The fundamentals of industrial psychology

Taslim Ahammad | Published: October 16, 2018 20:58:25 | Updated: October 16, 2018 21:27:32

Industrial psychology is almost as old as psychology itself. It is a branch of applied psychology that deals with the science of psychology with an aim to enhance the efficiency and productivity of workers.

Industrial psychology is the study of people in workplaces as individuals, groups and the relationship between individuals and groups. It is also concerned with the study of human behaviour in various aspects of industry and business; for example, the production, distribution of goods and services. Industrial psychology studies human behaviour in order to obtain information that can be applied to very practical goals to help solve industrial problems.

The industrial side of industrial psychology is involved with considering the best way to match individuals with specific functional roles. Psychologists working in this area may assess the characteristics of employees and then match those individuals with jobs where they are likely to perform well professionally and personally. Other functions on the industrial side of industrial psychology include staff training, the development of performance criteria and job performance measurement. The industrial side of psychology focuses more on understanding how organisations affect individual behaviour. Industrial structures, social norms, management methods and role expectations are all factors that can influence people's behaviour within the institution.

At first, the most important problem faced by industrial psychology was professional choice. Analysis of differences in productivity of workers who received almost the same training led to the thought of fairly stable individual differences in professional competence. Special tests were introduced to quantify this competency and carry out professional selection. It eventually became necessary to study the psychology of different professions.

This has led to the discovery that differences in behaviour, interests and motivation drive individuals to prefer a particular profession. Special vocational guidance offices have been organised to help adolescents choose careers. A branch can be created in industrial psychology called 'vocational guidance and consultation'. Specialised research can be conducted on the development of skills and professional qualities that are important for different types of work. This section of industrial psychology can seek to make recommendations for improving teaching methods and implementing various training and exercise programmes.

A key area of industrial psychology is 'learning and development'. Professionals in this area often try to determine what type of skills are necessary to perform specific jobs as well as develop and evaluate employee training programmes.  There is also 'staff selection', which involves developing employee selection assessments, such as screening tests to determine if the job applicant is qualified for a particular position. Another area of industrial psychology is 'performance management'. This area determines whether those working in a factory or workplace are doing their work efficiently.

 'Work life balance' is another area that focuses on improving staff satisfaction and maximising the productivity of the labour force. Industrial psychologists in this area work to find ways to make jobs more rewarding or design programmes that develop the quality of life in the workplace.

Industrial psychology also studies changes in efficiency due to fatigue and daily activity cycle. It also seeks to identify optimal work schedules to reduce differences in labour productivity and quality throughout the working day, working week, and so on.  Modern industrial psychology works to develop special methods for measuring fatigue and low efficiency. Industrial psychology has gathered a wealth of materials on efficiency and reflection, how the individual is affected by working conditions, the nature of operations that are carried out, monotony or work risk, unusual and scary working conditions, individual motivation, and the development of individual needs and abilities in the process of collective action.

Industrial psychology seeks rational restructuring of various professions, expressing the most psychologically useful ways in which the processes of a profession can be grouped together, and formulating the scientific basis for enabling automation. All this is very important in raising labour productivity. The study of psychological factors leading to accidents led to the creation of special methods for career selection and accident prevention through special training methods.

A number of special trends have emerged in occupational psychology, including psychology for pilots, astronauts, transport operators, assembly line workers and agricultural workers. These trends emerged after studying the psychological characteristics of specific types of work, compiling detailed descriptions of occupations and professional activities that evaluate how to use a person's mental characteristics and abilities, and identifying professionally desired personality traits.

Given the contemporary scientific and technological revolution, industrial psychology can study new conditions and forms of human effort, as well as potential facilitators. It is also applied to study new professions and employment requirements using advanced technology. Industrial psychology is closely related to sociology of work, social psychology, engineering psychology, organisational and economic psychology, economics, industrial ethics, biotechnology, physiology and personal hygiene of employment, autobiography, administrative disciplines, applied mathematics and metrology, and technical aesthetics.

Taslim Ahammad is an Assistant Professor at Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman Science and Technology University, Gopalganj, Bangladesh.

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