Psychology and Computers

Some people see psychology and computer science as two distinct fields that have nothing in common. The general consensus is that computer science is a very rigorous and quantitative research culture, while psychological research is based on more qualitative studies of human behavior and perception.

In fact, much of modern computer science is inspired by psychology. The design of interfaces for technology – from car dashboards to airplane cockpits and from computer operating systems to games controllers – is mostly developed by psychologists working closely with computer scientists. In addition, a lot of psychological research is a statistically intensive and requires sophisticated software to process large data sets.

Psychologists are also increasingly using technology to expand their reach. The traditional methods of experimentation in psychology, that focus on one aspect of behavior in a controlled environment or assessing larger patterns of behavior using self-report questionnaires or interviews, have inherent limitations. (Experiments are typically limited to one experiment while longitudinal studies are uncommon because of the difficulty of collecting and analyzing large amounts of data.)

Computer technology has given us new ways to analyze the behavior of people. For example the brain-imaging technology fMRI is not possible without computers. Researchers can link certain brain regions to 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.

Moreover the UK’s National Health Service now recognizes the CCBT (computerized cognitive behavioral therapy) as an effective treatment for mild-to-moderate presentations of depression and anxiety. Artificial intelligence (AI) is on the other hand, is set to transform psychotherapy by replacing the therapist and treating patients online using robots.

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