Industrial–Organizational Psychology

Industrial-Organizational psychology is the study of how human beings conceptualize their experience in the workplace. Industrial- Organizational researchers are concerned with the ways in which people behave and interact at work. Industrial-Organizational theorists acknowledge that behaviors displayed by workers reflect the hierarchal structures that are crucial to the function of the workplace. Industrial-Organizational psychology (also called I/O psychology) is an applied field, which means its theory is developed into practice and utilized to improve conditions in the workplace. The application of Industrial-Organizational psychology has effected many beneficial changes in terms of the interactions between workers, and also between workers and their supervisors, bosses, and other personnel in the office or facility in which they work. Applied work in Industrial- Organizational psychology has been crucial in terms of on-the-job training, assessment of performance, the hiring and selection process, organizational development, and work-life balance [1].

In the context of I/O psychology, term “industrial” refers to the idea that in an industry, workers should be given jobs according to their abilities and skill level; in other words, employees should be encouraged to seek out positions for which they are qualified and are likely to succeed in. In an applied setting, the “industrial” part of I/O psychology is associated with employee training protocol, development of job performance standards, job performance evaluation, and other aspects of management.

The “organizational” aspect of I/O psychology refers to the idea that the way the workplace is organized (in terms of social norms, styles of management, and role expectations) shapes (or influences) the behaviors and actions of workers. I/O psychologists attempt to identify the different valium factors that define or uphold workplace organization, with the intention of improving the individual experiences of workers and
creating positive changes in the organizational environment.


The methods used by I/O psychologists are quantitative, and firmly grounded in the scientific method. These methods include research and testing techniques designed to procure empirically-generated data [2]. All data collected under the premise of I/O research is analyzed according to statistics and discussed in the context of up-to-date scientific literature.

I/O psychologists are often faced with ethical dilemmas, such as those that involve profound differences in compensation between employees and corporate executives. Generally speaking, the payment and benefits received by CEOs and other people in positions of power in an office, workplace, or organization are much different from those received by employees. Compensation also varies per worker, according to rank, seniority, skill level, and the number of hours worked per week. Despite how unfair such disparities may seem, some researchers have argued that higher compensation improves CEO performance and encourages them to work toward improving conditions for their employees, and to generate jobs in areas where unemployment is high. In such cases, I/O psychologists would investigate whether company performance is really improved as a result of increased CEO salaries [2].


[1] Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Inc.: Division 14 of the American Psychological Association (APA) and Organizational Affiliate of the Association for Psychological Science (APS).
[2] Aamodt, Michael G. Industrial/Organizational Psychology: An Applied Approach, Seventh Edition. 2007. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.
Article researched and created by Kelsey Wambold, © 2012

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