Davies, K., Lewis, D. 2010. Can caring for laboratory animals be classified as Emotional Labour? Animal Technology and Welfare 9(1), 1-6.
Caring for laboratory animals is a primary function for animal technicians and demands total commitment to ensuring all species receive the highest level of care and welfare during their time within a research facility. On the surface this would appear to be a straight forward task for any individual with a love of animals and yearning to work with them. However, caring professions, including for example nursing, can generate emotional dissonance or conflict, leading in some cases to job dissatisfaction, stress and burnout. This paper sets out to report on initial qualitative research to be ultimately used in the formulation of a unique quantitative survey instrument exploring whether emotional dissonance occurs within animal technicians in the UK. The theory associated with Emotional Labour is also compared through data generated from focus groups conducted within UK academic institutions using laboratory animals. "This is going to sound really stupid but they are all my pets, I love them all, I have been doing if for so long that there are times when I have gone home and thought 'how on earth could I have killed all those rats today, how could I have done it' and I will be crying. I haven't had that for a while, but I think why am I doing this job and then go ... snap out of it, you are doing it because you are good at it." Conclusions lend evidence that, among animal technicians, emotional dissonance does indeed occur and in some cases can endure for many years where a particular emotionally painful experience has had a profound effect. Similarities with Emotional Labour are also confirmed.