Can Avoiding Conflict be Beneficial? A Field Investigation of Gender, Conflict Avoidance, Emotional Labor, and Emotional Exhaustion

37 Pages Posted: 20 Jun 2011

See all articles by Julia Bear

Julia Bear

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology

Laurie R. Weingart

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business

Gergana Todorova

Carnegie Mellon University

Date Written: June 17, 2011

Abstract

Past research has shown that situations involving conflict arouse greater anxiety and discomfort in women than men, and that women are more likely to avoid conflict. In this research we examine how conflict avoidance affects emotional exhaustion. Specifically we asked, does avoiding conflict reduce emotional exhaustion or does avoiding have additional negative emotional effects? In the context of a large healthcare organization, we examined the extent to which gender moderated the effect of conflict avoidance on emotional exhaustion. As predicted, women reported greater avoidance of conflict than men. This was partly due to women’s lower tolerance for disagreement. Results also showed that men and women benefited differently from avoiding conflict. Specifically, conflict avoidance resulted in lower emotional exhaustion for men but not for women. Our results suggest that conflict avoidance was associated with more emotional labor (in terms of hiding feelings) for women, but not for men, suggesting a possible reason for why conflict avoidance did not benefit women. Implications for future research on the relationships between gender and conflict avoidance, emotional labor, and emotional exhaustion are discussed.

Suggested Citation

Bear, Julia and Weingart, Laurie R. and Todorova, Gergana, Can Avoiding Conflict be Beneficial? A Field Investigation of Gender, Conflict Avoidance, Emotional Labor, and Emotional Exhaustion (June 17, 2011). IACM 2011 Istanbul Conference Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1866524 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1866524

Julia Bear (Contact Author)

Technion-Israel Institute of Technology ( email )

Technion City
Haifa 32000, Haifa 32000
Israel

Laurie R. Weingart

Carnegie Mellon University - David A. Tepper School of Business ( email )

236A Posner Hall
Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States
412-268-7585 (Phone)
412-268-6920 (Fax)

HOME PAGE: http://www.gsia.cmu.edu/andrew/weingart

Gergana Todorova

Carnegie Mellon University ( email )

Pittsburgh, PA 15213-3890
United States

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