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Applied psychology

Branch of psychology concerned with everyday, practical problems

Applied research

Scientific study that aims to solve practical problems (compare to basic research)

Basic research

Pure science that aims to increase the scientific knowledge base (compare to applied research)


Any observable response or activity by an organism

Behavioral psychology

The scientific study of observable behavior, and its explanation by principles of learning; as a theoretical orientation, behaviorism is based on the premise that scientific psychology should study only observable behavior


View that psychology: (1) should be an objective science and (2) emphasizes observable behavior that can be objectively measured- Ivan Pavlov, John B. Watson, and B.F. Skinner

Biological psychology

Branch of psychology that studies the links between biological (neuroscience and behavioral genetics) and psychological processes; emphasizes genetics, the roles of various part of the brain, and the structure and function of individual nerve cells

Biopsychosocial approach

Integrated viewpoint that incorporates various levels of analysis (biological, psychological, and socio-cultural) and offers a more complete picture of any given behavior or mental process

Clinical psychology

Branch concerned with the diagnosis and treatment of psychological problems and disorders


Refers to the mental processes involved in acquiring knowledge

Cognitive neuroscience

Interdisciplinary study of brain activity (including perception, thinking, memory, and language) linked with cognition

Cognitive psychology

Scientific study of all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communication; compares the mind to a computer that encodes, processes, and stores information; cognitive psychologists emphasize thinking, perceiving, and information processing

Counseling psychology

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


Widely shared customs, beliefs, values, norms, institutions and other products of a community that are transmitted socially across generations

Developmental psychology

Scientific study of human development throughout the life span; once focused primarily on child development but today also examines adolescence, adulthood, and old age

Educational psychology

Study of how psychological processes affect and enhance teaching and learning; examines curriculum design, teacher training, achievement testing, student motivation, classroom diversity, and other aspects of the educational process


View that knowledge originates in experience and that scientists should, therefore, rely on observation and experimentation; crucial to the scientific method that psychology embraced in the late 19th century; to say that psychology is empirical means that its conclusions are based on direct observation rather than on reasoning, speculation, traditional beliefs, or common sense


Tendency to view one's own group as superior to others and as the standard for judging the worth of foreign ways

Evolutionary psychology

Study of the roots of behavior and mental processes using the principles of natural selection; influenced by Darwin, it emphasizes the role played by natural selection and adaptation in the evolution of behavior and mental processes; examines behavioral processes; examines behavioral processes in terms of their adaptive value for members of a species over the course of many generations

Experimental psychology

Study of behavior and thinking using the experimental method; encompasses topics that have traditionally been of interest to psychology such as sensation, perception, learning, conditioning, motivation, and emotion


School of psychology that focused on how our mental and behavioral processes function and how they enable us to adapt, survive, and flourish; based on the belief that psychology should investigate the function or purpose of consciousness, rather than its structure

Health psychology

Focuses on how psychological factors relate to the promotion and maintenance of physical health and the causation, prevention and treatment of illness

Human factors psychology

Study of how people and machines interact and the design of safe and easily used machines and environments

Humanistic psychology

The psychological perspective that emphasizes the unique qualities of humans, especially their freedoms and their potential for growth; stresses the important of self-esteem, free will, a choice in human behavior; Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow

Industrial/Organizational (I/O) psychology

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

levels of analysis

the differing complementary views, from biological to psychological to socio-cultural, for analyzing any given phenomenon

natural selection

the principle that, among the range of inherited trait variations, those contributing to reproduction and survival, are more likely than alternative characteristics to be passed on to subsequent generations and thus come to be "selected" over time

nature vs. nurture

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


Describes and understands an individual's consistency in behavior

personality psychology

the study of an individual's characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting

physiological psychology

Examines the influence of genetic factors on behavior and the role of the brain, nervous system, endocrine system, and bodily chemicals in the regulation of behavior

positive psychology

A movement that uses theory and research to better understand the positive, adaptive, creative, and fulfilling aspects of human experience


a branch of medicine dealing with psychological disorders, practiced by physicians who often provide medical (e.g., drug) treatments as well as psychological therapy

psychoanalytic/psychodynamic psychology

a branch of psychology that studies how unconscious drives and conflicts influence behavior, and uses that information to treat people with psychological disorders. Influenced by the pioneering work of Sigmund Freud, emphasizes the role of unconscious conflicts in determining behavior and personality


the science that studies behavior and the physiological and cognitive processes that underlie it ; the study of the mind and the profession that applies the accumulated knowledge of this science to practical problems; the term comes from two Greek words: psyche meaning the soul and logos referring to the study of a subject


the scientific study of the measurement of human abilities, attitudes, behavior, traits and capacities, usually through the development of psychologicl tests. Psychometrics is involved with the design of tests to assess personality, intelligence and a wide range of abilities. It is also concerned with the development of new techniques for statistical analysis

social psychology

the scientific study of how we think about, influence, and relate to one another

socio-cultural psychology

the study of how situations and cultures affect our behavior and thinking; focuses on interpersonal behavior and the role of social forces in governing behavior. Typically looks at attitude formation, attitude change, prejudice, conformity, attraction, aggression, intimacy, and group behavior


a system of interrelated ideas used to explain a set of observations

the unconscious

According to Freud, the unconscious contains thoughts, memories, and desires that are well below the surface of conscious awareness but nonetheless exert great influence on behavior.

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