources of strain on the emotional labourer (Colley, 2003; Brouwers and Tomic, 2000; and Kinman 2011). Barrett (2003) identified extra pressures on the profession such as an increased recipient demand to tailor the "product" (eg. the education they themselves are constructing and providing) to each and every individual. Research into emotional labour does not yet investigate the effects of this distinction in full.

2.i.ii.e) Health Care

The emotional labour of Health Care professionals tends to be divided into nurses, physicians and therapists. As such the level of service also varies. Nurses, like teachers, will spend a regular amount of time with their patients. They too are a part of the service as they have professional knowledge as well as giving "care" - although it may arguably be less than that needed for the teacher. Physicians, depending on the medical need are also a regular person in the life of the patient - but the emotional labour of the oncology specialist will differ from that of the heart surgeon. However, they are of professional status bound by training standards, and, as Harris reminds - the Hippocratic Oath (Harris, 2002:554). Finally, the Therapist will also see clients on a regular basis, and they too form a highly skilled part of the service - and are bound by the rules of the Register of Counselling Professionals and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy.

Bakker et al (2002) found that nurses were often exhausted due to a lack of professional recognition from the organisation, as well as the emotional demands of the job. Bolton (2000) too, found that display rules - often gender biased were placed upon nurses by the employers, and reflected in the expectation of the recipient. Smith (2011) in her reworking of "The Emotional labour of Nursing", echoed these sentiments, but further discussed the effect of emotional strain from working on a terminal ward, finding that nurses preferred to offer genuine care and compassion than prescribed professional distance. This approach reflects a finding by Bolton (2000) that some nurses chose to gift compassion or sympathy freely to patients - beyond that which was demanded by display rules. This has formed the basis of David Sheard's (2008) training for nurses of Alzheimer sufferers who are encouraged to be "themselves" rather than "distant medical professional". One of the notable changes to emotional labour in the late 2000's perhaps being a move in some organisations from "care" to "professional emotional neutrality."

Physicians too, were found to suffer from emotional exhaustion (eg. Martinez-Inigo et al, 2007), as were Therapists (Kress-Shull, 2000), but this was more often ascribed to other elements of the job, rather than solely emotional labour performance. Physicians were often let down by the service itself, resulting in the recipient-patient already being angered by the time of the interaction (Martinez-Inigo, et al, 2007). Kress-Shull (2000) found the difficulty for the counsellor to be because of an inability to train for the role appropriately. The Counsellor knew what was required, but felt unprepared as to how to go about performing it. It should be noted that there have not been many studies on Therapists, and as Kress-Shull's, those in existence tend to be single-subject and are thus less generalisable. What is also noticeable in all these studies, is that regardless of the "status" of "professional" (Harris, 2002), organisations are still placing emotional demands in the form of display rules on their employees, and this too may be a cause of extra negativity.

This short exploration of emotional labour performance in service has helped to understand emotional labour as a complex construct. Its demands are shaped by the status of the job role, by employers as well as recipients, and they are, in turn, affected by cultural norms. Leidner's (1996) analysis of McDonalds as a service, not only demonstrates how far a hamburger server is prescribed to by display rules, but also how these will change according to the cultural expectations. The "have a nice day" approach working better in the United States and United Kingdom compared to Russia where it was treated with suspicion (Leidner, 1996). It is also noted, that although an emotional labourer has a "professional" status, they may still be subject to the same display rule demands as an occupational emotional labourer at the micro level of organisation - and this may be a further source of emotional strain.

Finally, research which tries to differentiate between emotional labour services has not been widespread, and yet being able to apply certain findings on a more general basis - but one that is not as general as "all jobs involving emotional labour" is pertinent. The shop assistant is not the same as the teacher for a multitude of reasons, and as such, in terms of the performance expectations, the display rules, and managerial support there will be differences. Therefore, to gain a better understanding of how to support the emotional labourer, or understand their perceptions of their job - and even those of the recipient, some form of differentiation is essential.

Emotional labour is an extremely complex topic, and its complexity must be maintained to some extent. However, this does not mean that each piece of research on a specific service cannot apply to others, it is just important to decide how discerning one needs to be. Previously, research has either included "all types" of emotional labourers and formed general conclusions, or focussed on highly specific groups and formed specific ones. There is, perhaps, a need to "focus" the direction of future research within this field. While there is value in expanding the remit of professions that perform emotional labour, in that any recommendations for alleviating emotional strain may be of benefit, it does not necessarily progress the topic any further.

