427 terms

The Essential 427: AP Psychology Review

Based on findings of Proctor & Williams (2006), who determined these to be the most frequently cited concepts in 33 introductory psychology textbooks.
Scientific study of behavior and mental processes
(John Watson) A theoretical orientation based on the premise that scientific psychology should study only observable behavior; emphasizes learning mechanisms
A school of psychology, founded by William James, that focused on how our mental and behavioral processes function - how they enable us to adapt, survive, and flourish.
(Titchener) An early school of psychology that used introspection to explore the elemental structure of the human mind.
Evolutionary psychology
A relatively new specialty in psychology that sees behavior and mental processes in terms of their genetic adaptations for survival and reproduction.
Gestalt psychology
A psychological approach that emphasizes that we often perceive the whole rather than the sum of the parts.
Cognitive psychology
An approach to psychology that emphasizes internal mental processes; thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating
A method of self-observation in which participants report their thoughts and feelings
Pool of people from which research sample is drawn and that the sample is intended to represent.
Scientific method
A series of steps followed to solve problems including collecting data, formulating a hypothesis, testing the hypothesis, and stating conclusions.
Dependent variable
The outcome factor; the variable that may change in response to manipulations of the independent variable.
Independent variable
The experimental factor that is manipulated; the variable whose effect is being studied
Case study
An observation technique in which one person is studied in depth in the hope of revealing universal principles.
A research method in which an investigator manipulates one or more factors (independent variables) to observe the effect on some behavior or mental process (the dependent variable). By random assignment of participants, the experimenter aims to control other relevant factors.
Control group
In an experiment, the group that is not exposed to the treatment; contrasts with the experimental group and serves as a comparison for evaluating the effect of the treatment.
A testable prediction, often implied by a theory
Naturalistic observation
Observing and recording behavior in naturally occurring situations without trying to manipulate and control the situation
A study, generally in the form of an interview or questionnaire, that provides researchers with information about how people think and act.
A well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world; organizes known information about a topic and leads to the development of testable hypotheses
Correlation coefficient
A statistical measure of the extent to which two factors vary together, and thus of how well either factor predicts the other.
Operational definition
A statement that describes how to measure a particular variable.
Experimental group
A subject or group of subjects in an experiment that is exposed to the factor or condition being tested.
Correlational research
A research strategy that identifies the relationships between two or more variables in order to describe how these variables change together. One advantage is that it helps psychologists make predictions.
Random assignment
Assigning participants to experimental and control conditions by chance, thus minimizing preexisting differences between those assigned to the different groups
A measure of central tendency also known as the mathematical average; found by adding values together and dividing by the total number of items
Normal distribution
A bell-shaped curve, describing the spread of a characteristic throughout a population.
Double blind study
A procedure in which neither the researcher nor the participant knows which group is the experimental group. Reduces both participant and experimenter bias.
A measure of central tendency; the middle number in a set of numbers that are listed in order
A measure of central tendency that uses most frequently occurring score.
A relatively small proportion of people who are chosen in a survey so as to be representative of the whole.
Standard deviation
A measure of variability that describes an average distance of every score from the mean
Inferential statistics
numerical methods used to determine whether research data support a hypothesis or whether results were due to chance
Placebo effect
Experimental results caused by expectations alone; any effect on behavior caused by the administration of an inert substance or condition, which is assumed to be an active agent.
A chemically inert substance that produces real medical benefits because the patient believes it will help.
Distance between highest and lowest scores in a set of data.
Descriptive statistics
Exploratory methods used to describe and summarize the characteristics of samples or populations. Includes measures of central tendency and measures of variation.
Informed consent
An ethical principle requiring that research participants be told enough to enable them to choose whether they wish to participate.
the repetition of an experiment in order to test the validity of its conclusion
Any measurable conditions, events, characteristics, or behaviors that are controlled or observed in a study.
A long projection off the cell body of a neuron down which an action potential can be propagated.
Central Nervous System (CNS)
Brain and spinal cord
Cerebral cortex
The intricate fabric of interconnected neural cells covering the cerebral hemispheres; the body's ultimate control and information-processing center.
A neuron's bushy, branching extensions that receive messages and conduct impulses toward the cell body.
Peripheral Nervous System
All of the neurons that are not in the central nervous system. Carries information to and from the central nervous system.
A junction where information is transmitted from one neuron to the next.
Brain structure that receives messages from the sense organs and relays the information to the proper region of the cerebrum for further processing
Autonomic nervous system
A subdivision of the peripheral nervous system. Controls involuntary activity of visceral muscles and internal organs and glands.
A segment of DNA on a chromosome that codes for a specific trait
A neural structure lying below the thalamus; it directs several maintenance activities (eating, drinking, body temperature), helps govern the endocrine system via the pituitary gland, and is linked to emotion and reward.
A nerve cell; the basic building block of the nervous system.
Chemical messengers that cross 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.
Sympathetic nervous system
A subdivision of the autonomic nervous system that activates nerves, glands and visceral muscles in times of stress or threat (prepares the body for action)
Action potential
A neural impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an axon.
Control of finely coordinated movements. Coordination center, voluntary movement and balance. "Little brain."
Chemical messengers, mostly those manufactured by the endocrine glands, that are produced in one tissue and affect another.
Limbic system
A group of subcortical structures (such as the hypothalamus, the hippocampus, and the amygdala) of the brain that are concerned especially with emotion and motivation.
Parasympathetic nervous system
the division of the autonomic nervous system that calms the body, conserving its energy
A tendency to maintain a balanced or constant internal state; the regulation of any aspect of body chemistry, such as blood glucose, around a particular level
A threadlike, gene-carrying structure found in the nucleus. Each consists of one very long DNA molecule and associated proteins.
