Psychology refers to the scientific studies that mainly involves the behavior and
mental processes. The spectrum of psychology is wide and has various specialty areas, with
every area focusing on distinct behavioral aspects. For instance, the developmental
psychology that primarily deals with the developmental behavior throughout the life whereas
the social psychology deals with the human social behavior. On the other hand, the
organizational psychology mainly deals with the study of human behavior within their
workplace settings (SIOP, n.d). different jobs are extremely intricate; hence they require the
application of both motor and mental skills that varies between individuals and organizations.
Further, the work environment is often large and complicated, consisting of various
employees who are required to interact and coordinate activities to ensure the production of
different services or products. Usually, the employees are physically distant for each other or
even work in different areas within a country, and coordinate their activities through the
application of social networks. Therefore, the organizational and industrial psychologists
perceive personal functions within the companies such as how the workforce are recruited
and the measurement of individual productivity for all employees. Therefore, the paper
explores the history of industrial/organizational psychology, theories applicable to the
organizational psychology, the research methods, and the job opportunities for the
organizational psychologists, especially the human resource director.
The 20th century has been a development era for the field of psychology since it
marked the starting point for the field when most of the psychologists began studying the
human behavior. For instance, the renowned experimental psychologists, Hugo Munsterberg,
who was mainly interested in the work design and personal selection. Another experimental
psychologist, Walter Dill, also pioneered the industrial psychologist field, who was mainly
interested in the study of salespersons and advertising. Another psychologist who had major
contribution to the formation of the industrial psychology is the engineer Frederick Taylor,
who believed that the principles of scientific management could be applied in the behavioral
work studies in aid of enhancing the employee’s efficacy and productivity. Through breaking
down the job scientifically into measurable segments movements and recording the time
needed in performing the movements, Taylor established that it could create the optimal
effective strategy of task performance, and was successful in providing evidence to certify
this theory (Powers, 2019). The model was known as the ‘time and motion studies.’ From his
experiments, the labor output substantially improved with the application of the time and
motion procedure. Strategy applied by Taylor, which mainly involved the application of the
scientific principles in enhancing the efficacy and productivity of employees gradually
transformed to be known as scientific management. the followers of Taylor, including Lilian
Gilbreth, also used the scientific management and revolutionized the physical labor jobs via
coming up with accepted process of work efficient. For example, the scientific procedures
such as the time and motion substantially enhanced various jobs’ efficacy that consisted of
cabinet-making and filing, however, this strategy was considered to be limited. Currently,
jobs are increasingly intricate and require sophisticated problem-solving strategies and skills.
Many individuals do not engage in physical labor, and the high-level tasks are not amenable
to the time and motion model proposed by Taylor.
Although the scientific management is not directly related to the
industrial/organizational psychology, the scientific management principles have a significant
influence on the development of the organizational psychology. Also, the first world war is
considered to have major contributions to the development of industrial psychology. At the
beginning o the first world war, the American Psychological Association’s president and
some of the psychologists worked hand-in-hand with the army in creating the intelligence
tests for the recruits of army placement. The tests involved assisted in the setting of the stage
for impending efforts. Currently, the testing and selection of workforce is an essential area in
the industrial psychology. After the first world war, psychologists stated getting involved in
screening and placement of personnel within various industries. In the 1920s, when the US
started experiencing substantial industrial development, the industrial psychology also
became fundamental to the organization growth. This development in psychology then
resulted to the doctoral degree in this field in 1921 (Powers, 2019). Besides, being renowned
from the economic development, the psychologists were given the role of research and
consultancy, which led to the establishment of the first psychological consulting organization,
and later the Psychological Corporation by James Cattell.
Currenting the consulting firms offer various consulting services from the source
employment for the organizational psychologists. Besides, during the Depression phase of the
second world war, the industrial psychology found fewer opportunities for work in their field.
Nonetheless, there were certain development since it was also the era that the Harvard
Psychologists engaged in conducting numerous experiments in Hawthorn at a manufacturing
plant. Elton Mayo mainly studied the influence of the physical work environment on the
productivity of the employees. Further, he explored how lighting could have an impact on the
productivity of the workforce. His research resulted into the Hawthorne effect and the human
movement. Besides, the latter recognized how the social attributes and employee morale are
essential in impacting the productivity within the work environment. the movement also
theorized that the harmonious environment within the workplace coupled with a good
employee’s relationship between one another would result in a productive work environment.
