Abnormal behavior—behavior that is statistically unusual, maladaptive, and personally distressing to the individual.
Absolute threshold—the weakest level of a stimulus that can be correctly detected at least half the time.
Abstract learning—learning in which the relationship between and among stimuli is more important than the physical features of the stimuli.
Accommodation—process by which we modify our schemas to fit new information; process of changing the curvature of the lens to focus light rays on the retina of the eye.
Acetylcholine (ACh)—a neurotransmitter that causes contraction of skeletal muscles, helps regulate heart muscles, is involved in memory, and transmits messages between the brain and spinal cord. A lack of ACh is associated with Alzheimer’s disease.
Achievement motive—the desire to accomplish something, to excel, or reach a standard of excellence.
Achievement tests—tests that measure our current mastery of a subject or specific program of study.
Acoustic encoding—the encoding of sound, especially the sound of words.
Acquisition—learning a new behavior; refers to the initial stage of conditioning in which the new response is established and gradually strengthened.
Action potential—also called an impulse, the “firing” of a neuron; a net flow of sodium ions into the cell that causes a rapid change in potential across the membrane when stimulation reaches threshold.
Activation-synthesis theory—during REM sleep the brainstem stimulates the forebrain with random neural activity, which we interpret as a dream.
Active listening—Rogers’s term for hearing another person with complete attention to what he or she says and means through acknowledging feelings, echoing, restating, and seeking clarification.
Actor-observer bias—tendency to focus on our own situations and the other person, rather than his or her situation, when we interpret behavior.
Acuity—ability to detect fine details; sharpness of vision. Can be affected by small distortions in the shape of the eye.
Adaptations—structures or behaviors that increase chances of survival.
Addiction—physiological dependence on a drug that has changed brain chemistry, necessitating taking the drug to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
Adrenal glands—endocrine glands atop kidneys. Adrenal cortex, the outer layer, produces steroid hormones such as cortisol, which is a stress hormone. Adrenal medulla, the core, secretes adrenaline (epinephrine) and noradrenaline (norepinephrine), which prepare the body for “fight or flight” like the sympathetic nervous system does.
Affective (mood) disorder—disorder characterized by significant shifts or disturbances in mood that affect normal perception, thought, and behavior; e.g., depression and bipolar disorders.
Afferent neuron—also called sensory neuron, nerve cell in our PNS that transmits impulses from receptors to the brain or spinal cord.
Affiliation motive—the need to be with others.
Age of viability—the end of the second trimester in pregnancy; the point at which there is a reasonable chance the fetus will survive if born prematurely.
Aggression—any behavior intended to hurt someone, either physically or psychologically.
Alarm response—first stage of Selye’s General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) to stress; involves increasing activity of the sympathetic nervous system speeding up heart rate and blood pressure, and releasing adrenaline.
Albinism—recessive trait that produces a lack of pigment and involves quivering eyes and inability to perceive depth with both eyes.
Algorithm—problem-solving strategy that involves a slow, step-by-step procedure that guarantees a solution to certain types of problems.
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. The strength of the action potential is constant whenever it occurs.
Altruism—an unselfish interest in helping others.
Alzheimer’s disease—a fatal neurocognitive disease in which brain neurons progressively die, causing loss of memory, reasoning, emotion, control of bodily functions, then death.
Amnesia—a loss of memory.
Amygdala—part of the limbic system of the brain that influences emotions such as aggression, fear, and self-protective behaviors; is involved in the storage of emotional memories.
Anal stage—Freud’s second stage of development in which the child receives pleasure from the anal region, especially during elimination.
Analytical—one of the three parts of Sternberg’s triarchic theory of intelligence; is similar to what is tested by traditional IQ tests and what we are asked to do in school: compare, contrast, analyze, and figure out cause—effect relationships.
Anchoring effect—the tendency to be influenced by a suggested reference point, pulling our response toward that point.
Androgyny—the presence of desirable masculine and feminine characteristics in one individual.
Animism—belief of a preoperational child that all things are living just like him or her according to Piaget.
Anorexia nervosa—eating disorder more common in the adolescent female characterized by weight less than 85 percent of normal, abnormally restrictive food consumption, and an unrealistic body image that she is still fat.
Anterograde amnesia—a disorder caused by brain damage that disrupts a person’s ability to form new long-term memories of events that occur after the time of the brain damage.
Antidepressant drugs—medicines that elevate mood states; three main categories include tricyclics (such as Elavil), MAO inhibitors (such as Nardil), and SSRI inhibitors (such as Prozac).
Antipsychotic drugs—powerful medicines that lessen agitated behavior, reduce tension, decrease hallucinations and delusions, improve social behavior, and produce better sleep behavior especially in patients with schizophrenia (also called neuroleptics).
Antisocial personality disorder—a disorder characterized by a failure to conform to standards of decency; repeated lying and stealing; a failure to sustain lasting, loving relationships; low tolerance for boredom; and a complete lack of guilt.
Anxiety—a feeling of impending doom or disaster from a specific or unknown source that is characterized by mood symptoms of tension, agitation, and apprehension; bodily symptoms of sweating, muscular tension, and increased heart rate and blood pressure; as well as cognitive symptoms of worry, rumination, and distractibility.
Anxiety hierarchy—a listing of frightening events in increasing order of severity used in systematic desensitization treatment for phobias.
Anxiolytics—anti-anxiety drugs (tranquilizers) such as benzodiazepines including Librium, Valium, Xanax, and Buspirone.
Aphasia—impairment of the ability to understand (receptive) or use (expressive) language.
Approach—approach conflict—a conflict in which the individual must choose between two positive stimuli or circumstances.
Approach—avoidance conflict—a conflict in which the individual must decide whether or not to choose a circumstance involving a single stimulus that has both positive and negative characteristics.
Aptitude test—test that measures what our potential is and whether or not we will benefit from some training; predicts our future capacity to learn and develop.
Archetypes—according to Jung, a number of universal themes that are part of the collective unconscious.
Arousal—level of alertness, wakefulness, and activation caused by activity in the central nervous system; optimal level varies with the person and the activity.
Artificial intelligence (AI)—a field of study in which computer programs are designed to simulate human cognitive abilities such as reasoning, learning, and understanding language.
Artificialism—the belief of the preoperational child that all objects are made by people.
Assimilation—process by which we incorporate new information into our existing cognitive structures or schemas.
Association areas—regions of the cerebral cortex that do not have specific sensory or motor functions but are involved in higher mental functions such as thinking, planning, and communicating.
Atkinson-Shiffrin model of memory—assumes three different memory systems: sensory memory, short-term memory (STM), and long-term memory (LTM).
Attachment—a close emotional bond or relationship between the infant and the caregiver.
Attention—set of perceptual processes by which you choose from among the various stimuli bombarding your senses at any instant, allowing some to be further processed by your senses and brain.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)— a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by inattention, impulsivity, and an elevated level of activity compared to most other children.
Attitude—learned predisposition to respond favorably or unfavorably to certain people, objects, or events.
Attribution theory—a study of our causal explanations of behavior. We attribute behavior to the individual’s disposition or to the situation.
Audition—the sense of hearing.
Auditory nerve—axons of neurons in the cochlea converge, transmitting sound messages through the medulla, pons, and thalamus to the auditory cortex of the temporal lobes.
Authoritarian parenting style—absolute and restrictive rules by parent accompanied by punishment for disobedience.
Authoritative parenting style—flexible rules for which reasons are generally given. Parents are warm and nurture independence within guidelines.
Autism spectrum disorder—an early-onset neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by markedly abnormal or impaired development in social interaction, communication, and the restricted repertoire of activity and interests.
Automatic processing—unconscious encoding of information about space, time, and frequency that occurs without interfering with our thinking about other things.
Autonomic nervous system (ANS)—subdivision of PNS that includes motor nerves that stimulate smooth (involuntary) or heart muscle. Its sympathetic nervous system prepares the body for “fight or flight”; the parasympathetic nervous system causes bodily changes for maintenance or rest.
Availability heuristic—a tendency to estimate the probability of certain events in terms of how readily they come to mind.
Aversive conditioning—learning involving an unpleasant or harmful unconditioned stimulus or reinforcer; also a form of behavior therapy (aversion therapy) in which the client is trained to associate physical or psychological discomfort with behaviors, thoughts, or situations the client wants to stop or avoid.
Avoidance—avoidance conflict—a conflict in which the individual must choose between two unattractive stimuli or circumstances.
Avoidance behavior—behavior that results in the removal of an ongoing event, or prevents a future event from occurring.
Avoidant attachment—infant neither seeks support or comfort from nor shows distress toward caregivers in the strange situation.
Axon—a long, single conducting fiber (usually covered in myelin) extending from the cell body of a neuron that transmits an action potential and that branches and ends in tips called terminal buttons (a.k.a. axon terminals, or synaptic knobs) that secrete neurotransmitters.
Babbling—a stage of speech development that is characterized by spontaneous utterance of speech sounds; begins around 4 months old.
Backwards conditioning—in classical conditioning, presenting the unconditioned stimulus before the conditioned stimulus.
Basal ganglia—clusters of neurons deep in the brain (including the caudate nucleus, putamen, globus pallidus, and substantia nigra) that regulate initiation of movements, balance, eye movements, and posture and function in processing of implicit memories.
Basic-level category—a concept that makes important distinctions between different categories—between a superordinate and subordinate category.
Behavior modification—therapy in which the client selects a goal and as he or she gets closer to that goal receives small rewards until finally reaching the intended goal; also a field that applies the behavioral approach scientifically to solve problems (applied behavior analysis).
Behavior therapy—treatment approach that uses applications of learning principles to eliminate unwanted behaviors.
Behavioral approach—psychological perspective concerned with behavioral reactions to stimuli; learning as a result of experience.
Behaviorism—the view that psychology should be an objective science based on observable and measurable behaviors.
Belief bias—the tendency for our preexisting beliefs to distort logical reasoning, making illogical conclusions seem valid or logical conclusions seem invalid.
Belief perseverance—the tendency for people to cling to a particular belief even after information that led to the formation of that belief has been discredited.
Bias—prejudice in favor of or against one person or group compared with another.
Big 5 or OCEAN—trait theory of personality that says our personalities are composed of different amounts of common traits—openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
Binocular cues—clues about distance that require two eyes and that include retinal disparity and convergence.
Biofeedback—a system for electronically recording, amplifying, and giving back information regarding a subtle physiological state.
Biological approach—psychological perspective concerned with physiological and biochemical factors that determine behavior and mental processes.
Biological preparedness—the species-specific predisposition to learn in certain ways but not in others.
Biopsychosocial model—overarching psychological perspective that integrates biological processes, psychological factors, and social forces to provide a more complete picture of behavior and mental processes than a single approach.
Bipolar cells—second layer of neurons in the retina that transmit impulses from rods and cones to ganglion cells.
Bipolar disorder—characterized by extreme mood swings from unusual excitement (mania) to serious depression.
Bisexuality—a tendency to direct sexual desire toward people of both sexes.
Blastula—the hollow ball stage of cell division during the first 2 weeks after conception.
Blind spot—region of the retina, without receptor cells or vision, where the optic nerve leaves the eye.
Blocking—the inability to condition a second stimulus because of prior conditioning to another stimulus that is also present during training.
Blood-brain barrier—a collection of cells that press together against the walls of capillaries to block many substances from entering the brain while allowing others to pass.