Corpus callosum
A thick band of axons that connects the two cerebral hemispheres and acts as a communication link between them.
Myelin sheath
A white, fatty covering wrapped around the axons of some neurons that increases their communication speed.
Pituitary gland
Brain part which secretes factors into the blood which act on the endocrine glands to either increase or decrease hormone production
Endocrine system
Glands that secrete hormones that regulate processes such as growth, reproduction, and nutrient use (metabolism) by body cells.
Somatic nervous system
A subdivision of the peripheral nervous system. Enables voluntary actions to be undertaken due to its control of skeletal muscles
Base of brainstem; controls heartbeat and breathing
Sensory neuron
Neurons that carry incoming information from the sensory receptors to the brain and spinal cord. (Afferent)
Cell body
Processes nutrients and provides energy for the neuron to function; contains the cell's nucleus; also called the soma.
Frontal lobes
the portion of the cerebral cortex lying just behind the forehead; involved in speaking and muscle movements and in making plans and judgments
Glial cells
Cells in the nervous system that support, nourish, and protect neurons
Positron emission tomography (PET)
A visual display of brain activity that detects where radioactive form glucose goes while the brain performs a given task.
Electroencephalogram (EEG)
An amplified recording of the waves of electrical activity that sweep across the brain's surface. These waves are measured by electrodes placed on the scalp.
"morphine within"--natural, opiatelike neurotransmitters linked to pain control and to pleasure.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)
a technique that uses magnetic fields and radio waves to produce computer-generated images that distinguish among different types of soft tissue; allows us to see structures within the brain.
Occipital lobes
the portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the back of the head; includes the visual areas, which receive visual information from the opposite visual field
Parietal lobes
Portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the top of the head and toward the rear; receives sensory input for touch and body position.
Temporal lobes
Portion of the cerebral cortex lying roughly above the ears; includes the auditory areas, each receiving information primarily from the opposite ear.
The proportion of variation among individuals that we can attribute to genes. The heritability of a trait may vary, depending on the range of populations and environments studied.
A limbic system structure involved in memory and emotion, particularly fear and aggression.
A neural center located in the limbic system that helps process explicit memories for storage.
Central nervous system neurons that internally communicate and intervene between the sensory inputs and motor outputs
Reticular formation
A nerve network in the brainstem that plays an important role in controlling arousal.
Behavioral genetics
An interdisciplinary field that studies the influence of genetic factors on behavioral traits.
Natural selection
A process in which individuals that have certain inherited traits tend to survive and reproduce at higher rates than other individuals because of those traits.
A brain structure that relays information from the cerebellum to the rest of the brain
Resting potential
State in which a neuron is not transmitting a nerve impulse. A neuron in this state has a net negative charge relative to its outside environment, and this state of potential energy prepares it to be activated by an impulse from an adjacent neuron.
Basilar membrane
A structure that runs the length of the cochlea in the inner ear and holds the auditory receptors, called hair cells.
Collection of brain structures in middle of brain responsible for coordinating movement patterns, sleep, & arousal
Motor neurons
Neurons that carry outgoing information from the brain and spinal cord to the muscles and glands.
In neurons, specialized protein molecules on the postsynaptic membrane; neurotransmitters bind to these molecules after passing across the synaptic cleft.
Association areas
Areas of the cerebral cortex that are not involved in primary motor or sensory functions; rather, they are involved in higher mental functions such as learning, remembering, thinking, and speaking
tightly stretched membrane located at the end of the ear canal that vibrates when struck by sound waves
Identical twins
Twins who develop from a single fertilized egg that splits in two, creating two genetically identical organisms
All or none principle
the law that the neuron either generates an action potential when the stimulation reaches threshold or it doesn't fire when stimulation is below threshold
CT (computed tomography) scan
is a series of X-ray photographs combined by computer into a composite representation of a slice through the brain
A complex molecule containing the genetic information that makes up the chromosomes
Fraternal twins
Twins who develop from separate eggs. They are genetically no closer than brothers and sisters, but they share a fetal environment.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
A noninvasive imaging technique that uses magnetic fields to map brain activity by measuring changes in the brain's blood flow and oxygen levels
Genetic makeup of an organism
Area containing the medulla, pons, and cerebellum.
An organism's physical appearance, or visible traits.
Acetylcholine (Ach)
A neurotransmitter that, among its functions, triggers muscle contraction.
Cerebral cortex, limbic system, basal ganglia, thalamus, hypothalamus
Motor cortex
An area at the rear of the frontal lobes that controls voluntary movements
Spinal cord
A major part of the central nervous system which conducts sensory and motor nerve impulses to and from the brain
Object permanence
The conviction that an object exists even when it is out of sight. Piaget believed infants didn't develop this level of understanding until 6-8 months old.
Formal operational stage
in Piaget's theory, the stage of cognitive development (normally beginning about age 12) during which people begin to think logically about abstract concepts
Concepts or mental frameworks that organize and interpret information.
(Piagetian theory) Adapting one's current understandings (schemas) to incorporate new information.
Interpreting one's new experience in terms of one's existing schemas.
An emotional tie with another person; shown in young children by their seeking closeness to the caregiver and showing distress on separation.
Concrete operational stage
in Piaget's theory, the stage of cognitive development (from about 6 or 7 to 11 years of age) during which children gain the mental operations that enable them to think logically about concrete events
Physical process of change characterized the development of secondary sex characteristics. Female onset is 11 and male onset is 13 years.
