University study: Faking a smile for customers linked with increased after-work drinking

(WSVN) - Faking a smile for customers may have a few adverse side effects, according to a recently released study.

Researchers at Penn State University and the University at Buffalo studied the drinking habits of people who routinely work with the public, such as employees in food service, nurses who work with patients, and teachers who work with students.

Researchers said they found a link between those who consistently faked or amplified positive emotions or suppressed negative emotions and heavier drinking after work.

“Faking and suppressing emotions with customers was related to drinking beyond the stress of the job or feeling negatively,” said Penn State psychology professor Alicia Grandey. “It wasn’t just feeling badly that makes them reach for a drink. Instead, the more they have to control negative emotions at work, the less they are able to control their alcohol intake after work.”

Grandey said the results suggest that employers should re-think “service with a smile” polices.

Grandey hypothesizes that by faking or suppressing emotions in front of customers, employees use a lot of self-control. Afterward, those same employees may not have as much self-control left to control how much they drink.

“Smiling as part of your job sounds like a really positive thing, but doing it all day can be draining,” Grandey said. “In these jobs, there’s also often money tied to showing positive emotions and holding back negative feelings. Money gives you a motivation to override your natural tendencies, but doing it all day can be wearing.”

Researchers said they used data from phone interviews with 1,592 U.S. workers. The data came from a larger survey funded by the National Institutes of Health, called the National Survey of Work Stress and Health. That study included almost 3,000 participants who were representative of the U.S. working population.

To read the full study, click here.

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