7 answers

What is I/O Psychology?

Asked Carson, California

Can anyone in the field give me an explanation as to what it is and what they do? Thanks! #industrial-organizational-psychology

7 answers

Janie’s Answer

Updated Lawrenceville, Georgia

I'm getting a Master's degree in this right now. Industrial / organizational psychology is all about using evidence-based research to help organizations make decisions about their work force, including people and policies.

There are a lot of things you can do with this degree. For example, you can do almost any human resources related function, do freelance consulting or consult with a firm, recruiting, talent development, talent acquisition, training, and organizational development. I currently work in training and development and have a management background, and I hope to leverage my degree into a training director role. I would definitely recommend visiting siop.org to learn about programs in your area and I-O in general.

Ibrahim’s Answer

Updated Troy, Michigan

Industrial Organizational Psychology has many aspects of it's profession. There is not one set answer for what a IO Psychologist does. Accentually they are a Psychologist within the work place trying to make a company more efficient and successful, applying the psychological skills learned. IO Psych can also be a way of understanding consumer behavior, such as an engineer creates a device, then gives it to the IO Psychologist to test it and see if the device is comprehendible from a consumer standpoint. Meaning the IO psychologist will test the device and play with it to see if an older person can use the device without great difficulty. So the IO Psychologist will think about the device from the consumer standpoint; such as thinking about using the device from a older person's perspective.

IO Psychologist also create a workplace that is more welcoming to employees, they provide companies with employee talent management, and finding the best fit employees for their companies.

azadeh’s Answer

Updated Johns Creek, Georgia

It means Industrial and Organizational Psychology. The job of an industrial-organizational psychology (or I/O psychology) is about working and studying of human behavior in organizations and the work place. Their job can has 3 part. 1-Before a person starts a job ( before hiring) , 2-during hiring(at the first step of working), 3-after a person hires.

Before a person starts to get a job: an I/O psychologist tests people to make sure this person’s character matches to that job.

At the first step of getting a job: an I/O psychologist can give some information to people about how they behave in their jobs to be more successful. For example; an I/O psychologist can teach sellers how to behave to can satisfy people from buying a product

After hiring: There are some jobs which are so sensitive. For example, an I/O psychologist is necessary to periodically check pilots to make sure the pilot is normal enough and isn’t dangerous for keep working.

Natasha’s Answer


Hi Clifford,

Great question! It took me a very long time to learn what I/O psychology was (I learned about it between 3rd and 4th year of my undergraduate) so you're very ahead of where I was.

You asked: What is I/O Psych?

The field of industrial and organizational psychology applies the science of human thinking and behaviour to the workplace. All organizations, from government to non-profit to for-profit companies are targets of research in I/O psychology. Some questions the field of I/O psych might ask include:

- Why do people leave their jobs? Is it because of their manager? Their pay? Stress on the job? All of these?

- Are interviews helpful when hiring? Are they fair? Are they the best way of hiring people?

- How can we make sure teams work well together and don't end up hating each other? (this is my favourite and the focus of my graduate school research)

and lots more.

You then asked: What do I/O Psychologists do?

We generally work in one of three different areas: academics (including teaching and research), consulting companies, or inside organizations. Academics spend most of their time creating new research and teaching/mentoring students. Consultants help other companies understand I/O psychology and how it can help their organization. People working inside organizations usually implement new fixes to make the company a better place to work.

Here is a list of job titles than someone might have if they studied I/O Psychology:


That website, www.siop.org, is really helpful for learning about I/O psych as it's the international organization that brings us I/O folks together.

Happy to answer any other questions about this topic!

Natasha recommends the following next steps:

  • Explore www.siop.org to understand what I/O psych is
  • Explore scienceforwork.com/en/ to see examples of some easy-to-understand research from I/O psych
  • Search some of the job titles in my post above (i.e., psychometrician, organizational development managing) on LinkedIn to see what requirements they have, what tasks they do, and what kind of companies hire people from I/O psychology

Bob’s Answer

Updated Seattle, Washington

I/O Psychology is the study of people at work. This can include which aspects of a business (the culture, pay, benefits, physical environment) best help people to perform and which characteristics of people (their intelligence, personality, behaviors) lead to stronger performance. I/O psychologists can work at the individual level (e.g., coach an executive, assess the skills of a potential employee) or the organizational level (help teams perform better, measure the culture of an organization).

I/O Psychologists can work in universities doing research, in corporations, or for consulting firms. Many cross multiple boundaries (I am in consulting but also teach at a university as an adjunct). If you study I/O Psychology you will learn such things as personality theories and models, how to measure work performance and job demands, how to create surveys and the dynamics of teams/groups/organizations. At the Masters and Ph.D. level you will also spend a lot of time learning statistics and research design.

I suggest looking up I/O Psychology programs as many have a good description of what students will get out of the program. The Society of Industrial/Organizational Psychology (SIOP) has a website that also provides very good information on careers in the field.

Saquib’s Answer

Updated Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

I/O Psychologists come in a wide range of specialties. We study training, leadership, mentoring, selection, promotion, organizational change, diversity, and (the almighty) performance, just to name a few. And, I/O’s don’t just study. I/O Psychology hinges on a scientist-practitioner model, with some of us studying what’s right, what’s wrong (and why) and how to make it better, while others work with or in organizations implementing our discoveries about what really drives performance and engagement at work.

Farhana’s Answer

Updated Newport News, Virginia

Industrial and organizational psychology, which is also known as occupational psychology, organizational psychology, and work and organizational psychology, is an applied discipline within psychology.