Psychology: Essential Thinkers, Classic Theories, and How They Inform Your World - Andrea Bonior 2016
16PF Raymond Cattell’s personality inventory, a self-report questionnaire that measures levels of 16 salient traits said to vary across individuals.
A-NOT-B ERROR (PERSEVERATIVE ERROR) In developmental psychology, as advanced by Jean Piaget, this error is committed by a baby 10 months old or younger who has witnessed an object being hidden in a particular place but nevertheless looks for the object in the last place he or she found it.
ACCOMMODATION In developmental psychology, as advanced by Jean Piaget, the adjustment or modification of a mental schema in order to fit new information gleaned from the environment.
ANIMA Carl Jung’s term for the feminine personality archetype in the unconscious mind of a man.
ANIMUS Carl Jung’s term for the masculine personality archetype in the unconscious mind of a woman.
APHASIA A language disorder that involves deficits in vocal expression.
APPROACH-APPROACH CONFLICT According to Kurt Lewin, the psychological process that occurs when someone has to decide between two desirable options.
APPROACH-AVOIDANCE CONFLICT According to Kurt Lewin, the psychological process that occurs when someone has to decide whether to choose an option that has both positive and negative qualities.
ARBITRARY INFERENCES Aaron Beck’s term for irrational connections made between phenomena that are actually unrelated.
ARCHETYPE Carl Jung’s term for one of a set of universal features within the collective unconscious.
ASSIMILATION In developmental psychology, as advanced by Jean Piaget, the incorporation of new information into an existing mental schema.
AVOIDANCE-AVOIDANCE CONFLICT For Kurt Lewin, the psychological process that occurs when someone has to choose between two undesirable options.
B-NEEDS In Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the “being” needs, which are never fully satisfied and encourage the drive toward self-actualization.
BASIC ANXIETY Karen Horney’s term for the distress that children feel when the world seems scary and unpredictable to them.
BRAIN LOCALIZATION The idea that particular areas of the brain are responsible for specific cognitive processes, emotions, and types of behavior.
BROCA’S AREA The region of the brain’s frontal lobe, in the dominant hemisphere, responsible for producing speech; named for Paul Broca, who first identified it.
CARDINAL TRAITS Gordon Allport’s term for personality characteristics so dominant as to control behavior and significantly define a person.
CENTRAL TRAITS Gordon Allport’s term for basic personality characteristics that are present, to various degrees, in almost everyone.
CLIENT-CENTERED PSYCHOTHERAPY As developed by Carl Rogers, a type of humanistic psychotherapy emphasizing warmth and collaboration between therapist and client, the therapist’s unconditional positive regard of the client, and the client’s potential for growth.
COGNITIVE DISSONANCE According to Leon Festinger, the distress that an individual feels when two inconsistent beliefs, feelings, or actions clash; cognitive dissonance prompts the individual to minimize unease by reinterpreting the situation in question.
COGNITIVE ERRORS Aaron Beck’s term for a collection of irrationally held beliefs, such as those involved in overgeneralization or in dichotomous thinking, that often lead to depression or anxiety.
COGNITIVE THERAPY As developed by Aaron Beck and influenced by Albert Ellis, a psychotherapeutic framework focused on identifying and challenging automatic and maladaptive thoughts that influence emotions and behavior.
COLLECTIVE UNCONSCIOUS Carl Jung’s term for universal thoughts and memories derived from human ancestors and existing within the psyche, outside conscious awareness.
CONCRETE OPERATIONAL Jean Piaget’s term for the stage of cognitive development, typically between the ages of 7 and 11, when children can use logic but not yet abstraction to perform mental operations.
CONDITIONED STIMULUS In classical conditioning, as developed by Ivan Pavlov, a stimulus (such as the striking of a tuning fork) that has been paired enough times with an unconditioned stimulus (such as the presentation of meat powder) to evoke a response (such as salivation).
CONNECTIONISM Edward Thorndike’s theory that learning is always the result of the connection between a stimulus and a response.
CONSERVATION OF QUANTITY The principle that quantity, such as mass or volume, stays constant for a substance even when the substance is put into different containers or forms; in developmental psychology, as advanced by Jean Piaget, a child’s ability to automatically understand this principle does not appear until after the preoperational stage.
