Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Only holders of brainy jobs get paid for emotional toil


Emotionally draining jobs bring few monetary rewards if the employment does not require great intellectual demands, a new University of Florida study finds.

Friendly waiters, angry bill collectors and nurturing child-care workers are among the many American workers who experience emotionally charged encounters that require shows of empathy or other feelings but have little recompense, said John Kammeyer-Mueller, a UF management professor and one of the study’s researchers.

Unlike professionals whose jobs require less technical skill, however, those in positions that are high in both intellectual and emotional demands, such as doctor, lawyer or CEO, are amply rewarded for the stress they place on the worker’s state of mind, he said. "Initially, we expected people to get paid more for anything that makes their job harder because that’s been the traditional economic model," Kammeyer-Mueller said. "But we found that many people who have emotionally demanding jobs actually get paid less than their counterparts who have less emotionally demanding jobs."

Using government data on 560 occupations and analyzing salaries and wages for these occupations, his team sought to determine if there was a relationship between salaries and "emotional labor," the task of having to act out an emotion as part of a job that is different from what the person actually feels.

Some economic models hold that anything that makes a job a little more challenging increases the pay rate, Kammeyer-Mueller said. However, he said emotional work might not be unpleasant for people who find that managing their emotions and interacting with others is rewarding. "The reasons some of these jobs with high emotional demands don’t pay as much is that often people in these positions crave the kinds of social interactions that go with the emotional labor," he said.

In the case of a flight attendant or counter worker, the social interactions that accompany the emotional demands of the jobs may be appealing because they make the job less tedious than working on an assembly line or in other areas of manufacturing, he said. "Most people would rather work behind the counter at Starbucks than work in a factory if given a choice," he said. "No matter how clean and safe the factory is, they would find it boring work."

Because employees with heavy intellectual demands face an additional burden by having strenuous emotional responsibilities, too, they are more likely to be compensated for them, he said. "In a high-intensity position, like a doctor or a lawyer, you already have a job that is interesting and difficult," he said. "Once you add the emotional component on top of that, it becomes overwhelming for a lot of people."

Few people are able to tackle both high cognitive and emotional challenges, and the marketplace rewards this scarcity with higher salaries for these occupations, he said. "If this trend continues, we may see even more of a split between the top and bottom parts of the income distribution, between lawyers and psychiatrists, on the one hand, and manicurists and waiters on the other," Kammeyer-Mueller said.

The results have important implications because jobs with emotional demands are becoming increasingly prevalent with the shift from a manufacturing to a service economy, he said. "Especially with the baby boomers approaching retirement, there is going to be a huge demand for people to provide care for them as they get older and need more help," he said.

Jobs with low cognitive and emotional demands include roofers, cafeteria attendants, hand sewers and key punch operators, Kammeyer-Mueller said. Probably the fewest number of people have jobs with high intellectual skills and low emotional demands, such as physicists, astronomers and zoologists, he said.

Alicia Grandey, an industrial-organizational psychology professor at Pennsylvania State University who studies employee emotions, said the study shows how society continues to financially undervalue labor that takes care of people, such as child care, compared with professions that take care of things, such as computer operators. "If it doesn’t act as a wake-up call to re-evaluate our compensation system, I hope this study makes customers a little bit more respectful toward that person who serves them their morning coffee. The kindness of strangers may be what makes that job worthwhile."

Kammeyer-Mueller did the study from 2001 to 2003 with Theresa Glomb, an industrial relations professor at the University of Minnesota, and Maria Rotundo, a professor in human resources and organizational behavior at the University of Toronto. The results appeared in the August issue of the Journal of Applied Psychology. "I think jobs in the future are going to require being better able to deal with emotional demands, though I’m not sure we can train people for that," he said. "But those who are able to control their emotions while also serving in intellectually demanding jobs will have the opportunity to make more money."

John Kammeyer-Mueller | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Rutgers-led innovation could spur faster, cheaper, nano-based manufacturing
14.02.2018 | Rutgers University

nachricht New study from the University of Halle: How climate change alters plant growth
12.01.2018 | Martin-Luther-Universität Halle-Wittenberg

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Researchers at Fraunhofer monitor re-entry of Chinese space station Tiangong-1

In just a few weeks from now, the Chinese space station Tiangong-1 will re-enter the Earth's atmosphere where it will to a large extent burn up. It is possible that some debris will reach the Earth's surface. Tiangong-1 is orbiting the Earth uncontrolled at a speed of approx. 29,000 km/h.Currently the prognosis relating to the time of impact currently lies within a window of several days. The scientists at Fraunhofer FHR have already been monitoring Tiangong-1 for a number of weeks with their TIRA system, one of the most powerful space observation radars in the world, with a view to supporting the German Space Situational Awareness Center and the ESA with their re-entry forecasts.

Following the loss of radio contact with Tiangong-1 in 2016 and due to the low orbital height, it is now inevitable that the Chinese space station will...

Im Focus: Alliance „OLED Licht Forum“ – Key partner for OLED lighting solutions

Fraunhofer Institute for Organic Electronics, Electron Beam and Plasma Technology FEP, provider of research and development services for OLED lighting solutions, announces the founding of the “OLED Licht Forum” and presents latest OLED design and lighting solutions during light+building, from March 18th – 23rd, 2018 in Frankfurt a.M./Germany, at booth no. F91 in Hall 4.0.

They are united in their passion for OLED (organic light emitting diodes) lighting with all of its unique facets and application possibilities. Thus experts in...

Im Focus: Mars' oceans formed early, possibly aided by massive volcanic eruptions

Oceans formed before Tharsis and evolved together, shaping climate history of Mars

A new scenario seeking to explain how Mars' putative oceans came and went over the last 4 billion years implies that the oceans formed several hundred million...

Im Focus: Tiny implants for cells are functional in vivo

For the first time, an interdisciplinary team from the University of Basel has succeeded in integrating artificial organelles into the cells of live zebrafish embryos. This innovative approach using artificial organelles as cellular implants offers new potential in treating a range of diseases, as the authors report in an article published in Nature Communications.

In the cells of higher organisms, organelles such as the nucleus or mitochondria perform a range of complex functions necessary for life. In the networks of...

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Virtual reality conference comes to Reutlingen

19.03.2018 | Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

TRAPPIST-1 planets provide clues to the nature of habitable worlds

21.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

The search for dark matter widens

21.03.2018 | Materials Sciences

Natural enemies reduce pesticide use

21.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>