Mediating the negative effects of emotional labour

Emotion in the workplace has always been an important topic as it has been related to job satisfaction and burnout. In 1998, Felton drew America's attention to the high level of emotional exhaustion in health care workers. He found that workers in Oncology departments, Emergency Services, Mental Health, Speech and Language Therapy, Nursing Homes and Neonatal wards had a higher incidence of "burnout" than those in other professions (Felton, 1998:245). While this chapter does not propose to discuss "burnout" or "emotional exhaustion", these findings are highlighted in order to demonstrate that emotions in the workplace have a prominent place in literature prior to (and now alongside) emotional labour, and that the findings and recommendations are not dissimilar. Manuela Kress-Shull wrote a case study on a rehabilitation counsellor's journey finding that the labourer in question felt "Well trained but unprepared." (Kress-Shull, 2000:11).

This sentiment was taken up by Morris and Stuart (2002) who, in their review of mental health policy and administration set out training advice for supervisors. Workers were to be taught using experiential techniques which would enable the opportunity to practice (and reflect on) their jobs within a 'safe' (ie. simulated) context. Further, recognising the value of peer support, "Learning should not take place in any vacuum." Supervisors and colleagues needed to be on hand for workers to consult when needed. (Morris and Stuart, 2002:398). Already it was evident that the worker performing work in the medical field needed to rely on more than just academic knowledge for longevity within the profession.

Bakker et al echoed this sentiment when they recommended that emotional exhaustion amongst nurses would be avoided if managers increased nurses "esteem reward", or took the time to differentiate between the demands of a nurse's daily tasks - rescheduling some as necessary. (Bakker et al, 2000:890). In particular, Bakker et al stressed the importance of recognising that nursing was emotionally draining, and that leaving the profession was largely motivated by negative emotional wellbeing than any other factor.

Supervisor and Colleague Support

Drawing upon such findings - particularly those of Morris and Stuart (2002), and Bakker et al (2000), Alice Grandey emphasised the importance of understanding individual differences of workers performing emotional labour, as well as the value of supervisor support. Grandey (2000) reviewed the literature on the negative effects of emotional labour and proposed that the worker's affectivity played a role in emotional labour success - in particular, someone who had a positive disposition often performed emotional labour better than one without. She felt that the worker's own baseline of emotional intelligence, and sometimes their gender (ie. being female) made adherence to display rules easier, and, with the finding that autonomy also mediated performance, urged organisations to encourage a higher level of autonomy over display. She also reiterated the importance of supervisor and co-worker support finding that similarly to Morris and Stuart(2002), and Bakker et al's (2000) research into burnout, that this could be applied as well to emotional labour, encouraging further research into this application "The stress literature shows fairly clearly that disclosure of emotional events helps individuals cope with stress and buffer against health risks…Social support in service settings seems to help protect individuals from stress…Only one known study has tested support as a moderator of emotional labour and outcomes" (Grandey, 2000:107).

Likewise, Brotheridge and Lee found through cross sectional survey responses from 236 working adults that "co-workers must be provided with the opportunity to interact with each other…Managers who are staffing services should pay particular attention to the interaction competencies possessed by the candidates…Finally, given the potentially pernicious outcomes of surface acting, managers should provide workers with the opportunity to perform their roles in a manner that allows reasonable latitude for self expression." (Brotheridge and Lee, 2002:66). What is interesting about Brotheridge and Lee's findings is that while they make reference to Shuler and Sypher (2000) in their literature review, their claim is for co-workers to interact to alleviate emotional strain, as opposed to Shuler and Sypher's claim that the interaction is a pleasurable element of the job - a bonus to emotional labour.

