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applied behavior analysis

A technology of behavior in which basic principles of behavior are applied to real-world issues.

behavior

Any activity of an organism that can be either directly or indirectly observed.

behavior analysis (or experimental analysis of behavior)

The behavioral science that grew out of the philosophy of radical behaviorism.

behaviorism

A natural science approach to psychology that traditionally emphasizes the study of environmental influences on observable behavior.

British empiricism

A philosophical school of thought, of which John Locke was a member, that maintained that almost all knowledge is a function of experience.

cognitive behaviorism

A brand of behaviorism that utilizes intervening variables, usually in the form of hypothesized cognitive processes, to help explain behavior. Sometimes called "purposive behaviorism."

cognitive map

The mental representation of one's spatial surroundings.

countercontrol

The deliberate manipulation of environmental events so as to alter their impact on our behavior.

empiricism

The assumption that a person's characteristics are mostly learned or are the result of experience. Also known as the nurture perspective.

functionalism

An approach to psychology that holds that the mind evolved to help us adapt to the world around us, and that the focus of psychology should be the study of those adaptive processes.

introspection

The attempt to accurately describe one's conscious thoughts, emotions, and sensory experiences.

latent learning

Learning that occurs in the absence of any observable demonstration of learning and only becomes apparent under a different set of conditions.

law of contiguity

A law of association holding that events that occur in close proximity to each other in time or space are readily associated with each other.

law of contrast

A law of association holding that events that are opposite from each other are readily associated.

law of frequency

A law of association holding that the more frequently two items occur together, the more strongly they are associated.

law of parsimony

The assumption that simpler explanations for a phenomenon are generally preferable to more complex explanations.

law of similarity

A law of association holding that events that are similar to each other are readily associated.

learning

A relatively permanent change in behavior that results from some type of experience.

methodological behaviorism

A brand of behaviorism that asserts that, for methodological reasons, psychologists should study only those behaviors that can be directly observed.

mind-body dualism

Descartes' philosophical assumption that some human behaviors are bodily reflexes that are automatically elicited by external stimulation, while other behaviors are freely chosen and controlled by the mind.

nativism

The assumption that a person's characteristics are largely inborn. Also known as the nature perspective.

neobehaviorism

A brand of behaviorism that utilizes intervening variables, in the form of hypothesized physiological processes, to help explain behavior.

radical behaviorism

A brand of behaviorism that emphasizes the influence of the environment on overt behavior, rejects the use of internal events to explain behavior, and views thoughts and feelings as behaviors that themselves need to be explained.

reciprocal determinism

The assumption that environmental events, observable behavior, and "person variables" (which include internal events) reciprocally influence each other.

S-R theory

The theory that learning involves the establishment of a connection between a specific stimulus (S) and a specific response (R).

social learning theory

A brand of behaviorism that strongly emphasizes the importance of observational learning and cognitive variables in explaining human behavior. It has more recently been referred to as "social-cognitive theory."

structuralism

An approach to psychology holding that it is possible to determine the structure of the mind by identifying the basic elements of which it is composed.

appetitive stimulus

An event that an organism will seek out.

aversive stimulus

An event that an organism will avoid.

baseline

The normal frequency of a behavior prior to some intervention.

case study approach

A descriptive research approach that involves intensive examination of one or a few individuals.

changing-criterion design

A type of single-subject design in which the effect of the treatment is demonstrated by the extent to which the behavior matches a criterion that is systematically altered.

contingency

A predictive relationship between two events such that the occurrence of one event predicts the probable occurrence of the other.

control group design

A type of experiment in which, at its simplest, subjects are randomly assigned to either an experimental (or treatment) group and a control group; subjects assigned to the experimental group are exposed to a certain manipulation or treatment while those assigned to the control group are not.

covert behavior

Behavior that can be subjectively perceived only by the person performing the behavior. Thoughts and feelings are covert behaviors.

cumulative recorder

A device that measures total number of responses over time and provides a graphic depiction of the rate of behavior.

dependent variable

That aspect of an experiment that is allowed to freely vary to determine if it is affected by changes in the independent variable.

deprivation

The prolonged absence of an event that tends to increase the appetitiveness of that event.

descriptive research

Research that focuses on describing the behavior and the situation within which it occurs.

duration

The length of time that an individual repeatedly or continuously performs a certain behavior.

establishing operation

A procedure that affects the appetitiveness or aversiveness of a stimulus.

functional relationship

The relationship between changes in an independent variable and changes in a dependent variable; a cause-and-effect relationship.

independent variable

That aspect of an experiment that is made to systematically vary across the different conditions in an experiment.

intensity.

