Date of Award

Spring 5-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)




Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Committee Director

Debra A. Major

Committee Member

Ian M. Katz

Committee Member

Jing Chen


Increasing the number of students who graduate from science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) majors is a national priority in the United States as there is a need for more STEM employees in the labor force. However, less than half of students who initially declare a major in STEM graduate college with a STEM degree, in part because of the unwelcoming climate in STEM. The aim of the current study was to understand how incivility may undermine a student’s embeddedness within their undergraduate major and whether the individual difference of Psychological Capital could assuage the undermining effects. The presence of incivility is likely to limit a student’s ability to feel like they fit, have social connections, and have attachments with their STEM major. Psychological Capital has been established as a buffer of adverse experiences such as bullying, harassment, and incivility. In addition, Psychological Capital can be learned, making it an accessible and valuable resource for students. It was hypothesized that major incivility would have a negative relationship with major embeddedness and that psychological capital would moderate the relationship such that the relationship is weakened. Archival survey data that was collected for a larger project was used to test the hypotheses. Senior students majoring in STEM were emailed with a link to a web-based survey in their final semester prior to graduation. The survey asked students to report if they had experienced incivility from peers, faculty, and advisors within their STEM major and included the Psychological Capital Questionnaire and the STEM Major Embeddedness Scale. A total of 324 returned surveys passed quality checks. To test the hypotheses, a hierarchical regression analysis was conducted. Neither hypothesis was supported, but there was a significant effect of Psychological Capital on major embeddedness such that students with higher Psychological Capital were more embedded in their major. Results of the study provide insight into ways universities can help promote student embeddedness.


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