I/O Psychology

The following has been published in Canadian Psychology (Kline, T.J.B. (1996). Defining the Field of Industrial-Organizational Psychology. Canadian Psychology, 37, 205-209) and has been reproduced here with permission.

Defining the Field of Industrial-Organizational Psychology

Theresa J.B. Kline

The University of Calgary


The Canadian Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (CSIOP), as a Section of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA), has developed a defining statement for Industrial-Organizational Psychology. This definitional statement was passed by CSIOP in June of 1995, and by the Board of Directors of CPA in August, 1996. The following article presents the rationale for the definitional statement, how it was developed, and a copy of the statement itself.


Service, Sabourin, Catano, Day, Hayes, and MacDonald (1994) found substantive agreement that four professional areas of psychology (clinical, school, industrial-organizational, and clinical neuropsychology) were different enough from each other to warrant formalization of their differences through specialty designation. While specialty designation is, and will remain, a provincial licensing issue, the notion that four areas move in that direction first requires that they define themselves.

The national bodies of these four professional groups - Sections of the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) - were asked to initiate the process of self-definition. The Section on Clinical Psychology was the first to complete its task with publication of its definitional statement (Vallis & Howes, 1996). The Canadian Society for Industrial - Organizational Psychology (CSIOP), which is a section of CPA, agreed to develop a definitional statement for industrial-organizational psychology and is now in a position to present its definitional statement to the broader Canadian psychology community.

In February, 1994, the CSIOP Executive established a Task Force to oversee the development of a definitional statement. The Task Force, with input from the CSIOP Executive, produced a draft document which was published in the CSIOP Bulletin in order to obtain feedback from the Section's membership. The draft document was revised accordingly and subsequently approved by the CSIOP Executive in March, 1995. The revised draft was circulated to all CSIOP members and ratified at the annual CSIOP meeting in Charlottetown in June, 1995. The definitional statement was then sent to the CPA Executive committee, which with the agreement of the CSIOP Executive, incorporated several changes to the statement. Following further review and minor modification of the document by CPA's Professional Affairs Committee, the CPA Executive approved the definitional statement in June, 1996. As the final step in this process, the CPA Board approved this document, Defining Industrial-Organizational Psychology, at its meeting in August, 1996.

As Chair of the CSIOP Task Force, it is my pleasure to present the definitional statement for industrial-organizational psychology. This statement, contained in the following appendix, identifies ethical standards to which I/O psychologists adhere, the activities in which they engage, and the competencies, training, and continuing education experiences they are expected to have. 


La Section de la psychologie industrielle et organisationnelle de la Société canadianne de psychologie (SCP) a mis au point une définition de la psychologie industrielle et organisationnelle. Cet énouncé définitionnel a été approuvé par la Société canadienne de psychologie industielle et organisationnelle en juin 1995 et par le conseil d'administration de la SCP en août 1996. L'article suivant présente l'analyse raisonnée de cet énouncé définitionnel, la façon dont it a été conçu et le texte de l'énouncé lui-même.


Service, J., Sabourin, M., Catano, V.M., Day, V., Hayes, C., MacDonald, G.W. (1994). Specialty designation in psychology: Developing a Canadian model. Canadian Psychology, 35, 70-87.

Vallis, T.M., & Howes, J.L. (1996). The field of Clinical Psychology: Arriving at a definition. Canadian Psychology, 37, 120-127.