Date of Award

Winter 2-28-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (PhD)


Industrial/Organizational Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Robert McKenna

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Dana Kendall

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Don MacDonald


Emotion, Emotional Self-Regulation, Sensory-Processing Sensitivity, Purpose, Leadership


The purpose of this study was to evaluate strategies for emotional self-regulation (EMSR) in highly sensitive people (HSPs) under pressure. Specifically, a model of EMSR was evaluated through a moderated-mediation design with two manipulations across two experiments. A total of 445 individuals participated in the current study (52% female), all of which were US citizens. Results suggested that the relationship between sense of purpose (SoP) and EMSR was moderated by focus on potential (FoP). Specifically, SoP significantly impacted FoP, b = .89, t = 5.23, p < .01, FoP significantly impacted EMSR, b = 1.11, t = 5.88, p < .01, and the Sobel test suggested a significant indirect effect, z = 3.91, p < .01.

The hypothesis that sensory-processing sensitivity (SPS) moderates the relationship between FoP and EMSR was not supported, b = .29, t = 1.50, p = .13, 95% CI [-.09, .66]. Supplemental analyses were conducted to evaluate the extent to which SPS moderated the relationship between SoP and FoP. Aguinis’s (2009) ALTMMR program was used to evaluate homoscedasticity for the relationship between SPS and FoP within both conditions of SoP. DeShon and Alexander’s (1996) rule of thumb for homoscedasticity was not met, M = 6.24, p < .01. To correct for the violation, James’s test was used to evaluate the simple slopes of the moderation. Results indicated that differential slopes were present, U = 5.57, p < .05. Alexander’s test also indicated differential slopes, A = 5.47, p = .02. These results suggest that SPS moderated the relationship between SoP and FoP.

Because several of the measures used were contextualized for the current study (i.e., SoP, FoP, and EMSR), exploratory factor analyses were conducted to establish discriminate validity. Results indicated that each scale was distinct from the others, and was comprised of the items intended to measure it’s respective construct.

Beyond hypothesis testing, an important finding from the current study was the power of priming through vignettes. Manipulation check results indicated that the morally constructed primes were successful at impacting participants FoP and EMSR.

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