Intro Glossary

Introduction to Psychological Science: Integrating Behavioral, Neuroscience and Evolutionary Perspectives - William J. Ray 2021

Intro Glossary


accommodation: accommodation is the process by which existing schemas are modified or new ones created.

acquisition: in classical conditioning, the process of pairing a UCS and a CS

action potential: as more electrical changes add together, the size of the electrical potential is increased. At a critical point, an electrical signal—called an action potential—is produced at a location near the cell body. The brain receives, analyzes, and conveys information by using action potentials. When you see something, hear something, feel something, and even smell something, action potentials are involved

addiction: dependence on a substance (or process) in which an individual experiences a strong motivation that results in an active wanting and seeking of the substance, which may be experienced as compulsive

adoption study: research into the phenomenon where dizygotic (DZ) and monozygotic (MZ) twins have been raised apart, providing insights into the environmental and genetic influences on human development and behavior

affect heuristic: the basic idea is that people make a decision based not only on what they think but also on what they feel

aggression: using a life-span perspective with humans, aggression has been studied from infancy to adulthood. Aggression is composed of hostile behavior or attitudes toward another. This includes the aggressive biting seen in children to the aggressive behaviors seen in adults

agoraphobia: the condition in which a person experiences fear or anxiety when in public

agreeableness: as a personality trait it is associated with being sympathetic, trusting, cooperative, modest, and straightforward; as a dimension in the five-factor model (FFM), this dimension ranges from being friendly and compassionate to being competitive and outspoken

alcohol: a liquid created through a process of fermentation; in most humans, the experience of alcohol intake includes pleasant subjective experiences, which are partly related to the effects of alcohol on such neurotransmitters as serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine; alcohol will also decrease inhibition by reducing the effects of the GABA system, which is associated with anxiety

allele: the alternative molecular form of the same gene

allostasis: refers to the body’s ability to achieve stability through an active process of change, often involving the brain. This is in contrast to the older term stress in which responses to change were seen as passive and fixed

allostatic load: cumulative wear and tear on the body from responding to stressful conditions

allostatic systems: allostatic systems are designed to adapt to change. The overall stress response involves two tasks for the body: (1) turn on the allostatic response that initiates a complex adaptive pathway; and (2) once the danger has passed, turning off these responses

altruism: behaviors that appear not to benefit the individual. Altruistic behavior is seen across all species. Why would individuals engage in behaviors that did not benefit themselves in terms of survival or passing on their genes?

altruistic punishment: altruistic punishment is when an individual forgoes a personal gain to punish another

amphetamines: stimulants produced in the laboratory that result in positive feelings, a burst of energy, and alertness

anesthesia: a common procedure that is designed to change the level of a person’s consciousness. Combining the ability to control anesthesia with current brain-imaging techniques has opened up new ways to study levels of consciousness

animal personality: recently, a number of researchers have begun to explore individual differences in animals, which is referred to as animal personality. Personality is used with animals in the same way as with humans. That is, behaviors that are consistent over time is the focus of study. A number of researchers have sought to describe personality traits of animals including applying the five-factor model to animals. In general, it is suggested that personality factors can play an important role in evolution

anonymity: a principle that requires that the personal identity of a given participant in a research study be kept separate from his or her data

anorexia nervosa: a serious eating disorder involving the restriction of food, a weight that is below normal, a fear of gaining weight, a lack of recognition of the seriousness of current body weight, and a distorted perception of one’s body

anterograde amnesia: a type of amnesia in which the person is not able to form new memories

antisocial personality disorder: one of the dramatic emotional personality disorders (Cluster B); typically involving repeated participation in illegal acts, deceitfulness, impulsiveness, hostility and aggression, engagement in dangerous acts, irresponsible behavior, and absence of remorse

anxiety: anxiety is to be afraid of what might happen. It is about the future whereas fear typically has a stimulus in the present. With anxiety, there is often no stimulus in front of us. With anxiety, the stimulus is in our mind. However, our cognitive and emotional consideration of a negative possibility does not make it any less real. Our body, mind, and emotions experience our ideas as real possibilities. Fear and anxiety involve high-level as well as more primitive brain processes

aphasia: the loss of ability to understand or express certain aspects of speech related to damage in the brain

Asperger’s syndrome: diagnosis (no longer used in DSM—5) given to those individuals with ASD who tend to be more intelligent and display higher functioning in terms of social processes

assimilation: assimilation is the process by which new experiences are made part of existing schemas

assortative mating: assortative mating suggests that humans do not randomly choose partners but choose partners like themselves on some selected trait. It is one possible mechanism suggested by researchers to explain what leads to the stability of personality traits across generations

attachment: the quality of the relationship between an infant and parent or primary caregiver

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD): a disorder of childhood that includes two major dimensions: inattention, and hyperactivity and impulsivity

attributions: an attribution is how we explain events in the world. In this way, we create causal explanations for what we experience and do

autism spectrum disorder (ASD): the DSM—5 diagnosis for a neurodevelopmental disorder in which individuals have difficulty in three separate areas: (1) social interactions, (2) communication, and (3) behavioral processes

autonomic nervous system (ANS): a division of the nervous system that innervates a variety of organs including the adrenal medulla that results in the release of catecholamines (norepinephrine and epinephrine) from the terminal of sympathetic nerves

availability heuristic: this bias is simply our tendency to use information that we can quickly access in our minds

axon: underlying the gray matter are the axons which transfer information throughout the brain


'-webkit-text-combine: inherit' id="calibre_link-41053"> simply the way we act. Behavior includes our actions and those of others in a variety of situations. We see behavior all around us and make inferences about its meaning

behavioral and experiential perspective: examines the behavior and experience observed in psychopathology, especially the manner in which the signs and symptoms of a particular disorder are seen in a similar manner throughout the world

behavioral economics: a primary focus of economics is the consideration of decision and choice. Unlike traditional economics, which suggests that humans optimize their choice in a rational manner, behavioral economics uses behavioral and neuroscience research to understand the factors involved. That is, people do not make decisions in isolation, but in relation to other choices as well how these choices are framed and the effort required

behavioral genetics: the study of genetic and environmental contributions to behavior. A fundamental question addressed is the manner in which genes and the environment work together to shape behavior

behavioral perspective: a psychological approach focused only on actions and behaviors, not internal processes or aspects of consciousness

behaviorism: at the beginning of the 1900s, behaviorism adopted a strict form of empiricism, the idea that knowledge should be derived through our sensory processes. The idea was that psychology could become a science like physics, but all that should be studied is observable behavior. This was in direct opposition to the use of introspection

binge-eating disorder: characterized by the consumption of large amounts of food and the sense that one cannot control his or her eating behavior

biopsychosocial: in 1977 in the scientific journal Science, George Engel introduced the term biopsychosocial which refers to biological, psychological, and social variables. An integrative perspective that includes all three of these domains can offer a fuller picture of human behavior and experience

bipolar disorder: previously referred to as manic-depressive disorder; a mood disorder characterized by the experience of both depression and mania

blind controls: research participants who do not know whether they are in the experimental group or the control (placebo) group

bodily kinesthetic intelligence: one of Gardner’s multiple intelligences, bodily kinesthetic intelligence entails the potential of using one’s whole body or parts of the body to solve problems. It is the ability to use mental abilities to coordinate bodily movements

body mass index (BMI): a measure of obesity; an indirect measure of body fat based on a person’s height and weight

borderline personality disorder (BPD): one of the dramatic emotional personality disorders (Cluster B); characterized by an instability in mood, interpersonal relationships, and sense of self

brain stem: the brain stem includes the midbrain, pons, and medulla. These structures are involved in basic life functions, including breathing, digestion, levels of arousal, pleasure, and physiological processes such as heart rate and blood pressure. Movements controlled by the brain stem tend to be whole body movements rather than the finer hand movements connected with neocortical control. Across species, movements related to the brain stem tend to be more of an instinctual nature, such as those seen in a startled organism

bulimia nervosa: an eating disorder involving periods of overeating in which the person feels out of control, followed by purging

bystander intervention: understanding the factors involved in helping led to a series of studies examining bystander intervention. Bystander intervention research predicts the likelihood that someone will actively address a situation they view as problematic. In general, it has focused on the situational factors that influence whether a person will intervene or not


cannabis: a plant species also referred to as marijuana; the resin is referred to as hashish; the main psychoactive ingredient in cannabis is THC

case study: a research method that typically focuses on recording the experiences and behaviors of one individual

cell assembly: core element of Donald Hebb’s model of learning and memory: The basic model suggests that when one neuron in the brain excites another one nearby repeatedly, then the connection between the two is strengthened. This came to be described as “cells that fire together wire together.” One implication of this is that even if only a few cells of a well-established cell assembly are activated, this has the potential to activate the other neurons in the entire cell assembly. Thus, being able to remember one aspect of an event may lead to your remembering of the entire event. One implication of Donald Hebb’s work is that memories of related items are associated with one another, and these associations appear not only in our cognitions but also in our brain

cell body: an aspect of a neuron. The cell body contains a nucleus, which includes deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and other substances, and also mitochondria that are involved in supplying energy

central executive network: the neural network involved in performing such tasks as planning, goal setting, directing attention, performing, inhibiting the management of actions, and the coding of representations in working memory

