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Industrial/Organizational Psychology

Psychology 362

Fall 2013 Syllabus
Tu & Th 1:00 - 2:15p; 114/115 Crown Center

Office Address:
Office Phone:
Office Hours:
Home Page:
  Dr. Jim Larson
  225 Coffey Hall
  Tu 2:30-4:30, and by Appointment
Teaching Assistant:
Office Address:
Office Hours:
  Ms. Fatima Martin
  LL05 Coffey Hall
  M 12:30-1:30, W 3:00-4:00, and by Appointment


Industrial/Organizational (I/O) Psychology is sometimes called the psychology of work.  It is both a scientific discipline and an area of professional practice.  As a scientific discipline, I/O Psychology critically examines workplace behavior and experience.  The goal is to understand (a) what influences people's behavior and experience on the job, and (b) what consequences their job behavior and experience has for others around them and for the organization in which they work.  Thus, we might wonder what causes people to work hard, to quit their jobs, to feel good about their company, or to sabotage a colleague's efforts.  Is it possible to predict when people will steal from their employer, work overtime without thought of extra pay, become "burned out" on the job, or perform above and beyond the call of duty?  As a science, I/O Psychology seeks to answer such questions through systematic, theory-driven research.

But I/O Psychology is also an area of professional practice.  Many I/O psychologists apply the knowledge that has been gained through scientific research to solve important practical problems for client organizations.  As professional practitioners, I/O psychologists often help organizations with such critical problems as selecting and training employees, designing jobs to maximize both efficiency and motivation, and managing employee performance.  Thus, the science an practice of I/O Psychology go hand-in-hand.  The practice of I/O Psychology is informed by solid scientific research, and the science of I/O Psychology is animated by the desire to solve pressing, real-world problems.

As its name implies, there are two main branches in the field of I/O Psychology.  One is industrial psychology, which is the older of the two.  We will spend the last third of the course on topics central to industrial psychology, including job analysis, employee recruitment and selection, and performance appraisal.  As will be seen, some of these topics are highly technical, and professionals who work in this area usually have strong mathematical skills.

The other branch of I/O Psychology is organizational psychology.  This is where we will begin the course.  Many of the topics that fall under this heading focus on the individual employee.  These include issues related to work motivation, job satisfaction and work engagement, and employee reactions to stress.  Motivation is of particular concern to organizations, because how hard employees work is often assumed (sometimes incorrectly!) to be the primary determinant of their performance on the job.  We will address topics that focus on individual employees in the first third of the course.  Then, in the middle third, we will cover a set of topics that look beyond the individual.  These concern the interpersonal dimension of work.  Almost all work takes place in a social context
meaning that other people are somehow involved—and a full understanding of workplace behavior and experience cannot be achieved without considering that context.  Among the topics we will examine in this domain are group dynamics and team performance, leadership, and power and politics in organizations.

The three most important learning objectives for this course are as follows:

To gain factual knowledge (e.g., regarding terminology, methods, trends, and research findings) in the field of I/O psychology.
To learn the fundamental principles, generalizations, and theories in the field of I/O psychology.
To learn to apply the course material so as to improve your thinking, problem solving, and decision making vis-a-vis organizational situations that you have encountered in the past and are likely to encounter in the future.


Psychology 101 (General Psychology)
is a prerequisite for this course.  It is not satisfactory to be taking Psychology 101 concurrently with this one.  It is also helpful (but not a requirement) to have already taken Psychology 306 (Research Methods).  As you will see, I/O Psychology has a strong empirical orientation, as does this course.  The lectures in particular will emphasize research findings that illustrate the causes and consequences of behavior at work, and will examine in depth some of the most important studies relevant to the topic at hand.

Class Attendance

Students are expected to attend every class meeting.  A good deal of material will be presented in class that is NOT discussed in the textbook.  Further, from time to time there will be in-class activities that are intended to give you first-hand experience and/or practice with some of the concepts relevant to the course.  Because there is no way to gain this specific experience except by being in class, it is especially important to attend on the days these activities occur.  To encourage class attendance, I will keep track of attendance on those days when an in-class activity occurs, and I will award you 4 bonus exam points if you have been in class for all of the in-class activities since the last exam (see Grading for more details).

Lecture Slides

The lectures will be organized by topic, with each topic covered in 1 to 5 class periods (for a list of topics, see the table below under Sample SlideReading Assignments).  By 8:00a on the day of the first class period in which a given topic is covered, I will post on Sakai a set of slides that I intend to use in the lectures on that topic.  Each set of slides will cover one topic, and so will be used for up to 5 class periods.  I strongly recommend that you print these slides and bring them with you to class.  This will help your note-taking.

illustrate and amplify the points that I intend to make in class.  But I try to avoid creating slides that simply repeat the lectures themselves.  An example is the slide to the right, which illustrates an important idea that is central to the entire course.  This slide doesn't make a lot of sense by itself, but I promise that on the very first day of class you will come away understanding exactly what it means.  Thus, while I believe you will benefit from having the slides with you in class (because doing so will allow you to take better notes, and so make it easier to listen and participate more fully), you will not benefit much from the slides without attending class.

