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The scientific study of behavior and mental processes.

Basic Research

Research conducted to seek new knowledge and to explore and advance general scientific understanding.

Critical Thinking

The process of objectively evaluating claims, propositions, and conclusions to determine whether they follow logically from the evidence presented.


A descriptive research method in which researchers use interviews and/or questionnaires to gather information about the attitudes, beliefs, experiences, or behaviors of a group of people.


The entire group of interest to researchers, to which they wish to generalize their findings; the group from which a sample is selected.

Correlational Method

A research method used to establish the degree of relationship between two characteristics, events, or behaviors.

Sociocultural Approach

The view that social and cultural factors may be just as powerful as evolutionary and physiological factors in affecting behavior and mental processing and that these factors must be understood when interpreting the behavior of others.

Descriptive Research Method

Research methods that yield descriptions of behavior.

Case Study

A descriptive research method in which a single person or a small number of individuals are studied in great depth, usually over an extended period of time.


A general principle or set of principles proposed to explain how a number of separate facts are related.


A prediction about a relationship between two or more variables.

Scientific Method

The orderly, systematic procedures that researchers follow as they identify a research problem, design a study to investigate the problem, collect and analyze data, draw conclusions, and communicate their findings.

4 Goals of Psychology

Description, Explanation, Prediction, and Influence.

Naturalistic Observations

A descriptive research method in which researchers observe and record behavior in its natural setting, without attempting to influence or control it.

Laboratory Observations

A descriptive research method in which behavior is studied in a laboratory setting, where researchers can exert more control and use more precise equipment to measure responses.


A part of a population that is studied in order to reach conclusions about the entire population.

Representative Sample

A sample that mirrors the population of interest; it includes important subgroups in the same proportions as they are found in that population.

Dependent Variable (DV)

The factor or condition that is measured at the end of an experiment and is presumed to vary as a result of the manipulations of the independent variables.

Independent Variable (IV)

In an experiment, a factor or condition that is deliberately manipulated in order to determine whether it causes any change in another behavior or condition.

Control Group

In an experiment, a group similar to the experimental group that is exposed to the same experimental environment but is not given the treatment; used for purposes of comparison.

Experimental Group

In an experiment, the group that is exposed to an independent variable.

Selection Bias

The assignment of participants to experimental or control groups in such a way that systematic differences among the groups are present at the beginning of the experiment.

Placebo Effect

The phenomenon that occurs in an experiment when a participant's response to a treatment is due to his or her expectations about the treatment rather than to the treatment itself.

Experimenter Bias

A phenomenon that occurs when a researcher's preconceived notions or expectations in some way influence participant' behavior and/or the researcher's interpretation of experimental results.

Wilhelm Wundt

Father of Psychology - used Introspection (subjective)


Individuals perceive objects as whole units rather than individual parts - Phi Phenomenon.


The school of psychology founded by John B. Watson that views observable, measurable behavior as the appropriate subject matter for psychology and emphasizes the key role of environment as a determinant of behavior. Popularized by B.F. Skinner.


The term Freud used for both his theory of personality and his therapy for the treatment of psychological disorders; the unconscious is the primary focus of psychoanalytic theory.

Humanistic Psychology

The school of psychology that focuses on the uniqueness of human beings and their capacity for choice, growth, and psychological health.

Abraham Maslow and Carl Rogers

Leaders of the Humanistic Perspective

Information-Processing Theory

An approach to the study of mental structures and processes that uses the computer as a model for human thinking.

Evolutionary Psychology

The school of psychology that studies how humans have adapted the behaviors required for survival in the face of environmental pressures over the long course of evolution.

David Buss

Evolutionary Psychology is associated with...


An interdisciplinary field that combines the work of psychologists, biologists, biochemists, medical researchers, and others in the study of the structure and function of the nervous system.


Popularized by William James...

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