Industrial Psychology

Psychology Courses -Workplace psychology course from the directory of psychology, human behaviour and counselling courses at ACS Distance Education, for online or correspondence study.

Course CodeBPS103
Fee CodeS2
Duration (approx)100 hours
QualificationStatement of Attainment

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ACS Student comment: The marking is always very prompt and Gavin [tutor] is providing lots of feedback which assists in knowing where I may have fallen short in my answers or done very well.  Tyrrilly Philips, Australia - Industrial Pscyhology course.

Learn more about the use of psychology in industry
By understanding the thought processes that take place in the minds of people at work, a manager or supervisor can develop empathy for their staff, and apply this empathy to the way they manage the workplace. Learn about:
  • workplace conditions
  • effects of management
  • motivation and incentives
  • social effects
  • psychological conditions
  • recruitment and more

Understand how people think at work. Develop skills to be a better manager, supervisor or employer.

Lesson Structure

There are 10 lessons in this course:

  1. Introduction
    • Free Will versus Determinism, Developmental and Interactive Expressions of Behaviour, NATURE versus NURTURE, Influence of Environment on Learning Behaviour, Modelling and Conformity, Conditioning involves Certain Environmental Factors which Encourage Learning to Take Place, Classical Conditioning, Operant Conditioning, Reinforcement & Punishment
  2. Understanding the Employees Thinking
    • Sensation and perception, thinking and day dreaming, the Gestalt approach, unconscious and conscious psychic elements. explaining behaviour, knowledge of brain processes, personal interpretation of a given situation, instinct.
    • Terminology including: Mating, Curiosity, Maternal, Acquiring, Repulsion, Constructiveness, Rivalry, Laughter, Fighting, Walking, Swallowing, Play, Imitation, Sleep, Modesty, Domineering, Religion, Self Asserting, Sneezing, Thirst, Cleanliness, Workmanship, Parenting, Food seeking, Flight, Collecting, Sympathy.
  3. Personality & Temperament
    • Mature & immature temperaments (eg. Sanguine, Melancholic, Choleric, Phlegmatic), emotional types, fear, intelligence, knowledge, deviation, etc
  4. Psychological Testing
    • The Application Form; Psychological Test; The Interview; Intelligence Tests; Laws of Learning; Devising Tests; Selecting Appropriate Tests.
  5. Management & Managers
    • Qualities of Managers, Understanding morale, discipline, training, etc
  6. The Work Environment
    • Noise, Space, Light, Temperature, Speed of Work, etc. Accidents, Breakages, Fatigue etc.
  7. Motivation and Incentives
    • Maslows model of self actualisation, Security, Money, Ambition, Companionship, Social reinforcement, Labour wastage, etc
  8. Recruitment
    • Ways of seeking applicants, types of interview, ways of selecting staff.
  9. Social Considerations
    • Group Behaviour, Conformity, Industrial Groups, THE HAWTHORNE EFFECT
  10. Abnormalities and Disorders
    • Psychosis Neurosis Personality Disorders, Variance, Partial Disability (eg. arm.leg injuries; epilepsy, digestive disorders etc), The Psycho Neurotic.

Each lesson culminates in an assignment which is submitted to the school, marked by the school's tutors and returned to you with any relevant suggestions, comments, and if necessary, extra reading.


  • Discuss basic concepts that may be relevant to understanding industrial psychology.
  • Identify similarities and differences that occur in the way different employees perceive their workplace.
  • Discuss the effect of personality and temperament upon industrial psychology.
  • Identify applications for psychological testing in industrial management.
  • Discuss the psychology of management
  • Identify ways that the work environment might impact upon the psychology of people in a workplace
  • Explain how motivation influences work productivity.
  • Discuss the application of psychology to recruitment.
  • Explain the impact of social factors upon work productivity.
  • Discuss the significance of psychological disorders or abnormalities in a workplace.

How Do Workers Think?

The activity of thinking is a mental condition that arises when one is faced with a difficulty or a problem. There is another activity which is a close ally to this type of thinking: the type of thinking that does not necessarily involve a problem. Here the consciousness is allowed to wander into its own unconscious desires. This is called "day dreaming" and is usually a natural form of escape from some condition which is not welcomed by the consciousness, or to escape to a stimulus desired by the physical. This phenomenon does not require any real conscious thinking, and day dreams are of little practical value, with the exception of those cases where their recurrence can incite the dreamer to use extra effort to make the day dreams come to fruition. 

