Are All Smiles Created Equal? How Emotional Contagion and Emotional Labor Affect Service Relationships
Hennig-Thurau T, Groth M, Paul M, Gremler D D
In this study, the authors examine the effects of two facets of employee emotions on customers' assessments ofservice encounters. Drawing on emotional contagion and emotional labor theories, they investigate the influence ofthe extent of service employees' display of positive emotions and the authenticity of their emotional labor displayon customers' emotional states and, subsequently, on customers' assessments of the service interaction and theirrelationship with the service provider. To test the study hypotheses, 223 consumers participated in a simulatedservice encounter in which actors played the roles of service employees. In a 2 × 2 factorial design, the employeesvaried both the extent of their smiling behavior and their emotional labor display by engaging in surface or deepacting. The results show that the authenticity of employees' emotional labor display directly affects customers'emotional states. However, contrary to expectations, the extent of employee smiling does not influence customeremotions, providing no support for the existence of primitive emotional contagion in service interactions.Furthermore, employee emotions exert an influence on customer outcomes that are of interest to marketers.