Rising to the challenge: Deep acting is more beneficial when tasks are appraised as challenging

Jason L. Huang, Dan S. Chiaburu, Xin an Zhang, Ning Li, Alicia A. Grandey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

22 Scopus citations


Cumulative research indicates that deep acting has a nonsignificant relationship with employee exhaustion, despite arguments that deep acting can be beneficial. To illuminate when deep acting leads to more positive employee outcomes, we draw on the resource conservation perspective to propose a within-individual model of deep acting that focuses on service employees' daily fluctuation of emotional labor and emotional exhaustion. Specifically, we propose that the ongoing experience of felt challenge is a within-person boundary condition that moderates deep acting's relationship with emotional exhaustion, and model emotional exhaustion as a mediating mechanism that subsequently predicts momentary job satisfaction and daily customer conflict handling. Using an experience sampling design, we collected data from 84 service employees over a 3-week period. Deep acting was less emotionally exhausting for service providers when they saw their tasks as more challenging. Furthermore, emotional exhaustion mediated the deep acting by felt challenge interaction effect on momentary job satisfaction and daily customer conflict handling. The findings contribute to a better understanding of the deep acting experience at work, while highlighting customer conflict handling as a key behavioral outcome of emotional labor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1398-1408
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2015


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology

Cite this