The psychological and financial impacts of an emotional culture of anxiety and its antidote, an emotional culture of companionate love

Olivia Amanda O'Neill*, Sigal G. Barsade, Francesco Sguera

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Rationale: Anxiety is an increasingly common problem in society, including at work, yet the effects of an emotional culture of anxiety remain unexplored. We offer a new lens on anxiety in the workplace, examining its collective enactment in the form of an emotional culture of anxiety. Objective: This study examines the implications of an emotional culture of anxiety for psychological and financial outcomes within a poorly performing healthcare organization. We also examine whether an emotional culture of companionate love, which helps people “calm and connect”, can counteract the negative effects of an emotional culture of anxiety. Methods: Drawing on survey data of 822 employees from 85 departments in a large US medical center and a time-lagged archival measure of financial performance across those departments, we used ordinary least squares regression and random coefficient regression modeling to examine the main effects of these two emotional cultures and the buffering effect of an emotional culture of companionate love on an emotional culture of anxiety for department costs, department psychological safety, and individual employee burnout and satisfaction. Results: We find significant direct relationships between an emotional culture of anxiety and an emotional culture of companionate love on employee burnout and satisfaction in the predicted directions. We also find a significant interaction between the two emotional cultures, with a culture of companionate love attenuating the relationship of a culture of anxiety on job satisfaction, burnout, and financial performance in the form of time-lagged department costs. Conclusions: Our results indicate that a culture of companionate love can be a protective force against the negative outcomes of an emotional culture of anxiety. Examining these two emotional cultures concurrently offers a better understanding of how to address the pernicious effects of anxiety in organizations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number115570
JournalSocial Science and Medicine
Volume317
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Anxiety
  • Burnout
  • Costs
  • Culture
  • Emotion
  • Healthcare
  • Love
  • Well-being

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