When you first begin thinking about it, computers and psychology might appear to be two completely distinct areas. Psychologists analyze human behavior and health and computer scientists code algorithms and creating software that can help people perform everyday tasks. But the truth is that these two fields have a lot in common. Some of the most exciting research in both fields is being carried out by combining psychology and computer science.
Computer science has made it simpler to conduct psychological research. For instance fMRI scans can help psychologists to see which areas of the brain are active during certain types of thoughts or actions. Online questionnaires eliminate the biases inherent in pen-and-paper surveys.
The collaboration between psychologists and computer scientists has revolutionized 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 the way people use computers into the realm of computer science. This separated psychological techniques from their human context and made it necessary for psychologists to catch up. Psychology departments that dealt with evaluations using numbers, such as psychometricians, found the computer science method particularly amenable to their work.
Psychologists are currently working with computer scientists to develop AI that will help us better understand human behavior. Psychologists are helping to create ethical guidelines for algorithms that predict depression risk based on the activity of a person’s social media. Psychologists are also using cognitive behavioral therapy to create virtual reality, which could be used to treat anxiety and other disorders.