Introduction: people at work

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For as long as mankind has existed, people have worked. Needless to say the nature of work has changed tremendously: our ancestors were mostly hunters and collectors, nowadays people work with data, ‘goods’ or other people, or provide services. What has not changed is that we still spend a substantial part of our lives working. It is therefore not surprising that some people’s work is about understanding the nature and conditions of the work of others in an attempt to predict and improve it. These are work psychologists, teachers, trainers and practitioners in work psychology and those who study the phenomenon of work and worker behaviour: the researchers. This book is aimed at everyone who would like to learn more about work psychology. The primary intended readership consists of advanced (second and third year) BA students as well as MA students in work and organizational psychology programmes. However, this textbook will also be useful for advanced students in related fields, including ergonomics and human factors, (applied) social psychology, clinical psychology, (psycho-)social medicine, occupational health, epidemiology, health sciences, industrial engineering, business administration and management science. Finally, researchers who would like to familiarize themselves quickly with state-of-the-art issues in the area of work psychology will also be interested in this volume. This chapter starts with a brief introduction to what work involves and what work psychology aims to achieve. Next, we consider the world’s labour force and discuss what having work means for individuals. After describing the history of the field of work psychology, we describe some important changes that the world of work has witnessed over the last decennia. Finally, we explain the crucial role of task analysis in contemporary work psychology and the chapter ends by explaining the general outline and structure of the book.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAn introduction to contemporary work psychology
EditorsM. Peeters, J. Jonge, de, T. Taris
Place of PublicationChichester
ISBN (Print)978-1-119-94553-6
Publication statusPublished - 2014


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