Brennan (2006) who studied mediators to the emotional labour of teachers found that the opportunity to "vent" was important. Brennan too referred to Shuler and Sypher's (2000) discussion on the importance of co-workers, but again, like Brotheridge and Lee saw them to be a source of support rather than pleasure. Brennan (2006) proposed further that, in their absence venting to an "artificial intelligence" programme called a "chatbot" was just as effective "…for many teachers, emotional labour is a daily problem [and] intelligent agents represent a possible antidote. A capable of satisfying the emotional desires of the user…it is an inexhaustible, devoted companion…" (Brennan, 2006:11). Clearly the use of artificial intelligence is not realistic for every emotional labour profession, but Brennan raises an interesting point about colleagues - they are exhaustible. This has implications for Grandey's (2000), and Brotheridge and Lee's (2002) approach that colleagues may be a support system mediator to emotional labour, and indirectly supports Shuler and Sypher (2000) who see colleagues as a source of fun and in that way a mediator to strain. Arguably in Shuler and Sypher's view, colleague interaction may include "venting", but more often they form an opportunity for the worker to enjoy an emotional escape - for one may question how supportive is a colleague who is themselves emotionally strained.

Effective Training

Being practised at their job often mediates emotional labour demands (eg. Kruml and Geddes, 2000; Hochschild, 2003). Developing findings by Kress-Shull (2000) and Morris and Stuart (2002) on the effect of training, Goldberg and Grandey (2007) simulated a call centre with display rules and asked the 'workers', 89 university students, to complete a survey following their experience. Workers were given training and adherence to the display rules was further motivated by the offer of an incentive, and threat of punishment if they did not conform. However, some were told that they must offer "service with a smile", others to "be yourself". Goldberg and Grandey (2007) found that both the threat and the incentive meant that all participants felt more inclined to follow the display rules but that this resulted in a drain on their attentional resources, which resulted in making task errors, as well as a drain on their emotional resources, resulting in a high level of exhaustion being reported. However, those told to "Be Yourself" coped better when a caller deviated from the training demands, and reported a lower level of exhaustion compared to the other group. Goldberg and Grandey (2007) recommended that organisations could better support their workers through giving opportunities for breaks as well as strategies for swift engagement in deep acting during the training process.

Work by Smith et al (2007) emphasised the importance of "experiential learning" (Kolb, 1984) techniques in order to practise and reflect on the ability to engage in deep acting. The process is similar to Boal's (1979) application of "forum theatre" which enables participants to explore a difficult workplace situation and generate new coping strategies to use in future. Participants identify, then perform, a scenario they have experienced at work. Other staff members take the parts of the protagonists and the service worker acts out his or her response. The facilitator or trainer freezes the action at various points and invites different solutions and courses of action from the floor (the forum). This continues until a satisfactory resolution is found, and the strategy is then discussed and reflected on by the 'actor' and the rest of the group. Smith et al (2007) successfully used actors to perform the role of detained persons so that custody sergeants had the opportunity to practise their techniques in dealing with the vulnerable adults whom they routinely faced. This opportunity for experiential learning through performance, and later watching themselves on video and reflecting on their practice in conversation with other officers was welcomed by Kent Constabulary.

Within a staged "forum", real feelings may nevertheless be generated. Recording the interaction allows workers to consider their 'performance'. The environment is risk free in that the 'public' are represented by experienced actors, and the trainer is on hand to stop the task. Scope for trying out changes of behaviour can be given by re-running encounters, and workers have that chance to 'practise', or even be surprised by their own actions and reactions before facing the service situations in real life.  This sort of training often boosts self-confidence, highlighting the positive qualities of performance. It may also identify areas for development, ideally reducing the fear of making mistakes and of asking for help. This can also be an enjoyable group experience which in turn promotes mutual understanding, exchange of knowledge and informed support. Daly et al (2009) also used improvisation to train flight attendants, finding similar results in terms of the process building self-confidence in emotional performance.


The importance of autonomy is a finding established by Morris and Feldman (1996), Bolton and Boyd (2003) and which has also been reflected in the above research. Allowing the emotional labourer autonomy in their emotional display, is likely to result in better performance (Goldberg and Grandey, 2007), and lower emotional strain (Wharton, 1993; Brotheridge and Lee, 2002). Goldberg and Grandey (2007) even go so far to say that sometimes the insistence on display rules can (without performance) lead to a negative emotional response. They cite the case of "…a grocery store worker after a legal suit to decrease the display requirements to customers: "I don't really have a problem with the policy, but I really don't think it should be required. I'm going to treat people nice regardless." (Cabanatuan, 1998 cited by Goldberg and Grandey, 2007:316).

