Why is psychology interesting

There are countless answers to the question of why psychology is such a popular area of study, but one central answer is that it keeps us informed about how humanity is developing. The study of our minds and behaviours, and how they change over time, helps us understand where we are headed as individuals and as societies.

Psychological approaches allow us to observe our own evolutionary development from a viewpoint that is superior to ‘flash in the pan’ news stories. One such viewpoint comes from the ongoing progression of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and how it is being put to use in the field of psychiatry.

Do patients dream of electric therapists?

MOST, in the world of psychiatric therapy, stands for: moderated online social therapy.

A type of interactive social media-based web platform, MOST is used in the treatment of mental illness and recovery. Of course, the cost-effective and practical nature of not having to be face-to-face with a patient is attractive to many healthcare providers, and perhaps vice versa. This alone creates its own controversy.

From a psychological viewpoint, things get interesting when you look at the extent to which social media-based therapy platforms are aided by AI. The obvious (and perhaps controversial) questions being: what is the human to AI ratio when it comes to the platform’s functionality? And, what impact does this have on the effectiveness of the therapy?

Artificial, but fairly intelligent

The controversy of therapeutic tools such as MOST only amplifies when we consider the following; many people experience feelings of isolation when suffering from mental illness, however, any user of such a platform will normally be at home and by themselves when undergoing the therapeutic process. So, how to overcome this problem?

The MOST system has similar functionalities to the Facebook newsfeed, except that its content is orientated solely towards therapeutic information, notifications, and discussions. As a result, your point of view on the usefulness of such an approach will directly relate to how you feel about social media platforms in general. This approach has been spurred on by the amount that young people with related health issues using social media, encouraging therapeutic approaches to amalgamate with the digital world.

“Back in my day…”

The AI element of social media therapy systems comes in when we look at automated content suggestions. We’re all familiar with suggested content, but the stakes are higher if the main function of it is to provide a type of healthcare service. The advantage of automated content is that more will be available regardless of the amount of time that the user spends online – instead of the requirement of a moderator to manually post it.

The crux and question however, is whether or not a programmed algorithm will able to match a user’s behaviour to content as well as a trained therapist can. Conversely, this brings us to the devil’s advocate question: if young people – with whom this system is currently being trialled – will be using social media anyway, perhaps this approach is a logical inevitability. Perhaps only time will tell.

Get involved

If you enjoy the exploration of such questions, then perhaps psychology is a subject that you would enjoy studying formally. Many students begin with a BSc in Psychology so that their grasp is strengthened by the academic tools that are required to get fully involved with the discipline.

If you ask any specialist in the field of psychology what first inspired them to follow their profession, there is normally one main catalyst that started them on their career path.

Here, even the most silent consumer can transform into someone with an active voice in the hybrid evolution of digital psychology. 

Why not take a look at Arden University’s psychology courses, where you’re invited to find out more about contemporary issues in the subject, and its related history. Or, make an enquiry to find out where to begin.

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