Tag Archives: impression management

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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When Appearance Matters for Career Development

Linda Jackson

Linda Jackson

Numerous social science studies link perceived attractiveness with perceived competence and likeability, including a meta-analysis by Michigan State University’s Linda JacksonJohn E. Hunter and Carole N. Hodge.
They found that physically attractive people are perceived as more intellectually competent, based on their research on “status generalization” theory and “implicit personality” theory.

Women who wore cosmetics were rated more highly for attractiveness, competence, likability and trustworthiness when viewed for as little as 250 milliseconds.
However, when raters looked at the faces for a longer period of time, ratings for likability and trustworthiness changed based on specific makeup looks even though volunteers accurately distinguished between judgments of facial trustworthiness and attractiveness.

Nancy Etcoff

Cosmetics differentially affected automatic and deliberative judgments, found Massachusetts General Hospital’s Nancy Etcoff and Lauren E. Haley collaborating with Shannon Stock of Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Boston University’s David M. House as well as Sarah A. Vickery of Procter & Gamble.

Sarah Vickery

Sarah Vickery

Attractiveness was significantly related to positive judgments of competence, but had a less systematic effect on perceived social warmth.
Integrating these findings, the team concluded that attractiveness “rivets attention, and impels actions that help ensure the survival of our genes.”

Although most people recognize the bias inherent in assumptions that attractive people are competent and that unattractive people are not, this correlation is important in impression management in the workplace, as well as in the political arena.

-*Where have you seen appearance exert an influence in workplace credibility, decision-making and role advancement?

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How Much Does Appearance Matter?

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“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, leading to increasing availability of work-life programs including 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 may engage in “surface acting” — or 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” 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.

Céleste Brotheridge

Céleste Brotheridge

In contrast, high emotional labor via 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.

Veikko Surakka

Veikko Surakka

Recipients of “surface acting” are usually adept at detecting 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

Related experiences can also take a toll, resulting in generalized stress and reduced quality of life outside of work, according to Georgetown’s Patricia Hewlin as well as to 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:

Kay Devine

Kay Devine

  • Impression management, characterized by ingratiating behaviors in two-person relationships.
    Terence Mitchell

    Terence Mitchell

    In the workplace, these can influence career outcomes, according to Georgia Tech’s Robert C. Liden and Terence R. Mitchell of University of Washington

Leon Festinger

Leon Festinger

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”?

Follow-share-like www.kathrynwelds.com and @kathrynwelds


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How Much Does Appearance Matter?

Orene Kearne

Orene Kearne started a lively discussion on LinkedIn closed group We Are Watermark,questioning the impact of Hillary Clinton’s appearance on her perceived competence in her role as US Secretary of State.

Hillary Clinton

Numerous social science studies link perceived attractiveness with perceived competence and likeability including a meta-analysis by

Linda Jackson

Linda Jackson and team, published in Social Psychology Quarterly, which supported “status generalization” theory and “implicit personality” theory that physically attractive people are perceived as more intellectually competent

A more recent study found that women who wore cosmetics were rated more highly on dimensions of attractiveness, competence, likability and trustworthiness when viewed for as little as 250 milliseconds.

However, when participants looked at the faces for a longer period of time, ratings for competence and attractiveness remained the same, but ratings for likability and trustworthiness changed based on specific makeup looks.
Volunteers were able to distinguish between judgments of facial trustworthiness and attractiveness.

Nancy Etcoff

Nancy Etcoff led a team of researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital, Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Boston University and Proctor & Gamble, and concluded that cosmetics could differentially affect automatic and deliberative judgments.

Attractiveness was related to positive judgments of competence, but a less systematic effect on perceived social warmth.

She distilled related findings into Survival of the Prettiest: The Science of Beauty.
and concluded that attractiveness “rivets attention, and impels actions that help ensure the survival of our genes.”

Although most people recognize the bias inherent in assumptions that attractive people are competent and that unattractive people are not, this correlation is important in impression management in the workplace, as well as in the political arena.

-*Where have you seen appearance exert an influence in workplace credibility, decision-making and role advancement?

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Catalyst 
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Women Get More Promotions With “Behavioral Flexibility”

More business promotions were awarded to women who display assertive, confident, and “aggressive” behaviors, and who reduce these characteristics depending on the social circumstance through “self-monitoring”, according to Olivia Mandy O’Neill of George Mason University and Charles O’Reilly of Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Olivia Mandy O’Neill

Their study, “Overcoming the Backlash Effect: Self–Monitoring and Women’s Promotions,” appeared in Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology.
They discussed “backlash” against women who “violate gender stereotypes” in the workplace.

Charles O’Reilly

Related research findings discuss “impression management” and “self-monitoring” skills for women to mitigate the impact of subtle factors that impede career advancement.

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