Study: If you’re forced to smile at work, it forces you to drink at home

Employment is a cruel mistress, yes, but according to a new study, those who are forced to smile at work often drink heavily when they get home.



Retail, as anyone who has experienced it knows, is a real douchecanoe. Your toxic workplace bae asks many things of you, chief of which is forcing a smile, or elevating your voice to the highest empathetic choir, as you ask how people are today, and if there’s anything that you can do for them, or where they can locate you if they change their minds regarding said help.

However, researchers at Penn State and the University at Buffalo believe that false workplace emotions lead to self-medication, in this case, heavier drinking hours off the clock.

The study, published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology believes that service with a smile can often lead to orange juice with vodka.

In a statement, Alicia Grandey, professor of psychology at Penn State, said the results suggest that employers may want to stop forcing their employees to fake emotions.

“Faking and suppressing emotions with customers was related to drinking beyond the stress of the job or feeling negatively,” Grandey said. “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.”

“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.”

The researchers examined data that came from 1,592 workers in the United States. These workers were asked how often they faked their smiles, how often they drank after work, how much control they feel they have on the job and how impulsive they are.

“The relationship between surface acting and drinking after work was stronger for people who are impulsive or who lack personal control over behavior at work,” Grandey said. “If you’re impulsive or constantly told how to do your job, it may be harder to rein in your emotions all day, and when you get home, you don’t have that self-control to stop after one drink.”

The research discovered a rather galling link, with those who have one-off encounters with customers (your average clerk/cashier/salesperson) more likely to dance with sweet lady booze when they get home.

As Grandey summarised: “Employers may want to consider allowing employees to have a little more autonomy at work, like they have some kind of choice on the job,” Grandey said. “And when the emotional effort is clearly linked to financial or relational rewards, the effects aren’t so bad.”

Just let us be us, retail.

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