Psychology on the job
The historical roots of industrial and organizational psychology
A. Industrial psychology: personnel selection and placement
1913: Munsterberg publishes “the Psychology of industrial efficiency”:
How to increase productivity, select people with skills that match the job requirements!
Ant that, becomes the personnel selection (selecting the right person for the job).
1917 (WWI): Industrial psychology emerges in response to US army practical problem:
How to select the best soldiers?
The army asks to the psychologists and they developed to intelligence tests: Army alpha (for someone
who can read English) and army beta (for someone who couldn’t read in English).
Then, new tests to select best officers, best pilots, eliminate most “neurotic” recruits
The psychological tests could be used to screen and classify large numbers of people.
Then, businesses and schools want their own tests to select and classify people.
1924 the IO psychology starts to be really appreciate
B. Organizational Psychology
The Hawthorne studies at Western Electric plant (in Hawthorne Illinois)
The effect of environmental factors on productivity (e.g. altering lights, temperature, rest periods,
etc.) and the surprise was: any change increased productivity!
So they found that the physical environment is not as important as the social & psychological
e.g. employees knew they were being observed so they worked harder!
This is the hawthorne effect!
Leadership in Organizations
The effect of leaders on Job satisfaction
A. Survey Q: What is the worst thing about your job (greatest source of stress)
Survey A: 75% said “my boss”
Most common complaints about bosses:
- unwilling to delegate authority to workers ( workers can’t make our decisions on our own)
- abusive towards workers
- treat workers as stupid & incompetent
B. How do bad bosses become leaders?
- Best workers are promoted to leader positions What makes a good leader?
A. The great person theory
1. Basic Idea: great leaders are born and not made! They are born with special “traits” that
allow them to take charge!
2. What are these traits?
(a) Longitudinal research: Measure traits at time! Time 1 we measure trait and we see any
are related to leader effectiveness at a later time, at time 2.
e.g. Officer candidates in Canadian armed forces:
only one trait emerged (dominance) that makes these officer good leaders!
(b) Retrospective research: find great leaders; look back to see what traits they possessed.
E.g. political leaders
-> Canadian prime ministers:
- only one trait emerged: it’s called integrative complexity = ability to recognize and adopt multiple
views of situation and integrate them (e.g. Trudeau : highest level of integrative complexity)
-> American presidents:
- (studies found a lot of different traits from all different presidents). So, none one traits were related
to leader effectiveness! But later one, the Canadian psychologist re-analyzed the data and found:
Or maybe three (smart, messy and achievement oriented)
3. Conclusions (how to separate great leaders from not so great leaders):
=> hundreds of traits have measured, but very few are related to leader effectiveness
=> different studies have identify different traits (not much consistency in findings)
=> so not much support for the “great person” theory of leadership. Except…
4. Except for leader’s height? (Not a trait)
=> Taller presidents rated as more effective leaders (e.g. Abraham Lincoln)
Tallest president (6,4”) and one of America’s greatest presidents.
Taller candidates more likely to be elected president: 1928-1996 taller candidate won in 16 of
18 presidential election (89%).
2000: G.W Bush beat Al gore (but Gore won more of popular vote). Who was the taller?
- Gore by 2 inches!
2004: Bush beat Kerry, but Kerry was 4 inches taller!
2008: Obama beat McCain and he was 4 inches taller!
2012?: Wait and see tonight!! Romney is 6,2” and Obama is 6,1”!! it might be close one!
Managers in US corporations (both male and female) are on average 1” taller than non-
Maybe “great person” theory should be renamed “great-big person” theory?
Are there other factors that might be related to good leadership?? B. Good leadership depends on the situation
1. Leader traits might be effective in one situation but not another!
E.g. Integrative complexity of Canada prime ministers went down in crisis situations (became less
- only a few became even more integrative complex in crisis!
=> e.g. Lester Pearson and the “Suez Canal” crisis (1956) Egypt, who control the suez canal, control
the rest of the world! They began a war (France and Israel invaded Egypt to try to take the control).
USA threats to start a nuclear war! Pearson resolved this conflict and he was awarded a Nobel peace
prize (1917)! And he came up with the idea of “United Na