Work engagement as a moderator between emotional labor and burnout

Document Type


Source Publication

The 27th Conference of the European Health Psychology Society : Well-being, Quality of Life and Caregiving

Publication Date



European Health Psychology Society


Background: Emotional labor is a unique work stressor that affects psychological well-being of employees. Two forms of emotional labor are identified, namely surface acting (i.e. modify the external emotion only) and deep acting (i.e. regulate both external and internal emotion) and they relate differently to burnout (Hulsheger & Schewe, 2011). This study explores whether work engagement moderates the association between emotional labor and burnout.

Methods: Questionnaires were distributed to 254 teachers in China. Maslach Burnout inventory (Maslach & Jackson, 1986), Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (Schaufeli & Bakker, 2003), and Emotional Labor Scale (Diefendorff, Croyle, & Gosserand, 2005) were used to measure burnout, work engagement, and emotional labor, respectively.

Findings: Results show that surface acting was positively related to two burnout dimensions, including emotional exhaustion and depersonalization, whereas deep acting was negatively related to one burnout dimension, namely lack of personal accomplishment. Moderated regression showed that work engagement interacted with surface acting in predicting depersonalization: Employees with lower work engagement and frequently using surface acting tend to report higher level of depersonalization when compared to employees with higher work engagement. Discussion: Strategies to enhance employees’ psychological well-being in the workplace will be discussed, such as strengthening of social support from supervisors and coworker.

Additional Information

Abstract of presentation is also published in "Psychology & Health", 28(Supp 1), 191. doi: 10.1080/08870446.2013.810851



Recommended Citation

Cheung, F. (2013, July). Work engagement as a moderator between emotional labor and burnout. Paper presented at the 27th Conference of the European Health Psychology Society: Well-being, Quality of Life and Caregiving, Bordeaux, France.

This document is currently not available here.