Being forced to fake-smile at work can lead to binge drinking, according to study

Being forced to fake-smile at work can lead to binge drinking, according to study

THE NEXT time you’re served by a less-than-friendly person in a bar, restaurant or shop, keep in mind that they may be taking a stand against unhealthy alcohol habits.

A study published in April by scientists at Penn State University discovered that being forced to smile at customers can cause heavier drinking habits.

We don’t need a scientific study to know that a few pints with friends seems like an infinitely better idea if you’ve had a shite day at work, but it’s nice to have evidence that backs it up.

The study, which was published in the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, is titled “When are fakers also drinkers? A self-control view of emotional labor and alcohol consumption among U.S. service workers”.

It found a link between people whose jobs demanded they constantly pretend to be happy, and binge-drinking sessions after work.

Anyone who’s worked a job in hospitality or retail has a story about having to stay smiling and submissive while a nightmare customer roared the head off them—often, these stories end with “I sank a pint after work that day I’ll tell ya”.


The study showed that repressing feelings of annoyance—such as not being allowed to roll your eyes, an urge which can occur anywhere up to a million times a day in certain roles—can also contribute to heavy drinking.

Researchers for the study examined data from over 1,500 interviews which asked how often customer-facing workers had to suppress their emotions in their day-to-day work, as well as how often they drank alcohol after their shift ended and how much they would consume while on those sessions.

It found that workers who were forced to suppress their emotions for less emotionally rewarding jobs such as retail were far more likely to drink heavily after work rather than, for example, nurses—whose emotional acting would be for the benefit of the patient.

The study aimed to raise awareness of the fact that being forced to fake happiness could have a detrimental effect on workers’ drinking habits, but will workplaces take note?