What Does It Cost You to Get There? The Effects of Emotional Journeys on Daily Outcomes Academic Article uri icon


  • Scholarly understanding of emotions and emotion regulation rests on two incompatible truths-that positive emotions are positively beneficial and should be pursued, and that changing emotions may come at a cost. With both perspectives in mind, to really conclude that pursuing higher positive affect (PA) is a worthy journey, we must take into account the cost of that journey itself. We build from the affect shift literature and draw on self-regulation theories to argue that, although end-states characterized by more positive (and fewer negative) emotions will be beneficial, the emotional changes required to "get there" will have consequences for employee regulatory resources and subsequent behavior. In Study 1, we use experience sampling methodology to track employee emotional journeys-changes in emotions in terms of directionality (e.g., toward pleasure and away from pain) and distance (i.e., magnitude of change in terms of intensity changes within-emotions as well as magnitude of change in activation/valence level between emotions)-that capture the amount of emotion regulation preceding emotion end-states. Teasing apart variance attributable to the end-state versus the journey, we demonstrate that steeper daily PA trajectories (steeper increases in intensity of positive, activated emotions) and valence trajectories (steeper movement away from more negative emotions toward more positive emotions) lead to psychological depletion, ultimately triggering interpersonal counterproductive work behaviors and harming citizenship and performance. In Study 2, we test our core propositions in a lab experiment, demonstrating that different emotional journeys "leading up" to the same affective end-state can change the meaning of that end-state. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2021 APA, all rights reserved).

author list (cited authors)

  • Frank, E. L., Matta, F. K., Sabey, T. B., & Rodell, J. B.

publication date

  • January 1, 2021 11:11 AM