The Origin of Emotion Labour

Emotions are feelings that people experience, interpret, reflect on, express, and manage (Thoits, 1989). They arise through social interaction, and are influenced by social, cultural, interpersonal, and situational conditions (Martin, 1999). In many situations in our daily lives, we often find ourselves suppressing feelings and displaying a more socially accepted emotion that is deemed more appropriate. For example, showing excitement about a company’s promotion or suppressing fury when being cut off by someone in a waiting line. Regulating individual’s emotions to comply with social norms then is referred to as “emotion work” (Hochschild, 1990; p. 118). When we need to display particular emotions and suppress others, which required by our job roles, we do our emotion management for a wage. Hochschild (1983) termed this regulation of one’s emotions to comply with occupational or organizational norms as “emotional labour.” She defined emotional labour as “the management of feeling to create a publicly observable facial and bodily display; emotional labour is sold for a wage and therefore has exchange value” (Hochschild, 1983; p.7).

According to Hochschild (1983), jobs involving emotional labour possess three characteristics: they require the workers to make facial or voice contact with the public; they require the worker to produce an emotional state in the client or customer, and they provide the employer with an opportunity to utilize some control over the emotional activities of workers (Hochschild, 1983).

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Based on impression management, Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) defined emotional labour as “the act of displaying the appropriate emotion.” Their definition differs from Hochschild’s (1983), since their definition emphasizes the actual behaviour rather than the presumed emotions underlying the behaviour (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993).

According to Morris and Feldman (1997), emotional labour possesses the following characteristics: (a) emotion work occurs in face-to-face or voice-to-voice interactions with clients; (b) emotions are displayed to influence other people’s emotions, attitudes and behaviours; and (c) the display of emotions has to follow certain rules.

2.1.2 Dimensions of Emotional Labour and Its Measures

Brotheridge and Grandey (2002) restructured emotional labour into two categories: One focuses on the characteristic of the job and the other emphasizes employee’s emotion management process. The former is called “job-focused emotional labour” which includes the frequency, duration, variety, and intensity of emotional labour and display rules. The latter is named “employee-focused emotional labour”, an emotion management skill that employees use in the course of interactions with clients. This category includes surface acting and deep acting. Brotheridge and Lee (2003) used the similar approach. They developed an emotional labour measure including both “job-focused” and “employee-focused” variables. Specifically, their measure has six facets: frequency of interaction, intensity and variety of emotional display, duration of interaction, and surface and deep acting.

Emotional labour researchers often ignored spontaneous and genuine emotions, acknowledged as passive deep acting by Hochschild (1983), in the development of the emotional labour measure. Diefendorff, Croyle, and Gosserand (2005) constructed “the display of naturally felt emotions” as an independent factor and formed a three-dimensional emotional labour instrument: surface acting, deep acting, and naturally felt emotions.

In summary, despite many different measures developed, the general view is that job-related variables, such as frequency, intensity, variety, and display rules are experienced as the antecedents of emotional labour rather than emotional labour itself and two acting modes (surface and deep acting), that employees use to match the required emotional display are regarded as the true components of emotional labour (Grandey, 2000 A.A. Grandey, Emotion regulation in the workplace: a new way to conceptualize emotional labor, Journal of Occupational health Psychology 5 (1) (2000), pp. 95-110. Abstract | icon_pdfPDF (1059 K) | Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (124)Grandey, 2000).

2.1.3 Servicing Acting

Based on Goffman’s (1959) dramaturgical perspective of social interactions, Hochschild theorized that service is a “show” where the service provider is an “actor,” the customer is the “audience,” and the work setting is the stage (Grandey, 1999). The work place (restaurant) provides the setting and circumstance that allows actors (wait staff) to perform for audiences (diners). The interaction between actors and audiences is based on their mutual definition of the setting, which can be interpreted as occupational or organizational norms or display rules.

Surface acting and deep acting are two types of acting mechanism that emotional labour preformed. Surface Acting

Surface acting is a discrepancy between felt and displayed emotion (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993). “Surface acting involves employees simulating emotions that are not actually felt, by changing their outward appearances (i.e., facial expression, gestures, or voice tone) when exhibiting required emotions. For example, a hotel front desk employee may put on a smile and cheerfully greet a customer even if she or he is feeling down. In this case, the front desk clerk feigns emotions that are not experienced” (Chu, 2002, P.18).

