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the scientific study of behavior and mental processes


an observable action


seeing mind and body as different aspects of the same thing


seeing mind and body as two different things that interact


use of techniques and ideas from a variety of approaches


the view that knowledge should be acquired through observation and often an experiment


way of getting knowledge about the world based on observation


a collection of interrelated ideas and facts put forward to describe, explain, and predict behavior and mental processes

scientific method

in psychology, the techniques used to discover knowledge about human behavior and mental processes


a tentative statement or idea expressing a causal relationship between two events or variables that is to be evaluated in a research study


a procedure in which a researcher systematically manipulates and observes elements of a situation in order to test a hypothesis and make a cause-and-effect statement

independent variable

the variable in a controlled experiment that the experimenter directly and purposefully manipulates to see how the other variables under study will be affected

dependent variable

the variable in a controlled experiment that is expected to change due to the manipulation of the independent variable

experimental group

in an experiment, the group of participants to whom a treatment is given

control group

subjects and not exposed to a changing variable in an experiment


a condition or characteristic of a situation or a person that is subject to change (it varies) within or across situations or individuals


a group of participants who are assumed to be representative of the population about which an inference is being made

random sample

selection of a part of the population without reason; participation is by chance

operational definition

a definition of a variable in terms of the set of methods or procedures used to measure or study that variable


an individual who takes part in an experiment and whose behavior is observed as part of the data collection process

double-blind procedure

technique in which neither the persons involved for those conducting the experiment know in what group to participate is involved


a procedure to inform participants about the true nature of an experiment after its completion


rules of proper and acceptable conduct that investigators use to guide psychological research


tendency to believe that one's own group is the standard, the reference point by which other people and groups should be judged

case study

a highly detailed description of a single individual or a vent

ex post facto study

describes differences between groups of participants that differ naturally on a variable such as race or gender

naturalistic observation

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

correlational research

establish the relationship between two variables

survey research

the measurement of public opinion through the use of sampling and questioning

experimenter bias

expectation of the person conducting an experiment which may be affect the outcome

observer bias

expectations of an observer which may distort an authentic observation

response bias

preconceived notions of a person answering [a survey] which may alter the experiments purpose

informed consent

the agreement of participants to take part in an experiment and their acknowledgement that they understand the nature of their participation in the research, and have been fully informed about the general nature of the research, its goals, and methods

normal distribution

approximate distribution of scores expected when a sample is taken from a large population, drawn as a frequency polygon that often takes the form of a bell-shaped curve, called the normal curve


typically a pill that is used as a control in the experiment; a sugar pill


an unscientific system which pretends to discover psychological information that his means are unscientific or deliberately fraudulent

representative sample

selection of a part of the population which mirrors the current demographics

significant difference

in an experiment, a difference that is unlikely to have occurred because of chance alone and is inferred to be most likely due to the systematic manipulations of variables by the researcher

self-fulfilling prophecy

when a researcher's expectations unknowingly create a situation that affects the results


branch of mathematics that deals with collecting, classifying, and analyzing data

descriptive statistics

general set of procedures used to summarize, condense, and describe sets of data

frequency distribution

a chart or array of scores, usually arranged from highest to lowest, showing the number of instances for each score

frequency polygon

graph of a frequency distribution that shows the number of instances of obtained scores, usually with the data points connect by straight lines

measure of central tendency

a descriptive statistic that tells which result or score best represents an entire set of scores


the arithmetic average of a set of scores


the measure of central tendency that is the data point with 50% of the scores above it and 50% below it


the most frequently occurring score in a set of data


the spread between the highest and the lowest scores in a distribution

correlation coefficient

a number that expresses the degree and direction of the relationship between 2 variables, ranging from -1 to +1

inferential statistics

procedures used to draw conclusions about larger populations from small samples of data

normal distribution

approximate distribution of scores expected when a sample is taken from a large population, drawn as a frequency polygon that often takes the form of a bell-shaped curve, called the normal curve

standard deviation

a descriptive statistic that measures the variability of data from the mean of the sample


the extent to which scores differ from one another


school of psychological thought that considered the structure and elements of conscious experience to be the proper subject matter of psychology


a person's description and analysis of what he or she is thinking and feeling or what he or she has just thought about


school of psychological thought that was concerned with how and why the conscious mind works


perspective developed by freud, which assumes that psychological problems are the result of anxiety resulting from unresolved conflicts and forces of which a person might be unaware

