Psychology on the job
Ch.6: Psychology and the Workplace
Prologue: The Historical Roots of Industrial-Organizational Psychology
A. Industrial Psychology: Personnel selection and placement
- 1913: Munsterberg publishes The Psychology of Industrial Efficiency
to increase productivity, select people with skills that match the
- personnel selection (selecting the right person for the job)
- 1917: (WWI): Industrial psychology emerges in response to US army’s
practical problem: How to select the best soldiers?
Psychologists develop two intelligence tests: Army Alpha and Army
- New tests to select best officers, best pilots, eliminates most ‘neurotic’
Psychological tests could be used to screen and classify large num-
bers of people
- Then businesses and schools want their own tests to select and classify
B. Organizational Psychology (1924):
- The Hawthorne studies Western Electric plant
- the effect of environmental factors on productivity (e.g. altering
lights, temp., rest periods, etc.)
any change increased productivity!
--physical environment is not as important as the social & psychological
-e.g. employees knew they were being observed (so they worked harder)
became known as ‘The Hawthorne Effect’
Leadership in Organizations
A. Survey Q: What is worst thing about your job (greatest source of
Survey A: 75% said ‘my boss’
>Most common complaints:
- unwilling to delegate authority to workers
- abusive towards workers- treat workers as stupid & incompetent
B. How do bad bosses become leaders?
- best workers are promoted to leader positions
Potential Problem: being a good worker or best worker may have nothing
to do with being a good leader.
What Makes a Good Leader?
A. The Great Person Theory
1. Basic idea: Great leaders are born with special ‘traits’ that allow them
to take charge
2. What are these traits?
(a) Longitudinal research: Measure traits at time 1, see if any are related
to leadership effectiveness at time 2. E.g.
>Officer candidates in Canadian Armed Forces
- only one trait emerged that related to leadership effectivenessdomin-
(b) Retrospective research: Find great leaders, look back to see what
traits they possessed
Canadian prime ministers:
- only one trait emerged: integrative complexity = ability to adopt mul-
tiple views and integrate them (e.g. Trudeau)
- no traits were related to effectiveness
- or maybe three (smart, messy, achievement oriented)
- Although 100’s of traits have been measured, very few traits have
- Different studies have identified different traits (so not much consist-
ency in findings )
- So, not much support for Great Person Theory of leadership…except for
4. Except for leader’s height? (not a ‘trait’)
- Tall presidents rated a more effective (e.g. Abe Lincoln)
- Taller candidates more likely to be elected as presidentInteresting: Between years 1928 and 1996, there were 18 presidential
elections in the US. In 16 of the 18, 89% of the time the tallest candidate
won the election.
2000: G.W. Bush beat Al Gore (but Gore won more of popular vote) Who
- Gore (by 2 inches)
2004: Bush beat Kerry, but Kerry was 5 inches taller
2008: Obama beat McCain, taller by 5 inches
--Managers in American corporations (both male and female) are, on
avg., 1’ taller than non-managers
B. Good leadership depends on the situation
1. Leader traits might be effective in one situation but not in another.
- Integrative complexity of Can. Prime-ministers went down in crisis situ-
ations (less effective)
- only a few became even more integrative complex in a crisis