This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Profiling Newcomers in the Socialization Process: Examining Longitudinal Patterns of Authentic Self-Expression Change




Zhao, Teng

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Psychological Sciences

Restriction Status


Restriction Type


Date Available



A few existing studies have demonstrated that organizations and supervisors’ support on newcomers’ authentic self-expression is beneficial for socialization outcomes. However, limited attention has been given to understanding newcomers' perspectives and examining their authentic self-expression behaviors after entering a new environment. Additionally, little is known about the antecedents of authentic self-expression change trajectories and their potential consequences. To address these gaps, this dissertation presents two three-wave longitudinal studies conducted with university freshmen (Study 1) and new employees in their first six months of work (Study 2). The primary objective is to investigate the different patterns of newcomer authentic self-expression during the adjustment process. Drawing on self-verification theory and newcomer socialization research, this study explores the relationship between individual (i.e., self-verification striving) and contextual (i.e., perceived psychological safety) factors and newcomers’ authentic self-expression change patterns. Furthermore, it examines the associations of various authentic self-expression change patterns with proximal adjustment processes (e.g., work engagement, social integration) and distal socialization outcomes (e.g., creativity, affective commitment). By addressing these research questions, this dissertation contributes to our understanding of newcomer socialization and sheds light on the factors that shape authentic self-expression and its consequences in diverse contexts. In Study 1, a sample of 311 freshmen was followed up for a period of three months after their entry into university. The findings revealed the coexistence of three distinct patterns of newcomer authentic self-expression change: stable high, decreased, and stable low. It was observed that individuals with higher levels of self-verification striving were more likely to be classified into the stable high pattern, while those in the decreased and stable low pattern classes had similar levels of self-verification striving. In Study 2, a sample of 391 new employees within their first six months of employment was tracked over a three-month period with one-month intervals. The results replicated the findings from Study 1, suggesting the presence of the three authentic self-expression change patterns. Additionally, the contextual factor of perceived psychological safety was identified as an antecedent of these patterns. Specifically, individuals with higher levels of perceived psychological safety were more likely to be classified into the stable high pattern compared to the decreased and stable low patterns. Additionally, it was observed that individuals classified into the decreased pattern class exhibited a higher level of perceived psychological safety compared to those classified into the stable low pattern class. Furthermore, the study demonstrated that higher levels of authentic self-expression change patterns were associated with better adjustment outcomes. Specifically, individuals classified into the stable high, decreased, and stable low pattern classes exhibited high, medium, and low levels of work engagement, social integration, creativity, respectively. The major findings of the study, along with their theoretical and practical implications, and avenues for future research were summarized and discussed.