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Industrial And Organisational Psychology And Its Importance


Task: What is Industrial and Organisational psychology? Explain its growth and importance.


Industrial and organisational psychology is nothing but a study of an organization’s structure. It helps in analyzing how people interact with each other so that necessary improvements can be undertaken. Although there is a difference between industrial and organizational psychology but both are used jointly. It is basically a science which studies people’s thinking and behavior at their work place. The present study will help in understanding the growth of industrial and organisational psychology and how they relate to each other. The study will also focus on how organisational psychology can help in this era, what topics are covered during its study and how does an organisational psychologist works.

How to understand the term industrial and organisational psychology?
The branch of industrial and organisational psychology helps in studying how humans behave, how psychology affects their work and how work affects them. People who study these branches are called as psychologists when they have attained masters or a doctorate degree and they work mainly in academics, governmental organizations, consulting forms and other business houses (Cilliers & Flotman, 2016). Industrial psychology includes description of job and its requirements and evaluating people who fit to those requirements. When an employee has been hired his training, evaluation and his response to those evaluations also comes under industrial psychology. In organisational psychology, the relationship of employees with each other, how it affects the employees and how the business is performing is studied. Studying about satisfaction of workers, their motivation and commitment also comes under organisational psychology (MacKie, 2017). The study also includes management, culture of the organization, its structure, style of leadership, etc. The below image lays down the important facets of industrial and organisational psychology:

Organisational psychology

Source: (Cilliers & Flotman, 2016)

Difference between the terms industrial and organisational psychology, the former assesses the difference between individual workers and evaluation of individual jobs whereas the later assesses the functioning of the workers in an organization and the functioning of the organization in the society. The difference is unclear so the terms are usually used jointly.

Development of Industrial and organisational psychology
The origin of industrial and organisational psychology dates back to 2oth century. There were a number of psychologists like James Cattell (1860–1944) at Columbia , Robert Yerkes (1876–1956), Lillian Gilbreth (1878–1972) at Purdue, etc. studying concerns related to selection of employees, their training and advertisement (Kraiger, 2001). A psychological consulting company was later founded by Cattell which has an existence till today with the name, Psychological Corporation. Many of the psychologists wrote certain journals wherein they discussed about issues which fall under industrial and organisational psychology. After the world war one and two, industrial and organisational psychology became a major research area and concerns related to being fair in employment, being unbiased, job satisfaction and motivation of employees, started being investigated.

Though the field of industrial and organisational psychology is small as compared to other fields of psychology but is in a growing phase. There is growth in the membership of Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology since 1997 (Kraiger, 2001). The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has predicted that the job of industrial and organisational psychologist will be one of the quickest growing jobs in the United States. The benefits and the impact that the study have been adding is attracting many individuals to work in this area.

People associated with the development of industrial and organisational psychology
Apart from the names discussed above, there are certain important people who are regarded as pioneers of this field and they are:

Frederick Taylor: He was a mechanical engineer and had published a book on how to improve industrial efficiency.

Hugo Munsterberg: He read applied psychology which led him to write a book on the usage of psychology in industrial, organizational and employment purposes. There was a great impact of his book on the initial development of industrial and organisational psychology.

James Cattell: He advocated about individual differences and said that these differences play an important role in influencing the behavior of all the individuals.

Kurt Lewin: He was also an exponent of applied psychology who helped in describing about the styles of leadership which leaders may display. He advocated accounting of all the forces behind occurrence of an event rather than only focusing on individual behavior.

Robert Yerkes: He belonged to the field of intelligence testing. Intelligence tests named as Alpha and Beta was developed by him for the army of United States. The test was used by the state in order to evaluate the recruitments being made in the army at the time of World War 1. The test scores were a parameter to decide the capabilities of the persons being recruited, their ability to serve and their leadership qualities (Kraiger, 2001).

What are the benefits of Industrial and organisational psychology?
Every field of study has its own benefits and advantages depending upon which a student selects to study a course or subject. The reason to study industrial and organisational psychology has been enumerated below:

Helping people
Industrial and organisational psychology helps in finding a balance between work and life, identifying job satisfaction and how to maintain safety at the work place. It has led the people to be satisfied and safe during their work life keeping in mind the amount of time being invested while working on the job (Costantini, Sartori, & Ceschi, 2017). Organisational psychology has helped the wounded armed forces to lead a normal life and to fight poverty related concerns. An organisational psychologist tries to identify and work upon sexual harassment being faced at workplace, prevention of discrimination and ensures that the wages being given are sufficient to maintain a living. Industrial and organisational psychology is here to make improvements in the life of others.

