Emotions in Learning at Work: a Literature Review

Päivi Hökkä, Katja Vähäsantanen, Susanna Paloniemi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview Articlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The research elaborating emotions in organizational settings has increased considerably in recent years. However, we lack a comprehensive understanding of the role of emotions in learning at work. This review aimed to elaborate how emotions and learning are understood in the field of workplace studies, and how emotions and learning at work are related. For the review, 31 scientific articles were selected and analysed. We found that emotions and learning were understood in a range of ways in the articles. Emotions were mainly defined as emotional experiences and responses, and learning at work mainly referred to learning through participatory practices. In addition, the review illustrates the relationship between emotions and learning at work. Most of the studies focused on the active role of emotions in supporting and/or hindering learning at work, but some indicated the contrary direction of influence, with emotions at work being influenced by learning. The review further illustrates trends and gaps in this research field, and suggests some theoretical underpinnings, with recommendations for future research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalVocations and Learning
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA2 Review article in a scientific journal


  • Emotions
  • Learning at work
  • Review
  • Workplace studies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education


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