University of Phoenix
Facilitator: Gary Mayhew, Ed. D.
July 26, 2011
Fundamental Concepts of Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Industrial and Organizational (I/O) psychology is a field of psychology that “involves the scientific study of the human side of organizations and includes the application of the principles and findings of the research” (Spector, 2008, p. 4). This field consists of research psychologists, who conduct the research, and practicing psychologist, who apply the results of the research to various situations. This field started by adopting various disciplines from other fields of psychology, making it different from all of them, which is examined throughout this paper. The evolution of I/O psychology and its uses as well as the role of research and statistics will also be examined throughout this paper. Evolution of Industrial and Organizational Psychology
Industrial and Organizational (I/O) psychology began about the same time the field of psychology as a science became established. Originally this field was known as industrial psychology, but when human relations became an issue within large organizations the organizational part developed. Experimental scientists were the first members of this field because they shown an interest in learning how to utilize the principles of psychology to solve problems throughout various organizations. Hugo M¨unsterberg and Walter Dill Scott are known as the founders of I/O psychology (Spector, 2008). Engineering also played a role in the developmental and implementation of I/O psychology. Robert Yerkes convinced the Army during World War I to begin using I/O psychologists to help place soldiers in positions best suitable for their mental capabilities because of Robert Yerkes (Spector, 2008). I/O psychologists began to be hired throughout private organizations to help with employees and productivity problems. World War II however began the utilization between both industrial and organization, whereas psychologists not only helped with recruiting placements, but also within the training, team development, performance appraisal, and many other applications (Spector, 2008). One of the major events that occurred that shaped the field I/O psychology was the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act changed the way that employers could both hire and treat their employees, which gave I/O psychology the chance to change employment procedures. As the United States gave rights to women, and minorities, employment procedures changed again, leaving I/O psychologists changing employment procedures again. Difference between Disciplines
I/O psychology adopted many of its theories, concepts, techniques, and ideas from other disciplines (Spector, 2008). Most disciplines deal with the study and treatment of human behaviors, whereas I/O psychology concentrates on developing and applying scientific measures to the workplace. Clinical psychologists focus on a person’s emotional or personal problems whereas I/O psychologists do not, and they work with a variety of people at one time, whereas many other psychologists work with one person at a time. Cognitive psychologists focus on a person’s thought process, whereas I/O psychologists do not. Developmental psychologists focus on a person’s growth and development throughout his or her life, whereas I/O psychologists focus on enhancing workplace performance through the use of psychological research. Uses of Industrial/Organizational Psychology
One use of I/O psychology is making various organizations function more effectively. I/O psychologists study work behaviors and collect research to implement new ways to become more productive. They also use the principles of psychology to help them solve stress in the workplace as well as increase job performance. Large organizations will hire I/O psychologists because of the large number of people who are employed by the organization, which can help the relationship between the employers and the employees. Colleges and universities, also hire research I/O psychologists, which many of them are professors, and their major activities include: research, teaching, writing research papers, and publishing articles within scientific journals, and mentoring students (Spector, 2008). The practice I/O psychologists also teach, and research material, but mostly apply the data discovered to solve problems. Some of their activities include: job analysis, conduct employee surveys of feelings, conduct analysis to determine solutions to problems, design training programs, implement organizational changes, and develop psychological tests (Spector, 2008). The Role of Research and Statistics
The research obtained by I/O psychologists help them to develop various training techniques that work, and develop new hiring procedures. Many of the experiments conducted help to understand how programs work and if those programs will be work on a scientific level. The hypothesis that these psychologists develop help them determine where to start their research. The various independent and dependent variables involved with the various problems that these psychologists come across help determine the cause of problems, and what needs to be adjusted. The research can be compiled in two types of setting, the field and a laboratory. The I/O psychologists use both settings to help understand and fix the problems that occur within various organizations.
Descriptive and inferential statistics are used to summarize and interpret the results of the research. “Most studies carried out by I/O psychologists require statistical methods for the data analysis” (Spector, 2008, p. 39). The statistical information discovered can tell psychologists the various correlations between variables and whether the correlation is positive or negative. This type of information is needed to develop proper procedures in the workplace. The mathematical techniques applied to solving the problems in the workplace are needed to solve those problems in a scientific manner. Conclusion
Although I/O psychology adopted many aspects of its field from other disciplines it is very different from all disciplines. I/O psychology places a high standard on research and practices. The problems that are solved use scientific measures to ensure the validity and to make sure that programs will succeed. Research and statistics are also play a vital role within the field if I/O psychology. Many uses of I/O psychology have been established and many I/O psychologists are utilized in many places. Organizations depend on the work of these psychologists to make the employees happy and make the organization run smoothly. I/O psychology has evolved over the years, coming from just industrial psychology into industrial and organizational psychology. Many organizations would be at an enormous disadvantage if this field of psychology was not established. As the world and society change I/O psychology will be there to change the way organizations and such are run.
Spector, P. E. (2008). Industrial and organizational psychology: Research and practice (University of Phoenix Custom Edition e-text.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley. Retrieved July 22, 2011, from University of Phoenix, PSY 435 Industrial/Organizational Psychology Course Web site.