Critical period
An optimal period (or age) when an organism's exposure to certain stimuli or experiences produces proper development (e.g., for learning language)
Preoperational stage
In Piaget's theory, the stage (from about 2 to 6 or 7 years of age) during which a child learns to use language but does not yet comprehend the mental operations of concrete logic
Sensorimotor stage
In Piaget's theory, the stage (from birth to about 2 years of age) during which infants know the world mostly in terms of their sensory impressions and motor activities
Ability to recognize that objects can be transformed in some way, visually or phycially, yet still be the same in number, weight, substance, or volume
In Piaget's theory, the preoperational child's difficulty taking another's point of view
The developing human organism from 9 weeks after conception to birth
2 weeks through 8 weeks, attaches to the mother's uterine wall, organs being to form and function, heart begins to beat; liver begins to make red blood cells, head arms and legs are clearly noticeable
Longitudinal study
A research approach that follows a group of people over time to determine change or stability in behavior.
Cross sectional study
a study in which people of different ages are compared with one another
Developmental Psychology
A branch of psychology that studies physical, cognitive, and social change throughout the life span
Gender identity
One's sense of being male or female
Biological growth processes that enable orderly changes in behavior, relatively uninfluenced by experience
A single, fertilized cell created during conception when the egg and sperm cells combine.
Alzheimer's disease
an irreversible, progressive brain disorder, characterized by the deterioration of memory, language, and eventually, physical functioning
Fetal alcohol syndrome
a medical condition in which body deformation or facial development or mental ability of a fetus is impaired because the mother drank alcohol while pregnant
A female's first menstrual period, which occurs during puberty.
Cessation of ovulation and menstrual cycles and the end of a woman's reproductive capability (occurs age 45-55)
A socially and culturally constructed set of distinctions between masculine and feminine sets of behaviors that is promoted and expected by society
A primitive form of learning in which some young animals follow and form an attachment to the first moving object they see and hear.
Agents, such as chemicals and viruses, that can reach the embryo or fetus during prenatal development and cause harm
A culturally defined period of maturation from the time of puberty until adulthood that occurs in some, but not all, cultures.
Process in which the sense organs' receptor cells are stimulated and relay initial information to higher brain centers for further processing. (Bottom-up processing)
Absolute threshold
The minimum stimulation needed to detect a particular stimulus 50 percent of the time
Light sensitive layer of the eye; contains rods and cones
Cone-shaped visual receptor cells; located in retina; work best in bright light; responsible for viewing color; greatest density in the fovea
Difference threshold
the minimum difference between two stimuli required for detection 50 percent of the time. We experience the difference threshold as a just noticeable difference. (Also called just noticeable difference or jnd.)
A person's cognitive (mental) interpretation of events. (Top-down processing) Refers to active process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting stimuli.
Located in the periphery of the retina, these are sensory receptors for vision that work best in reduced illumination, and only allow perception of achromatic colors, low sensitivity to detail and are not involved in color vision.
Opponent process theory
The theory that opposing retinal processes (red-green, yellow-blue, white-black) enable color vision. For example, some cells are stimulated by green and inhibited by red; others are stimulated by red and inhibited by green
A small area in the center of the retina, composed entirely of cones, where visual information is most sharply focused.
Trichromatic theory
Firing of red, green and blue cones cause color vision. (a.k.a.Young-Helmholtz Theory)
A coiled, bony, fluid-filled tube in the inner ear through which sound waves trigger nerve impulses
Perceptual constancy
perceiving objects as unchanging (having consistent lightness, color, shape, and size) even as illumination and retinal images change
Monocular cues
Depth cues, such as interposition and linear perspective, available to either eye alone
Chemical signals released by an animal that communicate information and affect the behavior of other animals of the same species.
Conversion of one form of energy into another. In sensation, the transforming of stimulus energies, such as sights, sounds, and smells, into neural impulses our brains can interpret.
Weber's Law
Principle that, to be perceived as different, two stimuli must differ by a constant minimum PERCENTAGE (rather than a constant amount).
Binocular cues
Depth cues, such as retinal disparity and convergence, that depend on the use of two eyes
Place theory
In hearing, the theory that links the pitch we hear with the place where the cochlea's membrane is stimulated
Retinal disparity
a binocular cue for perceiving depth; by comparing images from the two eyeballs, the brain computes distance - the greater the disparity (difference) between the two images, the close the object
Taste buds
Structures on the tongue that contain the receptor cells for taste (gustation)
A tone's experienced highness or lowness; depends on frequency of the sound wave.
Bottom up processing
Analysis that begins with the sensory receptors and works up to the brain's integration of sensory information.
Feature detector
Nerve cells in the brain that respond to specific features of the stimulus, such as shape, angle, or movement
Gate control theory
Theory that spinal cord contains neurological "gate" that blocks pains signals or allows them to pass. Gate is opened by activity of pain going up small nerve fibers & gate is closed by act of large fibers or by info coming from brain.
The study of relationships between the physical characteristics of stimuli, such as their intensity, and our psychological experience of them.
Sensory adaptation
Diminished sensitivity as a consequence of constant stimulation
Signal detection theory
A theory predicting how and when we detect the presence of a faint stimulus (signal) amid background stimulation (noise). Assumes there is no single absolute threshold and that detection depends partly on a person's experience, expectations, motivation, and level of fatigue.
Top down processing
information processing guided by higher-level mental processes, as when we construct perceptions drawing on our experience and expectations
(Vision) The automatic adjustment in focal length of the lens of the eye
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.
A gradual reduction in the strength of a response when a stimulus event is presented repeatedly.
A disc-shaped structure located behind the iris that can change its shape, thereby enabling the eye to focus both near and distant objects on the retina.
