Why Psychology Graduates are Uniquely Placed to Work in the Cybersecurity Industry: Implications for Psychology Education

Authors: Taylor, J.

Conference: APS AusPLAT

Dates: 17-19 September 2021


A psychology degree is widely acknowledged as being good training for a wide variety of careers outside of being a psychologist; this has been enhanced by the movement in psychology education to produce psychologically literature citizens. This talk proposes that psychology graduates are uniquely placed to work in the cybersecurity industry, due to their understanding of human behaviour and possession of skills needed to address cybersecurity issues. The role of people is central in many cybersecurity incidents, e.g. attempts to illegally gain personal data rely upon people opening a link in a phishing email. Susceptibility to security compromises are associated with a range of psychological factors, including cognitive load, mental wellbeing and trust. Additionally, the mechanisms used to deceive people online can also be understood by drawing upon psychological processes involved in social influence.

However, there are challenges in attracting psychology graduates to the cybersecurity industry. Findings from a small qualitative study to explore psychology students’ attitudes towards working in cybersecurity will be presented. Future implications for education are that collaborations between those working in psychology and computing would be fruitful, both to enhance awareness of work in cybersecurity for psychology students and to develop psychological literacy in computer students.

Source: Manual