Debunking the Myth: Extending Cyberpsychology Beyond Freud

Key takeaways
  • You will learn what we do in cyberpsychology
  • What types of psychology we look at in online behaviour
  • Learn not to reduce online psychology to a single theory

Cyberpsychology has become one of the fastest growing areas of psychology in the last 10 – 15 years. It draws on traditional areas of psychology to help understand online and connected behaviour. It has evolved from a psychology around human computer interactions, which was very much focused on how people use technology, the benefits and costs, advantages and disadvantages of interacting with certain types of technology. Cyberpsychology has extended this to incorporate how we perceive, interpret, think and feel about our online interactions. It also considers both the online and offline impacts of our interconnected acts on our psyche, wellbeing and behaviours. Interactions that cyberpsychologists explore can range from helping people to date better online, to avoid falling victim to the worst of online dating scams, and from using online tools to enhance one’s social existence to becoming overly reliant on online interactions to the detriment of an offline social circle. Cyberpsychologists focus on the Internet and any technology or applications used for any type of interconnected behaviour as a tool. It serves as something to use to achieve a goal, usually a goal motivated by underlying psychological motives. When non-psychologists think of psychology, they usually think of Freud and outdated theoretical applications to human behaviour. In this talk, I will outline how our work as cybersociologists could not be further from this perception. I will consider the role of different areas of psychology in helping us understand the array of online behaviours we experience in our everyday lives. In doing so, I will focus on a number of different behaviours, including criminal activities, online socialising and online shopping to illustrate a need to look beyond Freudian theory to a more inclusive psychological approach to thinking of the end user when designing technology.

Alison Attrill-Smith

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