Does job complexity mitigate the negative effect of emotion-rule dissonance on employee burnout?

Bettina Kubicek, Christian Korunka

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


In interactions with clients or patients, human service workers are at risk of experiencing discrepancies between felt and organizationally mandated emotions (i.e. emotion-rule dissonance). Given the documented detrimental effects of such discrepancies on employee strain, the present study investigated whether job complexity mitigates the relation between emotion-rule dissonance and employee burnout using data from a two-wave panel study of eldercare workers (N = 583, 16-month time lag). Structural equation modelling revealed that emotion-rule dissonance at Time 1 preceded emotional exhaustion and depersonalization at Time 2. Beyond that, employees whose work offered job complexity were found to suffer less from emotional exhaustion and depersonalization when encountering discrepancies between felt and stipulated emotions compared to employees who conducted noncomplex work. Thus, designing complex tasks appears to be a crucial starting point for alleviating employee burnout in jobs that provoke emotion-rule dissonance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)379-400
Number of pages22
JournalWork and Stress
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2 Oct 2015


  • Emotional labour
  • burnout
  • eldercare
  • emotion-rule dissonance
  • job complexity
  • longitudinal


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