central nervous system (CNS): the central nervous system, which includes the brain and spinal cord, develops during the first month of pregnancy to form the spinal cord and the brain

cerebellum: Involved in the coordination of movement, the cerebellum (little brain) is located at the base of the skull. It receives inputs from almost all areas of the cortex and allows for the smooth movement of our bodies

chromosomes: thread-like structures located inside the nucleus of animal and plant cells. Each chromosome is made of protein and a single molecule of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). Passed from parents to offspring, DNA contains the specific instructions that make each type of living creature unique

chunking: Chase and Simon studied chess players. They discovered that the expert chess players were better able than novices to reproduce the location of pieces in the middle of a game or at the end of a game. The experts did this by chunking the chess pieces into meaningful patterns. That is, they organized the chess pieces into groups. it was not the experts’ memory ability that made the difference, but their ability to chunk the material into meaningful group

circadian: comes from Latin and can be translated as “about a day.” A circadian rhythm is a cycle that happens each day as with adult sleep patterns

circadian rhythm disorders: these disorders result in the person being unable to sleep at the desired time. However, once the person falls asleep, they experience the normal sleeping pattern

classical conditioning: the pairing of the unconditioned stimulus with a neutral stimulus eventually causing the neutral stimulus to produce the same response

client-centered therapy or person-centered therapy: a treatment approach in psychology characterized by the therapist’s empathic understanding, unconditional positive regard, and genuineness

clinical psychology: although humans have created theories of mental disorders for centuries, it was Sigmund Freud (1856—1939) who influenced early thinking in clinical psychology. Clinical psychologists assess and treat mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. They may focus on a particular disorder such as anxiety or schizophrenia. They may also focus on particular groups such as adolescents who consider suicide, or older individuals who are seeking new experiences, or groups that feel left out by society

cocaine: a stimulant that comes from the naturally occurring coca plant largely grown in South America; its psychoactive effects include a mental alertness, heightening sensory experiences, and increased heart rate

cognitive behavioral perspective: a treatment perspective that suggests that dysfunctional thinking is common to all psychological disturbances; by learning in therapy how to understand one’s thinking, it is possible to change the way one thinks as well as one’s emotional state and behaviors

cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): a therapy based on the cognitive behavioral perspective, directed at changing the individual’s faulty logic and maladaptive behaviors

cognitive development: Piaget is considered to have created the study of cognitive development which refers to the way we reason and use language, as well as traditional intellectual abilities such as memory and problem solving

cognitive dissonance: according to Festinger, cognitive dissonance is an unpleasant state that occurs when a person realizes that attitudes, actions, or beliefs are inconsistent

cognitive neuroscience: the addition of cognitive psychology with brain imaging and other physiological techniques came to be called cognitive neuroscience

cognitive psychology: by the 1960s, a number of psychologists sought to understand how thinking, attention, perception, problem solving, and other such internal processes influence both human reasoning and action. The cognitive perspective offered a broader approach to understanding human behavior and experience

color blind: some individuals use only two of the three light sources to match colors. These individuals are commonly called color blind. Some color-blind individuals match colors to a standard color by using only green and blue light while others use only blue and red light. These individuals are called dichromats. Color blindness is found more often in males than females, since it is caused by a recessive allele on the X chromosome

comorbid: descriptive term used when an individual has more than one disorder at the same time

compensation: in order to solve problems, older individuals use their brains differently. In order to optimize their performance on tasks, older adults use additional neural circuitry. When older adults use just the brain areas that are activated in younger individuals, they do not perform the tasks as well as younger adults

compulsions: repetitive behaviors that one uses to respond to obsessive thoughts with the goal of decreasing anxiety

concrete operations: in Piaget’s third stage of development, children can move their thinking beyond themselves and deal with the nature of concrete objects. With the schema to perform abstract operations comes the fourth stage—formal operations

conditioned response (CR): after a number of times of pairing, the conditioned stimulus alone will produce the natural response. This response is referred to as a conditioned response (CR)

conditioned stimuli (CS): events that happen at about the same time as an unconditioned stimulus could themselves produce a response after a number of pairings

cones: photoreceptors related to daytime vision. In each type of cone, the chemical sensitive to light is sensitive to a different frequency. This gives us the ability to experience color. Cones also allow you to see with high-spatial acuity, which gives you the ability to see detail. Cones are located in a more central region of the retina called the fovea.

confidentiality: (1) a principle that requires that the scientist not release data of a personal nature to other scientists or groups without the participant’s consent; (2) the principle that the health care professional is not to discuss information learned in a therapy session in any other context

confirmation bias: if we have a strongly held belief, we are more likely to see information that supports our views

confound: a factor that systematically biases the results of experimental research

confound hypothesis: a conceptual question that asks if results of an experiment could have been influenced by a factor other than the independent variable (IV)

confounding variables: unintended factors not chosen by the experimenter, but which influence the independent variable (IV)

conscientiousness: as a personality trait, it is associated with being diligent, disciplined, well-organized, punctual, and dependable; as a dimension in the five-factor model (FFM), this dimension ranges from being efficient and organized to being easygoing and careless

consciousness: psychologists define consciousness as being aware and knowing that you are involved in a particular event. A change in the scientific study of consciousness began with the advent of a scientific psychology. Individuals such as William James began to ask questions concerning the function of consciousness rather than its physical properties. Freud described three types of consciousness: (1) conscious awareness, (2) latent consciousness or pre-consciousness, and (3) unconscious processes. More recently, with the development of neuroscience techniques for understanding brain function, consciousness has become a more popular topic of scientific study

consolidation: psychologists describe long-term memory processes in terms of four separate steps: encoding, storage, consolidation, and retrieval. The process by which the information stored becomes more stable, consolidation takes place in the brain on two levels: (1) the first level involves structural changes at the synapse, and (2) the second level involves a reorganization of long-term memories over brain networks. Sleep improves memory consolidation

continuous reinforcement: if reinforcement follows every operant response, it is referred to as continuous reinforcement. Typically, continuous reinforcement is used to shape and train the animal to perform the desired response

control group: in a research experiment, the group that is treated exactly like the experimental group except for not experiencing the independent variable (IV) being studied

cooperation: cooperation is helping others even when it does not help ourselves. With extensive research on bees, ants, and humans, it became clear that, in addition to self-preservation and sexuality, there were also instinctual programs for social processes related to cooperation. Understanding cooperation has been a daunting task for evolutionary psychology and there has been a lot of research in the evolution of cooperation and non-cooperation

corpus callosum: the fiber tract that connects the left and right hemispheres of the brain

correlation coefficient: a statistic ranging from -1 to +1 that indicates the degree of association between two variables

correlational research: a research method designed to measure how specific factors are associated with one another

correspondence bias: the tendency for individuals to see that how another person acts reflects their internal thoughts and feelings

critical or sensitive periods: the fact that the lock and key only work for a limited temporal period in imprinting and other similar phenomena

crystallized intelligence: the second factor of intelligence for Cattell was crystallized intelligence which reflects the ability of a person to acquire knowledge available in his or her culture, for example, the ability to use tools, know the meaning of words, or understand cultural practices


debriefing: the process of informing a participant after the experiment about the nature of the experiment, clarifying any misunderstanding, and answering any questions that the participant may have concerning the experiment; a necessary and important aspect of deception experiments

deception: although we don’t usually think of cheating as being pervasive, Robert Trivers suggests that deception is a wide-spread feature of communication within many social species. Deception in this case is to make things seem as they not

deception research: research in which participants are led to believe that the purpose of the study or their performance in the experiment is something different from the actual case

deep brain stimulation (DBS): a treatment for depression in which electrodes are placed in the brain and connected to a pulse generator in the chest, which influences electrical activity in certain parts of the brain

deep structure: the meaning of speech is called deep structure. There are a variety of ways (surface structure) of saying something that would convey the same meaning (deep structure)

default or intrinsic network: neural network that is active during internal processing

defense mechanisms: their purpose is to reduce neurotic anxiety. Thus, repression, or the process of inhibiting anxiety-producing ideas, underlies all defense mechanisms

delusions: beliefs without support for their occurrence and which are at odds with the individual’s current environment

demand characteristics: bias that occurs when a participant’s response is influenced more by the research setting than by the independent variable (IV)

dendrites: a part of a neuron. The dendrites (from the Greek word for tree) are attached to the soma and receive information from other cells

deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): a molecule that provides information necessary to produce proteins, which are involved in growth and functioning

dependent variable (DV): bias that occurs when a participant’s response is influenced more by the research setting than by the independent variable (IV)

depersonalization: the perception of not experiencing the reality of one’s self; this experience can include feeling detached or observing one’s self as an outside observer

depersonalization-derealization disorder: depersonalization and derealization are seen as normal responses to many types of acute stress. However, when they cause distress or impairment in important areas of one’s life, they qualify as a DSM disorder

derealization: the experience that the external world is not solid; one’s world is experienced with a sense of detachment or as if in a fog or a dream, or in other ways distorted or unreal

descriptive statistics: statistics that define the nature of the number that we are examining. You use descriptive statistics all the time in terms of your weight, your grades, and the amount of money you spend. Descriptive statistics allow us to characterize numbers in terms of frequency and variability

