Emotional Labor in a Computer-Mediated Environment
As more organizations enter into a global economy, the use of computer-mediated communication (CMC) becomes a necessary component for survival. However, the effects of CMC on employees and customers is still not well understood. Although research on work-related emotions has been flourishing in the last several years (Brief & Weiss, 2002), there have been relatively few studies done on emotions in a computer-mediated environment and even less done on emotional labor in a computer-mediated environment. The purpose of the present research is to examine emotional regulation strategies in a computer-mediated environment. Affective events theory (AET) is utilized as an overarching framework to propose several research questions. Gross’s (1998) model of emotional regulation strategies as well as prominent emotional labor theories are reviewed (Grandey, 2000; Hobfoll, 1989) followed by a review of compute-rmediated communication theories that help guide understanding of emotions in an online-context (Byron, 2008; Friedman & Currall, 2003; Suler, 2004). Two studies were conducted to better understand emotional labor in an online environment. The first study used a qualitative approach to determine what affective events, emotional regulation strategies, and outcomes are likely to occur in an online environment. Results support assertions made by previous researchers (Byron, 2008; Friedman & Currall, 2003; Suler, 2004). These results suggest that the online environment is a unique setting in which customers are more likely to be rude, misunderstandings are likely to occur, and there are a wider array of emotion regulation strategies available. The second study failed to support many of the hypotheses that were developed based on study 1 results. These discrepancies and their implications are discussed.