Work psychology

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The industrial psychology is the branch of business psychology , which deals with the psychological dealing analysis, evaluation and design of work activities. The engineering psychology as a branch of psychology work here examined in particular the relationship between man and technology. The work psychology from the human engineering to distinguish which primarily examined the organizational aspects operatively institutionalized work processes.


Work in itself is not a psychological field of work, in contrast to economics . For this reason the question may well be asked what work does psychologically. The following points play a role:

  • Work can be understood as an assignment to people within work systems. The person takes on the assignment for himself as a task and gives the previous objective task a subjective value ( subjectifies it).
  • Work affects people in the short and long term and shapes them. It develops within its work activity, it is a product of its work.
  • People are active during work and act purposefully.

These aspects result in the following perspective for industrial psychology:

  • People must be able to regulate their work activity not only physiologically (physically) but also psychologically (emotionally and cognitively) . In particular, their conditions and effects. The task of industrial psychology is to create optimal opportunities and skills for the individual to act. The company looks at this perspective from the individual person ( bottom-up ).

The alternative to this perspective would be to look at people from the company's perspective ( top-down ). Here an attempt is made to align the goals of the individual with the goals of the company and is the subject of organizational psychology .

In practice, these considerations result in the following tasks for industrial psychology:

  1. Analysis of work systems and work activities
  2. Evaluation of these systems and activities according to human criteria ( contrastive task analysis ). This means that it is examined to what extent the demands of the workplaces meet people.
  3. Elaboration and implementation of design proposals that take people's needs into account. It must be taken into account that work must not only harm or impair people, but also encourage them to develop their personality, potential and competencies wherever possible.

The ergonomics is concerned with the design of human labor, but is more concerned with the optimization of the classic man-machine interfaces concerned. The equally from work psychology distinguishable human engineering , however, the relationships examined the working people to each other and is in this sense primarily a pragmatic and business-accented social psychology of the operation, which fall as a definitional element of - universal categorization - sometimes more metaphorical used business psychology can be seen . What is new and noteworthy is the systematic-integrative approach to occupational health promotion based on occupational psychology , which aims to optimize work-organization-technology and individual behavior systematically and in a participation-oriented manner in order to build up personal and operational resources with regard to work and health. In this sense, this approach represents the integrative attempt to implement the psychological work design criterion “health promotion” in a procedurally secured manner.

In the case of company-related work psychological or work analytical issues, the evaluation of psychological stress is the focus of interest, which has to do with the rapid increase in mentally-related sick leave.


With the industrial revolution , questions relevant to work psychology were raised for the first time without the actual term being used. Charles Babbage tried at the beginning of the 19th century to reduce the value of labor by lowering qualification requirements (see Babbage principle ). In 1890, Professor Emil Kraepelin from Heidelberg began laboratory experiments on hygiene at work , as he called it, and tried to research the relationships between fatigue and exercise from an industrial psychological perspective. At the beginning of the 20th century, organizational sociology provided further foundations . a. grappling with the alienation of work and bureaucracy. In the 1950s, Eric Lansdown Trist and Frederick Edmund Emery coined the term socio-technical systems , and it was recognized that humans also play a central role in production systems with extensive automation . In the mid-1970s, Winfried Hacker published the theoretically very powerful draft of a general work psychology, which is based on the concept of psychological action regulation ("cognitive activity theory") and has significantly expanded the analysis, evaluation and design possibilities of work psychology.

Since then, an action regulation theory understood in this way has u. a. in the field of psychological analysis, evaluation and holistic design of interactive human-machine systems in the concept of engineering psychology, a sub-area of ​​industrial psychology, or software ergonomics. This made it possible to adequately describe the new type of work emerging in the age of flexible automation and computer-aided communication and to offer corresponding procedural design options.


In addition to concrete analyzes, theories in industrial psychology are often based on an image of man . In the course of history, different images of man have been developed, which have replaced after a paradigm shift . Today, for example, industrial psychology does not see humans and technology as competing but rather complementary factors; one also speaks of a complementary system approach and tries to define the division of human-machine functions in work processes accordingly. According to this, functions should always be redundant in humans and in technology. Depending on your needs, you can choose whether an activity is carried out manually or automatically.

Furthermore, industrial psychology claims to analyze the individual work tasks of the workers, the work organization and the specific interfaces between man and machine and to make them optimally stressful and health-promoting.

In this respect, occupational psychological activity has recently been linked to the interdisciplinary approach to workplace health promotion . Conceptual modifications in the central criteria of work psychological behavior clearly demonstrate this.


Web links

Wiktionary: industrial psychology  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. Schüpbach, H. (2013). Industrial and organizational psychology (UTB basics series). Munich: Ernst Reinhardt.
  2. a b Winfried Hacker: General industrial psychology . Verlag Hans Huber, 2005, ISBN 3-456-84249-X
  3. ^ Emil Kräpelin: On the hygiene of work. Verlag Fischer, Jena 1896
  4. ^ Emil Kraepelin: The work curve . in Wilhelm Wundt's Philosophical Studies Volume 19, 1902, pp. 459–507