NB: I will occasionally add, modify, or delete slides
after I have already posted them on Sakai but before I actually use them in class.  I will not post the revised slides on Sakai, as doing so creates too much confusion.  Instead, I will simply call attention to the additions, modifications, or deletions during the lectures.


Your course grade will be based on you performance on three exams and a writing project.

(a) Exams:  Three exams will be given, each covering approximately 1/3 of the course material.  Each exam (including the final) will consist of 40 multiple-choice questions worth two points each, plus 3-6 short-answer questions that, in combination, will be worth 20 points.  The short-answer questions will require that you be able to recall and/or apply course-related concepts, principles, theories, terminology, and study findings.  Each of the short-answer questions can be answered completely in either a few words or a few sentences, depending on the question.  Each exam will therefore be worth 100 points, with 80% of the points coming from the multiple-choice questions and 20% coming from the short-answer questions.  Additionally, roughly one-third of the questions will be about material covered in the textbook, roughly one-third will be about material covered in the lectures, and roughly one-third will be about material covered in both the textbook and in the lectures.  The dates of the exams, along with the lectures and readings they cover, are given in the schedule of weekly topics and events listed at the end of this syllabus.  Note: You must take all three exams.  You will receive a score of 0 for any missed exams.  No make-up exams will be given except in the case of a documented medical emergency.
Attendance Bonus Points
As noted above (see Class Attendance), I will keep track of attendance on those days when an in-class activity occurs, and will award 4 bonus exam points to those who have been in class for all of the in-class activities since the last exam (being in class for some but not all of those activities will not earn you any bonus points).  So, for in-class activities that occur prior to the first exam, the bonus points will be added to your score on the first exam; for in-class activities that occur between the first and second exams, the bonus points will be added to your score on the second exam, etc.

Exam Score Curving Policy:  If less than 20% of the class earns a score of 90 or above (i.e., equivalent to a grade of A-) on a given exam, I will raise everyone's numerical score on that exam (by adding a constant) so that at least 20% of the class scores at or above 90.  This "curving" will occur after any earned attendance bonus points have been applied (see above), and it is the only curving that will be done (e.g., the total point distribution computed at the end of the semester will not be curved further).

(b) "Top-10 Ideas" Writing Project.  You will have a term writing project to complete that will count for 25% of your course grade.  I call it the "Top-10 Ideas" project.  You are to write a brief essay (300-400 words) on each of your 10 most favorite ideas from the course.  An "idea" might be a theoretical principle, a specific research result, or a concept that seems particularly helpful for understanding behavior and experience in organizations.  Your goal is to identify the 10 ideas from the course that seem most important to you, and write a brief essay about each one.  For each essay, you are to state the idea concisely in a single line at the top of the page (this will serve as the essay's title).  Then you are to write between 300 and 400 words (no more; no less) that address the following three questions:
  • What is the full idea?  It is nearly impossible to express an idea completely in one line at the top of the page.  The purpose of that one-liner is simply to provide a convenient label that captures the essence of the idea, and that makes the idea easy to recall later on (Note: I may ask you to recall your top 10 ideas on the final exam!).  In nearly every case, it will be necessary to describe more fully what the idea is.  Thus, your brief essay should provide a complete description of the idea--complete enough to be understood by anyone who reads the essay, not just the professor.
  • Why is the idea important?  Between the textbook and the lectures, hundreds of ideas will be covered during the course of the semester.  Your brief essay should explain why this particular idea is important enough to make it onto your Top-10 list.  Why is this particular idea of value and worth remembering?
  • How can the idea be put to use?  Because this is a course in applied psychology, it is useful to think about how the idea can be put to use in real organizational settings.  You might consider, for example, who can best put the idea to use (e.g., managers vs. ordinary employees), in what circumstances the idea can be put to used (e.g., when employees work on routine, well-practiced tasks, but not when they they are assigned task that they do not routinely perform), what consequences can be expected when the idea is put to use (e.g., improved job satisfaction, reduced turnover, better performance, etc.), and/or what complexities or contingencies might be involved in putting the idea to use (e.g., the idea can be effectively implemented only in those situations where employees' activities are closely monitored).  Of course, some ideas involve variables that are not easy to control, and so cannot readily be "put to use" in the normal sense.  Still, the idea may be useful because it helps you, as an observer of behavior in organizations, to better understand what it is that you are seeing, and perhaps to predict what will likely happen in the future as a consequence (if trouble is coming down the road, and you understand it as such, perhaps you can at least step out of way!).

