Psychology and Computers

When you first begin thinking about it, computers and psychology could appear as two totally distinct areas. Computer scientists develop software and code algorithms to help people with everyday tasks and psychologists study human behavior and mental wellbeing. But the truth is that these two disciplines are in many ways similar. Some of the most exciting research in both fields is being carried out by combining psychology and computer science.

Computer technology has made it easier to conduct experiments in psychology. For example FMRI scans enable psychologists to identify which areas of the brain are activated during certain kinds of actions or thoughts. Online questionnaires can eliminate the biases inherent in paper-and-pencil surveys.

However, it’s the collaboration between psychologists and computer scientists that has truly changed the interaction we have with technology. One of the most significant moments in this fusion was in 1983 when the publication of The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction by three researchers from 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 realms of computer science. This separated psychological methods from their human context and made it necessary for psychologists to catch up. Psychometricians as well as other areas of psychology that are concerned with numerical evaluations discovered the computer science approach to be particularly beneficial.

Today, psychologists and computer scientists are collaborating to create AI that will better understand human behavior. Psychologists are helping to develop ethical guidelines for algorithms that predict the risk of depression based on a person’s social media activity. Psychologists are also incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy into virtual reality, which could be used to treat anxiety and other disorders.






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