Validation of an Attributional and Distributive Justice Mediational Model on the Effects of Surface Acting on Emotional Exhaustion: An Experimental Study.Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 07 14; 18(14)IJ
Previous research has shown that surface acting-displaying an emotion that is dissonant with inner feelings-negatively impacts employees' well-being. However, most studies have neglected the meaning that employees develop around emotional demands requiring surface acting. This study examined how employees' responsibility attributions of client behavior demanding surface acting influence employees' emotional exhaustion, and the mediational role of distributive justice in this relationship. Relying on Fairness Theory, it was expected that employees' responsibility attributions of client behavior demanding emotion regulation would be related to their perceptions of distributive injustice during the service encounter, which in turn would mediate the effects of responsibility attribution on emotional exhaustion. In addition, drawing on the conservation of resources model, we contended that leader support would moderate the impact of distributive injustice on emotional exhaustion. Two scenario-based experiments were conducted. Study 1 (N = 187) manipulated the attribution of responsibility for emotional demands. The findings showed that distributive injustice and emotional exhaustion were higher when responsibility for the surface acting demands was attributed to the client. A bootstrapping mediational analysis confirmed employees' attributions have an indirect effect on emotional exhaustion through distributive justice. Study 2 (N = 227) manipulated responsibility attribution and leader support. The leader support moderation effect was confirmed.