Emotional labor and burnout: Comparing two perspectives of "people work"

Céleste M. Brotheridge, Alicia A. Grandey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1359 Scopus citations


Although it has often been presumed that jobs involving "people work" (e.g., nurses, service workers) are emotionally taxing (Maslach & Jackson, 1982), seldom is the emotional component of these jobs explicitly studied. The current study compared two perspectives of emotional labor as predictors of burnout beyond the effects of negative affectivity: job-focused emotional labor (work demands regarding emotion expression) and employee-focused emotional labor (regulation of feelings and emotional expression). Significant differences existed in the emotional demands reported by five occupational groupings. The use of surface-level emotional labor, or faking, predicted depersonalization beyond the work demands. Perceiving the demand to display positive emotions and using deep-level regulation were associated with a heightened sense of personal accomplishment, suggesting positive benefits to this aspect of work. These findings suggest new antecedents of employee burnout and clarify the emotional labor literature by comparing different conceptualizations of this concept.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)17-39
Number of pages23
JournalJournal of Vocational Behavior
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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