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What’s the difference between I/O psychology and business psychology?

If you’re interested in applying psychology to the business world, you’re likely interested in the industrial and organizational psychology and business psychology fields.

Psychology has so many areas of study: clinical psychology, forensic psychology, educational psychology, and the list goes on.

If you’re interested in applying psychology to the business world, you’re likely interested in the industrial and organizational psychology and business psychology fields. Wondering what the difference is?

Read on to learn more about industrial and organizational (I/O) psychology and business psychology, and how they’re related below.

What is industrial and organizational psychology?

Industrial and organizational psychology, also known as I/O psychology, is the study of the workplace.

According to the American Psychological Association, I/O psychology pulls from ideas about decision theory, small group theory, and criterion theory. It applies them to real-world workplace situations.

This field focuses on analyzing employee engagement, company culture, retention, productivity, morale, and team building.

Industrial and organizational psychologists can work with individual employees, groups, management teams, and consultants on improving the above processes.

For Dr. Jeremy Nicholson, a TCSPP professor of behavioral economics, I/O psychology is “a standardized skillset” that includes personnel selection, workplace training, business development, human resources, and consulting.

Are you interested in pursuing industrial and organizational psychology? Whether you’re looking for an online program or an on-campus degree program near you, The Chicago School offers a certificate and a variety of M.A. programs in this field.

What is business psychology?

While I/O psychology focuses on more individual and personal workplaces issues such as engagement and morale, business psychology applies psychological practices to big-picture areas.

These areas include corporate strategy, stakeholder relationships, market performance, and broader business operations. People who are savvy in business psychology use assessment and intervention skills to analyze high-level issues and provide recommendations to a business leadership team.

This career field includes consultants, program directors, and organizational development specialists. Oftentimes, business psychologists work with senior leadership teams, business owners, and board members.

The Chicago School offers various opportunities to study business psychology and I/O psychology:

Two intertwined fields

Of course, I/O psychology and business psychology are clearly linked. Both work to improve the overall function, performance, and efficiency of businesses.

According to Dr. Jay Finkelman, a TCSPP professor of I/O business psychology and the department chair of the Southern California campuses, “they all fit under the same umbrella.”

This overlap is clear even in The Chicago School’s degree tracks. For example, you can pursue a business psychology degree with an industrial and organizational focus.

Also, many I/O psychologists cover corporate strategy, and business psychologists analyze issues such as employee retention and productivity. All aspects of a business are intertwined, so it’s inevitable that two psychology fields that specialize in helping businesses succeed are intertwined.

Are you interested in learning more about The Chicago School of Professional Psychology? Fill out the form below to request more information, visit our programs page, or you can apply today through our application portal.


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