Helping organisations
In order to better them, industrial and organisational psychology is being used by different organisations. A company may not have a registered industrial or an organisational psychologist but everybody today is adhering to this subject. Organisational psychology has been helping organisations to select the fittest person for any job, building a favorable culture at the work place and finding the employees who are looking for a job change. The psychology has not only helped the employees by improving their lives but it has also helped organisations to perform better. To achieve the humanitarian goals, United Nations is adhering to organisational psychology and the federal government of United States is using the study in order to provide training to the employees and to build future leaders (Costantini, Sartori, & Ceschi, 2017). The organisations can excel in their businesses by using industrial and organisational psychology.

Increases productivity
Through industrial and organisational psychology, the employees involved in the manufacturing process can be asked to work on different jobs in order to increase their productivity. Similarly the employees involved in the production process can be shifted to some other jobs in order to increase their productivity. The psychologists have also discovered that mingling of employees in different processes helps in better interaction with employees and the management.

Helping in team building
Industrial and organisational psychology helps in breaking the ice between employees and the management which in turn will inculcate the feeling of oneness among all to achieve the goals of the organization. By rewarding the entire department instead of a particular employee will help them to break their own records and set an example for other departments as well. Employees would be in a position to provide suggestions and solutions to address the problems faced by other departments. oul

Conflict resolution
In case of any conflict among the employees or between employees and management, a resolution may face resistance from the employees but an organisational psychologist will be in a better position to resolve such conflicts (Costantini, Sartori, & Ceschi, 2017). He will first evaluate the situation and then come up with the perfect resolution. He will be in a position to understand the psychic behind the concerns which can be lack of respect, empowerment or dignity.

Giving clear picture about culture of the company
Organisational psychologist helps in giving a clear picture about the culture of an organization. They help in identifying the central values for an organization and establish a culture through observation and analysis of people who are flag bearers of the organization.

Coaching and development
When an organization is thoroughly aware about itself, it helps to build a proper workforce. Development of person is possible when the employees and their leaders are ware about the motivating factors within themselves. Awareness helps all to understand each other and how the other person sees them (Heslop, Stojanovski, Paul & Bailey, 2018). Industrial and organisational psychologists are in a position to enhance and state the motivating factors behind an employee or their leaders which lead to prepare a better plan to control any exigency in near future, thus building a cordial relationship with each other.

Subject areas of industrial and organisational psychology
The demand for hiring an industrial and organisational psychologist has been increasing and the psychologist also has an option to select any of the below subject areas in order to work:

Employee selection: In this area the psychologists develop selection assessments for the employees in order test their ability to fulfill the job responsibilities required for a specific position in an organization. Tests in the form of screening can be applied to test the qualification of any person.

Ergonomics: The field helps in designing new procedures and instruments which can maximize the performance for an organization and can reduce injury.

Organizational development: Industrial and organisational psychologists while working for an organization helps in making improvements which can lead to higher profits or an increase in the profits (Heslop, Stojanovski, Paul & Bailey, 2018). They help in redesigning the products of the organization and making improvement in its structure.

Performance management: Every organization wants to map the performance of its employees, industrial and organisational psychologist’s helps in mapping this process by developing different assessments. A set of new techniques is implemented in order to assess whether the employees are performing their duties well.

Training and development: Psychologists of any field know exactly what needs to be done in order normalize and make improvements in any given situation. If a company requires some training for its employees then industrial and organisational psychologists are here to train employees. They first understand the skill set which each employee requires and basis the same they prepare training programs and evaluate the performance of each employee.

Work life: The area of study helps in making improvements in order to satisfy the employees and increase their productivity. Industrial and organisational psychologists can work in this field to search ways so that the jobs can be more rewarding (Heslop, Stojanovski, Paul & Bailey, 2018). They can design some programs in order to improve the time and life being spent at the work place.

Topics covered under industrial and organisational psychology
There is some organisational psychology topics discussed below which are addressed by the experts of industrial and organisational psychology. The below image helps in understanding the topics being selected for a research product under this subject:

Organisational psychology

Source: (Pradhan & Bhattacharya, 2018)

Employee motivation: The experts of this field rely on the principles of psychology in order to motivate the employees.

Employee testing: To test any employee before admitting him in an organization is an important topic to be studied in this filed. It helps to admit only those employees who are fit for a specific job.

Leadership: The industrial and organisational psychologists can come up with some specific strategies and techniques to train the managers so that they can help their leaders in achieving the goals of the organization (Karanika-Murray & Oeij, 2017). They can help the leaders to become more efficient in handling the team.

Product design: Along with the overall development of the employees and the organization, the psychologist also helps to develop the products.

Work place diversity: Every organization has a diverse workforce and to understand all of them is a tough task. The professionals of industrial and organizational psychology can help in recruiting a workforce which is diverse and may also train all the employees about diversity and how to work as a single unit.

