Industrial-occupational psychology is the study of psychological issues such as behavior, cognition, emotion, and motivation as it is applied to the problems of people in organizations. Industrial psychology is the older branch of the field and is concerned with the management perspective of organizational efficiency through the appropriate use of human resources, or people. Organizational psychology is focused more on understanding behavior and enhancing the well-being of employees in the workplace.
However, some topics in the field cannot be classified as either industrial or occupational so when put together they can explain the broad nature of the field (Spector, 2008). This paper will discuss the history of industrial-occupational, how it is different from other fields of psychology, how industrial-occupational can be applied in organizations, and the role that research and statistics plays in industrial-occupational psychology. The History of I/O Psychology
I/O psychologies origins can be tracked back to the late 19th century crusade to understand and gauge human abilities and drives. In 1903 Walter Dill Scott wrote a book that was the first to link psychology and business together. Scott has been considered to be the founding father of I/O psychology along with Hugo Munsterberg who was a German psychologist teaching a Harvard University.
Munsterberg published a book in 1913 titled “The Psychology of Industrial Efficiency.” However, I/O psychology truly came into its own when the United States entered into World War I in 1917. The military convened a committee of psychologists to investigate solider drive, incentive, and the commonness of psychological impairment. At this time psychologists also developed the Army Alpha a group-administered intelligence test.
There were 1,726,000 soldiers and officers tested but little come out of the information gathered because the war ended three months after the test was administered. Studies found that the test scores were related to solider accomplishments. After the war the Carnegie Institute of Technology started a university-based facility for the study of the applications of psychology to business this was the first of its kind. The center was called the U.S. Bureau of Salesmanship Research and at that time it was sponsored mainly by the life insurance industry. The research conducted was for the selection and enhancement of secretarial, executive, and sales staff (Spector, 2008).
During World War II psychologist developed the “Army General Classification” test, which was used for the assessment and placement of the recruits as well as identifying precise aptitudes and capabilities of the soldiers. During this time the psychologist also investigated accidents, plan crashes, morale, and solider attitudes. After the war I/O psychology come out as a specific specialty of the broader field of psychology. In 1970 I/O psychology got another push after the court decisions interoperating the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
In this decision the courts placed a substantial responsibility on employers to explain the validity of their recruiting, selection, and promotional procedures. Many employers determined that it was smarter to employ the skills of I/O psychologist to defend against this and other possible anti-discrimination legislation. Maintaining an I/O psychologist on staff would also provide defense against lawsuits brought about by employees who claimed that he or she sufferer from discrimination (Spector, 2008). The Difference between I/O Psychology and Other Field of Psychology
There are many similarities between I/O psychology and other fields of psychology however; I/O psychology focuses mainly on applying psychological practices to the business industries. The other disciplines many study or apply similar topics as I/O psychology but the range of topics very. I/O psychology encompasses issues that are studied individually by human resources management (HRM), social psychology, and business management.
Whereas each of these fields of study may focus on other topics none of them focus on the entire set of topics as I/O psychologist do. As with any other field of psychology the difference is sometimes blurred. I/O psychology applies psychological theories to the business industry, while other fields of psychology apply theories to the diagnosis and treatment in all aspects of life (Spector, 2008). How I/O Psychology Is Applied In Organizations
I/O psychology can be used in establishments with the intention of diagnosing the organizations snags, suggesting or applying changes, and calculating the costs of those changes. The four areas that the I/O psychologist may address are: personal psychology, training, motivation and leadership, and engineering psychology (Cascio, & Aguinis, 2008). Personal psychology deals with individual differences. Personal psychology works with the areas of recruiting and selecting personal. Put simply personal psychology tries to establish who the best person is for any available positions using precise methods that have been proven to work well in the past.
The primary focus of personal psychology is to study the job and the traits of the people currently holding the job and using this information to determine what kind of individual would be right for the position (Cascio, & Aguinis, 2008).
Training is using the theories of learning to teach employee’s skills, techniques, strategies, and concepts for enhancing employee performance. I/O psychologists are deeply involved in determining training needs by using job analysis, performance evaluations as well as employee attitude surveys. I/O psychologists are well placed to determine if a training program would alleviate the organizations problem.
I/O psychologist address questions such as “who, if anyone, needs training?” and “are the present employees likely to improve from training?” Once the I/O psychologist concludes that training is right he or she will try to outline the best contents and formatting for the training program (Cascio, & Aguinis, 2008).
Employee motivation and leadership deals with current employees and strives for a way to establish an atmosphere that offers employees a well-defined idea of what they are supposed to achieve and encourages the establishment of conditions conductive to inspiring people to do their best. The four major methods I/O psychologists apply to aid organizations in creating conditions that are beneficial to efficient performance are: motivation, job satisfaction, leadership, and organization development. Motivation is creating organizational conditions that are helpful in bringing out the best in their employees.
