The acceleration of emotional labor research: Navigating the past and steering toward the future

Allison S. Gabriel, James M. Diefendorff, Alicia A. Grandey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


The past four decades of scholarship on emotional labor—the regulation of feelings and expressions performed to fulfill interpersonal work role expectations—has transformed our understanding of the purpose and outcomes of managing emotions at work. In last decade's comprehensive review by Grandey and Gabriel (2015), emotional labor research was described as stalled, with a need for detours around roadblocks related to three areas: (1) conceptualization and measurement of emotional labor; (2) more attention to the why and when emotional labor occurs; and (3) a wider set of performance and well-being criteria. In our focused review of the most recent decade, we highlight how scholars navigated around the roadblocks, pointing out the remaining speedbumps and calling attention to the ways that research in Personnel Psychology contributed to these new directions. We conclude with a map pointing scholars toward the intersection of emotional labor with three grand challenges for the future of work: employee mental health, diversity and inclusion, and remote/virtual work and novel work arrangements—three topics that are needed extensions of where emotional labor scholarship has previously been. As such, our review builds an open road for the acceleration of emotional labor scholarship.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)511-545
Number of pages35
JournalPersonnel Psychology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jun 1 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • emotional labor
  • emotional performance
  • emotional regulation
  • well-being

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management


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