Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Psychology



First Reader/Committee Chair



Leadership has been a much studied area within industrial and organizational psychology. Recently, scholars have begun to focus on the negative side of leadership; however, a lack of research has limited our understanding of toxic leadership. One step forward in this domain has been the development of the toxic triangle, which posits that toxic leaders are aided by toxic followers with a toxic environment. Although the leader has been studied within this triangle, relatively little has been researched regarding the follower or the environment. Specifically, that there has been a lack of research in the organizational environment that allows the rise of toxic leaders is concerning. In this study, a toxic work environment scale was developed to help capture pieces of organizational environments that contribute to the rise of toxic leadership. A refined scale was used along with a qualitative piece. Four other scales were used to establish convergent and divergent validity. From the results of this study, although refinement is needed, support for three of the dimensions was found: favoritism, perceived threat, and overall organizational climate. Additionally, through the qualitative portion, additional themes that emerged (e.g., bullying) could be utilized in future use of measures to help assess toxic work environment features. Finally, I recommend that researchers interested in the toxic triangle endeavor to conduct studies that examine all elements simultaneously.