This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Understanding Workplace Uncertainty: Inception, Development, and Preliminary Validation of the Workplace Uncertainty Tolerance Scale




Acosta, Joshua

Type of Degree

PhD Dissertation


Psychological Sciences


Uncertainty is a fundamental aspect of the work experience (Simon, 1955; 1956), yet little scholarly research exists examining human functioning when experiencing uncertainty at work. This dissertation advances the understanding of the industrial and organizational psychological scientific literature through two major contributions. The first contribution is the establishment of a theoretical foundation for understanding workplace uncertainty grounded in decision theory. The framework specified was refined throughout, given the empirical findings. The second contribution is the creation of a psychological scale to measure the conceptualized individual-level trait of workplace uncertainty tolerance. I executed three studies in three phases to establish construct validity of the scale. In phase one, an initial set of items was generated and assessed for content validity. The second phase evaluated the refined set of items for factor structure and psychometric properties. The third phase confirmed the factor structure and established preliminary convergent, discriminant, and criterion-related validity. Results suggested an alternative theory for workplace uncertainty than proposed, comprising three unique factors in theory and measurement: volatility tolerance, ambiguity tolerance, and interpersonal uncertainty tolerance. Implications for theory and practice were set forth as they relate to the workplace uncertainty tolerance scale’s anticipated utility for industrial and organizational psychology academics and practitioners.