Is "service with a smile" enough? Authenticity of positive displays during service encounters

Alicia A. Grandey, Glenda M. Fisk, Anna S. Mattila, Karen J. Jansen, Lori A. Sideman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

598 Scopus citations


Service providers use impression management strategies to engender satisfaction and repeat business in customers. Managing emotional expressions is one strategy to meet those goals. We extended research on the "Duchenne Smile" to see if authenticity of employee expressions influenced the impressions formed of the employee's friendliness and the overall satisfaction with the encounter. Furthermore, we took two other factors into account - task performance and busyness - to examine the conditions under which authenticity would have the greatest impact. In Study 1, we obtained reactions to videotaped simulations that manipulated authenticity of positive displays and task performance during a hotel check-in encounter. ANCOVA results supported that authenticity of the service provider enhanced perceptions of friendliness, but only influenced customer satisfaction when tasks were performed well. In Study 2, hierarchical linear modeling with reactions from 255 customers of 64 restaurant servers showed that perceived display authenticity enhanced the perceived friendliness of the employee when the store was slow, but less so when it was busy. Display authenticity had a direct effect on customer satisfaction, regardless of task performance (which was generally high) and busyness. We conclude that display authenticity is an extra-role behavior for service encounters with an additive effect on encounter satisfaction only when other factors are at optimal levels. We suggest implications for display rule policies and service training.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)38-55
Number of pages18
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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