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Industrial psychology, or industrial organizational psychology, focuses on

workplace behavior and advocates for creating work environments where

employees are satisfied


 Industrial psychology began in the 1920s as companies looked for ways to

keep their employees happy and motivated. From 1927 to 1932, Elton Mayo of
the Western Electric Co. studied job satisfaction among employees and found
that the social aspects of work are just as important as the work itself. This
research, known as the Hawthorne Studies, concluded that employees need to
be actively involved in what goes on at their jobs to be happy.


 The field of industrial psychology is concerned with the following areas:

performance appraisals, organizational development, assessments and

Performance Appraisals

 Industrial psychology addresses how organizations appraise employee

performance when deciding on raises.

Organizational Development

 Organizational development is concerned with how organizations handle



 This area of industrial psychology focuses on how job applicants are

evaluated for employment, as well as how current employees are evaluated for
advancement opportunities.


 Industrial psychology defines leadership styles and is concerned with what

makes a good leader in an organization

Scope of Industrial Psychology

Industrial psychology is a branch of behavioral science that directs its
research and courses of study to business. It is not a new science. In fact one of
the earlier books on the subject, Hugo Munsterberg's "The Psychology of
Industrial Efficiency" was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1913. Departments of
management, design, production, pricing, marketing and distribution all benefit
from knowledge of industrial psychology.

Work Behavior

 The psychology of work behavior is one form of industrial psychology.

Attitudes of employees as related to their performance is a main theme.
Variables in employee personalities and abilities are listed and situational and
background differences are studied. The industrial psychologist also studies
human mental and physical abilities, administering tests and assessing values
and establishing job-related criteria. Human-error factors also are monitored, as
are costs and causes of accidents.


 Many management skills fall under the umbrella of industrial psychology.

Managers must be educated concerning the area of employee supervision.
Expertise in perception and assessment is required in order to make proper
decisions as to whether to promote or admonish. Determination of training needs
and abilities to resolve conflict are skills that managers would learn in their study
of industrial psychology. Motivational tactics are imperative to the success of
industry, thus the industrial psychologist also may devise financial or other

Environmental Design

 Environmental design is another area of industrial psychology. The

psychology of the work space concerns the environment of the worker.
Performance can be affected adversely or positively depending upon the
employee's surroundings. The industrial psychologist recommends physical
arrangements, colors, noise, lighting and ergonomics.

Product Design

 Product design is another avenue of industrial psychology that is important to

a successful business. A product that has been designed bearing safety,
efficiency and desirability in mind may have a higher chance of being successful
in the marketplace. The industrial psychologist can collect data and analyze
buying trends to make recommendations for a feasible, salable design.

Organizational Studies

 The overall function of the business may be evaluated by the industrial

psychologist. Data relating to job descriptions and hierarchy may be studied and
recommendations put forth.

The Significance of Industrial Psychology

The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP), a division of the
American Psychological Association, defines industrial psychology as the
scientific study of the workplace. Industrial psychology helps employers improve
working conditions for the benefit of employees and for heightened organizational


 The Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts 26 percent growth in employment for

industrial-organizational psychologists.


 Industrial psychologists perform research as practitioners or academics in the

application of psychology to the workplace. Their combined research is used by
employers to improve the workplace.


 The industrial psychologist performs roles important to work organizations,

such as collaborating with the organization's leadership to reorganize how work
is assigned. This reorganization raises the productivity of the organization.


 The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology notes that the
industrial psychologist performs an important job of helping organizations to
maximize their human capital.

Expert Insights

 According to the SIOP, this field provides advice that benefits workers. Areas
include testing, selection and promotion, training and development and employee
attitudes and motivation.

The SIOP also notes benefits for organizations. Industrial psychologists provide
strong leadership in change management, strategic planning, surveys, job design
and evaluation, restructuring and workforce planning and cross-cultural