Psychology and Computers

At first, it might appear as if psychology and computing are two separate fields. Computer scientists create software and code algorithms to aid people with everyday tasks psychology studies human behavior and mental wellbeing. In reality, these two disciplines are inextricably linked on many levels. In fact some of the most exciting research being done in both fields involves the combination of psychology and computer science.

For psychological research, technological advances in computer science have made it easier to conduct psychological tests. For instance FMRI scans enable psychologists to determine which regions of the brain activate during certain types of thoughts or actions. Online questionnaires can eliminate the biases that are inherent in paper and pencil surveys.

The collaboration between psychologists and computer scientists has changed the way we interact with technology. One of the most significant moments in this fusion was in 1983 with the publication of The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction by three scientists from the Palo Alto Research Center at Xerox, Stuart Card, Thomas Moran, and Allen Newell.

It moved research into the way that humans use computers into the realm of computer science, separating psychological techniques from their human context and making psychologists catch up. Psychometricians and other fields of psychology that deal with numerical evaluations found the computer science approach to be particularly beneficial.

Psychologists and computer scientists are collaborating to create AI which can better understand human behavior. For instance psychologists are helping develop the ethical guidelines for the creation of algorithms that could help predict a person’s depression risk by studying their social media usage. Psychologists are applying cognitive behavior therapy to virtual reality to treat anxiety disorders as well as other conditions.

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