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 to assist people with everyday tasks while psychologists study human behavior and mental wellbeing. In reality, these two disciplines overlap on a variety of levels. Some of the most exciting research in both fields is being conducted by combining psychology and computer science.

Computer science has made it much easier to conduct experiments in psychology. For example FMRI scanners allow psychologists to discover which regions of the brain are active during specific actions or thoughts. Online questionnaires remove the biases in paper-and-pencil surveys.

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

It moved studies of how people use computers into the realms of computer science. This detached psychological techniques from their human context and forced psychologists to catch up. Psychometricians as well as other areas of psychology that deal with numerical evaluations found the computer science method to be particularly useful.

Now, psychologists and computer scientists are collaborating to develop AI that can better comprehend human behavior. For instance psychologists are helping develop the ethical guidelines for the creation of algorithms to predict the risk of depression for a person by analyzing their social media usage. And psychologists are incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy into virtual reality, which could be used to treat anxiety and other disorders.

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