Virtual emotional expression is a behavior shares both explicit and implicit emotional information through virtual media. Compared with communication offline, virtual emotional expression has undergone a great change, and significantly affected the cognition, attitude and behavior of employees. However, despite its prevalence in organizational practice, virtual emotional expression still lacks a systematic review in theoretical studies. In view of this, this paper reviews the existing research in order to strengthen the understanding of virtual emotional expression in organizations.
This paper takes “emotional expression”“emotion display” and “emotion regulation” as key words, combined with “computer-mediated communication”“information and communication technology”“virtual”“digitalization” and other terms to search in databases such as Web of Science, EBSCO and CNKI. Then, through intensive reading and “snowball” tracking search, 176 core-source literatures are selected as the important basis for this review.
The conclusions of this paper are as follows: First, it reveals the concept of virtual emotional expression, and points out the differences between virtual emotional expression and face-to-face emotion expression in terms of social existence, content richness, interactive timeliness and predictability. Second, it generalizes the existing theoretical perspectives from the emotional function theory and the technological determinism theory. The former is a new application of traditional emotional theory in virtual situations, while the latter brings new theoretical points such as media characteristics and information processing styles, but there is a lack of more integrated interactive perspective. Third, the strategy of virtual emotional expression in organizations is unique and diverse, which is mainly reflected in what kind of emotion to express, to whom the emotion to convey, and which communication media to choose. Fourth, factors affecting virtual emotional expression are sorted out from individual differences and contextual characteristics, together with the multiple effects on employees’ psychological states, work attitudes and performance.
This paper makes the following contributions: First, by clarifying the connotation, characteristics and theoretical basis of virtual emotional expression, and concluding the new path and strategy of emotional expression in organizations, it promotes the development of emotion research in the field of organizational behavior. Second, through analyzing the influencing factors of virtual emotional expression on the cognition, attitude and behavior of emotion recipients in organizations, it provides a strong reference for the accuracy and effectiveness of emotional expression. Third, it helps managers fully understand the significance of emotion in the new interaction way, which has a great value for protecting the physical and mental health of employees, creating a good communication atmosphere and improving organizational efficiency.