dialectical behavior therapy (DBT): treatment approach for borderline personality disorders developed by Marsha Linehan; the cornerstone of DBT therapy is based on problem solving and acceptance of the experience of the moment

diffusion tensor imaging (DTI): procedure that uses the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) magnet to measure fiber tracts (white matter) in the brain

dissociation: experiencing a disruption in our normal ability to integrate information from our sensory and psychological processes such as memory and awareness

dissociative amnesia: an inability to recall important autobiographical information

dissociative identity disorder (DID): a developmental disorder where one consistent sense of self does not occur—that is, the person does not experience her thoughts, feelings, or actions in terms of a well-developed “I” or sense of self and instead experiences different “personalities” at different times; previously referred to as multiple personality disorder

dizygotic (DZ) twins: twins who arise from the situation in which two different eggs are fertilized by two different spermatozoa; these are called fraternal twins since their shared genes are approximately 50%—the same as that between any two siblings

door-in-the-face technique: a technique used to bring about compliance. It is also called reciprocal concessions. The situation in which a small request is more likely to be accepted if it follows a larger one that has been rejected

dopamine: a type of neurotransmitter, dopamine is released in the brain and was initially thought to be the neurobiological correlate of reward or pleasure. Recent research suggests that the presence of dopamine signals to the person that something good is about to happen. Thus, dopamine is not so much associated with pleasure as with the expectation of pleasure. On a neuroscience level, studies show the rewarding effect of drugs is their ability to increase dopamine

double-blind experiment: research procedure in which participants do not know whether they are in the experimental group or the control (placebo) group, and the researchers involved in the study also do not know which participants are in which group

doubt: to question ideas and research and ask whether factors other than the ones that were originally considered might have influenced the results

dreams: are experienced during sleep and reflect mainly involuntary images, ideas, feelings, and sensations. In dreams, we are aware of the unfolding situation in front of us; we experience ourselves being part of the action unlike our daydreams or mind-wandering when we are awake; we participate in the experiences of the dream; we have emotional reactions and experience it as real, however, we would not say it was reality

dynamic system theory: Esther Thelen sought to integrate an understanding of motor movement with advances in the neurosciences, biomechanics, and the study of perception and action. The emphasis for the dynamic system approach is to ask how all of our different body parts work together to produce stability and change


electroconvulsive therapy (ECT): a treatment for depression in which electrical current is passed through the brain for a brief period

electroencephalography (EEG): a technique for recording electrical activity from the scalp, which measures the electrical activity of the brain at the level of the synapse

emotion-focused therapy (EFT): also known as process-experiential therapy; in this therapy, emotion is viewed as centrally important in the experience of self, as either adaptive or maladaptive, and as the crucial element that brings about change and management of emotional experiences

emotions: emotion is defined as a subjective or internal experience that is accompanied by physiological changes

empirically based treatments or empirically based principles: these terms refer to treatments and their aspects for which there is scientific evidence that the treatment is effective

empiricism: the idea that knowledge should be derived through our sensory processes. That is, it is better to learn from observation than to just believe what one has been told

encode: to lay out the process by which a particular protein is made; this is the job of a gene

encoding: psychologists describe long-term memory processes in terms of four separate steps: encoding, storage, consolidation, and retrieval. The first step, encoding, is the process by which information is attended to and connected with other information in memory

endocrine system: a system of glands located throughout our body

endorphin: our brains contain receptors that are sensitive to the actual drugs of addiction. Our brains make a substance, called endorphins, that is actually like morphine. Endorphin is a combination of the word for internally produced—endogenous—and the ending syllable of morphine

epigenetic inheritance: a form of inheritance by which factors largely influenced by the environment of the organism that turn the genes on and off can be passed on to the next generation without influencing DNA itself

episodic memory: a type of long-term memory in which we remember events that we have personally experienced. Episodic memory is also called autobiographical memory

ethics: the study of proper action

evolution of cooperation: using the prisoners’ dilemma game, Axelrod and Hamilton looked at the evolution of cooperation. That is, how did cooperation evolve over evolutionary time. They suggested that the evolution of cooperation can be conceptualized in terms of three separate questions related to robustness, stability, and initial viability

existential-humanistic approach: one critical aspect of the choices we make according to the existential-humanistic approach is our ability to be true to one’s self. One emphasis was how to live in the present and consider one’s choices

existential-humanistic perspective: psychological therapy that focuses on the experience of the person in the moment and the manner in which he or she interprets the experiences; it emphasizes processing and understanding both internal and external experiences of human life

existentialism: the existential movement began in Europe in the 1800s and gained followers after World War II. The major focus of existentialism was the nature of human nature and the meaning of life. One critical question of existentialism focused on the basic experience of being alive and living life

experience: experiences are related to our internal thoughts and feelings. Some of our experiences are similar to those of others. Other experiences are rare but still can be understood through the scientific methods available to psychologists. Unlike actions that we can observe, experiences are internal and take many forms

experimental design: Somewhat like a blueprint, the experimental design directs the procedures and gives form to the experiment. In essence, an experimental design is a plan for how a study is to be structured. In an outline form, a design tells us what will be done to whom and when

experimental group: a group that receives the independent variable (IV) in a study using the experimental method

experimental method: scientific research technique in which the influence of an independent variable (IV) on a dependent variable (DV) is determined, using carefully structured conditions

experimenter effects: bias that occurs due to the experimenter’s expectations

explicit memory: information that we can consciously bring forth from memory. Episodic memory and semantic memory are grouped under the larger heading of explicit memory. Explicit memory is also referred to as declarative memory

external or situational attribution: the case where a person’s behavior is attributed to external factors. If you said your grade on a test was low because you were not given enough time, you would be attributing your behavior to an external or situational factor

external validity: also known as generalizability, the ability to apply the results from an internally valid experiment to other situations and other research participants

extinction: the process by which, after a period of time, the conditioned stimulus, when presented alone, will no longer produce the response

extraversion: as a personality trait, it is associated with sociability, cheerfulness, energy, and a sense of fun; as a dimension in the five-factor model (FFM), this dimension ranges from being passive, quiet, and inner-directed to being active, talkative, and outer-directed

extrinsic motivation: to perform behaviors for the seeking of rewards


facts: general conclusions drawn from observations

false memory: a false memory is one that is experienced as any other memory and you believe it to be true

falsification: the philosophical position that the goal of science is to falsify hypotheses. A major proponent of this position is Karl Popper. It is further suggested that, to be scientific, a hypothesis must be stated so that it can be falsified through research

fear: fear typically has a stimulus in the present. With fear, we see a snake and become apprehensive. We look down from a tall building and feel unease. Fear and anxiety involve high-level as well as more primitive brain processes

fear of missing out (FOMO): when not connected, some individuals feel left out and experience the fear of missing out (FOMO). That is, they are concerned that an event is happening without being a part of it. This fear has been seen in adolescents and young adults around the world

fight or flight response: the overall stress reaction in which the body prepares you either to fight or to leave the scene

figure—ground relationship: our perceptual system organizes ambiguous stimuli in a definite manner. The famous Rubin’s vase image clearly demonstrates that given this ambiguous set of stimuli, our perceptual system will organize it in one of two ways, either as two faces or as a vase. When we see faces, the vase becomes the ground and is no longer viewed as a vase. The opposite is true when we see the vase

five-factor model (FFM) or the Big 5: a model of personality based on a factor analytic approach to personality developed by Robert McCrae and Paul Costa, which suggested five major personality dimensions: extraversion, neuroticism, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness

fixed-interval schedule: in operant conditioning, using a fixed interval schedule, the animal receives a reinforcement after a certain amount of time

fixed-ratio schedule: in operant conditioning, using a fixed ratio schedule, the animal receives a reinforcement every certain number of times

fluid intelligence: Cattell suggested that general intelligence is made up of two separate factors. The first factor is referred to as fluid intelligence which reflects the ability to perceive relationships with previous specific experience

Flynn Effect: IQ has changed in different groups of individuals over time. If you were to look at just the score that a group of people received on IQ tests across generations, you would see an increase in IQ. That is, people today perform much better on IQ tests than did those of earlier generations. This has been referred to as the Flynn Effect after James Flynn who studied this effect using the major IQ tests in the United States. At this point no single answer to the Flynn Effect has been demonstrated

foot-in-the-door technique: a technique used to bring about compliance. This technique is based on the fact that if you can get someone to agree to a small request, then that person is more likely to agree to a larger request

framed: a critical factor in terms of how we make decisions is the way it is presented or framed

free-gift technique: a technique used to bring about compliance. This is a situation in which you are given a small gift from an organization, such as a calendar, address labels, or even a dollar in the solicitation, requesting that you give money to the organization or if you do an unexpected favor for someone, they are more likely to comply with your requests

frontal lobe: the frontal lobe, located at the front of the cortex, is involved in planning, higher order cognitive processes such as thinking and problem solving, as well as moral and social judgments

functional fixedness: to be fixed on a limited view of how an object is used is referred to as functional fixedness. Although functional fixedness may hurt our ability to solve insight problems, it does have the evolutionary value of helping us limit our alternatives. This saves us valuable energy and time

functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): a brain imaging technique that measures increased blood flow in active areas of the cortex by determining the ratio of hemoglobin with and without oxygen

functionalism: William James was particularly interested in the functional aspects of psychological processes, asking the question what purposes specific psychological processes serve. He distinguished between the more long-term cause or function of the behavior and an immediate cause of a behavior

fundamental attribution error or person bias: individuals tend to see the behavior of others as internally directed even when there might be evidence for external influences. It is also known as correspondence bias since there is a tendency for individuals to see that how another person acts reflects their internal thoughts and feelings


