Volume 54     Number 4    April 2017      Editor: Tara Behrend

Spotlight on Humanitarian Work Psychology: From Corporations to Causes: The Demand for HWP

Shujaat Ahmed and Morrie Mullins

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Hello, and welcome back to the “Spotlight on Humanitarian Work Psychology” column!  You have probably noticed that there are a couple of new faces attached to the column this issue—well, one new face and one that’s been around TIP just a bit in the past.  To offer a quick introduction, Shujaat Ahmed is the vice chair of the Global Organisation for Humanitarian Work Psychology (GOHWP) and a doctoral candidate at Illinois Tech.  Morrie Mullins is a member of the GOHWP Executive Board and a former editor of TIP, and had the trajectory of his career altered by what he learned from reading about humanitarian work psychology (HWP) and SIOP’s UN team during his editorship.  We are both thrilled to be writing for TIP and excited to help get the word out about HWP!

New Local I-O Group in Los Angeles Leads With its Purpose: The People Experience Project

Nazanin Tadjbakhsh, Peter Rutigliano, and Anna Erickson

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“Have you ever wondered what would happen, if all the geniuses—the artists, the scientists, the smartest, most creative people in the world decided to actually change it? Where, where could they even do such a thing?” –Hugo, Tomorrowland Movie (2015)

In recent issues of TIP, the SIOP Local I-O Groups Committee has highlighted the successes of several established local I-O groups such as METRO in New York (Shapiro, Erickson, & Farmer, 2016) and MPPAW in Minnesota (Erickson & Rutigliano, 2016). In this article, we will shift our focus to a local group that is just getting started.

Has Industrial-Organizational Psychology Lost Its Way?

Deniz S. Ones, Robert B. Kaiser, Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic, and Cicek Svensson

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Work is important. It’s how society gets things done, largely through organizations—commercial enterprises, nonprofits, governmental agencies, and more (Hogan & Chamorro-Premuzic, 2013). It’s where people spend much of their lives and establish a big part of their sense of self. Work groups provide social identities, hierarchies provide status, and difficult work problems provide a chance to be creative and innovate. More than any other discipline, industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology is focused on better understanding and improving this important aspect of life.

Closing the Scientist-Practitioner Gap: Studies From 2016 With Significant Practical Utility

Alyssa Perez, Corey Grantham, Izabela Widlak, and Shreya Sarkar-Barney

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Industrial-organizational psychologists have long touted the scientist–practitioner model.  Descriptions of the field (including the description on SIOP's own website) emphasize the application of research to improve performance across individual employees, teams, and organizations. Therefore, academic research should be of exceptional value to organizations to guide the design of effective workplace interventions. There is a disconnect, however, between scientific knowledge and workplace application. Researchers often conduct studies without considering their utility in the workplace, and organizational leaders and practitioners frequently base decisions on intuition or guesses without first consulting science. When applied effectively in organizational settings, scientifically rigorous I-O research enhances employees’ lives and boosts organizational performance (Huselid, 1995; Sverke, Hellgren, & Naswall, 2002). Top quality studies fill academic journals every year but often go unnoticed by practitioners (Rynes, Colbert, & Brown, 2002; Sanders, van Riemsdijk, & Groen, 2008).  This may be due to the mismatch between what researcher’s study and the topics that are of importance to practitioners. In fact, a recent study by SIOP's SCi taskforce found that of the 687 accepted submissions for the 2016 annual SIOP conference, only 35% were related to the top workplace trends (Thornton, Poeppelman, Sinar, Armstrong, & Blacksmith, 2017).  Our study was partly motivated to understand to what extent published studies match trending issues in the workplace. This article seeks to highlight a shortlist of I-O psychology research articles from 2016 that demonstrate tremendous potential for application in organizations. Additionally, we examine if these articles further understanding of the topics presented by the 2016 workplace trends. By showcasing these important studies, we hope to contribute to closing the scientist–practitioner gap and guide future research endeavors to advance the field while improving employees' lives and organizational performance.

"Marx Was Right": Lessons From Lewin

Nathan Gerard

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Just before his untimely death in 1947, Kurt Lewin paid a hasty visit to his friend and collaborator Dorin Cartwright, overcome by what Cartwright (1979) would call a “brilliant insight” (p. 179). Upon arriving at Cartwright’s home “in a state of a great excitement,” Lewin proclaimed, “Marx was right”:


When I asked Lewin if he could be more specific about what he had in mind, he said that it was now obvious to him that behavior could not be adequately understood simply in terms of cognitive structure, wishes, and expectations, and that some way would have to be found for dealing with the constraints, opportunities, resources and pressures that originate in the social, political, and technological environment…I have no doubt that if he had been able to develop this new line of thinking, social psychological theory would be considerably different today. (p. 179)


What to make of this fascinating piece of history? Was Lewin right about Marx? Was Cartwright right about “social psychological theory [being] considerably different today,” had Lewin lived to see his “brilliant insight” through?