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Industrial and Organizational Psychology (also known as industrial-organizational psychology, I-O psychology, industrial psychology work psychology, organizational psychology, work and organizational psychology, occupational psychology, personnel psychology or talent assessment) applies psychology to organizations and the workplace. (In late 2009, the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology plans a vote to either retain its name or to change it to the Society for Organizational Psychology or something similar that eliminates the word "Industrial" and retains the word "Organizational". Any such change might cause many American researchers, practitioners and educational programs in I-O psychology to change over to the new name to describe their field.) "Industrial-organizational psychologists contribute to an organization's success by improving the performance and well-being of its people. An I-O psychologist researches and identifies how behaviors and attitudes can be improved through hiring practices, training programs, and feedback systems."
Guion (1965) defines I-O psychology as "the scientific study of the relationship between man and the world of work:... in the process of making a living" (p. 817). Blum and Naylor (1968) define it as "simply the application or extension of psychological facts and principles to the problems concerning human beings operating within the context of business and industry" (p 4). I-O psychology has historically subsumed two broad areas of study, as evident by its name, although this distinction is largely artificial and many topics cut across both areas. I-O psychology has roots in social psychology; organizational psychologists examine the role of the work environment in performance and other outcomes including job satisfaction and health. I-O psychology is represented by Division 14 of the American Psychological Association.
Common research and practice areas for I-O psychologists include:
- Job performance
- Job analysis
- Personnel recruitment and selection
- Performance appraisal/management
- Individual assessment (knowledge, skills, and ability testing, personality assessment, work sample tests, assessment centers)
- Training and training evaluation
- Employment law
- Work motivation
- Job attitudes (e.g., job satisfaction, commitment, organizational citizenship, and retaliation)
- Occupational health and safety
- Work/life balance
- Human factors and decision making
- Organizational culture/climate
- Organizational surveys
- Leadership and executive coaching
- Job design
- Human resources
- Organizational development (OD)
- Organizational research methods
- Technology in the workplace
- Group/team performance
I-O psychologists are trained in the “scientist-practitioner” model. The training enables I-O psychologists to employ scientific principles and research-based designs to generate knowledge. They use what they have learned in applied settings to help clients address workplace needs. I-O psychologists are employed as professors, researchers, and consultants. They also work within organizations, often as part of a human resources department where they coordinate hiring and organizational development initiatives from an evidence-based perspective.
The "industrial" side of I-O 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 I-O 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.
Research methods in I-O psychology
As described above, I-O psychologists are trained in the scientist-practitioner model. I-O psychologists rely on a variety of methods to conduct organizational research. Study designs employed by I-O psychologists include surveys, experiments, quasi-experiments, and observational studies. I-O psychologists rely on diverse data sources including human judgments, historical databases, objective measures of work performance (e.g., sales volume), and questionnaires and surveys.
I-O researchers employ both quantitative and qualitative research methods. Quantitative methods used in I-O psychology include both descriptive statistics and inferential statistics (e.g., correlation, multiple regression, and analysis of variance). More advanced statistical methods employed by some I-O psychologists include logistic regression, multivariate analysis of variance, structural equation modeling, and hierarchical linear modeling (HLM; also known as multilevel modeling). HLM is particularly applicable to research on team- and organization-level effects on individuals. I-O psychologists also employ psychometric methods including methods associated with classical test theory (CTT), generalizability theory, and item response theory (IRT). In the 1990s, a growing body of empirical research in I-O psychology was influential in the application of meta-analysis, particularly in the area of the stability of research findings across contexts. The most well-known meta-analytic approaches are those associated with Hunter and Schmidt, Rosenthal, and Hedges and Olkin. With the help of meta-analysis, Hunter and Schmidt advanced the idea of validity generalization, which suggests that some performance predictors, specifically cognitive ability tests (see especially Hunter  and Hunter & Schmidt ) have a relatively stable and positive relation to job performance across all jobs. Although not unchallenged, validity generalization has broad acceptance with regard to many selection instruments (e.g., cognitive ability tests, job knowledge tests, work samples, and structured interviews) across a broad range of jobs.
