Should job applicants be excited or calm? The role of culture and ideal affect in employment settings

Lucy Zhang BENCHARIT*, Yuen Wan HO, Helene H. FUNG, Dannii Y. YEUNG, Nicole M. STEPHENS, Romero Canyas RAINER, Jeanne L. TSAI*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Do cultural differences in emotion play a role in employment settings? We predicted that cultural differences in ideal affect-the states that people value and ideally want to feel-are reflected in: (a) how individuals present themselves when applying for a job, and (b) what individuals look for when hiring someone for a job. In Studies 12 (NS1 236, NS2 174), European Americans wanted to convey high arousal positive states (HAP; excitement) more and low arousal positive states (LAP; calm) less than did Hong Kong Chinese when applying for a job. European Americans also used more HAP words in their applications and showed more high intensity smiles in their video introductions than did Hong Kong Chinese. In Study 3 (N 185), European American working adults rated their ideal job applicant as being more HAP and less LAP than did Hong Kong Chinese, and in Study 4a (N 125), European American Masters of Business Administration (MBAs) were more likely to hire an excited (vs. calm) applicant for a hypothetical internship than were Hong Kong Chinese MBAs. Finally, in Study 4b (N 300), employees in a U.S. company were more likely to hire an excited (vs. calm) applicant for a hypothetical internship. In Studies 14a, observed differences were partly related to European Americans valuing HAP more than Hong Kong Chinese. These findings support our predictions that culture and ideal affect shape behavior in employment settings, and have important implications for promoting cultural diversity in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)377-401
Number of pages25
JournalEmotion
Volume19
Issue number3
Early online date5 Jul 2018
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Funding Information: This work was funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation awarded to Jeanne L. Tsai (BCS-1324461), a General Research Fund Grant from the Research Grant Council, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, China to Helene H. Fung (14403014), as well as grants from the Stanford Department of Psychology, Stanford Graduate Research Opportunity, and Stanford Department of East Asian Studies awarded to Lucy Zhang Bencharit. We thank Austyn Lee, Stephanie Lin, Michael Ko, Angela Lee, Grace Boorstein, Shawn Estrada, Marianne Naval, Sophie Ye, Christopher Lee, Leela Srinivasan, Qinzi Cao, Sitang Li, Brian Kim, Yong-hun Kim, Mallika Roy, and Angela Chou for their research assistance.

Keywords

  • Culture
  • Emotion
  • Emotional expression
  • Hiring
  • Organizational behavior

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'Should job applicants be excited or calm? The role of culture and ideal affect in employment settings'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this