Tag Archives: I/O

More On the Hawthorne Effect

Hawthorne factory floorA few days ago, I posted an item about an article that Steve Levitt and John List recently published in which they said they found “lost” data on whichthe “Hawthorne Effect” was supposed to have been partly based. Levitt and List claimed that the data showed no such effect, but only an effect on productivity resulting from changes in the seasons.

Yesterday, however, I received the following interesting “comment” from Charles Wrege, who has been studying the Hawthorne experiments periodically for the last half-century. Because of its length and importance, I have decided (with Mr. Wrege’s permission) to move it out of the comments section and incorporate it into a “primary” posting here. Continue reading More On the Hawthorne Effect

Early personality testing by American Industry

Robert Sessions WoodworthIn a recent issue of History of Psychology, 11(3), Robert Gibby and Michael Zickar trace the early history of personality testing by American industry.

Objective personality testing began with Woodworth’s Personal Data Sheet in 1917. That test was developed to identify soldiers prone to nervous breakdowns during enemy bombardment in World War I (WWI). Soon after, many competing personality tests were developed for use in industry. Many of these tests, like Woodworth’s, focused on the construct of employee maladjustment and were deemed important in screening out applicants who would create workplace disturbances. In this article, the authors review the history of these early personality tests, especially the Bernreuter Personality Inventory and the Humm-Wadsworth Temperament Scale, and discuss the implications of personality testers’ obsession with the construct of employee maladjustment. In addition, the authors discuss the industry’s obsession with emotional maladjustment and how this obsession coincided with a cultural shift in norms relating to cultural expression.

See also AHP‘s coverage of the recent history of the Wisconsin Card Sorting Test and Sarah Igo’s The Averaged American.

Industrial Psychology & Typographical Errors Redux

Paul MuchinskyA few days ago I posted an item about the possibility that the first published use of the phrase “industrial psychology” was a typographical error. The claim was attributed to “Muchinsky, 1997,” but I could not find the original source myself. So I wrote directly to Paul Muchinsky (U. North Carolina, Greensboro). He has kindly written back to tell me that his story of William Lowe Bryan’s typo dates back to the first edition of his textbook, Psychology Applied to Work. In the course of attempting to track down the first use of the phrase “industrial psychology,” Muchinsky found Bryan’s APA presidential address (1903, published 1904 in Psychological Review), in which Bryan appeared to quote the phrase from his own famous article on the learning of telegraphy (Bryan & Harter, 1899, Psychological Review). When Muchinsky examined that article, however, he found that the phrase Bryan & Harter had used in 1899 was “individual psychology” rather than “industrial psychology.” He concluded that the use of “industrial” in the 1903 address was a typographical error on Bryan’s part (although it is hard to come up with another plausible explanation without getting conspiratorial).

Was Industrial Psychology Based on a Typo?

William Lowe BryanOn Dr. Patrick McCarthy’s Brief Outline of the History of I/O Psychology, it says:

The term ‘industrial psychology’ first appeared in a 1904 article of [William Lowe] Bryan’s APA [presidential] address. Ironically, it appeared in print only as a typographical error. Bryan was quoting a sentence he had written five years earlier in which he spoke of the need for more research in individual psychology. Instead, Bryan wrote industrial psychology and did not catch his mistake.

McCarthy attributes this finding to “Muchinsky, 1997, p. 10.” Although I have found several books and articles by Paul M. Muchinsky on industrial psychology, I have not been able to find one from 1997 containing a p. 10. I have tried to contact Dr. McCarthy without luck. Can anyone point me to the relevant Muchinsky publication?

Mental Health Advice to Employees

cover.jpgVia Boing Boing I have just read a fun pop psychology book from 1964, The Art of Living with Yourself, that has been scanned and posted online for everyone’s viewing pleasure. The blog that posted the book, A Hole in the Head, explains that the book was part of a series of books put out by The Mental Health Society of Chicago for Western Electric Company (all of the images can be enlarged for better viewing by clicking on them).

I’ve been trying to look up some information about the Mental Health Society of Chicago but haven’t been having much luck (unless it was related to Mental Health Chicago, the organization created by Clifford Beers in 1957?). However, I did come across a 1913 article in the New York Times entitled “Don’t Worry Says Railway: Illinois Central Instructs Its Employees How to Live Complacently” which caught my attention after just reading The Art of Living with Yourself. According to the article, the Illinois Central Railway issued a statement that year to its employees to “live complacently” and “avoid worry.” The short article continues on to quote the Railway as stating “Cultivate the art of living with yourself as you are and the world as it is” followed by the warning that:

Continue reading Mental Health Advice to Employees