Emotional Labor: Relevant Theory for Occupational Health Practice in Post-Industrial America

Arnold B. De Castro, Jacqueline Agnew, Sheila T. Fitzgerald

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


The occupational experience of workers in service-oriented jobs can have profound effects on their health and well being, such as burnout, inauthenticity, and job dissatisfaction. The growing service economy and resultant proliferation of service-oriented jobs in current times and in the future must be acknowledged and investigated. The move from an economy driven by manufacturing industries to one dominated by service industries has taken place and currently prevails in the United States. In recognizing this shift in the "work" experience of the American work force, the changing nature of work related hazards must also be considered. Emotional labor has come to be known as an appreciable aspect of work involving direct interactions with clients and customers that can lead to adverse psychosocial outcomes. These relationships reveal the potential unpleasantness of service employment in which the performance of emotional labor is unavoidable. Although worker attributes can influence the emotional experience on the job, emotional labor is also likely to threaten the well being of workers through significantly high demands to express organizationally desired emotions and low control over what emotions can be felt and displayed. Recognition and investigation of emotional labor is necessary to understand its effects on worker populations. Conceptual models featuring emotional labor are available to guide research. However, discrimination among them based on utility and application in relation to identified study objectives and needs is essential.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)109-115
Number of pages7
JournalWorkplace Health and Safety
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Nursing (miscellaneous)


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