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Learning Center Experience
By Dr. Shaneika A. Dilka, Adjunct Faculty, Graduate Psychology Deparment
Whatis industrial and organizational psychology,
or I/O psychology? In the spring of 2008, I began my doctoral program in
organizational psychology. In the years that followed, I have provided various answers
to this question.
“Business psychology…The study of human behavior in
organizations…Psychology of the workplace…The same psychology you’re thinking
of, just on a larger scale, in an organization, like at your job, for
The situation in which the question was asked played a major
role in which answer was given, how much detail was provided, and whether a
real discussion followed. The unfortunate reality is that when the question was asked in passing, time often
did not, and does not, allow for the unique, diverse nature of the field of I/O
psychology to be wholly explained and understood.
As an organizational psychologist, my area of focus is
somewhat narrow, but that speaks to the diversity of the field. I/O psychology,
on a broad level, applies psychological principles to resolving a variety of
issues that arise in the workplace or other organizational settings. What this
means is that there are individuals, often working behind the scenes, to figure
out the “what, why, and how” of the problems that exist in organizations. These
individuals, I/O practitioners, I/O psychologists, organizational
psychologists, consultants, etc., use scientific approaches based in
psychological research and theory to examine common (and not so common)
problems we see in our workplaces every day.
The Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology
(SIOP), Division 14 of the American Psychological Association (SIOP, 2016)
identifies the major areas of focus for I/O psychologists. In every stage of
the organizational process, there is an active role for an I/O psychologist to affect
positive change within the organization, in all sectors of any industry,
including, but not limited to the following:
In January of 2016, SIOP launched an amazing informational
campaign designed to provide those who are less connected with the field a
broad scope of information related to I/O psychology, calling the initiative Science for a Smarter Workplace (SIOP,
2016). The video, which is slightly over 4 minutes long, is included in the
references below and is recommended viewing.
My experience in I/O psychology has had a different appearance.
With much of my professional experience being in behavioral health services, a
path was paved to working with a specific population, to whom I have been very
committed. Fortunately, I was given opportunities to expand my skills beyond
what might be considered general behavioral health work and was able to master
competencies in organizational development, group facilitation, and training,
research activities through administration, analyses, interpretation, and
presentation of massive amounts of unit data and recommendations for change in
various organizational levels. These were all experiences that enhanced my
ability to become the organizational psychologist I am today. Concurrently, I
was able to teach at the university level, specializing in psychology and
business management, further honing those skills, encouraging others to seek
their own unique “calling.”
Although much of my experience has been completed in the
government sector and private, for-profit educational institutions, I/O
psychologists and their counterparts exist and are change makers in all types
of organizations ranging from corporate powerhouses to smaller, not-for-profit
The academic preparation afforded through an education in I/O psychology will either supplement an existing skill set or provide a new set of tools with
which one can enter the workplace or any organization and accomplish the ultimate
goal of any I/O psychologist or practitioner, to make the organization perform
SIOP. (2016). Industrial and organizational psychology.
Retrieved from http://www.siop.org/history/crsppp.aspx
SIOP. (2016, January
19). Science for a smarter workplace
[Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oG5ew9rhkBg
Shaneika A. Dilka
is a professor at Kaplan University. The views expressed in this article are
solely those of the author and do not represent the view of Kaplan University.
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