Definition and History of Industrial Psychology

Topics: Psychology, Kurt Lewin, Applied psychology Pages: 9 (2962 words) Published: February 4, 2010
Industrial psychology is a relatively recent subfield of psychology. In fact it did not become fully productive until about the late 1920's. The industrial side of industrial psychology has its historical origins in research on individual differences, assessment, and the prediction of performance. This branch of the field crystallized during World War I, in response to the need to rapidly assign new troops to duty stations. After the War the growing industrial base in the U.S. added impetus to industrial psychology. Walter Dill Scott, who was elected President of the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1919, was arguably the most prominent I-O psychologist of his time, although James McKeen Cattell (elected APA President in 1895) and Hugo Münsterberg (1898) were influential in the early development of the field. Organizational psychology gained prominence after World War II, influenced by the Hawthorne studies and the work of researchers such as Kurt Lewin and Muzafer Sherif. Before the late 1920's many people had started to improve the workplace. Differential psychology, which became popular during World War I, was the start of improving the workplace. It focused in on how people are different but was not very successful in helping with ones job. The second idea was experimental psychology. This branch attempted to treat everyone as the same and tried to define laws in how people are similar. It too failed. The third idea was scientific management. This was the idea that there is only "one best way" to perform a job. It was based on the fact that money is a motivator and left out the idea of job satisfaction. The last factor that helped industrial psychology become prominent was the human relations movement. This particular movement wanted to keep people happy through motivation along with job satisfaction. It also led to the Hawthorne Studies, which was the true start of industrial psychology. The Hawthorne Studies were conducted from about 1927-1932 by Elton Mayo at the Western Electric Company. Some results that came out of this study were that a workplace must be seen as a social system not just a productive system, that including workers in decision making process can reduce resistance to change, and that individual work behaviour is determined by a complex set of factors.

In the USA, initial activity in industry by psychologists was in advertising; however, employee selection then became the major focus. As a result of the training in experimental psychology, early industrial psychologists used a quantitative, scientific approach for selection that emphasized empirical verification of the effectiveness of their interventions. In January 2010, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) announced that, as a result of membership vote, it would retain its name and not change it to the Society for Organizational Psychology (TSOP) to eliminate the word "Industrial"

Hugo Munsterberg - Hugo Munsterberg (June 1, 1863 - December 19, 1916) was a German-American psychologist. He was a pioneer of applied psychology, extending his research and theories to legal, medical, clinical, educational, and business settings. He is considered by many "the father of industrial psychology," whose work in this area paved the way for the modern industrial-organizational psychology. His research on eyewitness testimony set up some fundamental insights in forensic psychology. There, he brought attention to the role of experience and memory on the perception and recall of events, showing that different people will describe the same event quite differently. Munsterberg created a series of mental tests and job questionnaires to test the applicants’ knowledge, skills, and abilities. He also conducted research on several different occupations, seeking evidence for a correlation between mental...
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