Psychology and Work
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Psychology and Work

An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Donald M. Truxillo, Talya N. Bauer, Berrin Erdogan

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eBook - ePub

Psychology and Work

An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Donald M. Truxillo, Talya N. Bauer, Berrin Erdogan

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About This Book

Psychology and Work is a new edition of the award-winning textbook written for introductory Industrial and Organizational (I-O) Psychology classes. This book makes the core topics of I-O Psychology clear, relevant, and accessible to students through its dynamic design. The real-world examples from the perspectives of employees and employers highlight how I-O Psychology is applied to today's workplace.

Psychology and Work, Second Edition covers the core areas of I-O Psychology including an overview of the field and its history. The topics covered include up-to-date research methods and statistics; job analysis and criterion measurement; performance appraisal; personnel selection; training and development; work motivation; leadership; job attitudes and emotions, occupational health psychology, safety, and stress; teams; and organizational structure, culture, and change. Throughout the text, an emphasis is placed on essential issues for today's workplace such as diversity and inclusion, the evolving role of big data and analytics, legal issues, and the changing nature of work.

Written by dedicated I-O professors with expertise in I-O Psychology and teaching this course, the book and supporting materials provide a range of high-quality pedagogical materials, including interactive features, quizzes, PowerPoint slides, numerous case studies, recommended videos, and an expanded, high-quality test bank.

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Chapter 1


The Profession and Its History

I-O psychologists work to understand and influence how people behave in the workplace – the place where most adults in industrialized societies spend a significant part of their lives. This chapter will describe I-O psychology as a profession as well as its history.

Learning Goals for This Chapter

After studying this chapter, you should be able to:
  • describe the primary areas of research and practice in industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology
  • describe the contexts and organizations in which I-O psychologists work, as well as the training that I-O psychologists receive
  • list the primary professional organizations to which I-O psychologists belong
  • describe historical eras that have affected I-O psychology (e.g., World War I era, Civil Rights era) and various phases in the history of I-O psychology
  • identify key legal and global issues surrounding I-O psychology
  • describe current issues around I-O psychology.


You are probably reading this book because you are taking a college course. One reason that many people attend college is to prepare for the workplace or for a specific profession. But consider this: Once a person begins their career, the workplace is where they will spend the greatest part of their waking hours until they retire. That being the case, wouldn’t it be good to understand how people behave at work, what explains their work performance, how they feel about it, and how it can affect their nonwork lives?
This is the goal of industrial and organizational psychology (I-O psychology). Specifically, I-O psychology, also called “the psychology of work,” is a specialization focused on the application of psychological principles to understanding people in this important context, the workplace. As you will see in this book, this includes a range of issues, from how best to find a good fit between a person and a job through hiring procedures, how to train and evaluate employees, what motivates people at work, and what makes them happy with their work. It also examines how work affects people in their nonwork lives, and what employers can do to keep workers healthy, productive, and satisfied with their jobs. In short, I-O psychology involves the application of psychological principles to the workplace. In other words, if you want to understand what makes people happy and productive in their jobs, this is the book for you.
I-O psychology: A specialization in psychology focused on the application of psychological principles to understanding people in the workplace.
In this introductory chapter, we will examine the range of issues studied by I-O psychologists. We will also discuss I-O psychology as a profession both in the US and around the world, including the types of contexts where I-O psychologists typically work. We will discuss the historical factors that have shaped the field and the development of I-O psychology over the years. We conclude this chapter by describing some of the factors that drive I-O research and practice today.

The Major Areas of I-O Psychology: Industrial and Organizational

As you can tell by the name, industrial and organizational psychology involves two general areas of study. Although they are historically separate, both focused on the psychology of work. Traditionally, industrial psychology in North America focuses on human resource procedures in the workplace which are guided by psychological principles. Traditionally, this includes the areas of job analysis, personnel selection, performance appraisal, and training. For example, I-O psychologists who study selection are interested in topics such as psychological testing and measurement, and those who study training are interested in the cognitive and motivational processes that can be used to enhance employee learning. Organizational psychology focuses more on the “human side” of the worker, including topics such as work motivation, leadership, teams, job satisfaction, and work–life balance. In this sense, organizational psychology is more like the field of Organizational Behavior in business schools, but again, with a more decidedly psychological focus.
Figure 1.1 I-O psychology is a truly interdisciplinary field, with heavy influences from other branches of psychology.
Industrial psychology and organizational psychology merged many decades ago, such that there is no longer a separate “industrial” or “organizational” psychology. This is because a dichotomy between the two areas is neither accurate nor useful. Both are concerned with the psychology of work, and any separation of the two is a bit artificial. But more importantly, concepts from both industrial and organizational psychology inform one another. For example, if you were trying to hire the best salesperson for your company, you could rely on the best research from “industrial” psychology in terms of how to conduct a structured interview (Chapter 6). But you would also want to consider what we know about motivation from “organizational” psychology in trying to predict what will motivate that salesperson to take the job offer and do a good job. In short, it is best to think of I-O psychology as the application of psychology to the workplace – keeping workers productive, engaged, happy, and healthy.
I-O psychology is a truly interdisciplinary branch of applied psychology. It blends theories, concepts, and principles borrowed from different parts of psychology, and you will recognize these influences throughout the book. For example, the discussion of motivation, personality traits, and personnel selection has been influenced by research into psychometrics and individual differences, and decision-making has been influenced by the field of basic psychology. Our understanding of group processes, leadership, and communication shows the influence of social psychology. Cognitive psychology left its mark in topics ranging from training to performance appraisals, and health psychology has been influential in our understanding of stress and its impact on the worker (see Figure 1.1).
I-O psychologists use scientific principles to analyze and answer questions that have implications for worker health, well-being, and effectiveness. Large organizations such as the FBI and NASA, and multinational corporations such as Google, Amazon, Nestlé, and Starbucks, as well as public sector, military, and not-for-profit and smaller organizations around the world, apply core I-O psychology principles to design employee selection, training, and promotion programs, while keeping employees safe and engaged at work.
It is important to remember that I-O psychology as a field aims to benefit both the organization and the worker. In other words, I-O psychologists are interested in helping organizations place the right worker into the right position, which would result in greater productivity and retention for the organization. But in addition, many I-O psychologists work to improve employees’ work lives, including more positive job attitudes and health outcomes for employees.

I-O Psychology Professional Organizations

The primary professional organization to which most I-O psychologists in the US and Canada belong is the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP) ( SIOP was established in 1945 as Division 14 of the American Psychological Association (APA). As of 2020, SIOP had a membership of over 10,000 people, including student affiliates (see Figure 1.2.). Although SIOP is Division 14 of APA, many members of SIOP choose membership in the Association for Psychological Science (APS). SIOP works to promote the scientific study of I-O psychology to help bot...

Table of contents

Citation styles for Psychology and Work
APA 6 Citation
Truxillo, D., Bauer, T., & Erdogan, B. (2021). Psychology and Work (2nd ed.). Taylor and Francis. Retrieved from (Original work published 2021)
Chicago Citation
Truxillo, Donald, Talya Bauer, and Berrin Erdogan. (2021) 2021. Psychology and Work. 2nd ed. Taylor and Francis.
Harvard Citation
Truxillo, D., Bauer, T. and Erdogan, B. (2021) Psychology and Work. 2nd edn. Taylor and Francis. Available at: (Accessed: 15 October 2022).
MLA 7 Citation
Truxillo, Donald, Talya Bauer, and Berrin Erdogan. Psychology and Work. 2nd ed. Taylor and Francis, 2021. Web. 15 Oct. 2022.