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Chapter 1

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Western University
Psychology 2660A/B
Natalie J Allen

Chapter 1: The Historical Background of I/O Psychology  Psychology – scientific study of thinking and behavior  Uses rigorous methods of research  Stereotype of a psychologist is actually just a clinical psychologist o Most psychologists don’t treat mental disorders, nor do they practice psychotherapy  Many psychologists are united through membership in the American Psychological Association (APA) o Very diverse – 54 divisions of special interest subgroups o There aren’t many different specialty areas of psychology, just many fields where the same basic psychological principles are applied o APA publishes many journals – psychologists can communicate their research findings to others o APA holds regional/national conventions, sets standards for graduate training in certain areas of psych (clinical, counseling, and school), develops and enforces a code of professional ethics, and helps psychologists find employment  American Psychological Society (APS) o Founded because APA had shifted toward the health care practice areas of psych o Purpose of APS: to advance the discipline of psych primarily from a scientific perspective o Members are academic psychologists, mostly Industrial/Organizational Psychology  I/O psych is one of the specialty areas of psych  Society for I/O Psychology (SIOP) – the professional organization that represents I/O psychologists in the US  Increasing number of women entering the field  I/O psychology (US) = occupational psych (UK) = work and organizational psych (Europe) = industrial psych (Africa)  Increasing interest in I/O psych – membership in SIOP as doubled  4% of all psychologists work in the I/O area  I/O psychology strives to enhance both the institution and the individual, but the image of the field is often portrayed as more aligned with institutional welfare  Knowledge of I/O psych is fairly low in the general public  I/O psychology - an area of scientific study and professional practice that addresses psychological concepts and principles in the work world  The I/O psychologist is concerned with behavior in work situations o They pose questions to guide their investigation and then use scientific methods to obtain answers  Two sides of I/O psych: science and practice  I/O psych is an academic discipline  The professional side of I/O psych is concerned with the application of knowledge to solve real problems in the world of work  I/O psych can use research findings to hire better employees, reduce absenteeism, improve communication, increase job satisfaction, and solve countless other problems  The education of I/O psychologists is founded on the scientist-practitioner model – a model for education in an academic discipline based on understanding the scientific principles and findings evidenced in the discipline and how they provide the basis for the professional practice o It trains them in both scientific inquiry and practical application  I/O psychologists work in four main employment settings: universities, consulting firms, industry, and government o Universities and consulting firms are the primary employers o Universities hire more scientists; consulting firms hire more practitioners; business and government hire good mix of both Fields of I/O Psychology  The professional activities of I/O psychologists can be grouped into five general fields:  Selection and Placement  Concerned with developing assessment methods for the selection, placement, and promotion of employees  Involved in studying jobs and determining to what degree tests can predict performance in those jobs  Individual-job compatibility identification  Training and Development  Concerned with identifying employee skills that need to be enhanced to improve job performance  Areas of training: technical skills enhancing, managerial development programs, and effective group work training  Must determine if these programs are successful  Performance Management  Process of enhancing the contributions of the workforce to facilitate attaining the overall goals of the organization  Involves designing ways to assess employee work behavior and provide helpful feedback to improve performance  Concerned with accuracy and value of assessments made of individuals and work teams  Organizational Effectiveness  Broadest area  Concerned with maintaining/improving the quality of the workforce, relationships with customers and suppliers  Issues of central importance: motivation, leadership, and helping the organization adapt to continuous change  Quality of Worklife  Concerned with factors that contribute to a healthy and productive workforce  Find ways to make the conduct of work more compatible with employees’ personal life  High quality worklife = greater productivity of the organization and to the emotional health of the individual  I/O psych is not really a single discipline; it’s a mixture of subspecialities bonded together by a concern for people at work Licensing of Psychologists  One way professions offer high-quality service to the public is by regulating their own membership o Selective admission into the profession  The practice of professional psychology is regulated by law in every state  Licensing law – a law that regulates both the title and practice of psychology  Licensure – the process by which a professional practice is regulated by law to ensure quality standards are met to protect the public o Involves education, experience, examination, and administrative requirements  Major functions of any professional board are to determine the standards for admission into the profession and to discipline its members when professional standards are violated  Currently, psychologists must pass a uniform national exam to obtain a license o Must also pass a written exam that focuses mainly on questions pertaining to health care psych o This is an ongoing problem for I/O psychologists when trying to obtain a license  Licensing of I/O psychologists is controversial because the need for licensure to protect the public is not so pressing since they don’t deal with health care The History of I/O Psychology  The two world wars served as major catalysts for changing the discipline of I/O psych  The Early Years (1900-1916)  Before 1900, most psychologists were strictly scientific and avoided studying problems that strayed away from pure research  Major forces in the evolution of the discipline:  W.L. Bryan emphasized examining real skills as a base upon which to develop scientific psychology  Not the father of I/O psych, but rather a precursor  Desire of industrial engineers to improve efficiency  They developed “time and motion” studies to prescribe the most efficient body motions per unit of time to perform a particular work task  Merging of psychology with applied interests and concern for increasing industrial efficiency was the impetus for the emergence of I/O psych  By 1910, industrial psychology was a legitimate specialty area of psych  The “organizational” appendage didn’t become official until 60 yrs later  Four founding figures of I/O psych in the US: 1. Walter Dill Scott  Gave a talk to business leaders about the need for applying psychology to advertising  Led to publication of two books: o The Theory of Advertising – dealt with suggestion and argument as means of influencing people o The Psychology of Advertising – aimed at improving human efficiency with tactics such as imitation, competition, loyalty, and concentration  During WWI, he was instrumental in the application of personnel procedures in the army  Was a highly respected scientist-practitioner  Had substantial influence on increasing public awareness and the credibility of industrial psych 2. Frederick W. Taylor  An engineer who realized the value of redesigning work to achieve both higher output for the company and a higher wage for the worker  His book – The Principles of Scientific Management: I. Science over rule of thumb II. Scientific selection and training III. Cooperation over individualism IV. Equal division of work best suited to management and employees  Consequence: people charged that Taylor exploited workers for a higher wage and that great numbers of workers would be unemployed because less were now needed o Never resolved – WWI broke out and the controversy faded 3. Lillian Moller Gilbreth  More concerned with the human aspects of time management  Among the first to recognize the effects of stress and fatigue on workers 4. Hugo Münsterberg  He was interested in applying traditional psychological methods to practical industrial problems  His book – Psychology and Industrial Efficiency was divided into 3 parts: selecting workers, designing work, and using psychology in sales  Most renowned study involved determining what makes a safe trolley car operator  Considered by some the founder of industrial psychology  Has been falsely credited as the founder of scientific employee selection  WWI caused a shift in the direction of industrial psychological research World War I
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