Borderline personality disorder—maladaptive behavior characterized by rapidly shifting and unstable mood, self-concept, and interpersonal relationships, as well as impulsiveness; self-mutilation, and anger directed inward; promiscuity and other self-destructive habits like drug addiction are common.
Bottom-up processing—data-driven information processing that begins with sensory receptors and works up to the brain’s integration of sensory information to construct perceptions.
Brain—portion of the central nervous system above the spinal cord.
Brainstem—also called the hindbrain, includes the medulla, pons, and cerebellum.
Brainstorming—a popular technique practiced during creative problem solving that encourages the generation of many ideas in a nonjudgmental environment.
Broadbent filter theory of memory—inputs are analyzed for each stage of memory and most filtered out; only the most important are encoded.
Broca’s area—region in left frontal lobe that controls production of speech.
Bulimia nervosa—an eating disorder characterized by a pattern of eating binges involving intake of thousands of calories, followed by purging either by vomiting or using laxatives.
Bystander effect—tendency for an observer to be less likely to give aid if other observers are present.
Cannon—Bard theory—theory that emotions and physiological states occur simultaneously.
Cardinal trait—defining personality characteristic, in a small number of us, that dominates and shapes our behavior (according to Allport).
Case study—intensive investigation of the behavior and mental processes associated with a specific person or situation.
Catastrophes—stressors that are unpredictable, large-scale disasters that threaten us.
Catatonia—a schizophrenic spectrum disorder characterized by bizarre motor behavior that sometimes takes the form of an immobile stupor and waxy flexibility.
Catharsis—in Freudian psychoanalysis, the release of emotional tension after remembering or reliving an emotionally charged experience from the past; as a coping device for stress, the release of pent-up emotions through exercise or other means.
Cell body—also called the cyton or soma, the part of the neuron that contains cytoplasm and the nucleus, which directs synthesis of such substances as neurotransmitters.
Central nervous system (CNS)—brain and spinal cord.
Central route of persuasion—according to the elaboration likelihood model, changes attitudes by requiring a person to think critically about an argument; usually results in stable change of attitudes.
Central tendency—average or most typical scores of a set of research data or distribution.
Central trait—a general characteristic that shapes much of our behavior (according to Allport).
Cerebellum—part of the brainstem that controls posture, equilibrium, and movement.
Cerebral cortex—convoluted part of forebrain that is the center for higher-order processes such as thinking, planning, judgment; receives and processes sensory information and directs movement.
Chaining—an operant conditioning technique used to teach complex behaviors; a number of behaviors must be done successively before the reward is given.
Chromosome—structure in the nucleus of cells that contains genes determined by DNA sequences.
Chunking—grouping information into meaningful units; expands the capacity of short-term memory beyond seven unrelated bits of information.
Circadian rhythms—daily patterns of changes that cycle approximately every 24 hours, such as the sleep/wake cycle.
Classical conditioning—learning that takes place when two or more stimuli are presented together; unconditioned stimulus is paired repeatedly with a neutral stimulus until it acquires the capacity to elicit a similar response.
Client-centered or person-centered therapy—humanistic therapy introduced by Carl Rogers in which the client rather than the therapist directs the treatment process.
Clinical psychologists—psychologists who evaluate and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders.
Cochlea—snail-shaped, fluid-filled tube in the inner ear with hair cells on the basilar membrane that transduce mechanical energy of vibrating molecules to the electrochemical energy of neural impulses.
Cognition—all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, and remembering information.
Cognitive approach—psychological perspective concerned with how we receive, store, and process information; think/reason; and use language.
Cognitive dissonance—according to Festinger, the theory that changes in attitudes can be motivated by an unpleasant state of tension caused by a disparity between a person’s beliefs or attitudes and behavior.
Cognitive illusion—systematic way of thinking that is responsible for an error in judgment.
Cognitive learning—a type of learning that involves mental events, problem solving, and rule formation.
Cognitive map—a mental picture of the layout of one’s environment.
Cognitive restructuring—cognitive therapy in which clients discuss their fears and are led to change their attitudes and beliefs about the situations that frighten them.
Cognitive therapy—therapy that teaches people more adaptive ways of thinking and acting in order to eliminate maladaptive thinking and emotional reactions.
Cognitive triad—Beck’s cognitive therapy that looks at what people think about their Self, their World, and their Future.
Cohort—group of people in one age group.
Cohort effect—observed group differences based on the era when people were born and grew up, exposing them to particular experiences that may affect results of cross-sectional studies.
Cohort-sequential—research design that combines aspects of cross-sectional and longitudinal research to correct for cohort effect.
Collective unconscious—according to Jung, the powerful and influential system of the psyche that contains universal memories and ideas that all people have inherited from our ancestors over the course of evolution.
Collectivism—primary identification of an individual as a member of a group (family, school, company, community) and goals of the group as one’s goals.
Color blindness—sex-linked trait more common in males where an individual cannot see certain colors, most often red and green.
Compliance—modification of our behavior at another person’s request.
Compulsion—an irresistible impulse to repeat some action over and over although it serves no useful purpose.
Computerized axial tomography (CAT or CT)— a computerized image using X-rays passed through the brain to show structure and/or the extent of a lesion.
Concept—a mental grouping or category for similar objects; one of the basic elements of thought.
Concrete operational stage—Piaget’s third stage of cognitive development (7—12 years) during which the child develops simple logic and masters conservation concepts.
Conditioned response (CR)—in classical conditioning, the learned response to a conditioned stimulus that results from repeated pairing with the unconditioned stimulus.
Conditioned stimulus (CS)—in classical conditioning, originally a neutral stimulus that comes to trigger a conditioned response after being repeatedly paired with the unconditioned stimulus.
Conditions of worth—conditions that others place on us for receiving their positive regard.
Conduction deafness—loss of hearing that results when the eardrum is punctured or ossicles lose their ability to vibrate. A hearing aid may restore hearing.
Cones—photoreceptors that detect color and fine detail in daylight or in bright conditions. Most concentrated at the fovea of the retina; none are in the periphery.
Confabulation—filling in gaps in memory by combining and substituting memories from events other than the one you’re trying to remember.
Confirmation bias—a tendency to search for and use information that supports our preconceptions and ignore information that refutes our ideas; often a hindrance to problem solving.
Conflict situations—problems in choosing between alternatives.
Conformity—the adoption of attitudes and behaviors shared by a particular group of people.
Confounding variables—in a controlled experiment, factors that cause differences between the experimental group and the control group other than the independent variable.
Connectionism—theory that memory is stored throughout the brain in connections between neurons, many of which can work together to process a single memory.
Consciousness—awareness of the outside world and ourselves, including our own mental processes, thoughts, feelings, and perceptions. EEGs of wakeful consciousness record alpha and beta waves.
Conservation concepts—changes in the form of an object do not alter physical properties of mass, volume, and number.
Consolidation—the process by which information in short-term memory is transferred to long-term memory, presumably because of physical changes that occur in neurons in the brain.
Construct validity—the true measure of validity. Construct validity is the extent to which the test measures a given characteristic, trait, or construct.
Contact comfort—Harlow study with monkeys and surrogate moms—need for close contact with caregiver independent of feeding; questions Hull’s drive-reduction theory.
Contact theory—if members of two opposing groups are brought together in an emergency situation, group cooperation will reduce prejudiced thinking.
Context-dependent memory—physical setting in which a person learns information that is encoded along with the information and becomes part of the memory trace.
Contiguity—Pavlovian theory that classical conditioning is based on the association in time of the CS prior to UCS.
Contingency—Rescorla’s theory that the predictability of UCS following CS determines classical conditioning.
Continuity—discontinuity controversy—deals with the issue of whether development is a gradual, continuous process or a sequence of separate stages.
Continuous reinforcement—the schedule of reinforcement where each desired behavior emitted by the organism is rewarded.
Contralaterality—control of one side of your body by the other side of your brain.
Control group—in a controlled experiment, the comparison group; the subgroup of the sample that is similar to the experimental group in every way except for the presence of the independent variable.
Controlled experiment—research method in which the experimenter manipulates the independent variable (IV) to see the effect on the dependent variable (DV) in order to establish a cause and effect relationship between the IV and DV.
Conventional level—Kohlberg’s second level of moral development, in which people realize that society has instituted rules to maintain order and to serve the best interests of its citizens.
Convergent thinking—conventional thinking; thinking directed toward a single correct solution.
Conversion disorder—a somatic symptom disorder involving the actual loss of bodily function, such as blindness, paralysis, and numbness, due to excessive anxiety with no physiological cause.
Convolutions—folding in and out of the cerebral cortex that increases surface area of the brain.
Coping—active efforts to reduce or tolerate perceived levels of stress.
Cornea—transparent, curved layer in the front of the eye that bends incoming light rays.
Corpus callosum—broad band of nervous tissue that connects the left and right cerebral hemispheres transmitting information from one side of the brain to the other.
Correlation coefficient (r)—a statistical measure of the degree of relatedness or association between two sets of data that ranges from —1 to +1.
Counseling psychologists—psychologists who help people adapt to change or make changes in their lifestyle.
Counterconditioning—replacing one emotion with its exact opposite such as relaxation as opposed to fear in phobias.
Creative self—Adler’s term for the conscious control of problem-solving strategies in daily life.
Creativity—the ability to generate ideas and solutions that are original, novel, and useful.
Criterion-related validity—a measure of the extent to which a test’s results correlate with other accepted measures of what is being tested.
Critical period—a time interval during which specific stimuli have a major effect on development that the stimuli do not produce at other times.
Critical period hypothesis—an optimal time after birth during which an organism must be exposed to certain influences if it is to develop properly. (Language is an example.)
Cross-sectional research—a method of assessing developmental changes by evaluating different age groups of people at the same time.
Crystallized intelligence—learned knowledge and skills such as vocabulary that tend to increase with age.
Culture—behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions transmitted from one generation to the next within a group of people who share a common language and environment.
Daily hassles—everyday annoyances such as having to wait on lines, arguing with a friend, etc.
Dark adaptation—increased visual sensitivity that gradually develops when it gets dark.
Daydreaming—state of consciousness characterized by focus on inner, private realities that can generate creative ideas or relieve boredom.
Decay theory—assumes that memories deteriorate as time passes.
Declarative memory (explicit)—memory of facts and experiences that you are consciously aware of and can declare.
Deductive reasoning—reasoning from the general to the specific.
Deep processing—involves attaching meaning and creating associations between a new memory and existing memories.
Defense mechanisms—unconscious, deceptive reactions that protect the ego from unpleasant emotions that are threatening, according to Freudian theory. They become active when unconscious instinctual drives of the id come into conflict with prohibitions of the superego.
Deindividuation—loss of self-awareness and restraint resulting from immersion in a group.
Deinstitutionalization—movement begun in 1950s to remove patients who were not considered a threat to themselves or the community from mental hospitals.
Delayed conditioning—ideal training in classical conditioning training where the CS precedes UCS and briefly overlaps.
Delirium—neurocognitive disorder characterized by impaired attention and a lack of awareness of the environment.
Delusion—fixed belief that is maintained even when compelling evidence to the contrary is presented; symptomatic of schizophrenia.
Demand characteristics—clues participants discover about the purpose of the study that suggest how they should respond.
Dendrites—branching tubular processes of a neuron that have receptor sites for receiving information.
Denial—Freudian defense mechanism, a refusal to admit a particular aspect of reality.
