I know how you feel, but it does not always help: Integrating emotion recognition, agreeableness, and cognitive ability in a compensatory model of service performance

Lorna Doucet, Bo Shao, Lu Wang, Greg R. Oldham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

15 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose – Previous research has demonstrated the importance of emotion recognition ability in negotiations and leadership, but scant research has investigated the role of emotion recognition ability in service contexts. The purpose of this paper is to propose and test a compensatory model in which service employees’ emotion recognition ability helps enhance their job performance, particularly when employees score low on the agreeableness personality dimension or have low cognitive ability. Design/methodology/approach – With a two-wave multisource dataset collected from a service center of a large retail bank, multiple regression analysis was used to test the moderating roles of agreeableness and cognitive ability on the relationship between service employees’ emotion recognition ability and their performance. Findings – Service employees’ emotion recognition ability helped enhance their job performance. However, the positive effect of emotion recognition ability on job performance was only statistically significant when employees’ agreeableness or cognitive ability was low. Practical implications – The findings have important implications for how service organizations select and recruit employees. In particular, service employees with low agreeableness or cognitive ability may still be able to perform well when possessing high emotion recognition ability. Therefore, emotion recognition ability should be considered in the selection and recruitment process. Originality/value – Going beyond self-report measures of emotion recognition and using a performance measure from organizational records, this study is one of the first to examine how emotion recognition ability interacts with personality and cognitive ability in predicting service employees’ effectiveness in a service organization.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-338
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Service Management
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Agreeableness
  • Cognitive ability
  • Emotion recognition ability
  • Service performance

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