The Costs of Mindfulness at Work: The Moderating Role of Mindfulness in Surface Acting, Self-Control Depletion, and Performance Outcomes
Journal of Applied Psychology
By and large, research in organizational behavior and psychology has emphasized thatmindfulness should have positive implications for employee well-being and performance, largelythrough benefits to self-control. Although some have noted that mindfulness could also have a“dark side,” researchers have yet to examine the potential costs of being mindful at work.Building on prior studies that have found that mindfulness leads to lower levels of surface acting,we investigate the possibility that when mindful employees engage in surface acting, it maycontribute to greater self-control depletion, which in turn, results in undesirable performanceoutcomes. Using six field studies, we collected data at multiple points in time from bothemployees and their supervisors to test our theoretical model. In two Study 1 samples, we foundthat mindfulness moderated the relationship between surface acting and self-control depletion,such that this relationship was stronger for more mindful individuals. In four Study 2 samples,we replicated our Study 1 results and found that the mediated relationship between surface actingand five dimensions of employee performance via self-control depletion is moderated bymindfulness at the first stage, such that this mediated relationship is stronger for more mindfulindividuals. We discuss the implications of this work for future investigations of mindfulness,self-control, emotional labor, and performance outcomes.