Industrial psychology can be defined as the use of psychological principles and concepts to challenges concerning people working in organizations. Industrial psychology emerged in early 1900s following the works of Water Dill Scott and Hugo Munsterberg. Scott wrote about the potential use of psychology in advertising in his book titled “Advertising Theory’ in 1901. Two years later in 1903, Munsterberg authored a book titled “The Psychology of Industrial Efficiency” which focused on improvement of industrial productivity using psychological principles. These two books generated interest in organizational psychology. However, the concepts of industrial psychology were first applied by US Army during the World War I (Emmanuel, 2005). The army recruited a team of psychologists to screen millions of people who were joining military training. The psychologist developed two tests for both literates and non literates. The successful use of these tests marked the beginning of Industrial/Organization psychology as an important discipline. The scope of the field was broadened from placement test to human relations and motivation by the Hawthorne studies of 1924.
During the World War II, industrial psychologists were recruited again by US army to screen and classify military officers for placement. After the war in 1945, Industrial/Organizational psychology expanded as government and business employed industrial psychologist to screen prospective employees. Today, the field is propelled expansion of business; need for high work efficiency and the influence of human relationship in organizations. Industrial/Organization psychology is gaining influence in many organizations, states, businesses, institutions and companies. This influence is particularly great in Europe and United States of America where it is common to get an industrial psychologists working along with other employees. The principles of industrial psychology are continuously used to develop instruments for screening applicants during the recruitment process. Besides, they are used to develop criteria for appraising employees and instruments for measuring motivation and attitudes. Of late, industrial psychologists are involved during machine designs. Other areas of application include management of employees, productivity research and labor relations. Organizations have successfully applied principles of organizational psychology to solve problems such as employees’ absenteeism, turnover, and job satisfaction. For instance, the Federal Aviation Administration has consistently worked with industrial psychologist to improve its Human Resource Management. In early 1980, the agency commissioned a team of industrial psychologist to advise it on whether it should shorten the recruitment time for employees after a strike that led to sacking of many employees.
The findings of the research showed that FAA would save $8million in training cost if they maintained three maintained its lengthy recruitment process (Reddy, 2004). Other companies that have maintained employing industrial psychologists include IBM General Motors and Ford Motors (Negi, 2010). Industrial psychology should be considered as a science because it uses scientific methods of inquiry to study human behavior. A scientific field applies scientific method as the only means for generating knowledge and conducting inquiry (Shamra & Chandra, 2004). Industrial psychologists apply experimental methods to investigate problems in organizations. Many studies involving employees are done in controlled conditions. The observations made are recorded, analyzed and used for generalization. In industrial psychological research, study of behavior is factual, and the conclusions are objective. Consequently, the field has universal laws and principles which can be used everywhere under same conditions. Besides, organizational psychology researches are concerned about cause effect relationship and predictions. Descriptive statistics is used to analyze data. For instance, employees’ ages can be analyzed in terms of mean. On the other hand, inferential statistics is used to interpret or give meaning to the analyzed data or results. For instance, a high standard deviation in mean wage can be interpreted as a disparity in remuneration.
Emmanuel, B. (2005). Industrial psychology. Quezon City: Rex Book Store.
Negi, A. (2010). Industrial psychology. Delhi: Wordpress.
Shamra, R. & Chandra, S. (2004).Advanced industrial psychology. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers.
Reddy, R. (2004). Industrial psychology. New Delhi: APH Publishing.