Psychology and Computers

At first, it might appear that computers and psychology are two different fields. Psychologists study human behavior and health while computer scientists are involved in coding algorithms and designing software that aids people perform everyday tasks. In the real world, these two disciplines are inextricably linked on many levels. In fact, some of the most fascinating research being conducted in both fields is involving the fusion of computer science and psychology.

For psychological research technological advances in computer science have helped make it easier to conduct psychological studies. For instance the fMRI scanners can help psychologists to identify which parts of the brain are stimulated during specific thoughts or actions. Online questionnaires remove the biases 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 moments in this fusion came in 1983 with the release of The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction by three researchers from the Palo Alto Research Center at Xerox, Stuart Card, Thomas Moran, and Allen Newell.

It shifted research into the way computer users use them into the realm of computer science. This detached psychological techniques from their context in humans and made it necessary for psychologists to catch up. Psychometricians and other psychology branches that focus on numerical evaluations found the computer science method to be particularly beneficial.

Now, psychologists are working with computer scientists to develop AI which can better understand human behavior. For instance psychologists are helping to shape the ethical guidelines for the development of algorithms that could help predict the risk of depression for a person by studying their social media usage. Psychologists are incorporating cognitive behavior therapy into virtual reality to treat anxiety disorders as well as other conditions.