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Operational Definition

a statement of the procedures (operations) used to define research variables. For example, human intelligence may be operationally defined as what an intelligence test measures


a technique for ascertaining the self-reported attitudes or behaviors of people, usually by questioning a representative, random sample of them

Random Assignment

assigning participants to experimental and control conditions by chance, thus minimizing preexisting differences between those assigned to the different groups

False Consensus Effect

the tendency to overestimate the extent to which others share our beliefs and behaviors

Random Sample

a sample that fairly represents a population because each member has an equal chance of inclusion

Naturalistic Observation

observing and recording behavior in naturally occurring situations without trying to manipulate and control the situation


All the cases in a group, from which samples may be drawn for a study

case study

an observation technique in which one person is studied in depth in the hope of revealing universal principles


repeating the essence of a research study, usually with different participaents in different situations to see whether the basic finding extends to participants and circumstances


an explanation using an integrated set of principles that organizes and predicts observations


a testable prediction, often implied by a theory

Critical Thinking

Thinking that does not blindly accept


the view that (a) knowledge comes from experience via the senses, and (b) science flourishes through observation and experiment.


an early school of psychology that used introspection to explore the elemental structure of the human mind


a school of psychology that focused on how mental and behavioral processes function - how they enable the organism to adapt, survive, and flourish.


the scientific study of behavior and mental processes

nature-nurture issue

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

dependent variable

The experimental factor that is being measured; the variable that may change in response to manipulations of the independent variable


the arithmatic average of distribution


the most frequently occurring score in a distribution


the level of stimulation required to trigger a neural impulse

experimental condition

the condition of an experiment that exposes participants to the treatment, that is, to one version of the independent variable

correlation coefficient

A statistical measure of the extent to which two factors vary together, and thus of how well either factor predicts the other

standard deviation

a computed measure of how much scores vary around the mean score

statistical significance

a statement of how likely it is that a recorded observation happened by chance

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