Goals and Objectives
Many sociotechnical problems encountered in modern life arise from a failure to accurately account for human capabilities and proclivities. The Department of Psychology seeks outstanding individuals who wish to be trained in our Human Factors and Industrial/organizational Psychology Ph.D. program to become scientist-practitioners who will contribute to the solution of such problems through the application of established psychological principles and practices. The Department educates these students in the core areas of experimental, social, and personality psychology, to provide solid training in laboratory research and academic rigor, and in specialized areas of applied psychology, to provide the expertise required to address practical problems. In addition, the Department trains students how to employ the knowledge gained through their classes to the workplace by mentoring students as they work in local business or applied research settings, providing practical experience for the students and practical solutions to the community. The program of study is designed to ensure that students develop competencies in communication, research, the content of their major and minor fields, and professional conduct that will enable them to identify and implement appropriate responses to challenges to which they are directed in their careers.
Problems in human factors typically focus on the use of machines, or with the design of specific tasks, drawing most heavily on knowledge of human perceptual and cognitive processes to develop solutions. Human factors emphasizes the mechanical/technical aspects of a situation, looking for ways to modify the physical environment in order to improve performance. In contrast, problems in industrial/organizational psychology typically focus on the interactions between people (either individuals or groups), drawing on knowledge of human personality, social-motivational processes, and cognitive models to improve the effectiveness of organizations and of people within organizations. Industrial/organizational psychology emphasizes the social side of an environment, looking for ways to modify the set of people who interact in and with a system in order to improve performance by selecting the individuals who best fit an environment, by training individuals to fit better, or by designing organizational structures to motivate performance and/or improve efficiency. Combining both the human factors and industrial/organizational perspectives facilitates the achievement of the shared goals of increasing productivity, job satisfaction, and safety.
Our program is unique in offering an integrated presentation of human factors and industrial/organizational psychology. Although students specialize in one area, they develop a solid foundation in both. This broad perspective is important because problems related to both approaches are increasingly encountered as new, sophisticated technology must not only meet the needs of the individual users, but also support the mission of the organization in which it is introduced. Specialists in these traditionally separate areas have called for this broader perspective; one mission of our program is to demonstrate the value of this broader educational experience through the success of our graduates.
Our program follows a mentoring paradigm in which students become active in a laboratory when they matriculate. The laboratories, which span the range of relevant core areas, occupy space designed to accommodate the needs of the specific research. The research programs seek external funding, both through traditional grants and contracts and through pursuit of applied activities supported by area businesses, in part to provide appropriate training for the students. Our goal is to train students who have the knowledge and skills to succeed in traditional academic positions and the additional training and competencies to improve life in the “real” world.
Preference for admission to the doctoral program is given to applicants with the expressed desire of learning how to utilize the wealth of knowledge in psychology to improve productivity, safety, and satisfaction in our daily lives at home and in our business and work environments. The successful applicant will have demonstrated an appropriate background in research (both through classes and research experience) and academic training. The strongest candidates will have courses in the core areas of experimental, social, and personality psychology, statistics, research methodology, experimental design, biology, physics, mathematics through differential equations and matrix algebra, and computer science. In order to be prepared for the range of demanding courses in our program (the appropriate undergraduate preparation and our graduate curriculum are both detailed at our web site, psych.wright.edu), students lacking specific prerequisite must remediate these courses at the onset of their graduate studies. The minimum required overall GRE (verbal + quantitative) score is 1000. To be competitive, combined GRE scores should be above 1100. The GRE scores of students accepted over the last 5 years is about 1160.
Meeting the Needs of the State
The doctoral program in the Department of Psychology at Wright State University advances solutions to sociotechnical problems in the Dayton metropolitan area that can be applied throughout the state and beyond. Dayton is the ideal setting for our applied psychology program because it is highly industrialized and is also a center of high technology development, including companies focused on state-of-the-art computer hardware and software. It is the headquarters for nine Fortune 1000 companies, several large private companies, five General Motors Divisions, and over 300 high technology companies. Faculty members and graduate students in the Department of Psychology have strong working relationships with many of the large number of Ph.D. research psychologists employed by local companies that recognize the essential contributions of human factors and industrial/organizational psychology.
Dayton is also home to the Wright-Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB) research complex, which is situated adjacent to Wright State University. WPAFB is a major Air Force center of excellence with a long history of leadership in the implementation of applied psychology in aviation and Air Force organizations, and values the contributions of both human factors and industrial/organizational psychology. In the face of rapid developments in technical innovation, the Air Force recognizes that increased attention to these domains is essential in order to maintain a superior defense posture within realistic economic constraints.
The interest shared by Psychology faculty at Wright State and researchers at WPAFB has led to long-standing collaborations. The mutually beneficial interaction was formalized, with support from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, through a Memorandum of Agreement signed when the Ph.D. program was inaugurated. The Memorandum commits both groups to work together to enhance the behavioral research capability of the region. A notable success in this domain is the VERITAS project, a cooperative research endeavor that has rendered the Dayton area a leader in the utilization and application of technologically advanced, integrated virtual environments. Such strengths attract high quality scientists to our region, which further enhances not only our reputation and ability to provide superior graduate education, but also promotes Ohio’s status in technology and research.
Placement Objectives for Graduates
Our graduates are prepared to meet the strong demand in government and industry for psychologists with Ph.D. level education in human factors or industrial/organizational psychology, and they are also prepared for tenure-track professional positions in colleges and universities. Consistent with this training and our program goals, the Department of Psychology seeks to have its graduates solve problems through industrial, governmental, or educational positions. Our Description of Graduate Programs in Psychology booklet lists over twenty companies in which our recent graduates are pursuing successful careers. All of our graduates are employed in human factors or industrial/organizational positions. This strong placement record, which began with students who received M.A. degrees before the Ph.D. program was approved, has been enhanced by the Ph.D. program. The companies include:
- Boeing Aircraft (Seattle, WA)
- Honeywell (Minneapolis, MN)
- Klein Associates (Fairborn, OH)
- Lexis-Nexus (Dayton, OH)
- Micro Analysis & Design (Boulder, CO)
- Proctor & Gamble (Cincinnati, OH)
- Raytheon (Los Angeles, CA)
- General Dynamics (Dayton, OH)
- Xerox Corporation (El Segundo, CA)