Gestalt psychology

school of psychological thought that argued that behavior cannot be studied in parts but must be viewed a s whole


perspective that defines psychology as the study of behavior that is directly observable or through assessment instruments

cognitive psychology

perspective that focuses on the mental processes involved in perception, learning, memory, and thinking

humanistic psychology

perspective that emphasizes the uniqueness of the individual and the idea that humans have free will


the human need to fulfill one's potential

sociocultural psychology

perspective concerned with how cultural differences affect behavior

evolutionary psychology

perspective that seeks to explain and predict behaviors by analyzing how the human brain developed over time, how it functions, and how input from the environment affects human behaviors

positive psychology

in emerging Theo psychology that focuses on positive experiences; includes subjective well-being, self-determination, the relationship between positive emotions and physical health, and the factors that allow individuals, communities, and societies to boorish


professional who studies behavior and uses behavioral principles in scientific research or in applied settings

clinical psychologist

psychologist who treats people serious psychological problems or conducts research into the causes of behavior

counseling psychologist

psychologist who treats people with adjustment problems


a medical doctor who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders


one who uses psychoanalysis to treat psychological problems

developmental psychologist

studies psychological development across the lifespan

educational psychologist

focuses on how effective teaching and learning take place

engineering psychologist

does research on how people function best with machines

forensic psychologist

applies psychological concepts to legal issues

health psychologist

focuses on psychological factors in illness

industrial/organizational psychologist

applies psychological principles to the workplace to improve productivity and the quality of work life


concerned with the relationship between brain/nervous system and behavior


focuses on methods of acquiring and analyzing data

school psychologist

assesses and counsels students, consults with educators and parents, and performs behavioral intervention when necessary

social psychologist

focuses on how the individual's behavior and mental processes are affected by interactions with other people

sports psychologist

helps athletes improve their focus, increase motivation, and deal with anxiety and fear of failure

confounding variable

anything that causes a difference between the IV and the DV other than the independent variable

demand characteristics

clues participants discover about the purpose of a study that suggest how they should respond

placebo effect

response to the belief that the IV will have an effect, rather than the IV's actual effect, which can be a confounding variable

percentile score

the percentage of scores at or below a certain score

refractory period

after firing when a neuron will not fire again no matter how strong the incoming message may be

acetylcholine (ACh)

neurotransmitter that causes contraction of skeletal muscles; lack of Ach linked with Alzheimer's disease;

action potential

an electrical current sent down the axon of a neuron and is initiated by the rapid reversal of the polarization of the cell membrane

ACTH (arenocorticotropic hormone)

released by adrenal glands; triggered by norepinephrine to prolong the response to stress (used in the sympathetic nervous system)

adrenal glands

endocrine glands located above the kidney and secretes epinephrine and norepinephrine, which prepare the body for "fight or flight"

afferent neuron

nerve cell that sends messages to brain or spinal cord from other parts of the body; also called sensory neurons

all-or-none principle

the law that the neuron either fires at 100% or not at all


part of the limbic system; influences emotions such as aggression, fear, and self-protective behaviors


inability to understand or use language

association areas

areas of the cerebral cortex that are not involved in primary motor or sensory functions, rather, they are involved in higher mental processes such as thinking, planning, and communicating

autonomic nervous system

a division of the peripheral nervous system that regulates involuntary functions; made up of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems

axon terminal

terminal button, synaptic knob; the structure at the end of an excellent terminal branch; houses the synaptic vesicles and neurotransmitters


a single long, fiber that carries outgoing messages to other neurons, muscles, or glands

behavioral genetics

study of hereditary influences and how it influences behavior and thinking


portion of the CNS above the spinal cord; consists of hindbrain, midbrain, and forebrain


top of the spinal column

Broca's area

located in left frontal lobe; controls production of speech

central nervous system

the brain and spinal cord


part of the brain that coordinates balance, movement, reflexes

(cerebral) cortex

wrinkled outer portion of brain; center for higher order brain functions such as thinking, planning, judgment; processes sensory information and directs movement


threadlike structure within the nucleus of cells that contain genes

computerized axial tomography (CT scan)

creates a computerized image using x-rays passed through the brain


the folds in the cerebral cortex that increase the surface area of the brain

corpus callosum

large band of white neural fibers that connects to to brain hemispheres and carries messages between them; myelinated; involved in intelligence, consciousness, and self-awareness; does it reach full maturity until 20s


branching extensions of neuron that receives messages from neighboring neurons


deoxyribonucleic acid; genetic formation in a double-helix; can replicate or reproduce itself; made of genes

dominant genes

member of a gene terror that controls the appearance of a certain trait


neurotransmitter that influences voluntary movement, attention, alertness; lack of dopamine linked with Parkinson's disease; too much is linked with schizophrenia

