Date of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Psychology, PhD


School of Social Science, Politics, and Evaluation

Advisor/Supervisor/Committee Chair

Becky Reichard

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Michelle Bligh

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Stephen Gilliland

Dissertation or Thesis Committee Member

Jochen Reb

Rights Information

© Copyright Jason Beck 2021


Successful leaders act with a sense of inner meaningfulness that contagiously influences followers to perform at their best. Leaders who purposely engage with emotionally intense developmental experiences (e.g., trigger events) cultivate greater meaningfulness in their work. Negative trigger events may be more impactful than positive trigger events because negative emotions shock beliefs and assumptions about reality. Additionally, due to the emotional intensity, leaders often fail to learn from trigger events that could develop leader meaningfulness. Mindfulness may help leaders appropriately use the emotional intensity of trigger events to produce meaningfulness. The purpose of this study was to empirically test the relationships of emotions, mindfulness, and meaningfulness. I pilot-tested measures and experimental conditions to make needed adjustments before the main study. Through a 2x3 experimental design, 401 participants underwent an intervention condition (mindfulness meditation group or control group) and a trigger event simulation (positive trigger event, negative trigger event, or neutral simulation). Moderated regression was utilized to analyze the predicted relationships. Results indicated that emotional intensity significantly predicts the meaningfulness of the trigger event simulation. Emotional valence significantly moderates that relationship, however in a surprising negative direction such that the neutral condition had the strongest relationship between intensity and meaning. Mindfulness did not significantly moderate, but the study did show how mindfulness predicts meaningfulness. This research advances understanding of the emotional mechanisms of meaningfulness in the leader development process. Additionally, practitioners can use the findings to understand how to integrate emotions appropriately for leader development learning from experience initiatives.

Included in

Psychology Commons