Effects of service employees’ negative personality traits on emotional labour and job satisfaction: Evidence from two countries

Gianfranco Walsh, Zhiyong Yang, Jason Dahling, Mario Schaarschmidt, Ikuo Takahashi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Purpose: Frontline service employees’ (FLEs) positive personality traits enhance service experiences, for both employee and customer outcomes. Yet, limited research addresses negative personality traits. Drawing on the emotion regulation framework, the purpose of this paper is to propose a conceptual model in which three negative personality traits – Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism (the so-called dark triad (DT)) – represent antecedents, and FLE emotion regulation strategies (surface and deep acting) are mediators, all of which predict job satisfaction. Design/methodology/approach: The test of this model includes occupationally diverse samples of FLEs from an individualistic (the USA) and a collectivistic (Japan) country, to assess the potential moderating role of culture. Findings: The findings suggest that Machiavellianism relates more positively to surface and deep acting in Japan, whereas psychopathy relates more negatively to surface acting than in the USA. Unexpectedly, narcissism exhibits mixed effects on surface and deep acting in both countries: It relates positively to surface acting in the USA but prompts a negative relationship in Japan. The positive narcissism–deep acting relationship is also stronger for Japanese than for US FLEs. These findings help specify the effects of negative personality traits on important employee outcomes. Originality/value: This is the first study that relates service employees’ DTs with emotional labor resulting in new avenues for further research. The findings are managerially relevant because they help specify the effects of negative personality traits on important employee outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
JournalManagement Decision
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Jan 1



  • Dark triad
  • Emotional labour
  • Job satisfaction
  • Personality
  • Service employees

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Management Science and Operations Research

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