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Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02197

Surface Acting, Emotional Exhaustion, and Employee Sabotage to Customers: Moderating Roles of Quality of Social Exchanges

 Hui Zhang1*, Zhiqing E. Zhou2, Yan Zhan3, Chengbin Liu1 and Li Zhang3
  • 1School of Sociology, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China
  • 2Department of Psychology, Baruch College (CUNY), United States
  • 3Department of Nursing, Taihe Hospital, Hubei University of Medicine, China

Using the conservation of resources theory and social exchange theory as our conceptual frameworks, the current study examined how employee surface acting relates to their sabotage to customers through the mediating role of emotional exhaustion, and explored the moderating roles of coworker exchange (CWX) and leader-member exchange (LMX). We collected two-wave time-lagged data from 540 clinical nurses and found that emotional exhaustion mediated the positive relationship between surface acting and employee sabotage to customers. In addition, we found that CWX buffered the positive effect of surface acting on emotional exhaustion, while LMX buffered the positive effect of emotional exhaustion on employee sabotage to customers, such that the effects were weaker when CWX and LMX were higher, respectively. These findings shed light on the effect of surface acting on employee harmful behaviors, the potential underlying mechanism, and boundary conditions to mitigate the negative consequences of surface acting.

Keywords: Surface acting, Emotional exhaustion, sabotage to customers, Coworker exchange, leader-member exchange

Received: 24 Aug 2018; Accepted: 23 Oct 2018.

Edited by:

JUNGKUN PARK, Hanyang University, South Korea

Reviewed by:

Jiseon Ahn, University of Houston, United States
Bryan Lee, Chungwoon University, South Korea  

Copyright: © 2018 Zhang, Zhou, Zhan, Liu and Zhang. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Hui Zhang, School of Sociology, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, China,