Journal of Business and Psychology

, Volume 24, Issue 3, pp 245-255

First online:

Quality of Work Life as a Mediator Between Emotional Labor and Work Family Interference

  • Francis Yue-Lok CheungAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology and Social Policy, Lingnan University Email author 
  • , Catherine So-Kum TangAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, National University of Singapore

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We adopted the conservation of resources model (COR, Hobfoll Am Psychol 44:513–524, 1989; Hobfoll in Stress, culture, and community: the psychology and philosophy of stress, Plenum, New York, 1998) to examine the associations among emotional labor, work family interference, and quality of work life.


Cross-sectional, self-reported data were obtained from 442 Hong Kong Chinese service employees.


Correlation and hierarchical regression analyses showed that surface acting was a salient correlate of work-to-family interference, even when organizational display rules and employees’ demographic information were controlled. Furthermore, quality of work life had partially mediated the relationship between surface acting and work-to-family interference. However, deep acting and expression of naturally felt emotion did not relate to work-to-family interference. Finally, we found that family-to-work interference was a salient correlate of the use of surface acting in workplace.


This study provided useful information of how adopting different emotional labor strategies related to work family interference. Based on our results, the use of deep acting should be promoted in workplace because it related positively to quality of work life and it did not amplify the work-to-family interference.


While past studies often explored the role of emotional labor as the precursor of work family interference, our study is among the first attempt to examine family-to-work interference as the antecedent of emotional labor. Additionally, we had also confirmed the role of quality of work life as an important mediator between emotional labor-work-to-family interference.


Emotional labor Work family interference Quality of work life