Forcing a smile at work could lead to heavier drinking, study says

Posted at 4:22 PM, Apr 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-12 19:33:41-04

(KGTV) — Before you reluctantly stretch the outer edges of your mouth to appear as though you approve of the subject at hand, consider your liver.

According to a recent study by researchers at Penn State and the University of Buffalo, forcing a smile at work could lead to drinking heavily after hours.

Researchers interviewed more than 1,500 participants who routinely work with the public, including nurses, service industry workers, and teachers.

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Data showed that those who found themselves regularly faking or amplifying positive emotions, like smiling, were more likely to engage in heavier drinking after work, researchers said. Those who suppressed negative emotions (eye roll, anyone) were also more likely to drink heavily after work.

While previous research has linked service workers with problematic drinking, Alicia Grandey, professor of psychology at Penn State, said it's not clear why.

"Faking and suppressing emotions with customers was related to drinking beyond the stress of the job or feeling negatively," Grandey said. "It wasn't just feeling badly that makes them reach for a drink. Instead, the more they have to control negative emotions at work, the less they are able to control their alcohol intake after work."

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Grandey said she believed employees who fake or suppress emotions may use more self-control in the workplace, and thus, not have a lot of self-control afterward.

"In these jobs, there's also often money tied to showing positive emotions and holding back negative feelings. Money gives you a motivation to override your natural tendencies, but doing it all day can be wearing," Grandey said.

To read more about the study, click here.