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the scientific study of mind and behavior
the contents and processes of subjective experience: sensations, thoughts, and emotions
observable actions such as moving about, talking gesturing, and so on; behaviors can also refer to the activities of cells and to thoughts and feelings
Clinical Psychologists
Psychologists who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological problems
Medical doctors who specialize in the diagnosis and treatment of psychological problems
Applied Psychologists
Psychologists who extend the principles of scientific psychology to practical problems in the world
Research Psychologists
Psychologists who try to discover the basic principles of behavior and mind
The idea that knowledge comes directly from experience
The idea that some knowledge is innate, or present at birth
Gestalt Psychology
A movement proposing that certain organizing principles of perception are innate and cannot be altered by experience
An early school of psychology; tries to understand the mind by breaking it down into basic parts, much as a chemist might try to understand a chemical compound
Systematic Introspection
An early technique used to study the mind; requires people to look inward and describe their own experiences
An early school of psychology; believes that the proper way to understand mind and behavior is the first analyze their function and purpose
A school of psychology proposing that the only proper subject matter of psychology is observable behavior rather than immediate conscious experience
A term used by Freud to describe his theory of mind and system of therapy
Humanistic Psychology
A movement in psychology that focuses on people's unique capacities for choice, responsibility, and growth
Eclectic Approach
The idea that it's useful to select information from several sources rather than to rely entirely on a single perspective or school of thought
Cognitive Revolution
The shift away from strict behaviorism, begun in the 1950s, characterized by renewed interest in fundamental problems of consciousness and internal mental processes
Evolutionary Psychology
A movement proposing that we're born with mental processes and "software" that guide our thinking and behavior. These innate mechanisms were acquired through natural selection in our ancestral past and help us to solve specific adaptive problems
The shared values, customs, and beliefs of a group or community
Scientific Method
A multistep technique that generates empirical knowledge-that is, knowledge derived from systematic observations of the world
Operational Definition
Definitions that specify how concepts can be observed and measured
Descriptive Research
Methods designed to observe and describe behavior
When behavior changes as a result of the observation process
External Validity
The extent to which results generalize to other situations or are representative of real life
Naturalistic Observation
A descriptive research technique that records naturally occurring behavior as opposed to behavior produced in the laboratory
Case Study
A descriptive research technique in which the effort is focused on a single case, usually an individual
A descriptive research technique designed to gather limited amounts of information from many people, usually by administering some kind of questionnaire
Random Sampling
A procedure guaranteeing that everyone in the population has an equal likelihood of being selected for the sample
The arithmetic average of a set of scores
The most frequently occurring score in a set of scores
The middle point in an ordered set of scores; half of the scores fall at or below the median score, and half fall at or above the median score
A measure of how much the scores in a distribution of scores differ from one another
The difference between the largest and smallest scores in a distribution
Standard Deviation
An indication of how much individual scores differ or vary from the mean
Descriptive Statistics
Mathematical techniques that help researchers describe their data
Inferential Statistics
mathematical techniques that help researchers decide whether data are representative of a population or whether differences among observations can be attributed to change
A statistic that indicates whether two variables vary together in a systematic way; correlation coefficients vary from +1.00 to -1.00
Experimental Research
A technique in which the investigator actively manipulates the environment to observe its effect on behavior
Independent Variable
The aspect of the environment that is manipulated in an experience. It must consist of at least two conditions
Dependent Variable
The behavior that is measured or observed in an experiment
Confounding Variable
An uncontrolled variable that changes along with the independent variable
Internal Validity
The extent to which an experiment has effectively controlled for confounding variables; internally valid experiments allow for the determination of causality
Random Assignment
A technique ensuring that each participant in an experiment has an equal chance of being assigned to any of the conditions in the experiment
An inactive, or inert, substance that resembles an experimental substance