Optic nerve
Comprised of the axons of retinal ganglion cells, this carries neural impulses from the eye to the brain.
Adjustable opening in the center of the eye through which light enters
Vestibular sense
the sense of body movement and position, including the sense of balance
Blind spot
The point at which the optic nerve leaves the eye, creating a "blind" spot because no receptor cells are located there
Dark adaptation
The process in which the eyes become more sensitive to light in low illumination.
A ring of muscle tissue that forms the colored portion of the eye around the pupil and controls the size of the pupil opening.
sense of smell
A binocular cue for perceiving depth; the extent to which the eyes turn inward when looking at an object
Color (conveyed by the wavelength of the light that enters the eye)
Shape constancy
the tendency to interpret the shape of an object as being constant, even when its shape changes on the retina
Size constancy
Perception of an object as the same size regardless of the distance from which it is viewed
A transparent convex covering which protects the eye and helps with initial bending of light waves toward pupil.
Subliminal perception
Perception of a stimulus below the threshold for conscious recognition
Circadian rhythms
The (approximately) 24-hour biological cycles found in humans and many other species.
A social interaction in which one person suggests to another that certain perceptions, feelings, thoughts, or behaviors will spontaneously occur
REM sleep
Rapid eye movement sleep, a recurring sleep stage during which vivid dreams commonly occur. Also known as paradoxical sleep, because the muscles are relaxed (except for minor twitches) but other body systems are active.
Drugs (such as caffeine, nicotine, and the more powerful amphetamines, cocaine, and Ecstasy) that excite neural activity and speed up body functions.
Awareness of ourselves and our environment
Difficulty in falling asleep or staying asleep
Psychoactive drugs
Chemicals that affect the nervous system and result in altered consciousness
Also called psychedelics, psychoactive drugs that modify a person's perceptual experiences and sometimes produce visual images that are not real. (e.g., LSD, marijuana)
A sleep disorder characterized by uncontrollable sleep attacks. The sufferer may lapse directly into REM sleep, often at inopportune times.
A progressive decrease in a person's responsiveness to a drug; a habitual drug user may require increasing amounts to achieve the same "high"
Drugs (such as alcohol, barbiturates, and opiates) that reduce neural activity and slow body functions.
Latent content
According to Freud, the underlying meaning of a dream
Manifest content
According to Freud, the remembered story line of a dream
Sleep apnea
A sleep disorder characterized by temporary cessations of breathing during sleep and repeated momentary awakenings.
A category of psychoactive drugs that are chemically similar to morphine and have strong pain-relieving properties (e.g., Heroin, Vicodin)
Activation synthesis hypothesis
the theory that dreams result from the brain's attempt to make sense of random neural signals that fire during sleep
A mental exercise for producing relaxation or heightened awareness.
Physical dependence
A physiological need for a drug, marked by unpleasant withdrawal symptoms when the drug is discontinued
A system for electronically recording, amplifying, and feeding back information regarding a subtle physiological state, such as blood pressure or muscle tension
Classical conditioning
Conditioning process in which an originally neutral stimulus, by repeated pairing with a stimulus that normally elicits a response, comes to elicit a similar or even identical response; aka Pavlovian conditioning
Conditioned response (CR)
in classical conditioning, the learned response to a previously neutral (but now conditioned) stimulus (CS)
Conditioned stimulus (CS)
In classical conditioning, an originally irrelevant stimulus that, after association with an unconditioned stimulus, comes to trigger a conditioned response
Observational learning
Learning by observing and imitating the behavior of others.
Operant conditioning
A type of learning in which behavior is strengthened if followed by a reinforcer or diminished if followed by a punisher.
An operant conditioning procedure in which reinforcers guide behavior toward closer and closer approximations of the desired behavior.
Spontaneous recovery
The reappearance, after a pause, of an extinguished conditioned response.
Stimulus discrimination
Process by which an organism learns to respond only to a specific stimulus and not to other stimuli
Stimulus generalization
A phenomenon in which a conditioned response is elicited by stimuli that are similar but not identical to the conditioned stimulus.
Unconditioned response (UCR)
In classical conditioning, the unlearned, naturally occurring response to the unconditioned stimulus (US), such as salivation when food is in the mouth.
Unconditioned stimulus (UCS)
A stimulus that evokes an unconditioned response (automatic reaction or reflex) without previous conditioning.
A relatively permanent change in an organism's behavior due to experience.
Negative reinforcement
Increasing behaviors by stopping or reducing negative stimuli, such as shock. A negative reinforcer is any stimulus that, when removed after a response, strengthens the response. (Note: negative reinforcement is not punishment.)
Positive reinforcement
Increasing behaviors by presenting positive stimuli, such as food. A positive reinforcer is any stimulus that, when presented after a response, strengthens the response.
An event that decreases the behavior that it follows.
An event following a response that strengthens the tendency to make that response.
Secondary reinforcer
Any neutral stimulus that initially has no intrinsic value for an organism but that becomes rewarding when linked with a primary reinforcer
Extinction (classical conditioning)
gradual weakening and suppression of conditioned response from conditioned stimulus through withholding of unconditioned stimulus
Learned helplessness
The hopelessness and passive resignation an animal or human learns when unable to avoid repeated aversive events.
Primary reinforcer
An innately reinforcing stimulus, such as one that satisfies a biological need
Fixed ratio schedule
In operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response only after a specified number of responses.
