Is it better to give or receive? the role of help in buffering the depleting effects of surface acting

Marilyn A. Uy, Jia Lin, Remus Ilies

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

129 Citations (Scopus)


The resource-depleting effect of surface acting is well established. Yet we know less about the pervasiveness of this depleting effect and what employees can do at work to replenish their resources. Drawing on conservation of resources theory and the ecological congruence model, we conduct a five-day diary study among customer service representatives (CSRs) to examine the extended depleting effect of surface acting and whether social interactions with coworkers (i.e., giving and receiving help) can mitigate the negative consequences of emotional labor.Momentary reports from102 CSRs indicate that withinperson daily surface acting positively predicted end-of-day emotional exhaustion, and the effect of emotional exhaustion spilled over to work engagement the following day. Analyzing the within-person moderating effects of giving and receiving help at work, we find that giving help buffered the depletion process while receiving help did not. We discuss the theoretical and practical significance of considering the temporality of the resourcedepleting effects of surface acting, the role of at-work help giving in buffering the negative effect of emotional labor that could affect the sense of self, and the importance of resource congruence in influencing the efficacy of buffering effects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1442-1461
Number of pages20
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business,Management and Accounting
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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