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Journal of Organizational Behavior








[Summary] The relationship between emotions and job satisfaction is widely acknowledged via affective events theory (AET). Despite its widespread use, AET was not designed to address why specific emotions might differentially relate to job satisfaction. We utilize appraisal theory of emotion to refine AET and provide this nuanced theorizing. We meta‐analytically test our ideas with 235 samples across 99 883 individuals and 22 600 intra‐individual episodes. We test two approaches—specific emotion experiences (16 discrete emotions) versus general emotion experiences (positive or negative emotions)—and present empirical evidence of their similarities and differences with job satisfaction. Our findings suggest that specific emotions with circumstance‐agency appraisals (e.g., depression and happiness) have the strongest associations with job satisfaction compared to emotions with self‐ and other‐agency appraisals and general emotion experiences. However, more variability is observed for negative emotions and job satisfaction compared to positive emotions. Further, we address and even challenge influential critiques of emotions and job satisfaction via a meta‐analytic test of five moderators—emotion intensity versus frequency, target of emotion, job satisfaction measure, level of analysis, and time referent for emotion and job satisfaction recall. In sum, we advance academic and practitioner understanding of the relationship between emotions and job satisfaction.


© The Authors.

This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) License, which permits use and distribution in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non-commercial and no modifications or adaptations are made.


0000-0003-1991-3611 (Bennett)

Original Publication Citation

Williams, C. E., Thomas, J. S., Bennett, A. A., Banks, G. C., Toth, A., Dunn, A. M., McBride, A., & Gooty, J. (2024). The role of discrete emotions in job satisfaction: A meta-analysis. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 45(1), 97-116.