Social Context Effects in the Display of Emotion: Accountability in a Simulated Organization


  • The authors thank the editor and two anonymous reviewers for their assistance with different aspects of this paper.

Sharmin Tunguz, 7 E. Larabee Street, Greencastle, IN 46135. E-mail:


Emotional labor involves employees' displays of appropriate emotions done to comply with emotional display rules created to attain organizational goals. This study examined whether display rules operationalized as process accountability (being held accountable for the quality of emotional displays during social interactions) and as outcome accountability (being held responsible for producing desired outcomes in others) would affect participants' emotional labor. In a simulated job interview, process accountability increased emotional labor; this occurred only in the absence of outcome accountability. The findings imply that display rules that encourage attention to sustaining quality interactions are likely to be more successful in achieving organizational goals than are rules that focus directly on producing predetermined outcomes.