Department of Psychology

Dr. Karen Sears

Karen Sears, Ph.D.

Professor and Department 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 teaches courses at the undergraduate level: Industrial-organizational psychology, Women and Work, Research Methods, Fair Employment Law seminar, Introduction to Statistics.  Graduate level:  Current Research in Psychology Seminar.

Research Interests:

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:

Gray, C. J., Carter, N., & Sears, K. L. (2017).  The UWBQ-I: An adaptation and validation of a measure of instigated incivility.  Journal of Business and Psychology, 32, 21-39. doi: 10.1007/s10869-015-9433-6

Schwartz, E., & Sears, K. L. (2017, April). Emotion and cognitive strategy as predictors of workplace incivility. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the Midwestern Psychological Association, Chicago, IL. 

Sears, K. L., & Humiston, G. S. (2015). The role of emotion in workplace incivility. Journal of Managerial Psychology, 30, 390-405doi: 10.1108/JMP-11-2012-0373

Gray, C. J., Carter, N. T., & Sears, K. L. (2015, April). The UWBQ-I: The validation of a measure of instigated incivility. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Philadelphia, PA

Strom, D., Sears, K. L., & Kelly, K. M. (2014). Work engagement: The roles of organizational justice and leadership style in predicting engagement among employees. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 21, 71-82.  doi: 10.1177/1548051813485437

Sears, K. L., & Humiston, G. S. (2013, May). Affective influences on workplace incivility. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Association for Psychological Science, Washington, D.C.