Using the surface acting technique, people change the outward expression of emotion in the service of altering their inner feelings. By changing facial or bodily expressions, such as slumped shoulders, bowed head, or drooping mouth, inner feelings can be altered to a coincident state (Hochschild, 1993). Deep Acting

“Deep acting occurs when employees’ feelings do not fit the situation; they then use their training or past experience to work up appropriate emotions” (Chu, 2002, P.19).

Unlike surface acting, deep acting involves changing inner feelings by altering something more than outward appearance. In surface acting, feelings are changed from the “outside in,” whereas feelings are changed from the “inside out” in deep acting (Hochschild, 1983). Hochschild (1983) classified deep acting as (1) exhorting feeling, whereby one actively attempts to evoke or suppress an emotion, and (2) trained imagination, whereby one actively invokes thoughts, images, and memories to cause the related emotion (thinking of a wedding to feel happy or a funeral to feel sad). In other words, employees use their training or past experiences to help summoning appropriate emotions or responses (sadness, cheerfulness) for a given scene. By practicing deep acting, emotions are actively induced, suppressed, or shaped (Kruml & Geddes, 2000).

2.1.4 Functions of Emotion Labour

Zapf (2002, P.248) stated that “Emotion work is a part of an overall task and, thus, it helps to fulfil the overall task and increase task effectiveness.” Ashforth, B.E. and Humphrey, R.H., 1993. Emotional labor in service roles: the influence of identity. Academy of Management Review 18, pp. 88-115. Full Text via CrossRefAshforth and Humphrey (1993) consider emotion work as a form of impression management because by showing certain emotions the employee deliberately attempts to foster certain social perceptions of him- or herself. Emotion work is done to influence the emotions of the clients either as the ultimate or as an instrumental goal. In the service business, the premise is that customers or clients would be more likely to do business with an organization when they experience the interaction with service providers positively. This should mainly depend on how far the interaction with the service providers either supports or threatens their self-esteem. Emotion labour may help to make the social interaction more calculable and assist to avoid embarrassing situations that might otherwise interrupt the interaction with clients (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993).

Moreover, emotion work may help to develop or stabilize the organization-customer relationship for building trust in the organization. This is more important in the service sector than in other sectors; because (1) it is difficult to assess the quality of service; (2), because the service product is immediately consumed and corrections, such as giving the product back, are impossible (Ashforth and Nerdinger, 1994); (3), emotion labour should influence the clients’ emotions thereby influencing their cognitions and behaviours. (4), influencing a client’s emotion may make other things easier. In the entertainment business and in the helping professions, influencing the clients’ emotion may be the ultimate goal.

2.2 Antecedents of Emotional Labour

Antecedents of emotional labour including two characteristics: individual characteristics and job characteristics.

2.2.1 Individual characteristics

Emotional labour researchers seem to agree that service workers’ emotional acting can be explained by personality traits because personal dispositions underlie much of the way that people think and behave (Ashkanasy, Hartel and Daus, 2002). Two personality variables as the antecedents of emotional labour will be examined, which are negative affectivity and intrinsic motivation. Negative Affectivity

Negative affectivity is a dispositional personality variable and an individual’s tendency to experience discomfort across time and situations (Watson and Clark, 1984). Individuals high in negative affectivity tend to resident the negative aspects of themselves, others, and situations in a generally more negative way and often seem to be anxious, nervous, and afraid (Cropanzano et al., 1993 R. Cropanzano, K. James and M.A. Konovsky, Dispositional affectivity as a predictor of work attitudes and job performance, Journal of Organizational Behavior 14 (6) (1993), pp. 595-606. Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (118)Cropanzano, James, and Konovsky, 1993). Individuals low in negative affectivity are typically in states of calmness and peace (Watson, Clark, and Tellegen, 1988). As discussed by Liu, Perrewe, Hochwarter, and Kacmar (2004), negative emotional experiences is aroused by negative affectivity to across time and situations that may obstruct individuals to regulate their emotional experiences in the service encounter. Such individuals appear to fake their positive emotions when necessary (Kim, 2008).

