Industrial Organizational Psychology (also known as IO Psych, I-O Psych, Business Psychology, and on and on and on) is the practice of taking known concepts of human behavior or thought and applying them to an organization/company. No, no, I don’t mean analyze someone for how crazy they are or providing counseling to stressed coworkers and no “IO” doesn’t stand for “Input-Output.” Industrial Organizational Psychology is more often about how we can improve upon how an organization or business runs by meddling with the people who work there. This can be changing employee workgroups, altering the way that employees are chosen for jobs, or even just improving on the culture and structure of the workplace. Industrial Organizational Psychology is often used to the benefit of both employer and employee.
Industrial Organizational Psychology: Pirates of Psychology
I like to think of those practicing Industrial Organizational Psychology as the “Pirates of Psychology” – we get to take ideas from all other branches studying human behavior and apply it to best business practices. Take personality for instance. Almost everyone has taken one of those Facebook or Buzzfeed quizzes on “Which Game of Thrones Charter are you?” I came up Tyrion Lannister, by the way. Those tests are really basic versions of personality tests. Social and experimental psychologists have created, retested, revised and improved other personality tests that can accurately describe a person’s personality (to greater detail than labeling them as being like a TV character). Industrial Organizational Psychology experts get to take it a step further: we administer that test and determine if specific personality types are better suited for certain jobs. If that can be shown to be true, then we can help businesses hire the best employees for given jobs.
Industrial Organizational Psychology at Work
This idea is also being applied consumer behavior. Have you ever heard about how grocery stores place merchandise to be at certain places in the store so you are more likely to buy them? Like how candy is always at checkout, items they want to have higher sell-through are at eye level and have some additional promotion, or something says “buy 2 for $4” when really each item ALWAYS costs $2? You know you bought two – we all have. That is Industrial Organizational Psychology at work; taking lessons learned in human behavior and using it to increase sales.
The Future of Industrial Organizational Psychology
In today’s technology centric world, we all carry around a personal human behavior tracking device. I am talking about your phone! Technology today is a constant source of information about what we buy, what we like, and how we behave. Right now, there are psychologists working with computer programmers and SEO experts to create behavior profiles from our online activity. It won’t be long before we know that as Bobby “liked” Jimmy’s picture of a cat, that he is a cat person, and maybe cat people are introverted and buy lots of books to read, so he is a great person to advertise to about upcoming novels. Or maybe, Janice Tweeted about her Foursquare check-in at Bob’s Burgers five times in one week, so she is more likely to visit places that serve French fries and have a presence in social media.
It is a Brave New World and Industrial Organizational Psychology will teach you how to work in it.
Are you looking for someone to take a look into your organization? Get in touch and we can continue the conversation!