Emotions and feelings have a great impact on everyday decision-making and thinking. They influence the perception of reality and attitudes towards people and the environment. The role of emotions in the nursing profession has received increasing interest, relatively little attention has been given to the role of a new paradigm. Critics explore two areas that have particularly important nursing implications. The first area is nursing for emotion, that is, how to assess the emotional demands of a job and the construction of selection methods to test job emotional skills (Goleman 23). In particular, searchers consider the link between emotions and rational thought, individual differences in emotion, and some approaches for assessing applicants’ emotional skills. The second topic is the nursing profession via emotion, that is, how emotion and self-appraisals of emotion at least partially mediate the effect of medical practices on outcomes. In particular, researchers describe how nursing practices can be orchestrated to provoke desired emotions that will influence their cognition, behavior, and recruitment outcomes.
Following Damasio, “feelings are not mere decoctions added on the emotions. Feelings can be and often are revelations of the state of life within the entire organism” (6). Emotions appear to have both positive and negative effects on work behavior and outcomes. For example, many dysfunctional behaviors such as fraud, sabotage, sexual harassment, and violence appear to be at least partially caused by maladaptive emotional responses. Although emotions are often stereotypically viewed as the antithesis of more rational conceptualizations of work, it remains that the display of emotion in many jobs is job-related behavior and should therefore be treated like other job requirements. There are many examples of jobs (nurse, funeral director) and organizations with strong requirements for displays of emotion. In the nursing profession, stable individual differences along with job demands and social and organizational factors combine to trigger felt emotions, which in turn trigger displayed emotions and behaviors that influence job performance. Individuals are said to differ in the types of emotion experienced, the intensity of emotional experiences, and how emotions change over time. Also, individuals differ in their display of emotion, behavioral responses to felt emotions, and the level of discomfort associated with the suppression of felt emotions and the display of emotions not felt (Frost 87). Concerning the experience of emotion, one of the most important individual difference variables appears to be trait affect. individuals with trait-negative effects are more likely to dwell on negative feedback and unpleasant work experiences, whereas those with trait-positive effects tend to focus more on positive feedback and work experiences. Furthermore, emotional reactions influence behavior. Thus, the trait effect helps to explain how people react and respond to affective events (Goleman 38).
Rational thought is characterized by critical decision-making. Following Damasio; “Both Aristotle and Spinoza thought that at least some emotions, in the right circumstances, were rational” (150). The decision-maker is faced with the need to choose among several possible acts. From his choice, profits or losses will accrue, the amount determined by conditions that the decision-maker cannot predict with certainty. Given perfect information, there would be no need for evaluations or judgment. Wrong decisions would result only from mistakes. But perfect information is not available, and the difficulties and rewards of decision making stem partly from the inadequacy of information. For instance, it is difficult to predict what competitors will do in the face of various strategies, and their actions greatly influence decision outcomes. When uncertainty exists and no alternative tends to be superior to others in all aspects, decision behavior involves subjective evaluation and judgment. By using formal or informal devices, or both, marketing executives must somehow reach a cut-off point — they must decide and select an alternative. When they do, further decisions will be pending, since marketing conditions are constantly shifting and presenting new opportunities (Frost 73).
Regarding gender, women are more likely than men to display warmth and liking in their transactions with others. Individuals who score high on self-monitoring have been found to regulate the display of emotions better: they have more control over the display of emotions and conform more closely to display rules, the prescriptions governing the display of emotion in a given situation. Finally, individuals with high emotional stamina can display desired emotions over longer periods (Payne and Cooper 72). Emotional intelligence also has implications for the ability to regulate emotions. There is evidence that there are stable individual differences in terms of felt and displayed emotions, as well as emotional regulation, and these differences are distinct from related concepts such as moods, personality, stress, and job satisfaction. Thus, it should be possible to predict individuals’ emotional responses to job demands, as well as their subsequent behavior and job performance. However, it is first necessary to determine if, what, and when emotions are relevant for a particular job and organization, as well as how to measure individual differences (Frost 76).
Emotion and feelings have generally been treated as a dependent variable in quantitative socialization research, as an outcome of work adjustment processes. Research has examined the role of socialization practices in reducing anxiety and other aversive affective states and in enhancing a positive sense of well-being. And research has examined the link between socialization and work attitudes, principally job satisfaction and organizational commitment, that is assumed to include an affective component. What is less evident in these studies—but is the sine qua non of qualitative socialization research—is a sense of how emotion saturates the very experience of “learning the ropes” in an organization (Payne and Cooper 72).
