Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Industrial/Organizational Psychology (PhD)


Industrial/Organizational Psychology

First Advisor/Committee Member

Dana Kendall

Second Advisor/Committee Member

Paul Yost

Third Advisor/Committee Member

Don Lee


mentoring, sponsorship, trust, employee development, socialization


Sponsorship, defined as a relationship that produces objective career benefits for the person being sponsored, has recently grown in popularity in the media. This study sought to examine antecedents to sponsorship by testing the hypothesis that socializing outside of work with another individual leads to increased affect-based trust, which in turn positively affects the willingness to sponsor him or her. A dual-experimental design was employed to test this proposal in which the independent variable was manipulated in one experiment, and the mediator was manipulated in the second.

The study included 492 participants from the United States, 35% were female, and the average age was 31.6 (SD = 9.72). Participants were recruited through Amazon’s Mechanical Turk and received $0.50 for a 10-minute survey. Participants were randomly assigned to one of four conditions. In each condition participants read a vignette and answered questions about trust, sponsorship, and mentorship. In Experiment 1 socializing outside of work was manipulated—Condition A included outside of work socialization, whereas Condition B did not. In Experiment 2, affect-based trust was manipulated—Condition A included affect-based trust, whereas Condition B did not.

Results indicated that socializing outside of work positively impacted sponsorship through the mediating mechanism of trust. Specifically, the ‘a’ path (outside of work socialization to affect-based trust) was significant, β = .36, 95% CI [.15, .56], t = 5.87, p < .001, and the ‘b’ path (affect-based trust to sponsorship) was significant, β = .27, 95% CI [.05, .49], t = 4.35, p < .001. The Sobel test, which determined the significance of the indirect effect, was significant, z = 2.70, p = .007.

These results suggest that potential sponsees can build trust by socializing outside of work with coworkers However, if sponsees are not willing/able to socialize with potential sponsors, the findings indicate that they may be less likely to be sponsored. Because, this study uncovered potentially important biases for sponsors to consider when choosing a potential sponsee, alternative ways for trust building are discussed, such as more frequent interpersonal interactions as well as cooperation opportunities within the work context.

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