As the name "Top-10" might suggest, you are to write 10 of these brief essays.  In addition, as a final step in the project you will be asked to compile your 10 essay titles (the one-liner for each) into a rank-ordered list on a single page, such that the #1 ranked idea is the one you think is most important, and the #10 ranked idea is the one you think is least important (though it presumably is still somewhat important, otherwise you would not have written about it to begin with).  You may list them in normal numerical order (1-10), or in reverse order as some pundits and late-night TV hosts do.  Either method is OK.

3 Due Dates

  • 3 by 9/26:  At least three of your Top-10 essays must be turned in prior to the first exam, which will be given on September 26th.  You may turn in your essays at any time before then, you may turn them in one-at-a-time or all at once, and you many turn in more than three if you like (and so get a head start on the next due date), but at least three must be turned in by September 26th.  Another way to think of this is that three opportunities to turn in your Top-10 essays will disappear at 1:00p on September 26.  If you fail to turn in one or more of these, you will not be given an opportunity to turn them in later.
  • 4 More by 11/5:  Four more of your Top-10 essays must be turned in prior to the second exam, which will be given on November 5th.  As before, you may turn these in at any time before then, and you many turn in more than four if you want to get ahead of schedule.  But at least 7 essays (the first set of 3 and this new set of 4) must be turned in by November 5th.  Said differently, three opportunities to turn in your Top-10 essays will disappear at 1:00p on September 26, and 4 more will disappear at 1:00p on November 5th.  If you fail to turn in one or more of these, you will not be given an opportunity to turn them in later.
  • Last 3 by 12/5:  Your final three Top-10 essays must be turned before 11:59p on the last day of class, which is Thursday, December 5th.  You may turn these in at any time before then, but all remaining essays must be turned in by the end of the day on December 5th.  You will have no opportunity to turn in any essays after that date.

Each essay will be graded independently (so you will get a separate grade for each one).  They will each be scored as either satisfactory or unsatisfactory (the final ranking sheet will not be scored, but you must turn it in nevertheless).  An essay judge to be satisfactory will earn 3 points.  An essay judged to be unsatisfactory will earn 1 point.  If an essay is judged to be unsatisfactory, you will have an opportunity to re-write it.  You do not have to re-write it, but if you do, and if the revision is judged to be satisfactory, your score will be increased to 2 points for that essay (re-written essays cannot earn 3 points).  An essay that has been re-written but is still judged to be unsatisfactory may not be re-written a second time, and will retain their original score of 1.  Note that the opportunity to revise an essay will be extended only for those that are turned in before Thanksgiving (November 28, 2013).  Essays turned in on or after Thanksgiving may not be revised.  Finally, essays that are not turned in will earn 0 points.  Thus, the Top-10 Ideas project as a whole is worth a maximum of 30 points, and will count 25 percent of your overall course grade.

A Top-10 essay that I wrote myself will be posted on Sakai as an example.

How to Submit:  All of your Top-10 essays must be written as separate documents and uploaded individually via the class website on Sakai.  Your first essay should be uploaded to the assignment titled "Top-10 (a)," your second essay should be uploaded to the assignment titled "Top-10 (b)," and so on.  For each upload, please submit only one attachment.  Also, please use only the file types doc, docx, pdf, or rtf, and always be sure to include the file extension in the file name.  All uploads are automatically run through Turnitin, a software utility that checks for signs of plagiarism

Final Grade Computation

Seventy-five percent of your final grade will depend on your exam scores, and 25% will depend on the writing project.  Regarding the exams, I will count your highest score a little more (30%) than your second-highest score (25%), which in turn will count a little more than your lowest score (20%).  The maximum possible raw scores for each graded component, as well as its weight in computing the final grade (expressed as a proportion), is given in the table below.

      Graded Component     
Raw Points  
Best Exam (BE)
100 .30
Second Best Exam (SBE) 100 .25
Worst Exam (WE) 100 .20
"Top-10" Writing Project (WP) 30

The total score on which your final grade will be based will be computed using the following formula:  Total Score = (BE x .30) + (SBE x .25) + (WE x .20) + (((WP/30)x100) x .25).  This formula will yield a total score between 0 and 100, with each of the graded components weighted as described above.  Finally, your total score will be converted to a letter grade according to the following table.

Total Grade
Percentage Score 
93 and Above A
90 - 92  A-
87 - 89
83 - 86
80 - 82
77 - 79
73 - 76
70 - 72
60 - 69
 Below 60  F

Reading Assignments

The weekly reading assignments can all be be found in the table below.  All of the readings are from the textbook by Paul Muchinsky (2011).  A complete reference for the textbook follows.  Hard copies of the book are available in Loyola's Lake Shore Campus bookstore.  An ebook version (at about 1/2 the price) is also available from the publisher.

