Teaching is an emotional endeavor as teachers are expected to maintain proper emotional expression in their work. However, in some cases, emotional job demands can also be rewarding, depending on how one uses appropriate emotional labor strategies, including surface acting, deep acting, and expression of naturally felt emotion, one used. A metanalysis published in Educational Research Review comprehensively examined the relationship between teachers’ use of emotional labor strategies and their antecedents (in terms of job characteristics and individual characteristics) and consequences (in terms of burnout and job satisfaction).
To be included in the analysis, studies had to be quantitative studies written in English, conducted in a school setting using pure samples of school teachers, and reporting at least one correlation coefficient. 86 independent samples from 85 articles were included in the analysis, comprised of 33,248 teachers in total. The analysis demonstrated that emotional labor strategies were significantly related to burnout and satisfaction:
- Surface acting, faking unfelt emotions, or hiding inner feelings were found to be negatively related to teaching satisfaction (ES = -.22). They were also positively associated with emotional exhaustion (ES = .26) and depersonalization (ES = .24).
- Deep acting, i.e. modifying felt emotions into more desirable emotions, was positively related to teaching satisfaction (ES = .30) and negatively related to reduced accomplishment/ efficacy (ES = -.20) but had no significant relationships to the individual or interpersonal components of burnout.
- The expression of naturally felt emotions was negatively related to teachers’ emotional exhaustion (ES = -.21) ,depersonalization (ES = -.34) and reduced accomplishment/ efficacy (ES = -.320). It also positively associated with teaching satisfaction (ES = .28).
The authors concluded that the findings highlighted the potentially rewarding aspects of teachers’ emotional labor. Deep acting and expression of naturally felt emotion could contribute to higher teaching satisfaction.