Psychology and Computers

At first glance, it could appear as if psychology and computing are two distinct fields. Psychologists examine human behavior and mental health and computer scientists work on coding algorithms and designing software that allows people to complete everyday tasks. But the truth is that these two fields have a lot in common. Some of the most interesting research in both fields is being carried out by combining psychology and computer science.

Computer science has made it simpler to conduct studies in psychology. For example FMRI scans allow psychologists to see which areas of the brain are activated during certain kinds of actions or thoughts. Online questionnaires also eliminate the biases that are present in pencil and paper surveys.

But it’s the interaction between computer scientists and psychologists that has truly changed the way we interact with technology. The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction was published in 1983 by three researchers from Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, Stuart Card, Thomas Moran and Allen Newell, was one of the most significant moments in the convergence.

It brought research into how computers are used by humans into the domain of computer science, separating psychological methods from their human context and causing psychologists to catch up. Psychometricians and other branches of psychology that are concerned with numerical evaluations discovered the computer science method to be especially useful.

Now, psychologists and computer scientists are working together to create AI that will help us better comprehend human behavior. Psychologists are helping to develop ethical guidelines for algorithms that predict the risk of depression based on the activity of a person’s social media. Psychologists are using cognitive behavior therapy in virtual reality to treat anxiety disorders as well as other conditions.