Do Emotional Intelligence and personality predict the way that Emotional Labour is performed
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Despite the many claims made about the importance of Emotional Intelligence (EI) for employee performance, no previous research has studied EI as an antecedent of Emotional Labour (EL). The focus of the present study was to compare the influence of EI and personality on the performance of EL. Additionally, this study attempted to test existing models of EL by performing exploratory factor analysis on a new scale of EL. An undergraduate-dominated sample of 298 individuals with relevant work experience completed scales measuring EI, EL, the Big Five personality factors and several job characteristics. Principal Components Analysis of the emotional labour scale produced three factors. The first factor represented a continuum between Surface Acting and expressing felt emotions, the second factor represented the use of Deep Acting to create appropriate emotions and the third factor, labelled ‘Cognitive Re-appraisal,’ represented a form of Deep Acting which has not been measured by previous scales of EL and involves using the imagination to alter inappropriate emotions. Three hierarchical multiple regression analyses showed that all of the personality factors except openness predicted at least one emotional labour strategy and that EI only predicted Cognitive Re-appraisal. These results provide further evidence that previous research has overestimated the influence of EI in the workplace. The only dispositional variables that predicted both Deep Acting and Surface Acting were Extraversion and Neuroticism, suggesting that personality primarily influences the need to regulate emotions, rather than the motivation. An analysis of occupational differences revealed that workers in care occupations engaged in more emotional investment when interacting with customers than workers in service and sales occupations. Issues discussed include the reliability of the factor representing Cognitive Re-appraisal and implications for employee selection and training procedures.