Psychology: Still an IT Stepchild

Coworker Anita D'Amico testified on June 10th before the House Committee on Science and Technology. The subject was Cyber Security R&D, but a subject worthy of broader attention was the role of psychology as an information technology discipline. Perhaps because of its uncertain standing as a science (everyone thinks they already "know" human behavior), psychology has for several generations of scholarship pushed ever -- well, harder -- to present itself as "hard science." Whether such striving is worth the effort, and whether it succeeds in this struggle matters little to the role that psychology should be playing in information technology.

Psychology has had a supporting role in the Human Computer Interactions (HCI), artificial intelligence, program understanding, semantics, and more recently social networks. These are all important, large subjects, but, as Dr. D'Amico observed, very few psychologists are employed in cybersecurity, or IT generally, it must be conceded.

While gifted Silicon Valley engineers are credited with user-friendly designs like the iPhone, some psychology-friendly advocates believe that many effective designs could have been made available long ago. They believe that such design thinking should follow a path parallel to other technical innovations, rather than being seen as just another expression of armchair technical innovation by "engineers."

The House Committee provides a RealMedia archive of today's webcast. (Link to be provided later).

A copy of her full testimony (PDF) before the Committee is publicly available from the official House site. Anita leads the Secure Decisions division of Applied Visions, Inc.

Views expressed in this or any other post are my own and not necessarily those of the Company.

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