Dependent variable (DV)—the behavior or mental process that is measured in an experiment or quasi-experiment (the effect).
Depressants—psychoactive drugs that reduce the activity of the central nervous system and induce relaxation; include sedatives such as barbiturates, tranquilizers, and alcohol.
Depth perception—the ability to judge the distance of objects.
Descriptive statistics—numbers that summarize a set of research data obtained from a sample.
Developmental psychology—study of physical, intellectual, social, and moral changes over the entire life span from conception to death.
Deviation IQ—Wechsler’s procedure for computing the intelligence quotient; compares a child’s score with those received by other children of the same chronological age.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disor-ders (DSM-5)—manual used by mental health professionals for classifying psychological disorders; published by the American Psychiatric Association.
Diathesis-stress model—an account of the cause of mental disorders based on the idea that mental disorders develop when a person possesses a genetic predisposition for a disorder and later faces stressors that exceed his or her abilities to cope with them.
Difference threshold—minimum difference between any two stimuli that a person can detect 50 percent of the time.
Discrimination—in classical conditioning, the ability to tell the difference between the CS and stimuli similar to it that do not signal a UCS; in operant conditioning refers to responding differently to stimuli that signal that behavior will be reinforced or not reinforced; in social psychology it refers to unjustified behavior against an individual or group.
Disinhibition—a behavior therapy for phobias where modeling is used.
Disorganized schizophrenia (hebephrenia)—a type of schizophrenia characterized primarily by disturbances of thought and inappropriate affect—silly behavior or absence of emotions.
Displacement—expressing feelings toward something or someone besides the target person, because they are perceived as less threatening.
Display rules—culturally determined rules that prescribe the appropriate expression of emotions in particular situations.
Dispositional attributions—inferences that a person’s behavior is caused by the person’s tendency to think, feel, or act in a particular way.
Dissociation—experience of two or more streams of consciousness cut off from each other.
Dissociative amnesia—repression of memory of a particularly troublesome event or time into the unconscious mind; characterized by the inability to remember important events or personal information.
Dissociative disorders—class of disorders in which traumatic events or unpleasant memories cause a massive repression of these into the unconscious mind.
Dissociative fugue—sometimes called the “traveling amnesiac” disorder, in which a person moves away and assumes a new identity, with amnesia for the previous identity.
Dissociative identity disorder—formerly known as multiple personality disorder, a rarely seen dissociative disorder in which two or more distinct personalities exist within the same person.
Divergent thinking—thinking that produces many alternatives or ideas; creativity.
Dizygotic or fraternal twins—twins who develop from two different eggs fertilized by two different sperms.
Dominant gene—the gene expressed when the genes for a trait are different.
Dopamine—a neurotransmitter that stimulates the hypothalamus to synthesize hormones and affects alertness, attention, and movement. A lack of dopamine is associated with Parkinson’s disease; too much, with schizophrenia.
Double-bind—a theory that serious mental illness can be expressed in an individual who has been given mutually inconsistent messages, such as love and hate, typically from a parent during childhood.
Double-blind procedure—research design in which neither the experimenter nor the participants know who is in the experimental group and who is in the control group.
Down syndrome—usually with three copies of chromosome-21 in their cells, individuals typically have intellectual disability and have a round head; a flat nasal bridge; a protruding tongue; small, round ears; a fold in the eyelid; and poor muscle tone and coordination.
Drive reduction theory—theory of motivation that focuses on internal states of tension such as hunger that motivate us to pursue actions that reduce the tension and bring us back to homeostasis or internal balance.
Dual processing—processing information on conscious and unconscious levels at the same time.
Dualism—sees mind and body as two different things that interact.
Echoic memory—auditory sensory memory.
Eclectic—use of techniques and ideas from a variety of approaches to psychotherapy.
Ectomorph—Sheldon’s body type characterized by thin, frail body; introversion; and high intelligence.
Educational psychologists—psychologists who focus on how effective teaching and learning take place.
EEG (electroencephalogram)—an amplified tracing of brain activity produced when electrodes positioned over the scalp transmit signals about the brain’s electrical activity (“brain waves”) to an electroencephalograph machine.
Effector—muscle cell that contracts or gland cell that secretes.
Efferent neuron—also called motor neuron; nerve cell in your PNS that transmits impulses from sensory or interneurons to muscle cells that contract or gland cells that secrete.
Ego—Freud’s personality structure that is the only rational component; it serves as the mediator between the id and superego and as the decision maker for the personality.
Egocentrism—seeing the world from one’s own perspective; the inability to see reality from the perspective of another person; characteristic of the preoperational child.
Elaboration likelihood model (ELM)—accounts for how attitudes can be changed.
Elaborative rehearsal—movement of information into long-term memory by making it meaningful.
Electroconvulsive treatment (ECT)—is used as a last resort to treat severely depressed patients; involves passing small amounts of electric current through the brain to produce seizure activity and a change in affect.
Embryo—the developmental prenatal stage (from about 2 weeks through 2 months after fertilization) when most organs begin to develop.
Emotional intelligence—the ability to perceive, express, understand, and regulate emotions.
Emotions—feelings, highly subjective personal tendencies to respond to internal and external variables; includes physical arousal, expressive behaviors, and conscious experience.
Encoding—the process of converting information into some form that enables it to be stored in our memory system.
Encoding specificity principle—retrieval depends upon the match between the way information is encoded and the way it’s retrieved.
Endocrine system—ductless glands that typically secrete hormones directly into the blood that help regulate body and behavioral processes.
Endomorph—Sheldon’s body type characterized by round, spherical body; love of comfort, sociability.
Endorphins—neurotransmitters similar to the opiate morphine that relieves pain, and may induce feelings of pleasure.
Engrams—memory traces of information encoded in your brain that you acquire during life.
Episodic memories—personal experiences that become consolidated into your long-term memory.
Equipotentiality—discredited theory that any behavior can be taught to any organism.
Equivalent-form reliability—when two different versions of a test on the same material are given and the scores are highly correlated.
Escape behavior—behavior that terminates an ongoing event; negative reinforcement.
ESP (extrasensory perception)—controversial claim that perception can occur apart from sensory input.
Ethical guidelines—suggested rules for acting responsibly and morally when conducting research or in clinical practice.
Ethnocentrism—belief that your culture or social group is superior to others.
Ethologists—scientists who study animal behavior and how it has evolved in different species.
Eustress—physiological and emotional arousal that may be productive and motivating.
Evoked potentials—EEGs resulting from a response to a specific stimulus presented to the subject.
Evolutionary approach—psychological perspective concerned with how natural selection favored behaviors that contributed to survival and spread of our ancestors’ genes.
Evolutionary psychologists—psychoanalysts who take a Darwinian approach to the study of human behavior.
Excitatory neurotransmitter—chemical secreted at terminal button that causes the neuron on the other side of the synapse to generate an action potential (to fire).
Exhaustion stage—third stage of Selye’s general adaptation theory when our resistance to illness decreases and we are susceptible to many stress-related disorders.
Existential therapies—focus on helping clients find purpose and meaning in their lives with an emphasis on individual freedom and responsibility.
Experimental group—in a controlled experiment, the subgroup of the sample that receives the treatment or independent variable.
Experimenter bias—a phenomenon that occurs when a researcher’s expectations or preferences about the outcome of a study influence the results obtained.
Explicit memory (declarative memory)—long-term memory of facts and experiences we consciously know and can verbalize.
External locus of control—based on Julian Rotter’s research, the belief that what happens to you is due to fate, luck, or others.
Extinction—the weakening of a response. In classical conditioning it’s the removal of the UCS, and in operant conditioning it occurs when the reinforcement for the behavior is removed.
Extravert (also extrovert)—originally described by Jung, a person who exhibits the traits of sociability, and positive affect, and prefers to pay attention to the external environment.
Extrinsic motivation—the desire to perform a behavior for a reward or avoid punishment.
Face validity—a measure of the extent to which content of a test, on its surface, seems to be meaningfully related to what is being tested.
Factor analysis—a statistical procedure that identifies common factors among groups of items by determining which variables have a high degree of correlation.
False consensus bias—the tendency of a person to perceive his or her own views as representative of a consensus.
Farsighted—too little curvature of the cornea and/or lens, focusing the image behind the retina so distant objects are seen more clearly than nearby objects.
Feature detectors—individual neurons in the primary visual cortex/occipital lobes that respond to specific features of a visual stimulus.
Feature extraction (pattern recognition)—when new information comes into sensory storage, we actively search through long-term memory in an effort to find a match for these new raw data.
Fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS)—a cluster of abnormalities that occurs in babies of mothers who drink alcoholic beverages during pregnancy.
Fetus—the developing human organism from about 9 weeks after conception to birth when organ systems begin to interact, and sex organs and sense organs become refined.
Fictional final goals—according to Adler’s personality theory, these direct our behavior and, since largely unattainable, need to be modified over time.
Fight-or-flight response—physiological reaction that help ready us to fight or to flee from a dangerous situation; activation of the sympathetic nervous system.
Fixation—(for problem solving) an inability to look at a problem from a fresh perspective, using a prior strategy that does not lead to success; (in Freud’s theory) continuing to engage in behaviors associated with an earlier stage of development.
Fixed interval—schedule of reinforcement in which the first response after a specific time has passed is reinforced.
Fixed ratio—schedule of reinforcement in which reinforcement is presented after a set number of responses have been made since the previous reinforcement.
Flashbulb memories—a clear and vivid memory of an emotionally significant moment or event.
Flooding—behavior treatment for phobias; client is repeatedly exposed to feared object for extended periods and without escape, until the anxiety diminishes.
Fluid intelligence—those cognitive abilities requiring speed or rapid learning that tend to diminish with adult aging.
Foot-in-the-door—compliance strategy; an agreement to a smaller request leads to agreement with a larger request later.
Forensic psychologists—psychologists who apply psychological principles to legal issues.
Formal operational stage—Piaget’s fourth stage of cognitive development (12+ years) during which the child begins to think logically about abstract concepts and engage in hypothetical thinking.
Fovea—small area of the retina in the most direct line of sight, where cones are most concentrated for highest visual acuity in bright light.
Framing—refers to the way an issue is stated. How an issue is framed can significantly affect people’s perceptions, decisions, and judgments.
Fraternal twins—also called dizygotic twins; siblings who share about half of the same genes because they develop from two different zygotes.
Free association—a psychoanalytic procedure in which the client is encouraged to say whatever is on his or her mind without censoring possibly embarrassing or socially unacceptable thoughts or ideas.
Frequency—the number of complete wavelengths that pass a point in a given amount of time. The wavelength is inversely proportional to the frequency. Frequency or wavelength determines the hue of a light wave and the pitch of a sound.
Frequency distribution—an orderly arrangement of scores indicating the frequency of each score or group of scores.
Frequency theory—the rate of neural impulses traveling up the auditory nerve matches the frequency of a tone, which enables one to sense its pitch; how low-pitched sounds are heard.
Frontal lobes—front region of the cerebral cortex that interprets and controls emotional behaviors, makes decisions, carries out plans; contains motor cortex (just in front of somatosensory cortex) that initiates movements and integrates activities of skeletal muscles; produces speech (Broca’s area).
Fully functioning—Rogers’s term for a greater acceptance of who we are and who we want to be and taking individual responsibility for our behavior; similar to Maslow’s self-actualization.
Functional fixedness—inability to recognize novel uses for a familiar object because we’re fixated on its common use; a hindrance to problem solving.