The I/O psychologist’s job is to use concepts of work motivation toward the improvement of working environments and a reward program that will motivate good performance. Because job satisfaction is not directly related to productivity and is weakly related to employee turnover and absenteeism the main purpose is to give management a good idea of the mood of employees which he or she can use as a guide to improve reward programs, benefits, and motivational conditions.
The leader ship topics addressed by I/O psychologist are how people come to be leaders, how to prepare people to be leaders, and what leaders do. Organization development is the area of helping people to work better as a team. To do this I/O psychologist address way to enhance the group’s cohesion and effectiveness with tools such as team building exercises, leadership exercises, self-management work groups, and survey feedback (Cascio, & Aguinis, 2008).
Engineering psychology concentrates on the human problem of organizations through the design of machinery and tools that take human limitations specifically into account. Engineering psychology focuses on two areas. The goal of the first area is to make machines that require few decisions to be made by the operator. The goal of the other area is to design the machinery and workspaces to be congruent with human limitations and capabilities (Cascio, & Aguinis, 2008). The Role of Research and Statistics in I/O Psychology
I/O Psychology has it foundation in science; the main focus is on testing and evaluating issues with measureable methods. This process is not like using simple intuition or trying new things until something works. I/O methods like all other fields of psychology are studied with scientific methods and supported by theories and statistics. Research can develop new methods and procedures for such activities as selecting or training employees.
Other research focuses on understanding some organizational phenomenon such as employee theft, the effects of job attitudes. The results of the research conducted in the field are presented at professional meetings and are published in scientific journals. I/O psychologists collect and analyze data to address organizational issues and questions. I/O psychologist start the research process by posing a specific question that defines the purpose of the study
. The I/O psychologist determines the research hypothesis, which is the best guess of what the outcome of the research will be. From there the research is conducted in one of two ways either in the field or in the laboratory. Research conducted in the field takes place naturally while research conducted in the laboratory is created. Researchers try to achieve generalizability, which means that the results can be applied to a variety of other settings and situations.
The researchers establish control over the experiments that they conduct to eliminate alternative explanations for the results. There are many ways that a researcher can achieve control in studies. Two such ways of achieving control are random selection and random assignment, which ensure that all participants have an equal chance of being assigned to different treatments or that every participant has a chance to be chosen for the study (Spector, 2008).
The design of the research can be divided into experimental and nonexperimental forms. In experimental design the researcher randomly assigns subjects to conditions that are constructed for the study. In nonexperimental designs the subjects are observed without assignment or construction of the conditions. The researcher must ensure that the experiments have both reliability and validity.
This means that the tests must produce consistent measurements and can produce inferences about the data collected. The data collected from the research is analyzed with statistical methods (Spector, 2008). The statistical methods used by I/O psychologist are either descriptive or inferential. Descriptive statistics are a way for I/O psychologist to reduce large amounts of data into summary statistics. These statistics are much easier to interoperate than the original data. There are three reasons to use descriptive statistics to analyze data sets.
The first is to determine the central tendency and dispersion. The arithmetic mean is the sum of observations divided by the number of observations. The median is the middle number when the numbers are arranged in order from lowest to highest. However, these two methods do not indicate how much the observations differ from each other. To determine the difference of the observations a researcher would use variance and standard deviations. When there are more than one variable the researcher would use correlations to indicate the degree in which the two variables are related and the direction of the relation.
An important byproduct of correlated variables is that a researcher can use one to predict the other this is known as regression (Spector, 2008). Inferential statistics allow researchers to draw conclusions that generalize from the subjects studied to all the people of interest by allowing the researcher to make inferences based on probabilities. This is done by using the descriptive statistics from a small group and combining them with the findings of other subjects by using statistical tests that are based on probability (Spector, 2008). Conclusion
Industrial-occupational psychology is the study of psychological issues such as behavior, cognition, emotion, and motivation as it is applied to the problems of people in organizations. I/O psychology can be used in establishments with the intention of diagnosing the organizations problems, recommending or implementing change, and evaluating the consequences of those changes. The four areas that the I/O psychologist might address are: personal psychology, training, motivation and leadership, and engineering psychology. I/O Psychology has it foundation in science; the main focus is on testing and evaluating issues with measureable methods.
This process is not like using simple intuition or trying new things until something works. I/O methods like all other fields of psychology are studied with scientific methods and supported by theories and statistics. Research can develop new methods and procedures for such activities as selecting or training employees. The statistical methods used by I/O psychologist are either descriptive or inferential.
Descriptive statistics are a way for I/O psychologist to reduce large amounts of data into summary statistics. Inferential statistics allow researchers to draw conclusions that generalize from the subjects that were studied to all the people of interest by allowing the researcher to make inferences based on probabilities. References
Cascio, W. F., & Aguinis, H. (2008). Research in industrial and organizational psychology from 1963 to 2007: Changes, choices, and trends. Journal of Applied Psychology, 93(5), 1062-1081. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.93.5.1062
Spector, P. E. (2008). Industrial and organizational psychology (5th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.