Navigating Psychology in the Digital Age

APU aims to tackle some of the world’s biggest digital challenges through its cyberpsychology programme

APU has incorporated cyberpsychology into its psychology programme in a bid to equip students with the knowledge and skills to resolve many digital challenges that affect our world.
The internet has ushered in a new era for psychology. With around 58% of the world's seven billion people now online, our social interactions, communication habits and even our sense of identity have undergone significant changes.

This shift has given rise to cyberpsychology, a burgeoning field within mainstream psychology dedicated to analysing and researching human behaviour in digital environments.

Asia Pacific University of Technology & Innovation (APU) – a leading tech university endorsed as a Premier Digital Tech Institution (PDTI) by the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), distinguishes itself in Malaysia for incorporating cyberpsychology into its psychology programme.

This focus on the intersection of psychology and technology equips students with the knowledge and skills to understand the growing influence of digital spaces on human behaviour.

The APU Psychology programme also empowers undergraduates to grasp human behaviour and effectively address real-world challenges across diverse fields.

Additionally, the school focuses on equipping students with in-depth understanding and practical skills to leverage psychology in the digital realm.

Psychology of a new era

Cyberpsychology, also known as internet psychology or web psychology, studies how people interact with technology and how technology affects human behaviour.

Human psychology faces significant challenges due to increasingly rampant deepfakes and misinformation in the cyberworld.

The university’s associate head of Psychology, Vinorra Shaker asserts that these challenges affect human psychology in numerous ways, including exploiting cognitive biases by presenting false information that aligns with individuals’ existing beliefs, making it more likely to be accepted as true.

Additionally, it induces cognitive overload – making it challenging to distinguish credible information, and propagates misinformation, triggering intense emotional responses such as fear, anger, or excitement.

Despite challenges, Vinorra asserted that proper psychological education can empower individuals to navigate the complex digital information landscape.

Vinorra believes cyberpsychology can play a crucial role in countering deepfakes and misinformation.
She highlighted cyberpsychology's pivotal role in combating deepfakes and misinformation through various means:

> Understanding human vulnerabilities

Understanding psychological vulnerabilities – cognitive biases, emotional responses and social influences – enables students to develop insights as to why people are susceptible to believing and disseminating misinformation, including deepfakes and false online information.

> Developing psychological interventions

Insights from cyberpsychology can guide interventions to mitigate the impact of deepfakes and misinformation on individuals.

> Designing user-centred technologies

Cyberpsychology principles can guide the design of technology platforms and tools to help users identify and combat misinformation.

> Analysing online behaviour

Research in cyberpsychology can help analyse online behaviour patterns to understand how misinformation spreads through social networks and online communities.

Studying factors such as echo chambers, group dynamics and the influence of influencers enables researchers to devise strategies to disrupt the spread of false information and facilitate the dissemination of accurate information.

Forefront of the future

The School of Psychology (SoP) pushes the boundaries of the student experience by integrating advanced tools like wearable sensing Electroencephalogram (EEG) DSI-24 dry electrode headset in Cyberpsychology studies.
“By being at the forefront of cyberpsychology education, APU positions its graduates as future leaders who can address the unique challenges and opportunities presented by our increasingly digital world,” explains Vinorra.

Its Centre for Psychology and Well-Being is equipped with advanced facilities with an eye-tracking laboratory, a psychobiological laboratory, psychoanalysis therapy suites, psychological testing and measurement rooms, psychology group observation suites, as well as activity and discussion rooms.

Its School of Psychology (SoP) also pushes the boundaries of the student experience by integrating advanced tools like wearable sensing electroencephalography (EEG), the Tobii Pro Fusion Eye Tracker, and cutting-edge Virtual Reality (VR) training at the XR (Meta) Studio into the curriculum.

The integration of these advanced tools is not merely for theoretical understanding but also hands-on research projects and assessments.

Vinorra elaborates further: “We strive to equip our students with data analysis and research methods. As deepfakes and online behaviour generate vast amounts of data, courses in statistical analysis, and data visualisation will allow students to analyse this data and extract meaningful insights.”

The Centre for Psychology and Well-Being is equipped with advanced facilities like activity and discussion rooms to allow students to gain hands-on experience and contribute to the field of psychology even before graduation.
With AI advancing rapidly, the university equips students with practical skills on how to use generative AI for ethical and efficient research purposes.

They also opt to learn basic programming skills to build research tools, analyse data and potentially develop interventions using these languages.

By equipping students with a unique blend of psychological knowledge, technological expertise and critical thinking skills, the SoP positions itself as a leader in training the next generation of professionals in digital psychology.

Furthermore, by integrating modules from disciplines like Media and Design, Marketing and Communications, APU offers an interdisciplinary approach that broadens graduates' job market prospects.
Its Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Psychology fosters cyberpsychology, preparing tech-savvy graduates for competitive psychology and interdisciplinary careers.

The APU-DMU dual degree programme awards two degrees from APU and the UK’s De Montfort University, enhancing employability and supporting APU’s 100% employability track record.