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Letters to the Editor

Whats in a Name?

Letter Sent February 13, 2002 

Paul M. Muchinskys witty and instructive conundrum, What Else Can We Call Ourselves? (TIP, January 2002), really is easily resolved.

We should go by two names. First, it is highly probable that industrial-organizational psychologist will be clearly understood by psychologists as well as by other behavioral and social scientists, especially economists, political scientists, sociologists, and those in communication studies and media research.

For the general public, the best and only moniker is, simply and plainly and unambiguously psychologist, just the noun, thank you, and no qualifying adjective. After all, we psychologists working our fingers to the bone in I-O psychology in fact, at one time or at one place or another, do what other psychologists do, in the large array of subspecialties such as social, military, human factors, clinical, developmental, educational, and the remaining branches of psychology. So, when your neighbor, children, relatives, fellow airplane passengers, church acquaintances, and friends, ask what you do for a living, simply say, with pride and loudly and clearly, I am a psychologist. That will say it all.

Bob Perloff,
Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus of Business Administration and of Psychology
University of Pittsburgh


Evaluating I-O Programs
Letter Sent April 25, 2002

I read with interest The Top I-O Psychology Doctoral Programs of North America, (TIP, April 2002) and fully recognize the difficulty of gauging the best of anything. I would suggest, however, that theres a great deal of criterion space still not illuminated by present approaches. I nominate the following, alongside the current ones of program reputation, editorial activity, and research productivity, and suggest they be opened for exploration:

Productivity or influence of graduates in nonacademic settings and non-academic ways. This would include corporate and other commercial settings, legislative settings, judicial settings, nonprofit or community settings, and even higher ed settings. Different ways could include improving the quality or value of work done, contributing to policy that affects quality of life in different settings, or opening doors to I-O principles in ways that elevate the discussion. Which doctoral programs contribute to these kinds of advances?

Influence of graduates on the evolution of the I-O field itself. To what extent do graduates advance the state of the art versus maintain its current modus operandi? To what extent do they advance the field by developing new perspectives, new methods, new insights, new (dare I say it?) paradigms. Which doctoral programs contribute to this evolution?

Influence of graduates on other academic and practical disciplines. The fields of biology and the law, to pick just two, have influenced I-O psychology greatly. Does I-O psychology influence other fields as much as other fields influence I-O psychology? Are we net importers or exporters of wisdom and good practice? And then, which doctoral programs contribute to these positive effects?

How to gauge productivity or influence? Decades of counting publications as the proxy for productivity doesnt leave me hopeful, but developing performance criteria is our business after all; these would be great areas for ground-breaking efforts by those interested in more fully stating the value of training in I-O psychology.

Steven E. Mayer, PhD
(University of Minnesota, 1973)


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