CONSTRUCTIVIST A term describing Jean Piaget’s theory of learning, which states that individuals are active learners and build knowledge through their own specific experiences.
CRITICAL PERIODS OF DEVELOPMENT As hypothesized by the neurologist and linguist Eric Lenneberg, these periods are identified with certain age ranges within which particular skills or abilities (such as the ability to speak or write) are most readily acquired or must be acquired if they are to emerge at all.
CRYSTALLIZED INTELLIGENCE For Raymond Cattell, knowledge and experience derived over time, and the ability to use that knowledge in decision making.
CUPBOARD MODEL In psychoanalytic theory, the term for a particular conceptualization of mother-child bonding and attachment; according to this model, bonding takes place primarily because the mother meets her baby’s biological needs.
DEEP STRUCTURE Noam Chomsky’s term for the actual meaning of a sentence, regardless of the precise arrangement of the sentence’s words (that is, its surface structure).
DEFENSE MECHANISMS In psychoanalytic theory, as developed by Sigmund Freud, dysfunctional mental or behavioral patterns intended to resolve the anxiety that arises when the desires of the id clash with the rules and expectations that have been absorbed by the superego.
DEINDIVIDUATION As reported by Philip Zimbardo in connection with the Stanford Prison Experiment, loss of the sense of self, thought to explain behavior that deviates from an individual’s usual high moral standard.
DICHOTOMOUS THINKING A kind of binary thinking that construes situations in all-or-nothing or black-and-white terms; for Aaron Beck, a type of cognitive error likely to contribute to depression and anxiety.
D-NEEDS In Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the “deficiency” needs, which the individual is driven to meet, but which, once satisfied, are no longer motivating.
EGO In psychoanalytic theory, as developed by Sigmund Freud, the rational self that negotiates a balance between the id and the superego.
EPISODIC MEMORY Ulric Neisser’s term for memory that is autobiographical in nature and directly related to personal experience.
EXCITATION The process of the brain’s coming to alertness and becoming more highly attuned to its environment; this process plays a role in Hans Eysenck’s personality theory.
EXISTENTIAL VACUUM For Viktor Frankl, the psychological void created when one perceives one’s life to be meaningless.
EXPERIMENTAL NEUROSIS In classical conditioning, as developed by Ivan Pavlov, agitation in response to a requirement for excessive discrimination between gradations of the same conditioned stimulus (such as slight variations in pitch produced by the striking of a tuning fork).
EXTRAVERSION The tendency to be psychologically turned outward and to derive energy from the external environment and from other people.
FACE VALIDITY The degree to which the items included in an assessment appear to be appropriate for what they purport to measure, regardless of whether those items are in fact appropriate for that purpose.
FACTOR ANALYSIS A statistical procedure, often used in research on personality traits, that identifies clusters of covarying items; from a larger set of salient variables, factor analysis narrows down a smaller set.
FIELD THEORY Kurt Lewin’s hypothesis that behavior is a function of an individual’s characteristics and of his or her reactions to the environment.
FIXATION In psychoanalytic theory, as developed by Sigmund Freud, a permanent dysfunctional behavior or personality trait that originally developed because of a traumatic event or unmet needs during a particular psychosexual stage.
FIXED MINDSET According to Carol Dweck, a mental orientation aligned with the unwarranted belief that intelligence or abilities are unchangeable and cannot be significantly increased or improved through practice or effort.
FLASHBULB MEMORIES Ulric Neisser’s term for memories of highly emotional and significant life moments, incidents often thought to be remembered vividly, although it has been shown that such memories are not necessarily accurate.
FLUID INTELLIGENCE For Raymond Cattell, the ability to use logic and strategy in solving novel problems.
FORMAL OPERATIONAL Jean Piaget’s term for the stage of cognitive development, typically seen at the age of 12 and older, when children can use abstraction and hypothetical reasoning to perform higher mental operations.
FREUDIAN SLIP (SLIP OF THE TONGUE) Sigmund Freud’s term for the unintentional substitution of one word for another, more socially appropriate word, revealing an unconscious feeling or motivation.
