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Organizational Psychologist: The Business Shrink

By Edited May 20, 2015 0 2

So, most people know what a psychologist is.

It’s someone who listens to people’s problems. Okay, well that’s how they’re perceived, right?

Like most rumors and perceptions, there’s at least some truth to it. Psychologists are those who have sought to understand, explain, predict and change human behavior – and they’re either conducting research on behavior, teaching about it, or applying the research of it in some way.

Generally speaking, psychologists study one of two major areas of human life and behavior in what I call the psychospectrum:

1. Pain & Pathology (what’s wrong with people)

2. Personhood & Potential (what’s right with people)

Some psychologists are interested in fixing what’s wrong with people.

And some other psychologists are interested in helping people flourish.

Organizational Psychologists are interested in both, but they study, teach, and apply the study of these two areas of the psychospectrum within the context of an organization; like a business, a non-profit, an institution, a government agency.

An organizational psychologist’s primary focal point is the benefit of the organization, as opposed to the benefit of an individual’s life; which is the primary focal point in other areas of psychology.

As organizational psychologists, we want to learn (among other things) what motivates people at work, how to build great teams, how to improve communication, how to best lead others, how to explain culture in organizations and how to influence it. Because as it turns out, each of these areas affect the success of an organization. And they also affect what it’s like to work in that organization. 

No one wants to work for a company that sucks. So we’re learning (1) what makes the company sucky to work for, and (2) how to fix it.

But we’re also learning what makes a company awesome to work for. So we’re observing (1) what makes it awesome, and (2) learning how to replicate that awesomeness in organizations with different cultures, in different industries, and internationally.

So to wrap up - Organizational Psychologists exist to optimize an organization, and they exist to improve the lives of the human beings that make up that organization. So if you want your work-life not to suck, the best "expert" you could consult with would be an organizational psychologist.



Oct 12, 2012 8:46am
Nice distinction between the psychologist and the organizational psychologist. Are you one?
Oct 12, 2012 9:11am
I'm currently in a doctoral program for organizational psychology. :-) Thanks for reading!
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