New study suggests fake smiling at work increases drinking habits
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WZTV) - A new study suggests employees who force themselves to smile are more likely to drink heavily after work.
Researchers at Penn State and the University of Buffalo monitored the drinking habits of 1,592 people who work with the public, which included food service workers, nurses and teachers.
The study found that more employees had to fake a smile or exaggerate positive emotions.
Researchers also found much of the opposite with many examples of suppressed negative emotions such as holding off eye rolls.
Alicia Grandley, professor of psychology at Penn State, hypothesized that these people were more likely to consume greater amounts of alcohol once they clocked out of work.
"Faking and suppressing emotions with customers was related to drinking beyond the stress of the job or feeling negatively," Grandley said. "It wasn't just feeling badly that makes them reach for a drink. Instead, the more they have to control negative emotions at work, the less they are able to control their alcohol intake after work."
Grandey said that previous research has shown a connection between service workers and problems with drinking, but the reason was unknown.
She believes by faking or suppressing emotions, the workers are using much of their self-control, leaving less to regulate how much they drink.
"Smiling as part of your job sounds like a really positive thing, but doing it all day can be draining," Grandey said. "In these jobs, there's also often money tied to showing positive emotions and holding back negative feelings. Money gives you a motivation to override your natural tendencies, but doing it all day can be wearing."
The data came from a larger survey funded by the National Institutes of Health, called the National Survey of Work Stress and Health, which studied nearly 3,000 participants of the U.S. working population, according to Penn State.