A History of Industrial and Organizational Psychology

Laura L. Koppes Bryan and Andrew J. Vinchur

in The Oxford Handbook of Organizational Psychology, Volume 1

Published in print July 2012 | ISBN: 9780199928309
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

A History of Industrial and Organizational Psychology

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  • History and Systems in Psychology



This chapter is a historical overview of the evolution of industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology both in the United States and abroad, from the late nineteenth century to its current incarnation as a complex, wide-ranging scientific and applied discipline. Contextual background is integrated with the development of science and practice from a chronological perspective, partitioning this history into seven somewhat arbitrary time periods. Following a discussion of pre-1900 precursors, we discuss the genesis of the field from 1900 to 1914, when dynamic cultural, economic, and other external forces influenced early efforts in areas such as advertising, fatigue, and selection. Industrial psychology became established from 1915 through 1919, due in large part to the work of the Division of Applied Psychology at the Carnegie Institute of Technology and to psychologists’ efforts in World War I. The period of 1920 to 1939 included the influential Hawthorne Studies and the maturation of industrial psychology, while 1940 to 1959 saw considerable expansion during World War II and its aftermath. This expansion continued during the period of 1960 to 1979, with “industrial” psychology now “industrial-organizational” psychology. We close with an overview of developments from 1980 to the present day.

Keywords: History of Psychology; industrial-organizational psychology

Article.  38317 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Organizational Psychology ; History and Systems in Psychology

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