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Villanova HRD research

The #VUHRD Research Lab is currently run by 16 lab members--both HRD graduate students and Psychology undergraduates--with VUHRD Graduate Assistant, Megan Peiffer, as the Lab Coordinator. The HRD Research lab is always looking for more interested and passionate students to contribute to the research and work that is being done!


The two main areas of research--Mindfulness at Work and Envy in the Workplace--are discussed below. If you have interest in helping with the lab, please contact Dr. Katina Sawyer!

Mindfulness at Work

One of the ongoing areas of research in the HRD Research Lab is the study of how mindfulness impacts people at work, and specifically how mindfulness impacts interpersonal relationships at work.

Envy in the Workplace

Another area of ongoing research in the HRD lab is studying envy in the workplace. In the most recent study, employees filled out three surveys over the course of a month to respond to envious feelings toward their coworkers. At this point, research is finding that an employee's actions regarding their envious feelings will be based on how fairly they believe their workplace rewards hard work; if they believe their workplace is fair, then they are more likely to worker harder in response to envy, rather than attempt to undermine the person they are envious of. To learn more about this study, view our blog post here.

recent publications

Martinez, L.R., Sawyer, K.B., Thoroughgood, C., & Smith, N.A. (2017). The importance of being "me": The relation between authentic identity expression and transgender employees' work-related attitudes and experiences. Journal of Applied Psychology 102(2).


The present research examined the relation between authentic identity expression and transgender employees’ work-related attitudes and experiences. Drawing on Kernis’ (2003) theoretical conceptualization of authenticity and expanding on current workplace identity management research, we predicted that employees who had taken steps to reduce the discrepancy between their inner gender identities and their outward manifestations of gender would report more positive job attitudes and workplace experiences, in part because the reduction of this discrepancy is related to greater feelings of authenticity. In Study 1, we found that the extent to which one has transitioned was related to higher job satisfaction and perceived person-organization (P-O) fit and lower perceived discrimination. In Study 2, we replicate and extend these results by showing that the extent to which employees felt that others at work perceived them in a manner consistent with how they perceived themselves (relational authenticity) mediated the relations between extent of transition and all 3 of these outcomes. However, perceptions of alignment between one’s felt and expressed identity (action authenticity) only mediated this link for job satisfaction. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our results, as well as avenues for future research on authenticity in the workplace.

Thoroughgood, C.N. & Sawyer, K.B. (2017). Who wants to follow the leader? Using personality and work value profiles to predict preferences for charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic styles of leading. Journal of Business and Psychology.


Despite the contributions of charismatic and transformational theories, their universal applicability has recently been called into question. Dovetailing this debate is a growing interest in followers. We contribute to these discussions by examining the impact of follower individual difference profiles on preferences for charismatic, ideological, and pragmatic styles of leading. Drawing on Weber’s (1924) taxonomy of managerial authority in its reconceptualized form as the charismatic-ideological-pragmatic (CIP) model, we conducted a vignette study in which 415 working adults first completed an online survey assessing their personality and work values. Eight weeks later, a second survey asked them to read a fictional scenario about an organization and three speeches depicting each leader’s style. Participants then indicated their leader preference, which we sought to predict using their personality and work values profiles. Results of discriminant function analyses indicated certain linear combinations of personality and work values variables discriminated between participants’ leader preferences.

Sawyer, K. & Thoroughgood, C. (2017). Gender non-conformity and the modern workplace: New frontiers in understanding and promoting gender identity expression at work. Organizational Dynamics.


In this article, we outline what organizations need to know about transgender inclusivity from a legal perspective, both at the federal and state level, while also discussing the ways in which organizations can create their own best practices for promoting workplace equality for transgender employees. We also highlight some of the key challenges that transgender employees often face in their daily work lives, including stigma and negative interpersonal interactions, and offer some guidance regarding interventions that might reverse the damaging effects of these experiences. Importantly, we stress that, while employers should pay attention to federal and state law regarding gender expression in the workplace, they should not wait for these laws to be passed in order to begin supporting their transgender employees. Rather, organizations would be better served by being proactive in this regard, despite whether the law requires them to do so or not. In so doing, organizations can drive legislation that fosters transgender inclusivity, instead of merely reacting to it. We outline below the ways in which employers might go above and beyond current legal requirements to foster transgender equality.

Recently, data collection was finalized on a study of 100 employees over the course of 6 weeks. The employees were surveyed about their workplace attitudes, interpersonal behaviors, and their coworkers were asked about their interactions, as well. To learn more about the results of this data collection, view our blog post here.

The goal of studies like this one is to help HR professionals understand whether or not they should invest in mindfulness training for their employees.

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