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What is Applied Research in Industrial and Organizational Psychology?

A doctorate in psychology can put you on the path to a career in applied research.

What kind of candidates would be best suited to a high-level management position at your company? What type of work environment would promote collaboration and innovation among members of your organization? These are questions an applied researcher with a doctoral degree in psychology could answer using scientific study and research.

Applied research uses scientific methods to solve problems we encounter every day. The problems might involve health, personal well-being, career, and other quality- of-life issues. Industrial and organizational psychologists often focus on one of two major areas of research: industrial/organizational, which explores ways to increase worker productivity by ensuring safety, comfort, and security in the workplace; and human factors, the study of how best to match equipment and environments to human abilities. These are by no means the only areas of study. Applied research is used across business, education, and medicine to address such diverse topics as:

What is Applied Research in Industrial and Organizational Psychology?

  • Ways caregivers cope with conditions such as autism, Alzheimer’s, or depression
  • How to prevent bullying in elementary school
  • Triggers for social anxiety
  • How to prevent obesity within particular populations
  • Understanding human error in order to prevent workplace injuries in a factory setting

Applied research differs from basic research, though the two are closely connected. The primary difference between the two is that basic research is broad and addresses topics for the sake of acquiring new knowledge about them. Applied research, on the other hand, is more specific and targeted around a particular problem.

If you’re interested in a career in applied research, earning a doctorate in industrial and organizational psychology can provide you with the academic foundation and training you’ll need. Many industrial and organizational psychology programs at the PhD level include basic, or theoretical, and applied research. Psychology colleges design these programs around the belief that basic and applied research are complementary; that is, basic research can contribute to a better understanding of real-world problems, and vice versa. Doctoral research also prepares students for the realities of full-time professional work.

There are many schools of psychology that offer doctoral programs, each with its own distinct structure. One option is to earn an online PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. Online learning is flexible and convenient; it allows you to set your own schedule and to work on your degree from home. Walden is an accredited university with a variety of online psychology programs. The curriculum looks at theories and best practices, combining scholarly research and practical experience. Walden’s PhD in Industrial and Organizational Psychology program can help you develop the skills and knowledge to formulate practical solutions to some of today’s most pressing problems.


Walden University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, www.hlcommission.org.

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