Lines that do not meet? Different perspectives of psychology upon organizations and work

Fábio de Oliveira, Professor do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Psicologia Social do Instituto de Psicologia da Universidade de São Paulo (USP), São Paulo, SP, Brazil

Marcia Hespanhol Bernardo, Professora do Programa de Pós-Graduação em Psicologia da Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Campinas (PUCCAMP), Campinas, SP, Brazil

estpsi_logoResearchers from the Pontifícia Universidade Católica de Campinas (Pontifical Catholic University of Campinas) and one researcher from the Universidade de São Paulo (University of São Paulo) wrote the article “Linhas paralelas: as distintas aproximações da Psicologia em relação ao trabalho” (“Parallel lines: different ways by which Psychology has approached work”). This study was included in the thematic section “Psicologia social do trabalho: uma perspectiva crítica de pesquisa e intervenção no campo do trabalho” (“Social psychology of work: a critical perspective on research and interventions in the field of work”), published in the first issue of 2017 in the journal “Estudos de Psicologia”.

The study is based on a historical perspective and addresses the diversity of approaches of psychology regarding work. If, on the one hand, it seems to be a unitary science (after all, we generally use the term “psychology” rather than “psychologies”), one who ventures into the domains of science development, quickly realizes that the ruptures intrinsic in several scientific fields are also present in the field of Psychology.

Based on this assumption, the article aims to show the historical and current differences between two perspectives whose object of research and interventions is human work: Organizational Psychology and Social Psychology of Work.

The authors discuss whether such different approaches to address work should be considered a single sub-area of knowledge, the so-called Work and Organizational Psychology, which has become current. Thus, why was this issue raised by the authors? The reason is that they consider that although both focus on work, they are different approaches in psychology, and in order to demonstrate it, they present historical characteristics of each one.

In the tradition of Organizational Psychology, the efforts are directed toward a smooth functioning of organizations as productive units that provide goods and services to society. This has been its focus since its inception approximately a century ago, when psychologists began to devote themselves to the recruitment and selection of suitable applicants to fill posts. However, the tradition of Social Psychology of Work, addressed in the article, has only recently been created in Brazil, and it focus on topics that have nothing to do with the organizational efficiency but are important for workers as a group that shares specific common interests. Workers’ health, unemployment experiences, and collective organization — aimed at pursuing claims or at finding alternatives to current modes of production — are examples of issues that would only be important from a perspective that is not focused on productivity.


BERNARDO, M. H. et al. Parallel lines: Different ways by which Psychology has approached work. Estud. psicol. (Campinas) [online]. 2017, vol.34, n.1, pp.15-24. [viewed 23 January 2017]. ISSN 1982-0275. DOI: 10.1590/1982-02752017000100003. Available from:

External Link

Estudos de Psicologia (Campinas) – ESTPSI –


How to cite this post [ISO 690/2010]:

OLIVEIRA, F. and BERNARDO, M. H. Lines that do not meet? Different perspectives of psychology upon organizations and work [online]. SciELO in Perspective: Humanities, 2017 [viewed ]. Available from:


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