Research Topics in American Versus European Journals

As shown clearly by Miriam Erez in her 1994 Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology chapter, culture can affect choice of research topic. She showed how the researcher's nationality related to topics of journal articles. This exercise is designed to explore this phenomenon by comparing an American to an English I/O journal. Will the topics covered be pretty much the same or different?

For some background read the section on I/O Psychology Around the World in Chapter 1 of your textbook.

Many journals put tables of contents and even abstracts of articles from their most recent volumes on their websites. This makes it easy for researchers and students to see what new research is being published. We can use this resource to compare journal content. Log onto the websites for the American Personnel Psychology and the English Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology. Both are top journals in the field, reflecting well the interests of Americans and Europeans, respectively.

One way to divide the interests of I/O psychologists is into performance vs. well-being. The former topic is concerned with the effectiveness of employees and how that translates into organizational functioning. The latter focuses on both physical and psychological health of employees. These are the categories you should use.

Go to the websites of each journal and check the last four issues for each. (Get there from my journal links page.) Look at the titles of all regular articles. Ignore book reviews and statements by editors. Classify each article you can according to the title. Don't worry if some can't be classified. Some articles you have to read to classify. If you can't understand a title, it is likely that the title is unclear.

There should be four categories: Performance, Well-being, Both, Neither. Try to be accurate, and if you are unsure, use the both or neither category as appropriate. Count the number of articles in each of the categories, and compute the percentages. Optional: Compute a chi square test for significance.


There are certain topics/words that are clues to classification. In most cases these topics fit the category shown, although be careful that there aren't hints suggesting the alternative. It is possible that an article covers both, and also that it covers neither. Do the best you can, and don't force a title into a category unless it fits.

Performance: applicant assessment, selection, placement, performance appraisal, job analysis, task analysis, training, performance, effectiveness, efficiency.

Well-being: health, stress, job stress, job satisfaction, job stressor, job strain, symptoms, illness, disease, anxiety, depression, affect, affective states, happiness, life satisfaction


1. How did the two journals differ in the percentage of articles falling into the performance versus well-being categories?

2. Did you notice any other differences in the topics of the journals?

3. Why do you think the interests in England might differ from the US?

4. How would England and/or the US differ from yet other countries?

5. It might be interesting to compare your results with those of Erez.


Erez, M. (1994). Toward a model of cross-cultural industrial and organizational psychology. In M. D. Dunnette and L. Hough (Eds.), Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Volume IV. Theory in Industrial and Organizational Psycholog y. Palo Alto, CA: Consulting Psychologists Press.


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Copyright Paul E. Spector, All rights reserved, November 16, 2011.