The Relationship between Teachers’ Emotional Labor and Burnout Level

Kürsad YILMAZ, Yahya ALTINKURT, Mustafa GÜNER, Bilal SEN
This is the extended version of a paper presented at the 1st Eurasian Educational Research, Congress (Istanbul University & EJER, 24-26 April, 2014). Dr.Dumlupinar University, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences
Dr.Mula Sitki Kocman University, Faculty of Education, Department of Educational Sciences
DOI: 10.14689/ejer.2015.59.5


Problem Statement: In the present educational perception, teachers are expected to fulfill many roles, such as becoming role models for students, guiding them, teaching them to learn and instilling democratic attitudes and values within them. In addition, teachers should be in collaboration with the school administration, colleagues, parents and other stakeholders for effective teaching and learning. While fulfilling these roles, teachers should make a conscientious effort not to reflect their personal problems onto their relationships in schools, and should try to behave in compliance with formal and informal norms as professionals. However, it is possible to predict that the regulation of emotions may have a negative impact on teachers in terms of their psychology. Burnout can be described as one of those impacts.

Purpose of the Study: The purpose of this research is to determine the relationship between teachers’ emotional labor and burnout level.

Method: The sample for this survey study consists of 410 teachers working in the schools located in the city center of Kütahya. The data was collected using the Emotional Labor Scale and the Burnout Scale. Descriptive statistics, t-tests, ANOVA and regression analysis were used for analyzing the data.

Findings: Results indicate that the teachers exhibit surface acting the least in terms of emotional labor. This is followed by deep acting and naturallyfelt emotions. In terms of burnout, teachers have the highest burnout level when they experience emotional exhaustion, which is followed by a lack of personal accomplishment and depersonalization, respectively. Results of the regression analysis show that surface acting and naturally-felt emotions are the important predictors for both emotional exhaustion and the depersonalization of teachers. However, deep acting does not have a significant impact on emotional exhaustion and depersonalization. Teachers’ lack of personal accomplishment is predicted by all aspects of emotional labor. Aspects of emotional labor, as a whole, explain 7% of the emotional exhaustion level of teachers, 16% of depersonalization, and 15% of the lack of personal accomplishment.

Conclusion and Recommendations: This study considers emotional labor as a role that should be taken by teachers as a part of their occupational professionalism. However, it is possible that the roles expected from teachers may be based on dominance, non-professional or unethical behaviors. Thus, it is important to reveal the reasons behind teachers’ surface acting behaviors. Therefore, designing such studies on the basis of a qualitative approach will contribute to a deeper understanding of these behaviors.

Key Words: Burnout, emotional labor, public schools, teachers