GAIN-LOSS THEORY OF ATTRACTION Elliot Aronson’s hypothesis that one person will tend to like a second person more if the second person appears at first not to like the first person than if the second person likes the first person from the beginning.
GENETIC EPISTEMOLOGY Jean Piaget’s term for his study of the origination of knowledge.
GROWTH MINDSET According to Carol Dweck, a mental orientation aligned with the belief that intelligence and abilities are malleable and can be increased or improved through practice, and that failure is an opportunity for learning.
HIERARCHY OF NEEDS Abraham Maslow’s five-level conceptualization of the needs that motivate human behavior, ranging from those related to basic survival to those involved in self-actualization.
HIGHER-ORDER CONDITIONING In classical conditioning, as developed by Ivan Pavlov, the practice of using a conditioned stimulus (such as the striking of a tuning fork) in place of an unconditioned stimulus (such as the presentation of meat powder) as the basis of a new round of conditioning; second-order conditioning may be possible, but third-order conditioning probably is not.
HYPERINTENTION Viktor Frankl’s term for the act of trying so hard to force some outcome that it cannot occur.
HYPERREFLECTION Viktor Frankl’s term for the act of thinking so excessively about oneself or about something that the thinking becomes maladaptive.
ID In psychoanalytic theory, as developed by Sigmund Freud, the component of the unconscious mind that is the seat of animalistic urges, lust, and violence.
IDENTITY CRISIS Erik Erikson’s term for the failure to achieve ego identity (that is, congruence between one’s sense of self and one’s actions) during adolescence.
ILLUSORY SUPERIORITY Stanley Milgram’s term for the individual’s erroneous self-assessment in comparing his or her skills, intelligence, or morality to the skills, intelligence, or morality of other people.
INFERIORITY COMPLEX Alfred Adler’s term for a set of beliefs, emotions, and actions that represent an individual’s attempt to overcome personal shortcomings, as the individual perceives them by comparing himself or herself with others.
INHIBITION The process of the brain’s tuning out its environment and trying to lower its level of stimulation; this process plays a role in Hans Eysenck’s personality theory.
INTERVAL SCHEDULE In operant conditioning, as developed by B. F. Skinner, a schedule of reinforcement wherein rewards are given for a particular type of behavior after a certain amount of time has elapsed, as opposed to being given after the behavior has been performed a certain number of times.
INTROVERSION The tendency to be psychologically turned inward and to derive energy from one’s own thoughts and from being alone.
JAMES—LANGE THEORY OF EMOTION The theory that psychological experience is a function of physiological events (for example, if the heart beats faster and the hair stands on end, the emotion of fear is experienced as a result).
JIGSAW CLASSROOM As developed by Elliot Aronson, an educational approach wherein heterogeneous groups of students collaborate, with each student fulfilling a specific role; this approach has been shown to increase learning and motivation and to reduce conflict.
L DATA Raymond Cattell’s term for the life record, or information collected from society about a person, such as peer evaluations and court data.
LANGUAGE ACQUISITION DEVICE (LAD) A part of the brain hypothesized by Noam Chomsky to be preprogrammed for learning language and to serve as a processor.
LAW OF DISUSE Edward Thorndike’s statement of his theory that the less frequently a stimulus and a response are connected, the less ingrained their association (that is, learning) becomes.
LAW OF EFFECT Edward Thorndike’s statement of his theory that behavior evoking a pleasurable response is more likely to be repeated than behavior evoking an unpleasant response.
LAW OF USE Edward Thorndike’s statement of his theory that the more frequently a stimulus and a response are connected, the more ingrained their association (that is, learning) becomes.
LEADERSHIP CULTURE Kurt Lewin’s term for the workplace environment, which he characterizes as democratic, authoritarian, or laissez-faire, according to the style set by organizational leaders.
LEARNING CURVE A term associated with Edward Thorndike’s observation that performance follows a trajectory, improving with repeated practice and eventually reaching its peak, where it plateaus.
LEWIN’S EQUATION Kurt Lewin’s more specific conceptualization of his field theory, the hypothesis that individual behavior is a function of personal psychological characteristics and of how those characteristics react to the individual’s environment.
