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Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Fundamental Concepts Essay

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Updated: May 30th, 2020

Introduction

This essay addresses the fundamental concepts of the field of industrial or organizational psychology. Spector notes that the area of industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology started during the period of psychology (Spector, 2012). Initially, I/O psychology focused on industrial activities, especially business management and human resource, rather than organizational aspects of improving workplace environments. Over the years, I/O psychology has grown to include other elements of organizational and industrial psychology. Generally, I/O psychology is an applied discipline that uses scientific principles to study workplace environments (Spector, 2012). Hence, Barnes-Holmes, Barnes-Holmes, Bond, Hayes, and Stewart (2006) note that I/O psychology aims to enhance working conditions and behaviors of employees and their effectiveness and efficiency.

The evolution of the field of industrial/organizational psychology

Spector observes that I/O psychology emanated in the 1800s because of attempts by some psychologists to apply the discipline in organizations (Spector, 2012). Proponents of I/O psychology focused on employee selection and related activities in their earlier works. Fredrick Winslow Taylor introduced the concept of scientific management in 1911. This marked the application of scientific principles in human resources.

Later, scholars introduced technological aspects into I/O psychology through the theory of human factors in which the development of technology for human use played a critical role. Both WW I and II were responsible for further developments in the field as understanding the mental abilities of personnel became important for placement during recruitment. APA also facilitated the development of I/O psychology as it focused on its practical applications.

Today, I/O psychology includes work conditions and satisfaction as organizational elements with theoretical and empirical studies. Kanfer notes that modern practices and explanations that entail individual perspectives and self-regulatory practices focus on integrated elements, employees, social environments, and other environmental elements within a given framework (Kanfer, 2005).

Currently, the study and application of I/O psychology take place in laboratories and in industrial environments in order to understand emerging issues and challenges within organizations and business environments.

I/O psychology as science with the use of descriptive and inferential statistics in research

Two critical elements, which are research and practice, are present in I/O psychology (Spector, 2012). In practice, I/O psychology relies on psychology frameworks in organizations, workplace, business structures, human resource practices, and organizational behaviors. Conversely, the research area of I/O psychology focuses on testing and developing scientific frameworks for application field practices (Spector, 2012). Descriptive and inferential statistics depend on scientific research methods when developing I/O psychological frameworks. Hence, the use of research questions or hypotheses, research design, measurement, and statistics are mandatory in I/O psychology.

The process involves developing testable questions with the aim of accepting or rejecting hypotheses. Researchers use scientific methods and manipulate variables in order to understand the correlation among them. Research design could be a casual observation or invasive for gathering both quantitative and qualitative data.

Based on the classical measurement theory (CMT), two variables (true score and error) are common in most studies (Spector, 2012). In this respect, the reliability of the research method is imperative for a study. I/O psychology depends on measurements such as continuous (quantitative variables) and categorical elements of the study. Both categorical and continuous measurements are important in descriptive statistics, which involve huge bodies of numerical data. Correlation among variables could either be positive or negative based on the outcome of the study. I/O psychologists use inferential statistics for generalization after studying a small sample.

The influence of industrial/organization psychology has had on organizations

I/O psychology has played significant roles in various areas of organizations. First, the field is applicable in job analysis in which organizations analyze a given job, skills, and knowledge required and the gap. Second, human resource departments use I/O psychology in employee recruitment and selection. The usages of structured interviews, knowledge tests, and personality tests have been effective in employee selection during the hiring and promotion processes. Third, I/O psychologists rely on performance appraisal in order to understand employees’ behaviors and outcomes against set targets. Performance appraisal is useful during promotion and compensation.

Fourth, I/O psychology focuses on specific aspects of organizations that motivate employees with regard to work-related behaviors. Most studies explore the importance of incentives among employees. Fifth, the field also looks at occupational stress among employees. I/O psychology has focused on understanding employee stress and possible interventions in order to control stress levels, enhance productivity, employee well-being, health, and performance. Sixth, organizational culture influences employee behaviors, which I/O psychology aims to understand under different situations. There is also group behavior in organizations. Organizations have groups that operate and interact with collective beliefs, attitudes, and opinions, among others. Such groups meet specific needs among employees. I/O psychology can also cover team effectiveness and leadership in organizations.

Conclusion

This essay has explored the fundamental concepts in the field of industrial or organizational psychology. The field of I/O psychology has expanded over the years to include several aspects of organizational and industrial studies by applying scientific principles. It became prominent during the World Wars for effective recruitment and placement of personnel. I/O psychology uses descriptive and inferential statistics to show correlations among variables. The field will focus on practice and scientific tests to enhance efficiency by solving human resource challenges at workplaces.

References

Barnes-Holmes, D., Barnes-Holmes, Y., Bond, F.W., Hayes, S.C., and Stewart, I. (2006). Relational frame theory and industrial/organizational psychology. Journal of Organizational Behavior Management, 26(1/2), 55-90. Web.

Kanfer, R. (2005). Self-regulation research in work and I/O psychology. Applied Psychology: An International Review, 54(2), 186-191. Web.

Spector, P. (2012). Industrial and organizational psychology: Research and practice (6th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Fundamental Concepts." May 30, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/industrial-and-organizational-psychology-fundamental-concepts/.

References

IvyPanda. (2020) 'Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Fundamental Concepts'. 30 May.

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