Psychology and Computers

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

But in fact many of the innovations in computer science is influenced by psychology. The design of technology interfaces – from car dashboards to aircraft cockpits, from operating systems for computers to games controllers – is largely driven by psychologists who work closely with computer scientists. A significant portion of psychological research requires sophisticated software for processing massive data sets.

Psychologists are also increasingly utilizing technology to increase their reach. While the traditional experimental methods of psychology – studying the behavior of a specific individual in a very controlled setting or evaluating broader behavior patterns through self-report surveys and interviews – suffer from inherent limitations (experiments are limited to a single experiment; longitudinal research is rare due to the difficulty of analyzing and collecting large quantities of data).

The use of computer technology has opened up new avenues to understand individuals’ behaviors. Computers are crucial for the brain-imaging technology known as fMRI. The technology allows researchers to identify specific parts of the brain to specific cognitive processes, such as reading or memory. EEG (electroencephalography) is another example of a technology that uses computer processing to record and analyze brain activity.

The CCBT method is now accepted by the UK’s National Health Service as an effective treatment for mild-to moderate anxiety and depression. And artificial intelligence (AI) is set to transform the practice of psychotherapy by replacing therapists with robots that can examine and treat patients on the internet.

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