Psychology and Work

Topics: Psychology, Industrial and organizational psychology, Applied psychology Pages: 32 (10434 words) Published: January 27, 2013
Work Psychology
Understanding human behaviour in the

John Arnold
Cary L. Cooper Ivan T. Robertson


Work psychology: its origins, subjectmatter and research techniques OBJECTIVES
After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
~ Describe important features of the history of work psychology. ~ Specify the topics covered by work psychologists.
~ Describe the main elements of a psychological theory, and explain the links between those elements.
Discuss the relationship between work psychology and common sense. ~ Describe five methods of data collection used in research by work psychologists.
~ Describe the key features, advantages and disadvantages of four research designs used by work psychologists.
This chapter begins with a brief look at the roots and history of work psychology, including the Hawthorne studies and other key milestones. Attention then turns to modern work psychology: the topics it covers, the relationship between theory and practice, and professional affairs. The issue of whether work psychology is more useful than so-called common sense is examined. If it is to be useful, work psychology must be based on sound information and appropriate techniques. This chapter therefore concludes with an analysis of how work psychologists obtain information using research methods. The strengths and weaknesses of each method are illustrated with examples. By the end of the chapter the reader should know the topics that work psychology covers, and be able to describe and evaluate the research methods used by work psychologists.

Work psychology has at least two distinct roots. One resides in a pair of traditions that have often been termed 'fitting the man [sic] to the job' (FMJ) and 'fitting the job to the man [sic]' (FJM). The FMJ tradition manifests itself in employee selection, training and vocational guidance. These endeavours have in common an attempt to achieve an effective match between job and person by concentrating on the latter. The FJM tradition focuses instead on the job; and in particular the design of tasks, equipment and working conditions which suit a person' s physical and psychological characteristics.

Much early work in these traditions was undertaken in response to the demands of two world wars. In the UK, for example, there was concern about the adverse consequences of the very long hours worked in munitions factories during the First World War and again in the Second World War (Vernon, 1948). The extensive use of aircraft in the Second World War led to attempts to design cockpits which optimally fitted pilots' capacities. In both the UK and the USA, the First World War highlighted the need to develop methods of screening people so that only those suitable for a post were selected for it. This need was met through the development of tests of ability and personality. One important source of such work in the UK was the National Institute of Industrial Psychology, which was established by the influential psychologist C. S. Myers between the two wars, and survived in various forms until 1971. The UK civil service began to employ a considerable number of psychologists after the Second World War. Their brief was, and largely still is, to improve civil service procedures, particularly in selection. Especially from the 1960s onwards, some other large

organizations have also employed psychologists, and many independent consultants also work in these areas (see Stewart (1982) for examples of what such consultants do). The FMJ and FJM traditions essentially concern the relationship between individuals and their work. The other root of work psychology can be loosely labelled human relations. It is concerned with the complex interplay between individuals, groups, organizations and work. It therefore emphasizes social factors at work much more than FMJ and FJM. The importance of human relations was...

