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the scientific study of behavior and mental processes

Rene Descartes

a French dualist philosopher; "I think, therefore I am" was his mantra for believing in the existence of the soul; also was opposed to rationalism/empiricism


the view that knowledge comes from experience via the senses, and therefore science flourishes through observation and experiment

Wilhelm Wundt

established the first psychological laboratory in Germany, where he performed the first psychological experiment


an early school of psychology that used introspection to explore the elemental structure of the human mind


a method of studying consciousness by reporting elements of their experience while performing simple sensory actions


a psychological idea that states that the brain processes things as a whole rather than in pieces, and strove to understand the organization of mental processes

William James

an American philosopher and psychologist; offered the first classes in psychology at Harvard; wrote influential books on educational and religious psychology; taught Mary Calkins in a class by herself

Mary Calkins

first woman to become eligible to earn a doctorate in psychology from Harvard University; became first female president of the APA in 1905; studied dreams, memory, and the self

Margaret Washburn

first woman to actually earn a doctorate in psychology from Harvard University; wrote a book called The Animal Mind to emphasize the importance of both behavior and mental processes in psychological research

humanistic psychology

a psychological theory that emphasized the growth potential of healthy people; used personalized methods to study personality in hopes of fostering personal growth

Sigmund Freud/psychoanalysis

one of the most famous psychologists in history; created a theory about human consciousness emphasizing human sexuality, personality, and dreams; also used a form of therapy called psychoanalysis


a psychological theory which is based on the idea that all things that organisms do (even unmeasurable things like thinking and feeling) is considered behavior, and that it can be studied without the need to consider the mind's mental processes

John Watson

founder of behaviorism; conducted research on how behavior works in animals and children; most famous for the "Little Albert" experiment, where he trained a baby to fear a white rat through association

B.F. Skinner

was so much of a behaviorist that he created his own school called "radical behaviorism"; developed a schedule of reinforcement to strength behaviors; invented many products to help him with his psychological research such as the operant conditioning chamber

Carl Rogers

one of the founders of humanistic psychology; created a personality theory involving 19 propositions describing self-growth; intended his theories to be used as the foundation for a form of self-awakening therapy

Abraham Maslow

another founder of humanistic psychology; created the "hierarchy of needs" which listed the various needs of a human being and how, once they are all met, a person has become "self-actualized"; used this to inquire about why more people are not self-actualized if they meet all their needs

cognitive psychology

the study of the consciousness that is completely unlike structuralism; it recognizes the existence of internal mental states but does not use methods such as introspection to study them, rather, it uses the scientific method


the longstanding controversy over the relative contributions that genes and experience make to the development of psychological traits and behaviors

natural selection

the principle that, among the range of inherited trait variations, those contributing to reproduction and survival will most likely be passed on to succeeding generations

biopsychosocial approach

an integrated perspective that incorporates biological, psychological, and social-cultural levels of analysis


how the body and brain enable emotions, memories, and sensory experiences


how the natural selection of traits promotes the perpetuation of one's genes

Charles Darwin

a British naturalist who studied species in the Galapagos Islands; created the theory of evolution, which states that all species of life have evolved from a common ancestor, and that natural selection has caused such divergence

behavior genetics

how much our genes and our environment influence our individual differences


how behavior springs from unconscious drives and conflicts


how we learn observable responses


how we encode, process, store, and retrieve information


how behavior and thinking vary across situations and cultures

basic research

pure science that aims to increase the scientific knowledge base

applied research

scientific study that aims to solve practical problems

counseling psychology

a branch of psychology that assists people with problems in living (often related to school, work, or marriage) and in achieving greater well-being

clinical psychology

a branch of psychology that studies, assesses, and treats psychological disorders


a branch of medicine dealing with psychological disorders; practiced by physicians who sometimes provide medical treatments as well as psychological therapy

hindsight bias

the tendency to believe, after learning an outcome, that one would have foreseen it

critical thinking

thinking that does not blindly accept arguments and conclusions; rather, it examines assumptions, discerns hidden values, evaluates evidence, and assesses conclusions


an explanation using an integrated set of principles that organizes and predicts observations


a testable prediction, often implied by a theory

operational definition

a statement of the procedures used to define research variables


repeating the essence of a research study, usually with different participants in different situations, to see whether the basic finding extends to other participants and circumstances

case study

an observation technique in which one person is studied in depth in the hope of revealing universal principles


a technique for ascertaining the self-reported attitudes or behaviors of people, usually by questioning a representative, random sample of them

false consensus effect

the tendency to overestimate the extent to which others share our beliefs and behaviors

representative sample

a smaller group whose characteristics reflect the whole population from which they were taken


all the cases in a group, from which samples may be drawn for a study

random sample/selection

a sample that fairly represents a population because each member has an equal chance of inclusion

social desirability bias

the tendency of respondents to answer a question in such a way that their response will be viewed favorably by others

naturalistic observation

observing and recording behavior in naturally occurring situations without trying to manipulate and control the situation

Hawthorne Effect (Mayo)

the process where human subjects change their behavior, simply because they are being studied

correlation (positive, negative)

a measure of the extent to which two factors vary together, and thus how well either factor predicts the other

scatter plot

a graphed cluster of dots, each of which represents the values of two variables; the slope of the points suggests the direction of the relationship between the two variables, the amount of scatter suggests the strength of the correlation

correlational coefficient

the mathematical expression of the relationship ranging from -1 to 1

correlation vs. causation


illusory correlation

the perception of a relationship where none exists


a research method in which an investigator manipulates one or more factors to observe the effect on some behavior or mental process

double blind study

an experimental procedure in which both the research participants and the research staff are ignorant about whether the research participants have received the drug or a placebo

placebo effect

experimental results caused by expectations alone; any effect on behavior caused by the administration of an inert substance or condition, which is assumed to be an active agent

experimental condition

the condition of an experiment that exposes participants to the treatment, that is, to one version of the independent variable

control condition

the condition of an experiment that contrasts with the experimental condition and serves as a comparison for evaluating the effect of the treatment

random assignment

assigning participants to experimental and control conditions by chance, thus minimizing preexisting differences between those assigned to the different groups

independent variable

the experimental factor that is manipulated; the variable whose effect is being studied

dependent variable

the outcome factor; the variable that may change in response to manipulations of the independent variable


the most frequently occurring scores in a distribution


the arithmetic average of a distribution, obtained by adding the scores and then dividing by the number of scores


the middle score in a distribution; half the scores are above it and half are below it

normal distribution

a bell-shaped curve of probability density, where the mean is equal to 0 and the standard deviation is equal to 1


the difference between the highest and lowest scores in a distribution

standard deviation

a computed measure of how much scores vary around the mean score

informed consent

consent by a subject to undergo an experiment after they have been told what the experiment entails

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