Emotional experience research project launched
Emotion Work is the effort we make to manage our emotions. Sometimes we will suppress our genuine, inner emotions, whilst providing an outward display of the emotions expected of us.
Other times we will attempt to feel the emotions expected of us in the given situation, ignoring our authentic emotions. When all this is done as part of our working role, in exchange for a wage, this is known as Emotional Labour.
Emotional Labour has been found to have negative consequences, whatever the working role, whether that be for an Air Steward or a Debt Collector. The subsequent mismatch of emotions – known as cognitive or emotional dissonance – is known to lead to burnout. In a policing context, the psychological consequences are exacerbated by the emotions that officers are expected to manage – and the manner in which they are controlled.
Research tells us that speaking to peers about distressing or stressful incidents is an important aspect of moderating complex PTSD symptoms, but the Emotional Labour expected of police officers prevents the successful processing of emotions.
Sarah-Jane Lennie, Doctoral Researcher at Manchester Metropolitan University (and a former Detective Inspector at GMP) is researching to understand what expectations are made of officers and their emotions and how this impacts their mental health – exploring what emotions are acceptable in what given circumstances, and what emotions are never expressed.
Part of this research includes understanding where and when these expectations operate in an officer’s life. Through working with serving officers, the research project will endeavour to identify an appropriate and practical operational process whereby officers get the opportunity to express, acknowledge, process and move on from the difficult emotions encountered as part of their daily working lives.
Not only will this provide a healthier and more productive experience for the individual officers, but will also have a positive impact on the ability to deliver community policing and combat the stigma around emotional expression.
To find out more about this research, or to take part, contact Sarah-Jane Lennie directly by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.