Emotion regulation at work has been receiving an increasing amount of research attention in the literature over the past two decades. The management literature has focused primarily on emotion regulation in the service sector, with emotional dissonance as the explanatory variable predicting primarily negative intrapersonal outcomes, such as experienced stress and burnout. An emerging stream of research in other literatures, such as developmental psychology and social psychology, however, views emotion regulation in a more positive way as being essential for personal growth and positive social relationships. Building on this stream of research and previous literature on emotional labor, it is proposed that both intrapersonal and interpersonal mechanisms are important factors that determine the consequences of emotion regulation. By integrating interpersonal mechanisms of emotion regulation in the theory building, and by examining individuals’ emotion regulatory behaviors beyond the service sector, this study seeks to present a clearer picture as to the influences of emotion regulation on one’s work life than has been previously examined.
Integrating previous research, the dissertation presents a comprehensive model of the antecedents, mediators, moderators, and consequences of emotion regulation. Both situational and individual differences factors that influence individuals’ tendency to regulate their own emotions are considered. Further, emotion regulatory strategies and political skill are argued to play important roles in determining the effectiveness of emotion regulation. Both intrapersonal mechanisms (i.e., emotional dissonance) and interpersonal mechanisms (i.e., peer perceived authenticity, liking, trust, and social support) are proposed to mediate the influences emotion regulation has on such work related outcomes as affective well being, job satisfaction and job performance.
Matched survey data were collected from 108 pairs of employees from a hospice organization. Hierarchical regression and structural equation modeling were used to test the hypotheses. Additional analyses were also conducted based on the hypotheses testing results and prior research. Results provided support for a number of the hypotheses set forth regarding the antecedents of emotion self regulation, including the positive influence of emotional self awareness, and negative influence of social status, on the frequency of emotion self regulation. The majority of the moderating hypotheses did not receive support from the data. The data also failed to provide adequate support for the interpersonal mechanisms of emotion self regulation. However, further analyses of the main effects of emotion regulatory strategies revealed some interesting relationships between emotion regulatory strategies and relationship quality and affective well being, and further, with job satisfaction, trust, and social support. The additional analyses also found evidence for main effects of political skill on work related outcomes including affective well being, job satisfaction, and job performance. A discussion of the results includes an evaluation of research limitations, suggestions for future research, contributions to the literature, and practical limitations.