Functional MRI (fMRI)—shows brain activity at higher resolution than the PET scan when changes in oxygen concentration near active neurons alter magnetic qualities.
Functionalism—early psychological perspective concerned with how an organism uses its perceptual abilities to adapt to its environment.
Fundamental attribution error—the tendency to overestimate the significance of dispositional factors and underestimate the significance of situational factors in explaining other people’s behavior.
g—According to Spearman, a factor of intelligence that is common to all intellectual tasks; generalized intelligence that fuels special abilities.
Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)—a neurotransmitter that inhibits firing of postsynaptic neurons. Huntington’s disease and seizures are associated with malfunctioning GABA systems.
Ganglion cells—third layer of neurons in the retina whose axons converge to form the optic nerve.
Gate-control theory—idea that pain is experienced only if pain messages can pass through a gate in the spinal cord on their route to the brain. This gate is opened by small nerve fibers that carry pain signals and is closed by neural activity of larger nerve fibers that conduct most other sensory signals or by information coming from the brain.
Gender—is the social definition of being male or female.
Gender consistency—understanding that one’s sex won’t change even if one acts like the opposite sex.
Gender identity—person’s sense of being male or female.
Gender role stereotypes—broad categories that reflect our impressions and beliefs about males and females.
Gender roles—sets of expectations that prescribe how males and females should act, think, and feel.
Gender schema theory—mental set of what society considers appropriate behavior for each of the sexes; assumes that gender becomes a cognitive “lens” through which children experience and acquire their gender identity.
Gender stability—understanding that sex identity is stable over time.
Gene—each DNA segment of a chromosome that determines a trait.
General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)—Selye’s three-stage process (alarm, resistance, and exhaustion) that describes our biological reaction to sustained and unrelenting stress.
Generalization—in classical conditioning, CRs elicited by stimuli that resemble the CS used in training. In operant conditioning, the occurrence of responding when a stimulus similar (but not identical) to the discriminative stimulus is present.
Generalized anxiety disorder—an anxiety disorder characterized by persistent, pervasive feelings of doom for at least 6 months not associated with a particular object or situation.
Generalized reinforcers—secondary reinforcers that are associated with a wide variety of other reinforcers, like money, which is almost guaranteed to be motivating.
Genital stage—the final of Freud’s psychosexual stages, during which the adolescent develops adult sexual desires; pleasure from intercourse and intimacy with opposite sex and/or same sex.
Genotype—the genetic makeup of an individual for a trait.
Gerontologist—person who specializes in the study of aging.
Gestalt therapy—developed by Perls, a humanistic therapy emphasizing the unity of mind and body; teaches the client to “get in touch” with unconscious bodily sensations and emotions.
Glial cells—supportive cells of the nervous system that guide the growth of developing neurons, help provide nutrition for and get rid of wastes of neurons, and form an insulating sheath around neurons that speeds conduction.
Grammar—a system of rules that enables us to communicate with and understand others.
Grasping reflex—infant closes his or her fingers tightly around an object put in his or her hand.
Group polarization—when like-minded people share ideas, the outcome is likely to be more extreme than individual positions.
Group test—many people are tested at the same time; cheaper and more objective scoring than individualized testing; may not be as accurate.
Groupthink—the tendency for individuals to censor their own beliefs to preserve the harmony of the group; a lack of diversity of viewpoints that can cause disastrous results in decision making.
Gustation—the chemical sense of taste through receptor cells in taste buds in fungiform papillae on the tongue and roof of the mouth, or in the throat.
Gyri—folding-out portions of convolutions of the cerebral cortex.
Habituation—decreasing responsiveness with repeated presentation of the same stimulus.
Hallucinations—perceptual experiences that occur in the absence of external stimulation of the corresponding sensory organ; characteristic of schizophrenia and some drug states.
Hallucinogens—also called psychedelics, a diverse group of psychoactive drugs that alter moods, distort perceptions, and evoke sensory images in the absence of sensory input; include LSD, PCP, marijuana (THC), psilocybin from mushrooms, and mescaline (Peyote).
Hawthorn effect—when people know that they are being observed, they change their behavior to what they think the observer expects or to make themselves look good.
Health/Positive psychologists—psychologists who study how health and illness are influenced by emotions, stress, personality, and lifestyle.
Heritability—the proportion of phenotypic variation among individuals, in a population, that results from genetic causes.
Heterosexuality—a tendency to direct sexual desire toward people of the opposite sex.
Heterozygous—also called hybrid, the condition when the genes for a trait are different.
Heuristic—a problem-solving strategy used as a mental shortcut to quickly simplify and solve a problem, but that does not guarantee a correct solution.
Hierarchies—systems in which items are arranged from more general to more specific classes.
Hierarchy of needs theory—Abraham Maslow’s humanistic theory of priorities from the lower levels of (1) basic biological needs, (2) safety and security needs, (3) belongingness and love, (4) self-esteem needs to (5) self-actualization needs; a lower need must be fulfilled before we can fulfill the next higher need.
Higher-order conditioning—classical conditioning in which a well-learned CS is paired with an NS to produce a CR to the NS.
Hindsight bias—a tendency to falsely report, after the event, that we correctly predicted the outcome of the event.
Hippocampus—part of the limbic system of the brain that enables formation of new long-term memories for facts and personal experiences.
Hoarding disorder—classified with obsessive-compulsive and related disorders, is characterized by persistent difficulty discarding or parting with possessions due to a perceived need to save the items and distress parting with them.
Holophrase—one-word meaningful utterances of children from ages of 1 to 2.
Homeostasis—the body’s tendency to maintain a balanced internal state.
Homosexuality—a tendency to direct sexual desire toward another person of the same sex.
Homozygous—the condition when both genes for a trait are the same.
Hormone—chemical messenger that travels through the blood to a receptor site on a target organ.
Hostile aggression—deliberate infliction of pain upon an unwilling victim.
Humanistic approach—psychological perspective concerned with individual potential for growth and the role of unique perceptions in growth toward one’s potential.
Huntington’s disease—dominant gene defect that involves degeneration of the nervous system characterized by tremors, jerky motions, blindness, and death.
Hypnagogic state—relaxed state of dreamlike awareness as we fall asleep.
Hypnosis—a technique that involves an interaction between the person (hypnotist) who suggests certain feelings, thoughts, perceptions, or behaviors and the subject who experiences them.
Hypochondriasis—a somatoform disorder involving persistent and excessive worry about developing a serious illness.
Hypothalamus—part of the brain under the thalamus that controls feeding behavior, drinking behavior, body temperature, sexual behavior, threshold for rage behavior, activation of the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, and secretion of hormones of the pituitary.
Hypothesis—prediction of how two or more factors are likely to be related.
Iconic memory—visual sensory memory.
Id—Freud’s original system of the personality; it operates on the pleasure principle and seeks immediate gratification of its wants and needs; unconscious reservoir of primal urges and libido.
Ideal self—Rogerian term for the self we desire to be; discrepancy with real self causes psychological problems.
Identical twins—also called monozygotic twins; two individuals who share all of the same genes/heredity because they develop from the same zygote.
Identity vs. role confusion—in Erikson’s theory, establishing an identity is the developmental task of adolescence or stage 5 of his eight-stage psychosocial theory of development.
Idiographic methods—personality techniques that look at the individual such as case studies, interviews, and naturalistic observations.
Illness anxiety disorder (IAD)—classified with somatic symptom disorders. Patients may or may not have a medical condition but have heightened bodily sensations, are intensely anxious about the possibility of an undiagnosed illness or devote excessive time and energy to health concerns, often obsessively researching them for at least 6 months; previously called hypochondria.
Implicit bias—The unconscious attribution of particular qualities to members of a particular group.
Implicit memory (nondeclarative memory)—long- term memory for skills and procedures to do things affected by previous experience without that experience being consciously recalled.
Imprinting—the process by which certain animals form attachments during a critical period very early in life.
In-group—a group of which one is a member and one tends to favor.
In vivo desensitization—behavior therapy for phobics; the client actually is placed in the fearful settings rather than imagining them as in systematic desensitization.
Incentive—a positive or negative environmental stimulus that motivates behavior, pulling us toward a goal.
Incongruence—in Rogerian therapy, discrepancy between a client’s real and ideal selves.
Incubation—putting aside a problem temporarily; allows the problem solver to look at the problem from a different perspective.
Independent variable (IV)—the factor the researcher manipulates in a controlled experiment (the cause).
Individualism—identifying oneself in terms of personal traits with independent, personal goals.
Individualized tests—given to individuals in 1:1 setting; cost of hiring a professional makes them expensive; probably better for determining individual IQ scores; subjective grading.
Individuation—according to Jung, is the psychological process by which a person becomes an individual, a unified whole, including conscious and unconscious processes.
Inductive reasoning—reasoning from the specific to the general, forming concepts about all members of a category based on some members.
Industrial/organizational psychologists—psychologists who aim to improve productivity and the quality of work life by applying psychological principles and methods to the workplace.
Inferential statistics—statistics that are used to interpret data and draw conclusions.
Information processing model of memory—explanation of memory that compares operation of human memory to a computer involving encoding, transfer to storage, and retrieval from storage.
Informational social influence—accepting others’ opinions about reality, especially in conditions of uncertainty.
Inhibitory neurotransmitter—chemical secreted at terminal button that reduces or prevents neural impulses in the postsynaptic neuron.
Insight learning—the sudden appearance (often creative) or awareness of a solution to a problem.
Insomnia—the inability to fall asleep and/or stay asleep.
Instinct—inherited, complex automatic species-specific behavior.
Instinct theory—theory of motivation that physical and mental instincts such as curiosity and fearfulness cause us to act.
Instinctive drift—the tendency of an animal to revert to instinctive behavior that interferes with learning.
Instrumental aggression—hostile act intended to achieve some goal.
Instrumental learning—learning that occurs when a response is weakened or strengthened by its consequence.
Intellectual disability—neurodevelopmental condition ranging from mild to profound; also called intellectual developmental disorder, characterized by intelligence quotient below 70 and difficulty in adapting to and coping with environmental demands of independent living. Previously called mental retardation.
Intellectualization—Freudian defense mechanism that involves reducing anxiety by reacting to emotional situations in a detached, unemotional way.
Intelligence—the global capacity to act purposefully, to think rationally, and to deal effectively with the environment.
Intelligence quotient (IQ)—mental age divided by chronological age multiplied by 100.
Interference theory—learning some items may prevent retrieving others, especially when the items are similar.
Intermittent reinforcement—the occasional reinforcement of a particular behavior; produces response that is more resistant to extinction than continuous reinforcement.
Internal locus of control—based on Julian Rotter’s research, the belief that you control what happens to you through your own individual effort and behavior.
Internalization—the process of absorbing information from a specified social environmental context (according to Lev Vygotsky).
Interneuron—nerve cell in the CNS that transmits impulses between sensory and motor neurons.
Intimacy vs. isolation—In Erikson’s theory, the ability to establish close and loving relationships is the primary task of late adolescence and early adulthood.
Intrinsic motivation—a desire to perform an activity for its own sake rather than for an external reward.
Introvert—Jungian term for the opposite of extravert; a person with a tendency to get energy from individual pursuits; a person with the trait of shyness, the desire to avoid large groups, and who prefers to pay attention to private mental experiences (according to Eysenck).
Iris—colored muscle surrounding the pupil that regulates the size of the pupil’s opening.
