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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 1, Issue 3 (July 24, 1926)

Industrial Psychology

Industrial Psychology.

The knowledge of psychology applied to industry has grown considerably during recent years. The old rudimentary mental tests, often misleading or valueless, have been discarded, and new tests formulated in relation to particular industries, and, therefore, more useful for industrial purposes have been substituted. What these tests are, how they are applied and to what extent they may be found useful in industry will be found described in a most lucid and interesting fashion in “Industrial Psychology in Great Britain,” by Charles S. Myers (Jonathon Cape, London. Price, 7/6). It can be shown that psychology can be of great assistance to an employee making his work easier, more interesting and more pleasing. Vocational guidance, movement study, and physical and mental fatigue are the three chief questions dealt with in Dr. Myers' volume. He is of opinion that industrial fatigue is not reduced by shortening hours of labour, but rather by the avoidance of too long uninterrupted spells of work by rest pauses and change of task and posture. He notes that the best results are not necessarily achieved through the medium of the irreduciable minimum of movements, as, he says some allowance must be made for “style.” The need of all industry is the keeping of square pegs out of round holes. It is here that psychology can be of great assistance. A complete system, of course, would include psychological, physiological, and medical examination. Vocational selection is not nearly so difficult as vocational guidance, for the youthful mind is less reliable, less stable. Besides, vocational guidance may be only negative in character, and, is, therefore, also less definite than vocational selection. The tests for vocational selection may be supplemented by trade tests or by what are termed analogous tests, in which the same qualities are called into play as will be necessary, or at least helpful to a particular industry. The method of analytic tests is applied by abstracting the various qualities considered necessary to efficiency in a given occupation and by testing said qualities more or less separately. In this book Dr. Myers fully describes the process, with many illustrations from various industries. In order to make the highest use of the tests given, it is necessary that they be applied by some one who has had a training in psychology. As must be obvious to those with even a slight knowledge of the subject, unqualified individuals applying these tests to measure ability, as they would measure a suit length, will fail to get results that can be relied upon, for, besides not having a scientific standard of judgment, they do not know when nor how to “make allowances,” nor how to qualify or amplify results.