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Chapters 1 through 4.

Goals Of Psychology

Conducting research to describe, explain, predict, and control behavior. These goals form the basis of the psychological enterprise.


The scientific study of the behavior of individuals and their mental processes.


people begin life with a blank slate. psychological theory asserting that knowledge comes only or primarily via the flexibility of sensory experience. John Locke and Aristotle.

John Watson

pioneer of the behaviorist perspective of psychology


a scientific approach that limits the study of psychology to measurable or observable behavior.


theory asserting that human behavior and thinking are largely determined by irrational, unconscious drives.

Sigmund Freud

psychologists who developed the psychodynamic perspective. His model was the first to recognize that human nature is not always rational and that actions may be driven by motives that are not in conscious awareness.

Behavioral approach

psychological perspective primarily concerned with observable behavior that can be objectively recorded and with the relationships of observable behavior to environmental stimuli.

Cognitive approach

perspective that stresses human thought and the processes of knowing, such as attending, thinking, remembering, expecting, solving problems, fantasizing, and consciousness.

Psychodynamic approach

model in which behavior is explained in terms of past experiences and motivational forces; actions stem from inherited instincts, biological drives, and attempts to resolve conflicts between personal needs and social requirements.

Developmental psychology

also known as human development, is the scientific study of systematic psychological changes, emotional changes, and perception changes that occur in human beings over the course of their life span.

Clinical psychology

34% of psychology PhD's are applied in this subfield; a branch of psychology that studies, assesses, and treats people with psychological disorders

Cognitive psychology

a subdiscipline of psychology exploring internal mental processes. It is the study of how people perceive, remember, think, speak, and solve problems.

School Psychology

28% of psychologists work within this setting; devoted to counseling children in elementary and secondary schools who have academic or emotional problems

Counseling Psychology

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

Industrial/organizational psychology

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

Wilhelm Wundt

structuralism; in 1879 founded first psychology laboratory in world at University of Leipzig; introspection, basic units of experience

B.F. Skinner

behaviorism; pioneer in operant conditioning; behavior is based on an organism's reinforcement history; worked with pigeons


the perspective on mind and behavior that focuses on the examination of their functions in an organism's interactions with the environment.

Noam Chomsky

cognitive psychology; disagreed with Skinner about language acquisition, stated there is an infinite # of sentences in a language, humans have an inborn native ability to develop language


study of the structure of the mind and behavior; the view that all human mental experience can be understood as a combination of simply elements or events.

Max Wertheimer

a gestalt psychologist who argued against dividing human thought and behavior into discrete structures

Gestalt psychology

the school of psychology that emphasizes the tendency to organize perceptions into meaningful wholes

Carl Rogers

1902-1987; Field: humanistic; Contributions: founded person-centered therapy, theory that emphasizes the unique quality of humans especially their freedom and potential for personal growth, unconditional positive regard, fully functioning person

the generation effect

Self-produced information (generated) is better remembered than information that is not self-produced.

Examples in research: fill in the missing letter for the pair of words or read the pair of words aloud.
Doctor - N rse

Applied Examples (studying):
Making note cards, creating sample test questions.

night, sleeping helps memory retention

the best time of the day to study and why

memory consolidation

The biological process through which memories are transformed from a transient and fragile status to a more permanent and robust state; according to most researchers, occurs over the course of several hours.

Combination of both, mainly testing for best memory retention

reading/studying vs. testing the material?

Psychology experiment

A controlled procedure in which at least two different treatment conditions are applied to subjects whose behaviors are then measured and compared to test a hypothesis about the effects of the treatments on behavior.


a tentative and testable explanation of the relationship between two or more events or variables; often stated as a prediction that a certain outcome will result from specific conditions.


an organized set of concepts that explains a phenomenon.


a subset of a population selected as participants in an experiment.

Independent variable

variable that the researcher manipulates with the expectation of having an impact on values of the other variable.

Dependent variable

a variable that the researcher measures to assess the impact of the variation in the other variable.

Operational definition

a definition of a variable or condition in terms of the specific operation or procedure used to determine its presence.

Experimental group

group exposed to the treatment or experiences a manipulation of the independent variable.

Control group

group in an experiment not exposed to a treatment or does not experience a manipulation in the independent variable.


change in behavior in the absence of an experimental manipulation; an inert substance given to the control group in an experiment.

Double-blind procedure

An experimental procedure in which both the research participant and the research staff are ignorant about whether the participants have received the treatment or the placebo.


random assignment of experimental units to treatments or of treatments to trials.

