Forcing a smile at work linked to heavy drinking

Fake smiling at its finest via Pixabay

Fake smiling at its finest via Pixabay

A new study from researchers at Penn State and the University of Buffalo found people who fake smile at customers at work are more likely to drink more heavily after work.

The research focused on the drinking habits of 3,000 employees whose jobs required a heavy amount of emotional labour, such as those in the food service industry, nursing, and teaching.

"Overall, surface acting was robustly related to heavy drinking, even after controlling for demographics, job demands, and negative affectivity, consistent with an explanation of impaired self-control", researchers wrote.

Alicia Grandey, professor of psychology at Penn State, says results suggest that employers may want to rethink their policies.

For any teacher who needs to spend 6 hours a day with children, it's probably not just the fake smiles that lead them to drinking. 'Instead, the more they have to control negative emotions at work, the less they are able to control their alcohol intake after work'. They also found surface acting was linked with after-work, alcoholic libations. In fact, the study showed employees who are highly impulsive also worked in a job where employees have short, one-time interactions with customers, like in a call center or coffee shop.

Employees who deal with customers, such as in retail, tend to drink the highest levels of alcohol.

Workers in these types of positions are often younger, in entry-level positions and potentially lack self-control tendencies and financial and social rewards that could buffer the emotional costs of surface acting.

'Smiling as part of your job sounds like a really positive thing, but doing it all day can be draining, ' Grandey added.

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