Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Table of Content

What is industrial psychology?

Industrial psychology is a branch of psychology that makes use of psychological principles and theories in organizations. It is in most cases referred to as I/O psychology. Industrial psychology is a field of psychology that lays focus on the increasing workplace productivity and related challenges occurring to employees in an organization such as mental and physical wellbeing of the stuff. These groups of psychologist perform a wide range of tasks such as studying the nature of workers, attitudes, behavior, evaluating the performance of various companies and further conducting leadership training (Schein, 1980, p.14). It is a branch of psychology that is specifically devoted to the nature of workplaces in organizations. These types of psychologists only work towards improving the quality of the work environment in order to improve performance and increase productivity.

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They carry out their own research and point out various behaviors and attitudes that are essential towards improving the performance of the organization through hiring, feedback systems and training programmes.In simple terms industrial psychology can be viewed as that close relationship that exists between man and his entire place of work in the process of struggling to raise a package for sustaining life. It is the process of applying psychological terms and principles in order to tackle challenges and problems reflecting the human resources in an organization, industry or business.

Industrial psychology closely resembles social psychology simply because it lays its focus on judging the common features of human behavior and how they influence the working environment. These features of human behavior include factors such as health, sanitation, job satisfaction and many more traits of the human character. The common practical areas of interest encompass factors such as job analysis, work motivation, personnel recruitment and training, compensations and many more aspects occurring in the work environment (Spector, 1996, p.39).

The evolution of industrial psychology

The history of industrial psychology dates back to the late 19th century, when the waves of industrialization were moving across United States of America. A time when the country was experiencing tremendous industrialization, unionization, corporatization, urbanization, immigration and physical expansion. The principles observed and applied today were at first observed and applied during this critical period in America. Its history also has great reference to human and individual differences predictions, assessments based on the performance of the human resources (Cooper, Locke, 2000, p.51). This field under went crystallization immediately after the first world war in due response to settle down the rapid need of assigning new troops to various duty stations.

This action made great contributions to various industries at that time and it was later adopted by the growing industries in U.S. The by then president of United States Sir Walter Scott, was the most renown industrial psychologists. This field continued to expand   after the Second World War and it developed great prominence with a lot of influence from early works of great researchers such as Kurt Lewin and Hawthome studies. Social psychology also pledged great contributions to researchers in this field (Cooper, Locke, 2000, p.66).

What is the role of research and statistics in industrial psychology?

Despite the fact that industrial psychology is an applied field it does make significant applications of theoretical research which is equally important with significant origins from differential and experimental psychology. However, it is made up of different sub –areas such as personnel psychology, human computer interactions and human factors. Research is equally important in industrial psychology especially in designing and evaluating research within organizations. Many practitioners are entirely trained in order to apply the principles of research in evaluating organizational performance (Paul, 2005, p.24).

Various types of research and designs are closely adapted such as Quasi –experiments, experiments and observational studies in industrial psychology. These types of psychologists typically make use of data obtained from human subjects, judgments, objective measures of work performance, historical database, organizational surveys and questionnaires. Industrial researchers also employ both qualitative and quantitative research methods in the process of collecting and analyzing data obtained from the human subjects. In cases where quantitative methods are to be applied, it is then important for psychologists in this field to be acquainted with basic skills and knowledge in applying statistical procedures in data analysis .This requirement calls for the urgent need and importance of research and statistics in industrial psychology especially where statistical formulas such as correlation, descriptive statistics, analysis of variance and multiple statistics are applied. In advanced stages of research technical procedures are required and they do demand competence in operations (Paul, 2005, p.93). The applications of  research and statistical principles in industrial psychology is equally  great in drawing generalizations from a sampled group of subjects in order to ensure validity  and reliability of the results obtained.

Where qualitative research methods are applied frequently, knowledge of focus group discussions, content analysis, case studies and interviews is important. These critical research techniques are in most cases used when describing crucial elements of performance sighted on human behaviors in relation to work outcome. In most cases these techniques are adopted in order to improve performance among surgical teams and air crafts therefore, saving on costs.


Cooper, C & Locke, E (2000). Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Linking Theory with Practice. New York: Blackwell Publishers

Paul, M (2005). Psychology Applied to Work: An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology. New York: Thomson Wadsworth

Schein, E (1980). Organizational Psychology. New York: Prentice Hall

Spector, P (1996) Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Research and Practice. New York: John Wiley and Sons


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Industrial and Organizational Psychology. (2016, Oct 19). Retrieved from

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