The importance of autonomy is interesting in that the reasons why it is sometimes not offered may be considered relevant. Vincent (2011) suggests that the reason may be the some workers - perhaps those with lower levels of emotional intelligence - are just not capable of being trusted. This leads into a discussion on the affective disposition of the worker. Payne suggests that emotional skill may be more evident in the middle class as they have greater exposure to feeling rules (Payne, 2006), and previous research (including Grandey, 2000; Hochschild, 2003; Payne 2006) has long suggested that gender (ie. being female) results in less emotional strain [4] .

Johnson and Spector (2007) investigated the effect of gender, emotional intelligence and autonomy as moderators to the emotional labour performance of 176 participants in customer service organisations. Contrary to their own hypotheses, and the findings discussed above, they found that neither emotional intelligence nor gender had a significantly moderating effect on emotional strain [5] . However, when workers were afforded autonomy, they were more likely to engage in deep acting (rather than offering a surface performance of display rules), which in turn resulted in less strain. Those with less autonomy tended to view their job as "…a challenge." (Johnson and Spector, 2007:15)

Of course, Vincent (2011) warns, that too much autonomy can result in "misbehaviour" by emotional labourers, although it is expected that they will also be bound by their own feelings of professionalism. Further, autonomy is perhaps the only way to allow for the next recommendation - empathy.


Challenging Hochschild's approach where emotional labour was the performance of organisational display rules, was Bolton's (2000) view that emotional labourers wished to offer a "gift" of caring. This would involve demonstrating compassion that went beyond what was prescribed by the organisation, and what Bolton and Boyd (2003) termed "philanthropic" emotional labour. The importance of compassion was discussed by Larson and Yao (2005) who found that "…physicians are more effective healers - and enjoy more professional satisfaction - when they engage in the process of empathy." (Larson and Yao, 2005:1100). They went on to suggest that "…physicians first recognise that their work has an element of emotional labour and…consciously practice deep and surface acting to empathise with their patients." (Larson and Yao, 2005:1100). They too emphasise the importance of training for strategies to engage empathy.

In a departure from the majority of research findings in this area, for Larson and Yao (2005), deep and surface acting could happen simultaneously. Surface acting could be employed as physicians learn to deliver bad news or disclose medical errors, but deep acting takes place as physicians begin to know their patients a little better (ie. it becomes easier to view an angry patient as an emotionally vulnerable child, if the physician is aware that this is the patient's history). Related to this, Larson and Yao (2005) suggest that as the relationship develops, empathy enables the physician to tailor their emotional responses on a more individualised basis, and as such give a higher standard of patient care than standard display rules would afford. As an explicit exemplar of Bolton and Boyd's (2003) findings, this study is an important contribution to emotional labour as it not only challenges the approach that constructs emotional labour almost as "organisational puppetry", but also emphasises the value of the person performing emotional labour. In some way it supports the importance of having some emotional intelligence in order to be able to empathise, and it also impresses the need for training for these skills. It also introduces a focus on the patient - although it does not pursue this angle any further than stressing the positive effect of differentiating emotional performance from patient to patient.

However, despite research finding that colleague support or management training may mediate the effects of emotional strain through, for example, Korcynski's (2005) "Communities of Coping", what is missing from the literature is a deeper examination of how coping occurs. Research identifies that such communities are present, but do not identify how they are formed, and maintained. It is not clear if they are temporary, purely work-related or personal. Understanding how coping occurs in the workplace is valuable in informing colleagues and mangers supporting emotional labourers.

Emotional labour as Interactive - and affected by the emotions of others

The very nature of the phrase "emotional labour performance" implies that emotional labour is also not done in isolation. "No… performance functions detached from its audience." (Schechner, 1985:10). However, the nature of the interaction ie. who interacts with whom, and what the effect of that interaction is on the emotional labourer is not clearly defined.

In an under-developed section of their findings Diefendorff and Richard (2003) mention that contrary to Hochschild's view (and justification of deep acting) that cognitive perception could drive emotion (a model of emotion formalised by Gross in 1998), emotional affect could precipitate a change in cognition. For Diefendorff and Richard (2003), a job which made positive display rule demands of their workers could bring about a change in dispositional affect "Demands for positive displays may be beneficial for the person, whereas demands to suppress negative emotions may be detrimental." (Diefendorff and Richard, 2003:292). This would suggest that exposure to positive emotion (albeit "put on") could result in feelings of happiness.

