When you first begin thinking about it, psychology and computers might seem like two completely distinct areas. Computer scientists create software and code algorithms to aid people in their daily lives psychology studies human behavior and mental wellbeing. In reality, these two disciplines overlap on a variety of levels. Some of the most exciting research in both fields is being conducted by combining psychology and computer science.
Computer science has made it easier to conduct studies in psychology. For example, fMRI scanners enable psychologists to determine which areas of the brain are stimulated when a particular thought or action is performed. Online questionnaires can eliminate the biases inherent in pen-and-paper surveys.
The collaboration between computer scientists and psychologists has changed the way we interact with technology. The Psychology of Human-Computer Interaction which was 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 moments in the merging.
It brought studies of the way people use computers into the domain of computer science. This removed psychological methods from their human context and made it necessary for psychologists to catch up. Psychometricians and other psychology branches that deal with numerical evaluations found the computer science approach particularly beneficial.
Psychologists and computer scientists are collaborating to create AI that will help us better understand human behavior. For instance psychologists are helping define the ethical guidelines for the development of algorithms that can predict the risk of depression for a person by analyzing their social media usage. And psychologists are incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy into virtual reality, which could be used to treat anxiety and other disorders.