The relationship between negative affectivity and stressors is also supported by the basic theory of heat-affect-overload (Van De Vliert and Van Yperen, 1996). Specifically, employees living and working in hot climates of countries such as Nigeria, Indonesia, and Singapore are high in negative affectivity and experience role overload. It has been proposed that availability of heat or hot climate deranges the thermoregulatory system of the human body and leads to negative affectivity. Such high negative affectivity individuals are faced with higher role overload.

According to Osman and Kayode (2008), who studied in emotional dissonance and emotional exhaustion among hotel employees in Nigeria, they stated that even though the hotels may have functioning air-conditioning systems, regular power cut or outages due to poor electric power infrastructure in Nigeria may cause frustration among employees and customers. In addition, the high cost of running alternative power source like generators limits the proper use of the air-conditioning systems in most of the hotels. Frontline hotel employees such as door attendants, food servers, and beverage servers have to serve customers in outdoor facilities, such employees are exposed to direct sunlight and humidity under these circumstances. Most of the frontline employees cannot afford to buy air-conditioning systems in their houses; if they could, they do not enjoy it due to irregular power supply in the country. Furthermore, they may not have sufficient financial resources to buy automobiles having air-conditioning systems. Therefore, such employees usually far from their houses go to work, using modes of public transportation such as buses, which are overloaded and are devoid of air-conditioning systems. Accordingly, frontline hotel employees in a country such as Nigeria are high in negative affectivity and experience-deepened stress. Employees in frontline service jobs of the hospitality industry in Nigeria are expected to manage their emotions by changing their outward appearance to display organizationally desired emotions while the inner feelings remain unchanged and thus are likely to experience emotional exhaustion (Osman and Kayode, 2008).

In addition, negative affectivity is widely used in strain-related research and has been linked with emotional exhaustion (Houkes, Janssen, De Jonge, and Nijhuis, 2001). In their meta-analytic work, Thoresen et al., 2003 C.J. Thoresen, S.A. Kaplan, A.P. Barsky, C.R. Warren and K. De Chermont, The affective underpinnings of job perceptions and attitudes: a meta-analytic review and integration, Psychological Bulletin 129 (6) (2003), pp. 914-945. Abstract | Article | icon_pdfPDF (244 K) | Full Text via CrossRef | View Record in Scopus | Cited By in Scopus (78)Thoresen, Kaplan, Barsky, Warren, and De Chermont (2003) reported an estimated mean population correlation of .54 between negative affectivity and emotional exhaustion. According to Spector, Zapf, Chen, and Frese, (2000), the perception mechanism also proposes useful guidelines for developing the relevant hypotheses. That is, the perception mechanism states that high negative affectivity individuals tend to perceive their jobs as stressful and experience high levels of strains. It means, high negative affectivity frontline employees in the hotel industry are susceptible to higher emotional dissonance and emotional exhaustion. Intrinsic Motivation

Another personality variable used as the antecedents of emotional labour is intrinsic motivation. To date various personal resources or personality variables (e.g., self-efficacy, optimism, and locus of control) have been examined with regard to emotional dissonance and emotional exhaustion (Ito and Brotheridge, 2003). As a personal resource and a key personality variable, intrinsic motivation has not received much empirical attention in the hospitality management and marketing literatures (Karatepe and Uludag, 2007).

Intrinsic motivation refers to an individual’s “feeling of challenge or competence derived from performing a job” (Keaveney, 1992, p.151). Intrinsically motivated employees have better problem-solving skills and are innovative (Miller, 2002). Grant (2008, p.49) states that intrinsically motivated individuals “feel naturally drawn, or pulled, toward completing their work”, “are process focused-they see the work as an end in and of itself”, and “are present focused-they are concerned with the experience of performing the work itself”. Consistent with the Conservation of Resources Theory, intrinsic motivation is one of the personal resources that can be used for coping with emotional dissonance and exhaustion. As a personal resource, intrinsic motivation can affect employees’ willingness and perceived effort to manage emotional experiences in the service encounter. Such a personal resource can also be invested in aiding the process of stress resistance and can contribute to the maintenance of resource reservoirs (Hobfoll, 2001).