The view that entry is anxiety-provoking implies that the emotion signals that partially mediate the impact of socialization events tend to be negative and, perhaps, that the emotional tone of the entry process is negative (or at least characterized by the pursuit of relief) (Payne and Cooper 41). However, rational thought may be characterized by an affirmation of important expectations, pleasant surprises rather than unpleasant ones, and the experience of positive rather than negative emotional arousal (such as curiosity, delight, or hope) in the face of uncertainty. The first objective is to arouse positive emotion that can be attached to the organization, subunit, leader, coworkers, task, self, and so on or to specific facets associated with these entities, such as goals and beliefs, thus making them more attractive. The second objective is to arouse negative emotion that can be attached to the status quo, rivals, past actions, and so on or specific facets associated with the social movement away from a disparaged object (Reeve 44). Because organizational events in the nursing profession are often complex and have multiple causes, their meaning tends to be equivocal. Newcomers often resolve equivocality by looking to others for cues on how to decode “the” meaning. And because management has a vested interest in the meaning that newcomers derive, managers often attempt to regulate the appraisal process through institutionalized socialization. In particular, role models (serial tactic) shape the lessons that are drawn from early experiences, and like-minded peers (collective tactic) may reinforce the lessons. A component of emotion is “action readiness”, comprising general activation and readiness for certain classes of behavior and cognition. Frijda notes that different emotions tend to involve a readiness for different behaviors (such as disgust → avoidance or and the stronger the emotion, the greater the impact on behavior (Reeve 49). In some cases, spontaneous events may serve as rational thought turning points, whereby the emotions, appraisal, learning, and behaviors generated by events foster dramatic changes in oneself, one’s environment, and the fit between the two. The second set of prescriptions is feeling rules, defined as norms that specify the range, intensity, duration, and object of emotions that should be experienced in a given situation. Nurses, for instance, are expected to feel some arousal and irritation when dealing with rude patients or family members (Payne and Cooper 41).
In the nursing profession, emotional experiences and rational thinking are thought to have four main components: the experiential component of affect, followed by a cognitive appraisal of that affect, physiological changes, and action readiness. Because emotions are provoked by events and responded to through cognitive appraisal, it follows that any theory of emotion must also be a theory of how people adapt to events in their environment. Thus, specific emotions will prove especially useful for the prediction of specific behaviors. Events instigate emotional responses. However, most emotion researchers suggest that events are filtered through an appraisal process or meaning analysis That is, the emotional significance of an event, that is, its valenced direction, intensity, and discrete experiential properties is the result of a process in which the event is evaluated in terms of its significance to personal well-being, who is responsible for the event, its novelty or unexpectedness, and so forth. Different appraisal theorists postulate different evaluative dimensions, but the overall structure of the process is similar (Goleman 23). The consequences of emotional states are many and varied. Some are particular to particular emotions (for example, anger, but not depression, generally causes aggression), and others are the result of processes that cut across many different emotions (for example, emotion regulation can consume regulatory resources, regardless of the emotion being regulated). Attitudinal consequences accrue from emotional experiences with objects and people. This has been demonstrated in the organizational literature wherein daily affective states have been shown to influence job satisfaction. We assume attitudes toward marital partners can be influenced by similar affective experiences. These attitudes influence certain classes of behaviors, particularly those behaviors reflecting approach-avoidance tendencies toward the object, such as turnover and marital stability. Emotion management processes deplete resources that might be used for other self-regulatory activities or performance on tasks with high cognitive load. Helping behavior appears to be driven by emotional regulation processes, as people in positive states engage in helping—but not if they perceive the helping as reducing that effect (Payne and Cooper 38).
