AQA A Level Psychology - Subject Specific Vocabulary
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A term used in the context of obedience to an authority figure. It refers to the way in which an individual may obey an order, perhaps to do something that they see as 'wrong', because the individual hands over the responsibility for the outcome of the action to the authority figure.
This title describes a person who holds rigid beliefs, is intolerant of ambiguity, submissive to authority and hostile to those of lower status or members of an out-group. This may be the outcome of a person experiencing harsh authoritarian parenting as a child. It is used as an explanation for high levels of obedience to authority figures and prejudice against out groups.
A term that refers to increased sensitivity to certain stimuli due to prior experience. Unconscious memories are stored and then activated when we experience similar situations or cues. e.g violent scenes from TV, films or even song lyrics may be stored and when similar situations or cues occur in our own lives these memories are activated and influence or prime how we behave.
A term used in the humanistic approach to psychology, particularly the person-centred therapy pioneered by Carl Rogers. It refers to a state in which there is agreement/consistency between a person's 'real self' and 'ideal self'. He suggested that a higher level of congruence is a sign of better psychological health.
Conditions of worthA term used in the humanistic approach to psychology. It describes a situation in which a child has to behave in ways that parents approve of in order to gain their praise and love. Carl Rogers suggested that this was the origin of
many psychological problems. To counteract this, the therapist would offer unconditional positive regard to the client.CorrelationThis term refers to a method of research in which the researcher investigates a possible association between two variables, called co-variables. Data from such research is displayed on a scattergram. Correlational analysis involves
measuring the extent of the relationship between the variables by working out the correlation co-efficient. The process could be used, for example, to investigate the relationship between levels of obesity and the incidence of
coronary heart disease. Unlike experiments, correlations do not show a cause and effect relationship between the variables.Co-variablesThese are the variables investigated in a correlation. They are not referred to as the independent and dependent variables because the study is investigating the relationship between them, not trying to show a cause and effect relationship.Cultural relativismThis term refers to the way in which the function and meaning of a behaviour, value or attitude are relative to a specific cultural setting. Interpretations about the same behaviour may therefore differ between cultures. For example hearing the voice of a deceased relative could be a religious experience or an indication of psychosis.De-individuationA term used in the context of aggression and obedience. It refers to a state in which individuals have lower self-awareness and a weaker sense of personal responsibility for their actions. This may result from the relative anonymity of being part of a crowd.Demand characteristicsThese are features of a piece of research which allow the participants to work out its aim and/or hypotheses. Participants may then change their behaviour and so frustrate the aim of the research. This is more likely in repeated measure designs for experiments. It is also a problem for repeating historical research projects as participants may be familiar with the results of original research.Diathesis-stress modelThis model proposes that people develop psychological disorders when they possess both an inherited or constitutional predispositions (diathesis) and are exposed to stressful events. For example twins may both have inherited a susceptibility to schizophrenia but only one experiences critical life events that trigger the appearance of symptoms of schizophrenia.Differential association theoryThis is a learning theory of offending behaviour. The idea is that individuals learn the values, attitudes, techniques, and motives for criminal behaviour through interactions or 'association' with intimate personal groups such as family
and friends. On balance criminal behaviour is likely to occur when the individual is exposed to positive attitudes to criminal behaviour more than positive attitudes for law-abiding.Endogenous pacemakersInternal body 'clocks' that regulate biological rhythms such as regular times of sleep linked to levels of light. Examples include the suprachiasmatic nucleus and the pineal gland.Exogenous zeitgebersExternal stimuli, such as levels of light, temperature and social cues, which influence biological rhythms.Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)A technique of brain-scanning which uses a magnetic field and radio signals to monitor the blood flow in the brain. Areas of the brain that are involved in activities done by the person during scanning have a greater blood oxygenation and flow, so specific brain areas can be linked to specific abilities.Hemispheric lateralisationThis term refers to the fact that the left and right halves, or hemispheres, of the brain have centres that are specifically associated with different brain activities, e.g speech centres on the left and the ability to make sense of 3D arrangements on the right.Hostile attribution biasA tendency to perceive hostile intent on the part of others, even when it is really lacking. The term is used in the context of offending behaviour and aggression. It offers a cognitive explanation of aggression. The idea is that people may interpret, perhaps wrongly, the behaviour of others as being hostile towards them, and so react aggressively believing they are responding to provocation.Interactional SynchronyA term used to describe, for example, contacts between a child and a care-giver where they 'take turns' in smiling, 'cooing', making eye contact etc. Contacts like these help in a child's social development and the formation of attachments with important figures such as the mother.Interactionist approachDifferent approaches to psychology offer different explanations for a particular behaviour. A more complete explanation is gained by considering several factors which may, operating together, have an influence on it. The different approaches may provide explanations at different levels.InterferenceAn explanation for forgetting when similar material, e.g the vocabulary of two similar languages such as Italian and Spanish, is confused in recall from the LTM. Retroactive interference occurs when newly learned information interferes with the recall of previously learned information. Proactive interference occurs when past memories
