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What Is I-O Psychology?



IMPORTANT: The following description of Industrial and Organizational (I-O) psychology is perhaps one of the best I’ve seen. I’ve slightly edited the wording (shortened and combined some parts, and expanded on others) but the entire piece was taken from APA Handbook of Industrial and Organizational Psychology (2011).

Industrial and Organizational (I-O) psychology is a subfield of psychology that studies people, their behavior (performance of tasks) in a working environment, and the settings in which people work and function, in order to gain a better understanding of behavior and how it can be influenced, changed, and enhanced to benefit the employees and the organizations.

To put it simply: Industrial and Organizational (I-O) Psychology is the study of people, work behavior, and work settings to understand how behavior is influenced, changed, and enhanced to benefit employees and organizations.

I-O psychology focuses on three aspects:

1. the person, the worker;
2. the work (tasks) that is (are) being performed; and
3. the context in which the work is performed.

The two fundamental goals of I-O psychology are (1) to understand the behavior (performance of tasks) of people in a work setting; how people can become effective, satisfied, fulfilled, and rewarded; and how these outcomes can be maintained, and (2) to study how the organization can be sustained and developed and applying psychological principles, theory, research, and interventions in order to design and implement practical solutions to solve organizational challenges.


Zedeck, S. (Ed.). (2011). APA handbook of industrial and organizational psychology: Vol. 1. Building and developing the organization. American Psychological Association.

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