The field of industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology has been studied since the infancy of psychology itself (Spector, 2008). In the beginning, I/O psychology was wholly concerned with the industrial side of the field—which concentrated on the management aspects of business and emphasized human resources—as opposed to the organization side, which is concerned with improving work conditions in the workplace. Yet, as the field has grown over the years it has come to include the full spectrum of industry and organization. Strictly speaking, I/O psychology is defined as, “…an applied field that is concerned with the development and application of scientific principles to the workplace” (Spector, 2008, p. 5). On a practical level, the aim of I/O psychology is to, “…improve the quality of the environment for employees as well as to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of employee behavior in that environment” (Barnes-Holmes et. al., 2006, p. 56). The concise definition and practical application of I/O psychology are only the capstone to an understanding of the length and breadth of the field. A full examination of the evolution of I/O psychology as well as an explanation of the role that research and statistics play in I/O psychology are needed to form the foundation on which the capstone is placed.
Evolution of I/O Psychology
I/O psychology has its roots in the late 1800s and early 1900s when early psychologists were trying to apply the theories of psychology to the organization of business (Spector, 2008). Two scientists are attributed with the founding work of I/O psychology: Huge Munsterberg and Walter Dill Scott. Both were university professors that had an interest in employee selection and the application of new psychological tests to the subject of industry. In fact, two of I/O psychology’s foundational books, The Theory of Advertising (1903) and Psychology and Industrial Efficiency (1913) were written by Scott and Munsterberg, respectively. The...
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