Business leaders seem to know very little about the value of business psychology in the workplace—but having an understanding of the discipline can improve business performance and productivity says Chartered Psychologist, Dr Michelle Hunter-Hill.
Contrary to public opinion, the discipline and practice of business/occupational psychology is not in its infancy. The application of psychology to the workplace dates back to 1900’s. It begun with the publication of Hugo Munsterberg’s book called “Psychology and Industrial Efficiency” and Sir Fredrick Taylor book called “Scientific Management”, which discussed ways to improve productivity through use of psychological training and motivation. Furthermore, psychology was heavily relied upon during World War I – predominantly to assign recruits into certain jobs and for evaluating the performance of soldiers. Following the war in 1924, the Hawthorne Studies were conducted, which further demonstrated how psychology could be used to enhance worker productivity.
Business psychology, as defined by Jack C. Naylor, is the “scientific application or extension of psychological facts and principles to the problems concerning human beings operating within the context of business and industry”. Put simply, it applies psychological knowledge to understand behaviours and tackle problems at work.