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Think. We do that every day. We think about what we’re having for breakfast, what we should wear, how our co-worker is so helpful, and how we want to make something out of our lives.  The thought process is such an integral part of daily life that we may not realize just how big of an impact it makes.  There is actually a field that is devoted to the study of mental processes and it is called Cognitive Psychology.

Cognitive Psychology is the study of cognition or mental processes that includes perception, learning, memory, thought, and comprehension, among many others. Cognition stems from a Latin word which means “to know”.  It deals mainly with how we acquire, process and utilize knowledge and information that we encounter in our daily life.  It employs the use of the scientific method in investigating about the human mind, as opposed to reflection and introspection that was used in Freudian approaches before it.  Also, it acknowledges the existence of ideas such as belief, desires, and motivation as among the many internal mental states that govern human beings.

The rise of cognitivism began in the 1950s when behaviorism could not fully account for the existence of internal mental processes that accompanied complex learning.  But this field was made more known and established in 1967, when Ulric Neisser published his book entitled: “Cognitive Psychology”.

Scientific research done in this field seem to encompass everything that a person’s brain can do, as it is very difficult to set the line between what is cognitive and what is otherwise.  Researchers have been creative, though, in employing various approaches --such as the use of experimental methods (i.e. testing for response time after perceiving a given stimulus, or looking for eye-tracking patterns in images), and modern imaging techniques (i.e. MRI, EEG, or PET) to know how the brain responds and also to observe deeper into which areas of the brain are activated in certain situations.

There are many concepts of study under this advancing field of Psychology.  One of which is attention, where it is possible to study about how the brain focuses itself and removes other not-so-useful stimuli to optimize function and performance.  We may not have thought about it before, but attention has many implications in terms of work efficiency and multi-tasking, among others.  On the more basic level, wouldn’t it be interesting to know more about why some people find it easier to read something quietly in the library while others need loud music to be able to do the same? Another important concept is memory.  It’s one thing to remember what you ate this morning, but what about what you ate on this day, 3 years ago?  Our brain has a unique way of keeping memories: some memories stay while others, we tend to forget.  But this is something that is unique to our brain as it deals with acquiring, storing and retrieving a large number of memories. Experiences may have implications to how we remember things, but a large part of it is also due to how our brain wires itself.  Learning is also a well-studied concept in Cognitive Psychology.  Having its origins in behaviorism, B.F. Skinner defined it to be a relatively permanent change in behaviour as a result of experience. It has come a long way since then, with the advent of conceptual information and studies on implicit learning.

We can never underestimate the power of the mind.  There is more to study about the human brain and more and more research may be expected from the field of Cognitive Psychology in the years to come.

Working in an office may seem to be pretty straightforward.  You come to work, do your job, interact with your officemates, get instructions from your boss, do more work, then go home.  Did you know there is actually a branch of Psychology that deals with the study of the workplace? It is called Industrial and Organizational (I/O) Psychology.  This field of Psychology deals with the study of employees, workplaces and organizations, aimed at optimizing the performance and well-being of its people in order to achieve success.  Essentially, an I/O Psychologist identifies how attitudes and behaviors can be improved through the establishment of key company procedures and practices.  I/O Psychologists also help in easing in the transition during periods of company procedure development and modification. This field has its roots in Social Psychology, especially as it deals with the role of work and the work environment in the job performance and outcomes of employees.  Historically, it has also dealt much on research about individual differences and performance assessment.  

As one may deduce from the name, it is composed of 2 major areas of study, Industrial and organizational.  Industrial Psychology deals mainly on how best a person can be matched to a particular job.  In order to do this, one may use information from an applicant assessment in order to match him or her to a particular job demand where they can perform well.  Trainings, performance measurement and performance standards are all under this area of I/O Psychology.  On the other hand, Occupational Psychology is concerned with how organizations affect an individual’s behavior. Occupational environments, organizational structures, and management styles are among some of the factors that can affect an employee’s behavior in the workplace.  The goal of Industrial and Occupational Psychology is to merge these two aspects to ensure that it is advantageous not only because the employee is happily performing at his or her best capability, but also because the organization—as a whole--benefits from the good performance of its employees.

Six major subject areas govern the practice of Industrial and Organizational Psychology, namely: Training and Development, Employee Selection, Ergonomics, Performance Management, Work Life, and Organizational Development.  Training and development is concerned with determining particular skills and competencies necessary to perform particular jobs.  Employee training programs are also under this category.  Employee Selection entails assessments, hiring, screening tests, and other procedures that are designed to determine which applicants may be fit for certain positions.  Ergonomics involves designing equipment and procedures that aim to minimize accidents and injuries in the workplace, at the same time, maximize performance and output.  Performance Management deals with the development of assessments that help determine if employees are doing well with their jobs. Work life involves the union of employee satisfaction and maximization of workforce productivity.  Reward programs or other employee incentives are involved in this area. Lastly, Organizational Development deals with how the business may be improved.  This is the more business-oriented aspect as it deals more with profit, product design, and improvements to the organizational structure.

Industrial and Organizational Psychology is a relatively new and advancing field of Psychology.  Even though this is only one of many important practical and business-related fields of Psychology, it is a very promising area of research and practice to explore.

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