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Evolutionary psychology

the study of the evolution of behavior and the mind, using principles of natural selection

Behavior genetics

the study of the relative power and limits of genetic and environmental influences on behavior

Molecular genetics

the subfield of biology that studies the molecular structure and function of genes

Identical twins

twins who develop from a single fertilized egg that splits in two, creating two genetically identical organisms

Fraternal twins

twins who develop from separate fertilized eggs. They are genetically no closer than brothers and sisters, but they share a fetal environment


a person's characteristic emotional reactivity and intensity


in psychology, the biologically and socially influenced characteristics by which people define male and female


the enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, values, and traditions shared by a group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next


human traits being influenced/developed by experience

Gender identity

one's sense of being male or female

Gender typing

the acquisition of a traditional masculine or feminine role

Social learning theory

the theory that we learn social behavior by observing and imitating and by being rewarded or punished

Gender schema theory

the theory that children learn from their cultures a concept of what it means to be male and female and that they adjust their behavior accordingly


developed the stages of cognitive development


developed the three basic levels for moral thinking


said that securely attached children approach life with a sense of basic trust - a sense that the world is predictable and reliable; basic trust is a result of early parenting; developed the stages of psychological development


an emotional tie with another person; shown in young children by their seeking closeness to the caregiver and showing distress on separation

Authoritarian parents

impose rules and expect obedience

Permissive parents

submit to their children's desires, make few demands, and use little punishment

Authoritative parents

both demanding and responsive; they exert control not only by setting rules and enforcing them but also by explaining the reasons and encouraging open discussion and allowing exceptions when making the rules

Young-Helmholtz theory

the theory that the retina contains three different color receptors - one most sensitive to red, one to green, one to blue - which when stimulated in combination can produce the perception of any color

Gate-Control theory

the theory that the spinal cord contains a neurological "gate" that blocks pain signals or allows them to pass on to the brain. The "gate" is opened by the activity of pain signals traveling up small nerve fibers and is closed by activity in larger fibers or by information coming from the brain

Opponent-Process theory

the theory that opposing retinal processes (red-green, yellow-blue, white-black) enable color vision

Frequency theory

in hearing, the theory that the rate of nerve impulses traveling up the auditory nerve matches the frequency of a tone, thus enabling us to sense its pitch

Place theory

in hearing, the theory that links the pitch we hear with the place where the cochlea's membrane is stimulated

Signal detection theory

a theory predicting how and when we detect the presence of a faint stimulus amid background stimulation. Assumes there is no single absolute threshold and that detection depends partly on a person's experience, expectations, motivation, and level of fatigue

Absolute threshold

the minimum stimulation needed to detect a particular stimulus 50% of the time

Difference threshold

the minimum difference between two stimuli required for detection 50% of the time. We experience the difference threshold as a just noticeable difference

Weber's law

the principle that, to be perceived as difference, two stimuli must differ by a constant minimum percentage (rather than a constant amount)

Bottom-up processing

analysis that begins with the sensory receptors and works up to the brain's integration of sensory information

Top-down processing

information processing guided by higher-level mental processes, as when we construct perceptions drawing on our experiences and expectations

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