This is however divorced from the real activity of thinking, which we will now consider. Take one case of an electrical engineer who has to design an electrical installation. He will need to ponder such questions as-the type of materials available, space, the required light output, and the cost. He will consciously think of the job involved, bringing all of his past experience to bear on it. Similarly, a student who is faced with a problem, which is preventing or delaying the completion of an answer, must use his brains to seek a way around difficulties that hinder progress.

A Description of Imagery and Its Uses

We will begin our discussion of this section by comparing two types of mental elements which make up a person’s experience.


The first of these mental elements is the perception of physical objects which exist in the physical world and they may also be perceived by anyone else who should be present. These are definite objects: -a house, trees, road, children, etc.


The second group of mental elements are images of objects not immediately present in the physical world. These are images of past events, absent objects and things that are yet to be created. A memory image produces or resembles something which we have experienced in the past, for example. As we attempt to describe the house which we lived in as a child we may in some sense "see it" although the house may no longer exist. Another form of image is the created or constructed image -the novelist pondering over his next book might "see" his heroine, a person who never existed in the real world.

One associates images with each of the senses, the strongest being the visual image, which is the most intrusive of all images -hence, the saying: "One picture is better than a thousand words" It is difficult to imagine the taste of something without first visualising the object.

It is possible to recall a friend by the tone of voice, and on hearing a similar voice, the friend will be visualised.

If you blindfold someone, and then ask them to taste food or drink, they will associate the sense of taste with the article conjured up in their mind. Hence, in the same way the sense of touch and smell play a part in imagery, which as we have seen, stimulates thinking.


There are three types of action: reflex, instinctive and habitual, which are in contrast to proper thinking. In each of these cases, the required move is made without any pause for thought. If while walking, we hear our own name yelled a simple reflex action would cause us to look around.

 If you see a child in the middle of the road with a car approaching, a reflex action would cause you to call the child away from danger. An instinctive action on the other hand would cause you to freeze and remain motionless. Habitual actions are those to which we have become accustomed because of repetition, for example, eating and dressing.

A very good example would be a person waking up at the same time each day.


At any given moment, there are many possibilities of stimuli, which are within the reach of our perceptions. It is impossible for the mind to absorb all of these stimuli simultaneously. It is necessary for the mind to make a selection, and the act of this selection is known as "attention". In a schoolroom, the teacher says in a moderately loud voice "Tommy, pay attention". Tommy, who has been day dreaming, sits up, turns toward the teacher and becomes more receptive to any stimuli which come his way. Several of many, but related meanings of attention are involved in this example:

Level of Attention

The readiness of a person to perceive varies over time. Even ignoring the extreme variations owing to different physical states (e.g. sleep and awake), there are certain times when we are more alert than others.

The degree to which one is stirred depends upon the degree of one’s perception. The more aroused a person is, the more they will perceive.


This is the ability to maintain accurate perception over a sustained period of time. Some jobs require a high level of vigilance. These are jobs such as piloting an aeroplane, or working in a factory assembly line. There are other jobs which require hard work or high intelligence, but do not require the same vigilance. Vigilance depends upon ones level of arousal, but it is also true that a high level of arousal can produce a decrease in vigilance. This is one reason why eye witnesses to a crime or UFO sighting should not be accepted too readily.

Selective Attention

Attention can be described as the selective activity of the conscious. It can be likened to a torch beam, focusing first on one item and then on another. The factors which develop attention are two types:

  • Objective, which depends upon the nature of the object under notice.
  • Subjective, which depends upon interests, tastes and moods.

Anything that is inconspicuous can attract our attention if it should happen to be of particular interest.

This attention may be either voluntary, or non-voluntary.

Wherever we go, the arresting power of attention is around us. It may be the hooting of a car horn, a poster on a wall, or an unexpected event.


Intelligence is a broadly conceived concept, used in different ways by different people. It has been defined by some experts as psychometrics, which is the art of mental measurement; or the "Ability to adapt to new circumstances". Others define it as "The ability to learn". Still others define it as "the capacity to deal with complex or abstract material". Different psychologists have championed different definitions, but no clear cut definition has ever been established. It is for this reason that many psychologists have settled for an operational definition, which is -"Intelligence is what the intelligence tests measure".

It can be seen that some people are much better at solving problems than others. This can occur even if they have the same experiences and environment. It is true of all people, adults, adolescents or smaller children. It can also apply to all types of problems; social, business and school. Different people possess the quality which has come to be accepted as intelligence, in different degrees.

