Psychology as a field is composed of many different areas. When thinking of psychology, the person on the street probably imagines the clinical psychologist who studies and treats dysfunctional behavior or maybe the criminal psychologist who has become familiar due to popular TV shows such as Law & Order. I/O psychology may be underrepresented on TV, but it is a fast-growing and influential branch of psychology.
What is I/O psychology? Briefly, it can be defined as the scientific study of behavior in organizational settings and the application of psychology to understand work behavior. In other words, while general psychology concerns itself with behavior of individuals in general, I/O psychology focuses on understanding employee behavior in work settings. For example, they ask questions such as: How can organizations recruit and select the people they need in order to remain productive? How can organizations assess and improve the performance of their employees? What work and non-work factors contribute to the happiness, effectiveness, and well-being of employees in the workplace? How does work influence non-work behavior and happiness? What motivates employees at work? All of these important queries fall within the domain of I/O psychology. Table 1 presents a list of tasks I/O psychologists may perform in their work. This is an extensive list, and one person will not be responsible for all these tasks. The I/O psychology field prepares and trains individuals to be more effective in performing the tasks listed in this table.