I-O Psychology

About Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Usually, I’m sitting on a plane or at a bar and someone asks, “So, what do you do for a living?” and when mention  “Industrial-Organizational Psychology,” I get glazed eyes, a follow-up question of “What is that?,” or I get asked if I can explain why they’re afraid of snakes. So, first, I’d like to dispel some myths about I-O psychology.

What People Trained in I-O psychology don’t do:

  • Conduct therapy sessions
  • Diagnose or treat mental disorders
  • Ask your employees to lay on a couch and talk about their mothers

What People Trained in I-O Psychology Do

  • Provide businesses with evidence-based solutions to common problems
  • Assist with selection, performance management, and other HR functions
  • Help make employees into a more productive resource by improving work life quality

People who are trained in I-O psychology are trained to approach problems the way that a scientist comes at a research question. They apply scientific research methods, psychological concepts, an understanding of human behavior, and analytic methods to help businesses solve problems. What they don’t do, is employ fads in solving a problem, or take wild guesses.

Imagine if…

Imagine if you noticed that your car had a wobble in the front end when you’re driving. You’d probably take it to a couple of mechanics for an estimate. One mechanic takes your car into her garage, spends some time with it, looking at all of the pieces and parts, and then tells you what’s going on and how she’s going to fix the exact problem you’re having. The other mechanic tells you–without looking at your car–what other people are doing to fix that wobble and that he’s going to use that method and it should fix the problem.

Who are you going to give your business to?

Now, instead of a $500 front-end job on your car, imagine you’re trying to figure out why you’re spending $100,000 more every year on hiring new employees than your competitors, even though you still have higher turnover rates and lower employee satisfaction.

Are you going to give you business to the person who guesses, or the person who researches what’s going on and how to fix it in your specific situation?

I-O Psychology can be a complex topic, but some key points make it a lot easier to understand. The key points that I think are important are:

I hope that these topics will give you a good understanding of I-O Psychology and the concepts behind it. But, if you have any questions that I’ve not addressed, please feel free to contact me.

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