Work place performance: To study the behavior of all the individuals at a work place is an important part in this field. It helps in designing an environment and other processes which can cater to the needs of the employees and can maximize their performance (Karanika-Murray & Oeij, 2017).

What does an expert of industrial and organisational psychology do?
The psychologists of this field mainly apply the principles of psychology along with different research methods in order to solve work place disputes and problems to provide and improve the working condition and to give a better life. Investigation related to productivity at the work place, studying about the management and style of working of the employees is an important aspect of this field (MacKie, 2017). They understand the morale of the employees and the nature of the organization in which they are working. They in association with the upper management plan the future of an organization along with working on new policies, conduct screenings, work out training sessions, etc.

Below are some points which are considered by the psychologists while doing their work:

  • Applying psychological research at the work place
  • Working in coordination with the human resource department
  • Helping the organizations in hiring and recruiting qualified employees
  • Helping in training and motivating the employees
  • Assessing on job performance
  • Increasing efficiency of the business
  • Improving the structure of the organization
  • to improove the quality of life for both employees and the employers
  • Helping in smooth and easy transitions of business like mergers, etc.
  • Studying the behavior of the consumers
  • Being a consultant

What to study in order to become industrial and organizational psychologist?
In order to become a psychologist in this field, extensive knowledge and study is required. A master’s degree is required in the field of psychology which will be required to be completed within two years of admission. There are some people who have completed their bachelors in psychology and are pursuing masters in the same subject. It is not manditory to have a bachelor's degree in psychology to pursue masters in the same subject. There are certain psychologists who have earned a doctorate degree in the field of industrial and organisational psychology. American Board of Organizational and Business Consulting Psychology is an institution which provides certification in this field and there are people who use this certification in order to be competent in the field. Every state has a different licensing and separate certification guidelines, any person who wants to avail this facility need to check all the information’s (O’Neil & Koekemoer, 2016).

Career directions in industrial and organizational psychology
Working as a psychologist in this field of study is not monotonous rather it is satisfying as you find out new ways to help and improve the process of work and the environment. There are some job positions like working as a consultant, consumer engineer or working as a personnel psychologist. There will are a number of organizations who are looking forward to take services from psychologist. The services of industrial and organizational psychologist can also be availed by schools, hospitals, big and small corporations, business houses, etc. The psychologists may get employed by different institutions but majorly they work for some research groups to understand and find out different concepts related to employment like improving employee engagement, understanding and improving the culture of the organization in order to eradicate harassment and other stigmas practiced at the work place (Pradhan & Bhattacharya, 2018).

To achieve greater opportunities in this field of study, doctoral degree would be the best option to secure organisational psychology jobs.

It can be concluded that industrial and organisational psychology is here to improve employee and employer relationship as well as improve the organizational structure. The psychologists are exploring new ways in order to reach out and educate all the organizations about certain practices which can effectively manage their process. The study has revealed that presence of industrial and organisational psychology dates back to 20th century. There are a number of benefits which can be availed by an organization or the people by the application of industrial and organisational psychology. The practice will help in bridging the gap between the employees and employers. There is a great future for students studying the industrial and organisational psychology course due its increasing demand and importance.

Cilliers, F & Flotman, A. (2016) The psychological well-being manifesting among master's students in Industrial and Organisational Psychology. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 42(1).

Costantini, A., Sartori, R & Ceschi, A. (2017) Framing Workplace Innovation Through an Organisational Psychology Perspective: A Review of Current WPI Studies. In: Oeij P., Rus D., Pot F. (eds) Workplace Innovation. Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and Well-Being. Springer, Cham

Heslop, B., Stojanovski, E., Paul, J & Bailey, K. (2018) Organisational Psychology and Appreciative Inquiry: Unifying the Empirical and the Mystical. AI Practitioner, 20(1).

Karanika-Murray, M & Oeij, P.R.A. (2017) How Can Work and Organisational Psychologists Fortify the Practice of Workplace Innovation?. In: Oeij P., Rus D., Pot F. (eds) Workplace Innovation. Aligning Perspectives on Health, Safety and Well-Being. Springer, Cham

Kraiger, K. (2001) Industrial–Organizational Psychology: Science and Practice. International Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences.

MacKie, D. (2017). Connecting coaching and positive organisational psychology research [Editorial]. Coaching An International Journal of Theory, Research & Practice, 10(1), 2–3.

O’Neil, S & Koekemoer, E. (2016) Two decades of qualitative research in Psychology, Industrial and Organisational Psychology and Human Resource Management. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 42(1).

Pradhan, R.K & Bhattacharya, P. (2018) Building organisational resilience: role of cherishing at work. International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, 22(3).


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