Positive framing of surface acting: The mitigating effect of self-serving attributions on sense of inauthenticity and emotional exhaustion

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

A common notion in emotional labor literature is that surface acting-the modification of external emotional expressions while internal emotions remain unchanged-inevitably engenders a sense of inauthenticity and distress. Underlying this view is the assumption that the outcomes of surface acting are determined by employees' accurate assessment of the congruence of external expression with inner state. However, an alternative perspective suggests that sense of authenticity might be subject to self-serving biases produced by self-enhancement motivation. This article presents a field study and a scenario study, testing the impact of contextual cues signaling the meaning of surface acting in relation to selfperception. The results of the field study, conducted with service employees, show that surface acting attributed to benevolent intentions toward customers is negatively related to employees' sense of inauthenticity, which mediates the relationship of surface acting with emotional exhaustion. The scenario study establishes causality, showing that surface acting attributed to compassion engenders a stronger sense of authenticity compared with the control condition, thereby supporting the notion that surface acting reflecting positively on self-view engenders a sense of authenticity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)217-225
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Stress Management
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Psychological Association.

Keywords

  • Authenticity
  • Burnout
  • Emotional labor
  • Service

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Business, Management and Accounting (all)
  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychology (all)

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