Testing a eustress–distress emotion regulation model in British and Spanish front-line employees

Quinones, Cristina; Rodriguez-Carvajal, Raquel and Griffiths, Mark D. (2017). Testing a eustress–distress emotion regulation model in British and Spanish front-line employees. International Journal of Stress Management, 24(Suppl 1) pp. 1–28.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1037/str0000021


Studies suggest that suppressing emotions required by occupational roles (i.e., surface acting [SA]) can lead to employees’ emotional exhaustion. In contrast, trying to experience the emotions required by the role (i.e., deep acting [DA]) appears to be a less harmful strategy for the employee. However, problems with 1 of the mainstream measures of DA call for a reexamination of the construct’s operationalization and a clarification of its consequences. Furthermore, an integrated model explaining the differential outcomes of the 2 main emotion regulation (ER) strategies (SA and DA) is also required. Building on eustress–distress literature, it was hypothesized that cognitive reappraisal (a suggested operationalization of DA) would be associated with perception of thriving customer interactions, eliciting the eustress response (i.e., increased efficacy and commitment). It was also expected that suppression would be associated with perception of draining customer interactions, emotional exhaustion, and turnover intentions. Importantly, in line with the eustress–distress model, no cross-relationships between the eustress and distress route were hypothesized. A cross-national study comprised theme park employees from Spain (N = 208) and the United Kingdom (N = 204) and multigroup confirmatory factor analysis was used. Hypotheses were supported therefore the eustress–distress model offers a plausible explanation of the work-related ER outcomes. As an ER strategy, cognitive reappraisal may promote perceptions of thriving customer interactions that in turn generates opportunities to develop valued personal resources and organizationally desirable attitudes. Organizations should invest in individually based interventions to assist employees in interpreting customer demands in less harming ways.

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