Martinez-Inigo et al (2007) take up this finding in their investigation into the emotional satisfaction of GPs. They refer to Cote's (2005) Social Interaction Model and as well as hypothesising over the (highly researched) relationship between emotional regulation and exhaustion, they asked what the effect of a positive interaction with their client would have on the worker. Their results report "…[emotional] resources are gained from rewarding relationships, thereby leading to an improvement in wellbeing" (Martinez-Inigo et al, 2007:42). As such it would seem that the interaction with the client (especially a positive one) might result in a positive emotional display regardless of whether the "rules" required this. This is a perspective that has been explored by relatively few academics, yet has the potential to form the foundation of a more substantial (interactive) model of emotional labour

Hennig-Thurau et al (2006) used a simulated customer service experience to examine the effect of "emotional contagion" on employees. ""Emotional Contagion" is defined as the flow of emotions from one person to another with the receiver "catching" the emotions that the sender displays." (Schoenewolf, 1990 cited by Hennig-Thurau et al 2006:58). As applied to emotional labour, they hypothesised that the labourer's emotion could be "caught" by the recipient, but that the process could work both ways - the recipient's emotional display could be "caught" by the emotional labourer. Not unlike the previous findings in the earlier sections, they found that training in deep acting strategies resulted in a more "authentic" display - as perceived by the recipient (Hennig-Thurau et al, 2006:70), but that this was the display that was "contagious".

In a departure from both emotional labour and customer service research (eg. Hochschild, 2003:89 "…where workers have weaker rights to courtesy than customers do.", and the customer is "king"), where customer satisfaction was seen to be under the remit of the employee alone, they stated that "…our results confirm that the emotions customers experience during service encounters play crucial roles and directly affect the success of service relationships. Because customer emotions appear to be key drivers of rapport with employees…" (Hennig-Thurau et al, 2006:70), and recommend it as an area worthy of further investigation.

Rupp and Spencer (2006) found that angry customers did much to affect the positive emotions of the employee, which in turn affected their performance of display rules. Participants exposed to customers who had been trained to be "…impolite, disrespectful, inarticulate and informationally unclear…found it more difficult to obey the emotional requirements of their job" because they perceived that they had been treated unfairly. Although their original intention would be to conform to display rules, they found they were less willing to do so. This resistance resulted in their display also being judged more "inauthentic" by the confederate customer. They concluded that "Although organizations cannot control the behaviour of their customers, managers can take steps to mitigate…effects on employees' reactions by extending more fair treatment towards them…" (Rupp and Spencer, 2006:977) This adds further weight to the findings of Grandey (2000), and Brotheridge and Lee (2002) who reported the need for a supportive supervisor. It also reiterates that a factor that must be considered in future emotional labour research is the recipient of the labour and how they may affect, and be affected by, the process.

Theodosius (2006) drew attention to Hochschild's lack of recognition of the interactive process of the emotional labour encounter. Applying psychodynamic terminology and citing Bion (1979) Theodosius remind readers that in an emotional labour encounter is a relational social action "…when two characters or personalities meet, an emotional storm is created. If they make a sufficient contact to be aware of each other, an emotional state is produced by the conjunction of these two individuals" (Bion, 1979 cited by Theodosuis, 2006). While it is not the aim of this thesis to pursue a psychoanalytical approach to emotional labour, Theodosius nonetheless contributes to thinking about the effect of the recipient on the emotional labour interaction. In her study of healthcare professionals Theodosius (2006) also finds that they are often frustrated by the display rules imposed on them, but also that "hidden" emotional processes affected emotional labour, especially in a long term relationship as on a ward - notably "transference". "Klein, who substantially develops Freud's notion of transference as an interactive process of exchange between two people suggests that…transference involved one person unconsciously getting rid of parts of the self, such as destructive emotions like anger and hate, into others" (Theodosius, 2006:905). This may offer an explanation for the importance of support from supervisors or colleagues - so employees can "get rid" of their negative emotions onto them, but also an explanation of why rapport with colleagues can be so helpful to the labourer (ie. because good humour can also be transferred), and once again repeat the notion that the recipient may also have some influence within emotional labour.