LIFE CRISES In Erik Erikson’s theory of development, particular conflicts characteristic of eight distinct psychosocial stages that unfold consecutively over an individual’s lifetime.
LIFE SPACE Kurt Lewin’s term for the totality of the influences acting on an individual at any given time.
LOGOTHERAPY A type of psychotherapy developed by Viktor Frankl that emphasizes the search for purpose and meaning in life.
MASS NEUROTIC TRIAD In Viktor Frankl’s logotherapy, the three forces of depression, agitation, and addiction, which result from lack of meaning in one’s life or from misdirection in the search for meaning.
MENTAL SERIATION The mind’s arrangement of items by degree, such as by size; in developmental psychology, as advanced by Jean Piaget, this capacity is thought to emerge during the concrete operational stage.
MICROGENETIC Lev Vygotsky’s term to describe the types of small changes that occur in an individual’s development over brief periods of time.
MIND-BODY PROBLEM The philosophical question, debated for centuries, about the nature of the mind and the body and their interaction with each other.
MISINFORMATION EFFECT Elizabeth Loftus’s term for the development of a false recollection after inaccurate information has been absorbed by and stored in memory.
MODELING THERAPY As developed by Albert Bandura, a type of psychotherapy in which people overcome their fears and meet other challenges by watching others overcome the same fears and meet the same challenges.
MORPHEMES The smallest units of meaning that belong to a particular language; a morpheme may be an individual word but also a prefix, a suffix, or a word root that carries meaning.
MYERS-BRIGGS TYPE INDICATOR (MBTI) A personality inventory derived from the ideas of Carl Jung that measures traits along the four axes of extraversion/ introversion, sensing/intuition, thinking/ feeling, and judging/perceiving.
NATIVIST THEORY OF LANGUAGE ACQUISITION The theory, such as the one reflected in Noam Chomsky’s hypothesis of the brain’s language acquisition device (LAD), that humans are biologically preprogrammed to learn language.
NATURAL SELECTION In Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution, nature’s elimination, over time, of an organism’s weaker traits so as to make the organism better adapted to its environment and increase the organism’s chances of surviving long enough to produce offspring that will carry stronger, more adaptive traits and thus help ensure the continuation of the species to which the organism belongs.
NEUROSIS A phenomenon now generally called distress or agitation; in Karen Horney’s theory, anxiety that continually accompanies the attempt to get by in day-to-day life.
NEUROTIC NEEDS In Karen Horney’s theory, 10 extreme, all-encompassing emotional needs that represent maladaptive patterns arising from deficits in an individual’s development, often in connection with the individual’s parents.
OBJECT PERMANENCE The understanding, thought to solidify over the course of Jean Piaget’s sensorimotor stage, that objects continue to exist even when they are outside immediate sensory awareness.
OEDIPUS COMPLEX In psychoanalytic theory, as developed by Sigmund Freud, the dilemma of the child who sexually desires the opposite-sex parent and wants to minimize competition by excluding the same-sex parent.
ONTOGENETIC Lev Vygotsky’s term to describe the type of development (often the type of most interest to developmental psychologists) that occurs over the lifetime of an individual.
PARADOXICAL INTENTION As encouraged therapeutically by Viktor Frankl, a stance of actively wishing for something that has been feared or engaging in a fearful activity for the purpose of making that thing or that activity less likely to provoke anxiety in the future.
PERSEVERATIVE FUNCTIONAL AUTONOMY For Gordon Allport, an attribute of a habit that has persisted long after its original purpose was fulfilled.
PERSONA Carl Jung’s term for the external role that someone plays in the world.
PHONEMES The smallest, most elemental units of sound that belong to a particular spoken language; roughly 40 phonemes exist in American English.
PHYLOGENETIC Lev Vygotsky’s term to describe the type of development affected by thousands of years of evolutionary forces.
POVERTY-OF-STIMULUS ARGUMENT The assertion that children’s continuous repetition of the spoken language they hear is not enough to account for their learning to speak meaningfully; this is Noam Chomsky’s argument for why behavioral theories are insufficient to explain language development.
PRATFALL EFFECT Elliot Aronson’s term for the discovery that individuals will tend to like a competent person more if the person makes a minor mistake than if the person performs perfectly.
