Stefan Schmollack Stefan Schmollack Moderator

What is Work and Organizational Psychology?

Industrial and Organizational Psychology (also known as industrial-organizational psychology, I-O psychology, work psychology, organizational psychology, work and organizational psychology, occupational psychology, personnel psychology or talent assessment) applies psychology to organizations and the workplace. (In December 2009, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology plans a vote to either retain its name or to change it to the Society for Organizational Psychology (TSOP) to eliminate the word "Industrial". Any such change might cause many American researchers, practitioners and educational programs in I-O psychology to change over to the new name to describe their field.) "Industrial-organizational psychologists contribute to an organization's success by improving the performance and well-being of its people. An I-O psychologist researches and identifies how behaviors and attitudes can be improved through hiring practices, training programs, and feedback systems."



Guion (1965) defines I-O psychology as "the scientific study of the relationship between man and the world of work:... in the process of making a living" (p. 817). Blum and Naylor (1968) define it as "simply the application or extension of psychological facts and principles to the problems concerning human beings operating within the context of business and industry" (p 4). I-O psychology has historically subsumed two broad areas of study, as evident by its name, although this distinction is largely artificial and many topics cut across both areas. I-O psychology has roots in social psychology; organizational psychologists examine the role of the work environment in performance and other outcomes including job satisfaction and health. I-O psychology is represented by Division 14 of the American Psychological Association.

Common research and practice areas for I-O psychologists include:

* Job performance
* Job analysis
* Personnel recruitment and selection
* Performance appraisal/management
* Individual assessment (knowledge, skills, and ability testing, personality assessment, work sample tests, assessment centers)
* Psychometrics
* Compensation
* Training and training evaluation
* Employment law
* Work motivation
* Job attitudes (e.g., job satisfaction, commitment, organizational citizenship, and retaliation)
* Occupational health and safety
* Work/life balance
* Human factors and decision making
* Organizational culture/climate
* Organizational surveys
* Leadership and executive coaching
* Ethics
* Diversity
* Job design
* Human resources
* Organizational development (OD)
* Organizational research methods
* Technology in the workplace
* Group/team performance

I-O psychologists are trained in the “scientist-practitioner” model. The training enables I-O psychologists to employ scientific principles and research-based designs to generate knowledge. They use what they have learned in applied settings to help clients address workplace needs. I-O psychologists are employed as professors, researchers, and consultants. They also work within organizations, often as part of a human resources department where they coordinate hiring and organizational development initiatives from an evidence-based perspective.


Topics in industrial-organizational psychology

* Job analysis
* Personnel recruitment and selection
* Performance appraisal/management
* Individual assessment and psychometrics
* Compensation
* Training and training evaluation
* Motivation in the Workplace
* Group Behavior
* Team Effectiveness
* Job Satisfaction and Commitment
* Counterproductive Behavior
* Leadership
* Occupational health psychology