Dr. Patrick McCarthy's
Brief Outline of the
History of I/O Psychology


Psychology's formal "birthdate" as a science wasn't until 1879 (when Wilhelm Wundt established the first psychology laboratory). Of course, industrial and organizational psychology weren't established until sometime after that. Yet, many of the issues important to I/O psychology had been discussed long before then. Below are just a few examples.

  • Mid 1980's: increasing attention to use of quality circles and other participatory management techniques
  • Late 1980's: renewed interest in organizational climate and groups
  • Late 1980's: rise of participatory management techniques known by such terms as
    Total Quality Management (TQM), Continuous Quality Improvement (CQI), and
    Continuous Process Improvement (CPI)

  • 1990's: rise of meta-analysis as statistical technique (spurred by Hunter & Schmidt's 1990 book -- an extention of their 1977 Schmidt & Hunter journal article)
  • 1986: first ruling by U.S. Supreme Court on subject of sexual harassment
  • 1990's: rapid rise of attention to the issue in both employment law and psychology
  • Late 1980's & into the 1990's: work stress received increasing attention in I/O research, theory, and practice
  • Balancing work and family lives received increasing attention in I/O research in late 1980's, and again in mid/late 1990's
  • Workplace aggression / workplace violence emerged as topic of study in mid/late 1990's

    Copyright 2002 Patrick M. McCarthy
    All Rights Reserved

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    Last updated: 08 January 2002
    URL: http://www.mtsu.edu/~pmccarth/io_hist.htm
    Send comments to: pmccarth@mtsu.edu