Single-Blind Study
Experimental participants do not know to which condition they have been assigned; it's used to control for subject expectancies
Double-Blind Study
Neither participants nor research observers are aware of who has been assigned to the experimental and control groups; it's used to control for both subject and experimenter expectancies
Informed Consent
The principle that before consenting to participate in research, people should be fully informed about any significant factors that could affect their willingness to participate
At the conclusion of an experimental session, informing the participants about the general purpose of the experiment, including any deception that was involved
The principle that personal information obtained from a participant in research or therapy should not be revealed without the individual's permission
An interdisciplinary field of study directed at understanding the brain and its relation to behavior
Central Nervous System
The brain and spinal cord
Peripheral Nervous System
The network of nerves that links the central nervous system with the rest of the body
The cells in the nervous system that receive and transmit information
Sensory Neurons
Cells that carry environmental messages toward the spinal cord and brain
Cells that transfer information from one neuron to another; interneurons make no direct contact with the outside world
Motor Neurons
Cells that carry information away from the central nervous system to the muscles and glands that directly produce behavior
Glial Cells
Cells that fill in space between the neurons, remove waste, or help neurons to communicate efficiently
Myelin Sheath
An insulating material that protects the axon and helps to speed up neural transmission
Largely automatic body reactions - such as the knee jerk - that are controlled primarily by spinal cord pathways
The fibers that extend outward from a neuron and receive information from other neurons
The cell body of the neuron; cell's metabolic center; genetic material is stored here
The long tail-like part of a neuron that serves as the cell's transmitter
Terminal Buttons
The tiny swellings at the end of the axon that contain chemicals important to neural transmission
The small gap between the terminal buttons of a neuron and the dendrite or cell body of another neuron
Resting Potential
The tiny electrical charge in place between the inside and the outside of the resting neuron
Action Potential
The all-or-nothing electrical signal that travels down a neuron's axon
Chemical messengers that relay information from one neuron to the next
A neurotransmitter that plays multiple roles in the central and peripheral nervous systems, including the excitation of muscle contractions
A neurotransmitter that often leads to inhibitory effects; decreased levels have been linked to Parkinson's disease and increased levels have been linked to schizophrenia
A neurotransmitter that has been linked to sleep, dreaming, general arousal, and may also be involved in some psychological disorders such as depression and schizophrenia
Gamma-Amino-Butyric Acid (GABA)
A neurotransmitter that may play a role in the regulation of anxiety; it generally produces inhibitory effects
Morphine-like chemicals that act as the brain's natural painkillers
Refractory Period
The period of time following an action potential when more action potentials cannot be generated
Bundles of axons that make up neural "transmission cables"
Somatic System
The collection of nerve that transmits information toward the brain and connects to the skeletal muscles to initiate movement; part of the peripheral nervous system
Autonomic System
The collection of nerves that controls the more automatic needs of the body (such as heart rate, digestion, blood pressure); part of the peripheral nervous system
Electroencephalograph (EEG)
A device used to monitor the gross electrical activity of the brain
Computerized Tomography Scan (CT Scan)
The use of highly focused beams of X-rays to construct detailed anatomical maps of the living brain
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
A method for measuring how radioactive substances are absorbed in the brain; it can be used to detect how specific tasks activate different areas of the living brain
Magnetic Resonance Imagine (MRI)
A device that uses magnetic fields and radiowave pulses to construct detailed, three-dimensional images of the brain; "functional" MRIs can be used to map changes in blood oxygen use as a function of task activity
A primitive part of the brain that sits at the juncture point where the brain and spinal cord merge. Structures include the medulla, pons, and reticular formation, act as the basic life-support system for the body
A hindbrain structure at the base of the brain that is involved in the coordination of complex motor skills
The middle portion of the brain, containing such structures as the tectum, superior colliculus, and inferior colliculus; structures serve as neural relay stations and may help coordinate reactions to sensory events
A relay station in the forebrain thought to be an important gathering point for input from the senses