Qualitative methods employed in I-O psychology include content analysis, focus groups, interviews, case studies, and several other observational techniques. I-O research on organizational culture research has employed ethnographic techniques and participant observation to collect data. One well-known qualitative technique employed in I-O psychology is John Flanagan's critical incident technique, which requires "qualified observers" (e.g., pilots in studies of aviation, construction workers in studies of construction projects) to describe a work situation that resulted in a good or bad outcome. Objectivity is ensured when multiple observers identify the same incidents. The observers are also asked to provide information about what the actor in the situation could have done differently to influence the outcome. This technique is then used to describe the critical elements of performance in certain jobs and how worker behavior relates to outcomes. Most notably, this technique has been employed to improve performance among aircraft crews and surgical teams, literally saving thousands of lives since its introduction. An application of the technique in research on coping with job stress comes from O'Driscoll and Cooper.
I-O psychologists sometimes use quantitative and qualitative methods in concert. For example, when constructing behaviorally anchored rating scales (BARS), a job analyst may use qualitative methods, such as critical incidents interviews and focus groups to collect data bearing on performance. Then the analyst would have SMEs rate those examples on a Likert scale and compute inter-rater agreement statistics to judge the adequacy of each item. Each potential item would additionally be correlated with an external criterion in order to evaluate its usefulness if it were to be selected to be included in a BARS metric.
Topics in industrial-organizational psychology
Job analysis is often described as the cornerstone of successful employee selection efforts and performance management initiatives. A job analysis involves the systematic collection of information about a job. Job-analytic methods are often described as belonging to one of two approaches. One approach, the task-oriented job analysis, involves an examination of the duties, tasks, and/or competencies required by a job. The second approach, a worker-oriented job analysis, involves an examination of the knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) required to successfully perform the work. These two approaches are not mutually exclusive. Various adaptations of job-analytic methods include competency modeling, which examines large groups of duties and tasks related to a common goal or process, and practice analysis, which examines the way work is performed in an occupation across jobs.
Job-analytic data are often collected using a variety of quantitative and qualitative methods. The information obtained from a job analysis is then used to create job-relevant selection procedures, performance appraisals and criteria, or training programs. Additional uses of job-analytic information include job evaluations for the purpose of determining compensation levels and job redesign.
Personnel recruitment and selection
I-O psychologists typically work with HR specialists to design (a) recruitment processes and (b) personnel selection systems. Personnel recruitment is the process of identifying qualified candidates in the workforce and getting them to apply for jobs within an organization. Personnel recruitment processes include developing job announcements, placing ads, defining key qualifications for applicants, and screening out unqualified applicants.
Personnel selection is the systematic process of hiring and promoting personnel. Personnel selection systems employ evidence-based practices to determine the most qualified candidates. Personnel selection involves both new hires and individuals who can be promoted from within the organization. Common selection tools include ability tests (e.g., cognitive, physical, or psychomotor), knowledge tests, personality tests, structured interviews, the systematic collection of biographical data, and work samples. I-O psychologists must evaluate evidence regarding the extent to which selection tools predict job performance, evidence that bears on the validity of selection tools.
Personnel selection procedures are usually validated, i.e., shown to be job relevant, using one or more of the following types of validity: content validity, construct validity, and/or criterion-related validity. I-O psychologists adhere to professional standards, such as the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology's (SIOP) Principles for Validation and Use of Personnel Selection Procedures  and the Standards for Educational and Psychological Testing. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's Uniform Guidelines  are also influential in guiding personnel selection although they have been criticized as outdated when compared to the current state of knowledge in I-O psychology.
Performance appraisal or performance evaluation is the process of measuring an individual's work behaviors and outcomes against the expectations of the job. Performance appraisal is frequently used in promotion and compensation decisions, to help design and validate personnel selection procedures, and for performance management. Performance management is the process of providing performance feedback relative to expectations and improvement information (e.g., coaching, mentoring). Performance management may also include documenting and tracking performance information for organization-level evaluation purposes.
An I-O psychologist would typically use information from the job analysis to determine a job's performance dimensions, and then construct a rating scale to describe each level of performance for the job. Often, the I-O psychologist would be responsible for training organizational personnel how to use the performance appraisal instrument, including ways to minimize bias when using the rating scale, and how to provide effective performance feedback. Additionally, the I-O psychologist may consult with the organization on ways to use the performance appraisal information for broader performance management initiatives.
Individual assessment and psychometrics
Individual assessment involves the measurement of individual differences. I-O psychologists perform individual assessments in order to evaluate differences among candidates for employment as well as differences among employees. The constructs measured pertain to job performance. With candidates for employment, individual assessment is often part of the personnel selection process. These assessments can include written tests, physical tests, psychomotor tests, personality tests, work samples, and assessment centers.
Psychometrics is the science of measuring psychological variables, such as knowledge, skills, and abilities. I-O psychologists are generally well-trained in psychometric psychology.
