What is business psychology

Business psychology

Brief definition: Business psychology is a branch of applied psychology and transfers psychological knowledge to economic questions. Your field of activity lies between economics and social sciences. Business psychologists research the working conditions of professionals at all levels without neglecting economic indicators.

Economic psychology (behavioral economics) is a relatively young and interdisciplinary area of ​​the science of psychology. Business psychology is an economically oriented sub-area of ​​psychology and also a subject of its own. In theory, it means that business psychology deals with the psychological starting points and conditions of the relationships and processes that are important in economics. As Branch of applied psychology Business psychology transfers scientific knowledge to economic questions. The connection between human behavior and economic issues is researched. The Research area Business psychology mainly deals with the subjective experience and behavior of people in the economic environment as well as the social context.

Business psychology also deals with human experience and behavior in specific areas of the economy, using the classic model of homo oeconomicus often fails when decisions have to be made in complex situations, because in the household, in markets and in the state, the economy not only follows the rules of logic, but is determined by the characteristics of the behavior of those involved. In order to understand the stubbornness of business people as well as the psycho-logic of markets and to create reliable forecasts based on this, economics must take into account the findings of psychology. This includes, for example, errors in the collection and processing of information relevant to decision-making, difficulties in dealing with probabilities, heuristics and possible errors in the creation of forecasts and in looking back on decisions made in the past.

Interested parties have the opportunity to choose the subject as a focus within a psychology degree, whereby many private and public universities also offer business psychology as an independent master's or bachelor's degree. Also a Distance learning in business psychology is possible. The standard period of study is six semesters for the Bachelor of Science and four semesters for the Master. Degrees abroad are popular, but if someone wants to continue studying in the USA after completing their bachelor's degree in order to do their master's, it should clarify at an early stage which academic achievements will be recognized.

An academic one Study of business psychology Qualifies for employment in human resources, in marketing, in coaching and further training as well as in an advisory role in the company. Business psychology is a broad field and you can specialize in internships during the course of your studies. The study of business psychology is also suitable for self-employment as a coach or training specialist, in the marketing area you can also become self-employed with business psychology. A Study of business psychology After acquiring additional qualifications, they also enable them to join companies of all kinds in an originally psychological function. Business psychologists are there, for example, as contact persons for the employees and serve as confidants whom one can turn to with problems, be it privately or professionally. The study of business psychology is suitable for prospective students who have a good knowledge of human nature and an interest in their fellow human beings, but are also interested in business and would like to combine both areas.

Classic positions for psychologists in companies

As Recruiters A psychologist is responsible for finding a suitable applicant for vacancies, on the one hand through targeted direct approach such as poaching from other companies or through the creation and publication of job advertisements. A psychologist has to put together and formulate the skills and characteristics that the applicants should bring with them. According to this, a recruiter usually has to select the candidates from the applications received, with the implementation of an assessment center or observation during trial work days being part of his area of ​​responsibility. The psychologist as Human Resource Manager, HR manager or Personnel Officer is responsible for several matters relating to human resources, such as the hiring, further development and support of employees. The psychologist accompanies development measures for employees and evaluates them. His activities largely coincide with those of a recruiter, whereby he is usually also responsible for handling dismissals. A psychologist as HR developer is responsible for the further training and development of the employees of a company by planning personnel development measures, offering advice for employees, determining their individual qualification needs and researching, organizing or carrying out the corresponding offers. HR consultant or recruiters, after all, often work independently of a company that outsources their personnel selection. The area of ​​responsibility of a psychologist naturally also depends on the size of a company.

In business psychology, the focus is on the economic person, be it as a consumer, entrepreneur, employee or job seeker. Business psychologists serve private and public companies to strengthen the psychological sustainability of the processes. It is often about that Communicating corporate goals, but also in the case of major restructuring and conflicts, business psychology makes sense, because the central psychological topic touches on the role of trust in relationships, how this is to be established and maintained. Often this is only recognized when it has already been lost. A psychologically trained look makes one easier preventive perspective. It is not for nothing that the business psychologist or industrial-organizational psychologist is one of the fastest growing professional fields.