“g” or general intelligence: Spearman’s global factor of intelligence. He saw “g” as an energy or power that was available to the entire brain. In essence, “g” refers to the situation in which someone who does well in one domain tends to perform well in others

General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS): Selye’s model of how the body reacts similarly to a variety of different stressors in three stages: the alarm stage, the resistance stage, and the exhaustion stage

generalizability: also known as external validity, the ability to apply the results from an internally valid experiment to other situations and other research participants

generalization: in fear conditioning, initially, Little Albert was conditioned by pairing a white rat and a loud noise. After this, any furry animal such as a rabbit would produce the same fear response. This is referred to as generalization, first noted by Pavlov. The less the stimulus is like the original conditioned one, the less intense the conditioned response will be, and the more similar the new stimulus is to the original conditioned one, the stronger the response. Since then it has been determined that fear conditioning works better with evolutionarily relevant objects

generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): a disorder characterized by excessive anxiety and worry that has been present for more than 3 months

generative: language is generative, that is, we can generate sentences we have never uttered before as well as understand sentences we have never heard before

genotype: the set of observable characteristics of an individual resulting from the interaction of its genotype with the environment

Gestalt psychology: the German word Gestalt refers to such English terms as pattern, form, structure, and a sense of the whole perception. Gestalt psychology suggested that the whole is always greater than the sum of its parts

gustatory system: the taste system determines the chemical makeup of foods and beverages in terms of nutrient content, agreeableness, and potential toxicity. By definition, taste refers to the five qualities processed by our gustatory system—sweet, bitter, salty, sour, and umami


habituation: the situation in which a reflexive action decreases with repeated presentation of the stimulus

hallucinations: sensory experiences that can involve any of the senses and that are at odds with the individual’s current environment

hallucinogens: drugs such as mescaline, LSD, and ecstasy that are able to alter perception, mood, and cognitive processes in often unpredictable ways; also called psychedelics

healthy self: in DSM—5, the healthy self is described in terms of a Self and Interpersonal Functioning Continuum, which includes the aspects of identity, self-direction, empathy, and intimacy

hearing or audition: the manner in which we detect sounds. The auditory system is not only able to detect whether a sound is present but also where the sound is coming from

hemispheric specialization: the left and right hemispheres of the human brain are specialized for different tasks. The left hemisphere is involved in language processing and other serial processes. The right hemisphere processes spatial tasks and other global processes

heritability: heritability is about individual differences. In each generation genetic factors would result in some individuals being taller than others and these individuals would have come from the same family. In the next generation that family would also have even taller children as compared to others. The technical estimate of heritability is a statistic that describes the proportion of a given trait’s variation within a group of people that is attributable to variations in the genes

heuristic: the procedures for arriving at a decision are called heuristics. Developed by Simon, a heuristic is a set of rules that help us to understand how people make decisions. Heuristics help humans perform a task with reduced effort

homeostasis: a concept that reflects the manner in which a physiological system tends to center around a set point, like a thermostat that regulates temperature in a building

hormones: endocrine glands release biochemical substances into the bloodstream called hormones that change the physiology and behavior of specific organs as they move throughout the body. These hormones can stimulate our immune system, influence male and female sex characteristics, affect blood sugar levels, and perform a number of other functions

HPA (hypothalamic pituitary adrenal) pathway: the brain has two major pathways in which it influences peripheral physiology. These pathways are distinct but interrelated. The second pathway activated in times of stress is slower and referred to as the HPA which includes the hypothalamus, pituitary, and adrenal

human origins and historical cultural perspective: in adopting this perspective for examining psychological processes, we can think about how certain ways of behaving and seeing the world might be adaptive. We can think about how the experiences of those who came before us might have influenced how our nervous system functions. The human origins and historical cultural perspective gives us a way to think about cultural factors. We can also think about how humans are both similar and different to other animals with whom we share a variety of genetic and physiological mechanisms. The human origins and historical cultural perspective leads to some interesting questions related to psychology. For example, given the evolutionary process of survival of the fittest, we ask why particular mental disorders continue to exist

humanistic: one important aspect of the humanistic tradition was an emphasis on choice. Throughout our lives, we all make critical choices that determine who we are and how we live our lives. In this way, we express our personality by the choices we make. For the humanistic psychologists, these choices can lead to positive as well as negative outcomes

humanistic perspective: in the 1950s, Carl Rogers brought the humanistic perspective to the forefront. He emphasized the theme of human potential by saying that psychotherapy is a releasing of an already existing capacity in a potentially competent individual. He emphasized the relationship between the therapist and client as a critical key to effective therapy

hypersomnia: a class of sleep disorders that is characterized by a lack of sufficient sleep

hypothesis: a statement or expectation developed in relation to an explicit or implicit theory concerning potential outcomes of an experiment (that is, the relationship between the independent and dependent variable)


Illusions: in some ways all of what we “see” is an illusion or construction of our nervous system because vision is based both on a top-down process in which our expectations help to form what we see and on a bottom-up process by which our sensory system puts together the individual features into a coherent scene.

imitation learning: a brain system response to observing an action that leads to a motor representation of the observed action, essentially turning a visual image into a motor plan

Implicit Association Test (IAT): the Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report, that is, implicit attitudes. The IAT may be especially interesting if it shows that you have an implicit attitude that you do not know about

implicit memory: implicit memory has the ability to influence our behavior and experiences without our being aware of the learning taking place. We can perform a number of motor tasks without consciously remembering how to perform them. This type of memory is referred to as procedural memory which is a type of implicit memory. Implicit memory also includes classical conditioning and priming

imprinting: a built-in pattern in which birds follow an object, usually their mother, which moves in front of them during the first 18-36 hours after birth. Imprinting and similar phenomena work like a lock and key. Once in place, it is almost irreversible and cannot be changed

independent variable (IV): the variable that is defined by the experimenter and thus is outside the experimental situation (and therefore is independent)

indirect reciprocity: a form of reciprocity where help is given to individuals based on their reputation

inference: the process by which we look at the evidence available and then use logic to reach a conclusion

inferential statistics: a method of analysis that concerns the relationship between the statistical characteristics of the population and those of the experimental sample

informed consent: a prospective participant in psychological research must be given complete information on which to base a decision, including information about what will be required of him or her during the study, and about any potential harm that may come from participation

insight problems: a problem that requires a person to shift his or her perspective and view the problem in a different way. The answer is often a reorganization of the information available and seeing the situation in a new light

insomnia: the most common sleep disorder seen by professionals. It is described in terms of the inability to obtain enough sleep to leave one feeling rested

intelligence: overall, intelligence is defined as the ability to learn from and adapt to our environment by solving problems and predicting what might happen next. This is a broad understanding of intelligence. There is also a narrower definition that refers to how we perform on tests of intelligence and compare to others

internal or dispositional attribution: the situation in which observed behaviors are attributed to the internal state of the person. Saying someone is lazy when they do not get a job would be an example of internal attributions

internal validity: the ability to make valid inferences between the independent variables (IVs) and dependent variables (DVs)

interneurons: neurons that relay information from other neurons are referred to as interneurons, which create circuits to process information in the brain

interpersonal intelligence: one of Gardner’s multiple intelligences, interpersonal intelligence is concerned with the capacity to understand the intentions, motivations, and desires of other people. It allows people to work effectively with others

intrapersonal intelligence: one of Gardner’s multiple intelligences, intrapersonal intelligence entails the capacity to understand oneself and to appreciate one’s feelings, fears, and motivations

intrinsic motivation: to perform behaviors because we enjoy it; being a curious and interested explorer of the world rather than a passive recipient of environmental influences; seeking new information on a variety of levels, including motor, emotional, and cognitive responses; feeling happy when solving a problem or learning something new

introspection: the examination of one’s own mental state, which Wilhelm Wundt referred to as internal perception


just-noticeable difference or JND: refers to just how much physical difference is needed for you to detect a change in any of our sensory processes including, vision, hearing, and touch


kin selection or inclusive fitness: a property can be measured by considering the reproductive success of the individual plus the effects of an individual’s actions on the reproductive success of one’s relatives


law of effect: formulated by Edward Thorndike, it says that, for example, when a cat made a response that led to the opening of the door and food (the satisfying effect), then the cat would be more likely to perform that same response again. The opposite is also true. If the response produces discomfort, then those responses will be reduced

levels of analysis: examination of psychopathology ranging from culture and society at a higher level to the individual at a middle level and physiology and genetics at the lower levels

levels of consciousness: these levels can be discussed in terms of coma, vegetative state, and wakefulness and awareness and represent how well a person is connected with his or her environment at a given time

lifespan development: following an individual across his or her lifespan in a theoretically integrated manner using psychological research

limbic system: Papez believed that in the same way that the occipital lobe processes visual information, the limbic system processes emotional processes. Today, scientists see this system involved in emotion, motivation, memory, and other related processes

