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Ripple Effects of Surface Acting: A Diary Study among Dual-Earner Couples

  • Arnold B. Bakker (a1), Ana Isabel Sanz-Vergel (a2), Alfredo Rodríguez-Muñoz (a3) and Mirko Antino (a3)


This study among 80 dual-earner couples examines the ripple effects of emotional labour – on a daily basis. Specifically, we propose that employees who engage in surface acting at work drain their energetic resources, and undermine their own relationship satisfaction. Drawing upon conservation of resources (COR) theory, we predicted that work-related exhaustion would mediate the relationship between surface acting at work and at home. In addition, we hypothesized that employees’ emotional energy in the evening would mediate the relationship between surface acting at home and (actor and partner) satisfaction with the relationship. Participants filled in a survey and a diary booklet during five consecutive working days (N = 80 couples, N = 160 participants x 5 days, N = 800 occasions). The hypotheses were tested with multilevel analyses, using the actor–partner interdependence model. Results showed that daily work-related exhaustion partially mediated the relationship between daily surface acting at work and at home. As hypothesized, daily surface acting at home influenced own and partner’s daily relationship satisfaction through reduced daily emotional energy. These findings offer support for COR theory, and have important implications for organizations that encourage emotion regulation.


Corresponding author

*Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Alfredo Rodríguez-Muñoz. Departamento de Psicología Social, del Trabajo y Diferencial de la Universidad Complutense. 28040 Madrid (Spain). E-mail:


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Baker, A. B., Sanz-Vergel, A. I., Rodríguez-Muñoz, A., & Antino, M. (2018). Ripple effects of surface acting: A diary study among dual-earner couples. The Spanish Journal of Psychology, 22. e7. Doi:10.1017/sjp.2019.6



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