Wild growth with “business psychologists” in Bologna

Before the Bologna reform, someone who wanted to become a business psychologist had to study psychology, was able to choose the focus on industrial, industrial and organizational psychology in the second part of the course and graduated with a diploma. Today there is a proliferation, because the new master’s degree programs are springing up like mushrooms, i.e. often master’s degree programs that do not require a bachelor's degree in psychology. Knowledge of developmental, personality and social psychology, biological psychology and psychodiagnostics as well as psychological methodology including comprehensive statistical knowledge are the prerequisite for being able to deal well with an application-oriented subject such as business psychology, because anyone who is psychologically active without this basic knowledge , is like a doctor who only knows the name of a drug, but does not know how it is composed and how it works. Companies run the risk of spending a lot of money on charlatanism or unscientific procedures, for example for personnel selection. At the Professional Association of German Psychologists (BDP), which represents the professional interests of psychologists from all areas of activity, the development is observed with concern, because the proliferation very quickly leads to confusion and uncertainty for customers and consumers, because what can be found in a or two-year master’s degree does not correspond to the skills associated with the title of business psychologist. Although there is no clear definition of business psychology, according to the understanding of the German Society for Psychology, it is only a sub-area of ​​work and organizational psychology that deals with the investigation of psychological processes in business. This includes, for example, consumer or stock market psychology. The topics of personnel selection, personnel management or employee motivation, on the other hand, are not included. While the focus at universities is often called work and organizational psychology, many universities of applied sciences use the term business psychology. The courses often have a high proportion of economic content and often do not require a bachelor's degree in psychology. The term psychologist also means that there is a risk of confusion with the academic degree of a qualified psychologist or Master of Science, so that the use of the professional title psychologist is punishable as abuse of an academic degree, because everything that applies to the professional title psychologist is also for the Business psychologists valid (Schwertfeger, 2014).

What to look for when studying business psychology

Business psychology also forms an interface between psychology and business administration, i.e. That is, it is very versatile, as it deals with the behavior of people in markets and in organizations. But this also includes the question of how employees can be promoted and motivated in order to perform better and at the same time to develop personally. The optimization of work processes or complex development processes in an organization also fall under the remit of a business psychologist. Especially in the area of marketing business psychologists are in demand, and many Social media experts come from psychology. Last but not least, business psychologists examine how advertising affects potential customers and how it can be improved. A degree in this subject offers graduates varied and creative work opportunities. Business psychologists are in great demand on the job market, with career prospects in human resources work, in the media or in opinion research institutes being particularly good. It is essential that one receives a very practice-oriented professional qualification at the intersection of people and business and that psychological and economic knowledge and methods are imparted in order to be able to implement and optimize business objectives in practice. Therefore it is important not psychology plus economics to study but psychology in business. At an advanced stage, the focus of the training is on moderation, communication, coaching and leadership training, whereby you have to work on practical issues of business psychology in a company and learn the tools of the trade such as test development, psychological methods as well as survey and interview techniques in an intensive methodical training.


On October 4, 1958, the Section of Industrial and Industrial Psychology founded as the successor to a working group that was founded by Heinz Dirks was directed. At the general meeting of the Professional Association of German Psychologists in Mannheim in October 1958, the resolution was passed that all specialist groups should be converted into sections. A few days later the new section came under the first chairman Horst Fischer for a meeting at a congress in Mannheim. The newly founded section endeavored to activate its own work in other areas as well and to expand its level of awareness. As early as April 1959, the proposal was made to write to those graduating psychology students and to inform them about the work in the professional association. In addition, it was recommended to contact the university institutes to inform them about the tasks and activities of industrial and industrial psychologists, so that industrial and industrial psychology is given greater consideration than before in the training. In the course of time, the work, industrial and organizational psychology section emerged from an amalgamation of content-related sections, and in 2004 the merger with the market and communication psychology section followed Business Psychology Section.


Schwertfeger, B. (2014). Graduations with pitfalls. The world of September 13th.
http://www.wirtschaftspsychologie-bdp.de (18-10-10)

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