Study: Fake work smiles, niceness = heavier drinking

Study: Fake work smiles, niceness = heavier drinking

Maybe cranky people live longer, happier lives.

Consider this: Researchers say people who regularly fake or amplify positive emotions in front of customers might be at a higher risk of heavier drinking after work. Service with a smile, it seems, comes at a cost.

These results are from a study by scientists at Penn State and the University of Buffalo. They say suppressing emotions might expend our well of self-control. So, when we refrain from rolling our eyes at an irate person, we may not have anything left in the evening to limit our alcohol consumption.

The researchers note smiling at work seems like a positive thing, but having to do it all day can be draining. Indeed, the study says that more than a quarter of the workforce reaches for a drink within two hours of arriving home.

The study involved a phone survey of nearly 1,600 U.S. workers. Results were published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology.

Interestingly, researchers say these faked positive emotions, which they call surface acting, are less likely to drive us to drink when the work is personally rewarding. As an example, they say nurses might offer a false smile as they try to comfort or build a relationship with a sick patient. But a waiter having to fake cheeriness for a customer they will never see again, especially one loudly complaining that there isn’t enough mayo on their BLT, just saps the life right out of someone.

Researchers say workers with more self-control or who are permitted to be self-governed at work aren’t as badly affected by their insincere emotions.

So, don’t make fun of that cranky co-worker. They might just be on the path to a healthier life.

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