Psychology, Industrial

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Psychology, Industrial


a branch of applied psychology devoted to the psychological aspects and laws of human labor. Industrial psychology came into existence in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, at a time when industrial production was expanding, new types of labor and common occupations were emerging, and greater demands were being made on the individual.

The emergence of industrial psychology is linked to the beginning of the scientific organization of labor. At first, the most important problem faced by industrial psychology was that of vocational selection. An analysis of differences in the productivity of workers who had received approximately the same training led to the thought that more or less stable individual differences existed with regard to vocational aptitude. Special tests were created to evaluate this aptitude quantitatively and carry out vocational selection. It became necessary to study thoroughly the psychology of various occupations. This led to the discovery that differences in dispositions, interests, and motivations impel individuals to prefer a given profession. Special career guidance bureaus were organized to assist adolescents in choosing a profession. A special branch in industrial psychology was created: vocational guidance and consultation. Specialized research was conducted on the development of the professional skills and qualities that are important for various types of work. This branch of industrial psychology seeks to provide recommendations for improving teaching methods and implementing various training and exercise programs.

Another important branch of industrial psychology studies variations in efficiency due to fatigue and the daily activity cycle. It also seeks to determine optimal work schedules so as to minimize variations in work productivity and quality throughout the workday, workweek, and so on. Contemporary industrial psychology is developing special methods to measure fatigability and the decrease of efficiency. In this respect, industrial psychology is closely related to the physiology of labor. It has accumulated a wealth of material on efficiency and fatigability and on how the individual is influenced by working conditions, the nature of operations performed, the monotony or danger of work, unusual and extreme working conditions, the individual’s motivation, and the development of the individual’s needs and capacities in the collective labor process.

Industrial psychology seeks the rational restructuring of various professions, articulation of the most psychologically beneficial way a profession’s component operations can be put together, and formulation of the scientific basis of expedient automation; this is all very important in raising the productivity of labor. Industrial psychologists coordinate their efforts with specialists in mechanization and automation. The study of the psychological factors leading to accidents has led to the creation of special methods to effect vocational selection and prevent accidents by means of special exercise and training techniques.

A number of special directions in the psychology of professions have emerged, including the psychology of aviators, cosmonauts, transport operators, assembly-line workers, and agricultural workers. These directions emerged after the study of the psychological characteristics of specific types of work, compilation of detailed descriptions of professions and professional activity that evaluate how a person’s mental characteristics and capacities are utilized, and determination of professionally desirable personality traits.

Both experimental and analytical methods play an important role in industrial psychology. One method involves special exercises that make use of various devices to simulate the basic characteristics of a given profession. Methods of variational statistics also play an important role.

In view of the contemporary scientific and technological revolution, industrial psychology is called on to study the new conditions and forms of human labor, as well as possible stimulating factors. It is also called on to study new professions and the requirements of labor employing advanced technology. Industrial psychology is closely linked to the sociology of labor, social psychology, engineering psychology, organizational and economic psychology, economics, industrial ethics, biotechnology, the physiology and hygiene of labor, cybernetics, administrative disciplines, applied mathematics, qualimetry, and technical aesthetics.


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The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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