"The relationship between surface acting and drinking after work was stronger for people who are impulsive or who lack personal control over behavior at work," lead author and Penn State psychology professor Alicia Grandey said in a university article. "If you're impulsive or constantly told how to do your job, it may be harder to rein in your emotions all day, and when you get home, you don't have that self-control to stop after one drink."
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Grandey noted that forcing smiles or suppressing negative emotions was less likely to create significant problems when the work was rewarding to employees.
"Nurses, for example, may amplify or fake their emotions for clear reasons," Grandey said. "They're trying to comfort a patient or build a strong relationship. But someone who is faking emotions for a customer they may never see again, that may not be as rewarding and may ultimately be more draining or demanding."
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Employees in the latter group may be younger, working entry-level service jobs at a call center or coffee shop, “and may lack the self-control tendencies and the financial and social rewards that can buffer the costs of surface acting.”
Previous research from Grandey and other scientists has also connected surface acting with increased stress, emotional exhaustion, poorer physical health and overall lower job satisfaction.
She and her team urge employers to look out for employees and encourage autonomy at work.
Read the full study, currently behind a paywall, at psychnet.apa.com.