James—Lange theory—the conscious experience of emotion results from your awareness of autonomic arousal and comes only after your behavioral response to situations.
Just noticeable difference (jnd)—experience of the difference threshold.
Kinesthesis—body sense that provides information about the position and movement of individual parts of the body with receptors in muscles, tendons, and joints.
Klinefelter’s syndrome—males with XXY sex chromosomes.
Language—communication system based on words and grammar; spoken, written, or gestured words and the way they are combined to communicate meaning.
Latency stage—fourth of the Freudian stages of development (6—12); sublimation of sexual pleasure into schoolwork and other activities; if libido fixates here, the result is feelings of inferiority and poor self-concept.
Latent content—according to Freud, the underlying meaning of a dream.
Latent learning—learning when no apparent rewards are present; it becomes apparent only when there is an incentive to demonstrate it.
Lateral hypothalamus (LH)—originally called the “on” button for hunger. When stimulated, this structure of the brain will start eating behavior, but if it is lesioned or removed, the individual will not eat at all and will even starve to death.
Law of Effect—Thorndike’s observation that behaviors followed by rewards are strengthened and behaviors followed by punishment are weakened. Learning principle that behavior is acquired by virtue of its consequences.
Learned helplessness—the feeling of futility and passive resignation that results from inability to avoid repeated aversive events.
Learning—a relatively permanent change in behavior as a result of experience.
Lens—structure in the eye behind the pupil that changes shape, becoming more spherical or flatter, to focus incoming rays into an image on the light-sensitive retina.
Lesions—interruptions in tissue that result from destruction of tissue by injury, tumors, scarring; enables more systematic study of the loss of function when tissue loss results from surgical cutting or removal (also called ablation) or destruction by chemical applications.
Levels of processing theory or semantic network theory—ability to form memories depends upon the depth of the processing and the meaningfulness of the information to the individual.
Libido—life/sexual energy force of the id (according to Freud).
Linguistic relativity hypothesis—Whorf’s belief that the language you speak guides and determines your thinking; largely discredited.
Lithium carbonate—the drug treatment of choice for bipolar disorder; it reduces levels of certain neurotransmitters and decreases the strength of neural firing.
Locus of control—the degree to which we expect that a reinforcement or outcome of our behavior is contingent on our own behavior or personal characteristics (internal locus of control) as opposed to the degree to which we expect that a reinforcement or outcome of our behavior is a function of luck or fate, is under the control of others, or is unpredictable (external locus of control).
Long-term memory (LTM)—the relatively permanent and unlimited capacity memory system into which information from short-term memory may pass.
Long-term potentiation (LTP)—an increase in a synapse’s firing potential after brief, rapid stimulation and possibly the neural basis for learning and memory.
Longitudinal research—a method of assessing developmental changes by evaluating the same group of people at different times in their lives.
Lucid dreaming—the ability to be aware of and direct your dreams.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)—detailed computerized images using a magnetic field and pulses of radio waves that cause emission of signals that depend upon the density of tissue.
Maintenance rehearsal—repeating a given item over and over again extends your short-term memory; usually limited to about 20 seconds.
Major depressive disorder—characterized by persistent and severe feelings of sadness (dysphoria) and worthlessness accompanied by changes in appetite, sleeping, and behavior.
Maladaptive behavior—behavior that is counterproductive; interferes with one’s interaction in society and is a factor in mental illness.
Mandala—According to Jung, a type of magical circle symbolizing the self archetype in the collective unconscious.
Mania—excessive emotional arousal (euphoria) and wild, exuberant, unrealistic activity.
Manifest content—according to Freud, the remembered story line of a dream.
Maturation—the biological growth processes that bring about orderly changes in behavior, thought, or physical growth; relatively unaffected by experience (nature argument).
Mean—the arithmetic average of a set of scores.
Median—the middle score when a set of data is ordered by size.
Medulla oblongata—part of brainstem that regulates heart rhythm, blood flow, breathing rate, digestion, vomiting.
Memory—human capacity to register, retain, and retrieve information over time; the persistence of learning.
Menarche—first menstrual period at about age 121/2; marks female fertility.
Menopause—the cessation of the ability to reproduce accompanied by a decrease in production of female sex hormones at about age 50.
Mental age—a measure of your intellectual development; the level of mental development relative to others.
Mental retardation—intellectual deficiency characterized by intelligence quotient at least two standard deviations below the mean and difficulty in adapting to and coping with environmental demands of independent living.
Mental set—tendency to apply problem-solving methods that have worked in the past rather than trying new or different strategies to solve a new problem, which may or may not help solve the problem.
Mere exposure effect—the formation of a positive attitude toward a person, place, or thing based solely on repeated exposure to that person, place, or thing; often used in advertising as form of subtle persuasion.
Mesomorph—one of three body types (domineering, aggressive, muscular) developed in Sheldon’s personality theory that correlates personality traits and physique.
Meta-analysis—systematic statistical method for synthesizing the results of numerous research studies dealing with the same variables.
Metabolism—the sum total of all chemical processes that occur in our bodies, which are necessary to keep us alive.
Metacognition—thinking about how we think.
Method of loci—a mnemonic device that uses visualization of familiar objects on a familiar path to recall information in a list.
Misattribution error—distortion of information at retrieval resulting from confusion about the source of information, as when we put words in someone else’s mouth.
Misinformation effect—the tendency for people to incorporate misleading information into their memories of a given event as evidenced in eyewitness testimony.
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory—2 (MMPI-2)—most widely used objective test of personality, originally designed to distinguish individuals with different psychological problems from normal individuals; today used to identify personality characteristics.
Mnemonic devices—memory aids such as the method of loci and peg word systems that help to organize, encode, and more easily retrieve information from long-term memory.
Mode—most frequently occurring score in a set of research data (quick and dirty).
Modeling—process of watching and imitating a specific behavior; important in observational learning.
Monism—sees mind and body as different aspects of the same thing.
Monocular cues—clues about distance based on the image of one eye, including interposition or overlap, relative size, aerial perspective, relative clarity, texture gradient, relative height, linear perspective, relative brightness, motion parallax, and accommodation.
Monozygotic twins—identical twins; genetically identical siblings who share 100 percent of their genes because they developed from a single fertilized egg.
Mood-congruent memory—tendency to recall experiences that are consistent with your current good or bad mood.
Mood disorder—affective disorder characterized by significant shifts or disturbances in mood that affect normal perception, thought, and behavior; depression and bipolar disorders.
Moral development—growth in the ability to tell right from wrong, control impulses, and act ethically.
Morality principle—in Freud’s psychoanalytic theory, the way the superego acts as the conscience and assigns pride and guilt for behavior that does and does not conform to its ethical guidelines.
Morphemes—the smallest unit of language that has meaning.
Motivation—need or desire that energizes and directs behavior.
Motive—a need or a want that causes us to act.
Multiple approach—avoidance—a conflict in which you must choose between two or more alternatives, each of which has both positive and negative characteristics.
Multiple intelligences—Howard Gardner’s theory that intelligence is composed of many different factors including at least eight intelligences: logical-mathematical, verbal-linguistic, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalistic.
Myelin sheath—a fatty covering of the axon made by glial cells which speeds up conduction of the action potential.
Narcissistic personality disorder—exaggerated sense of self-importance and demands for attention.
Narcolepsy—condition in which an awake person suddenly and uncontrollably falls asleep, often directly into REM sleep.
Narcotics—analgesics (pain reducers) that work by depressing the central nervous system and can also depress the respiratory system; include opiates and synthetic opiates: codeine, heroin, morphine, opium, Percodan, Darvon, Talwin, Dilaudid, methadone, and Demerol.
Nativist perspective—human brain has an innate capacity for acquiring language (language acquisition device), possibly during a critical period after birth. Children are born with a universal sense of grammar (Noam Chomsky).
Naturalistic observation—research method that records behaviors of humans or other animals in real-life situations without intervention.
Nature—nurture controversy—deals with the extent to which heredity and the environment each influences behavior.
Nearsighted—too much curvature of the cornea and/or lens, focusing image in front of the retina so nearby objects are seen more clearly than distant objects.
Negative reinforcement—removal of an aversive consequence that follows a voluntary behavior, thereby increasing the probability the behavior will be repeated; two types include avoidance and escape.
Neocortex—the cerebral cortex.
Neonate—newborn baby from birth to 1 month old.
Nerve (sensorineural) deafness—loss of hearing that results from damage to the cochlea, hair cells, or auditory neurons; cochlea implants may restore some hearing.
Neural network—clusters of neurons that are interconnected to process information.
Neurocognitive (organic) disorders—characterized by a decline from a previous level of cognitive function in complex attention, learning and memory, executive function, language, perceptual-motor skills, and social cognition. Linked to disease or brain damage.
Neurodevelopmental disorders—involve disturbances in learning, language, and motor or social skills showing up in infancy, childhood, or adolescence. Neurodevelopmental disorders include intellectual disability, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and autism spectrum disorder.
Neurogenesis—the growth of new neurons.
Neuroleptics—antipsychotic drugs to reduce hallucinations, delusions, and jumbled thought processes; include Thorazine (chlorpromazine), Haldol, and Clozaril.
Neuron—the basic unit of structure and function of your nervous system. Neurons perform three major functions: receive information, process it, and transmit it to the rest of your body.
Neuropsychologists—neuroscientists who explore the relationships between brain/nervous systems and behavior. Neuropsychologists are also called biological psychologists or biopsychologists, behavioral geneticists, physiological psychologists, and behavioral neuroscientists.
Neuroticism—Eysenck’s personality dimension that measures our level of instability, how moody, anxious, and unreliable we are; as opposed to stability, how calm, even-tempered, and reliable we are.
Neurotransmitters—chemical messengers released by the terminal buttons of the presynaptic neuron into the synapse.
Night terrors—childhood sleep disruptions from NREM-3 sleep characterized by a bloodcurdling scream and intense fear; rare in adults.
Nightmares—frightening dreams that occur during REM sleep.
Nodes of Ranvier—spaces between segments of myelin on the axons of neurons.
Nomothetic methods—personality techniques such as tests, surveys, and observations that focus on variables at the group level, identifying universal trait dimensions or relationships between different aspects of personality.
Nonconscious—level of consciousness devoted to processes completely inaccessible to conscious awareness such as blood flow, filtering of blood by kidneys, secretion of hormones, and lower-level processing of sensory information such as detecting edges, estimating size and distance of objects, recognizing patterns, etc.
Nondeclarative memory—implicit memory.
Non-REM or NREM sleep—stages 1-3 during which rapid eye movements do NOT occur.
NREM 1 sleep—sleep stage lasting a few minutes in which we gradually lose responsiveness to outside stimuli and experience drifting thoughts and images. EEGs of stage 1 sleep show theta waves which are lower in amplitude and frequency than alpha waves.
NREM 2 sleep—sleep stage whose EEGs show high frequency bursts of brain activity called sleep spindles, and K complexes.
NREM 3 sleep—deepest sleep stage whose EEGs show mostly very high amplitude and very low frequency delta waves. Heart rate, respiration, temperature, and blood flow to the brain are reduced. Growth hormone involved in maintaining physiological functions is secreted.
Normal distribution—bell-shaped curve that represents data about how lots of human characteristics are dispersed in the population.
Normative social influence—going along with the group, even if you do not agree with its decisions, because you desire to gain its social approval.
Norms—(in social psychology), rules either implicit or explicit that govern the behavior of group members; (in testing), scores established from the test results of the representative sample, which are then used as a standard for assessing the performances of subsequent test takers.
