Psychology and Computers

At first, it may appear that psychology and computers are two distinct fields. Computer scientists develop software and code algorithms to aid people with everyday tasks and psychologists study the psychology of humans and their mental well-being. In the real world, these two disciplines overlap on many levels. Some of the most interesting research in both fields is being carried out by combining psychology with computer science.

Computer science has made it easier to conduct experiments in psychology. For example FMRI scans enable psychologists to determine which regions of the brain are active during certain kinds of actions or thoughts. Online questionnaires also eliminate the biases that are inherent in paper and pencil surveys.

The collaboration between psychologists and computer scientists has revolutionized the way we interact with technology. One of the most significant events in this fusion was in 1983 with the release of The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction by three researchers at the Palo Alto Research Centre of Xerox–Stuart Card, Thomas Moran, and Allen Newell.

It moved studies of how people use computers into realms of computer science. This separated psychological techniques from their human context and made it necessary for psychologists to catch up. Psychometricians and other branches of psychology that deal with numerical evaluations have found the computer science approach to be particularly beneficial.

Now, psychologists and computer scientists are working together to develop AI that will help us better understand human behavior. For instance psychologists are helping to shape the ethical guidelines for the development of algorithms that could predict the risk of depression in a person by studying their social media use. Psychologists are also incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy into virtual reality, which could be used to treat anxiety and other disorders.

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