What is Industrial/Organizational Psychology?

Industrial Psychology, Organizational Psychology, Work Psychology, Personnel Psychology, I-O Psychology Whatever you call it, it’s the same field that studies and promotes the study of organizations at the workplace.

Originally described by Robert M. Guion, one of the pioneers of Industrial-Organizational Psychology, as the relationship between man and his work, this field has now evolved into a sophisticated science that studies anything from decision-making in relation to one’s work and work environment to job analysis and performance. Today, Industrial-Organization Psychology has branched out into many different fields, all relating to promoting the understanding of the direct relationship between workplace environment, the worker and his output.

Branches/Practice Areas in Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Employee Selection or Personnel Recruitment and Selection ñ This is the area of Industrial-Organizational Psychology that originally forced the development of the field during the World War I. This pertains to the selection of qualified people to perform specific tasks according to a variety of measurement tools that measure aptitude, skills, personality and others.

Personnel appraisal and management ñ This area of career development focuses on evaluating the job performance of employees in terms of time, quality of work and quantity of output. It essentially measures the worth of employees to their organization.

Individual assessment ñ This is a rather broad field in I-O Psychology which deals with subjects like ability testing, knowledge testing, skills, testing, aptitude testing, and personality testing.

Organizational Culture ñ This pertains to the common assumptions within an organization that define the appropriate behaviors for each type of situation. This studies cultures that exist in workplace environments along with subcultures (e.g. corporate culture, local culture, and departmental culture).

Leadership ñ Leadership has evolved over the years as one of the key elements of the worth of any organization. This area is concerned in what personal characteristics, attitudes and abilities effective leaders have and what styles of supervision are most effective at producing results for any organization. This area is also interested in studying the kind of leadership that gets the most out of individual workers.

Work motivation ñ Motivation is a subject that is common to all fields of Psychology. Particular attention is given to motivation as it relates to work in Industrial-Organizational Psychology as it often defines the variables that make one worker more efficient in his task than others.

Job attitudes ñ This area includes sub-areas like job satisfaction, career commitment, organizational commitment, and others. This studies the significant impact each of these factors has on the productivity and efficiency of workers.

Conditions of work ñ This is the area that asks questions like, ‘does lighting, color, noise level, working temperature, and the physical workplace environment have any impact to the productivity of works?’ and ‘what effects do hours, boredom, and fatigue have on a worker’s output?’. In essence, this is interested in the tangible structures and the psychological climate of the workplace and their relationship to the worker’s output.

Other areas of Industrial-Organization Psychology include Human Resources, Job Design, Counterproductive Behaviors, Employment Law, Psychometrics, Compensation, and Organizational Development.

Industrial-Organizational Psychology: The Practical Value

Organizations and companies have intrinsic problems (e.g. absenteeism, job dissatisfaction, turnover and personnel selection) that are too costly to be ignored. Industrial-Organizational Psychology resolves these problems at a fraction of the original cost if these problems were left unattended. In other words, this field of Psychology is financially rewarding to many companies and promotes satisfaction and better productivity among workers.

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