Emotion AI at Work: Implications for Workplace Surveillance, Emotional Labor, and Emotional Privacy

Roemmich, Kat; Schaub, Florian; Andalibi, Nazanin

Workplaces are increasingly adopting emotion AI, promising benefits to organizations. However, little is known about the perceptions and experiences of workers subject to emotion AI in the workplace. Our interview study with (n=15) US adult workers addresses this gap, finding that (1) participants viewed emotion AI as a deep privacy violation over the privacy of workers’ sensitive emotional information; (2) emotion AI may function to enforce workers’ compliance with emotional labor expectations, and that workers may engage in emotional labor as a mechanism to preserve privacy over their emotions; (3) workers may be exposed to a wide range of harms as a consequence of emotion AI in the workplace. Findings reveal the need to recognize and define an individual right to what we introduce as emotional privacy, as well as raise important research and policy questions on how to protect and preserve emotional privacy within and beyond the workplace.