This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Graduate Student Burnout and Cynicism: Examining the Effects of Student Co-Rumination and Need for Cognition




Newport, Matthew

Type of Degree

Master's Thesis


Communication and Journalism


Life for graduate students can be challenging, as they must find some way to balance their academic demands with other areas of their lives. Attempting to find such a balance only increases the stress that graduate students regularly face, oftentimes leading to burnout, and so they frequently rely on other graduate students for sources of social support. However, when the content of social support is focused on the discussion of problems and negative emotions (i.e., co-rumination), previous research has shown that the experience of burnout is exacerbated instead of diminished (Boren, 2013; 2014). To build on previous findings, specifically in the graduate school environment, this study examined co-rumination and its effect on the development of burnout and cynical attitudes in graduate students. Moreover, students’ propensity to enjoy engaging in effortful thought (i.e., need for cognition), was included in this project as a potential moderator. Utilizing an online survey, 618 graduate students responded to measures assessing co-rumination, burnout, cynicism, and need for cognition. Findings suggest that co-rumination may lead to burnout for graduate students, but does not necessarily lead to the development of cynical attitudes. Study findings also suggest that need for cognition may mitigate the experience of burnout in graduate students, although further research in the area is needed.