The force or magnitude of a behavior.

interval recording

The measurement of whether or not a behavior occurs within a series of continuous intervals. (The number of times that it occurs within each interval is irrelevant.)

latency

The length of time required for a behavior to begin.

multiple-baseline design

A type of single-subject design in which a treatment is instituted at successive points in time for two or more persons, settings, or behaviors.

naturalistic observation

A descriptive research approach that involves the systematic observation and recording of behavior in its natural environment.

overt behavior

Behavior that has the potential for being directly observed by an individual other than the one performing the behavior.

rate of response

The frequency with which a response occurs in a certain period of time.

response

A particular instance of a behavior.

reversal design

A type of single-subject design that involves repeated alternations between a baseline period and a treatment period.

satiation

The prolonged exposure to (or consumption of ) an event that tends to decrease the appetitiveness of that event.

simple-comparison design

A type of single-subject design in which behavior in a baseline condition is compared to behavior in a treatment condition.

single-subject design

A research design that requires only one or a few subjects in order to conduct an entire experiment.

spatial contiguity

The extent to which events are situated close to each other in space.

speed

The amount of time required to perform a complete episode of a behavior from start to finish.

stimulus

Any event that can potentially influence behavior. (The plural for stimulus is stimuli.)

temporal contiguity

The extent to which events occur close together in time.

time sample recording

The measurement of whether or not a behavior occurs within a series of discontinuous intervals. (The number of times that it occurs within each interval is irrelevant.)

topography

The physical form of a behavior.

variable

A characteristic of a person, place, or thing that can change (vary) over time or from one situation to another.

appetitive conditioning

Conditioning procedure in which the US is an event that is usually considered pleasant and that an organism seeks out.

aversive conditioning

Conditioning procedure in which the US is an event that is usually considered unpleasant and that an organism avoids.

backward conditioning

Conditioning procedure in which the onset of the NS follows the onset of the US.

classical conditioning

A process whereby one stimulus that does not elicit a certain response is associated with a second stimulus that does; as a result, the first stimulus also comes to elicit a response.

conditioned response (CR)

The response, often similar to the unconditioned response, that is elicited by the conditioned stimulus.

conditioned stimulus (CS)

Any stimulus that, although initially neutral, comes to elicit a response because it has been associated with an unconditioned stimulus.

delayed conditioning

Conditioning procedure in which the onset of the NS precedes the onset of the US, and the two stimuli overlap.

dishabituation

The reappearance of a habituated response following the presentation of a seemingly irrelevant novel stimulus.

excitatory conditioning

Conditioning procedure in which the NS is associated with the presentation of a US.

fixed action pattern

A fixed sequence of responses elicited by a specific stimulus.

flexion response

The automatic response of jerking one's hand or foot away from a hot or sharp object.

habituation

A decrease in the strength of an elicited behavior following repeated presentations of the eliciting stimulus.

inhibitory conditioning

Conditioning procedure in which the NS is associated with the absence or removal of an US.

opponent-process theory

A theory that proposes that an emotional event elicits two competing processes: (1) an a-process (or primary process) directly elicited by the event, and (2) a b-process (or opponent process) that is elicited by the a-process and serves to counteract the a-process.

orienting response

The automatic positioning of oneself to facilitate attending to a stimulus.

reflex

A relatively simple, involuntary response to a stimulus.

reflex arc

A neural structure that underlies many reflexes and consists of a sensory neuron, an interneuron, and a motor neuron.

sensitization

An increase in the strength of an elicited behavior following repeated presentations of the eliciting stimulus.

sign stimulus (or releaser)

A specific stimulus that elicits a fixed action pattern.

simultaneous conditioning

Conditioning procedure in which the onset of the NS and the onset of the US are simultaneous.

startle response

A defensive reaction to a sudden, unexpected stimulus, which involves automatic tightening of skeletal muscles and various hormonal and visceral changes.

trace conditioning

Conditioning procedure in which the onset and offset of the NS precede the onset of the US.

unconditioned response (UR)

The response that is naturally elicited by the unconditioned stimulus.

unconditioned stimulus (US)

A stimulus that naturally elicits a response.

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