The Role of trait emotional intelligence and the Big Five in the selection of emotional labour strategies
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Abstract Objectives: We investigated the relationship of the Big Five personality dimensions and trait emotional intelligence (EI) with the selection of emotional labour strategies. Emotional labour refers to the control and management of emotions within the work role in order to comply with organisational norms and demands and is achieved though surface acting (SA), deep acting (DA) or the expression of naturally felt emotions. Participants: Participants were 298 undergraduates and academic staff referring to their part-time or full-time work in; customer service (40.9%) sales (21.5%) social work/nursing (26.3%) or other ‘people work’ jobs (11.4%). Method: Participants completed questionnaires containing the TEIQue – SF, Goldberg's short IPIP NEO, a perceived job demands scale and an emotional labour scale, both developed by Diefendorff, Croyle and Gosserand, (2005). The authors also developed 10 emotional labour items. Results: Exploratory factor analysis yielded the strategies surface acting and the natural expression of emotions on a continuum and two deep acting factors labelled developing feelings and the reappraisal of feelings. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis revealed that conscientiousness and extraversion were significant negative predictors of SA. Neuroticism was a significant positive predictor of SA. Agreeableness and extraversion were significant positive predictors of DA, developing feelings. Agreeableness and neuroticism were significant positive predictors of DA, reappraisal of feelings. Extraversion was a significant negative predictor of DA, reappraisal of feelings. Trait EI was not an independent predictor, but as hypothesised, it correlated negatively with SA and positively with DA reappraisal of feelings. No support was found for a positive relationship to DA, 3 developing feelings. Job type was also a significant predictor of SA and DA, developing feelings. Conclusion: The Big Five findings are theoretically consistent and have validated previous research. Trait EI showed trends in the expected direction and is an area worth pursuing. The benefit of a greater understanding of DA is discussed.