Psychologists believe there is a link between faking a big smile at work and the risk of heavier drinking among staff.

The claims are the result of recent research by a team of researchers in the US who studied the drinking habits of people who routinely work with the public.

The psychologists looked at people in food service who work with customers, nurses who work with patients or teachers who work with students, for example.

They found a link between those who regularly faked or amplified positive emotions, like smiling, or suppressed negative emotions — resisting the urge to roll one's eyes, for example — and heavier drinking after work.

The researchers found that, overall, employees who interacted with the public drank more after work than those who did not. Additionally, faking or supressing emotion was also linked with drinking after work, and that connection was affected by the person's self-control and the job autonomy.

Interestingly, the study, recently published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, found that putting on a big smile is less likely to create problems when the work is personally rewarding to the employee.

Professor Alicia Grandey of Penn State University said, "Nurses, for example, may amplify or fake their emotions for clear reasons. They're trying to comfort a patient or build a strong relationship. But someone who is faking emotions for a customer they may never see again, that may not be as rewarding, and may ultimately be more draining or demanding”.

The researchers also concluded that when emotional effort is clearly linked to financial rewards, the effects aren't so bad, so faking a smile in the interests of a large tip may not be such a bad idea for a waiter, for example.

Professor Grandey said, “Smiling as part of your job sounds like a really positive thing, but doing it all day can be draining”.

Last reviewed 15 April 2019