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The Science of Psychology


the scientific study of behavior and mental processes


outward or overt actions and reactions, such as talking, facial expressions, and movement

mental processes

internal, covert activity of the mind, such as thinking, feeling and remembering


what is happening?


why is it happening?


a general explanation of a set of observations or facts


will it happen again?


how can it be changed?

objective introspection

the process of objectively examining and measuring one's own thoughts and mental activities


Wilhelm Wundt; Edward Titchener; studying the structure and elements of the mind [emotions and sensations]


William James; how our behavior allows us to function/adapt; no longer around; impossible to break down the mind

Gestalt psychology

focuses on perception and sensation, and perceptions of patterns and whole figures


therapy based on the theory of Freud, emphasizing the revealing of unconscious conflicts; theory of personality


John B. Watson; the science of behavior that focuses on observable behavior only

Psychodynamic perspective

modern version of psychoanalysis; behavior is a result of unconscious determinants and early experience

Behavioral perspective

behavior is a result of the environment; BF Skinner - operant conditioning, behavior is a result of reinforcement; Watson; Pavlov

Humanistic perspective

people have freewill, the freedom to choose their own destiny; Abraham Maslow; Carl Rogers

self actualization

achieving one's full potential or actual self

Biopsychological perspective

behavior is a result of biological events occuring in the body, such as genetic influences, hormones, and the activity of the nervous system

Cognitive perspective

focuses on memory, intelligence, perception, problem solving, and learning

Sociocultural perspective

focuses on social interactions and cultural determinants

Evolutionary perspective

focuses on the biological bases of universal mental characteristics that all humans share; looks at the way the mind works and why it does; behavior is seen as having an adaptive or survival value


M.D. who has specialized training in psychology


psychiatrist or pyschologist who had special training in psychoanalysis

psychiatric social worker

a social worker with some training in therapy methods who focuses on the environmental conditions


professional with an academic degree with no medical training

scientific method

system of gathering data so that bias and error in measurement are reduced

naturalistic observation

watching animals or humans behave in their normal environment

laboratory observation

watching animals or humans behave in a laboratory setting

case study

study of one individual in great detail


researchers will ask a series of questions about the topic under study


a measure of the relationship between two variables

correlation research

answers the question: are x and y related?

correlation coefficient

direction and strength of the relationship


a deliberate manipulation of a variable to see if corresponding changes in behavior result, allowing the determination of cause/effect relationships

independent variable

manipulated by the experimenter

dependent variable

the response of the participants that is measured

observer effect

animals or people who know they are being watched will not behave normally

participant observation

a naturalistic observation in which the observer becomes a participant in the group being observed

observer bias

tendency of observers to see what they expect to see

representative sample

randomly selected sample of subjects from a larger population of subjects


the entire group of people or animals in which the researcher is interested

operational definition

definition of a variable of interest that allows it to be directly measured

experimental group

subjects in an experiment who are subjected to the independent variable

control group

subjects in an experiment who are not subjected to the independent variable and who may recieve a placebo treatment

random assignment

assigning subjects to the experimental or control groups randomly

placebo effect

the phenomenon in which the expectations of the participants in a study can influence their behavior

experimenter effect

tendency of the experimenter's expectations for a study to unintentionally influence the results of the study

single-blind study

subjects do not know if they are in the experimental or control group

double-blind study

neither the experimenter nor the subjects knows if the subjects are in the experimental or control group

critical thinking

making reasoned judgements about claims


systems of explaining human behavior that are not based on or consistent with scientific evidence

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