What is Organizational Psychology?

What is Organizational Psychology?

An Explanation of Office & Workplace Psychology

Organizational psychology is a branch of psychology that is focused on group-type settings. Specifically, this field concentrates on office and workplace psychology. Organizational psychologists study the behaviors of people at work and the organization as a whole (Wuang, 2007). The goal of organizational psychology is to increase workplace productivity by focusing on the mental and physical well-being of the employees.

The Tools

Like other fields in psychology, research and statistics play a vital role in studying groups. Statistics are necessary for organizational psychology research for a number of reasons. Most importantly organizational psychologists use statistics is to make sense of numbers collected during the research process (Aron, Aron, & Coups, 2009). Just like other branches of science, psychologists form hypotheses and research questions. These questions need to have a method of testing and statistics provides the means for interpreting results. For example, if a researcher wants to correlate the number of people who have high levels of job satisfaction with variables such as age or years of service, the researcher would need to conduct interviews and ask individuals questions. Typically, research will include a number of questions designed to gain many different points of information, e.g. age, experience, position, etc…Statistics provide the mathematical method of organizing and comparing this data (Aron, Aron, & Coups, 2009). Researchers use both qualitative and quantitative methods in their research. Qualitative research is subjective and encompasses the researchers' opinion based on observations and interviews.

Researchers also use qualitative data which is time-consuming and less able to be generalized. Quantitative research is based on data collected from surveys or questionnaires. Quantitative data involves the analysis of the data whereas qualitative data is more obvious with its data (Aron, Aron, & Coups, 2009). One of the most widely used research methods for most companies is the employee survey (Wuang, 2007). These surveys have become the standard for organizational research due to their ability to gain information from employees (Wuang, 2007).

The Role

Organizational psychology plays a vital role in organizations because of its many uses. The organizational psychologist can help to improve organizational efficiency and overall success through the focus on group dynamics and communication styles. Organizational psychologists study the manner in which the groups within the workplace interact and form strategies that can be used to improve communications or to facilitate change. This area of research also allows for finding the best practices for leadership and which motivational tools are most effective.

One of the most successful examples of organizational psychology at work took place in the Hawthorne Studies. This early work in the organizational study was performed between 1927 and 1932. The Hawthorne study proved that the workplace should be viewed as a social system and not just a mechanical system of production. During this study of workers, the concept of social facilitation was uncovered (Aron, Aron, & Coups, 2009). This refers to the tendency in people to perform better at tasks when they are in the presence (or believing they are being watched) by other people. When people are being monitored or watched they tend to perform better or differently. This concept was first noticed and called the Hawthorne Effect. The Hawthorne Effect was discovered when workers modified their behavior simply because they were being watched (Aron, Aron, & Coups, 2009).

The True Value

Organizational psychology can also be used proactively to create policies, procedures, and structures. For instance lack of security is a major concern for many companies today. Companies such as Cisco use social engineering to create social awareness in the company (Wuang, 2007). Another way that organizational psychology can be used within an organization is to solve motivational problems (Wuang, 2007). This is usually the case when you have a situation of low morale or dissension within the corporate structure (Wuang, 2007). Organizational Psychology can assist by determining the causes of low morale and dissent. As stated earlier, organizational psychology can study employee and management behavior and bridge the gap between personal and corporate goals (Wuang, 2007). Other ways that organizational psychology is used in the corporate environment is to help define hiring processes, employee performance reviews, and setting up job competencies (Wuang, 2007). It can also be used to evaluate why certain individuals do not work well together, identify poor performers, identify employee dissatisfaction, and help companies strategize during times of change.

Organizational psychology continues to be a valuable tool in the workplace due to its ability to increase productivity and employee satisfaction. Many successful companies utilize organizational psychology which has led to many changes in the workplace such as the creation of and on-site daycare, health clubs, restaurants, clinics, and more within the workplace (Wuang, 2007). Organizational psychology continues to create better, more efficient, and productive workplaces.


Aron, A., Aron, E. N., & Coups, E. (2009). Statistics for psychology (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Wuang, M. (2007). Industrial/Organizational Psychology. In Discovering Psychology (4 ed.). New York.: Worth Publishers.


Triola Vincent. Wed, Jan 06, 2021. What is Organizational Psychology? Retrieved from

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