When you first think about it, psychology and computers might seem like two completely distinct fields. Psychologists study human behavior and mental health and computer scientists code algorithms and creating software that aids people accomplish everyday tasks. In fact, these two fields have a lot in common on many levels. In fact, some of the most interesting research being conducted in both fields involves the fusion of computer science and psychology.
Computer science has made it easier to conduct experiments in psychology. For instance FMRI scans enable psychologists to see which areas of the brain are activated during certain kinds of actions or thoughts. Online surveys also eliminate the biases that are inherent in paper and pencil surveys.
However, it’s the cooperation between computer scientists and psychologists that has really transformed the ways we interact with technology. The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction was written in 1983 by three scientists from Xerox Palo Alto Research Center, Stuart Card, Thomas Moran and Allen Newell, was one of the most important moments in the fusion.
It pushed studies of the way that humans use computers into the domain of computer science. It separated psychological techniques from their human context, and prompting psychologists to play catch-up. Psychometricians and other psychology branches that deal with numerical evaluations found the computer science approach to be particularly useful.
Psychologists are currently working with computer scientists in the development of AI which can better understand human behavior. Psychologists are helping develop ethical guidelines for algorithms that can predict the risk of depression based on a person’s social media activity. Psychologists are using cognitive behavior therapy in virtual reality to treat anxiety disorders as well as other conditions.