Additionally, the second world war also resulted into a substantial development of the
industrial psychology. The initial instance was the requirement for quality machinery and its
increasing complexity became an impetus for the psychology on human attributes and in
effectively training the soldiers on operating the machines promptly. The second instance
involved the organizational psychologists being requested to help in the improvement of the
personnel selection and placement within the military. Thus, the psychologist continued from
the input implemented by the psychologists during the first world war (Powers, 2019).
However, after the war, there was a massive development in the organizational psychology,
since it was now applicable to other sectors and industries, and not merely in the recruitment
of soldiers in the military. Overall, in 1960s and 1990s, the topics within the field of
organizational psychology was developed and studied in depth, which incorporated certain
attributes of impacting the workplace productivity such as employee motivation, job
attitudes, and leadership and politics.
The models and theories of the organizational psychology are constrained by the
employment environment attributes and assumptions regarding the individuals that populate
them. The main theory that is applicable for the organizational psychology is the human
behavior theory, which are often consistent with the classic model that perceive behavior to
be the function of motivation and capabilities that an individual possess. Hence, some of the
human behavior theories view a person to be in the casual influences of the abilities, skills,
among other personal attributes while other models emphasize on the interpersonal factors in
attempt to explain the behavior of individuals within workplace settings (Coetzee, 2019).
Nevertheless, others mainly direct attention to the interaction of the two views. Therefore,
they posit that the attitude within the work setting is correlated to the rate of job satisfaction.
On the other hand, work motivation is an area that is mainly assessed by psychologists within
this field. For instance, the psychologists, Vroom, had significant contribution to the
organizational psychology by shifting the attention of industrial psychology to motivation.
Which resulted in the development of the expectancy theory, which posits that people select
their behavior depending on the anticipated consequences and outcome due to the behavior.
Hence, the theory maintains that it is only the rewards that are considered to be proportional
to the efforts given, which would motivate the employees to increase their productivity within
the company. this theory primarily entails three models encompassing of the expectancy,
instrumentality, and valence. The expectancy model basically refers to the belief that efforts
would result in better performance and is impacted by attributes that consists of the
availability of the necessary resources, appropriate skills, and adequate information for the
performance of the required job. The instrumentality refers to the belief that when an
individual performs exceptionally, a valid outcome is often anticipated. On the other hand,
the valence model denotes the significance linked to the person regarding the stipulated
Another theory applicable for the organizational psychology is the goal setting theory
of motivation, which was founded by Edwin Locke in 1960. It theorizes that goal setting has
a direct relationship with the task performance. hence, challenging goals along with feedback
would result in better task performance. the implementation and setting practical goals would
give the employees direction regarding the tasks and projects that require to be done and the
level of efforts and input that is needed (Schmidt, 2019). Therefore, willingness to work in
acquiring the stipulated objectives is considered as the main source of job motivation. Also,
challenging and specific goals are perceived to be the best motivation factors for the
employees compared to the general ones. Overall, the company must ensure that the set goals
are realistic and challenging since they given the employees a sense of pride after attaining
Research Methods
Similar to other professional, the researchers in the organizational psychology adopt
to various research methodologies to gather essential data and test their hypotheses. The most
universally used research methods in this field includes the experimental and quasiexperiments methods. The first research method that can be used by the researchers in
organizational psychologists is the experimental method. This method is often associated
with the study that is conducted within a laboratory, nonetheless, it can be effectively applied
within an actual workplace setting. The method is often preferred since it offers the
researchers a great control over the research setting, unlike other research methods, which is
perceived as a central factor in conducting research within a laboratory (Raulin & Graziano,
2019). Although the researcher has lesser control in the field experiments compared to the
laboratories, the research still maintains control to have strong conclusions in the field
experiments. Also, this strategy entails the researcher manipulating the levels systematically
of a single variable and then measures its influence on the other variable, in which one is
considered independent while the other dependent variable. For instance, in the Hawthorne
researches, the effect of lightening in the work productivity within the assembly line was the
dependent variable, the attention that the researchers paid on the employees portrayed an
extraneous variable which affected the productivity, and the dependent variable of the
Another strategy of research method is the quasi-experiment, which is applicable in
the case where the researcher does not have the control over the situation needed in running
the actual experiment. This method is closely related to the experimental research; however,
it is deemed as limited in that it lacks the manipulation of the independent variable and the
random assignment of the samples. Quasi-experiments are often common in the
organizational psychology because of the challenged in the control of the extraneous
variables (Raulin & Graziano, 2019). Besides, the analysis unit is typically groups or
companies rather than individuals. Hence, this strategy is extremely effective in the
comparison of the firm’s departments on certain variables. The researchers can try using the
strategy in measuring different potential extraneous variables, to mainly have control over
their impacts statistically, which helps in strengthening the findings from the quasiexperiments.
