ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Exploration of Industrial Organizational Psychology

Updated on October 27, 2020
Rodric29 profile image

Rodric completed his bachelor of psychology through the University of Phoenix. His perspective provides guidance and education.

Meet The Robinsons


In the Disney animated movie Meet the Robinsons, the main character of the film invents different items to make the standard of living more uniform and equivalent for humanity.

The character’s major belief suggests that science if applied correctly with a little imagination, can make the world a better place to live.

A vivid scene in the movie occurs when the character travels to the future to see the fruit of all the scientific effort in both a good and a bad scenario—the bad suggesting to the mind when misapplied, science can work for the destruction of humanity.

In the study of organizational development in reality, the same concept can apply—the application of science and imagination may cause contentment or anguish. An entire field of study devoted to the study of organizational synergy exists to help apply science and humanity for the good of employees. Discussed in this article is the definition, evolution, and methodology of Industrial/organization psychology--providing perspective on how it improves business.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology Definition

Industrial/organizational psychology has two focus points:

  • industrial psychology

  • organizational psychology.

Industrial psychology’s primary focus on human work situations supports the idea of aptitude tests and performance evaluations—any of the different fields of psychology applied practically to any field of employ, learning, or recreations.

Organizational psychology, the other part of industrial/organization psychology, “developed from the human relations movement in organizations” 1. The organization part of the field seems “concerned with understanding behavior and enhancing the well-being of employees in the workplace. Organizational topics include employee attitudes, employee behavior, job stress, and supervisory practices” 2.

Together, industrial and organizational psychology form a science that pulls from all the areas of psychology in practical terms to help understand human behavior, performance, and professional satisfaction.

Industrial/organizational psychology is a science used to research, document, and resolve organizational or institutional influences on employees, students, or patrons.

The unique appellation industrial/organizational psychology developed as time passed and as an understanding of the application of what psychologists in the past attempted to do with psychology in relation to society instead of just ruminating ideas through academia. Industrial psychology did not occur as a designation until after the 1920s according to Ludy T. Benjamin of Texas A & MU.

An orchestra of ideas and methods harmonize to produce an outcome using the scientific method as the lodestar or the conductor. Industrial/organizational psychologists develop research designs to substantiate a study question or group of interrelated study questions.


Benjamin offers that the field began with names such as economic or business psychology. Pioneers such as Harry Levi Hollingworth, Hugo Münsterberg, and Walter VanDyke Bingham trusted in their interpretation of how to apply psychology to the new cultural developments in the United States by taking psychology to the business world.

The American Association for Applied Psychology came into existence with the idea of promoting the different fields of applied psychology.

Industrial and business psychology developed more a distinction as a separate division among the applied psychologies.

Eventually, because of the WWII effort and the need for national support, a request to unite came to both professional and academic psychologists from the National Research Council.

“As a result, AAAP disappeared as a separate organization and was reborn in 5 of the 18 charter divisions of the new APA (American Psychological Association),”3 today called Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology. The combination of the different entities and the resultant new APA created a front from which the field of industrial/organizational psychology has blossomed into an integral part of the business industry and society in general.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology The Method

The importance of research and statistics in industrial/organizational psychology ranks in comparison with the importance of air-travel to aeronautical machinery. One cannot occur without the other. Every particular case begins with a research question—a particular problem to study for resolutions.

An orchestra of ideas and methods harmonize to produce an outcome using the scientific method as the lodestar or the conductor. Industrial/organizational psychologists develop research designs to substantiate a study question or group of interrelated study questions.

Theresa Kline
Theresa Kline | Source

For example, as suggested in Defining the Field of Industrial-organizational Psychology by Theresa Kline, one of the new problems in industrial/organization psychology today stems from job ambiguity. Kline’s article circulated over a decade ago, but her assessment of what continuously trends toward teamwork and job-sameness has affected society—changing the focus of industrial/organizational psychologist to a group synergy approach for organizational enhancement.

Research designs go further than merely studying a question.

Research designs can be divided into experimental and nonexperimental forms. In experimental designs, the researcher randomly assigns subjects to conditions that are constructed for the study. Nonexperimental designs involve observation without assignment of subjects or construction of conditions.4

Two types of designs allow psychologist to perform field or laboratory studies. Observing trends in business prompted the article submitted by Kline. Because her findings exist in many different industries of today’s market, Kline's research meets the criteria for experimental and nonexperimental designs extending into other sectors.

Industrial/organizational psychologists use practical research methods, as do other researchers to substantiate or unsubstantiated research questions to solve organizational and industrial issues.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology in Action

A competitive market produces a need for qualified employees to keep productivity at optimal levels. Organizations need to make sure that the boon that shuttled them into expansion remains as each organization grows into larger organizations and diversification. Even in the diverse and targeted field of education, a business of the mind, the market needs to mirror those of the business market. Schools want more capital and less overhead.

Private schools, particularly those of higher education tend to have more of an interest in less overhead seeing as such schools need a profit to function in the optimal levels. The for-profit schools need to do the same thing that businesses do to save money, which is to build an entire division dedicated to the reduction of operational costs. Such a division exists in many organizations called human resources, which best works if an industrial/organizational psychologist plays an invested role.