Object permanence—awareness that objects still exist when out of sight; milestone of Piaget’s sensorimotor period from ages 0—2.
Observational learning—learning that takes place by watching and imitating others’ behavior.
Obsession—an involuntary recurring thought, idea, or image.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder—recurrent, unwanted thoughts or ideas and compelling urges to engage in repetitive ritual-like behavior.
Occipital lobes—region in the back of the cerebral cortex that is the primary area for processing visual information.
Olfaction—chemical sense of smell with receptors in a mucous membrane (olfactory epithelium) on the roof of the nasal cavity that transduce chemical energy of dissolved molecules to electrochemical energy of neural impulses.
Omission training—removal of a rewarding consequence that follows a voluntary behavior thereby decreasing the probability the behavior will be repeated.
Operant conditioning—learning that occurs when an active learner performs certain voluntary behavior and the consequences of the behavior (pleasant or unpleasant) determine the likelihood of its recurrence.
Operational definition—a description of the specific procedure used to determine the presence of a variable (such as a smile for happiness).
Opponent-process theory for color vision—proposed mechanism for color vision with opposing retinal processes for red—green, yellow—blue, white—black. Some retinal cells are stimulated by one of a pair and inhibited by the other.
Opponent-process theory of emotions—following a strong emotion, an opposing emotion counters the first emotion lessening the experience of that emotion. On repeated occasions, the opposing emotion becomes stronger.
Optic nerve—nerve formed by ganglion cell axons; carries the neural impulses from the eye to the thalamus of the brain.
Optical or visual illusions—discrepancies between the appearance of a visual stimulus and its physical reality.
Oral stage—Freud’s first psychosexual stage; pleasure is derived from sucking. Crisis is weaning from bottle or breast fixation: oral-dependent personalities who are gullible, overeaters, or talkative and oral-aggressives who are argumentative or sarcastic.
Organismic self—according to Rogers, the original (real) self that strives toward positive goals until it is influenced by society.
Out-group—groups to which we do not belong.
Out-group homogeneity—belief that members of another group are more similar in their attitudes than they really are.
Ovaries—gonads in females that produce hormones necessary for reproduction and development of secondary sex characteristics.
Overconfidence bias—the tendency to overestimate the accuracy of our beliefs and judgments that can hinder problem solving.
Overgeneralization or overregularization—application of grammatical rules without making appropriate exceptions.
Overjustification effect—where getting a reward for doing something we already like to do results in our seeing the reward as the motivation for performing the task. When the reward is taken away, the behavior tends to disappear.
Pancreas—gland near stomach that secretes the hormones insulin and glucagon that regulates blood sugar necessary for fueling all behavioral processes. Imbalances result in diabetes and hypoglycemia.
Panic disorder—unpredictable attacks of acute anxiety accompanied by high levels of physiological arousal that last from a few seconds to a few hours.
Parallel distributive processing (PDP)—performing several operations simultaneously as opposed to serially or one operation after another.
Parallel processing—to simultaneously analyze different elements of sensory information such as color, shape, brightness, etc.
Paranoid personality disorder—symptoms include delusions of persecution that are generally organized around one theme.
Paranoid schizophrenia—a form of schizophrenia in which the person suffers from delusions of persecution, grandeur, reference, or control.
Parapsychology—study of paranormal events that investigates claims of ESP, including telepathy, clairvoyance, precognition, and telekinesis or psychokinesis.
Parasympathetic nervous system—subdivision of PNS and ANS whose stimulation calms your body following sympathetic stimulation by restoring normal body processes.
Parathyroids—endocrine glands in neck that produce parathyroid hormone that helps maintain calcium ion level in blood necessary for normal functioning of neurons.
Parietal lobes—region on the top of the cerebral cortex the front strip of which is the somatosensory cortex that processes sensory information including touch, temperature, and pain from body parts; association areas perceive objects.
Peg word mnemonic—memory device that uses a scheme (“One is a bun, two is . . .”) we memorize, then associate with names or objects in a series.
Percentile score—the percentage of scores at or below a particular score, from 1 to 99.
Perception—the process of selecting, organizing, and interpreting sensations, enabling you to recognize meaningful objects and events.
Perceptual constancy—perceiving an object as unchanging even when the immediate sensation of the object changes.
Peripheral nervous system (PNS)—portion of the nervous system outside the brain and spinal cord. It includes all of the sensory and motor neurons, and subdivisions called the autonomic and somatic nervous systems.
Peripheral route of persuasion—(according to the elaboration likelihood model) changes attitudes by pairing superficial positive stimuli (supermodels and celebrities) with an argument; leads to unstable change in attitudes.
Permissive parenting style—parents set no firm guidelines for behavior and tend to give in to demands of the child.
Persona—according to Jung, this is the outward part of the personality or the mask we wear when dealing with society and opposite of the unconscious shadow.
Personal constructs—a set of bipolar categories we use as labels to help us categorize and interpret the world; Kelly believes that personality is a habitual way we live our lives trying to make sense out of what happens.
Personal fable—exaggerated belief in a person’s uniqueness and immortality in adolescence.
Personal unconscious—according to Jung, a storehouse of all our past memories and hidden instincts and urges unique to the individual.
Personality—a unique pattern of consistent feelings, thoughts, and behaviors that originate within the individual.
Personality disorders—chronic, maladaptive thought and behavior patterns that are troublesome to others, harmful, or illegal.
Phallic stage—Freud’s third stage of psychosexual development; the primary erogenous zone is the genital area; during this time children become attached to the opposite-sex parent.
Phenotype—the expression of the genes.
Phenylketonuria (PKU)—recessive trait that results in severe, irreversible brain damage unless the baby is fed a special diet low in phenylalanine.
Phobia—irrational fear of specific objects or situations, such as animals or enclosed spaces.
Phonemes—smallest possible sound units of spoken language.
Photoreceptors—modified neurons (rods and cones) that convert light energy to electrochemical neural impulses at the retina.
Physiological motivations—such as hunger, thirst, and sex. Each is influenced by biological factors, environmental factors and learned preferences and habits. The hypothalamus and endocrine system are implicated in each of these motives.
Pineal gland—endocrine gland in brain that produces melatonin that helps regulate circadian rhythms and is associated with seasonal affective disorder.
Pitch—the highness or lowness of a sound. The shorter the wavelength, the higher the frequency and pitch. The longer the wavelength, the lower the frequency and the lower the pitch.
Pituitary gland (sometimes called master gland)— endocrine gland in brain that produces stimulating hormones which promote secretion by other glands, including TSH (thyroid-stimulating hormone); ACTH (adrenocorticotropic hormone), which stimulates the adrenal cortex; FSH (follicle- stimulating hormone), which stimulates egg or sperm production; ADH (antidiuretic hormone), to help retain water in your body; and HGH (human growth hormone).
Place theory—the position on the basilar membrane at which waves reach their peak depending on the frequency of a tone. Accounts well for high-pitched sounds.
Placebo—a physical or psychological treatment given to the control group that resembles the treatment given to the experimental group but contains no active ingredient.
Placebo effect—a response to the belief that the independent variable will have an effect, rather than to the actual effect of the independent variable; can be a confounding variable.
Plasticity—modifiability of neural connections that enables generation of new synapses which results in storing and retrieval of memories or one part of the brain taking over the function of another.
Pleasure principle—Freud’s claim that the id part of the personality seeks immediate gratification of its wants and needs.
Pons—part of brainstem that includes portion of reticular activating system or reticular formation critical for arousal and wakefulness; sends information to and from medulla, cerebellum, and cerebral cortex.
Population—all the individuals in the group to which the study applies.
Positive psychology—the scientific study of optimal human functioning.
Positive reinforcement—a rewarding consequence that follows a voluntary behavior, thereby increasing the probability the behavior will be repeated.
Positron emission tomography (PET)—shows brain activity when radioactively tagged glucose rushes to active neurons and emits positrons.
Postconventional level—Kohlberg’s third and final level of moral development, in which people come to understand that moral rules include principles that apply across all situations and societies.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)—disorder in which the individual has feelings of social withdrawal accompanied by atypically low levels of emotion caused by prolonged exposure to a stressor, such as a catastrophe; may experience flashbacks and nightmares.
Power tests—difficulty level measured; untimed tests which include easy to more difficult questions, used to assess intelligence and other capacities.
Preconscious—the level of consciousness that is outside of awareness but contains feelings and memories that can easily be brought to conscious awareness.
Preconventional level—Kohlberg’s first level of moral development, which bases moral behavior on obedience and punishment or acting in one’s own best interests.
Predictive validity—the extent to which a test accurately forecasts a specific future result.
Prefrontal lobotomy—a surgical procedure that destroys the tracts connecting the frontal lobes to lower centers of the brain, once believed to be an effective treatment for schizophrenia.
Prejudice—unjustified attitudes we hold about others; generally negative evaluation based on ethnicity, race, sex, or some other criterion.
Prelinguistic speech—initial steps of cooing and babbling, later accidental imitation, and finally deliberate imitation as precursors to language development.
Premack principle—a high probability behavior can serve as a reward for a low probability behavior, thus increasing it.
Premenstrual dysphoric disorder—a recurrent depressive disorder occurring most months in the days before a woman starts menstruating characterized by mood swings, feeling suddenly sad or tearful, irritability or anger, feelings of being “keyed up,” difficulty concentrating, lack of energy, change in appetite, change in sleep patterns, sensation of bloating.
Prenatal development—period of development that begins with fertilization, or conception, and ends with birth.
Preoperational stage—Piaget’s second stage of cognitive development (2—7 years) during which the child represents and manipulates objects with symbols (language) and is egocentric.
Primacy effect (Law of Primacy)—the tendency to remember initial information; in the memorization of a list of words, the primacy effect is evidenced by better recall of the words early in the list.
Primary emotions—joy, fear, anger, sadness, surprise, and disgust, which are inborn.
Primary motives—internal mechanism directing behavior dealing with sustaining processes biologically necessary for survival such as thirst, hunger, and sex.
Primary reinforcers—important automatic and unlearned (inborn) rewards like food and drink.
Primary sex characteristics—the reproductive organs (ovaries, uterus, and testes) and external genitals (vulva and penis).
Priming—activating specific associations in memory either consciously or unconsciously.
Proactive interference—occurs when something you learned earlier disrupts recall of something you experience later.
Problem solving—the active efforts we undertake to discover what must be done to achieve a goal that isn’t readily attainable.
Procedural memory—memories of perceptual, motor, and cognitive skills.
Projection—Freudian defense mechanism that attributes our undesirable feelings to others.
Projective personality tests—present ambiguous stimuli such as inkblots (Rorschach) or pictures (TAT) with the assumption that test takers will project their unconscious thoughts or feelings onto the stimuli (according to psychoanalytic approach).
Prosocial behavior—positive, helpful, and constructive behavior.
Prospective memory—our memory to perform a planned action or remembering to perform that planned action.
Prototype—a mental image or “best example” that incorporates all the features you associate with a particular category.
Psychiatrist—medical doctor and mental health professional who can prescribe medication or perform surgery.
Psychoactive drug—a chemical that can pass through the blood-brain barrier to alter perception, thinking, behavior, and mood.
Psychoanalysis—Freudian form of therapy involving free association, dream analysis, resistance, and transference aimed at providing the patient insight into his or her unconscious motivations and conflicts.
