Public Description of Industrial and Organizational Psychology

The specialty of industrial-organizational psychology (also called I/O psychology) is characterized by the scientific study of human behavior in organizations and the work place. The specialty focuses on deriving principles of individual, group and organizational behavior and applying this knowledge to the solution of problems at work.

Specialized Knowledge

Specialized knowledge and training in the science of behavior in the workplace requires in-depth knowledge of organizational development, attitudes, career development, decision theory, human performance and human factors, consumer behavior, small group theory and process, criterion theory and development, job and task analysis and individual assessment. In addition, the specialty of industrial-organizational psychology requires knowledge of ethical considerations as well as statutory, administrative, and case law and executive orders as related to activities in the workplace.

Problems Addressed

The specialty of Industrial Organizational Psychology addresses issues of recruitment, selection and placement, training and development, performance measurement, workplace motivation and reward systems, quality of work life, structure of work and human factors, organizational development and consumer behavior.

Skills and Procedures Utilized

I/O Psychologists are scientist-practitioners who have expertise in the design, execution and interpretation of research in psychology and who apply their findings to help address human and organizational problems in the context of organized work. I/O psychologists:

  • Identify training and development needs; 

  • Design and optimize job and work and quality of work life; 

  • Formulate and implement training programs and evaluate their effectiveness; 

  • Coach employees; 

  • Develop criteria to evaluate performance of individuals and organizations; and 

  • Assess consumer preferences, customer satisfaction and market strategies.

Population Served

The distinct focus of I/O psychology is on human behavior in work settings. Therefore, the populations affected by the practice of I/O psychology include individuals in and applicants to business, industry, labor, public (including non-profit), academic, community and health organizations.