Case study method

An in-depth examination of an individual that often involves compiling and analyzing information from a variety of sources such as observing, testing, and interviewing the person/people who knew the individual.

Survey method

a research method that involves gathering information from people through the use of surveys or questionnaires.

Naturalistic observation method

method of research based on careful, unobtrusive observation of behavior in natural settings.

Correlational study

a research project designed to discover the degree to which two variables are related to each other.

Ex post facto method

an experiment where the researcher examines the effect of a naturally occurring treatment after it has occurred.

Confounding variable

in an experiment, a variable, other than the independent variable, that could influence the dependent variable.


cell in the nervous system specialized to receive, process, and/or transmit information to other cells.


one of the branched fibers of neurons that receive incoming signals.


the extended fiber of a neuron through which nerve impulses travel from the soma to the terminal buttons.

Action potential

nerve impulse activated in a neuron that travels down the axon and causes neurotransmitters to be released into a synapse.

Resting potential

the polarization of cellular fluid within a neuron, which provides the capability to produce an action potential.


the process during the action potential when sodium is rushing into the cell causing the interior to become more positive.


the level of stimulation required to trigger a neural impulse.

Refractory period

the period of rest during which a new nerve impulse cannot be activated in a segment of an axon.

Myelin sheath

insulating material that surrounds axons and increases the speed of neural transmission.


chemical messengers that traverse the synaptic gaps between neurons. When released by the sending neuron, they travel across the synapse and bind to receptor sites on the receiving neuron, thereby influencing whether that neuron will generate a neural impulse.

All-or-none law

principle that the action potential in a neuron does not vary in strength; the neuron either fires at full strength or it does not fire at all.


"morphine within"--natural, opiatelike neurotransmitters linked to pain control and to pleasure.

Terminal buttons

Small knobs at the end of axons that secrete chemicals called neurotransmitters.

Inhibitory/excitatory input

Information entering a neuron that signal it not to fire or to fire.


the junction between the axon tip of the sending neuron and the dendrite or cell body of the receiving neuron.

Central Nervous System (CNS)

the body's primary information processing system; includes the brain and spinal cord.

Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)

part of the nervous system composed of the spinal cord and cranial nerves that connect the body's sensory receptors to the CNS and the CNS to the muscles and glands.

Autonomic Nervous System

subdivision of the PNS that controls the body's involuntary motor responses by connecting the sensory receptors to the CNS and the CNS to the smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, and glands.

Somatic Nervous System

subdivision of the PNS that connects the CNS to the skeletal muscles and the skin.

Sympathetic system

the division of the autonomic nervous system that arouses the body, mobilizing its energy in stressful situations.

Parasympathetic system

subdivision of the autonomic nervous system that monitors the routine operation of the body's internal functions and conserves and restores body energy.

Brain stem

brain structure that regulates the body's basic life processes.


region of the brain that regulates higher cognitive and emotional functions.

Frontal lobe

region of the brain located above the lateral fissure and in front of the central sulcus; involved in motor control and cognitive activities.

Parietal lobe

region of the brain behind the frontal lobe and above the lateral fissure; contains somatosensory cortex; processes information about temperature, touch, body position, and pain.

Occipital lobe

rearmost region of the brain; contains primary visual cortex.

Temporal lobe

region of the brain found below the lateral fissure; contains the auditory cortex.

Motor cortex

region of the cerebral cortex that controls the action of the body's voluntary muscles.

Sensory cortex

region of the parietal lobes that processes sensory input from various body areas.

Association cortex

parts of the cerebral cortex in which many high-level brain processes occur.

Broca's area

controls language expression-an aread of the frontal, usually in the left hemisphere, that directs the muscle movements involved in speech.

Wernicke's area

controls language reception-a brain area involved in language comprehension and expression;usually in the left temporal lobe.


region of the brain attached to the brain stem that controls motor coordination, posture, and balance as well as the ability to learn control of body movements.


the part of the limbic system that is involved in the acquisition of explicit memory.

Limbic system

the region of the brain that regulates emotional behavior, basic motivational urges, and memory, as well as major physiological functions.

Reticular formation

region of the brain stem that alerts the cerebral cortex to incoming sensory signals and is responsible for maintaining consciousness and awakening from sleep.


brain structure that regulates motivated behavior (eating and drinking), and homeostasis.


brain structure that relays sensory impulses to the cerebral cortex.


part of the limbic system that controls emotion, aggression, and the formation of emotional memory.

Corpus callosum

the mass of nerve fibers connecting the two hemispheres of the cerebrum.

