What is Industrial-Organizational Psychology?

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If you’re interested in psychology and the study of human behavior, you might be very interested to know that numerous types or branches of psychology exist. You can pursue a great number of careers in the field, whether you want to work directly with clients or behind the scenes in a research or teaching position. One interesting branch you may not have heard of is known asĀ industrial-organizational psychology. This field uses the framework of psychological theories in order to look at the ways in which organizations function.Topics of interest include the physical health of employees, mental functioning of the workforce, staff productivity and workplace efficiency. You will often hear this field referred to as I-O Psychology. The psychologists who specialize in this area use methods such as observing worker behavior, conducting interviews across all levels of staff and assessing company policies in order to reach conclusions and to make improvements.

Major Aspects of I-O Psychology

There are two main areas of study that make up A-I psychology. The first aspect involves examining the ways in which candidates are best suited to various types of jobs. This is the industrial side of study and is also known as personnel psychology. Professionals who specialize in industrial psychology often utilize various assessments in order to determine the types of careers an individual would be best suited for based upon his personality preferences and aptitudes. Job training, leadership development and performance standards are studied in personnel psychology.

When it comes to organizational psychology, the other aspect of I-O psychology, the primary focus is on the ways in which an organization’s structure directly or indirectly affects components of employee behavior. Areas observed under the umbrella of organizational psychology are social norms of a company, management styles, organizational structure, corporate culture and role expectations. The two sides of Industrial-Organizational Psychology come together to enhance the health and well-being of individuals while improving the organization overall.

Topics of Study Within I-O Psychology

Now that you have an understanding of the two major fields of I-O psychology, let’s break things down a bit further to look at the main topics studied in these areas. The first is the topic of training and development, which determines the best methods of approaching an organization’s work and then developing program to teach employees those methods. Employee selection has a narrow focus of determining the criteria in which individual employees are qualified for each position.

Worklife is the aspect of I-O psychology that strives to improve workforce satisfaction and overall job performance. Ergonomics has a rather technical emphasis on workplace design in order to ensure efficiency and safety of workers. Those professionals tasked with performance management use various assessments in order to gauge how well employees are doing their jobs. The last area is organizational development, and it is concerned with the ways in which the organization can improve its bottom line. Making changes to organizational structure, product redesign and policies fall under this category.

As you can see, this is actually a broad branch of psychology that covers many interesting subjects. Industrial-organizational psychology may be a field of interest to you if you’d like to help companies improve their overall design in order to best meet both the needs of their employees and overall company goals.

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