A forebrain structure thought to play a role in the regulation of various motivational activities, including eating, drinking, and sexual behavior
Limbic System
A system of structures thought to be involved in motivational and emotional behaviors (the amygdala) and memory (hippocampus)
Frontal Lobe
One of four anatomical regions of each hemisphere of the cerebral cortex, located on the top front of the brain; it contains the motor cortex and may be involved in higher level thought processes
Parietal Lobe
One of four anatomical regions of each hemisphere of the cerebral cortex, located roughly on the top middle portion of the brain; it contains the somatosensory cortex, which controls the sense of touch
Temporal Lobe
One of four anatomical regions of each hemisphere of the cerebral cortex, located roughly on the sides of the brain; it's involved in certain aspects of speech and language perception
Occipital Lobe
One of four anatomical regions of each hemisphere of the cerebral cortex, located at the back of the brain; visual processing is controlled here
Corpus Callosum
The collection of nerve fibers that connects the two cerebral hemispheres and allow information to pass from one side to the other
Endocrine System
A network of glands that uses the bloodstream, rather than neurons, to send chemical messages that regulate growth and other internal functions
Chemicals released into the blood by the various endocrine glands to help control a variety of internal regulatory functions
Pituitary Gland
A kind of master gland in the body that controls the release of hormones in response to signals from the hypothalamus
A trait that has been selected for by nature because it increases the odds of survival and reproduction
Segments of chromosomes that contain instructions for influencing and creating particular hereditary characteristics
A spontaneous change in the genetic material that occurs during that gene replication process
Family Studies
The similarities and differences among biological (blood) relatives are studied to help discover the role heredity lays in physical or psychological traits
Twin Studies
Identical twins, who share genetic material, are compared to fraternal twins in an effort to determine the roles heredity and environment play in psychological traits
The age-related physical, intellectual, social, and personal changes that occur throughout an individual's lifetime
The fertilized human egg, containing 23 chromosomes from the father and 23 chromosomes from the mother
Germinal Period
The period in prenatal development from conception to implantation of the fertilized egg in the wall of the uterus
Embryonic Period
The period of prenatal development lasting from implantation to the end of the 8th week
Fetal Period
The period of prenatal development lasting from the 9th week until birth
Environmental agents - such as disease organisms or drugs - that can potentially damage the developing embryo or fetus
The period during which a person reaches sexual maturity and is potentially capable of producing offspring
The period during which a woman's menstrual cycle slows down and finally stops
Physically based losses in mental functioning
Longitudinal Design
A research design in which the same people are studied or tested repeatedly over time
Cross-Sectional Design
A research design in which people of different ages are compared at the same time
The decline in responsiveness to stimulus that is repeatedly presented
Mental models of the world that we use to guide and interpret our experiences
The process through which we fit new experiences into existing schemata
The process through which we change or modify existing schemata for new experiences
Sensorimotor Period
Piaget's first stage of cognitive development, lasting from birth to about 2 years of age; schemata revolve around sensory and motor abilities
Object Permanence
The ability to recognize that objects still exist when they're no longer in sight
Preoperational Period
Piaget's second stage of cognitive development, lasting from ages 2 to about 7; children begin to think symbolically but often lack the ability to perform mental operations such as conservation
Principle of Conservation
The ability to recognize that the physical properties of an object remain the same despite superficial changes in the object's appearance
The tendency to see the world from one's own unique perspective only; a characteristic of thinking in the preoperational period of development
Concrete Operational Period
Piaget's third stage of cognitive development, lasting from ages 7 to 11. Children acquire the capacity to perform a number of mental operations but still lack the ability for abstract reasoning
Formal Operational Period
Piaget's last stage of cognitive development; thought processes become adult-like, and people gain mastery over abstract thinking
The ability to distinguish between appropriate and inappropriate actions
Preconventional Level
In Kohlberg's theory, the lowest level of moral development, in which decisions about right and wrong are made primarily in terms of external consequences
Conventional Level
In Kohlberg's theory of moral development, the stage in which actions are judged to be right or wrong based on whether they maintain or disrupt the social order
