Industrial-organizational psychology - American businessThe field of industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology includes the study of all aspects of human behavior in the business environment. Because people spend a considerable amount of time at work and often with other people, understanding work-related experiences and attitudes is critical for improving the overall quality of work life and employee performance within an organization. I/O psychologists study important organizational issues such as personnel selection, job-related training, employee PERFORMANCE APPRAISAL, group work, MANAGEMENT and LEADERSHIP quality, and general working conditions. Personnel selection involves INTERVIEWING, selecting, and hiring job candidates who are suitably matched for particular jobs. Many organizations employ testing procedures to screen applicants beforehand, helping to ensure that an applicant has the necessary skills and abilities to perform a job before making any hiring decisions. I/O psychologists work to develop reliable and valid tests for job placements so that both the employer and the employee benefit from their use. In addition, I/O psychologists study the interview process itself, identifying variables that affect its success, such as the applicant’s appearance and the interviewer’s expectations. I/O psychologists also study job-related training so employers know how and when to provide the necessary training for their employees. In addition, they work to ensure that additional training opportunities are provided, allowing employees to update and improve their jobrelated skills and knowledge. Evaluation of employee performance is another critical concern. I/O psychologists review the procedures for performance evaluation and feedback, seeking to ensure that employees are evaluated fairly and accurately on job performance and not on extraneous or irrelevant factors. Ultimately performance evaluations feed into decisions about salary increases and promotions, both of which affect employees’ satisfaction with their jobs and their commitment to the company. I/O psychologists also study how groups function in the workplace, trying to increase productivity and decrease the occurrence of SOCIAL LOAFING. They seek to identify the variables that affect the quantity and quality of group work, such as feelings of cohesion, and assist in deciding whether particular projects are better suited for group work or for individual efforts. Management and leadership quality have important effects on the business environment. I/O psychologists study how good managers motivate employees and make suggestions regarding what style of leadership is best suited for a given situation. Training can then be provided to enhance managers’ leadership skills. I/O psychologists are also interested in how the general working conditions in an organization affect employees and productivity. Safety on the job, exposure to workplace violence, general health concerns, absenteeism, and stress are all important concerns in the work environment. The HAWTHORNE EXPERIMENTS were highly influential in alerting I/O psychologists to social and physical factors that could affect worker productivity and satisfaction in general. I/O psychology is a rapidly growing field. Ultimately research that helps organizations understand and improve their work environment can be of tremendous value in determining a company’s success or failure.
See also SOCIAL FACILITATION.