Split brain

a condition in which the two hemispheres of the brain are isolated by cutting the connecting fibers (mainly those of the corpus callosum) between them.

Endocrine system

collection of glands that secrete hormones into the blood which regulate growth, development, and homeostasis.


one of the chemical messengers, manufactured and secreted by the endocrine glands, that regulates metabolism and influence body growth, mood, and sexual characteristics.

Pituitary gland

the endocrine system's most influential gland. Under the influence of the hypothalamus, the pituitary regulates growth and controls other endocrine glands.


belief that certain ideas or personal characteristics are innate or inborn; hard-wired. Emmanuel Kant was proponent.

William James

father was a wealthy business man. Studies medicine at Harvard, suffered from depression, and had an interest in the nature of free will. Wrote the Principles of Psychology.


tendency for a measure within an experimental design to produce the same results from the same things.


tendency for a measure within an experimental design to accurately capture what's intended.

Sensory neurons

component of the nervous system which sends signals toward the CNS.


component of the nervous system which sends signals to others of its kind as well as motor neurons.

Motor neurons

component of the nervous system, sends information from the CNS to the muscles and glands.

Glia cells

cells which hold together and facilitate neural transmissions. Guide, protect, and prevent harm to neurons.


neurotransmitter which in excess can contribute to schizophrenia but lack can cause Parkinson's disease.


neurotransmitter; deficiency of it can cause depression.

Left/Right hemispheres of the brain



technique for producing temporary inactivation of brain areas using repeated pulses of magnetic stimulation.


a recording of the electrical activity of the brain.

CAT scan

technique that uses narrow beams of X-rays passed through the brain to assemble images.

PET scan

brain image produced by device that obtains detailed pictures of activity by recording the radioactivity emitted by cells during different cognitive/behavioral processes.

MRI and fMRI

brain imaging using magnetic fields and radio waves; improved technique which detects magnetic changes in the flow of blood to the brain.


processes that organize information in the sensory image and interpret it as having been produced by properties of objects or events in the external, 3-D world.


the process by which stimulation of a sensory receptor gives rise to neural impulses that result in an experience, or awareness, of conditions inside or outside the body.

Perceptual organization

the process that puts sensory information together to give the perception of a coherent scene over the whole visual field.

Perceptual constancy

perceiving objects as unchanging (having consistent lightness, color, shape, and size) even as illumination and retinal images change.


a Gestalt principle of organization holding that there is an innate tendency to perceive incomplete objects as complete and to close or fill gaps and to perceive asymmetric stimuli as symmetric.

Stroboscopic movement

a type of apparent movement based on the rapid succession of still images, as in motion pictures.

Selective attention

the focusing of conscious awareness on a particular stimulus.


a state of focused awareness on a subset of the available perceptual information.

Perceptual set

a mental predisposition to perceive one thing and not another; temporary readiness to perceive or react to stimulus in a particular way.

Top-down processing

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

Bottom-up processing

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

Attention capture

-The spontaneous redirection of attention.
-Attention can be captured by changes in movement, abrupt onsets, visual color, auditory pitch, etc.

Goal-driven attention

a determinant of why people select some parts of sensory input for further processing; it reflects the choices made as a function of one's own goals.

Perceptual ambiguity

Optical Illusion; sensory stimuli that can be perceived in different ways.

Perceptual illusions

inappropriate interpretations of physical reality. Often occur as a result of the brain's using otherwise adaptive organizing principles.

Law of proximity

a Gestalt principle of organization holding that (other things being equal) objects or events that are near to one another (in space or time) are perceived as belonging together as a unit.

Law of similarity

The Gestalt principle that we tend to group similar objects together in our perceptions.

Law of good continuation

From Gestalt Psychology, it is the tendency for elements appearing to follow in the same direction (such as a straight line or a simple curve) to be grouped together.

Law of common fate

a Gestalt principle of organization holding that aspects of perceptual field that move or function in a similar manner will be perceived as a unit.

Phi phenomenon

an illusion of movement created when two or more adjacent lights blink on and off in quick succession.

Autokinetic Effect

The apparent movement of a stationary pinpoint of light displayed in a darkened room.

Stroop effect

delay in reaction time when color of words on a test and their meaning differ.

Automatic processes

states of consciousness that require little attention and do not interfere with other ongoing activities.

Controlled processes

When information processing involves conscious, alert awareness and mental effort focused on achieving a particular goal.

Cognitive dissonance

The theory that we act to reduce the discomfort we feel when two of our thoughts are inconsistent. For example, when our awareness of our attitudes and our actions clash, we can reduce the feeling by changing our attitudes.

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