When most people think of psychology, they picture a person with a notepad looking down on a troubled individual lying on a couch. In reality, this captures only one tiny segment of the field of psychology. One of the least known, yet most used and currently relevant, areas of this field is Organizational Psychology. This article will explain what it is and how to pursue it as a career.


Often referred to as Industrial-Organizational(IO) Psychology, this area of psychology concerns interactions between people in the workplace. IO psychologists apply psychological information and practices to solve issues and improve moral between superiors and staff, as well as between coworkers. They assist human resources professionals in hiring the right employees and treating them properly when letting them go. They help bosses place their staff most efficiently, motivate their employees, and create positive workplace cultures. They help businesses create success by organizing structure and studying consumer needs and wants.

How IO Psychology Works

IO psychologists accomplish these tasks in a number of ways. They introduce reward systems, both internal and external, to help motivate employees. Internal reward includes things like praise, while external includes things like bonuses and benefits. The Global Institute for Research & Education explains that according to Herzberg’s Theory of Motivation, employees who are motivated work more efficiently.

IO psychologists conduct a wide variety of surveys. They use them to find out customer demands and satisfaction. They are helpful in assessing employee morale, goals, and opinions, especially those they are not comfortable divulging directly to their superiors.

IO Settings

There are many settings in which to work as an IO Psychologists. Here are the most common:

  • They might be on the staff at a specific company, working only for that company.
  • They might work for an IO organization that sends IO Psychologists to multiple workplaces. These organizations might conduct a wide variety of IO tasks, or they might focus on one type in particular.
  • They might set up a private practice and work under contract with companies they form partnerships with.

Educational Path

Those who find this information to be an inspiration for a future career should start by earning a bachelor’s Degree in IO Psychology. From there, it might be advisable to earn either master’s degree or doctorate in IO Psychology, depending on opportunities and career goals. Someone who simply wishes to move to an advanced position within their current organization might be satisfied at the bachelor’s level. Those looking to break into a whole new career, practice privately, research, or teach at the college level might choose to progress to the master’s or doctorate.

Organizational Psychology is a growing and relevant field. It is an excellent option for those interested in psychology but not wanting to work in the clinical setting. As long as there are companies with diverse individuals working on a common goal, there will be a need for organizational psychologists.