Department of Psychology

Member Photo

Karen Sears , Ph.D.

Professor and Chair
100 Waggoner
Work: 309/298-1593
Fax: 309/298-2179


Additional Information



Bachelor's degree from Northern Illinois University, majoring in psychology and minoring in mathematical sciences.  M.A and Ph.D. degrees from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in industrial-organizational psychology, minoring in social psychology and quantitative methods.  Dissertation title:  “Continuity in Conflict: Past Events and their Impact upon Current Mediation.”




Regularly teach courses at the undergraduate level: Industrial-organizational psychology, Women and Work, Research Methods, Fair Employment Law seminar, Introduction to Statistics. 




Within the area of industrial-organizational psychology, my research focuses on the causes and consequences of counterproductive work behavior, or behaviors at work that lower productivity and distract from the normal functioning of the organization.  Specifically, my first research strand examines the social and organizational contexts that enhance the likelihood of workplace incivility, which is relatively low-intensity rude behavior at work (e.g., excluding others, ignoring coworkers, gossiping).  The second strand investigates the developmental, job-related, and emotional consequences of workplace sexual harassment directed at teen-aged targets.


Recent Scholarly Activities:


Sayers, J.K., Sears, K.L., Kelly, K.M., & Harbke, C.R. (2011). When employees engage in workplace incivility: The interactive effect of psychological contract violation and organizational justice. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 31, 269-283. doi:10.1007/s10672-011-9170-6


Sears, K. L., Intrieri, R. C., & Papini, D. R. (2011). Sexual harassment and psychosocial maturity outcomes among young adults recalling their first adolescent work experiences. Sex Roles: A Journal of Research, 64, 491-505. doi: 10.1007/s11199-010-9928-6


Gray, C.J., Sears, K. L., & Lifka, A. (2011, May). Narcissism and incivility: Interpreting psychological contract violation as a threat to ego. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, D.C.


Strom, D.L., & Sears, K.L. (2010, May). Employee engagement as a function of leadership and justice. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Boston, MA.