Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences



Committee Chair

Alan K Goodboy

Committee Co-Chair

Matthew M Martin

Committee Member

Scott A Myers

Committee Member

Nathan M Sorber

Committee Member

Keith Weber


The purpose of this dissertation was to explore how psychosocial development affects doctoral students' relationships with their advisor and their success in graduate school. Toward this goal, three objectives were identified. The first objective was to integrate Chickering and Reisser's (1993) vectors of psychosocial development into the doctoral education context to understand how mature students maintain their relationships and address conflict with their advisor. The second objective was to investigate the extent to which doctoral students' psychosocial development and communication behaviors affected satisfaction in the student-advisor relationship. The third objective was to examine the effect of psychosocial development on doctoral students' attrition and indicators of academic success. Self-report surveys were completed by both doctoral students and graduate faculty advisors. The results revealed that students who were further progressed along the vectors of psychosocial development were more likely to use relational maintenance behaviors and handle their conflict with integrative strategies, whereas students who were not as psychosocially developed were more inclined to use distributive and avoidance strategies to handle conflict in the student-advisor relationship. Psychosocial development also positively affected doctoral students' persistence, perceived time to degree, and their general success in graduate school (i.e., academic preparedness, quality of work, research self-efficacy, research productivity). The results also indicated that students' relational maintenance behaviors and conflict strategies played an essential role in explaining the positive effects of psychosocial development on student-advisor relational and communication satisfaction. Taken together, the findings support the importance of psychosocial development in graduate school and provide valuable information that may be used to improve the quality of doctoral programs.