Compensation includes wages or salary, bonuses, pension/retirement contributions, and perquisites that can be converted to cash or replace living expenses. I-O psychologists may be asked to conduct a job evaluation for the purpose of determining compensation levels and ranges. I-O psychologists may also serve as expert witnesses in pay discrimination cases when disparities in pay for similar work are alleged.
Training and training evaluation
Most people hired for a job are not already versed in all the tasks required to perform the job effectively. Similar to performance management (see above), an I-O psychologist would employ a job analysis in concert with principles of instructional design to create an effective training program. A training program is likely to include a summative evaluation at its conclusion in order to ensure that trainees have met the training objectives and can perform the target work tasks at an acceptable level. Training programs often include formative evaluations to assess the impact of the training as the training proceeds. Formative evaluations can be used to locate problems in training procedures and help I-O psychologist make corrective adjustments in the while the training is ongoing.
Motivation in the Workplace
Motivation is a positive drive that forces a person to reach the goal. In a workplace the manager or supervisor has to know the needs or drive of individual and motivate according to it. In an organization, when an employee is doing good job or production is increased by him, he must be rewarded with respect to his needs.
Team effectiveness refers to the system of getting people in a company or institution to work together effectively. The idea behind team effectiveness is that a group of people working together can achieve much more than if the individuals of the team were working on their own.
Job Satisfaction and Commitment
Leadership is a process of influencing and supporting and motivating others to work enthusiastically or effectively towards achieving the objectives or goal. A leader acts as a catalyst, who identifies the potential of a worker and tries to put that into reality. A leader can be a positive leader or a negative leader
Occupational health psychology
Occupational health psychology (OHP) is a relatively new discipline allied with both industrial-organizational psychology and health psychology. The ancestry of OHP includes industrial-organizational psychology, health psychology, and occupational health. OHP has doctoral programs, journals, and professional organizations. OHP researchers and practitioners identify psychosocial characteristics of workplaces that give rise to health-related problems in workers. The problems OHP addresses are not limited to physical health (e.g., cardiovascular disease) but also include mental health problems such as depression. Two examples of workplace psychosocial characteristics that OHP has investigated are (a) the extent to which a worker possesses decision latitude and (b) the supportiveness of supervisors. OHP is also concerned with the development and implementation of interventions that can prevent or ameliorate work-related health problems. Another aim of OHP is to ensure that steps taken to promote healthy workplaces also have a beneficial impact on the economic success of organizations. OHP is also concerned with workplace incivility and violence, work-home carryover, unemployment and downsizing, the adverse impact of recently deteriorating economic conditions and personal and organizational means to alleviate that impact, and workplace safety and accident prevention. Two important OHP journals are the Journal of Occupational Health Psychology and Work & Stress. Organizations closely associated with OHP include the Society for Occupational Health Psychology and the European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology.
Training and Outlook
A comprehensive list of U.S. and Canadian master's and doctoral programs can be found at the web site of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). Some helpful ways to learn about graduate programs include visiting the web sites on the SIOP list and speaking to I-O faculty at the institutions listed. Admission into I-O psychology Ph.D. programs are highly competitive given that many programs accept a small number of applicants every year.
There are graduate degree programs in I-O psychology outside of the U.S. and Canada. The SIOP web site  also provides a comprehensive list of I-O programs in many other countries.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (2007), the job outlook for industrial-organizational psychologists is promising. Businesses enlist the services of these psychologists in order to retain employees and maintain a good work ethic. I-O psychologists specializing in research often conduct studies within companies to aid in marketing research.
In 2006, the median annual salary for industrial-organizational psychologists was $86,420 (US).
- Applied psychology
- Behavioral Risk Management
- Educational Psychology
- Employment Law
- Human Resources Development
- Human resource management
- Industrial sociology
- Occupational health psychology
- Systems psychology
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Key journals in industrial and organizational psychology
- Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice
- Academy of Management Journal
- Academy of Management Perspectives
- Academy of Management Review
- Human Performance
- Journal of Applied Psychology
- Journal of Management
- Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
- Journal of Occupational Health Psychology
- Journal of Organizational Behavior
- Personnel Psychology
- The Industrial-Organizational Psychologist
- Work & Stress
- Canadian Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- European Academy of Occupational Health Psychology
- Industrial & organizational psychology at The Psychology Wiki
- Professional I-O Psychologist Network (you can post messages and/or read and reply to others' postings; organized by topic; maintains anonymity via use of avatars)
- Research on Organizations: Bibliography Database and Maps
- Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
- Society for Occupational Health Psychology
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