Intelligence should not be confused with knowledge. A child of six years old may have more intelligence than an adult of thirty, but will not have more knowledge.

It is generally accepted that intelligence is a latent ability which is present in everyone, but the quality of intelligence depends upon the powers of perception and the ability of a person to translate the perception into facts which have been inherited by the individual.

From the above this should be realised that an individual may have a considerable knowledge. In fact he may be specialised in a particular field. It does not however follow that his intelligence is of a high standard. There is no direct relationship between intelligence and knowledge -knowledge can only be acquired by experience.

Considering the Worker

When a psychologist studies a patient, he does not consider present factors, such as environment alone. He must also take account of his patient's early environment and its effects on the present outlook of the patient. Such is also the case in Industrial psychology. If we wish to discover such things as "What makes a worker accident prone?" "Why is he a low producer?" and "Why does he cause so much wastage?" Then we must study the worker against his working background, both past and present.

The most important aspect is "accidents and their cause". This is extremely important, because there are serious production losses as well as damage and suffering to the injured.

Where accidents are a common occurrence, over a period of time there is a tendency for the work force to regard accidents as inevitable. This is a fatalistic attitude which must be overcome by the management. This can only be done by teaching the correct safety measures and insisting that they be carried out. In South Africa there is an act - The machinery and Occupational Safety Act, which was enacted in 1983. This act provides for safety representatives in each working place, safety committees and safety officers. it is beyond the scope of this course to go into detail regarding this act, because this falls within the realm of Labour Relations. The student, would however, be well advised to obtain a copy of this act from the Government Stationer.

The length of work periods is a deciding factor with regard to accidents. It has been shown in many experiments both in Europe and the United States of America that as a shift continues fatigue continues to increase. The optimum period for work of a monotonous nature is two hours. After such a length of time a rest period of a few minutes should be allowed. Where concentrated work is required to be carried out for a period of four hours or more it has been proved by experiment and observation that most accidents occur towards the middle and end of the work period, when both mental and physical fatigue begin to take their toll. It has been proved that music played during the work period can have a soothing effect and actually eliminate fatigue and boredom. The music should, however, be provided with a level diffusion so that one part of the workroom is not subjected to a cacophony of sound while workers in others parts of the workroom are unconsciously straining their ears to catch the theme.This course helps develop knowledge and skills for anyone involved in workplace situations, such as managers, supervisors, small business owners, union representatives, etc. Find out more about this and other topics relating to industrial psychology by taking this course.

What This Course Could Do For You

The study of industrial, organisational or occupational psychology is applicable to all workplaces. Since it is concerned with the health and wellbeing of employees and how this relates to productivity, it can be of value to business owners as much as psychologists who advise businesses on better practices. This course covers a wide range of workplace issues so that graduates will be adept in their understanding of the influence of the physical environment, personality and motivation of employees, the value of psychological testing, and the behaviour of work groups.

This course is most likely to appeal to people in the following fields:

  • Occupational psychology
  • Personnel management
  • Business coaching
  • Business management
  • Team leadership
  • Business ownership
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Workplace training




ACS is an Organisational Member of the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning
ACS is an Organisational Member of the Institute of Training and Occupational Learning

ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association
ACS is a Member of the Complementary Medicine Association

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Member of Study Gold Coast, Education Network

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ACS Global Partner - Affiliated with colleges in seven countries around the world.

ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council
ACS is recognised by the International Accreditation and Recognition Council

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Miriam ter Borg

Youth Worker, Tutor, Author and Natural Therapist. Miriam was previously an Outdoor Pursuits Instructor, Youth Worker, Surfing College Program Coordinator, Massage Therapist, Business Owner/Manager. Miriam's qualifications include B.Sc.(Psych), DipRem.M
Kate Gibson

Kate has 12 years experience as a marketing advisor and experience as a project manager. Kate has traveled and worked in a variety of locations including London, New Zealand and Australia. Kate has a B.Soc.Sc, Post-Grad. Dip. Org Behaviour (HR).
Gavin Cole

Psychologist, Educator, Author, Psychotherapist. B.Sc., Psych.Cert., M. Psych. Cert.Garden Design, MACA Gavin has over 25 years of experience in psychology, in both Australia and England. He has co-authored several psychology text books and many course
Tracey Jones

B.Sc. (Psych), M.Soc.Sc., Dip.Social Work, P.G.Dip Learning Disability, Cert Editing, Cert Creative Writing, PGCE. Member British Psychological Society, Member Assoc. for Coaching, Member British Learning Assoc. 25 years industry experience in writing,
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