Psychology and Computers

Some see psychology and computers as two distinct fields that have little in common. The consensus is that computer science is a field that has strong research culture that is based on quantitative research while psychology is rooted in qualitative research of human behavior and perception.

In fact, the majority of the current computer science is influenced by psychology. The design of technology interfaces – from car dashboards to plane cockpits, from operating systems for computers to games controllers – is mostly driven by psychologists who work closely with computer scientists. Likewise, a huge amount of psychology research is highly statistical and requires sophisticated software to process large data sets.

Psychologists are also increasingly using technology to expand their reach. The traditional methods of research in psychology, which involve examining the behavior of a specific person in an environment that is controlled or evaluating broad patterns of behavior via interviews or self-report surveys, have inherent limitations. (Experiments are typically limited to a single experiment and longitudinal studies are not common due to the difficulty of collecting and analyzing large amounts of data.)

The use of computer technologies has opened up new avenues to study individuals behavior. For instance the brain-imaging technology fMRI is not possible without computers. The technology allows researchers to connect specific areas of the brain with specific cognitive processes like reading or memory. EEG (electroencephalography) is another example of a technology that uses computer processing to record and analyze brain activity.

Moreover, the UK’s National Health Service now recognizes the practice of CCBT (computerized cognitive behavioral therapy) as a viable treatment for moderate-to-moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression. And artificial intelligence (AI) is set to transform psychotherapy by replacing therapists with robots able to examine and treat patients on the internet.

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