Postconventional Level
Kohlberg's highest level of moral development, in which moral actions are judged on the basis of a personal code of ethics that is general and abstract and that may not agree with societal norms
Strong emotional ties formed to one or more intimate companions
A child's general level of emotional reactivity
Strange Situation Test
Gradually subjecting a child to a stressful situation and observing his or her behavior toward the parent or caregiver. This test is used to classify children according to type of attachment - secure, resistant, avoidant, or disorganized/disoriented
Personal Identity
A sense of who one is as an individual and how well one measures up against peers
Gender Roles
Specific patterns of behavior that are consistent with how society dictates males and females should act
Discrimination or prejudice against an individual based on physical age
The elementary components, or building blocks, of an experience (such as a pattern of light and dark, a bitter taste, or a change in temperature)
The collection of processes used to arrive at a meaningful interpretation of sensations
The small part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is processed by the visual system
The dimension of light that produces color; hue is typically determined by the wavelength of light reflecting from an object
The aspect of the visual experience that changes with light intensity; in general, as the intensity of light increases, so does its perceived brightness
The process by which external messages are translated into the internal language of the brain
The transparent and protective outer covering of the eye
The flexible piece of tissue that helps focus light toward the back of the eye
The hole in the center of the eye that allows light to enter
The ring of colored tissue surrounding the pupil
In vision, the process through which the lens changes its shape temporarily to help focus light on the retina
The thin layer of tissue that covers the back of the eye and contains the light-sensitive receptor cells for vision
Receptor cells in the retina, located mainly around the sides, that transduce light energy into neural messages; these visual receptors are highly sensitive and are active in dim light
Receptor cells in the central portion of the retina that transduce light energy into neural messages; they operate best when light levels are high, and they are primarily responsible for the ability to sense color
the "central pit" area in the retina where the cone receptors are located
Visual Acuity
The ability to process fine detail in vision
Receptive Field
In vision, the portion of the retina that, when stimulated, causes the activity of higher order neurons to change
Blind Spot
The point where the optic nerve leaves the back of the eye
Dark Adaptation
The process through which the eyes adjust to dim light
Feature Detectors
Cells in the visual cortex that respond to very specific visual events, such as bars of light at particular orientations
Trichromatic Theory
A theory of color vision proposing that color information is extracted by comparing the relative activations of three different types of cone receptors
Opponent-Process Theory
A theory of color vision proposing that cells in the visual pathway increase their activation levels to another color - for example, increasing to red and decreasing to green
Bottom-Up Processing
Processing that is controlled by the physical message delivered to the senses
Top-Down Processing
Processing that is controlled by one's beliefs and expectations about how the world is organized
Gestalt Principles of Organization
The organizing principles of perception proposed by the Gestalt psychologists. These principles include the laws of proximity, similarity, closure, continuation, and common fate
Recognition by Components
The idea proposed by Biederman that people recognize objects perceptually via smaller components called geons
Monocular Depth Cues
Cues for depth that require input from only one eye
Binocular Depth Cues
Cues for depth that depend on comparisons between the two eyes
Retinal Disparity
A binocular cue for depth that is based on location differences between the images in each eye
A binocular cue for depth that is based on the extent to which the two eyes move inward, or converge, when looking at an object
Phi Phenomenon
An illusion of movement that occurs when stationary lights are flashed in succession
Perceptual Constancy
Perceiving the properties of an object to remain the same even though the physical properties of the sensory message are changing
Perceptual Illusions
Inappropriate interpretations of physical reality; often occurs as a result of the brain's using otherwise adaptive organizing principles
The external flap of tissue normally referred to as the "ear"'; it helps capture sound
Tympanic Membrane
The eardrum, which responds to incoming sound waves by vibrating
Middle Ear
The portion between the eardrum and the cochlea containing three small bones (the malleus, incus, and stapes) that help to intensify and prepare the sound vibrations for passage into the inner ear