Psychoanalyst—a therapist who has taken specialized training in psychoanalysis generally after earning either an MD or a PhD.
Psychoanalytic/Psychodynamic approach—psychological perspective concerned with how unconscious instincts, conflicts, motives, and defenses influence behavior.
Psychological dependence—intense desire to achieve a drugged state in spite of adverse effects.
Psychology—the science of behavior and mental processes.
Psychometricians (measurement psychologists)— focus on methods for acquiring and analyzing psychological data; measure mental traits, abilities, and processes.
Psychopathology—a pattern of abnormality evidenced by emotions, behaviors, or thoughts inappropriate to the situation that lead to personal distress or the inability to achieve important goals.
Psychopharmacotherapy—the use of psychotropic drugs to treat mental disorders.
Psychophysics—study of the relationship between physical energy and psychological experiences.
Psychosis—reality distortion evidenced by highly disordered thought processes.
Psychosurgery—any surgical technique in which neural pathways in the brain are cut in order to change behavior, including lobotomy.
Psychoticism—Eysenck’s personality dimension that measures our level of tough-mindedness, how hostile, ruthless, and insensitive we are; as opposed to tender-mindedness, how friendly, empathetic, and cooperative we are.
Puberty—the early adolescent period marked by accelerated growth and onset of the ability to reproduce.
Punishment—an aversive consequence that follows a voluntary behavior, thereby decreasing the probability the behavior will be repeated.
Pupil—small, adjustable opening in the iris of the eye that is smaller in bright light and larger in darkness.
Quasi-experiment—research method similar to a controlled experiment but in which random assignment to groups is not possible. It can provide strong evidence suggesting cause and effect relationships.
Random assignment—division of the sample into groups such that every individual has an equal chance of being put in any group or condition.
Random selection—choosing of members of a population such that every individual has an equal chance of being chosen.
Range—the difference between the largest score and the smallest score (quick and dirty).
Rational emotive therapy (RET)—cognitive treatment developed by Ellis which is based on confronting irrational thoughts; change in irrational thinking will lead to a change in irrational behavior.
Rationalization—Freudian defense mechanism that provides socially acceptable reasons for our inappropriate behavior.
Reaction formation—Freudian defense mechanism involving acting in a manner exactly opposite to our true feelings.
Real self—according to Rogers, the positive and original organism we are before society imposes conditions of worth on us.
Reality principle—the manner in which the ego delays gratification and otherwise deals with the environment in a planned rational fashion (in Freudian theory).
Recall—retrieval of previously learned information.
Recessive gene—the gene that is hidden or not expressed when the genes for a trait are different.
Reciprocal determinism—the characteristics of the person, the person’s behavior, and the environment all affect one another in two-way causal relationships (according to Bandura).
Reciprocity—compliance technique used by groups; individuals feel obligated to go along with a request for a small donation if they have first accepted a small gift.
Recognition—identification of learned items when they are presented.
Reconstruction—retrieval of memories often distorted by adding, dropping, or changing details to fit a schema.
Reflex—the simplest form of behavior.
Reflex arc—the path over which the reflex travels that typically includes a receptor, sensory or afferent neuron, interneuron, motor or efferent neuron, and effector.
Regression—Freudian defense mechanism characterized by immature, pleasurable behavior of an earlier level of development.
Rehearsal—the conscious repetition of information to either maintain information in STM or to encode it for storage into long-term memory.
Reinforcer—in operant conditioning, any event that strengthens the behavior it follows.
Relearning—a measure of retention of memory that assesses the time saved compared to learning the first time when learning information again.
Reliability—consistency or repeatability of results.
Repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (rTMS)—a treatment for depression involving repeated pulses through a magnetic coil positioned above the right eyebrow of the patient that does not result in memory loss.
Replication—repetition of the methods used in a previous experiment to see whether the same methods will yield the same results.
Representativeness heuristic—tendency to judge the likelihood of things according to how they relate to a prototype; in social psychology the pre-judgment of people in the same way.
Repression—most frequently used Freudian defense mechanism, characterized by unconscious forgetting; pushing threatening thoughts, feelings, and memories into the unconscious mind.
Resistance—blocking of anxiety-provoking feelings and experiences in the process of psychoanalysis.
Resistance stage—second stage of Selye’s general adaptation syndrome characterized by the use of “fight or flight” mechanisms to control, cope with, or flee from the stressful situation.
Resistant attachment—mixed reactions of infants to their mothers in the Strange Situation. They may approach their mothers upon their return but, at the same time, continue to cry or even push their mothers away.
Reticular formation (a.k.a. reticular activating system)—a network of neurons extending from the brainstem/hindbrain into the midbrain; essential to the regulation of sleep, wakefulness, arousal, and attention.
Retina—light-sensitive surface in the back of the eye containing rods and cones that transduce light energy. Has layers of bipolar cells and ganglion cells that transmit visual information to the brain.
Retrieval—the process of getting information out of memory storage.
Retrieval cue—a stimulus that provides a trigger to get an item out of stored memory.
Retroactive inference—recently learned information disrupts our ability to remember older information.
Retrograde amnesia—involves memory loss for a segment of the past, usually around the time of an accident, such as a blow to the head.
Reversibility—characteristic of Piaget’s concrete operational stage, the logical negation of an operation, for example, if 4 + 2 = 6 then 6 - 2 = 4.
Rods—photoreceptors that detect black, white, and gray and movement; are necessary for peripheral and dim-light vision when cones do not respond. Distributed throughout the retina of the eye, except in the fovea.
Roles—ascribed social positions in groups and defined behavior expectations.
Rooting reflex—the newborn’s tendency to move its head when stroked on the cheek, turn toward the stimulus as if searching for a nipple, and open its mouth.
Rorschach inkblot test—a projective test in which a person is shown a series of symmetrical inkblots and asked to describe what he or she thinks they represent.
Saltatory conduction—rapid conduction of impulses when the axon is myelinated since depolarizations jump from node (of Ranvier) to node.
Sample—the subgroup of the population that participates in the study.
Satiety—absence of hunger.
Savants, also known as people with savant syndrome—individuals otherwise considered mentally retarded who have a specific exceptional skill typically in calculating, music, or art.
Scapegoat theory—attributes prejudice to frustration; when own self-worth is in doubt or jeopardy, we find others to blame.
Schachter-Singer two-factor theory of emotions— an emotion is inferred from physiological arousal, and label of that emotion is based on our cognitive explanation for the arousal.
Schema—framework of basic ideas and preconceptions about people, objects, and events based on past experience in long-term memory; concepts or frameworks that organize and interpret information.
Schizophrenia—a serious schizophrenic spectrum disorder characterized by thought disturbances, hallucinations, anxiety, emotional withdrawal, and delusions.
Script—a schema for an event.
Seasonal affective disorder—a mood disorder characterized by depression, lethargy, sleep disturbances, and craving for carbohydrates; generally occurs during the winter, when the amount of daylight is low, and is sometimes treated with exposure to bright lights.
Second order conditioning—learning procedure in which a well-learned conditioned stimulus is paired with a new neutral stimulus resulting in a similar conditioned response.
Secondary motive—internal mechanism directing learned behavior as being desired, such as power and wealth.
Secondary reinforcer—something seen as rewarding because it is associated with a primary reinforcer.
Secondary sex characteristics—the nonreproductive sexual characteristics including developed breasts in females; facial hair, Adam’s apple, and deepened voice in males; and pubic hair and underarm hair in both.
Selective attention—focusing of awareness on a specific stimulus (while excluding others) in sensory memory.
Self-actualization—the realization of our true intellectual and emotional potential (according to Maslow).
Self archetype—according to Jung, our sense of wholeness or unity.
Self-awareness—consciousness of oneself as a person.
Self-concept—our overall view of our abilities, behavior, and personality or what we know about ourselves.
Self-efficacy—how competent and able we feel to accomplish tasks; an expectation of success.
Self-esteem—how worthy we think we are.
Self-fulfilling prophecy—a tendency to let our preconceived expectations of others influence how we treat them and thus evoke those very expectations.
Self-referent encoding—determining how new information relates to us personally.
Self-report methods—most common personality assessment technique, involves person answering a series of questions such as a personality questionnaire or supplying information about himself or herself.
Self-serving bias—our tendency to take personal credit for our achievements and blame failures on situational factors; to perceive ourselves favorably.
Semantic encoding—information processed for meaning into short-term memory and long-term memory.
Semantic memories—a type of long-term memory that includes general knowledge, objective facts, and vocabulary.
Semantic networks—model of long-term memory with more irregular and distorted systems than strict hierarchies, with multiple links from one concept to others.
Semantics—a set of rules we use to derive meaning from morphemes, words, and sentences.
Sensation—the process by which we detect physical energy from our environment and encode it as neural signals.
Sensorimotor stage—Piaget’s first stage (0—2 years) during which the infant experiences the world through senses and action patterns; progresses from reflexes to object permanence and symbolic thinking.
Sensory adaptation—a temporary decrease in sensitivity to a stimulus that occurs when stimulation is unchanging.
Sensory memory—primitive, brief type of memory that holds incoming information just long enough for further processing.
Sensory receptor—cell typically in sense organs that initiates action potentials which then travel along sensory/afferent neurons to the CNS.
Separation anxiety—a set of fearful responses, such as crying, arousal, and clinging to the caregiver, that infants exhibit when the caregiver attempts to leave the infant.
Serial position effect—the tendency to remember and recall information that comes at the beginning (primacy effect) and at the end of a list of words (recency effect) more easily than those in the middle.
Serotonin—a neurotransmitter associated with arousal, sleep, appetite, moods, and emotions. A lack of serotonin is associated with depression.
Set point—a preset natural body weight, determined by the number of fat cells in our body.
Sex-linked traits—recessive genes located on the X chromosome with no corresponding gene on the Y chromosome result in expression of recessive trait more frequently in males.
Sexual orientation—the direction of an individual’s sexual interest.
Sexual response cycle—Masters and Johnson’s four stages of bodily response during sex: excitement, plateau, orgasm, and resolution.
Shadow—according to Jung represents our baser instinctual urges we attempt to keep hidden from others.
Shallow processing—encoding into memory superficial sensory information without making it relevant that seldom results in enduring memory.
Shaping—positively reinforcing closer and closer approximations of a desired behavior through operant conditioning.
Short-term memory—also called working memory, which can hold about seven unrelated items for about 20 to 30 seconds without rehearsal.
Simultaneous conditioning—in classical conditioning the CS and UCS are paired together at the same time; weaker conditioning technique than the ideal delayed conditioning.
Signal detection theory—maintains that minimum threshold varies with fatigue, attention, expectations, motivation, and emotional distress, as well as from one person to another.
Single-blind procedure—research design in which participants don’t know whether they are in the experimental or control group.
Situational attributions—inferences that a person’s behavior is caused by some temporary condition or situation the person is in.
Sleep—a complex combination of states of consciousness each with its own level of consciousness, awareness, responsiveness, and physiological arousal.
Sleepwalking—most frequently a childhood sleep disruption that occurs during NREM-3 sleep characterized by trips out of bed or carrying on of complex activities.
Social clock—idea that society has certain age expectations for when someone should marry and have kids and people feel compelled to meet these expectations or face a crisis.
Social cognition—refers to the way people gather, use, and interpret information about the social aspects of the world around them.
Social facilitation—improved performance of well- learned tasks in front of others.
Social group—two or more people sharing common goals and interests interact and influence behavior of the other(s).
