Applying I-O Psychology Knowledge to Navigate Through a Pandemic
Many leaders and experts around the world are currently working to combat COVID-19. Infectious
disease experts find themselves needing to quickly understand this virus and convince lawmakers and
ordinary citizens to take the necessary steps. Government officials find themselves needing to quickly
make important decisions that could impact the trajectory of the virus, while communicating those
decisions in a way that will help reassure folks, rather than stoke fears or prompt backlash. Teams of
people who have not previously worked together are being quickly thrown together to strategize
solutions to the problems facing society. Organizational leaders and managers must find ways to protect
and guide their workers – many of whom are fearful in the face of great uncertainty. Individuals must
learn how to engage in self-management so that they do not become overwhelmed by uncertainty and
a sudden change to their routine. Fortunately, we have covered topics throughout the semester that
could help provide insights to these folks on how to handle these challenges.
Your challenge is to provide guidance to those who are attempting to navigate the current crisis,
through the lens of one of the I-O topics we have covered throughout the semester. You may find the
book sufficient to accomplish this task, or you may find that you need to branch beyond the book by
finding external high-quality, credible, sources of information.
Your Task: You, as a psychology major/minor student, are to (1) provide guidance to those who are
attempting to navigate the current crisis, through the lens of one of the I-O psychology topics we have
covered throughout the semester. You should (2) choose specific audience that your message is
targeting to and (3) provide one example of a good attempt and (4) one example of a poor attempt to
navigate this pandemic challenge. Most importantly, you should (5) use course concepts to explain why
your guidance is effective to navigate the current crisis.
- Examples of course concepts that you can apply are (but not limited to):
o Teams (virtual teams, healthcare teams, global teams etc.)
o Leadership (transformational leadership, servant leadership, abusive supervision etc.)
o Occupational health (stress, work-life conflict, unemployment etc.)
o Work Motivation (Maslow’s needs hierarchic, goal setting, self-regulation theory etc.)
- Examples of audiences and approaches you could take to this assignment (but not limited to) are:
o Draw on occupational heath research to suggest how I-O psychologists can provide help to
essential workers (e.g., healthcare professionals, police officers, firefighters) or people who
o Discuss how work-life balance interventions could help mitigate stress of remote workers in
the context of current events
o Draw on teams and leadership research to suggest how leaders could effectively and quickly
move their teams into virtual platforms.
Your audience: Regardless of the approach you take, you should be clear about who’s behavior you are
trying to impact. Are you providing guidance that should be used by managers? By experts trying to
persuade the public? Guidance for organizational executives? Be clear about who your message is
intended to help. Your message could be oriented toward helping them manage the crisis they currently
face, or, it could be framed as a way to help them learn from this crisis in order to be better prepared for
managing future crises. Don’t forget to draw on a positive and negative to reinforce your key message.
o Aim to be concise, yet persuasive. Try to keep your essay to no longer than two pages (doublespaced, 12pt, times new romans).
o Style-wise, you can imagine that you are submitting this to a newspaper or other outlet to get
the word out. You want to provide relevant and compelling information, but also be concise so
that you don’t lose the attention of your readers. In other words, make sure you focus on
advancing one key argument, and omit any information that does not directly relate to that
o Cite the references at the end of the paper. You need to at least cite one source, such as our
textbook, or you may use beyond the book by finding external high-quality, credible, sources of
information. For example, peer-reviewed journal articles, New York Times, or Harvard Business
Review are considered as high-quality sources; Huffington post or Buzzfeed are not.