linguistic intelligence: one of Gardner’s multiple intelligences, linguistic intelligence involves sensitivity to spoken and written language, the ability to learn languages, and the capacity to use language to accomplish certain goals

logic: is the systematic study of valid rules of inference, i.e. the relations that lead to the acceptance of one proposition (the conclusion) on the basis of a set of other propositions (premises). More broadly, logic is the analysis and appraisal of arguments

logical-mathematical intelligence: one of Gardner’s multiple intelligences, logical-mathematical intelligence consists of the capacity to analyze problems logically, carry out mathematical operations, and investigate issues scientifically

long-term memory: to have a memory available to us in the future, the information needs to be converted from short-term memory into long-term memory. Information available to us through long-term memory can be relatively permanent


magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): brain imaging technique that offers a static image of brain structure

magnetoencephalography (MEG): brain imaging technique that measures the small magnetic field gradients exiting and entering the surface of the head that are produced when neurons are active

major depressive disorder (MDD): a mood disorder characterized by depressed mood for at least 2 weeks in which one feels sad or empty without any sense of pleasure in one’s activities

mean: the average of a set of scores

measures of central tendency: there are three measures of central tendency, which is simply a single summary measure that describes a number of scores. These central tendency measures are known as the mean, median, and mode

median: the middle score in a distribution

meditation: historically, it has been a part of religious and spiritual traditions worldwide. In general, meditative techniques can be thought of in terms of three broad approaches: (1) an attempt to reduce awareness as normally experienced; (2) more of an expressive experience as might be seen in free dancing; (3) awareness of all activity is allowed without the attempt to reduce, modify, or react to what is being experienced (called mindfulness in current-day psychology)

memory: learning and memory are processes that go together. Traditionally, they have focused on different aspects of behavior and experience. Memory traditionally has focused on how information is stored and later retrieved

mental disorder: a mental disorder contains five features: (1) a behavioral or psychological syndrome or pattern that occurs in an individual; (2) that reflects an underlying psychobiological dysfunction; (3) the consequences of which are clinically significant distress or disability; (4) must not be merely an expectable response to common stressors and losses or a culturally sanctioned response to a particular event; and (5) that is not primarily a result of social deviance or conflicts with society

meta-analysis: statistical examination of the results of studies taken together and treated as one study. One can also examine the psychological experiences and internal states related to various forms of meditation.

meta-awareness: we can be aware of our awareness. I can experience myself watching something else. In conversations, meta-awareness lets us experience ourselves talking as well as having awareness of the other person at the same time. As such we use our awareness systems as a way to plan and direct our actions and cooperate with others

metacognition: having cognition about our cognition. Shea and his colleagues suggest that metacognition is composed of two systems. The first metacognition system functions out of awareness whereas the second system is able to accomplish a richer number of tasks. System one works quicker and in parallel whereas system two performs action in a serial form

mindfulness: a therapeutic technique involving an increased, focused, nonjudgmental, purposeful awareness of the present moment to observe thoughts without immediately reacting to them

mirror neurons: neurons in your brain that fire as if you had performed the same actions as you observe

mode: the score that occurs with the greatest frequency

modeling: also known as observational learning; when humans imitate the behaviors of others even without reinforcement

monozygotic (MZ) twins: identical twins resulting from the zygote (fertilized egg) dividing during the first 2 weeks of gestation

moral development: based on the idea of stages of cognitive development suggested by Piaget, Kohlberg asked if there are similar stages in moral development. As such, an individual’s way of solving a moral dilemma would be different at different ages. The type of reasoning given at one stage would be self-contained and different from that at another stage. Further, with development these stages become more complex and differentiated. He outlined 3 levels of moral development: (1) preconventional morality; (2) conventional morality; and (3) post-conventional morality

moral emotions: research suggests that individuals’ shame experiences are more painful and intense than guilt experiences. Since guilt and shame involve transgression against the conventions of the group, these have been called moral emotions

moral judgments: judgments that involve values related to human functioning such as life and death. Pinker suggests that there are two important hallmarks of moral judgments: (1) these judgments are felt to be universal, and (2) the belief that committing immoral acts should be followed by punishment

morpheme: the smallest meaningful unit of a language. A common example would be “ed,” which would signal past tense as in talked, or “s,” which would signal plural, as in books, or “un,” which would signal not, as in unbelievable

motivations: motivation is defined as the process that makes a person move toward a goal-directed behavior

motor neurons: are involved in moving our muscles, which allows us to walk, throw a ball, or send a text

motor strip: in the area of the frontal lobe along the central sulcus is a strip of cortex referred to as the motor strip. Different parts of this strip correspond to movements of different parts of the body

musical intelligence: one of Gardner’s multiple intelligences, musical intelligence involves skill in the performance, composition, and appreciation of musical patterns


naturalistic intelligence: one of Gardner’s multiple intelligences, naturalistic intelligence entails the ability to identify and distinguish aspects of the natural world. This would include weather patterns, types of plants, animals, or rock structure

naturalistic observation: research method based on observing and describing the phenomenon occurring naturally, without manipulating any variables

negative correlation: an association between two variables where a decrease in one variable correlates to a decrease in the other

negative punishment: negative punishment occurs when the likelihood of a behavior is decreased by the removal of an event

negative reinforcement: negative reinforcement occurs when the likelihood of a behavior is increased by the removal of an event

negative symptoms: in schizophrenia, lack of affect in situations that call for it, poor motivation, and social withdrawal. Positive or negative are not evaluative terms when applied to symptoms of schizophrenia. Instead, they indicate either the presence of something unusual such as hearing voices or seeing hallucinations, which would be positive symptoms, or the lack of a normal human process, such as poor motivation or social withdrawal, which would be negative symptoms

network: our brains are not static. A network is simply a group of neurons that becomes active under certain conditions. Networks allow basic human processes such as learning, memory, thinking, planning, feeling, and decision making to take place

networks: there are also connections between the brain areas involved in different sensory processes that give us an integration of sensory processes. Putting these together gives us the feeling of a single event. These specific connections are referred to as pathways and networks. These pathways and networks allow us to see, hear, and feel the world as if it is a coherent whole

neurons: single nerve cells that can transmit information to other neurons. Neurons are central to all brain processes, and are the basis for the brain’s communication with the rest of the body

neuroscience perspective: examines what we know about particular psychopathological experience from the standpoint of neuroscience, including the structure and function of the brain, the autonomic nervous system, and a genetic and epigenetic consideration as it relates to psychopathology

neuroticism: as a personality trait, it is associated with a tendency to express distressing emotions and difficulty experiencing stressful situations; as a dimension in the five-factor model (FFM), this dimension ranges from being calm, even-tempered, and comfortable to being worried, temperamental, and self-conscious

neurotransmitters: chemicals released into the synaptic space that are involved in increasing or decreasing the likelihood for action potentials to be produced; they also maintain the communication across the synapse. Their presence or lack is related to particular psychopathological disorders

nociceptors: the cells related to the experience of pain outside of the brain. The brain itself cannot feel pain as it contains no nociceptors

null hypothesis: a statistical hypothesis that is tested to determine if there are differences between the experimental and control groups; the null hypothesis states that there is no difference


obedience: in the 1960s, Stanley Milgram conducted a set of obedience experiments to determine how far a participant would go in obeying the instructions of the experimenter to cause harm to a second participant. The second participant was never harmed, but the original participant did not know that during the experiment. The results of the studies were disturbing as to how far participants would go in obeying the experimenter. Subsequently, there has been criticism of the manner in which the Milgram study was conducted and reported

object permanence: in Piaget’s theory of development, initially, the child understands something exists only while that object is experienced. When he begins to understand that an object still exists even if it is covered with a cloth or placed in a drawer, this is the beginning of what is referred to as object permanence. We now know that object permanence develops as memory develops

observational learning: also known as modeling; when humans imitate the behaviors of others even without reinforcement

obsessions: persistent, generally unwelcome thoughts or images that come into one’s head, which the person experiences as disturbing

obsessive-compulsive and related disorders: some individuals hoard their possessions even if they are of no value. Others are always thinking about their body and particular flaws they believe they have. Still others pick at their skin or pull their hair. Other individuals refuse to step on sidewalk cracks, often wash their hands to prevent germs, or experience unwelcome thoughts coming into their minds. In DSM-5, these conditions are referred to as obsessive-compulsive and related disorders

obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): a disorder characterized by repetitive, intrusive thoughts and feelings (obsessions) usually followed by behaviors in response to them (compulsions)

occipital lobe: the occipital lobe is near the back of the brain and toward the bottom. It is involved with the processing of visual information and receives information from our eyes

olfaction: refers to your sense of smell. In your nose are sensory neurons that are responsive to chemicals that we experience as odors

openness: as a personality trait, it is associated with curiosity, flexibility, and an artistic sensitivity, including imaginativeness and the ability to create a fantasy world; as a dimension in the five-factor model (FFM), this dimension ranges from inventive and curious to cautious and conservative

operant '-webkit-text-combine: inherit' id="calibre_link-41750"> Skinner coined the term operant behavior to refer to the behavior that an organism produces that influences its environment

operant conditioning: Skinner’s exemplar experimental procedure. The basic procedure noted that behavior could be elicited or shaped if reinforcement followed its occurrence. This procedure came to be known as operant conditioning

operational definition: a definition that presents a construct in terms of observable operation that can be measured and utilized in research

opioids: psychoactive substances derived from the opium poppy used to control pain and bring on euphoric feelings; more common opioids are heroin, opium, morphine, methadone, and oxycodone

opponent-process theory of color vision: an alternative theory of color vision to the Young—Helmholtz trichromatic theory of color. This theory holds that certain colors result in opposite responses in the visual system.