Social impairment—worsened performance of a newly learned or difficult task when performed in front of an audience.
Social interactivist perspective—babies are biologically equipped for learning language, which may be activated or constrained by experience.
Social learning theory—Bandura’s idea that we can learn behavior from others by first observing it and then imitating it.
Social loafing—the tendency of individuals to put less effort into group projects than when they are individually accountable.
Social motives—learned needs that energize behavior; acquired as part of growing up in a particular society or culture.
Social psychologists—psychologists who focus on how a person’s mental life and behavior are shaped by interactions with other people.
Social psychology—the study of how groups influence the attitudes and behavior of the individual.
Social referencing—observing the behavior of others in social situations to obtain information or guidance.
Social skills training—cognitive behavioral therapy where the therapist can model the behavior for the client and then place the client in a simulated situation for practice.
Sociobiology—study of the biological basis of social behavior.
Sociocultural approach—psychological perspective concerned with how cultural differences affect behavior.
Somatic nervous system—subdivision of PNS that includes motor nerves that stimulate skeletal (voluntary) muscle.
Somatic symptom disorder (SSD)—characterized by physical symptoms including pain and high anxiety in these individuals about having a disease. Patients need to have complained about, taken medicine for, changed lifestyle because of, or seen a physician about the symptoms and experienced anxiety that has interfered with carrying on normal activities for 6 months.
Somatosensation—the skin sensations: touch/pressure, warmth, cold, and pain.
Somatotype theory—William Sheldon’s theory that body types determine personality.
Sound localization—the process by which you determine the location of a sound.
Source trait—Cattell’s underlying 16 traits that guide your behavior.
Speed test—measures how fast you can answer questions in a specified time period.
Spinal cord—portion of the central nervous system below the medulla oblongata.
Split-half reliability—a method where the score on one half of the test questions is compared with the score on the other half of the questions to see if they are consistent.
Spontaneous recovery—the reappearance of a previously extinguished CR after a rest period.
Stability versus change—deals with the issue of whether or not personality traits present during infancy persist throughout the lifespan.
Standard deviation (SD)—a measure of the average difference between each score and the mean of the data set; the square root of the variance.
Standardization—two-part test development procedure that first establishes test norms by giving the test to a large representative sample of those for whom the test is designed, and then ensures that the test is both administered and scored uniformly for all test takers.
Standardized tests—set of tasks administered under standard conditions to assess an individual’s knowledge, skill, or personality characteristics.
Stanford—Binet intelligence test—Terman’s revision of Binet’s original individual IQ test.
State-dependent memory—tendency to recall information better if you are in the same internal state as when the information was encoded.
Statistical significance ( p)—condition that exists when the probability that the observed findings are due to chance is less than 1 in 20 (p < .05) according to some psychologists or less than 1 in 100 (p < .01) according to those with more stringent standards.
Statistics—field that involves the analysis of numerical data about representative samples of populations.
Stereotype—overgeneralized belief about the characteristics of members of a particular group; schema used to quickly judge others.
Stereotype threat—anxiety that influences members of a group concerned that their performance will confirm a negative stereotype.
Stimulants—psychoactive drugs that activate motivational centers and reduce activity in inhibitory centers of the central nervous system by increasing activity of serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine neurotransmitter systems; include caffeine, nicotine, amphetamines, and cocaine.
Stimulus—a change in the environment that can be detected by sensory receptors; elicits (brings about) a response.
Storage—the retention of encoded information over time.
Stranger anxiety—the fear of strangers that infants develop at around 8 months of age.
Stress—the process by which we appraise and respond to environmental threats.
Stressors—stimuli such as heat, cold, pain, that are perceived as endangering our well-being.
Strive for superiority—according to Adler, this tendency is a result of a need to compensate for our feelings of inferiority.
Structuralism—early psychological perspective that emphasized units of consciousness and identification of elements of thought using introspection.
Sublimation—Freudian defense mechanism, expression of sexual or aggressive impulses redirected into more socially acceptable behaviors.
Subliminal stimulation—receiving messages below your absolute threshold for conscious awareness.
Sucking—the automatic response of drawing in anything at the mouth.
Sulci—folding-in portions of convolutions of the cerebral cortex.
Superego—the third part of Freud’s personality systems which makes us feel proud when we obey its strict morality and feel guilt when we give in to the id’s more pleasure-seeking urges.
Superstitious behavior—idiosyncratic, unimportant behavior associated with anticipation of a reward as a result of unintended reinforcement.
Surface trait—Cattell’s cluster of personality traits which stems from deep source traits; the person we see on the outside.
Survey—research method that obtains large samples of abilities, beliefs, or behaviors at a specific time and place through questionnaire or interview.
Swallowing—automatic contraction of throat muscles that enables food to pass into the esophagus without our choking.
Sympathetic nervous system—subdivision of PNS and ANS whose stimulation results in responses that help the body deal with stressful events.
Symptom substitution—the replacement of one behavior that has been eliminated with another.
Synapse—region of communication between the transmitting presynaptic neuron and receiving postsynaptic neuron or muscle or gland, consisting of the presynaptic terminal buttons, a tiny space, and receptor sites typically on the postsynaptic dendrites.
Syntax—rules that are used to order words into grammatically sensible sentences.
Systematic desensitization—behavior treatment for phobias in which the client is trained to relax to increasingly fearful stimuli.
Tardive dyskinesia—serious side effects from antipsychotic drugs including problems walking, drooling, and involuntary muscle spasms.
Taste aversion—negative response to particular foods that may be inborn and/or acquired through classical conditioning.
Tay-Sachs syndrome—recessive trait that produces progressive loss of nervous function and death in a baby.
Telegraphic speech—meaningful two-word sentences, usually a noun and a verb, and usually in the correct order uttered by 2-year-olds.
Temperament—an infant’s natural disposition to show a particular mood at a particular intensity for a specific period.
Temporal conditioning—in classical conditioning, the presentation of the UCS at specific periods; time serves as the CS.
Temporal lobes—side regions of cerebral cortex that are primary areas for hearing, understanding language (Wernicke’s area), understanding music/ tonality, and processing smell.
Teratogen—harmful substance (drug or virus) with which contact during the prenatal period can cause birth defect(s).
Terminal buttons (also called axon terminals, end bulbs, or synaptic knobs)—tips at the end of axons which secrete neurotransmitters when stimulated by the action potential.
Testes—gonads in males that produce hormones necessary for reproduction and development of secondary sex characteristics.
Thalamus—part of forebrain that relays visual, auditory, taste, somatosensory (skin sensation) information to and from appropriate areas of cerebral cortex; involved in encoding sensory memory into STM.
Thanatology—study of death and dying; Kübler-Ross’s five stages of facing death: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)—a projective test composed of ambiguous pictures about which a person is asked to write a complete story.
Theories—organized sets of concepts that explain phenomena.
Thinking—involves mental images, symbols, concepts, and rules of language.
Thyroid gland—endocrine gland in neck that produces thyroxin, which stimulates and maintains metabolic activities.
Timbre—the quality of a sound determined by the purity of a waveform; a note of the same pitch and loudness sounds different on different musical instruments.
Tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon—retrieval problem that involves known information that can only be retrieved incompletely; better cues are required for retrieval.
Token economy—a program used in institutions in which a person’s acceptable behavior is reinforced with tokens that can be exchanged for special privileges or goods.
Tolerance—condition in which diminished effectiveness of drug necessitates larger dosages to produce desired effect.
Top-down processing—information processing guided by preexisting knowledge or expectations to construct perceptions; concept-driven.
Trace conditioning—in classical conditioning, the CS is presented first, removed, and then the UCS is presented.
Trait—a relatively permanent and stable characteristic that can be used to predict behavior.
Transduction—transformation of stimulus energy to the electrochemical energy of neural impulses.
Transference—in psychoanalysis, the venting of emotions both positive and negative by patients; treating their analyst as the symbolic representative of someone important in their past.
Triadic reciprocality model of personality—Bandura’s scheme that our personal traits, the environment, and our behavior all interact to account for our behavior.
Trial and error—trying possible solutions and discarding those that fail to solve the problem.
Triarchic theory of intelligence—Robert Sternberg’s idea of three separate and testable intelligences: analytical (facts), practical (“street smarts”), creative (seeing multiple solutions).
Trichromatic theory—proposed mechanism for color vision with cones that are differentially sensitive to different wavelengths of light; each color seen results from a specific ratio of activation among the three types of receptors.
Turner syndrome—a group of symptoms in females with only one X sex chromosome, including shortness, sterility, webbed neck, and difficulty with calculations.
Type A personalities—hard-driving, competitive, impatient, and ambitious individuals.
Type B personalities—more relaxed and calm individuals.
Unconditional positive regard—Rogers’s term for acceptance, value, and love from others independent of how we behave.
Unconditioned response (UCR)—in classical conditioning, the unlearned, naturally occurring response (reaction) to the unconditioned stimulus.
Unconditioned stimulus (UCS)—in classical conditioning, the stimulus (change) that naturally and automatically triggers the reflexive unconditioned response (UR).
Unconscious—the level of consciousness of which we are unaware, which may include unacceptable feelings, wishes, and thoughts not directly available to conscious awareness, according to psychodynamic psychologists/psychoanalysts. According to cognitive psychologists, the unconscious is the level of consciousness that parallel processes information of which we are unaware.
Unconsciousness—characterized by loss of responsiveness to the environment resulting from disease, trauma, or anesthesia.
Undifferentiated schizophrenia—simple schizophrenia characterized by fragments of the symptoms of other, different types of schizophrenia.
Uninvolved parenting style—characterized by few demands, low responsiveness, little communication, and general detachment from a child’s life.
Validity—the extent to which an instrument measures or predicts what it is supposed to.
Variability—the spread or dispersion of a set of research data or distribution.
Variable interval—schedule of reinforcement in which responses are reinforced after varying lengths of time (in operant conditioning).
Variable ratio—schedule of reinforcement in which reinforcement is presented after a varying number of responses (in operant conditioning).
Ventromedial hypothalamus (VMH)—originally called the satiety center, or “off” button, for hunger. When stimulated, it turns off the urge to eat and when removed, the organism will continue to eat excessively and gain weight rapidly.
Vestibular sense—body sense of equilibrium with hairlike receptors in semicircular canals and vestibular sac in the inner ear.
Visual capture—dominance of vision when there is a conflict among senses.
Visual encoding—the encoding of pictorial images into our memory.
Weber’s law—difference thresholds increase in proportion to the size of the stimulus.
Wechsler intelligence tests—the most widely used measurement of intelligence; three age-related individual IQ tests (WPPSI, WISC, WAIS) that provide two scores, verbal and performance.
Wernicke’s area—region in left temporal lobe that plays role in understanding language and making meaningful sentences.
Withdrawal—intense craving for a drug accompanied by effects opposite of those the drug usually induces.
Womb envy—Horney’s counterpart to penis envy of Freudian theory; male’s desire to procreate.
Yerkes—Dodson rule—for easy tasks, moderately high arousal is needed to do well; for difficult tasks, moderately low; and most average tasks, moderate level of arousal.
Zone of proximal development (ZPD)—according to Vygotsky, the range between the level at which a child can solve a problem working alone with difficulty and the level at which a child can solve a problem with the assistance of adults or more-skilled children.
Zygote—a fertilized egg with the genetic instructions for a new individual normally contained in 46 chromosomes.