Law of effect
Thorndike's principle that behaviors followed by favorable consequences become more likely, and that behaviors followed by unfavorable consequences become less likely
Variable interval schedule
In operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response at unpredictable time intervals
Variable ratio schedule
in operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response after an unpredictable number of responses
Fixed interval schedule
In operant conditioning, a reinforcement schedule that reinforces a response only after a specified time has elapsed
Partial reinforcement
A type of learning in which behavior is reinforced intermittently
Aversion therapy
As a classical conditioning procedure, aversive counterconditioning involves presenting individuals with an attractive stimulus paired with unpleasant stimulation in order to condition revulsion (used for substance use, paraphilias)
Continuous reinforcement
Reinforcing the desired response every time it occurs.
Extinction (operant conditioning)
the elimination or decline in responce caused by stopping reinforcement
Latent learning
Learning that occurs but is not apparent until there is an incentive to demonstrate it
A simple, automatic, inborn response to a sensory stimulus, such as the knee-jerk response.
Cognitive map
A mental representation of the layout of one's environment. For example, after exploring a maze, rats act as if they have learned a cognitive map of it.
Discriminative stimulus
A stimulus in the presence of which responses of some type have been reinforced and in the absence of which the same type of responses have occurred and not been reinforced. (i.e., Your dog learns to roll over when you say "Roll over," because a treat is available, but it does not do this without the command because no rewards are given)
Schedule of reinforcement
A timetable for when and how often reinforcement for a particular behavior occurs.
Long term memory
Relatively permanent and limitless storage of memory.
Working memory
A newer understanding of short-term memory that involves conscious, active processing of incoming auditory and visual-spatial information, and of information retrieved from long-term memory.
Semantic memory
A subdivision of declarative memory that stores general knowledge, including the meanings of words and concepts.
Episodic memory
A category of long-term memory that involves the recollection of specific events, situations and experiences.
Combining small pieces of information into larger clusters or chunks that are more easily held in short-term memory.
Implicit memory
Memories that we may not recall consciously, but that are still demonstrable through an indirect test. Includes procedural memories and some conditioned responses.
Proactive interference
The disruptive effect of prior learning on the recall of new information
Retroactive interference
The disruptive effect of new learning on the recall of old information
Procedural memory
A type of long-term memory of how to perform different actions and skills. Essentially, it is the memory of how to do certain things.
Anterograde amnesia
An inability to form new memories.
Converting information into a form in which it will be retained in memory
Explicit memory
Memory of facts and experiences that one can consciously know and "declare"
Retrograde amnesia
Loss of memory for events that occurred before the onset of amnesia; e.g., a soldier's forgetting events immediately before a shell burst nearby, injuring him.
Sensory memory
The immediate, very brief recording of sensory information in the memory system.
Flashbulb memory
A clear memory of an emotionally significant moment or event
A mental process that allows the storage of experience and perceptions for recall at a later time. Involves: encoding, storage, and retrieval.
Mnemonic devices
techniques for using associations to memorize and retrieve information (e.g., peg-word, loci, acronyms, etc.)
Getting information out of memory through recall, recognition (or even relearning)
Elaborative rehearsal
A memorization method that involves thinking about how new information relates to information already stored in long-term memory
Maintaining encoded information in memory over time.
Serial position effect
Our tendency to recall best the last and first items in a list
An enhanced ability to think of a stimulus, such as a word or object, as a result of a recent exposure to the stimulus.
A measure of memory in which the person need only identify items previously learned, as on a multiple-choice test
Declarative memory
It refers to memories which can be consciously recalled such as facts and events.
Primacy effect
In free recall, the tendency to recall the first items on the list more readily than those in the middle.
Loss of memory
Long term potentiation (LTP)
an increase in a synapse's firing potential after brief, rapid stimulation. believed to be a neural basis for learning and memory
Maintenance rehearsal
Repeating information over and over to keep it active in short-term memory
A measure of memory in which the person must retrieve information learned earlier, as on a fill-in-the-blank test.
Decay theory
(storage decay) proposes that forgetting occurs because memory traces fade with time (if inactive)
Encoding specificity principle
Principle stating that recall is better if the retrieval context is like the encoding context. (a.k.a context-dependent memory)
State dependent memory
People recall information better when they are in the same physiological state as when they learned that information (e.g., sober, intoxicated, aroused, not aroused)
A simple thinking strategy that often allows us to make judgments and solve problems efficiently; usually speedier but also more error-prone than algorithms.
A methodical, logical rule pr procedure that guarantees solving a particular problem. Contrasts with the usually speedier-but also more error-prone--use of heuristics
Functional fixedness
The tendency to think of things only in terms of their usual functions; an impediment to problem solving.
A mental image or best example that incorporates all the features we associate with a category
A mental grouping of similar objects, events, ideas, or people.
In a language, the smallest unit that carries meaning; may be a word or a part of a word (such as a prefix)
In a language, the smallest distinctive sound unit.
Grammar organizational rules specifying word order, sentence organization, and word relationships.
A sudden and often novel realization of the solution to a problem; the "aha" moment
Availability heuristic
Estimating the likelihood of events based on their availability in memory; if instances come readily to mind, we presume such events are common
Mental set
a tendency to approach a problem in a particular way, often a way that has been successful in the past
Representativeness heuristic
judging the likelihood of things in terms of how well they seem to represent, or match, particular prototypes; may lead one to ignore other relevant information
A system of communication through the use of speech, a collection of sounds understood by a group of people to have the same meaning.
A language's meaning system.
Confirmation bias
A tendency to search for information that supports our preconceptions and to ignore or distort contradictory evidence
All the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating.