Consequently, employees with personal resources have mastery that enables them to cope with demanding or forbidding conditions more effectively and thus prevents them from experiencing emotional exhaustion (Xanthopoulou, Bakker, Demerouti, and Schaufeli, 2007). Recently, Karatepe and Uludag (2007) also demonstrated that intrinsic motivation lowered emotional exhaustion for a sample of frontline hotel employees in Northern Cyprus.

2.2.2 Job Characteristics Interaction Characteristics

Customer satisfaction depends on the quality of the interpersonal interaction between the customer and frontline employees (Bitner, 1990). Hochschild (1983) argued that job characteristics such as numerous interactions with customers are likely to increase service providers’ emotional labour. Brotheridge and Grandey (2002) found that frequency and variety of emotional display were positively related to surface acting and deep acting and that duration was positively related to deep acting. In the article by Brotheridge and Lee (2003), frequency and variety showed a positive relationship with surface acting and deep acting, although duration was not related to either acting. Diefendorff, Croyle, and Gosserand (2005) reported interaction characteristics (frequency, duration, and routineness) were not significant predictors of surface acting but mostly related to deep acting. Specifically, duration had a positive impact on deep acting and routineness showed a negative influence on deep acting.

The most popular theory regarding the relationship between customer contact variables and emotional labour strategies originates from Morris and Feldman, 1996 J.A. Morris and D.C. Feldman, The dimensions, antecedents, and consequences of emotional labor, The Academy of Management Review 21 (4) (1996), pp. 986-1010. Full Text via CrossRefMorris and Feldman’s (1996) conceptual work. The authors argued that the more often a work role requires socially proper emotional displays, the greater the company’s demand for emotional regulation and the greater employees’ emotional labour; frequent changes in the variety of emotions to fit in different situational contexts require more planning and anticipation on the part of service employees, thereby entailing greater emotional labour; and emotional displays of long duration require more effort than short duration, leading to greater emotional labour. This notion suggests the possibility of frequency, variety, and duration increasing emotional labour in general (both surface and deep acting). However, previous findings especially regarding duration seem to suggest that duration largely leads to deep acting. Deep acting may be the strategy of choice during long interaction because it becomes difficult for employees to fake emotion for a long period of time (Diefendorff et al., 2005). Job Autonomy

The hospitality literature has shown that job autonomy can mitigate the level of hospitality employees’ emotional exhaustion (Kim, Shin, and Umbreit 2007). Morris and Feldman (1996, 1997) suggested employees who have less autonomy over their behaviour should feel more emotive dissonance, which likely leads them to fake feelings (surface acting); and those who have more autonomy experience less emotive dissonance, therefore they are likely to express their natural emotions. According to their rationale, job autonomy is not related to emotive effort (i.e., deep acting). Display Rules

According to Hochschild, 1983 A.R. Hochschild, The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling, University of California Press, Berkeley, CA (1983).Hochschild (1983), service occupations involve strong norms and/or expectations regarding displays of emotions. Research has shown that display rules have a positive relationship with emotional acting (Brotheridge and Lee, 2002). Some studies separate display rules into positive and negative rules. Positive display rules evaluate service providers’ recognitions on expressing positive emotions and negative display rules evaluate the recognitions regarding suppressing negative emotions at work.

Brotheridge and Grandey (2002) showed that both types of display rules were positively correlated with both types of acting. Diefendorff and Richard (2003) hypothesized that perceived demands (positive and negative display rules) would be positively related to emotional display, but the result indicated that emotional display only led by positive rule demands. Diefendorff et al. (2005) found that positive display rules were positively correlated with deep acting and negative display rules were positively correlated with surface acting. The authors explained that positive rules (what to express) clarify expectations better and result in “good faith” attempts (deep acting), whereas negative rules (what not to express) lead employees to just go through the motion and fake their emotions (surface acting).

In hospitality organizations such as hotel companies, distinct norms are often included in the job description and employees are trained consistently (e.g., showing a smile with a mirthful greeting). Hence, it seems plausible that hotel firms’ display rules increase the likelihood of hotel personnel’s emotional regulation, leading to emotional acting either surface or deep acting. Therefore, in harmony with Brotheridge and Grandey’s (2002) work, it is predicted that display rules, regardless of the type, will affect both acting strategies.

