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Why Organizational Psychology?

Job satisfaction is one of the most highly researched areas in Industrial and Organizational (I-O) Psychology with many different theories and measures available for the topic (Connolly & Viswesvaran, 2000; Levy, 2016). For the autistic population, a new dimension of research will need to take place to understand a new view on job satisfaction and job analysis to address the challenges the large population of autistic individuals faces in the workplace. Current estimates place 50,000 working-age autistics entering the workforce each year (Roux et al., 2017). The changes needed can no longer be ignored.

Findings on the autistic brain at work demonstrate that current practices may be counterproductive. I-O psychologist will need to lead the way in reevaluating the way work is evaluated, and how job satisfaction is measured.

Literature provides numerous definitions for what defines and measures the broad construct of job satisfaction. Job satisfaction is both an affective and cognitive component and is defined originally by Locke (1976) as, “a pleasurable, positive emotional state resulting from the cognitive appraisal of one’s job or job experiences” (as cited by Levy, 2016, p. 293). Job satisfaction has an impact on many dimensions of employment such as “productivity, motivation, absenteeism and tardiness, accidents, mental health, physical heal, and general life satisfaction,” as claimed by Frank Landy (1978, p. 533). The affective component for individuals with autism spectrum characteristics within the workplace is impacted by environmental factors that may not impact a neurotypical individual. Environmental factors can create negative behaviors resulting in cognitive decline in their experience of job satisfaction.

In 2015, the United Nations reported an employment rate of only 20% worldwide for working-age adults with autism spectrum disorder (K-m, 2015). The positive emotional state that can result from job satisfaction is needed for this population to promote personal and professional well-being, but not without a change in how job satisfaction is viewed. Through the lens of autism, job satisfaction may be a more complex construct. Lorenz, Frischling, Cuadros & Heinitz (2016) demonstrated in their study on overcoming job-related barriers with autism that the type of employment, either autism-specific or not, created different barriers within the workplace. These differences were also correlated with self-efficacy and coping behaviors. The inconsistencies of how individuals will react within a workplace provide a challenge for organizational psychologists and human resource managers creating environments for job satisfaction.