Saturday, May 9, 2009

Industrial-Organizational Psychology

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Industrial-Organizational Psychology (I-O psychology), application of various psychological techniques to the workplace and other organizations. Psychologists in this field advise businesses and organizations on a variety of subjects:

The selection and training of workers
How to promote efficient working conditions and techniques
How to boost employee morale
Productivity, and job satisfaction
The best ways to evaluate employee performance and create incentives that motivate workers

I-O psychology first became prominent during World War II (1939-1945), when it became necessary to recruit and train the large number of new workers who were needed to meet the expanding demands of industry.

The selection of workers for particular jobs is essentially a problem of discovering the special aptitudes and personality characteristics needed for the job and of devising tests to determine whether candidates have such aptitudes and characteristics. The development of tests of this kind has long been a field of psychological research.

Once the worker is on the job and has been trained, the fundamental aim of the I-O psychologist is to find ways in which a particular job can best be accomplished with a minimum of effort and a maximum of individual satisfaction. The psychologist's function, therefore, differs from that of the so-called efficiency expert, who places primary emphasis on increased production.

Psychological techniques used to lessen the effort involved in a given job include a detailed study of the motions required to do the job, the equipment used, and the conditions under which the job is performed. These conditions include ventilation, heating, lighting, noise, and anything else affecting the comfort or morale of the worker.

After making such a study, the I-O psychologist often determines that the job in question may be accomplished with less effort by changing the routine motions of the work itself, changing or moving the tools, improving the working conditions, or a combination of several of these methods.

Industrial-organizational psychologists have also studied the effects of fatigue on workers to determine the length of working time that yields the greatest productivity. In some cases such studies have proven that total production on particular jobs could be increased by reducing the number of working hours or by increasing the number of rest periods, or breaks, during the day.

I-O psychologists may also suggest less direct requirements for general improvement of job performance, such as establishing a better line of communication between employees and management.

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