What is Industrial Psychology? – Areas, Skills and Procedures

The industrial psychology combines principles of psychology with a methodical investigation of various work environments, also known as industrial-organizational psychology, discipline analyzes many aspects of the workplace and attitudes of individuals towards their respective careers.

What is industrial psychology?

It is the science of human behavior related to work and applies psychological theories and principles to organizations and individuals in their workplaces, as well as to the working life of the individual in general. The psychologists of this branch are trained in the scientific-practitioner model.

They contribute to the success of an organization by improving performance, motivation , job satisfaction, occupational health and safety, as well as the general well-being of its employees. A psychologist conducts research on employee behaviors and attitudes, and how they can be improved through hiring practices, training programs, feedback, and management systems.

History of industrial psychology

It emerged more than 100 years ago as a result of the industrial revolution in the United States. During that period, assembly lines were introduced to reduce the amount of time and skill it took to build things, workers were forced to maintain an incredibly exhausting pace in terms of production, and frequently encountered unhealthy work environments and low salaries.

Workers did not feel connected to their work, their company or their coworkers, companies were seeing a decrease in profits and worker enthusiasm and they wanted to find out what was going on.

Researchers in psychology determined that when people are overworked and unhappy at work, they are not as reliable or productive and profits decline. These findings taught employers that happy employees produce better products and higher profits, makes sense right? When you feel appreciated at work or school and you enjoy being there, you usually do better.

Key areas within industrial psychology

According to Muchinsky’s book, “Psychology Applied to Work: An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology,” most industrial-organizational psychologists work in one of the main areas:

Job analysis

Job analysis encompasses several different methods, primarily involving the systematic gathering of information about a job. A task-oriented job analysis involves an examination of the duties, tasks, and / or competencies required by the job being assessed.

In contrast, it involves an examination of the knowledge, skills, and other characteristics required to perform the job successfully. Information obtained from job analyzes is used for many purposes, including creating relevant selection procedures, required performance evaluations and criteria, and developing training programs.

Recruitment and staff selection.

Psychologists often work with human resource specialists to design recruitment processes and personnel selection systems.

Personnel recruitment is the process of identifying qualified candidates in the workforce and having them apply for jobs within an organization, personnel recruitment processes include developing job postings, posting advertisements, defining key qualifications for applicants and the selection of unqualified applicants.

Personnel selection is the systematic process of hiring and promoting personnel, personnel selection systems employ evidence-based practices to determine the most qualified candidates, it involves both new hires and individuals who can be promoted from within of the organization.

Performance evaluation / management

Performance appraisal is the process by which an individual or group’s work behaviors and outcomes are evaluated based on the expectations of managers and others for the job, it is frequently used in promotion and compensation decisions, to help design and validate personnel selection and performance management procedures.

Performance management is the process of providing performance feedback in relation to expectations, and information relevant to improvement (e.g. training, mentoring), it may also include documentation and tracking of performance information for evaluation purposes organizational.

Individual evaluation and psychometry.

Individual assessment involves the measurement of individual differences, psychologists conduct individual assessments to assess the differences between job candidates, as well as the differences between them. Measured constructs pertain to job performance, with job candidates, individual evaluation is part of the personnel selection process, these evaluations may include written tests, aptitude tests, physical tests, psychomotor tests, personality tests, tests integrity and reliability, work samples, simulations and evaluation centers.

Occupational health and well-being.

In the early 1900s, Arthur Kornhauser examined the productivity impact of hiring mentally unstable workers. Kornhauser also examined the link between industrial working conditions and mental health, as well as the spillover into a worker’s personal life from having an unsatisfactory job.

More recently, researchers found that staying vigorous during work hours is associated with better behavior and subjective well-being, as well as more effective functioning in the family domain. Job satisfaction has also been found to be associated with life satisfaction, happiness, well-being and positive affect, and the absence of negative affect.

Workplace harassment, aggressiveness and violence.