inhibit an individual's full potential to retain new memories.Internal working modelThis is a cognitive framework we use to understand the world, self and others. The internal working model developed as a result of the early attachments of an infant provides mental representations memories and expectations that influence the development of relationships throughout life.IntrospectionA technique pioneered by Wilhelm Wundt, the 'father of modern psychology' to gain insight into how mental processes work. People were trained to report in detail on their inner experiences when presented with a stimulus
such as a problem to solve or something to be memorised.Levels of explanationDifferent psychological approaches offer different explanations for a particular behaviour. Some are more holistic, such as the humanistic approach, while others are more reductionist, such as the biological approach. Levels of explanation refer to the extent to which explanations are holistic/reductionist.Locus of controlThis refers to the extent to which individuals believe that they can control events in their lives. People with an 'internal' locus of control tend to take personal responsibility for their actions and to feel that they control their own lives. People with an external locus of control tend to feel that their lives and actions are strongly influenced by luck, chance, other people and environmental factors. The term is used in looking at responses to stress and research into social influence.Mediational processesThese are cognitive processes such as attending, understanding and decision making that occur between a stimulus and a resulting behaviour. A feature of social learning theory.Meta-analysisA process in which a large number of studies, which have involved the same research question and methods of research, are reviewed together and the combined data is tested by statistical techniques to assess the effect size. As the data comes from a much larger group of participants the conclusions may be regarded with more confidence.Monotropic theoryA term used by John Bowlby to suggest that the infants have an inbuilt tendency to make an initial attachment with one attachment figure, usually the mother. He suggested that this tendency has an evolutionary origin.Operationalisation of variablesResearch ideas may begin with terms such as 'memory' or 'locus of control' as variables to manipulate or measure. In operationalisation these variables are expressed in a form that can be measured accurately. For example, 'locus
of control' could be measured as the score on a suitable questionnaire, while 'memory' could be measured as 'the number of words recalled'.ParadigmsThis term refers to a set of assumptions, methods and terminology shared by psychologists. Each different 'approach' could be considered to have its own paradigm. The historical sciences are regarded as having a single paradigm often involving observation, theory, hypothesis, empirical testing, support/challenge leading to refined theory. A paradigm shift happens when the established paradigm has been challenged to the point that a different one takes its place. The change from a predominately behaviourist approach to psychology to a cognitive one in
the 1960s could be an example.Quasi experimentIn an experiment, usually with a high degree of control of extraneous variables, a researcher manipulates an independent variable to find out its effect on a dependent one. In a quasi-experiment, the researcher is unable to freely manipulate the independent variable or randomly allocate the participants to the two conditions. An example would be a study with gender or age as the independent variable.RecidivismA persistent pattern of criminal offending and re-offending by an individual who may be described as a recidivist.Restorative justice programmesThese focus on the needs of the victim, offender and wider community. They involve the offender being encouraged to meet the victim, take responsibility for the offence, apologise and try to make amends. The offender will be helped to avoid further offending behaviour.Retrieval FailureAn explanation for forgetting when material is stored in the LTM but cannot be consciously recalled as a result of a lack of retrieval cues to 'jog the memory'.Self-actualisationA term used by Abraham Maslow in the humanistic approach to psychology. It refers to a state in which people achieve their full potential. He suggested that every person has a motivation to achieve this.Synaptic transmissionThe process by which nerve impulses are carried across the small gap, the synapse, between one neuron and another. The nerve impulse is an electrical signal which is carried by chemicals called neurotransmitters.Systematic desensitisationA behavioural therapy for treating anxiety disorders, e.g a phobia of dogs, in which the sufferer learns relaxation techniques and then faces a progressive hierarchy of exposure to the objects and situations that cause anxiety.Thematic AnalysisA method of qualitative research linked to content analysis, which involves analysing text in a variety of media to identify the patterns within it. A coding system may be needed sort the data and to help to identify patterns.Vicarious reinforcementThis term refers to an aspect of social learning theory. A reinforcement, such as reward, makes a behaviour more likely to happen again. When it is vicarious, the person learns by observing the consequences of another person's behaviour, e.g a younger sister observing an older sister being rewarded for a particular behaviour is more likely to repeat that behaviour herself.