Psychology and Computers

Psychology and Computers

At first, it might appear as if psychology and computing are two distinct fields. Computer scientists create software and code algorithms that aid people with their daily tasks and psychologists study the human behavior and mental health of people. However, the reality is that these two fields have a lot in common. Some of the most exciting research in both fields is being done by combining psychology with computer science.

In terms of psychological research technological advances in computer science have helped make it easier to conduct psychological tests. For instance FMRI scanners allow psychologists to identify which parts of the brain are stimulated when a particular thought or action is performed. Online surveys also eliminate the biases that are inherent in pencil and paper surveys.

However, it’s the cooperation between psychologists and computer scientists which has truly transformed the way we interact with technology. One of the most significant moments in this fusion came in 1983 with the publication of The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction by three researchers at Xerox’s Palo Alto Research Center–Stuart Card, Thomas Moran, and Allen Newell.

It also brought research on the way computer users use them into the domain of computer science. This detached psychological techniques from their human context and forced psychologists to catch up. Branches of psychology already dealing with evaluations based on numbers like psychometricians found the computer science method particularly amenable to their work.

Now, psychologists are working together with computer scientists to develop AI that will help us better understand human behavior. For instance psychologists are helping to shape the ethical guidelines for the creation of algorithms that could help predict the likelihood of a person developing depression by analyzing their social media use. Psychologists are incorporating cognitive behavior therapy into virtual reality to treat anxiety disorders as well as other diseases.