Can Psychologists really read your mind?
Psychology is the study into mind and behaviour and is often about predicting actions and looking into why we choose to act in the way we do. The behaviourist approach is a good example of this, with Skinner’s behaviour shaping predicting future actions by conditioning us. Despite this you don’t have to be an FBI interrogator to figure out what is going on in someone’s head. The signals are all there, it is just that people don’t realise it. TV programmes such as Derren Brown make it seem like psychologists really can read our mind, as he can often predict what people are thinking.
A team of world-leading neuroscientists have devised a system that analyses brain activity to work out a person’s intentions before they have acted on them. More advanced versions may be able to read complex thoughts and even pick them up before the person is conscious of them. It works by the computer learning unique patterns of brain activity that correspond to different thoughts. It then scans the brain to look for these thoughts and predicts what the person is thinking. It is expected to drive advances in brain-controlled computers, leading to artificial limbs and machinery that can respond to thoughts. More advanced versions could be used to help interrogate criminals and assess prisoners before they are released. Also, they may be able to spot people who plan to commit crimes before they break the law.
Whilst all this new technology sounds amazing, the ethical side of it needs to be considered. Is it really ethical to study a person’s mind and to delve into their thoughts? A person’s mind and thoughts are very personal and I think this new technology should only be used for purposes such as on criminals, because this could provide a valuable insight to a criminals mind. Techniques have previously been used in psychology to study a person’s mind, for example hypnosis. This has been used for a variety of reasons including to treat mild pain, chronic pain, phobias etc.
Many people will still continue to argue that none of these techniques into reading a mind are valid. I think technology is far off being able to figure out completely a person’s mind and how they are going to act before they even know. Every persons mind is different so this technique can never be universalised or generalised.