Subjective opinions of industrial/organisational psychologists' on the identity of their profession

Chetty, Shivani
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Conflicting research exists regarding the professional identity of Industrial/ Organisational (I/O) psychology. Whilst some literature posits that the field of I/O psychology is a key profession to ensuring organisational development, other publications argue that the core principles of the profession need to be re-evaluated. Hence, this study aimed to explore the subjective opinions of I/O psychologists’ on the identity of their profession to gain a deeper understanding of the current state of I/O psychology. Through purposive sampling, qualified and HPCSA registered I/O psychologists participated in this Q methodology study. Participants were tasked with arranging a concourse of statements into a matrix grid according to their opinions. The self-composed concourse of statements set out in this research study hinged on five main identity themes namely: visibility, differentiation, competitive image, benefits or relevance and lastly, capitalism/ ethics within the South African context. In doing so, the current research study gained a deeper understanding of how I/O psychologists’ perceive the identity of their profession. With the use of the PQ method program, the data received was interpreted through by-person factor analysis. The results of this research study indicated that participants believed the identity of I/O psychology is influenced and impacted upon by the importance of an I/O psychologist, misunderstandings of the profession, individuality within I/O psychology and the value-add of the field. It is recommended that future research analyses the subjective opinions of I/O psychologists’ on the identity of their profession from a more industry specific context as this may have an influence on results. The variations that participants may have in academic qualifications and working experience should also be investigated as a factor of influence in future studies. Focus groups are also recommended for purposes of studying a broader sample, especially for research that has time constraints.
A research report submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts with Masters (Industrial Psychology) in the Faculty of Humanities, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg. 30th January 2015