Telegraphic speech
early speech stage in which a child speaks like a telegram--'go car'--using mostly nouns and verbs and omitting 'auxiliary' words
Extent to which a test yields consistent scores (includes test-retest measures, split-half, and inter-rater)
Ability of a test to measure what it is supposed to measure and to predict what it is supposed to predict
Intelligence quotient (IQ)
defined originally as the ratio of mental age (ma) to chronological age (ca) multiplied by 100 (thus, IQ = ma/ca × 100). On contemporary intelligence tests, the average performance for a given age is assigned a score of 100.
Mental quality consisting of the ability to learn from experience, solve problems, and use knowledge to adapt to new situations.
A feature of thought and problem solving that includes the tendency to generate or recognize ideas considered to be high-quality, original, novel, and appropriate.
Crystallized intelligence
One's accumulated knowledge and verbal skills; tends to increase with age
Fluid intelligence
One's ability to reason speedily and abstractly; tends to decrease during late adulthood
g factor
A general ability, proposed by Spearman as the main factor underlying all intelligent mental activity
Defining meaningful scores by comparison with the performance of a pretested group.
Divergent thinking
The ability to arrive at multiple solutions to a problem or idea - associated with creativity
Emotional intelligence
The ability to perceive, understand, manage, and use emotions
Factor analysis
A statistical procedure that identifies clusters of related items (called factors) on a test; used to identify different dimensions of performance that underlie one's total score.
Mental age
A measure of intelligence test performance devised by Binet; the chronological age that most typically corresponds to a given level of performance
Intellectual disability
(formerly referred to as mental retardation) a condition of limited mental ability, indicated by an intelligence score of 70 or below and difficulty in adapting to the demands of life; varies from mild to profound
Triarchic theory of intelligence
Robert Sternberg's theory that describes intelligence as having analytic, creative and practical dimensions
Norm (testing)
Testing in which scores are compared with the average performance of others. Test norms are created during the standardization process and must be periodically updated.
Anorexia nervosa
An eating disorder marked by constant dieting, rapid weight loss, and the illusion of being fat in spite of weight loss.
A need or desire that energizes and directs behavior
Bulimia nervosa
An eating disorder characterized by episodes of overeating, usually of high-calorie foods, followed by vomiting, laxative use, fasting, or excessive exercise.
A subjective conscious experience (the cognitive component) accompanied by bodily arousal (the physiological component) and by characteristic overt expressions (the behavioral component).
An urge to satisfy a physiological need created by some physical deficit (e.g., low blood sugar, dehydration)
A complex behavior that is rigidly patterned throughout a species and is unlearned
James Lange theory
The theory that our experience of emotion is our awareness of our physiological responses to emotion arousing stimuli. (arousal precedes emotion)
Intrinsic motivation
A desire to perform a behavior for its own sake
Sexual orientation
An enduring sexual attraction toward members of either one's own sex (homosexual orientation) or the other sex (heterosexual orientation)
Set point
The point at which an individual's "weight thermostat" is supposedly set. When the body falls below this weight, an increase in hunger and a lowered metabolic rate may act to restore the lost weight.
Cannon Bard Theory
the theory that an emotion-arousing stimulus simultaneously triggers (1) physiological responses and (2) the subjective experience of emotion
Extrinsic motivation
A desire to perform a behavior due to promised rewards or threats of punishment
Hierarchy of Needs
Maslow's pyramid of human needs, beginning at the base with physiological needs that must first be satisfied before higher-level safety needs and then psychological needs become active
Two factor theory
Schachter-Singer's theory that to experience emotion one must (1) be physically aroused and (2) cognitively label the arousal.
A positive or negative environmental stimulus that motivates behavior.
Need for achievement
The extent to which an individual has a strong desire to perform challenging tasks well and to meet personal standards for excellence.
A device that records autonomic fluctuations while a subject is questioned, in an effort to determine whether the subject is telling the truth. (a.k.a. "lie detector test"). Errs up to 1/3 of the time.
Defense mechanism
In psychoanalytic theory, the ego's protective methods of reducing anxiety by unconsciously distorting reality.
According to Freud, the conscious, decision-making component of personality that operates according to the "reality principle".
In Sigmund Freud's theory, the portion of the personality that contains our instincts and our irrational desires. It is largely unconscious and very demanding. It lives according to the "pleasure principle," which is to maximize pleasure and minimize pain.
Projective test
A personality test, such as the Rorschach or TAT, that provides ambiguous stimuli designed to trigger projection of one's inner dynamics
According to Freud, the moral component of personality that incorporates social standards about what represents right and wrong. Operates on the "morality principle."
An individual's characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting.
Humanistic psychology
Historically significant perspective that emphasized the growth potential of healthy people and the individual's potential for personal growth
A characteristic pattern of behavior or a disposition to feel and act, as assessed by self-report inventories and peer reports. (e.g., "Extroversion")
In psychoanalysis, the patient's transfer to the analyst of emotions linked with other relationships (such as love or hatred for a parent).
Defense mechanism by which anxiety-provoking thoughts and feelings are forced into the unconscious, and thus "forgotten."
Collective unconscious
Carl Jung's concept of a shared, inherited reservoir of memory traces from our species' history
Oedipus complex
According to Freud, a boy's sexual desires toward his mother and feelings of jealousy and hatred for the rival father
according to Maslow, the ultimate psychological need that arises after basic physical and psychological needs are met and self-esteem is achieved; the motivation to fulfill one's potential
Self efficacy
One's belief in his or her own ability. Can be high or low for any particular task.
A person's characteristic emotional reactivity and intensity.
According to Freud, a reservoir of mostly unacceptable thoughts, wishes, feelings, and memories. According to contemporary psychologists, information processing of which we are unaware.
Psychodynamic theories
Personality theories contending that behavior results from psychological factors that interact within the individual, often outside conscious awareness.
