Industrial psychology is a branch of behavioral science that directs its research and courses of study to business. It is not a new science. In fact one of the earlier books on the subject, Hugo Munsterberg’s “The Psychology of Industrial Efficiency” was published by Houghton Mifflin in 1913. Departments of management, design, production, pricing, marketing and distribution all benefit from knowledge of industrial psychology.
The psychology of work behavior is one form of industrial psychology. Attitudes of employees as related to their performance is a main theme. Variables in employee personalities and abilities are listed and situational and background differences are studied. The industrial psychologist also studies human mental and physical abilities, administering tests and assessing values and establishing job-related criteria. Human-error factors also are monitored, as are costs and causes of accidents.
Many management skills fall under the umbrella of industrial psychology. Managers must be educated concerning the area of employee supervision. Expertise in perception and assessment is required in order to make proper decisions as to whether to promote or admonish. Determination of training needs and abilities to resolve conflict are skills that managers would learn in their study of industrial psychology. Motivational tactics are imperative to the success of industry, thus the industrial psychologist also may devise financial or other incentives.
Environmental design is another area of industrial psychology. The psychology of the work space concerns the environment of the worker. Performance can be affected adversely or positively depending upon the employee’s surroundings. The industrial psychologist recommends physical arrangements, colors, noise, lighting and ergonomics.
Product design is another avenue of industrial psychology that is important to a successful business. A product that has been designed bearing safety, efficiency and desirability in mind may have a higher chance of being successful in the marketplace. The industrial psychologist can collect data and analyze buying trends to make recommendations for a feasible, salable design.
The overall function of the business may be evaluated by the industrial psychologist. Data relating to job descriptions and hierarchy may be studied and recommendations put forth.
- "Industrial Psychology," 6th ed.: Ernest J. McCormick and Joseph Tifflin; 1974
- Princeton Review: Major-Industrial Psychology
- Humboldt State University: What Can Industrial Psychology Do For You?