Empirical Studies
The study by Kozlowski & Bell (2001), provides an illustration regarding the
emergence of work groups and teams in the workplace environment. There has been a
remarkable transformation involving organizational structures globally. Even though there
are factors like technology, strategic, and economic imperatives which drive the
transformation, an aspect or more has been due to the change from work organized
individually to one that is team-based. Innovation and competition create pressure which
impact the emergence of teams to be the fundamental blocks of organizations. In turn, the
pressures create a requirement for experience and diverse skills. Additionally, it necessitates
rapid and flexible responses. It is through teams that these characteristics get enabled.
Organizations contain globalized operations by mergers and acquisitions, expansion putting
increased importance on the mixed cultural teams. The computer technologies also offer new
tools that link staff with their team in real time. This ongoing shift has captured researchers’
attention which is reflected through new theories for team functioning. The issue of team
research is now more focused on in the field of industrial/organizational psychology. The
article also provides the list of major issues which will shape work in this area. Most of the
content in the article contains other studies that further help in understanding the
organizational shift. The authors concluded by stating that teams exist in organizations and
the situation pushes the I/O field to change from science and activities solely focused on
individual levels to one that encompasses several levels such as team, individual, and
organization (Kozlowski & Bell, 2001). Additionally, since the teams take the place of
multilevel perspective, teams close gaps existing within an individual and the organization’s
system entirely. Moreover, teams challenge us in developing new methodologies, tools for
measurement, and new theories this will create opportunities for advances in practice and
theoretical innovation.
The second article by Thompson (2011) explores the strategies that organizations can
apply to retain millennials in the workplace. Millennials have a unique identity and
organizations try motivating and retaining them. The article states that understanding the
millennials is vital especially in devising retention strategies. Employers are advised to know
the motivational drivers for this specific demographic. Through the understanding of their
needs, organizations will be better placed in keeping them. Another characteristic of
millennials is that they have different levels of work engagement compared with other
generations. Employee engagement results in job satisfaction. Millennial’s report having high
job satisfaction levels. To retain millennials in the workforce, employers should promote
external engagement. Employers must create opportunities which they get to engage in.
Another means for retaining and motivating the millennials suggested by the article involves
the creation of self-development opportunities. The learning opportunities result in increased
retention rates since employees will feel valued when the organization offers investment in
their future. Another suggestion is that the recruitment and training efforts impact the
retention and motivation rates of employees. Therefore, organizations must there is an early
employee-manager relationship and training is adequate for millennials. They will want to
feel that the employer invests in them and regard the training opportunities and other
opportunities for growth as a demonstration of loyalty. Millennials also need support from
managers, and they hold the view that having an influential mentor will provide support.
