What is Occupational Psychology

Google’s definition of occupational psychology, “the study of human behaviour at work, including methods of selecting personnel, improving productivity, and coping with stress”, is both completely accurate and extremely oversimplified.

Occupational psychology takes all the research, theory and understanding of psychology and applies it to humans in their workplace. What this means is that there are many different lenses through which we can investigate each element of the working world.

For example, the topic of ‘leadership’ is a big area of interest to almost any industry and organisation, but there is not a one-size-fits-all theory that everyone can simply implement. Occupational psychologists can look at leadership through the lens of:

  • Attachment theory
  • Personality theories
  • Minority influence
  • Cognitive problem solving
  • Positive psychology, etc.

Although research in occupational psychology can certainly offer us some generalisations, it is best conducted in context. To continue this example, you may be interested in developing the current leaders in your business, which could be done in many ways. Working with a psychologist can help you determine if the best way for you is to develop a new leadership training structure for everyone, reassess your measurement tools for determining what a good leader looks like, develop new ways for leaders to connect with those they lead, and so on.

Often the biggest benefit of working with an occupational psychologist is that they can help to draw out the real questions. Problems and challenges that business leaders see on the surface might not reflect the underlying cause.

There are as many topic areas under occupational psychology as there are human concerns. The top ones that are most often referred to are:

  • Leadership, motivation and engagement
  • Learning, training and development
  • Psychological assessment
  • Wellbeing at work
  • Work design, organisational change and development

But more can include:

  • Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Reward and Recognition
  • Staff / Client interaction
  • Communication
  • Creativity and Problem Solving
  • Innovation and Strategic Thinking

If you are interested, but aren’t sure if your project idea is in scope, get in touch for a call.