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Confronting the Real Identity Crisis Nathan Gerard Teachers College, Columbia University We I-O psychologists are a notoriously sensitive species. As our colleague Edwin Ghiselli (1974) observed nearly 40 years ago, “For some reason or another we are greatly concerned about what we are doing, how we are doing it, and what we ought to be doing” (p. 80). Nowhere is this sensitivity more evident than at a cocktail party with other, less sensitive species: human beings. If we muster up the courage to talk with one of them, we often find ourselves confronted with the question, “What is industrial-organi- zational psychology?” We have at least two ready-made responses: (a) go the conventional route and quickly spout off a textbook definition, or (b) jokingly play down suspicions of being a specialist in arranging office clutter. After delivering our pitch, we wait in nervous suspense for the ominous follow -up: “So what is it that you actually do?” Shame on this foreign species! We go on the defensive. We fumble between using words the foreigner might relate to— motivation, leadership, commitment— and describing our research in a sophisti- cated-sounding yet incomprehensible manner. We gauge the human being’s reactions. Misreading indifference for hostility, we become yet more defensive. We continue our fumbling. 40 What if, returning to Ghiselli (1974), in attempting to state what we do, how we do it, and what we ought to be doing, we end up paralyzed by the question of why we do anything at all? Put differ- ently, what if we struggle to find an ade- quate answer—both professionally and personally—to the question of, “Why industrial-organizational psychology?” Admittedly, at first glance this is an odd question to ask, especially coming from an I-O psychologist. Nevertheless, the reasons for pursuing it are compelling. For starters, all is not well in our profes- sional house. As some of our colleagues have recently confessed, we suffer from an underlying “identity problem” (Ryan & Ford, 2010). Doubts around such is- sues as the distinctiveness of our field, visibility to key decision makers in or- ganizations, and hyper-adaption of ex- ternal forces (to name just a few) all point to a “tipping point of professional identity.” Others have sounded the alarm of an “identity crisis” (Lefkowitz, 2010). If we combine these warnings with recent debates over professional licensure (e.g., Campion, 1996; Macey, 2002), values (e.g., Lefkowitz, 2008), and the proposed name changes to the Soci- ety for Industrial and Organizational Psy- chology (e.g., Gasser, Butler, Waddilove, April 2014 Volume 51 Issue 4