EEG (electroencephalogram)

shows brain's electrical activity by positioning electrodes over the scalp

efferent neuron

nerve cell that send messages from brain and spinal cord to other parts of body; also called motor neurons

endocrine glands

the bodies "slow" chemical communication by secreting hormones directly into the bloodstream

endocrine system

glands that secrete hormones into the bloodstream, which regulate body and behavioral processes


chemical similar to opiates that relieves pain; may induce feelings of pleasure


adrenaline; activates a sympathetic nervous system by making the heart beat faster, stopping digestion, enlarging pupils, sending sugar into the bloodstream, preparing a blood clot faster

excitatory neurotransmitter

chemical secreted at terminal button that causes the neuron on the other side of the synapse to fire

family studies

studies of hereditability on the assumption that if a gene influences a certain trait, close relatives should be more similar on that trait in distant relative


top of the brain which includes the thalamus, hypothalamus, and cerebral cortex; responsible for emotional regulation, complex thought, memory aspect of personality

fraternal twins

twins from two separate fertilized eggs (zygotes); share half of the same genes

frontal lobes

control emotional behaviors, make decisions, carry out plans; speech (Broca's area); controls movement of muscles

functional MRI (fMRI)

shows brain activity at higher reolution than PET scan when changes in oxygen concentration in neurons alters its magnetic qualities

GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid)

neurotransmitter that inhibits firing of neurons; linked with Huntington's disease


a DNA segment on a chromosome that controls transmission of traits


study of how traits are transmitted from one generation to the next


an individual's genetic make-up

glial cells

supportive cells of nervous system that guide growth of new neurons; forms myelin sheath; holds neuron in place; provides nourishment and removes waste


reproductive glands-male, testes; female, ovaries

graded potential

shift in electrical charge in a tiny area of the neuron (temporary); transmits a long cell membranes leaving neuron and polarized state; needs higher than normal threshold of excitation to fire


the proportion of variation among individuals that is due to genetic causes


division which includes the cerebellum, Pons, and medulla; responsible for involuntary processes: blood pressure, body temperature, heart rate, breathing, sleep cycles


part of the limbic system and is involved in learning and forming new long-term memories


chemical that carries messages that travel through the bloodstream to help regulate bodily functions

human genomes

30,000 genes needed to build a human


area of the brain that is part of the limbic system and regulates behaviors such as, eating, drinking, sexual behaviors, motivation; also body temperature

identical twins

twins from a single fertilized egg (zygote) with the same genetic makeup; also called monozygotic (MZ) twins

inhibitory neurotransmitter

chemical secreted at terminal button that prevents (or reduces ability of) the neuron on the other side of the synapse from firing


hormone backpacks in the regulation of blood sugar by acting in the utilization of carbohydrates; released by pancreas; too much-hypoglycemia, too little-diabetes


nerve cell that transmits messages between sensory and motor neurons


electrically charged particles found both inside and outside a neuron; negative ions are found inside the cell membrane in a polarized neuron

limbic system

a donut ring-shaped of loosely connected structures located in the forebrain between the central core and cerebral hemispheres; consists of: septum, cingulate gyrus, endowments, hypothalamus, and to campus, and amygdala; associated with emotions and memories

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)

creates a computerized image using a magnetic field and pulses of radio waves

medulla (also medulla oblongata)

part of the brain which controls living functions such as breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature


the middle division of brain responsible for hearing and sight; location where pain is registered; includes temporal lobe, occipital lobe, and most of the parietal lobe

motor neurons

efferent neurons; neurons that carry messages from spinal cord/brain to muscles and glands

motor projection areas

primary motor cortex; areas of the three boat cortex for response messages from the brain to the muscles and glands

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