Psychologists deal with issues related to bullying, aggression, and violence in the workplace. For example, research found that exposure to workplace violence triggered reflective thinking , in turn, is associated with poor well-being. Research has found that aggressive interpersonal behaviors are associated with poorer team performance.

Remuneration and compensation

Compensation includes wages or salaries, bonuses, retirement contributions, and employee benefits that can be converted to cash or replace living expenses. Psychologists may be asked to conduct a job evaluation in order to determine levels and ranges of compensation, they can also serve as expert witnesses in pay discrimination cases, when employees allege disparities in pay for similar jobs.

Motivation at work.

The motivation reflects labor power a person applies “to initiate work – related behavior and to determine its shape, direction, intensity and duration.” Understanding what motivates the employees of an organization is fundamental to psychology.

Motivation is generally considered as a theoretical construct that fuels behavior, an incentive is an anticipated reward that is thought to incline a person to behave in a certain way. Motivation varies between individuals and when studying its influence on behavior, it must be examined in conjunction with ability and environmental influences.

Because of the role of motivation in influencing behavior and performance in the workplace, many organizations structure the work environment to encourage productive behaviors and discourage unproductive behaviors.

Work stress

Psychologists are involved in the research and practice of occupational stress and the design of individual and organizational interventions to manage and reduce stress levels and increase productivity, performance, health and well-being.

Job stress can have implications for organizational performance due to the emotions caused by job stress. For example, a stressor at work, such as a conflict with a supervisor, can precipitate anger that in turn motivates counterproductive behaviors in the workplace.

Research has examined the association between job stressors and assault, theft, substance abuse, and depressive symptoms. Several models have been developed to explain the process, including the person-environment adjustment model and the demand control model, those models became the cornerstone of the emergence, in the late 80s and early 90s, of a new relevant discipline for research on work stress.

Occupational security

Accidents and safety in the workplace have become areas of interest for psychology. Examples of psychosocial injury hazards of concern to psychology include fatigue, workplace violence, bullying, and night shifts.

Researchers conduct “stress audits” that can help organizations comply with various workplace safety regulations. Psychosocial hazards can affect musculoskeletal disorders , a psychosocial factor related to accident risk is safety climate, which refers to employees’ perceptions of the degree to which their work organization prioritizes safety.

Organizational culture

Organizational culture has been described as a set of assumptions shared by individuals in an organization; assumptions influence interpretation and actions that define appropriate behavior for various situations.

Organizational culture has been shown to affect important outcomes such as performance, attraction, recruiting, retention, employee satisfaction, and well-being.

In addition to a general culture, organizations also have subcultures. Examples of subcultures include corporate culture, departmental culture, local culture, and culture related to the topic. While there is no single “type” of organizational culture, some researchers have developed models to describe different organizational cultures.


Industrial and organizational psychologists consider innovation, in most cases, a minor and often counterproductive variable to include in conducting job performance evaluations when it is irrelevant to core job functions for companies. which there is a certain job.

However, psychologists see the value of that variable in which, if its reliability and validity were considered, they would obtain a statistically significant probability that their results are not due to chance, and that it can be reliably replicated with a statistically significant relationship of reliability, and that it was a court to raise a question about its reliability and validity tests, the psychologist behind its use could defend it in a court of law with the belief that it will be presented in court as trustworthy and valid.

Skills and Procedures Used in Industrial Psychology

Psychologists are professional scientists who are experienced 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:

  • Identify training and development needs.
  • Design and optimize work and work and quality of work life.
  • Formulate and implement training programs and evaluate their effectiveness.
  • Train employees.
  • Develop criteria to evaluate the performance of individuals and organizations.
  • Evaluate consumer preferences, customer satisfaction, and market strategies.

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Hello, how are you? My name is Georgia Tarrant, and I am a clinical psychologist. In everyday life, professional obligations seem to predominate over our personal life. It's as if work takes up more and more of the time we'd love to devote to our love life, our family, or even a moment of leisure.