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AP Psych Vocab


a need or desire that energizes and directs behavior.


a complex behavior that is rigidly patterned throughout a species and is unlearned.

drive-reduction theory

the idea that a physiological need creates an aroused tension state (a drive) that motivates an organism to satisfy the need.


a tendency to maintain a balanced or constant internal state; the regulation of any aspect of body chemistry, such as blood glucose, around a particular level


a positive or negative environmental stimulus that motivates behavior

hierarchy of needs

Maslow's pyramid of human needs, beginning at the base with physiological needs that must first be satisfied before higher-level safety needs and then psychological needs become active.


the form of sugar that circulates in the blood and provides the major source of energy for body tissues. When its level is low, we feel hunger.

set point

the point at which an individual's "weight thermostat" is supposedly set. When the body falls below this weight, an increase in hunger and a lowered metabolic rate may act to restore the lost weight.

basal metabolic rate

the body's resting rate of energy expenditure

anorexia nerviosa

an eating disorder that involves self-starvation, a distorted body image and low body weight

bulimia nervosa

an eating disorder characterized by episodes of overeating, usually of high-calorie foods, followed by vomiting, laxative use, fasting, or excessive exercise

sexual response cycle

the four stages of sexual responding described by Matsters and Johnson-excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.

refractory period

a resting period after orgasm, during which a man cannot achieve another orgasm

sexual disorder

a problem that consistently impairs sexual arousal or functioning.


hormone produced by the ovaries; promotes female secondary sex characteristics

sexual orientation

an enduring sexual attraction toward members of either one's own sex or the other sex


a completely involved, focused state of consciousness, with diminished awareness of self and time, resulting from optimal engagement of one's skills.

industrial-organizational psychology

The application of psychological concepts and methods to optimizing human behavior in workplaces

personnel psychology

a subfield of I/O psychology that focuses on employee recruitment, selection, placement, training, appraisal, and development

organizational psychology

a subfield of I/O psychology that examines organizational influences on worker satisfaction and productivity and facilitates organizational change

structured interviews

interview process that asks the same job-relevant questions of all applicants, each of whom is rated on established scales

achievement motivation

a desire for significant accomplishment: for mastery of things, people, or ideas; for attaining a high standard

task leadership

goal-oriented leadership that sets standards, organizes work, and focuses attention on goals

social leadership

group-oriented leadership that builds teamwork, mediates conflict, and offers support

Theory X

assumes that workers are basically lazy, error-prone, and extrinsically motivated by money and, thus, should be directed from above.

Theory Y

assumes that, given challenge and freedom, workers are motivated to achieve self-esteem and to demonstrate their competence and creativity.


a response of the whole organism, involving (1) physiological arousal, (2) expressive behaviors, and (3) conscious experience

James-Lange theory

the theory that our experience of emotion is our awareness of our physiological responses to emotion-arousing stimuli

Cannon-bard theory

the theory that an emotion-arousing stimulus simultaneously triggers (1) physiological responses and (2) the subjective experience of emotion

two factor theory

Schachter's theory that to experience emotion one must (1) be physically aroused and (2) cognitively label the arousal


a machine, commonly used in attempts to detect lies, that measures several of the physiological responses accompanying emotion


emotional release. In psychology, the catharsis hypothesis maintains that "releasing" aggressive energy (through action or fantasy) relieves aggressive urges.

feel-good, do-good phenomenon

people's tendency to be helpful when already in a good mood

subjective well-being

self-perceived happiness or satisfaction with life. Used along with measures of objective well-being (for example, physical and economic indicators) to evaluate people's quality of life.

relative deprivation

the perception that one is worse off relative to those with whom one compares oneself


in Freud's theory, the level of consciousness in which thoughts and feelings are not conscious but are readily retrieveable to consciousness


the level of consciousness devoted to processes completely unavailable to conscious awareness (e.g., fingernails growing)

stage 1 sleep

quick sleep stage with gradual loss of responsiveness to outside, drifting thoughts, and images (the hypnagogic state). EEGs show theta waves.

stage 2 sleep

lasts about 20 minutes; periodic "sleep spindles" or bursts of rapid, rhythmic brainwave activity; waken up easily, but definitely asleep; sleep talking can occur at this stage or any other sleep stage

stage 3 sleep

usually about 30 minutes; is transitional and leads to the fourth stage; brains starts to emit delta waves

stage 4 sleep

The deepest stage of NREM sleep, characterized by an EEG pattern of more than 50% delta waves.

adaption-level phenomenon

our tendency to form judgments (of sounds, of lights, of income) relative to a neutral level defined by our prior experience.

Non-REM (NREM) sleep

Sleep stages 1 through 4, which are marked by an absence of rapid eye movements, relatively little dreaming, and varied EEG activity.


a phenomenon primarily occurring in non-REM sleep in which people walk while asleep

Activation-synthesis theory

the theory that dreams result from the brain's attempt to make sense of random neural signals that fire during sleep

Cognitive information processing theory

dreams are the interplay of brain waves and psychological functioning of interpretive parts of the mind


A common variation of consciousness in which attention shifts to memories, expectations, desires, or fantasies and away from the immediate situation.


a substance administered for the diagnosis, cure, treatment, relief of a symptom, or prevention of disease


a class of opium-related drugs that suppress the sensation of pain by binding to and stimulating the nervous system's natural receptor sites for endorphins

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