The bony, snail-shaped sound processor in the inner ear where sound is translated into nerve impulses
Basilar Membrane
A flexible membrane running through the cochlea that, through its movement, displaces the auditory receptor cells, or hair cells
Place Theory
The idea that the location of auditory receptor cells activated by movement of the basilar membrane underlies the perception of pitch
Frequency Theory
The idea that pitch perception is determined partly by the frequency of neural impulses traveling up the auditory pathway
Cold Fibers
Neurons that respond to a cooling of the skin by increasing the production of neural impulses
Warm Fibers
Neurons that respond vigorously when the temperature of the skin increases
An adaptive response by the body to any stimulus that is intense enough to cause tissue damage
Gate-Control Theory
The idea that neural impulses generated by pain receptors can be blocked, or gated, in the spinal cord by signals produced in the brain
In perception, the ability to sense the position and movement of one's body parts
Semicircular Canals
A receptor system attached to the inner ear that responds to movement and acceleration and to changes in upright posture
Vestibular Sacs
Organs of the inner ear that contain receptors thought to be primarily responsible for balance
Receptor cells that react to invisible molecules scattered about in the air or dissolved in liquids, leading to the senses of smell and taste
The sense of smell
A psychological term used to describe the gustatory experience. Flavor is influenced by taste, smell, and the visual appearance of food, as well as by expectations about the food's quality
Taste Buds
The receptor cells on the tongue
The sense of taste
A field of psychology in which researchers search for ways to describe the transition from the physical stimulus to the psychological experience of that stimulus
Absolute Threshold
The level of intensity that lifts a stimulus over the threshold of conscious awareness; it's usually defined as the intensity level at which people can detect the presence of the stimulus 50% of the time
Signal Detection
A technique used to determine the ability of someone to detect the presence of a stimulus
Difference Threshold
The smallest detectable difference in the magnitude of two stimuli
Weber's Law
The principle stating that the ability to notice a difference in the magnitude of two stimuli is a constant proportion of the size of the standard stimulus. Psychologically, the more intense a stimulus is to begin with, the more intense it will need to become for one to notice a change.
Sensory Adaptation
The tendency of sensory systems to reduce sensitivity to a stimulus source that remains constant
The subjective awareness of internal and external events
The internal processes used to set priorities for mental functioning
Dichotic Listening
Different auditory messages are presented separately and simultaneously to each ear. The subject's task is to repeat aloud one message while ignoring the other.
Cocktail Party Effect
The ability to focus on one auditory message and ignore others; also refers to the tendency to notice when your name suddenly appears in a message that you've actively been ignoring
Fast and effortless processing that requires little or no focused attention
Visual Neglect
A complex disorder of attention characterized by a tendency to ignore things that appear on one side of the body (usually the left side)
Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
A psychological disorder marked by difficulties in concentrating or in sustaining attention for extended periods; can be associated with hyperactivity
Circadian Rhythms
Biological activities that rise and fall in accordance with a 24-hour cycle
Biological Clocks
Brain structures that schedule rhythmic variations on bodily functions by triggering them at appropriate times
The pattern of brain activity observed in someone who is in a relaxed state
The pattern of brain activity observed in someone who is in a relaxed state
Theta Waves
The pattern of brain activity observed in stage 1 sleep
Delta Activity
The pattern of brain activity observed in stage 3 and stage 4 sleep; it's characterized by synchronized slow waves. (aka - slow wave sleep)
A stage of sleep characterized by rapid eye movements and low-amplitude, irregular EEG patterns resembling those found in the waking brain; typically associated with dreaming
REM rebound
The tendency to increase time spent in REM sleep after REM deprivation
Manifest Content
According to Freud, the actual symbols and events experience in a dream
Latent Content
According to Freud, the true psychological meaning of dreams
Activation-Synthesis Hypothesis
The idea that dreams represent the brain's attempt to make sense of the random patterns of neural activity generated during sleep
A chronic condition marked by excessive sleepiness
A rare sleep disorder characterized by sudden extreme sleepiness
Frightening and anxiety-arousing dreams that occur primarily during the REM stage of sleep
Night Terrors
Terrifying experiences, which occur mainly in children, in which the sleeper awakens suddenly in an extreme state of panic
The sleeper arises during sleep and wanders about
