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Where Have All the “Workers” Gone? A Critical Analysis of the Unrepresentativeness of Our Samples Relative to the Labor Market in the Industrial–Organizational Psychology Literature

  • Mindy E. Bergman (a1) and Vanessa A. Jean (a1)

In this article, we demonstrate that samples in the industrial and organizational (I-O) psychology literature do not reflect the labor market, overrepresenting core, salaried, managerial, professional, and executive employees while underrepresenting wage earners, low- and medium-skill first-line personnel, and contract workers. We describe how overrepresenting managers, professionals, and executives causes research about these other workers to be suspect. We describe several ways that this underrepresentation reduces the utility of the I-O literature and provide specific examples. We discuss why the I-O literature underrepresents these workers, how it contributes to the academic–practitioner gap, and what researchers can do to remedy the issue.

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Corresponding author
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Mindy E. Bergman, Department of Psychology, Texas A&M University, 4235 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843–4235. E-mail:
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