2.3 Consequences of Emotional Labour

Ashforth and Humphrey (1993) described emotional labour as a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it can facilitate task performance by regulating interactions and precluding interpersonal problems. On the other hand, it can impair performance by priming expectations of good service that cannot be met (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1993).

The following section discusses the positive and negative consequences of performing emotional labour, and particularly, its effects on employees’ psychological well-being.

2.3.1 Negative Consequences Fusion of Self and Work Role

In the emotional labour literature, substantial research in this field addresses unfavourable outcomes. The most-often-cited outcomes are burnout and job dissatisfaction (Morris and Feldman, 1996). Other impacts on the individual’s psychological well-being are also discussed in the literature, such as poor self-esteem, depression, cynicism, role alienation, and self-alienation (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1993).

Wharton (1999) suggested two reasons why the regulation of service providers’ emotional displays is problematic. First, to ensure service quality, employers often implement behaviour scripts (such as smile, eye contact, body position, tone of voice) for service providers to follow. This restrictive script prevents service providers from interacting with customers based on spontaneous intuition, but on a script drawn up by employers. That is, workers’ own complex for interaction may be suppressed and replaced by an organizationally sanctioned response (Wharton, 1999). Second, service providers may have different interests vis-a-vis the outcome of the interaction. That is, employers believe that service providers’ emotional displays are instruments of service excellence. While front-line employees may sometimes share those objectives, they do not always do so. In these instances, workers’ interests may be sacrificed.

Hochschild (1983) theorized about the consequences of emotional labor based on service providers’ capacity to strike a balance between the requirements of the self and the demands of the work role. Sustained performance of emotional labour may produce a fusion of self and work role, an estrangement between self and work role that comes at the expense of the self, or a separation between self and work role that comes at the expense of the work role (Hochschild, 1983).

The fusion of self and work role can be seen as the service providers’ inability to depersonalize and detach themselves from the work roles. Research has shown that workers in human service occupations, such as social work or counselling, are often too identified with their work roles and lose the ability to maintain sufficient psychological distance between the emotional requirements of their job and their sense of self. For example, hotel service providers use deep acting techniques to conjure up desired positive emotions and to suppress felt negative emotions. But after awhile, many these service providers reveal that they have a hard time recovering their true feelings once their shifts are over. They begin to lose track of when they are acting and when they are not (Hochschild, 1983). Emotive Dissonance

Contrarily, another potential consequence of emotional labour is the estrangement between self and work role. Just as workers on the assembling lines become estranged from their bodies, service providers may become estranged from their true feelings

(Hochschild, 1983). Hochschild claimed that most of the negative consequences of performing emotional labour have its roots in this estrangement. The estrangement between oneself and the work role is often presented in the forms of emotive dissonance or unauthenticated, which can be seen as a result of surface acting.

Similar to cognitive dissonance, emotive dissonance reflects a gap between felt emotions and expressed emotions. For example, a front desk employee greets a customer in a cheerful and enthusiastic manner but indeed, she or he feels down and unhappy. The inconsistency between expressed emotions (cheerful and enthusiastic) and felt emotions (down and unhappy) is emotive dissonance. Based on the assumption that people are motivated to maintain and enhance their sense of self as being meaningful and authentic (Erickson & Wharton, 1997), the experience of emotive dissonance may cause the individual to feel false and insincere. Researchers suggest that the regular occurrence of emotive dissonance may be harmful in terms of employees’ personal and work-related maladjustment, such as poor self-esteem, depression, and alienation from work (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993).

Hochschild (1993) suggested that emotive dissonance is most harmful to employees’ psychological well-being when it comes at the expense of the self, and is less harmful when it is at the expense of the work role. When emotive dissonance comes at the expense of the self, employees blame themselves for displaying fictitious emotions and feelings of unauthenticated. Thereafter, this estrangement of oneself leads to negative consequences such as depression (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993), drug or alcohol abuse (Hochschild, 1983), and low self-efficacy (Seeman, 1991).

