Emotional Labor Among Early Childhood Teachers: Frequency, Antecedents, and Consequences

Qilong Zhang, Jianqin Yin, Hua Chen, Quan Zhang, Weiying Wu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


This study examined variables influencing, and influenced by, emotional labor, as well as its frequency among early childhood teachers. Data were obtained through a multidimensional self-report questionnaire survey with 1,264 early childhood teachers from five provinces in mainland China. Multiple one-sample t-tests revealed that surface acting was significantly less frequently exhibited than deep acting and natural acting. Structural equation modeling (SEM) confirmed that effort, teaching experience had a positive effect on surface acting, and family interference had a negative effect on natural acting. The SEM analysis also confirmed that surface acting had a positive effect on emotional exhaustion and natural acting had a negative effect on low accomplishment and depersonalization. While these results are generally in accord with previous studies, this study portrays a fuller image of emotional labor in early childhood teaching, which supports the current reconceptualization of the early childhood teaching profession. The study has implications for both practice and future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)288-305
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of Research in Childhood Education
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • China
  • early childhood
  • emotional labor
  • teacher

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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