In rational thinking, nonemotion motives, associated with achievement goals, social norms, and situational constraints, also contribute to the nature and intensity of felt emotions and emotion regulation (Goleman 67). Regulatory strategies also typically involve some combination of physiological, cognitive, or behavioral activities and may range from largely nonconscious, automatized responses, such as a change in heart rate, to effortful, controlled cognitive activities, such as active distraction. Regulation may be directed toward determinants of the generative emotion processor to the management of emotion response tendencies. Affective clinical disorders, such as exogenous depression, are often considered a common sequence of problems in the coordination or operation of emotion regulation response systems. Adaptation represents the hallmark by which emotion regulation processes are typically evaluated. That is, from the viewpoint of the individual, the selection and implementation of emotion regulation processes are considered in terms of the extent to which the processes facilitate personal adaptation in accord with the individual’s goals and environment. This broad criterion is not without its difficulties. For example, adaptation encompasses a temporal perspective such that what may be effective in regulating emotions in the short run may be maladaptive in the long run or throughout a career. Indeed, in many instances, regulation strategies that reduce immediate emotional distress, such as drinking alcohol or work withdrawal, come at a significant longer-term cost (Payne and Cooper 88
Training Plan for Emotional Intelligence
To develop emotional intelligence among nursing professionals, the following on-job program can be used. This training aims to develop problem-solving skills and decision-making in difficult situations.
- Encoding all the terms of the medical problem, disease signs or solutions, A, B, C, and D. Encoding is to be understood as a matter of listing the attributes of each medical problem or sign.
- Inferring the relation between the A and B terms. This is a matter of listing the transformations that must be performed on A’s attributes to turn A into B.
- Mapping the relation between the A and C causes or medical problems. This is the same process as inference, as applied to the relationship between A and C.
- Applying the A: B transformation to C. The inference process above listed two transformations from A to B: applying those transformations to C shows the end result
- Producing the correct response. In several versions of the theory, this last step is itself divided into various component processes.
This scheme can be successfully applied to any situation that occurred in the nursing profession and will help nurses to develop rational reasoning and thinking (Payne and Cooper 94).
There are four components of emotional experiences: experience, appraisal, physiological change, and action readiness. Emotion regulation thus consists of goal-directed efforts to govern the intensity and duration of each of these processes as they unfold. The goals of emotion regulation can include both dampening and heightening emotional reactions to reduce unfavorable experiences and maximize favorable ones Specific strategies for emotion regulation may be classified as physiological, cognitive, or behavioral. Physiological strategies are often exercised unconsciously and may include changes in tone or involuntary hyperventilation (Payne and Cooper 38).
In the nursing profession, cognitive strategies include distracting oneself with intentional thoughts about a pleasant place. Behavioral strategies include seeking self-gratification, deep breathing, or physically leaving the field. Emotion regulation typically focuses on a specific event and addresses specific emotions (such as anger or fear) and associated responses that occur within a relatively short period. Coping, in contrast, focuses on negative moods and stress, as well as emotional regulation that occurs over the extended time frames associated with events such as job loss or skill obsolescence. Fear and anger needed to be managed so instrumental responses were possible, particularly for police, firefighters, rescue workers, and government officials. The enduring consequences of this and subsequent events, however, produce longer-lasting adjustment demands. Rescue workers, police and fire personnel, postal employees, airline crews, and military personnel all have had to cope with enduring job-related stress. In nursing, emotional regulation (and coping) requires an interactionist perspective that looks at organizational policies and practices, group-level effects, and individual responses. Individual-level responses have been studied extensively, but we know less about the effects of groups and organizations on emotional regulation. Isolated organization events produce discrete emotions, whereas episodes (such as those associated with socialization or leadership) are more likely to affect employees’ moods (Reeve, 2004).
The research shows that the role of emotion as a catalyst for appraisal, learning, and behavior is crucial in rational thought. Whereas feeling rules pertain to what is felt, that is, one’s inner emotions, display rules pertain to what is shown, that is, one’s outward behavior—behavior that may or may not reflect one’s actual emotions. High-steel ironworkers are expected to display confidence rather than fear in the face of occupational dangers. Situational modification by an employee who changes her job to reduce feelings of job disappointment represents a potentially adaptive emotion regulation strategy in its potential for reducing felt emotion and enhancing long-term career goals. In nursing, adaptive strategies involve either short-term cost and the long-term gain or short-term and long-term gains. Strategies that involve short-term gain but long-term costs appear to be better conceptualized as problems in self-control.
Damasio, A. Looking For Spinoza. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt; 1 edition, 2003.
Goleman, D. Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ Bantam., 1997.
Frost, P. J. Toxic Emotions at Work: How Compassionate Managers Handle Pain and Conflict. Harvard Business School Press, 2003.
Payne, R. L., Cooper, C. L. Emotions at Work: Theory, Research and Applications for Management. Wiley-Interscience, 2007.
Reeve, J. Understanding Motivation and Emotion. Wiley; 4 edition, 2004.