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Psychology at Work



What Do I-O Psychologists Really Do?

Sometimes one of the most difficult things for industrial-organizational (I-O) psychologists to explain to non-I-O psychologists is what exactly it is that they do.

The field of I-O psychology is, in fact, a varied one, encompassing almost any aspect of the workplace and people within organizations. I-O psychologists’ job titles and employment environments can be even more varied—ranging from employment consultants in private firms to testing and assessment experts in government agencies to psychology and business professors in university or research settings. (For a PDF explaining potential job titles of I-O psychologists, read “What’s in a Name?” here. For informational brochures about I-O, click here.)

The following is part of the SIOP Psychology at Work series, a group of surveys of SIOP members meant to better explain the myriad career paths and research interests explored by SIOP members as well as the numerous contributions and innovations the field of I-O psychology has made to the workplace. For each profile, we delve into the job of a SIOP member to gain a greater depth of insight into what they do, who they work with, how their work affects others, and why they believe I-O psychology matters.

Continue reading for information on what it’s like to be an I-O psychologist for SIOP Member Ben Dattner!

  1. Name: Ben Dattner
  2. Job title/company: Founding Principal, Dattner Consulting, LLC
  3. Job responsibilities: Executive Coaching, Organizational Development Consulting, Organizational Culture Change
  4. My specific I-O interests (research and/or practice): Selection, Assessments, Coaching, Process Consultation
  5. My career path/job history: Harvard College BA in Psychology, Management Training Program at Republic National Bank of New York, NYU PhD in I-O Psychology, HR Director at Blink.com, Founded Dattner Consulting in 2001
  6. How I became interested in I-O psychology: I took Richard Hackman’s “Social Psychology of Organizations” course in college and got very interested in I-O
  7. A typical day at my job includes: No day is typical! I work with organizations, large and small, for profit and not for profit, in the U.S. and abroad. Each day brings a new day and new activities
  8. What I like best about my job: Variety, intellectual challenge, ability to make a positive difference in organizations
  9. Some of the challenges of my job: Explaining the value that I-O can add to an occasionally skeptical business audience
  10. Something others may find interesting about me: I’m a lifelong New Yorker, born and raised in The Big Apple
  11. My other I-O and SIOP-related activities: Member of the Metro NY Association of Applied Psychology, former member of the SIOP Visibility Committee
  12. My advice to future I-O psychologists: Be adaptable, learn to speak the language of business, and keep your focus on adding tangible value no matter what you’re doing
  13. Why I-O psychology matters: We are more qualified and knowledgeable about individual and social psychology in the workplace than many other people who do coaching and consulting
  14. Is there anything else you would like to add? I am the author of The Blame Game: How the Hidden Rules of Credit and Blame Determine our Success or Failure

To read archives of SIOP’s Psychology at Work series, click here!