Cyberpsychology examines how cybertechnologies influence the spectrum of our human behavior.
“Every new technology offers an opportunity to ask if it serves our human purposes.” ~ Founder and current director of MIT’s Initiative on Technology and Self, Sherry Turkle
Much like other psychological science domains, the field of cyberpsychology is a rich, robust, and growing area of study.
For those interested in learning more about this burgeoning arena, this post singles out three key points to help you better understand (a) what cyberpsychology is, and (b) why it matters in today’s cybertechnical world:
1. Rooted in psychological science
Psychological knowledge (as it pertains to our brain, behavior, social, and/or mental processes) is gleaned through systematic application of the scientific method.
Cyberpsychology, then, is the study of how our brain, behavior, social, and/or mental processes are impacted by our enmeshments and interactions with a wide range of cybertechnologies.
2. Real-world implications
Internet users around the world are projected to reach nearly 6 billion by 2023; and nearly 7 billion by 2030. These numbers reflect close to 75% of the globe’s population online.
And with no connectivity slow down trends in immediate sight, these stunning levels of Internet activity support the notion that our species is actively engaged online.
Such interconnectedness has far-reaching cognitive implications as our minds, our emotions, and our physical bodies are in a state of constant interaction with cybertechnological devices.
It is in this very space, betwixt humans and computing machines, where a cyberpsychologist (like me) adds value and insight. We not only seek to improve our relationships with computing machines but also to examine how our cybertechnological interplays influence the way we think and feel.
3. Redefining machines, intelligence & what it means to be human
The rise, speed, and spread of computing machines across all facets of every day life have made us rethink, to some degree, what it means to be human; because as cybertechnolgies (increasingly driven by AI) get “smarter” and become more “emotive,” the lines between what is machine and what is human become far more blurred.
Yet when working with computers, the general public doesn’t want to have to philosophize about such hard hitting subjects and questions. Instead, they simply want to log on, get something done, learn something, research, design, contribute, think, laugh, and otherwise be productive or social, either on their own or with other individuals.
So then if the general public doesn’t take the time to contemplate the impact our relationships with our computers are having on our minds and emotions, then *who* will ponder through these hefty challenges? And who’s keeping a close eye on the eroding boundaries between computing machines and human beings face at the crux of their interactions?
Well, that’s where cyberpsychologists (like me) come in. We probe and seek to understand the profound, philosophical questions our relationships with machines present and challenge in our everyday mammalian lives.
Philosophical, in part, because “computers are thinking machines.”
Computers have also become objects we use “to think with” because they “evoke rather than determine our thinking” (observations derived from Sherry Turkle’s book, The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit).
These important dynamics deserve further exploration and constant study. Hence the rise of cyberpsychology. And thus, cyberpsychologists (like me) aim to preserve and protect human-centeredness — and our subjective well-being — within the rapidly growing and tethered landscapes of cybertechnologies.
Delve further into this deep and important subject; one especially relevant for today’s hyper-connected world:
- International Association of CyberPsychology, Training, and Rehabilitation (iACToR)
- Center for Humane Technology
- Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace
- Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
— — — — -| — — — — -| — — — — -| — — — — -| — — — —
Thanks for reading!
I write about human-technology interaction, mediated technologies, and cyberpsychology **but** I also enjoy creative writing, graphic design/computer art, visual art, and more. Check out my Medium lists to see if there’s something more I’ve published that might be of interest to you 🙏.