ewox – emotion work xperience

Emotions are omnipresent and they influence our behaviour, our relationships, and our reactions towards situations. They can either be pleasant or unpleasant in nature and are helpful in designing our lives towards our goals because they provide us with important information about our well-being and needs. Even though emotions give us important information, there are situations in which we cannot or are not expected to show the emotions we are actually feeling. In those instances, we need to change and regulate our emotions. Emotion regulation can take place in private as well as in professional work-related contexts.

When regulating emotions in a work-related context, this regulation is called emotion work. Emotion works involve modulating one’s own emotions at the workplace in order to reach goals for the organization. Arlie Hochschild (1983) coined the term emotional labour/emotion work. In a study among stewardesses she observed that the requirement to always be friendly and smile- independent of the behaviour of the passenger – was associated with higher stress.

Many occupations, e.g. stewardesses, sales persons, callcenter agents, care of the elderly, preschool teachers require emotional work. They need to regulate their emotions in daily contact with customers, patients, colleagues, clients or children and youth. Emotion work is required whenever we feel emotions that are not adequate to show in a specific situation. Some organizations formulate explicit display rules about which emotions should be shown and which should be suppressed. In other occupations the display rules are implicit and come forth from own expectations or expectations from society about which emotions should be expressed. When felt emotions differ from expected (allowed) emotions, the feeling that occurs is called emotion-rule dissonance. Emotion-rule dissonance is associated with stress, fatigue, less job satisfaction and less job performance.

People working in social occupations are often confronted with diverse emotional challenges. In our research we focus on the experience, the consequences, and the improvement of emotion work in caring and educational professions. We aim to develop and implement scientifically proven interventions for individuals and organizations that help to improve the well-being of staff and the contact with the clients and customers.

Some examples of our research questions are:

  1. Which emotion regulation strategies do preschool teachers use and how do they experience emotion work? How are emotion work and (psychological) well-being (e.g., emotional exhaustion) related and how can interventions help to decrease the impact of emotion work?
  2. How (do) elderly care professionals experience emotion work? Which skills do care professionals need to deal with the requirement of emotion work?
  3. Testing and evaluation of recommended actions to improve consequences of emotion work

In case you or your company are interested in emotion work, you would like to execute a study to dive into the topic of emotion work in your company or are interested in cooperation, feel free to approach us: emotionwork@hochschule-rhein-waal.de



Dr. Hannah K. Lennarz

Scientific staff

Julia Mai, M.Sc.

Scientific staff

Prof. Dr. Wögen Tadsen

Business Administration with a focus on personnel and organisation

Prof. Dr. Corinna Titze

Applied Psychology