Methods: Data were collected through a one-time online survey using standardized measures for all analyzed variables. Confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) and structural equation modeling (SEM) were completed. CFA was used to evaluate the measurement model for five latent constructs: 1) deep acting; 2) surface acting; 3) negative WHI; 4) positive WHI; 5) well-being. Using R studio (lavaan 0.6-3 package), Full Information Maximum Likelihood (FIML) was used to handle missing values, and Robust ML (MLR estimator) was used due to non-normal distributions of continuous variables.
Results: The results indicated that both measurement model (CFI=0.946, TLI=0.934, RMSEA=0.060, 90% CI: 0.047, 0.072, SRMR=0.047) and SEM model (CFI=0.947, TLI=0.922, RMSEA=0.059, 90% CI: 0.046, 0.072, SRMR=0.043) were a good fit. Standardized results from the SEM model showed that surface acting was positively related to negative WHI (β=0.462, p<.001), while it was negatively associated with positive WHI (β=-0.266, p<.01). Deep acting was a significant predictor of both negative WHI (β=-0.150, p<.05) and positive WHI (β=0.186, p<.05). Further, negative WHI was negatively related to well-being (β=-0.717, p<.001), and positive WHI was not related to well-being. In addition, surface acting had both a direct effect (β=-0.202, p<.01) and an indirect effect on well-being through negative WHI (β=-0.331, p<.001). Likewise, deep acting had an indirect effect on well-being through negative WHI (β=0.108, p<.05). This suggests that both surface and deep acting of emotional labor can lead to lower levels of well-being in social workers indirectly through their effect on negative WHI.
Conclusion: Analyses suggest that WHI does mediate the relationship between emotional labor and well-being among social workers. Aligning well with emotional labor theory, this study adds evidence that social workers perform emotional labor as part of their job with potentially serious effects on their well-being. Implications of this research for employment policies and supervision strategies for social workers will be discussed.