PREOPERATIONAL Jean Piaget’s term for the stage of development, thought to occur typically from about the age of 2 to the age of 7, when representational thought and language increase significantly but mental operations are still basic.
PRESENTING PROBLEM The issue that someone initially brings to a psychotherapist and describes as the challenge that drove the decision to seek therapy; this issue may or may not represent the true depth of what the individual is going through emotionally.
PROPRIATE FUNCTIONAL AUTONOMY For Gordon Allport, an attribute of behavior that reflects an individual’s true self and aligns with his or her values.
PROPRIUM Gordon Allport’s term for the individual’s true self.
PSYCHOHISTORY A biographical narrative that includes exploration of its well-known subject’s psychological characteristics; in 1970, Erik Erikson won a Pulitzer Prize for his psychohistory of Gandhi.
PSYCHOMETRICS The assessment and measurement of psychological phenomena like mood, memory, cognitive states, and personality.
PSYCHOSEXUAL STAGES In psychoanalytic theory, as developed by Sigmund Freud, periods that unfold universally throughout child development and entail a combination of biological and psychological maturation.
PUZZLE BOX An apparatus that Edward Thorndike used in many of his experiments on animal learning.
Q DATA Raymond Cattell’s term for personality information gleaned from self-reports.
RATIO SCHEDULE In operant conditioning, as developed by B. F. Skinner, a schedule of reinforcement wherein rewards are given after a particular type of behavior has been performed a certain number of times, as opposed to being given after a certain amount of time has elapsed.
RATIONAL-EMOTIVE BEHAVIOR THERAPY (REBT) As developed by Albert Ellis, a type of psychotherapy that involves challenging one’s irrational and dysfunctional thoughts and altering one’s behavior accordingly; a forerunner to cognitive therapy.
REPISODIC MEMORY Ulric Neisser’s term for inaccurate memory of events or experiences (a play on the term episodic memory).
SCHEDULES OF REINFORCEMENT In operant conditioning, as developed by B. F. Skinner, patterns of reward or punishment that, over time, determine behavior; different schedules produce different levels of intensity in their effects on behavior.
SCHEMAS (SCHEMATA) Mental groupings that an individual uses to organize and categorize information into meaningful patterns so as to better understand the world.
SECONDARY TRAITS Gordon Allport’s term for personality characteristics that arise only in certain contexts or situations.
SELF Carl Jung’s term for the overarching archetype that unifies the individual’s conscious and unconscious minds.
SELF-ACTUALIZATION In Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the final and highest need, concerned with the drive to fulfill one’s abilities and live a purposeful and fully engaged life; only a minority of people reach this level.
SELF-CONTROL THERAPY As developed by Albert Bandura, a type of psychotherapy concerned with overcoming habits through observation of one’s behavior and alteration of one’s environment.
SELF-EFFICACY For Albert Bandura, the effect of a person’s belief in his or her ability to perform a certain task.
SELF-SERVING BIAS For Raymond Cattell, the general desire to enhance one’s positive attributes, increase one’s self-esteem, or present oneself in a more favorable light; in self-reports of personality, this bias often leads to inaccurate assessments.
SEMANTIC MEMORY Ulric Neisser’s term for memory of knowledge and information that has been learned and that is not directly related to personal experience.
SENSORIMOTOR Jean Piaget’s term for the stage of cognitive development, typically between birth and the age of 2, when children’s mental operations depend primarily on the interaction between their bodies and the environment.
SEXUAL SELECTION In Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory, an organism’s seeking out of mates with traits deemed desirable for reproduction and thus more likely to help ensure the continuation of the species to which the organism belongs.
SHADOW Carl Jung’s term for aspects of the personality that are inaccessible to conscious understanding.
SHAPING In operant conditioning, as developed by B. F. Skinner, the practice of giving reinforcement for behavior that approximates a desired type of behavior so as to eventually produce the desired behavior itself.
SOCIAL COMPARISON THEORY Leon Festinger’s hypothesis that we assess ourselves and our abilities by continually measuring ourselves against others.
SOCIAL INTEREST Alfred Adler’s term for a general concern directed toward others and toward one’s relationships with them, and for the motivation to think of oneself as belonging to a larger community.