optic disk or blind spot: the place where visual information leaves the eye. Although there are no receptors in this part of the eye to respond to light, the brain fills in the missing information by using information from the other eye and eye movement. Thus, you see a complete scene without a hole in the image


panic attack: a sudden, intense feeling of apprehension, anxiety, or fear; happens without an actual situation that would suggest danger

panic disorder: an anxiety disorder defined by recurrent and unpredictable panic-like symptoms followed by at least 1 month of concern or change in lifestyle

paradigm: Kuhn has pointed out that at any moment in the history of science some questions are overemphasized and others ignored. The topics we study and the types of questions we ask Kuhn called a paradigm

paradigm shift: a paradigm is a set of assumptions that guides the activity until a new revolution (a paradigm shift) takes place. Psychology and the neurosciences have gone through a number of these revolutions

parasomnias: a category of sleep disorders representing a variety of conditions that may leave the person feeling distressed or bring distress to others. In general, these disorders are not related to one another from an underlying physiological or psychological standpoint. Examples include sleep paralysis, night or sleep terrors, sleep walking, sleep talking, and sleep jerks or starts

parasympathetic nervous system: the branch of the autonomic nervous system involved in the restoration of bodily reserves and the elimination of bodily waste

parietal lobe: the parietal lobe, which is toward the back and at the top of the cortex, is involved in spatial processes such as knowing where you are in space and performing spatial problems

partial reinforcement: if reinforcement only sometimes follows the operant response, it is referred to as partial reinforcement

pathological dissociative symptoms: pathological dissociative symptoms are generally experienced as involuntary disruption of the normal integration of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception. These can range from not having a sense of who one is or not remembering large parts of one’s past to having no memory of one’s personal history or to experiencing a lack of a developmental self. DSM—5 describes three major dissociative disorders: (1) depersonalization—derealization disorder, (2) dissociative amnesia, and (3) dissociative identity disorder (DID)

patterns of attachment styles: attachment patterns can be seen as an internal roadmap or schema through which the person interprets his or her social experiences. Ainsworth described three patterns of attachment styles describing the mother-infant relationship: (1) secure attachment pattern, (2) avoidant attachment pattern, and (3) anxious/ambivalent attachment pattern. A fourth pattern was later added: (4) disorganized/controlling attachment pattern

peer review: scientists pay particular attention to research that has been evaluated by other scientists before it is published. This process is called peer review, and journals that follow this procedure are peer-reviewed journals

perception: the manner in which our brain and nervous system take energy that exists around us and turns it into an experience is a critical aspect of sensation and perception. Sensation refers to the manner in which our receptor system transforms energy into activity that can be interpreted by the brain. Perception is the manner in which the brain makes sense of this activity

peripheral nervous system (PNS): a major division of our nervous system. It includes the somatic nervous system, which sends and receives information to and from the brain. This system also permits our brains to send information to and receive information from internal organs.

person perception: person perception is simply how we categorize others. These categories are processed spontaneously and effortlessly. Traditional categories of person perception include age, gender, and race

personality: the study of personality is the study of internal dispositions or ways of being. Another way of thinking about personality is to consider what we value. Psychologists focus on those aspects of ourselves that can be seen across a number of different situations

personality disorder: an enduring pattern of inner experience and behavior that deviates markedly from the expectations of the individual’s culture; the pattern is inflexible, stable, and generally begins in adolescence, and it leads to distress or impairment; characteristics of these disorders are especially apparent when these individuals find themselves in situations that are beyond their ability to cope

phenotype: the phenotype represents the observed traits of the individual including morphology, physiology, and behavior. The focus of psychology has largely been the study of the phenotype

phoneme: the basic sound of a language. There are approximately 100 different phonemes used in all languages around the world. English uses approximately 40 of these phonemes. A phoneme has no meaning other than the sound we process

phonology: the study of the ways phonemes can be combined in a language is called phonology

photoreceptor: a cell that responds when light hits it. One type of photoreceptor was sensitive to low light. These light-sensitive cells, which later evolved as rods, allow us to see in dim light. Another type of photoreceptor was produced that required greater illumination. Over time, the receptors of this system differentially became sensitive to different frequencies in the visual spectrum. These were the forerunners of the cones in our visual system that allow us to experience colors

pituitary gland: the pituitary gland is a pea-sized gland located at the base of the brain, just below the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus controls the glandular system by affecting the pituitary. The pituitary gland is sometimes called the master gland since it affects other glands of the endocrine system

placebo effect: the phenomenon that some people show psychological and physiological changes just from the suggestion that a change will take place

plasticity: the term that is often used to describe conditions in which processes are open to modification is plasticity

population: in a research study, the larger group of individuals to which the results can be generalized

positive correlation: an association between two variables where an increase in one variable correlates to an increase in the other

positive punishment: positive punishment decreases the likelihood that a particular response will be repeated. The meaning of positive refers to something being added that changes the likelihood of a response

positive reinforcement: giving a reinforcement following a particular behavior that increases the likelihood that the behavior just produced will reoccur. The meaning of positive refers to something being added that changes the likelihood of a response

positive symptoms: in schizophrenia, the presence of such characteristics as hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking, and disorganized behavior. Positive or negative are not evaluative terms when applied to symptoms of schizophrenia. Instead, they indicate either the presence of something unusual such as hearing voices or seeing hallucinations, which would be positive symptoms, or the lack of a normal human process, such as poor motivation or social withdrawal, which would be negative symptoms

positron emission tomography (PET): a brain imaging technique that measures the blood flow in the brain that is correlated with brain activity

post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): a long-term reaction to traumatic events that lasts longer than 1 month

preoperational stage: Piaget’s second stage of development which shows the beginning of symbolic thought

private personality: the private thoughts of a person

proactive interference: proactive interference is the case in which old information inhibits your ability to remember new information

probability: the likelihood that a set of results in an experiment differed from what would be expected by chance

procedural memory: we can perform a number of motor tasks without consciously remembering how to perform them. You ride a bicycle, drive a car, play a musical instrument, or type a text-message without consciously remembering every step. This type of memory is referred to as procedural memory. Procedural memory is a type of implicit memory

process experiential therapy: also known as emotion-focused therapy (EFT); in this therapy, emotion is viewed as centrally important in the experience of self, as either adaptive or maladaptive, and as the crucial element that brings about change and management of emotional experiences

projective technique: a technique is called projective since the person projects onto an image certain ideas and emotions

proteins: the job of a gene is to lay out the process by which a particular protein is made. In other words, each gene is able to encode a protein. Proteins are involved in a variety of processes. Proteins do the work of the body and genes influence their production

pseudoscience: the phenomenon of presenting information as if it is based on science when it is not is referred to as pseudoscience. Pseudoscience is false science

psychoactive substances: there are some plants referred to as psychoactive substances, which change our brain in a manner that influences our consciousness, including thoughts and feelings. Examples include betel nuts, for its nicotine-like effects, cocaine naturally available in coca leaves, and morphine from poppy plants

psychoanalysis: treatment developed by Freud based on the search for ideas and emotions that are in conflict on an unconscious level

psychodynamic approach: psychodynamic psychology is based on the idea that thoughts and emotions basically learned in childhood can influence your behavior and experiences. Others adopted or modified Freud’s ideas in their theories and the treatment of their patients

psychodynamic perspective: approach to psychological therapy that emphasizes how behaviors and experience may be influenced by internal processes that are out of awareness, often due to internal conflicts

psychology: the study of behavior and experience. Behavior is what we do. Experiences are related to our internal thoughts and feelings. Behavior and experience always take place within a context.