Smith (2007) takes up this mantle of interaction in emotional labour in his review paper "Emotional Labor and the Pursuit of Happiness". Smith considers that emotional labour is often a product of common interest between Client and Provider (or recipient and labourer). As such, it is not the sole responsibility of the emotional labourer to make the customer happy for the sake of company profitability (as Hochschild originally perceived emotional labour to be in 1983), but more akin to Shuler and Sypher (2000), emotional labour provides a unique opportunity for labourer and recipient to encourage organisational change together through a dialogue which would, in other professions, not exist. Smith states, "The reform of the conditions of emotional labour calls for comparative surveys of both sides to each encounter and figuring what 'common decency' suggests for any front line... Student criticism about their personal tutor often teaches what needs to be put right for tutor and student; likewise what the tutor has to say about the student" (Smith, 2007:12). But research concerned with emotional labour as a two way interaction - whether to bring about change, apply a psychoanalytical lens, or even advise managers - remains extremely thin.

It is therefore the purpose of this thesis to further research in this under-investigated, yet highly significant area, and the first research question asked is:

What can we learn through exploring emotional labour as an interactive process - affected by manager, colleague and recipient behaviour?

If emotional labour is understood as an interactive process, what then is the effect of that interaction - with the managers, with the recipients, or with colleagues?

For Bolton (2000), Shuler and Sypher (2000) and Bolton and Boyd (2003), the emotional labourer may enjoy interaction with colleagues and with recipients, so much so that they seek the opportunity to engage in altruistic practice - gifting emotion! For all of these authors, the altruism offered is even given philanthropically ie. without expectation of reward. For Hochschild who also considers this topic in 2003, this sort of "gift" is something we save for those with whom we may have a "gift exchange" eg. we may put on a smile for a family occasion as it will please our family, knowing that we will have the same "bow" offered in return later on in our relationship…and if we do not, that we can terminate that relationship or negotiate a new going rate of exchange (Hochschild, 2003:85). But, are workers gifting something to their recipients or colleagues at the expense of the manager? Are workers gifting because they want to have something returned? These are questions that can only be answered by speaking with emotional labourers.

Further, if emotional labour is to be affected by interaction, then for completeness, it is sensible that the recipient voice is heard too. Thus far, although recipients are considered, they are done so in a passive way. Bolton and Boyd (2003) and Shuler and Sypher (2000) both speak of "reciprocity" and "gift giving" as a positive behaviour between emotional labour colleagues. Bolton (2000) and Shuler and Sypher (2000) propose that helping the recipient also gives the labourer the opportunity to feel good about themselves. Riley (2010) even suggests that interaction with a recipient - especially as positive one, may fulfil a psychological need of the emotional labourer - the need to feel appreciated. But, if these unspoken demands exist within an emotional labour interaction, one may ask - does the recipient even know they have an active part to play? If they do not - then research may well find that emotional labourers are angry because of the "ingratitude" of the recipient - for example - but a "customer who is king" - has no need to be grateful…and would not realise this is required. Taking the time to hear the views of the recipient may, therefore offer deeper insight into understanding emotional labour performance - if nothing else - at least what is wanted, and what is enjoyed by the recipient, which may, in turn, advise service providers in shaping their service - and display rules.

Hence the research second question is:

What is the nature of the recipient response to emotional labour?

Recipient response has been considered by Hochschild and others who have described emotional labour as a "gifting" process. Section ii) of this chapter, therefore reviews in more depth than in Chapter 1, the literature surrounding gift giving and reciprocity as it relates to organisational, emotional labour performance, transference, and social exchange in service work, as this may offer some insight into the perceptions both the recipient and labourer make.

2.ii) Recipient Perceptions of Emotional labour

A review of the literature surrounding emotional labour as an interactive process includes an overview of service design research. Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) said "First, front-line personnel are situated at the organisational customer interface and thus, represent the organisation to customers" (making display rules all the more important); "Second, service transactions often involve face-to-face interactions between service agents and customers. Third, given the uncertainty created by customer participation in the service encounter, such encounters often have a dynamic and emergent quality." (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1993:90).

Research into customer satisfaction with service encounters has begun to recognise the importance of emotional labour performance as a component to customer satisfaction (eg. Liljander and Strandvik, 1995; Gabbot et al, 2010; Gazor et al, 2012), and research in this area has begun to call for a new conceptual model of service satisfaction that considers "…emotional labour as a discriminating customer variable in circumstances where emotions and emotional management a