SOCIAL LEARNING THEORY Albert Bandura’s theory that behavior is learned through modeling and imitation.
SOCIAL MODELING The part of Albert Bandura’s social learning theory that deals with how people learn from others’ behavior; its four components are attention, retention, reproduction, and motivation.
SOCIOCULTURAL A term describing Lev Vygotsky’s theories of learning and cognitive development and referring specifically to his theories’ focus on the dual influences of culture and social interactions.
SOCIOHISTORICAL In Lev Vygotsky’s theories of learning and development, a term to describe cultural changes that have occurred over time and impacted how learning has taken place.
SOURCE TRAITS In Raymond Cattell’s personality theory, a term for facets of personality that are fundamental to an individual.
STIMULUS GENERALIZATION In classical conditioning, as developed by Ivan Pavlov, an effect that can occur even though a conditioned stimulus (such as the striking of a tuning fork) is not always presented in the same way.
STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS Henry James’s concept of conscious thoughts flowing continuously and inseparably; in later usage, the expression of a continuous chain of these thoughts.
SUNDAY NEUROSIS Viktor Frankl’s term for the boredom and malaise that can set in during times of leisure and motivate superficial pleasures or the consumption of material goods.
SUPEREGO In psychoanalytic theory, as developed by Sigmund Freud, the component of the mind that has absorbed rules, values, and morals and that acts to guide behavior, often in opposition to the id.
SURFACE STRUCTURE Noam Chomsky’s term for the precise arrangement of the words in a sentence, in contrast with the meaning of the sentence (that is, the sentence’s deep structure); different sentences can have different surface structures but the same deep structure.
SURFACE TRAITS In Raymond Cattell’s personality theory, a term for specific facets of personality that are not all-encompassing for an individual.
SYNCHRONICITY Carl Jung’s term for the phenomenon of co-occurring events whose connection may have a deeper meaning even though their connection appears to be merely coincidental.
SYNTAX For any particular language, the rules governing the arrangement of words and allowing the meaning of the words to be understood.
T DATA Raymond Cattell’s term for personality information gleaned from objective measures taken in experimental settings.
TEMPORAL CONTIGUITY In classical conditioning, as developed by Ivan Pavlov, a likely requirement for strong conditioning, involving the presentation of a conditioned stimulus (such as the striking of a tuning fork) immediately before the presentation of an unconditioned stimulus (such as meat powder).
THIRD FORCE A term used for humanistic psychology, which followed the so-called first (psychoanalysis) and second (behaviorism) forces in the historical development of psychology.
TOOLS OF INTELLECTUAL ADAPTATION Lev Vygotsky’s term for the things that a culture instills in a child (such as language structures) that help the child think and learn.
TRACE CONDITIONING In classical conditioning, as developed by Ivan Pavlov, the result of inserting an interval of time between the presentation of a conditioned stimulus (such as the striking of a tuning fork) and the presentation of an unconditioned stimulus (such as meat powder).
TRANSFORMATIONAL GRAMMAR Noam Chomsky’s term for his field of study, which has to do with language structure and with operations performed on sentences to create new sentences.
TRANSITIVITY The principle of relatedness among the parts of a series; in Jean Piaget’s theory of child development, the child’s understanding of this principle usually emerges during the concrete operational stage.
TRIAL AND ERROR A term association with Edward Thorndike’s observation that learning occurs after repeated attempts and the gradual correction of mistakes.
UNCONDITIONAL POSITIVE REGARD In client-centered therapy, as developed by Carl Rogers, the therapist’s warm and welcoming acceptance of the client.
UNCONDITIONED STIMULUS In classical conditioning, as developed by Ivan Pavlov, a stimulus (such as the presentation of meat powder) that automatically and naturally evokes a response (such as salivation).
UNCONSCIOUS MIND In psychoanalytic theory, as developed by Sigmund Freud, the area of the psyche that lies outside conscious awareness but can nevertheless drive behavior.
ZONE OF PROXIMAL DEVELOPMENT Lev Vygotsky’s term for the gap between what a child can accomplish independently and what the child can accomplish with the guidance of a competent teacher; for Vygotsky, this gap is where true learning takes place.