What Is Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology?

Paul E. Spector

University of South Florida


††††††††††† Industrial/organizational (I/O) psychology is one of the major subspecialties of psychology. It is a scientific field devoted to the study of the interplay between people and organizations. It is also an applied field in which I/O practitioners use the scientific findings from the field to inform organizational practice. Much of the applied and scientific work is aimed toward positively impacting peopleís job performance, and/or their health, safety and well-being at work.


††††††††††† I/O psychology is a very broad field that deals with many issues. Some examples include:


††††††††††† 1. Employee attitudes and their effects on work behavior.

††††††††††† 2. The impact of job conditions on well-being.

††††††††††† 3. Characteristics of effective leadership.

††††††††††† 4. How to build effective work teams.

††††††††††† 5. Designing employee selection systems to maximize individual effectiveness.

††††††††††† 6. Appraising and managing employee performance.

††††††††††† 7. Designing safe workplaces that minimize injuries.

††††††††††† 8. Minimizing bullying and violence in the workplace.

††††††††††† 9. How to best train employees to enhance job-relevant skills.

††††††††††† 10. Eliminating unfair discrimination in the workplace.


Each of these topics has been studied scientifically, with results of studies being presented at conferences and published in scientific journals. Each has been addressed by I/O practitioners in organizational settings where the field has had a significant impact.


††††††††††† I/O psychologists are specialists who have either a Masterís or Doctoral degree in the field. They can be found working for consulting firms, corporations, government agencies, research institutes, and colleges/universities.


††††††††††† Additional information about the field can be found on my website http://shell.cas.usf.edu/~spector, or from the Society For Industrial and Organizational Psychology http://www.siop.org.


Copyright Paul E. Spector, All Rights Reserved. September 12, 2006.