Psychology and Computers

Many see psychology and computers as two distinct fields that have very little in common. The general consensus is that computer science has a very rigorous and quantitative research culture, while psychological research is based on more qualitative studies of human behavior and perception.

But in fact most of the modern computer science is influenced by psychology. The design of technology interfaces ranging from car dashboards to aircraft cockpits and from operating systems for computers to game controllers are mostly brought about by psychologists working closely with computer scientists. Also, a large portion of psychological research is a statistically intensive and requires sophisticated software to process large data sets.

Psychologists are increasingly relying on technology to expand their reach. While the traditional experimental methods of psychology — investigating the behavior of a specific individual in a controlled and controlled environment, or assessing broader behavioral patterns by means of self-report surveys and interviews — are prone to limitations (experiments are limited to a single experiment; longitudinal research is not common because of the difficultness of collecting and analyzing large quantities of data).

The use of computer technology has opened up new avenues to understand individuals behavior. Computers are vital to the brain-imaging technology fMRI. Researchers can link specific brain regions to cognitive processes like reading or memory. EEG (electroencephalography) is another example of a technology that uses computer processing to record and analyze brain activity.

Furthermore it is the case that the UK’s National Health Service now recognizes the use of CCBT (computerized cognitive behavioral therapy) as a successful treatment for mild-to-moderate manifestations of depression and anxiety. And artificial intelligence (AI) is poised to transform the practice of psychotherapy by replacing therapy professionals with robots that examine and treat patients on the internet.

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