Muchinsky, P. M. (2011).  Psychology Applied to Work: An Introduction to Industrial and Organizational Psychology (10/e).  Summerfield, NC: Hypergraphic Press.

Week # Day & Date Weekly Lecture Topics and Events*
Reading Assignments
T 8/27
Th 8/29
What Is I/O Psychology?

(8/29) In-Class Activity: Auto Racing
Ch 1:  The Historical Background of I/O Psychology (24 pages)

2 - 3
T 9/3
Th 9/5
T 9/10
Th 9/12
Work Motivation

(9/5) In-Class Activity: Brainstorming

(9/10) In-Class Activity: Expected Value

Ch 2:  Research Methods in I/O Psychology (35 pages)

Ch 12:  Work Motivation (30 pages)
T 9/17
Th 9/19
Job Attitudes

(9/19) In-Class Activity: Job Diagnostic Survey

Ch 10:  Organizational Attitudes and Behavior (33 pages)
              (but skip "Organizational Politics," pp. 323-326)
T 9/24
Th 9/26
Job Stress

3 "Top-10" Essays Due by 1:00p, Th 9/26

 Exam 1, Th 9/26
Ch 11:  Workplace Psychological Health (29 pages)

6 - 8
T 10/1
Th 10/3
Th 10/10
T 10/15
Th 10/17
Group Processes

(10/1)  In-Class Activity: Franz Group IQ Test

*No class 10/8 (Mid-Semester Break)

(10/15) In-Class Activity: Murder Mystery
Ch 9:  Teams and Teamwork (29 Pages)
T 10/22
Th 10/24
Leadership Ch 13:  Leadership (29 Pages)
T 10/29
Th 10/31
Power & Politics In Organizations

(10/31) In-Class Activity: Ugli Oranges 
Ch 10:  pp. 323-326 ("Organizational Politics")

Ch 14:  Union Management Relations (33 Pages)
T 11/5
4 more "Top-10" Essays Due by 1:00p, T 11/5

Exam 2, T 11/5

Th 11/7
T 11/12
Job Analysis

(11/12) In-Class Activity:  The Critical Incident Technique
Ch 3:  Criteria: Standards for Decision Making (32 pages)
12 - 14
Th 11/14
T 11/19
  Th 11/21
T 11/26
Personnel Selection

(11/26) In-Class Activity: Selection By The Numbers

*No class 11/28 (Thanksgiving)

Ch 4:  Predictors: Psychological Assessment (41 pages)

Ch 5:  Personnel Decisions (44 pages)
T 12/3
Th 12/5
Performance Appraisal

(12/5) In-Class Activity: BARS/BES Construction

Final 3 "Top-10" Essays Due by 11:59p, Th 12/5
Ch 7:  Performance Management (30 pages)
Th 12/12
Exam 3, Th 12/12, 1:00-3:00

* In-Class activities may be added, dropped, changed, or moved to different dates, depending on how the class evolves.


Plagiarism refers to representing either the words or ideas of another person as one's own.  Plagiarism is academically dishonest, and will not be tolerated.  Although it is often acceptable and desirable to incorporate the ideas of others into your written work, each time you do so you must cite the original source.  This is true regardless of who or what that source is (the textbook, a lecture, a journal article, a website), and it is true regardless of whether or not you directly quote that source -- paraphrasing does not release you from the obligation to cite.  Any time you use an idea from another source, even if you don't use the same words, you must cite that source.  A good rule of thumb is "when in doubt, cite."

Your will be asked to submit an electronic version of each of your "Top-10" essays (using Sakai's Turnitin utility).  The purpose of this is so they can be scanned for signs of plagiarism.  To guard against false positives, if a suspicious essay is identified, it will be given an additional careful reading to determine if any plagiarism has actually occurred.  If any plagiarism is found, you will receive a grade of 0 on that essay, will loose one full letter grade in the course as a whole (e.g., a grade of A will be changed to a grade of B), and will be referred to the College of Arts and Sciences for possible disciplinary action.  If a second instance of plagiarism occurs, you will receive a grade of F in the course.  Do not plagiarize.  The cost is simply too great.

Students With Disabilities

Students with disabilities who require accommodation for access and participation in this course should contact the instructor as soon as possible after the start of the semester.  All such students must be registered with the Services for Students with Disabilities (SSWD) office.  Go to  The SSWD is located in Sullivan Center 117; Phone 773-508-3700 (voice), or 773-508-3810 (fax).

LUC Course Drop Policy

Students may drop courses without penalty during the first 8 days of the semester.  After that, and until the end of Week 10, students who drop courses are assigned a grade of "W" for those course(s).  Students may not drop courses after the end of Week 10.  University policy requires that students who stop attending a course but have not officially withdrawn receive a grade of "WF," which is a penalty grade and is equivalent to a grade of "F."