Differences in Emotional Labor Across Cultures: A Comparison of Chinese and U.S. Service Workers
- 2k Downloads
In the global economy, the need for understanding cross-cultural differences and the customer service-related processes involved in emotional labor is evident. The current study attempts to examine this issue by developing and testing hypotheses pertaining to cross-cultural differences between U.S. and Chinese service workers on the levels of display rule perceptions, emotion regulation, and burnout (i.e., emotional exhaustion, personal accomplishment, and depersonalization) as well as the relationships among these variables.
Data was collected from service workers in the U.S. (n = 280) and China (n = 231). We tested for measurement differences, mean differences, and differences in the relationships among emotional labor variables between the two samples using a variety of analyses.
It was found that the relatively robust sequence of display rules to surface acting to burnout was observed in a U.S. sample but was not observed in a Chinese sample, with some relationships being significantly weaker in the Chinese sample (e.g., surface acting to burnout dimensions) and others exhibiting relationships with the opposite sign (e.g., display rules were negatively related to surface acting in the Chinese sample).
The results of this study suggest that many of the relationships among emotional labor variables vary as a function of the cultural context under consideration.
This is the first study to directly compare emotional labor across samples from Eastern and Western cultures. Additionally, this study begins to answer questions concerning why models of emotional labor generated in a Western culture may not apply in other cultures.
KeywordsEmotional labor Cultural differences Emotional exhaustion Affectivity
- Best, R. G., Downey, R. G., & Jones, R. G. (1997, April). Incumbent perceptions of emotional work requirements. Paper presented at the 12th annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, St. Louis, MO.Google Scholar
- Cheung, G. W., Murrmann, K. F., Murrmann, S. K., & Becker, C. (2004). Noninvariant measurement versus traditional approaches for studying cultural differences: A case of service expectations. Journal of Hospitality and Tourism Research, 28, 375–390. doi: 10.1177/1096348004265282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Grandey, A. A., Fisk, G. M., Mattila, A. S., Jansen, K. J., & Sideman, L. A. (2005a). Is “service with a smile” enough? Authenticity of positive displays during service encounters. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 96, 38–55. doi: 10.1016/j.obhdp.2004.08.002.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Grandey, A. A., Diefendorff, J. M., & Rupp, D. E. (2013). Emotional labor: Overview of definitions, theories, and evidence. In A. A. Grandey, J. M. Diefendorff, & D. E. Rupp (Eds.), Emotional labor in the 21st century: Diverse perspectives on emotion regulation at work. New York: Psychology Press/Routledge.Google Scholar
- Hochschild, A. R. (1983). The managed heart: Commercialization of human feeling. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
- Hofstede, G. (1980). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Leu, J., Mesquita, B., Ellsworth, P. C., ZhiYoung, Z., Huijuan, Y., Buchtel, E., et al. (2010). Situational differences in dialectical emotions: Boundary conditions in a cultural comparison of North Americans and East Asians. Cognition and Emotion, 24(3), 419–435. doi: 10.1080/02699930802650911.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Maslach, C., & Jackson, S. E. (1981). The Maslach Burnout Inventory. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.Google Scholar
- Masuda, T., Ellsworth, P. C., Mesquita, B., Leu, J., Tanida, S., & Van de Veerdonk, E. (2008). Placing the face in context: Cultural differences in the perception of facial emotion. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(3), 365–381. doi: 10.1037/0022-3522.214.171.1245.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Mesquita, B., & Delvaux, E. (2013). A cultural perspective on emotion labor. In A. A. Grandey, J. M. Diefendorff, & D. E. Rupp (Eds.), Emotional labor in the 21st century: Diverse perspectives on emotion regulation at work. New York: Psychology Press/Routledge.Google Scholar
- Milfont, T. L., & Fischer, R. (2010). Testing measurement invariance across groups: Applications in cross-cultural research. International Journal of Psychological Research, 3(1), 111–121.Google Scholar
- Uchida, Y., Kitayama, S., Mesquita, B., Reyes, J. A. S., & Morling, B. (2008). Is perceived emotional support beneficial? Well-being and health in independent and interdependent cultures. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 34, 741–754. doi: 10.1177/0146167208315157.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar