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Supporting Social Sciences on Capitol Hill


by Stephany Below, SIOP Communications Manager

SIOP Fellow Discusses I-O Psychology’s Value and Impact on Society and the Economy

SIOP Fellow Deborah E. Rupp, recently used her personal story to explore the value and impact of I-O psychology to both society and the economy during a speech on Capitol Hill titled “Industrial‐Organizational Psychology: A Story of Workplace Justice & Corporate Social Responsibility.”

Rupp, Professor and William C. Byham Chair in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, Department of Psychological Sciences, and Affiliate Faculty, Krannert School of Management, atPurdue University, spoke May 5, at the Hart Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.

Her talk was part of a series put on by SAGE Publishing, titled “Stories of Research to Reality: How the Social Sciences Change the World.” Other forum participants included: Bruce Bueno de Mesquita, Silver Professor of Politics, New York University; John Creswell, Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Nebraska‐Lincoln; Kerric Harvey, Associate Professor of Media & Public Affairs, Associate Director, Center for Innovative Media, George Washington University; Jim Knight, Research associate in the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning, Director of the Kansas Coaching Project; Michael Reisch, Daniel Thursz, Distinguished Professor of Social Justice, University of Maryland; and Claire Renzetti, Professor of Sociology, University of Kentucky.

The forum was moderated by John Sides, Associate Professor of Political Science at George Washington University and founder and contributor to Washington Post political science blog, The Monkey Cage.

During her talk, Rupp discussed I-O psychology’s long history of doing work that is of relevance to policy makers and society at large, including recent work with the White House Conference on Aging and congressional briefings focused on the science of recruiting, hiring, and training veterans returning to the civilian workforce; the psychological impact of furloughs; and the psychology of unemployment and underemployment.

Rupp also noted Elizabeth Kolmstetter’s work in rapidly recruiting, selecting, training, and onboarding the entire TSA workforce post‐911 and Lori Foster Thompson’s current role as a Fellow on the White House Social and Behavioral Science Team before delving into the bulk of her speech, to share her personal stories of “organizational justice, ethics, and corporate social responsibility—issues of central importance to policy.”

During her speech, Rupp discussed the science of fair treatment in the workplace, highlighting the fact that large meta‐analytic reviews suggests that workers who feel fairly treated are healthier, happier, more productive, and less likely to quit. On the flip side, she noted, when workers perceive themselves as having been unfairly treated they show signs of stress, both their health and productivity suffers, and there is increased likelihood of a whole host of very damaging behaviors like theft, workplace violence, increased turnover/quitting,  and increased legal claims of harassment, discrimination, and wrongful termination..

“Organizational justice—i.e., treating employees fairly—is good for both organizations and the people within them,” she said.  “As psychologists, we’ve sought to understand the origins of these reactions. Of course no one likes to be treated unfairly, but why? What are the motives that drive people to provide, seek, and react to justice and injustice in the workplace?”

Watch Rupp’s entire speech now on YouTube!

Rupp explained that the purpose of her talk was to expose listeners to the field of industrial‐organizational psychology, provide a sense of what we are doing to impact policy, and to illustrate how we have gone about connecting with a number of other social science disciplines to more deeply understand the ways in which organizations engage with society.

“The social sciences are so well positioned to not only uncover insights regarding the intersection of business, social responsibility, and environmental sustainability, but also to provide guidance in terms of best practices and evaluation of social responsibility initiatives,” she noted. “We really can work together to make the world a better place for everyone—and I hope my story provides but one example of that.”