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MNT: Maintaining a neutral expression takes its toll.

January 13, 2011

Medical News Today has an interesting article which points to research that suggests that people who have to suppress facial expression of emotions during their working day are more susceptible to fatigue and burn-out as a result.

Employees who have to maintain a neutral disposition while they are on the clock tend to spend more energy to meet that requirement; therefore, they have less energy to devote to work tasks, according to new research from Rice University, the University of Toronto and Purdue University.
The researchers found that workers who must avoid appearing either overly positive or negative — such as journalists, health care professionals, social workers, lawyers and law enforcement officers — suppress expressions of emotion more than workers in other service-oriented professions, where the expression of positive emotions is called for.
"Our study shows that emotion suppression takes a toll on people," said Daniel Beal, assistant professor of psychology at Rice and co-author of the study. "It takes energy to suppress emotions, so it’s not surprising that workers who must remain neutral are often more rundown or show greater levels of burnout. The more energy you spend controlling your emotions, the less energy you have to devote to the task at hand."

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