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It’s Usually Just Clinical

2009 July 21

PsyBlog, one of the more popular psychology blogs, has a piece up listing a variety of “superb psychology blogs” and surprise, surprise – it’s all clinical, cognitive, and social, with a dab of neuroscience, with not a dab of I/O to be found.

Not that this is PsyBlog’s fault, of course.  It’s just another example of the lack of visibility of the areas of psychology outside those traditionally considered most “interesting” – those dealing with clinical disorder, social habits, and the brain.

But I/O is interesting too, really!  We (try to) answer questions like:

  1. Are leaders born or made?
  2. How do people learn?
  3. How should managers judge subordinate job performance?
  4. Are people happy with their work?
  5. What happens at home when you’re stressed at work?
  6. What happens at work when you’re stressed at home?
  7. How does personality influence work?
  8. When are teams useful?
  9. What can we do about discrimination?
  10. What are the effects of harassment at work?
  11. What happens when people are angry at work?
  12. What leads to sudden career change?
  13. What happens when people get burned out at their jobs?

In the United States, full time is 40 hours/week, which means people spend roughly 25% of their prime years (18-67) at work.  On top of that, much of what happens at work bleeds over into quality of home life and even quality of sleep, which means that many I/O topics have as much of an impact on people’s lives as anything in clinical or social psychology.  Which is exactly why it is so frustrating that no one seems to realize it outside of I/O – a frustration that runs so deep that many I/O psychologists want to change our society’s name to help address the problem.

So the best way to depress an I/O psychologist and make them laugh simultaneously?  Just ask the last time someone called them a therapist.

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  1. Fletcher permalink
    July 21, 2009

    I never understood that. To me, the “traditionally interesting” subdomains of psychology are nigh on deathly boring. They don’t say much beyond what’s intuitively obvious, they’re replete with poor research practices and pseudoscience, etc. etc.

    I don’t get why anyone would think dredging through the DSM-IV is more interesting than designing an employee selection system. Clinical psychology just seems like so much wasted effort to me.

  2. July 22, 2009

    I can’t say I’m surprised. I/O flies so under the radar that many psychologists don’t even know about it.

    I suspect that a name change won’t fix the problem, though I am not entirely sure it would hurt either. Perhaps the easiest thing to do is include it in Intro Psychology Courses and text books. I taught this course as recently as two years ago and many of the textbooks I had available did not include a chapter on I/O psychology. Even when they did, many other instructors did not cover the chapter because it was not a curriculum requirement.

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