Fake a smile, drink a while? Examining two theoretical mechanisms linking emotional labor to alcohol use

Open Access
Sayre, Gordon M
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
June 12, 2017
Committee Members:
  • Alicia Ann Grandey, Thesis Advisor/Co-Advisor
  • James Marshall Lebreton, Committee Member
  • Karen Gasper, Committee Member
  • emotional labor
  • alcohol
  • occupational health
  • self-control
  • tension-reduction
While many researchers studying emotional labor (managing one's emotions to meet work requirements; Hochschild, 1983) have focused on job-related outcomes, we know significantly less about how emotional labor affects employees after work hours (Grandey & Gabriel, 2015). Employee alcohol use is one domain that may be influenced by emotional labor, given that much of the research on alcohol use has examined work stressors as a predictor of drinking (Cooper, Russell, & Frone, 1990; Frone, 2008). I conducted both a cross-sectional and time-separated test of the between-person relationship between emotional labor and alcohol, as well as a two-week daily diary study to examine the within-person relationship. Results revealed mixed support for a between-person relationship, but more consistent support for a within-person relationship, albeit in an unexpected direction. Furthermore, I tested the roles of two theoretically derived mediators—tension and depletion—at the within-person level. Results revealed that tension and depletion did not mediate the effect of emotional labor on alcohol use. Taken as a whole, these results indicate a need for further examination of alcohol use at the within-person level, and a possible need to expand beyond these two theoretical paradigms, both of which received little support. Implications and future directions are discussed.