Tag Archives: compliance

“Surface Acting” At Work Leads to Stress Spillover

David Wagner

David Wagner

Employers, employees, and benefits providers recognize that experiences at work can affect employees’ quality of life outside of work.
This linkage has spawned workplace 
Employee Assistance Programs, on-site medical centers, concierges, meals, and fitness centers in the US.

Christopher Barnes

Christopher Barnes

When employees mask their true feelings in work situations, they engage in “surface acting” — displaying appropriate, but unfelt facial expressions, verbal interactions, and body language.

Brent Scott

Brent Scott

Surface acting at work was associated with emotional exhaustion, work-to-family conflict, and insomnia outside of work for more than 70 volunteers in a high stress public service occupation, according to Singapore Management University’s David T. Wagner, Christopher M. Barnes of University of Washington, and Brent A. Scott of Michigan State University.

Arlie Hochschild

Arlie Hochschild

Emotional labor” was Arlie Hochshild’s earlier term for “surface acting” in customer service interactions when employees present prescribed verbalizations and emotions.

She contrasted “surface acting” with “deep acting” in which the person:

  • Exhibits the emotion actually felt,
  • Uses past emotional experiences to elicit real emotion and empathic connection with others, in a form of “organizational method acting.
Christina Maslach

Christina Maslach

Surface acting can lead to occupational “burnout,” characterized by emotional exhaustion, detachment from others, and reduced workplace performance, noted University of California Berkeley’s Christina Maslach and Susan Jackson.

Céleste Brotheridge

Céleste Brotheridge

In contrast, high emotional labor with deep acting was associated with a greater sense of personal accomplishment in research by University of Regina’s Celeste Brotheridge and Alicia Grandey of Penn State.

Veikko Surakka

Veikko Surakka

Recipients of “surface acting” are usually accurately detect that it’s an inauthentic display, according to University of Tampere Veikko Surakka and Jari K Hietanen of University of Helsinki.

Patricia Hewlin

Patricia Hewlin

Similarly, “Facades of Conformity”, impression management, and
unwilling compliance are associated with generalized stress and reduced quality of life outside of work, according to Georgetown’s Patricia Hewlin, University of Lethbridge’s Karen H. Hunter, Andrew A. Luchak of University of Alberta, and Athabasca University’s Kay Devine.

Kay Devine

Kay Devine

  • Terence Mitchell

    Impression management, characterized by ingratiating behaviors in two-person relationships, can influence career outcomes, according to Georgia Tech’s Robert C. Liden and Terence R. Mitchell of University of Washington.

  • Compliance, identified by publicly stating changed beliefs in response to external pressures, without modifying actual personal convictions, according to Leon Festinger.
Leon Festinger

Leon Festinger

Most people at work encounter situations in which they must behave in “appropriate” ways inconsistent with their true feelings, and may experience similar stress spillover from “surface acting” at work.

-*How do you prevent “burnout” when workplace settings seem to require “surface acting”?


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Facades of Conformity and Surface Acting: Stress for Women, Minorities

David Wagner

David Wagner

When employees mask their true feelings in work situations, they may engage in “surface acting” — or displaying appropriate, but unfelt facial expressions, verbal interactions, and body language.

Christopher Barnes

Christopher Barnes

Surface acting at work was associated with emotional exhaustion, work-to-family conflict, and insomnia outside of work for more than 70 volunteers in a high stress public service occupation, according to Singapore Management University’s David T. Wagner, Christopher M. Barnes of University of Washington and Brent A. Scott of Michigan State University.

Arlie Hochschild

Arlie Hochschild

Emotional labor” is Arlie Hochshild’s earlier term for “surface acting” in customer service interactions, in which employees present prescribed verbalizations and emotions, even when they are not genuinely felt.

She contrasted “surface acting” with “deep acting” in which the person:

  • Exhibits the emotion actually felt,
  •                              Uses past emotional experiences to elicit real emotion and empathic connection with others, in a form of “organizational method acting.
Christina Maslach

Christina Maslach

Surface acting can lead to occupational “burnout,” characterized by emotional exhaustion and detachment from others and reduced workplace performance, noted University of California Berkeley’s Christina Maslach and Susan Jackson.

In addition, Recipients of “surface acting” usually detect that it’s an inauthentic display, according to University of Tampere Veikko Surakka and Jari K Hietanen of University of Helsinki.

Celeste Brotheridge

Celeste Brotheridge

By contrast, deep acting has been associated with a greater sense of personal accomplishment in research by University of Regina’s Celeste Brotheridge and Alicia Grandey of Penn State.

Patricia Hewlin

Patricia Hewlin

Surface Acting can also take a toll, resulting in generalized stress and reduced quality of life outside of work, according to Georgetown’s Patricia Hewlin, and supported by separate findings by University of Lethbridge’s Karen H. Hunter, Andrew A. Luchak of University of Alberta and Athabasca University’s Kay Devine.

They identified stress-inducing behaviors including:

Even people not performing customer-facing roles may encounter situations in which they must behave in “appropriate” ways inconsistent with their true feelings, and experience similar stress spillover from “surface acting” at work.

-*How do you prevent “burnout” when workplace settings seem to require “surface acting”?

-*In what organizational contexts have you observed “Facades of Conformity” and their consequences?