psychopathology: the scientific study of mental illness and its causes

psychophysics: psychophysics is the study of the relationship between the physical characteristics of a stimulus and the manner in which we experience it

psychosocial stages: one of the first theorists to present a map of lifespan development was Erik Erikson. He suggested that people throughout the world experience eight major psychosocial stages. During each of these stages there is a major conflict or question that must be answered

psychotic disorders: disorders that involve a loss of being in touch with reality and are characterized by abnormal thinking and sensory processes

psychotropic medications: psychotropic medications are those that are used to treat mental disorders. The study of these drugs is the domain of psychopharmacology

purging: an aspect of bulimia where a person eliminates food from the body by such means as vomiting, taking laxatives, diuretics, or enemas


random sampling: the selection of participants in an unbiased manner so that each potential participant has an equal possibility of being selected for the experiment

randomization: in an experiment, selection of participants solely by chance to either the experimental group or the control group

range: the measure of dispersion reflecting the difference between the largest and smallest scores in a set of data

rapid eye movement or REM sleep: periods during sleep in which a person’s eyes—although closed—move quickly. When individuals were wakened during REM sleep, they were more likely to report having a dream than if wakened during quiet sleep. During REM sleep, EEG looks very different than during quiet sleep. The EEG actually looked more like that seen in wakefulness. Because of this, REM sleep is also referred to as paradoxical sleep

real self: concept developed by Karen Horney that includes who one is and what one appreciates. It is the alienation from the real self that is seen to constitute a key process of neurotic development. It also requires energy to present a false self, which leaves few resources for developing healthy human growth

reciprocal altruism: theory that we help unrelated individuals if we expect them to help us in turn. Our own fitness, in an evolutionary sense, is increased because we have greater chance of surviving and passing on the genes related to these processes

reconstructive memory: we learn information that helps us to adapt, that protects us, that feeds us, that involves our friends, and helps us to find mates. That is, we remember things that have meaning to us. Remembering is a constructive process that allows each recall of information to be a constructive event. We actually recreate each memory as we recall this. This is referred to as reconstructive memory

reinforcement: Skinner’s basic procedure of operant conditioning noted that behavior could be elicited or shaped if reinforcement followed its occurrence. Consequently, if these behaviors ceased to be rewarded, the occurrence would decrease

replication: the process whereby a study is performed in different laboratories with different participants and obtains the same results

research hypothesis: the formal statement of the manner in which the dependent variable (DV) is related to the independent variable (IV)

reserve: concept that suggests that the brain can compensate for problems in neural functioning; high functioning or intelligence is often associated with greater reserve

resilience: resilience research seeks to understand how some individuals are able to encounter severe psychological or physical adversity without showing traditional stress effects. One key finding suggests that resilience is associated with the ability to reinterpret both internal and external events in a more positive manner

retina: a part of the eye; light reaches the cornea where it is bent and the lens where it is focused. Both are located at the front of the eye. The object we see is focused on the retina at the back of the eye

retrieval: psychologists describe long-term memory processes in terms of four separate steps: encoding, storage, consolidation, and retrieval. This stage is what we think of when we say we recalled something. Typically, retrieval involves different types of information stored in different places throughout the brain. This information can include sensory, emotional, and cognitive information

retroactive interference: the case in which new information inhibits your ability to remember old information

retrograde amnesia: a type of amnesia in which a person cannot remember events prior to trauma to the brain

ribonucleic acid (RNA): DNA information is carried as RNA, which determines the sequence of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins; it is made up of single strands rather than the dual strands in DNA

right to privacy: in an experiment, this means that information given by a participant to a scientist should be considered a private event, not a public one

rods: photoreceptors related to nighttime vision. Rods allow you to see in dim light. They are much more sensitive than cones to the few photons of light energy available on dark nights. There are many more rods in the peripheral parts of the retina

Rorschach inkblots: a projective test using inkblots; an individual’s interpretation of the ambiguous ink patterns is evaluated to identify patterns in underlying thoughts and feelings


salience network: the neural network involved in monitoring and noting important changes in biological and cognitive systems

SAM (sympathetic adrenal medullary) system: the brain has two major pathways in which it influences peripheral physiology. These pathways are distinct but interrelated. The first pathway activated in times of stress is more fast acting and is referred to as SAM which involves the sympathetic division of the autonomic nervous system

satiety: the experience of feeling full

scatterplot: a scatterplot is a graph on which the data from each person is plotted

schedules of reinforcement: partial reinforcement can be programmed in relation to the number of responses (ratio) the animal makes or the amount of time (interval) between responses. Skinner examined a number of these patterns, which came to be called schedules of reinforcement. The ratio and interval schedules of reinforcement can be either fixed or variable resulting in four major categories

schema: Piaget introduced the term schema, which refers to how the child sees the world. Although schemas influence our actions, it typically works outside of our awareness. These schemas can be changed as the child interacts with the world and takes in new information

schemas: one traditional view of the self in social psychology is that it is made up of schemas or beliefs about oneself. These schemas help us define who we are and how we see ourselves. Schemas differ for different people

schizophrenia: a debilitating psychotic disorder in which individuals may hear voices, see images not seen by others, believe that others wish to harm or control them, and have bizarre thoughts

schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders: schizophrenia is part of a broad category of disorders referred to as schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders. Psychotic disorders involve a loss of being in touch with reality and are characterized by abnormal thinking and sensory processes. Individuals with a psychotic disorder may show delusions, hallucinations, disorganized thinking and speech, abnormal motor behaviors, and negative symptoms. People who do not have schizophrenia may show psychotic symptoms for a brief period of time or for a longer duration. They may also show delusions, affective problems outside the normal range, or simply seem odd to those around them. Psychotic symptoms not part of schizophrenia can be induced through drugs, lack of sleep, and other medical conditions

science: a process of understanding the world through observation and research, which includes developing theories

scientific knowledge: the known facts about a particular subject derived from the scientific method

scientific method: in its simplest form, the scientific method consists of asking a question about the world and then experiencing the world to determine the answer

scripts: we all have ideas of what to expect in different relationships. In social interactions, there are scripts for what we say to one another. These scripts have both a cultural and a universal level

secure base: Bowlby considered the process of attachment as a social-emotional behavior equally as important as mating behavior and parental behavior. For him, attachment was a process in which the mother was able to reduce fear by direct contact with the infant and provide support, called a secure base

self-actualization: Abraham Maslow suggested that beyond basic needs humans also have the need to be recognized by others as well as to acknowledge their own self. He referred to the desire to express one’s self in the context of humanity as self-actualization. However, he suggested that self-actualization would only come after basic needs were satisfied

self-concept: social psychology adopted the “I” and “me” distinction as it developed a theory of self-concept. Self was seen as a process that develops as we relate to others in social interactions. It is my “me,” which is at the center of my experiences. The self is seen as an adapting process that develops in terms of the social environment in which one lives

self-esteem: self-esteem relates to the evaluation of the self. That is, self-esteem refers to the way we value and accept ourselves. Aspects of self-esteem are thus more affective than cognitive. A desire for self-esteem has been seen as a motivating factor in humans, as noted by both philosophers and psychologists

self-realization: concept developed by Karen Horney related to the process of an individual’s realizing, or developing a real self

self-schema: our self-concept is stored in network memory systems that reflect our past experiences. This information is referred to as our self-schema. Some of these characteristics can have very strong connections with the idea of self, while others may be less strongly connected

self-scripts: most people think that they do know themselves and can accurately predict how they would act in a given situation using their self-scripts. However, research in social psychology suggests that that may not be the case. There is clearly some information that is available to us that we refer to as explicit. However, there are other attitudes and stereotypes that are formed outside of awareness, referred to as implicit

self-serving bias: the tendency to see positive events as our making and negative events as situational

semantic memory: a type of long-term memory that relates to impersonal facts and everyday knowledge, that is, information about people, places, and things

semantics: the study of meaning in language—how we understand what is being said. A critical question has been the way in which humans are able to move between the levels of meaning and syntax

sensation: the manner in which our brain and nervous system take energy that exists around us and turns it into an experience is a critical aspect of sensation and perception. Sensation refers to the manner in which our receptor system transforms energy into activity that can be interpreted by the brain. Perception is the manner in which the brain makes sense of this activity

sensitization: the opposite of habituation. For example, if you receive a painful shock, then the next shock would result in a greater response in a number of different systems. The shock could, for example, make a noise seem louder

sensorimotor stage: Piaget’s first stage of development is the sensorimotor stage which is characterized by the use of motor actions and the senses

sensory memory: if you were to listen to someone talk, you would retain the words said for just a few seconds as you processed the next words. This is referred to as sensory memory. Sensory memory lasts only a few seconds and takes place in all of our senses. If it involves the auditory system, it is referred to as echoic memory. If it involves the visual system, it is referred to as iconic memory. This is the first step of how we remember information. Sensory memory lasts just long enough for the information to be processed by the brain

sensory neurons: help us to see, feel, and hear the world. Other senses, such as taste and smell, also involve sensory neurons. These neurons send information to the brain that allows us to experience the world

sexuality: a driving force in many species including humans. The way people experience and express themselves sexually. This involves biological, erotic, physical, emotional, social, or spiritual feelings and behaviors. Because it is a broad term, which has varied with historical contexts over time, it lacks a precise definition

shaping: a process by which the animal is led to make the desired response in small steps. It is a common procedure used to train animals to perform any new task. Even a complex performance can be broken down into discrete steps that can be learned through reinforcement

short-term memory: the second step in remembering information is to transform the sensory information and work with it for a short period of time, that is, less than a minute

sleep patterns: evolved in terms of sensory systems. Humans and other animals that use vision as the primary way of finding food and interacting with the world sleep at night. On the other hand, animals such as rats that use nonvisual systems for dealing with the world tend to sleep in the day and look for food at night

small world framework: a model of brain connectivity based on the idea that the ability to socially contact any two random individuals in the world can be accomplished in a limited number of connections

social anxiety disorder (SAD): a disorder characterized by marked fear or anxiety about one or more social situations in which the individual is exposed to possible scrutiny by others

social brain hypothesis: developed in the 1980s, the social brain hypothesis suggests that humans and other primates differ from non-primates principally in the size of their brain as compared to their body size. The basic idea is that complexity of social skills requires a large brain. In our social reactions, we need to be able to interact with a number of individuals. With some of these people we have close relationships and with others we need to pay attention to what they want or expect of us. All of this requires cognitive and emotional effort

social categorizing: an aspect of stereotyping when we place the person in a certain group

