This study aims at analyzing the scientific domain of industrial and organizational psychology. It will explain its origin, relationship with other disciplines, its application in organizations and the role of research and statistics in industrial and organizational psychology. The study will present its findings obtained from the review of scientific concepts developed from experimental research and findings done by industrial physiologists

Evolution of Industrial/Organizational physiology

I-O developed in the same pattern followed by the entire psychological discipline. The laboratory examinations founded by Wilhelm Wundt in Germany in 1879 set the foundation for its evolution. In his book, Principles of psychology, Wundt developed the probable questions that organizational psychologists focused on. Sigmund Friend and John B. Watson popularized the introspective nature of organizational psychology by emphasizing on behaviorisms. In 1909, Fredrick Taylor introduced the value of redesigning work to achieve high output and performance of workers in organizations. These developments led to the scientific management approach where the selection of the best workers and using the best methods to train them was introduced. The First World War distracted development of I-O evolution but the Hawthorne studies in 1924 led to further developments. This led to results that increased lighting in industries that could lead to improvement on efficiency of workers.

In 1933, Elton Mayo identified the presence of informal employee groups who have an impact on production. This emphasized on the importance of employees altitudes and the overall human capital. By the end of the Second World War, employee selection techniques had developed. This led to experiments on employee’s assessment and group behaviors. The 1950s and 1960s saw the human relations movement caused by motivational theories developed by Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers. B.F. Skinner advocated the strategies on behavior modifications in 1971 that led to cognitive approaches of O-I and the expectancy models of motivation. The 1980s and 1990s saw rapid changes in technological environments that disrupted business theories of management. The period also saw the rise of Total Quality Management, Continuous Process Improvement and increased attention on industrial organizational research. From the 1990s to the present day, further research studies continue to apply psychological knowledge in organizations to aid workers and leadership relations.

Difference of Industrial/ Organizational psychology from other disciplines Psychology

I-O is different from other branches of psychology since it applies psychology

to the overall organizational processes. However, other disciplines investigate mental processes and behavior; I-O introduces the concept of behaviors and mental process into the workplace. This discipline tends to identify how these behaviors and inner altitudes can be upgraded using employee hiring, training facilities and organizational feedback systems. This branch deepens the practice of psychology to examine the impact of the working environment in examining the performance and outcomes (Cooper, et al, 2000).

Whereas other psychology disciplines emphasize on behavior and altitudes of individuals in relation to other individuals, industrial/organization psychology reviews individual behaviors and the overall group behavior. This discipline furthers the study of the group conditions such as views, opinions; feedbacks, adaptations and growth because of inter group interactions. These interactions are important to organizations since they fulfill employees’ needs to their satisfaction. Team dynamism also emphasizes on the effectiveness of working together and its impact on performance.


Application of industrial/organization psychology in organizations

Industrial/organizational psychology is applied widely in organizations in different functions. Job analysis forms the cornerstone of organizational selection of employees. Job analysis utilizes job information to examine duties and tasks for different jobs. It is incorporated in examination of employee’s abilities and competencies that are used to monitor successfully performance. Labor forms one of the most important assets of any organizations. Industrial/organizational psychology helps in personnel recruitment, performance appraisal and individual assessments. This branch helps Human Resource Managers in all organizations to identify the most qualified individuals for job placements and to determine their job performance standards. Such a scale based on their performance gives bases for promotions, compensations and remunerations.

Organizational psychology develops a motivation drive in employees and the leadership that helps in the attainment of goals in the organization. According to Jex (2002), motivation allows the leaders to know the individual needs of employees. An organizational culture helps in the sharing of values and common beliefs. Organizational culture translates to corporate culture that has a direct impact on the performance, employee’s satisfaction and their overall well-being. Job satisfaction ensures that employees maintain commitment that creates positive relationships between job satisfaction and the overall organizational performance. Industrial/organization psychology can also be used in organizations to encourage innovation whereby employees discover ideas that expand the overall organizational goals.

Role of research and statistics in industrial/organizational psychology

Research and statistics are greatly utilized in industrial/organizational studies. Organizational psychology involves the application of data collection techniques to obtain information from employees and the management. Study of these human behaviors applies observation, interpretation and recording relationship between people and the work environment. They utilize scientific methods and procedures to obtain employees’ ideas and views. By utilizing such research studies, organizational psychologists look for patterns that help them understand organizations and the individuals within them. Organizational psychologists also formulate hypothesis that form explanations for their observations. In many cases, data on employees and the organization is collected and findings evaluated through indoor laboratory experiments, aptitude, performance and intelligence tests. Others involve use of questionnaires, interviews, surveys and observations to identify patterns about job satisfaction, performance and motivational trends (Rogelberg & Xreferplus 2002).

Industrial-organizational psychologists utilize research methods in the working environment to improve the standards of the work life. They apply research to screen, review job applications, and to perform organizational analysis. Using evidence based practices; industrial-organizational psychologists systematically collect research data that is analyzed qualitatively. Leadership interventions, employee’s selection, job performance and organizational development are based on the reliability contents and validity of research measurements used in the research.


Industrial/Organizational psychology is essential to organizations to improve individual and organizational performance standards. It helps in the identification of behaviors and altitudes that help in hiring, trainings, selections and motivation. By application of psychology in the work environment, relationship between the organization and individuals is greatly improved.




Cooper, C. L., Cooper-Locke, & Locke, E. A. (2000).Industrial and organizational psychology: Linking theory with practice. Oxford, UK: Blackwell Publishers.

Jex, S. M. (2002). Organizational psychology: A scientist-practitioner approach. New York, NY: Wiley.

Rogelberg, S. G., & Xreferplus. (2002). Handbook of research methods in industrial and organizational psychology. Blackwell handbooks of research methods in psychology, 1. Malden: Blackwell.

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