The pre-employment testing, interviewing and role-play helped with the front-end of the hiring process....


Pre-employment Tests

One particular for-profit higher education institution, theUniversity of Phoenix uses industrial/organizational psychologists to assist specialization of its employment force.

The University of Phoenix utilizes its human resource department to reduce problems that cause expansion to slow to a crawl. The university could not keep enough entry-level employees to assist potential students into its programs.

“One of the major problems with the position,” admits a former employee in a face-to-face interview “was that it was a sales position. When I was hired though, I was told it was an adviser position.”

When applicants searched for employment with the University of Phoenix, the position of adviser did not clearly set forward the expectations for new employees.

Either the job description needed adjusting or job tasks needed clarification. According to the former employee, after the initial training ended and on-the-job training began many received instruction to forget the learning from training because it did not apply to the position correctly.

The University of Phoenix lost many dollars in training because of the high turnover rate after employees disaffected due to perceived deception or stress for the sales/adviser position.

To assist in reversing the turnover trend at the university, the University of Phoenix introduced pre-employment testing to help aid in the hiring tactics. Shawn Smith states that “an employee who does not have the right skills to perform the job or is not a good fit for the culture of the organization will have to be replaced.”5

The wrong people made it to the University of Phoenix too often; so, testing helped in selecting potential candidates. Role-play and interviewing assist in selecting new employees at the university. Edward Prewitt offers that tests alone only provide a small part of the help needed in hiring new applicants. The interviews and role-play allow the employer to view a candidate for employment from more than one perspective and creates a more informed basis from which to choose new employees.

The pre-employment testing, interviewing, and role-play helped with the front-end of the hiring process, but the task of preventing current employees from defecting also received greater attention.

Employee Evaluation

Another way that industrial/organizational psychology can help an organization is through monitoring employee progress and providing incentive programs. Of course, the company will provide the benefits, but the idea behind the incentives and monitoring comes from the information acquired through research.

Assessment strategies should be developed with a clear understanding of the knowledge, skills, abilities, characteristics, or personal traits you want to measure. It is also essential to know what each assessment tool you are considering using is designed to measure.6

An organization should know what it wants before it initiates progress and incentive programs. The University of Phoenix used as of 2009 assessments to measure the status of employee performance bi-annually. Depending on the performance of the employee, a reward of increased pay, awards and recognition, or decreases follow.


Another Believer · Rufus Wainwright

PracticeWorks, though not an educational institution, is an example of a company that did not employ the use of an industrial/organizational psychologist for development.

It instituted assessments in the form of call evaluations. The company, an arm of Carestream, wanted to improve customer service relations for its selective service to the dentistry industry. PracticeWorks employed a team of evaluators to monitor the phone calls of all the technicians who assisted its clients over the phone.

Over time, the company developed a system through trial and error that worked to give them the data needed to perform assessments properly. It did eventually meet its aim; however, PracticeWorks spent thousands of dollars in man-hours and time to develop its own system that a professional could have completed in a fraction of the time.

The University of Phoenix, offering a degree in industrial/organizational psychology itself takes advantage of the tools that makes the university a stable business model and keeps its employees motivated to work and remain.

In today’s world of business, the proper infrastructure provides longevity and efficiency to organizations that take advantage of the principles of industrial/organizational psychology.

Perfect Integration

Industrial/organizational psychology is a science that helps to understand employee performance and professional satisfaction, student & teacher learning and instruction benefits. Industrial/organizational psychology solidified itself as an integral part of world society for the furtherance of safe and productive work environments, educational facilities, and recreational and health institutions. The field of study found shaky beginnings, but maturation and integration has permanently welded this branch of psychology similar to the beginnings of the main character in the Meet the Robinsons. The main character eventually became a prominent inventor in the film making the future one of the perfect integration of industry/organization and society.

Reference Material

Benjamin, L. (1997, August). Organized Industrial Psychology Before Division 14: The ACP and the AAAP(1930-1945). Journal of Applied Psychology, 82(4), 459-466.

  • (Benjamin, 1997, AAAP and World War II, ¶ 2)3

Kline, T. (1996, November). Defining The Field of Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie canadienne, 37(4), 205-209.

Mckim, D. (Producer), & Anderson, S. (Director). (2007). Meet The Robinsons [Motion Picture]. United State: Walt Disney Animation Studios & Walt Disney Pictures Spector, P. (2006).

Patterson, M. (2000, September). Overcoming The Hiring Crunch:Test Deliver Informed Choices. Employment Relations Today (Wiley), 27(3), 77-88.

  • (Patterson, 2000, p. 79-80)6

Smith, S. (2002, June 10). To Test or Not to Test? That's the Pre-employment Question. Westchester County Business Journal, 41(23), 4.

  • (Smith, 2002, ¶ 1)5

Spector, P. (2006). Industrial and Organizational Psychology (4th ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley

  • (Spector 2006, p. 5)1

  • (Spector 2006, p. 5)2

  • (Spector, 2006, p. 48)4

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2013 Rodric Anthony


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)