Normalizing emotion in organizations: Making the extraordinary seem ordinary

Blake E. Ashforth, Glen E. Kreiner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

135 Scopus citations


Organizations use various means of regulating socially undesirable emotions, including normalizing. We define normalizing as institutionalized processes by which extraordinary situations are rendered seemingly ordinary. Four means of normalizing are discussed: (1) diffusing, where undesired emotions are dissipated or their impact is reduced; (2) reframing, where emotions or the situation are recast such that the emotions are forestalled, redefined, or rendered more acceptable; (3) adaptation, where repeated exposure to a situation reduces its emotional impact; and (4) ritualism, where the enactment of standardized procedures provides a sense of control and a momentum of means, thereby reducing emotions. We conclude that because normalizing often has a strong "as if" or pretend quality-requiring ongoing and mutual face-work, often supported by symbolic management-it is an inherently fragile practice that is easier to sustain in groups than as individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)215-235
Number of pages21
JournalHuman Resource Management Review
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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