Journal of Behavioral Health and Psychology. 2014; 3(2):(103-318)


Are there diff erences between male versus female Emergency Medical Services professionals on emotional labor and job satisfaction?

Gary Blau, Melissa A. Bentley, Jennifer Eggerichs, Susan A. Chapman, Krupa S. Viswanathan

Abstract

Background: The research question investigated was: Do female Emergency Medical Services (EMS) professionals exert less emotional labor (less surface acting and deep acting) than male EMS professionals, and do females report higher job satisfaction? Surface acting involves displaying emotions that are not felt, for example, an EMS professional who “puts on” a sympathetic face for a patient’s problem but she/he is actually irritated. Thus, surface acting focuses on one’s outward behavior, such as regulating or modifying one’s emotional expression. Deep acting focuses on modifying inner feelings, where one attempts to “actually feel” the emotions one wishes to display, such as compassion for a patient’s problem. Methods: A large sample of 24,586 (33.9% response rate) nationally certified EMS professionals filled out a short paper and pencil survey in the Fall, 2011 to test the research question. Gender, surface acting, deep acting, and job satisfaction were measured. Results: The results showed that while female EMS professionals had statistically significant lower surface acting and deep acting, and higher job satisfaction than EMS males, the mean differences in scale scores were practically or clinically trivial. However, the results also showed that for all EMS respondents, as surface acting increased, job satisfaction decreased. Conclusion: Very small, non-meaningful differences in female versus male surface acting, deep acting, and job satisfaction were found. However, surface acting had a substantial negative relationship to job satisfaction while deep acting did not. Continued research into emotional labor, including its impact on EMS professionals is recommended, as well as role play training to help EMS professionals increase their deep acting skills.

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