Psychological Capital as a Moderator between Emotional Labor, Burnout, and Job Satisfaction among School Teachers In China

Teacher's job burnout is associated with psychological capital and certain types of emotional labor. Cheung, Tang, and Tang (2011) surveyed 264 full-time school teachers in China to study how psychological capital could moderate relationships between emotional labor, burnout, and job satisfaction. The psychological capital was addressed in four personal qualities: efficacy, optimism, hope, and resilience.

The purpose of the research was to examine the associations among psychological capital, emotional labor, burnout, and job satisfaction. It also aimed to examine if psychological capital could function as a moderator between emotional labor and burnout as well as job satisfaction. Four research questions were addressed in this study: Are emotional labor strategies associated with burnout and job satisfaction? Is psychological capital linked to burnout and job satisfaction? How is psychological capital related to emotional labor strategies? And does psychological capital moderate the relationships between emotional labor strategies, burnout, and job satisfaction?

In this study, emotional labor strategies were measured by the Emotional Labor Scale. Psychological capital was measured by an adopted 24-item scale. Job satisfaction was measured by a customized 5-item job satisfaction index. Teacher burnout was measured by the 22-item Maslach Burnout Inventory (Cheung et al., 2011). Results showed that psychological capital was negatively associated with burnout and the surface acting of emotional labor, and was positively associated with job satisfaction, deep acting of emotional labor, and expression of naturally felt emotion. Job satisfaction was negatively associated with burnout, surface acting, and deep acting of emotional labor; job satisfaction was positively associated with expression of naturally felt emotion. The relationship between all outcome variables and emotional labor was moderated by psychological capital.

This study contributed to the new knowledge of emotional labor in the education sector where relatively little research had been done in this subject. According to Cheung et al. (2011), teachers were required to perform emotional labor in school settings to ensure successful delivery of service to students. The emotional labor, such as surface acting, was significantly correlated with stress and emotional burnout, particularly depersonalization. Because teaching jobs involve high emotional demands, future studies may examine teacher's emotional manifestations in relation to multiple job demand and resource stressors.


Cheung, F., Tang, C., & Tang, S. (2011). Psychological capital as a moderator between emotional labor, burnout, and job satisfaction among school teachers in China. International Journal of Stress Management, 18(4), 348-371. doi:10.1037/a0025787

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