Psychoactive Drugs
Drugs that affect behavior and mental processes through alterations of conscious awareness
An adaptation made by the body to compensate for the continued use of a drug, such that increasing amounts of the drug are needed to produce the same physical and behavioral effects
Drug Dependency
A condition in which one experiences a physical or a psychological need for continued use of a drug
Physical reactions, such as sweating, vomiting, changes in heart rate, or tremors, that occur when a person stops taking certain drugs after continued use
A class of drugs that slows or depresses the ongoing activity of the central nervous system
A class of drugs that increases central nervous system activity; enhancing neural transmission
A class of drugs that reduces anxiety, lowers sensitivity to pain, and elevates mood; opiates often act to depress nervous system activity
A class of drugs that tends to disrupt normal mental and emotional functioning, including distorting perception and altering reality
A form of social interaction that produces a heightened state of suggestibility in a willing participant
Hypnotic Hypermnesia
The supposed enhancement in memory that occurs under hypnosis; there is little if any evidence to support the existence of this effect
Hypnotic Dissociation
A hypnotically induced splitting of consciousness during which multiple forms of awareness already exist
A technique for self-induced manipulation of awareness, often used for the purpose of relaxation and self-reflection
A relatively permanent change in behavior, or potential behavior, that results from experience
The decline in the tendency to respond to an event that has become familiar through repeated exposure
Increased responsiveness, or sensitivity, to an event that has been repeated
Classical Conditioning
A set of procedures used to investigate how organisms learn about the signaling properties of events; involves learning relations between events - conditioned and unconditioned stimuli - that occur outside of one's control
Unconditioned Stimulus (US)
A stimulus that automatically leads to an observable response prior to any training
Unconditioned Response (UR)
The observable response that is produced automatically, prior to training, on presentation of an unconditioned stimulus
Conditioned Response (CR)
The acquired response that is produced by the conditioned stimulus in anticipation of the uncontrolled stimulus
Conditioned Stimulus (CS)
The neutral stimulus that is paired with the unconditioned stimulus during classical conditioning
Second-Order Conditioning
A procedure in which an established conditioned stimulus is used to condition a second neutral stimulus
Stimulus Generalization
Responding to a new stimulus in a way similar to the response produced by an established conditioned stimulus
Stimulus Discrimination
Responding differently to a new stimulus than how one responds to an established conditioned stimulus
Presenting a conditioned stimulus repeatedly, after conditioning, without the unconditioned stimulus, resulting in a loss of responding
Spontaneous Recovery
The recovery of an extinguished conditioned response after a period of nonexposure to the conditioned stimulus
Conditioned Inhibition
Learning that an event signals in the absence of the unconditioned stimulus
Operant Conditioning
A procedure for studying how organisms lear about the consequences of their own voluntary actions
Law of Effect
If a response in a particular situation is followed by a satisfying consequence, it will be strengthened. If a response in a particular situation is followed by an unsatisfying consequence, it will be weakened.
Discriminative Stimulus
The stimulus situation that sets the occasion for a response to be followed by reinforcement or punishment
Response consequences that increase the likelihood of responding in a similar way again
Positive Reinforcement
An event that, when presented after a response, increases the likelihood of that response
Negative Reinforcement
An event that, when removed after a response, increases the likelihood of that response occurring again
Escape Conditioning
A situation in which a response can reduce or eliminate an unpleasant stimulus, such as when a rat escapes an ongoing shock by jumping over a barrier
Avoidance Conditioning
A situation in which a response can prevent the delivery of an aversive stimulus, such as when a rat learns to jump over a barrier to avoid a shock
Conditioned Reinforcer
A stimulus that has acquired reinforcing properties through prior learning
Consequences that decrease the likelihood of responding in a similar way again
Positive Punishment
An event that, when presented after a response, lowers the likelihood of that response occurring again
Negative Punishment
An event that, when removed after a response, lowers the likelihood of that response occurring again
Schedule of Reinforcement
A rule that an experimenter uses to determine when particular responses will be reinforced
Partial Reinforcement Schedule
A schedule in which reinforcement is delivered on some of the time after the response has occurred

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