social cognitive theories of personality: also referred to social learning theories. These theories emphasize a person’s view of the world, that is, the person’s cognitive understanding of their environment. The social aspect is that many of these beliefs are the result of our interactions with others. In this sense, they are learned through our interactions. The research related to the social cognitive theory of personality typically focuses on how a person’s cognitive views of the world interact with situational variables to produce different behaviors

social emotion: social emotions are those emotions that involve our interactions with other people in a social context. Examples include embarrassment, shame, guilt, jealousy, envy, and pride

social facilitation: social facilitation is defined as an improvement in performance when working with or being accompanied by others as opposed to being alone

social inhibition: social psychologists understand social inhibition in which a person does not act to be a general phenomenon that can be observed across a number of situations even outside the laboratory. In terms of helping, safety in numbers does not apply. Even if a person is alone, the context of the situation can play a role

social loafing: the phenomenon where some individuals do less work than others in a group setting

social shaping hypothesis: this hypothesis developed by Taylor and Gonzaga suggests that early social relationships can shape the manner in which a person’s biological, social, and behavioral processes respond to a variety of situations including stressful ones

somatosensory cortex: behind the central sulcus is a strip of cortex in the parietal lobe referred to as the somatosensory cortex. It is this strip that is associated with receiving sensations from various parts of the body

spatial intelligence: one of Gardner’s multiple intelligences, spatial intelligence involves the potential to recognize and use the patterns of wide space as well as more confined areas

specific phobia: an anxiety disorder in which an individual experiences fear of or anxiety about a particular situation or object

spinal cord: as the second structure of the central nervous system (the brain is the first) the spinal cord contains fiber tracts within a cavity surrounded by bone through which information from all parts of the body is taken to the brain. Information is also taken from the brain to the muscles and internal organs

split-brain: term to describe people with severe epilepsy whose corpus callosum has been cut to sever connections between the left and right hemispheres of the brain. Overall, following the operation these patients showed a drastic reduction in seizures, but surprisingly, the operation did not appear to cause any changes in the everyday behavior or experience of these patients

spontaneous recovery: in classical conditioning, after a period of presenting the CS without the UCS, resulting in extinction of the CR, after a subsequent delay of a day or two, presenting the CS will once again elicit the CR in what is referred to as spontaneous recovery

standard deviation: a measure of variability calculated by taking the square root of the variance

stereotype activation: an aspect of stereotyping where once we have stereotyped another person, then a series of opinions about the person come into our mind

stereotype application: an aspect of stereotyping where we use the information to understand the situation we have observed or what to expect in an interaction

stereotype bias: stereotype bias reflects negative stereotypes about one’s group. The basic idea is that a negative stereotype can influence one’s performance

stereotyping: occurs when we make inferences about a group of individuals that share similar characteristics

stigma: negative attitudes and beliefs that cause the general public to avoid others including those with a mental illness

stimulus generalization: the less a stimulus is like the original conditioned one, the less intense the conditioned response will be, and the more similar the new stimulus is to the original conditioned one, the stronger the response.

storage: psychologists describe long-term memory processes in terms of four separate steps: encoding, storage, consolidation, and retrieval. Following encoding, the information must be stored. Storage involves those areas of the brain and neural mechanisms by which memories are retained over time

strange situation: based on infants’ reactions to their caregiver, Mary Ainsworth developed the strange situation to research attachment patterns experimentally

stress: commonly defined as a response that is brought on by any situation that threatens a person’s ability to cope

stress response: a response to a critical situation that allows an organism to avoid danger or reduce other types of threat

strong altruism: a situation where if someone asks you to help them, and it costs you something, you have to determine whether helping is going to cost you more than the benefit you would receive

structuralism: Edward Titchener’s idea that human processes can be broken down into their component parts. The first task for psychology was to ask what the basic elements of experience are. The second task is to determine how these elements combine. And, third, the task is to understand the causal relationships

successful aging: individuals who continue to be productive well into their eighties and nineties; characterized by (1) freedom from disability and disease, (2) high cognitive and physical functioning, and (3) social activity including both having friends and being productive

suicide: the term comes from the Latin meaning to kill oneself

superordinate goals: superordinate goals come into play in the expectation that by getting two groups to work together in meeting those goals, then prior conflict between the groups would decrease

surface structure: the actual spoken words with their grammatical structure is called surface structure. There are a variety of ways (surface structure) of saying something that would convey the same meaning (deep structure)

sympathetic nervous system: the branch of the autonomic nervous system that connects with its target organs through the middle part of the spinal cord, responsible for the fight-or-flight response

synapse: dendrites receive information from other neurons via a biochemical connection through a small gap filled with fluid which is referred to as a synapse

syndrome: a collection of symptoms that occur together and have a particular course of development over time

synesthesia: the condition in which the experience of one sense automatically produces experience in another. For example, some people see a color when they look at numbers or words. Synesthesia is present in about 1% of the population.

syntax: the structure of a sentence and the rules that govern it


temperament: we all come into the world with bodily emotional responses all our own. The emotional responses seen early in one’s life remain fairly stable. This constellation of emotional and behavioral responses is referred to as temperament

temporal lobe: the temporal lobe is near the front of the brain and toward the bottom. The temporal lobe receives information from our ears and is involved in hearing as well as aspects of language. Other parts of the temporal lobe are involved in the naming of objects from visual information processed in the occipital lobes

tend and befriend response: a response to stress associated with the tendency of females to take care of others and form social connections in times of stress, as opposed to the fight-or-flight response by most males

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT): a projective testing instrument composed of black-and-white drawings of various scenes and people; by evaluating the individual’s interpretive responses to the ambiguous drawings, it is possible to gain insight into his or her thoughts, emotions, and motivations including areas of conflict

theory of mind: included in theory of mind is the capacity to infer another’s mental state from his or her behavior. Mental state can include purpose, intention, knowledge, belief, thinking, doubt, pretending, liking, and so forth

theory of multiple intelligences: Howard Gardner’s theory sought to define intelligence within the context of different domains. His idea was that there exist separate intelligences and a person can be excellent in one ability such as dancing or music and less proficient in another such as mathematics. Gardner suggested there are eight separate intelligences

traits: Allport emphasized traits as the basic units of personality. He saw traits as “generalized and personalized determining tendencies—consistent and stable modes of an individual’s adjustment to his environment”. He further suggested that traits are based in the nervous system. Although Allport studied personality traits, he also emphasized the uniqueness of the individual

transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS): a treatment for depression in which an electromagnetic coil is placed on the scalp; from the coil, a magnetic field induces a small electrical current in the first few centimeters of the brain, which depolarizes the neurons

transducers: each of our sensory systems uses different biological processes referred to as transducers to initiate the sensory process. The transducer in the auditory system turns sound waves into mechanical and then electrical impulses. The transducers in our eye turn light energy into electrical impulses

triune brain: MacLean suggested that our current brain can be viewed as having the features of three basic evolutionary formations—reptiles, early mammals, and recent mammals. Through rich interconnections our brains process information in three somewhat independent, although not autonomous, ways

t-test: a technique for determining whether a set of results is different from what would be expected. One of the common statistical techniques used for this is the t-test. A t-test determines the size of the association between two variables in relation to the number of participants in the study

twin studies: a major paradigm of behavioral genetics involving examination and understanding of critical factors related to genetic influences by studying twins


unconditioned response (UCR): a naturally occurring response to a naturally occurring stimulus, for example an animal salivating when food is presented

unconditioned stimulus (UCS): a naturally occurring stimulus which will consistently produce a response, for example a food stimulus presented to an animal

uncontrollable stress: a negative experience that the organism cannot influence or control. Research with animals has shown that uncontrollability produced both health problems (for example, gastric ulcers) and depressive symptoms

universal grammar: Noam Chomsky suggested that all humans have a set of innate principles and parameters which he called universal grammar


validity: the accuracy of our ideas and our research; the degree to which these are true and capable of support

variability: the manner in which measurements vary within an experimental condition. The statistical measurements of variability are those of standard deviation and variance

variable-interval schedule: in operant conditioning, using a variable interval schedule, each reinforcement would vary such that the average amount of time would be constant

variable-ratio schedule: in operant conditioning, using a variable ratio schedule, the animal receives a reinforcement in a manner that averages out to a certain number

variance: a measure of variability of how much each score varies from the mean

vestibular system: a system that is contained in the inner ear. It contributes to your experience of movement, head position, and where you are in space in relation to gravity. It also functions as an internal guidance device

visual field: nothing more than what you see in front of you without moving your head or eyes. Drawing an imaginary vertical line down the middle of this field creates a right visual field and a left visual field

voluntary participation: a principle stating that a person should participate in an experiment only by free choice, and should be free to leave an experiment at any time, whether or not the experiment has been completed


weak altruism: a situation where if someone asks you to help them do something, and it really does not cost you anything, then you will most likely say “yes”

well-defined problems: a type of problem that has a possible or correct solution and that solution can be determined given that there are known constraints with a specific outcome

working memory: the concept of working memory evolved from short-term memory to reflect the systems required to keep things in mind while performing tasks. That is, working memory is all the information you keep in mind while you pay attention to the task you are doing


Young—Helmholtz trichromatic theory of color: the idea that variations in three different light colors lies at the bottom of our experience of color. An alternative theory is referred to as the opponent-process theory of color vision