18 Industrial–Organizational Psychology

History of Psychology

  1. Laura Koppes Bryan PhD1,
  2. Andrew J. Vinchur PhD2

Published Online: 26 SEP 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781118133880.hop201020

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition

How to Cite

Bryan, L. K. and Vinchur, A. J. 2012. Industrial–Organizational Psychology. Handbook of Psychology, Second Edition. 1:18.

Author Information

  1. 1

    The University of West Florida, School of Psychological and Behavioral Sciences, Pensacola, Florida, USA

  2. 2

    Lafayette College, Department of Psychology, Easton, Pennsylvania, USA

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 26 SEP 2012


This chapter takes a contextual approach to the history of industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology in the United States, focusing on factors within and outside of psychology. Following an examination of the evolution of content in I-O psychology through a review of selected textbooks and other material, we discuss the influence of scientific psychology, focusing on late-19th- and early-20th-century factors such as functionalism and scientific pragmatism. Advances in statistics and measurement, particularly the measurement of individual differences, follow. The impact on I-O psychology of socioeconomic forces such as the state of the economy, unionization, and societal views about work and organizations are reviewed. Our discussion of the effect of changes in business and technology includes coverage of consulting firms and the Hawthorne studies; while the impact of the military demonstrates the importance of World Wars I and II on the history of the field. Discussion of the impact of the legal system concentrates on the post-1950s era of civil rights legislation and court decisions. We conclude by examining the history of professional and educational issues in I-O psychology, including employment trends, professional organizations, and the quest for a separate professional identity.


  • history of industrial-organizational psychology;
  • industrial psychology;
  • organizational psychology;
  • industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology