Psychology and Computers

When you first think about it, computers and psychology could appear as two totally separate domains. Computer scientists develop software and code algorithms that aid people with their daily tasks and psychologists study the human behavior and mental health of people. In the real world, these two disciplines overlap on a variety of levels. Some of the most exciting research in both fields is currently being conducted by combining psychology and computer science.

In terms of psychological research technological advancements in computer science have made it easier to conduct psychological studies. For example the fMRI scanners can help psychologists to identify which parts of the brain are activated during specific thoughts or actions. Online surveys also eliminate the biases inherent in pencil and paper surveys.

The collaboration between computer scientists and psychologists has transformed the way that 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 scientists from the Palo Alto Research Center of Xerox: 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 forced psychologists to catch up. Psychometricians and other psychology branches that deal with numerical evaluations have found the computer science approach particularly beneficial.

Now, psychologists are working with computer scientists in the development of AI which can better understand human behavior. For instance psychologists are helping to shape the ethical guidelines for the creation of algorithms that could help predict a person’s depression risk by analyzing 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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