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Friday Seminar 2:
Understanding Emotional Labor in I-O:  When “Grin and Bear It” Is a Job Requirement

Alicia A. Grandey
Pennsylvania State University

James M. Diefendorff
University of Akron

There has been an explosion of research on emotions at work in recent years.  A theme in much of this research is that many jobs (e.g., customer service, healthcare, team-based work, management) have emotional requirements and that well-being and effectiveness in these jobs is determined, in part, by a person’s ability to meet these requirements.  Much of the research on this topic has been conducted under the title of emotional labor, which refers to the management of emotions as part of the work role.  This seminar will serve to bring attendees up to speed on this area of research and explain why it is important to consider in tandem with traditional I-O topics.  To this end, we will introduce the major emotional labor theories and review empirical evidence in support of these theories, with the goal of presenting an integrated, process-oriented framework.  Additionally, this seminar will consider practical implications of emotional labor for human resource management, as well as review and discuss (a) the measurement of emotional labor variables, (b) emerging research methods, and (c) future research directions.

Learning objectives:

  • Describe the historical and current definitions of emotional labor and emotion regulation constructs and how these variables differ from conceptually similar constructs (e.g., self-regulation, stress management, self-monitoring, impression management, emotional intelligence).
  • Summarize and compare major theories, research, and measures of emotion regulation and emotional labor.
  • Discuss practical implications of emotional labor and emotion regulation for selection, training, motivation, and well-being.
  • Describe the current issues facing emotional labor research, along with the limitations of this line of research and key areas for future research.  

Alicia A. Grandey is an associate professor of psychology and chair of the industrial-organizational program at Pennsylvania State University. She earned her PhD at Colorado State University in 1999.  Her research focuses on the experience, expression, and regulation of emotions in the workplace, particularly within the service industry.  Her work in these areas has been published in Journal of Applied Psychology, Academy of Management Journal, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes,  Journal of Organizational Behavior, Journal of Vocational Behavior, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, and Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, as well as multiple book chapters including in the forthcoming Handbook of Organizational Behavior (Sage).  Her emotions research has also been discussed in media and news reports, including Harvard Business Review, Ms. magazine, and National Public Radio. Grandey is a member of the American Psychological Association, SIOP, and Academy of Management. 

James M. Diefendorff is an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Akron.  He received his PhD in I-O psychology at the University of Akron in 1999 and taught previously in the psychology department at Louisiana State University and the business school at the University of Colorado at Denver.  He also was a visiting professor of management at Singapore Management University.  His research focuses on understanding emotions in organizations and work motivation.  His emotions research has been in the area of emotional labor with a particular emphasis on understanding emotional display rule perceptions and emotion regulation strategies.  His research has been published in leading journals such as Journal of Applied Psychology, Personnel Psychology, Journal of Organizational Behavior, Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, Journal of Vocational Behavior, and Human Performance. Diefendorff is a member of the American Psychological Association, SIOP, and Academy of Management. 

Coordinator: Russell Johnson, University of South Florida


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