The specialty of industrial-organizational psychology (also called I/O psychology) is characterized by the scientific study of human behavior in organizations and the work place. The specialty focuses on deriving principles of individual, group and organizational behavior and applying this knowledge to the solution of problems at work. This field focuses on increasing workplace productivity and related issues such as the physical and mental well-being of employees
History- The study of industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology originated in the United States in the early 1900s through the work of psychologists Hugo Munsterberg and Walter Dill Scott (both of whom were trained by German physiologist and psychologist Wilhelm Wundt), while its practical application developed largely through the work of American industrial engineer Frederick W. Taylor. I-O psychology grew rapidly after World War I and even more so after World War II.
Major Areas of work and their inventories:
- Employee testing- Peabody Individual Achievement Test, Differential Ability Scales, Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement, Slosson Intelligence Test etc.
- Leadership– Word Association Test, Study of Values, Mooney Problem Check Lists, Problem Behavior Inventory, Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales etc.
- Workplace diversity – Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Functioning (BRIEF), Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation-Behavior etc.
- Workplace performance Frostig Developmental Test of Visual Perception, Adaptive Behavior Scale (ABS), Problem Experiences Checklist, Scales of Independent Behavior (Woodcock Johnson) (SIB)-R etc.
- Employee motivation Wechsler Memory Scale – 3rd Ed., McGill Pain Inventory, Quality of Life Inventory etc.
Skills required for being an I/O psychologist:
- Identify training and development needs;
- Design and optimize job and work and quality of work life;
- Formulate and implement training programs and evaluate their effectiveness;
- Coach employees;
- Develop criteria to evaluate performance of individuals and organizations; and
- Assess consumer preferences, customer satisfaction and market strategies.
Scope of industrial psychology
The application of psychological principles to the people working in business and industry over a long period of about seventy five years, make it now easier to understand the scope of typical activities of Industrial psychologists working in industry. The following is one such list complied:
- Training and Development: Professional in this area often determine what type of skills are necessary to perform specific jobs as well as develop and evaluate employee training programs.
- Employee Selection: This area involves developing employee selection assessments, such as screening tests to determine if job applicants are qualified for a particular position.
- Ergonomics: The field of ergonomics involves designing procedures and equipment designed to maximize performance and minimize injury.
- Performance Management: I-O psychologists who work in this area develop assessments and techniques to determine if employees are doing their jobs well.
- Work Life: This area focuses on improving employee satisfaction and maximizing the productivity of the workforce. I-O psychologists in this area might work to find ways to make jobs more rewarding or design programs that improve the quality of life in the workplace.
- Organizational Development: I-O psychologists who work in this area help improve organizations, often through increasing profits, redesigning products, and improving the organizational structure.
Ms. Somya Jain
Research Scholar, JIMS Rohini