Encouraging teamwork is another way to appeal to the millennials (Thompson, 2011). They
thrive in situations requiring teamwork. It has been a focus on the determination of their
careers. Millennials also need constant communication. Also, millennials feel better when
they solve problems and work collaboratively. They are comfortable if they have
opportunities to work with teams. The article offers several other solutions that will assist in
the retention and motivation of millennial employees. The changing dynamics involved in the
millennial issue is a vital one that will impact the workforce in years to come. Retention
research is ever-increasing that is specific to millennials. When the right strategies get
applied, employees stay longer. Organizations are therefore mandated to move with the tides
and customize their training and work roles according to millennials. It is the new reality for
The main occupation that is applicable for the individuals in the organizational
psychology includes the human resource director. The HR director is the executive position
that has numerous responsibilities, though the main responsibility is dealing with the
allocation of budgets and creating strategies. The primary difference between the HR
manager and director is attributed to their level of authority, in which the manager is involved
with daily job functions of the HR department whereas the director mainly focuses on bigger
issues like developing and enforcing the firm’s HR objectives, policies, and strategies. As the
HR director, there are a significant requirement to focus on the workers’ relation, particularly
the one that prohibits aspects of the workforce discrimination (Laine, Stenvall & Tuominen,
2017). The implication is that the employees have the right to work within a place that is free
from illegal acts of discrimination. Also, the position requires the individual to be proactive
rather than being reactive in the working environment to ensure that the working area is
guarded against unnecessary complaints form the workers concerning discrimination. Hence
the HR director must develop the effective employee relations approaches to create a
conducive working environment. overall, the HR director have the responsibility of assessing
and solving any issues that might arise within the working environment, which might cause
discrimination between the employer and employees.
the HR director also oversees hiring of new employees, and ensures that the
workforce is managed according to the firm’s standards. Hence, the HR director leads, plans,
and enforce management, recruitment, and employee relations policies. Therefor the HR
directors are expected to have the ability for strategic thinking, that is, the capability of
analytical and critical thinking. They also should have the knowledge and comprehension of
the business, organizational processes, and HR procedures. Besides, due that their
responsibilities include employees’ relations, they must have the capability of communicating
effectively and have the reliability to inspire trust among the workers. Lastly, they should
have strict adherence to the ethical standards implemented by the company. thus, the
knowledge of industrial psychology would be significant in relating with others, setting
practical objectives, and offering the ability to strategically think.
Application of specific curricular and extracurricular opportunities
Attaining adequate knowledge and skills in the field of interest in vert essential in
ensuring efficient service delivery to the company. hence, due to the aspiration in HR
director, the learning of industrial psychology is perceived as a great milestone to the
realization of this aspiration. As stated in the previous section, effective HR director would
require to be aware of the HR and organizational polices and other changes that the industry
can implement in the effective management of the employees. Hence, understanding of
effective communication skills and practicing both interpersonal and intergroup
communications within the class substantially impact the development of the HR director.
Another significant opportunity in the specific curricular chance is the exercise of
transparency and integrity in the different groups within the school, which will be important
in working with large groups within the company and aligning to the company’s ethics
standards. From the extracurricular opportunity perception, the attained exposer through
internship in various firms has significantly enhanced critical and analytical thinking which is
a central requirement for the HR directors. Thus, the exposure via internship has offered
wealthy skills that would be essential in performing the HR director responsibilities.
From the review, it is clear that industrial psychology has developed and evolved
since the introduction of psychology as a field and its main development during the first and
second world war. Hence industrial psychology has attained unprecedented attraction to
organization, especially in the HR department, as the firms are striving to ensure effective
employee relation and revolutionize the recruitment process.
Coetzee, M. (2019). SA Journal of Industrial Psychology: Annual editorial overview
2019. SA Journal of Industrial Psychology, 45(1), 1-6.
Kozlowski, S. W., & Bell, B. S. (2013). Work groups and teams in organizations.
Laine, P., Stenvall, J., & Tuominen, H. (2017). A Strategic role for HR: is it a competence
issue. Nordic Journal of Business, 66(1), 29-48.
Powers, K. (2019). History of Industrial Organizational Psychology. Workplace Psychology.
Raulin, M. L., & Graziano, A. M. (2019). Quasi-experiments and correlational studies.
In Companion Encyclopedia of Psychology (pp. 1122-1141). Routledge.
Schmidt, G. B. (2019). The need for goal-setting theory and motivation constructs in Lean
management. Industrial and Organizational Psychology, 12(3), 251-254.
Thompson, N. W. (2011). Managing the millennials: Employee retention strategies for
Generation Y.

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