Big Five
Five basic personality traits from which other traits are derived. They include neuroticism, extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.
According to Jung, emotionally charged images and thought forms that have universal meaning.
Fixation (Freudian)
continuing to engage in behaviors associated with an earlier stage of development
Psychosexual stages
The childhood stages of development (oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital) during which, according to Freud, the id's pleasure-seeking energies focus on distinct erogenous zones.
All our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, in answer to the question, "Who am I?"
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
A projective test in which people express their inner feelings and interests through the stories they make up about ambiguous scenes.
Locus of control
A person's beliefs about what determines outcomes in his or her life; can be INTERNAL (the person determines their fate through their actions) or EXTERNAL (the environment controls outcome).
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)
The most widely researched and clinically used of all personality tests. Originally developed to identify emotional disorders, this test is now used for many other screening purposes.
Defense mechanism: Attributing one's own thoughts, feelings, or motives to another.
Reciprocal determinism
Bandura's idea that though our environment affects us, we also affect our environment
Rorschach inkblot test
A projective personality test in which individual interpretations of the meaning of a set of unstructured inkblots are analyzed to identify a respondent's unconscious feelings and interpret his or her personality structure
Anal stage
(psychoanalysis) the second sexual and social stage of a child's development during which bowel control is learned
Genital stage
Freud's last stage of personality development, from the onset of puberty through adulthood, during which the sexual conflicts of childhood resurface (at puberty) and are often resolved during adolescence).
Oral stage
Freud's first stage of psychosexual development during which pleasure is centered in the mouth
Phallic stage
Freud's concept for that period of life during which excitation or tension begins to be centered in the genitals and during which there is an attraction to the parent of the opposite sex.
Defense mechanism: Creating false but plausible excuses to justify unacceptable behavior.
Defense mechanism by which people divert sexual or aggressive feelings for one person onto another person.
Latency stage
Freud's fourth stage of psychosexual development where sexuality is repressed in the unconscious and children focus on identifying with their same sex parent and interact with same sex peers.
Pleasure principle
Freud's theory regarding the id's desire to maximize pleasure and minimize pain in order to achieve immediate gratification.
Reaction formation
Defense mechanism by which people behave in a way opposite to what their true but anxiety-provoking feelings would dictate.
Reality principle
According the Freud, the attempt by the ego to satisfy both the id and the superego while still considering the reality of the situation.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)
Characterized by excessive anxiety or worry about numerous things, lasting for 6 months or longer.
A nonspecific, emotional response to real or imagined challenges or threats; a result of a cognitive appraisal by the individual
General adaptation syndrome (GAS)
Selye's model of the body's stress response, consisting of three stages: alarm, resistance, and exhaustion
Health psychology
A subfield of psychology that provides psychology's contribution to behavioral medicine.
Type A behavior pattern
A behavior pattern marked by a sense of time urgency, impatience, excessive competitiveness, hostility, and anger; considered a risk factor in coronary heart disease.
Biopsychosocial model
A model of illness that holds that physical illness is caused by a complex interaction of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors.
Social support
Emotional, material, or informational assistance provided by other people
An interdisciplinary area of study that includes behavioral, neurological, and immune factors and their relationship to the development of disease
Anything that causes stress
Type B behavior pattern
A behavior pattern marked by a relaxed, easygoing approach to life, without the time urgency, impatience, and hostility of the Type A pattern.
A group of severe disorders characterized by disorganized and delusional thinking, disturbed perceptions, and inappropriate emotions and actions
Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID)
A rare dissociative disorder in which a person exhibits two or more distinct and alternating personalities. Also called multiple personality disorder.
Personality disorders
psychological disorders characterized by inflexible and enduring behavior patterns that impair social functioning (e.g., antisocial, borderline, narcissistic, dependent, etc.)
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)
A mental disorder characterized by unwanted repetitive thoughts (obsession) and/ or actions (compulsions).
Panic disorder
An anxiety disorder marked by unpredictable panic attacks: minutes-long episodes of intense dread in which a person experiences terror and accompanying chest pain, choking, or other frightening sensations.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
a mental disorder associated with serious traumatic events and characterized by such symptoms as survivor guilt, reliving the trauma in dreams, numbness and lack of involvement with reality, or recurrent thoughts and images
A disorder involving anxiety about situations from which escape would be difficult or embarrassing or places where there might be no help if a panic attack occurred.
Bipolar disorder
An unstable emotional condition characterized by cycles of abnormal, persistent high mood (mania) and low mood (depression)
An anxiety disorder marked by a persistent, irrational fear and avoidance of a specific object or situation.
Antisocial personality disorder
A personality disorder in which the person (usually a man) exhibits a lack of conscience for wrongdoing, even toward friends and family members. May be aggressive and ruthless or a clever con artist.
Dissociative disorders
Disorders in which conscious awareness becomes separated (dissociated) from previous memories, thoughts, and feelings. Includes DID, Dissociative Amnesia
False beliefs, often of persecution or grandeur, that may accompany psychotic disorders
False sensory experiences, such as seeing something in the absence of an external visual stimulus
Major depressive disorder
A depressive disorder in which a person experiences two or more weeks of significantly low moods, feelings of worthlessness, and diminished interest or pleasure in most activities
Anxiety disorders
Psychological disorders characterized by distressing, persistent anxiety or maladaptive behaviors that reduce anxiety (e.g., specific phobia, GAD, Social Anxiety Disorder, Agoraphobia, Panic disorder, etc.)
A symptom of bipolar disorders, it is characterized by an abnormally elevated mood, accompanied by a speeding up of thought processes and activities and an abnormally decreased need for sleep.