References: Adair, J. G. (1984), 'The Hawthorne effect: a reconsideration of the methodological artifact ',
Journal of Applied Psychology, 69, 33415.
Anderson, N. and Prutton, K. (1993), 'Occupational psychology in business: strategic
resource or purveyor of tests? ', The Occupational Psychologist, 20, 3-10.
Blackler, F. (1982), 'Organizational psychology ', in S. Canter and D. Canter (eds),
Psychology in Practice, Chichester: John Wiley.
Blackler, F. and Brown, C. (1986), 'Alternative models to guide the design and introduction
of the new information technologies into work organizations ', Journal of Occupational
Brenner, M. (1981), 'Skills in the research interview ', in M. Argyle (ed.), Social Skills and
Work, London: Methuen.
Bryman, A. (1989), Research Methods and Organization Studies, London: Unwin Hyman.
British Psychological Society (1986), Register of Members of the Division of Occupational
Psychology, Leicester: BPS.
Cox, T. (1978), Stress, London: Macmillan.
Elden, M. and Chisholm, R. F. (1993), 'Emerging varieties of action research ', Human
Relations, 46, 121-42
Furnham, A. (1983), 'Social psychology as common sense ', Bulletin of The British
Psychological Society, 36,105-9
Halvor Teigen, K. (1986), 'Old truths or fresh insights? A study of students ' evaluations of
proverbs ', British Journal of Social Psychology, 25, 43-9.
Herr 'iot, P (1984), Down from the Ivory Tower: Graduates and Their Jobs, Chichester: John
Iaffaldano, M. T. and Muchinsky, P M. (1985), 'Job satisfaction and job performance: a metaanalysis ', Psychological Bulletin, 97, 251-73.
Johns, G. (1993), 'Constraints on the adoption of psychology-based personnel practices:
lessons from organizational innovation ', Personnel Psychology, 46, 569-92.
Kemp, N. J., Wall, T. D., Clegg, C. W. and Cordery, J. L. (1983), 'Autonomous work groups
in a greenfield site: a comparative study ', Journal of Occupational Psychology, 56, 27-88.
King, N. (1992), 'Modelling the innovation process: an empirical comparison of approaches ',
Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 65, 89-100.
Lewin, K. (1945), 'The Research Center for Group Dynamics at Massachusetts Institute of
Technology ', Sociometry, 8,126-36.
Lewin, K. (1946), 'Action research and minority problems ', Journal of Social Issues, 2, 34-6.
Miner, J. B. (1984), 'The validity and usefulness of theories in an emerging organizational
sciencé , Academy of Management Review, 9, 296-306.
Offerrmann, L. R. and Gowing, M. K. (1990), 'Organizations of the future ', American
Psychologist, 45, 95-108
Schaubroeck, J. and Kuehn, K. (1992), 'Research design in industrial and organizational
psychology ', in C
Potter, J. and Wetherell, M. (1987), Discourse and Social Psychology - Beyond Attitudes and
Behaviour, London: Sage.
Roethlisberger, F. J. and Dickson, W. J. (1939), Management and the Worker, New York:
John Wiley.
Schneider, S. C. and Dunbar, R. L. M. (1992), 'A psychoanalytic reading of hostile takeover
events ', Academy of Management Review,17, 5377.
Schweiso, J. (1984), 'What is common to common sense? ', Bulletin of the British
Psychological Society, 37, 43-5
psychological theories can explain organizational action ', Journal of Management,17, 80519.
Stewart, A. M. (1982), 'The occupational psychologist ', in S. Canter and D. Canter (eds),
Psychology in Practice, Chichester: John Wiley
Symon, G. and Clegg, C. W. (1991), 'Technology-led change: a study of the implementation
of CADCAM ', Journal of Occupational Psychology, 64; 273-90.
Trist, E. L. and Bamforth, K. W. (1951), 'Some social and psychological consequences of the
long-wall method of coal getting ', Human Relations, 4,1-38.
Vemon, H. M. (1948), 'An autobiography ; Occupational Psychology, 23, 73-82. Warr, P
(1987), Work, Unemployment and Mental Health, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Akavatalo, Rautatielaisenkatu 6, 00520 Helsinki 52, Finland France„
Association Nationale des Organisations des Psychologues 62 rue Liandier,13008 Marseille,
Israel Israel Psychological Association PO Box 65244, Tel Aviv 61652, Israel
Italy Italian Network of Professional Psychologists ' Associations Via in Publicolis 41, 00186
Continue Reading

Please join StudyMode to read the full document

You May Also Find These Documents Helpful

  • Psychology at Work Essay
  • Psychology Essay
  • Psychology Essay
  • Essay on Industrial Psychology in the Work Place
  • psychology Essay
  • Psychology Essay
  • Psychology Research Paper
  • psychology Essay

Become a StudyMode Member

Sign Up - It's Free