Antithetically, when emotive dissonance comes at the expense of the work role, employees ascribe this false emotion or inauthentic expression to the demands of the job rather than to the desires of the self (Wharton, 1999), and thus it may be less harmful in terms of their psychological well-being. In an interview with a waitress, Paules (1991) documented how one waitress does not overextend herself into her work. The waitress says that when she distances herself from her job she does not “feel bad about it” (Paules, 1991, p.286).

2.3.2 Positive Consequences

Although substantial literature on emotional labor implies negative consequences, some researchers have suggested positive consequences for both organizations and individuals. Organization

For an organization, regulating employees’ emotional display in a highly scripted manner can ensure task effectiveness and service quality (Ashforth and Humphrey, 1993), and increase sales and repeated business (Rafaeli and Sutton, 1987). Also, the positive aspects of emotional labour include financial rewards (i.e., tips or salaries) (Rafaeli & Sutton, 1987); increased satisfaction, security, and brand loyalty (Wharton, 1993). Individual

Although customers are major stress-producing figures for front-line employees, customers also provide employees with many entertaining and satisfying moments in their working (Tolich, 1993). One reason for this satisfaction is that customers enliven otherwise monotonous tasks. Most of the entry-level jobs in the service industry are highly routine and standardized (i.e., supermarket clerks or food servers). Because of the variety of customers, their presence, even when annoying, is only somewhat distracting, and can be stimulating (Tolich, 1993).

Rose (2001) recognized the positive function of emotional labour because interaction with customers serves as a comic relief; he conducted an extensive qualitative study on waitresses’ working-life. He described the sources of satisfaction for wait staff as below:

“Some waitresses gain satisfaction from contributing to a customer’s

enjoyment (‘you supply nurturing and sustenance, the things that make life

pleasurable’). Some respond to the hustle and stimulation of a busy

restaurant, the sense of being in the middle of thingsaˆ¦aˆ¦aˆ¦some like the

attention (‘the spotlight’s on you’)aˆ¦..some comment on the pleasure of

the attenuated human interaction: ‘though we’ll never get to know each

other, there’s a really nice feelings that go back and forth’ ” (Rose, 2000, p.


Rose’s (2000) case studies offer some support for the argument that performing emotional labour is not always psychologically damaging. The interaction with the public, being at the centre of attention or a sense of joy when knowing one’s work is altruistic in nature all bring some intrinsic rewards to one’s job when performing emotional labour.

The reward or benefit aspect of performing emotional labour receives some empirical support. Wharton (1993) found that workers employed in jobs requiring substantial amounts of emotional labour experience higher job satisfaction and lower emotional exhaustion than other workers (Wharton, 1993). Adelman (1989) found a similar result for table servers. She concluded that, contrary to Hochschild’s estrangement assumption, performing emotional labour does not adversely impact employees’ psychological well-being, but enhances their job satisfaction (Adelman,


2.4 Moderators of Emotional Labour

2.4.1 Successful Recruitment and Selection

Karatepe and Aleshinloye (2009) pointed out that in order to fill vacant positions in organizations, managers should use effective recruitment and selection tools. It is significant that managers should consider the personality traits of candidates in the selection process, focus on candidates who are intrinsically motivated, and try to hire those who can manage their felt emotions matching organizationally desired display norms in the service encounter. This should be a far-reaching practice among hospitality managers.

By doing so, managers can go some way to making such frontline employees manage problems associated with emotional dissonance and exhaustion. Another implication for practice is that employing mentors in the workplace appears to be inevitable, since younger, less educated and less experienced employees are confronted with emotional dissonance and exhaustion (Karatepe and Aleshinloye, 2009). Mentors could help such employees alleviate their emotional dissonance and exhaustion by listening to employees’ problems and their expectations from the management of the hotel and providing support and guidance (Lee and Akhtar, 2007).

2.4.2 Adequate Training

Karatepe and Aleshinloye (2009) also suggested that frontline employees should be trained continuously to learn how to cope with problems that stem from emotional dissonance and emotional exhaustion. This is significant, because effective and continuous training programs in the hospitality industry are not abundant. Therefore, managers should foster social support arising from both supervisors and co-workers in the workplace during these training programs and train their frontline employees in the areas of complaint handling procedures and genuine customer care.

Such training programs would also comprise of potential empowerment practices frontline employees would use to deal with customers’ complaints. The final implication is associated with promotional

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