Dissociative amnesia
Dissociative disorder characterized by the sudden and extensive inability to recall important personal information, usually of a traumatic or stressful nature.
Dissociative fugue
Abrupt change in geographic location with inability to recall past, confusion about personal identity or assumption of a new identity. Associate with traumatic circumstances (natural disasters, wartime, trauma).
Conversion disorder
A somatic symptom related disorder where the individual experiences a loss of sensation or function due to a psychological belief (e.g., paralysis, blindness, deafness).
Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders
Category of disorders involving physical symptoms that have psychological causes. Includes: conversion disorder, somatic symptom disorder, illness anxiety disorder, factitious disorder
Specific phobia
A marked fear of a specific object or situation; a general label for any phobia other than agoraphobia and social phobia.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders of the American Psychiatric Association. This latest edition was published in 2013.
Illness Anxiety Disorder
A disorder defined by excessive concern and help seeking about serious health concerns in the absence of major physical symptoms.
A lengthy insight therapy that was developed by Freud and aims at uncovering conflicts and unconscious impulses through special techniques, including free association, dream analysis, and transference.
Systematic desensitization
A type of counterconditioning that associates a pleasant relaxed state with gradually increasing anxiety-triggering stimuli
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
a biomedical therapy for severely depressed patients in which a brief electric current is sent through the brain of an anesthetized patient
Cognitive Therapy
therapy that teaches people new, more adaptive ways of thinking and acting; based on the assumption that thoughts intervene between events and our emotional reactions
Client centered therapy
A humanistic therapy, developed by Carl Rogers, in which the therapist uses techniques such as active listening within a genuine, accepting, empathic environment to facilitate clients' growth.
Free association
In psychoanalysis, a method of exploring the unconscious in which the person relaxes and says whatever comes to mind, no matter how trivial or embarrassing.
Behavior therapy
Therapy that applies learning principles to the elimination of unwanted behaviors.
An emotionally charged, confiding interaction between a trained therapist and someone who suffers from psychological difficulties
Antipsychotic drugs
Neuroleptics; Drugs used to treat schizophrenia and other forms of severe thought disorder; typically dopamine antagonists (Thorazine, Risperdal)
Rational emotive behavior therapy (REBT)
developed by Albert Ellis, a form of psychotherapy based on identifying and directly challenging irrational beliefs that are believed to underlie emotional and behavioral difficulties
Unconditional Positive Regard
according to Rogers, an attitude of total acceptance toward another person
Family therapy
therapy that treats the family as a system. views an individual's unwanted behaviors as influenced by or directed at other family members; attempts to guide family members toward positive relationships and improved communication
brain surgery on human patients intended to relieve severe and otherwise intractable mental or behavioral problems
Group therapy
A form of psychotherapy that involves one or more therapists working simultaneously with a small group of clients.
Meta analysis
A procedure for statistically combining the results of many different research studies
Antidepressant drugs
Drugs used to treat depression; also increasingly prescribed for anxiety. Most popular are SSRIs (Prozac, Zoloft, Paxil)
Token economy
An operant conditioning procedure in which people earn a token of some sort for exhibiting a desired behavior and can later exchange the tokens for various privileges or treats.
Cognitive dissonance
A state of mental discomfort arising from a discrepancy between two or more of a person's beliefs or between a person's beliefs and overt behavior.
Fundamental attribution error
The tendency for observers, when analyzing another's behavior, to underestimate the impact of the situation and to overestimate the impact of personal disposition
A generalization about a group of people in which certain traits are assigned to virtually all members of the group, regardless of actual variation among the members
A person's consistently favorable or unfavorable evaluations, feelings, and tendencies toward an object or idea
Diffusion of responsibility
Reduction in sense of responsibility often felt by individuals in a group; may be responsible for the bystander effect
Social psychology
The scientific study of how we think about, influence, and relate to one another. Emphasizes the importance of situations and environments in shaping behavior and thought.
Adjusting one's behavior or thinking to coincide with a group standard.
An (usually negative) attitude toward an entire category of people, often an ethnic or racial minority.
A kind of thinking in which maintaining group cohesiveness and solidarity is more important than considering the facts in a realistic manner.
Gender roles
Expectations about what is appropriate behavior for each sex.
Group polarization
The enhancement of a group's prevailing inclinations through discussion within the group. Groups become more extreme in their views after interaction.
Social Anxiety Disorder
An anxiety disorder involving the extreme and irrational fear of being embarrassed, judged, or scrutinized by others in social situations (e.g., giving speeches)
Any physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt or destroy.
Discrimination (social behavior)
Behaving differently, usually unfairly, toward the members of a group.
Self serving bias
Tendency to take credit for success & not take credit for failure
the theory that we explain someone's behavior by crediting either the situation or the person's disposition
A state in which an individual in a group experiences a weakened sense of personal identity and diminished self-awareness. (usually in settings that foster arousal and anonymity)
A form of compliance that occurs when people follow direct commands, usually from someone in a position of authority
Social facilitation
Stronger responses on simple or well-learned tasks in the presence of others
Social loafing
Decrease in effort and productivity that occurs when an individual works in a group instead of alone.
A display of genuine and unselfish concern for the welfare of others
Facial feedback hypothesis
The hypothesis that emotional expressions can cause the emotional experiences they signify
Self-fulfilling prophecy
an expectation that causes you to act in ways that make that expectation come true.
Social norms
Expected standards of conduct, which influence behavior
Frustration aggression hypothesis
the principle that frustration- the blocking of an attempt to achieve some goal- creates anger which can generate aggression
In psychoanalysis, the blocking from consciousness of anxiety-laden material. May be indicated by client pauses, change of subject, or avoidance.