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Touch Can Increase Compliance, Persistence, Performance

Edward T. Hall

Edward T. Hall

Fifty years ago, Edward T. Hall, then of Illinois Institute of Technology, identified differences in interpersonal space ranging from intimate to personal to social to public, and inspired examination of acceptable interpersonal distance across cultures, genders, and organizations.

Circles of Interpersonal Space

Circles of Interpersonal Space

A decade later, Chris Kleinke, then of Wheaton College, expanded Hall’s work on “proxemics” as he explored the impact of close contact in public spaces, particularly non-intimate touching.

He found that in a relatively low-touch culture like the U.S., directing gaze and touch toward others increased their compliance with ambiguous requests in laboratory experiments.

Chris Kleinke

Chris Kleinke

Since then, this finding has been incorporated in sales, learning, healthcare, and other service settings based on evidence that touch increased performance when applied after a person initially agreed to a request, in research by Oakland University Jane C. Nannberg and Christine H. Hansen.

David Vaidis

David Vaidis

“Dosage” of touch had an additive effect when University of Paris’ David Vaidis and Severine Halimi-Falkowicz of University of Provence found that people who were touched two times persisted in lengthy tasks more than people who were touched once.

Likewise, University of Missouri’s Frank N. Willis and Helen K. Hamm found that touch contributed to compliance with challenging requests, especially in gaining agreement from people of the same gender as the requestor.

Séverine Halimi-Falkowicz

Séverine Halimi-Falkowicz

Another demonstration of influential touch was when female restaurant servers briefly touched customers on the hand or the shoulder while returning change from the bill payment.

These customers’ reactions were compared with other patrons who were not touched by the servers, in research by University of Mississippi‘s  April H. Crusco and Christopher G. Wetzel of Rhodes College.

Chris Wetzel

Chris Wetzel

They evaluated customers’ reactions to service, food, setting, and other elements of the dining experience with a restaurant survey as well as the gratuity amount, expressed as a percentage of the bill.

Customers who were touched on the hand or shoulder gave the server significantly larger gratuities than those who were not touched, and there was no significant difference between tips from customers who had been touched on the hand or the shoulder.

These findings confirm the influence of interpersonal touch in public commercial settings, and offer a reminder that non-intimate touching can increase cooperation and commitment to complete lengthy or challenging tasks.

-*How have you used interpersonal touch in public work situations to enable cooperation and performance?

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Reduce Evaluator Bias: Showcase Best Features in Any Offer

Less can be more when designing offers, whether when offering services in job applications, crafting sales offers, or positioning for advantage in any negotiation.

Kimberlee Weaver

Kimberlee Weaver

Kimberlee Weaver of Virginia Tech and University of Michigan’s Stephen Garcia and Norbert Schwarz showed that more is not better in augmenting offers when additional elements are of lower quality.

Stephen Garcia

Stephen Garcia

Using the Presenter’s Paradox in a series of studies, they showed that positive impressions can be reduced when they are presented in the company of lower value items.

Norbert Schwartz

Norbert Schwartz

Weaver, Garcia and Schwarz offered volunteer “buyers” different iPod Touch packages: iPod and cover OR this package with a free music download.

“Buyers”, on average, offered to pay more for the lesser package, and sellers inaccurately expected that buyers would prefer the fully-featured package.
This suggests that expectations about consumer preferences may be poor predictors of people’s actual selection and purchasing behaviors.

The average price offered for the basic package, iPod and cover was $242, but the package with one free song download averaged just $177.
The additional feature reduced package’s perceived value by more than 25%.

Those designing and evaluating offers can mitigate the impact of this judgment bias by considering the value of the overall offering, then eliminating lower-value components that might reduce the comprehensive value.

This is relevant to job seekers who might be tempted to “pad” a resume with low-value activities, accomplishments and skills.
Weaver, Schwartz, and Garcia’s findings suggest that showcasing most compelling capabilities provides a more power presentations of personal and product attributes.

Santa Clara University’s Jerry Burger might argue that “more might be more” when he found that Steve Jobs’s “that’s-not-all” (TNA) technique was more effective than the much-researched “door-in-the-face” (DITF) approach in gaining agreement to sales propositions.

Jerry Burger

Jerry Burger

That’s-not-all” offers a product at a high price, then doesn’t allowing the volunteer to respond immediately.
The procedure follows up by augmenting the offer with another product or lowering the price.

Burger found “that’s-not-all” produced superior simulated sales outcomes to the much-researched “door-in-the face” (DITF) approach, which presents an unreasonably high offer, then follows with a more acceptable proposal.

Numerous replications of “door-in-the-face” have shown than people are more likely to agree to a second more modest request after an unreasonable high first proposal.
Even when the same offer is presented as a single offer, people are significantly more likely to accept it when it’s presented after an unreasonable proposal.

Burger suggested that “that’s-not-all” may have produced greater compliance because people felt obliged to respond to a new offer through an implicit norm of reciprocity,  and because the augmented offer changed the perceived anchor point that volunteers used to evaluate the offer.

-*How do you mitigate bias in evaluating offers?
-*How do you design the most attractive offer when offering something for sale?
-*Which technique for designing offers has been most persuasive to you as a purchaser?

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