30 mllion word gap

by the age of three, disadvantaged children enter school with a vocabulary of 5,000 words in comparison to their more advantaged peers who average 20,000

ABCs of behavior

antecedents, behaviors, and consequences

absolute threshold

the minimum intensity of a stimulus required for one to detect its presence; calculated as the average value of the points at which a stimulus appears and disappears

abstinence violation effect

when a minor relapse is followed by a full-blown binge

accommodation and assimilation

Piaget describes cognitive development as the continual modification (i.e., accommodation) of schemas based on the incorporation (i.e., assimilation) of new knowledge

acquired taste aversion

learned avoidance of a food resulting from its pairing with illness; evolutionary adaptation to protect animals from food poisoning

acquisition - control learning

an increase in the frequency of a behavior as the result of a consequence

acquisition - predictive learning

procedure whereby one stimulus (the CS) is presented in a predictive relationship with another stimulus (the US) resulting in a new response (CR) to the CS

action potential

neural activity occurring after a threshold is reached; cells “fire” according to an all-or-none principle

adaptive learning

process whereby individuals acquire the ability to predict and control the environment


developmental period lasting from the onset of puberty until establishing independent living and assuming adult responsibilities

adrenal glands

involved in the body’s “fight-or-flight” response through the release of epinephrine (adrenalin)in reaction to danger; located on top of the kidneys


developmental period starting when when children transition to independent living, working, possibly finding a partner in life, and considering children

all-or-none principle

a nerve cell is activated totally or not at all


the loudness of a sound, indicated by the height from top to bottom of a wave cycle

anorexia nervosa

characterized by low body weight relative to developmental norms, a distorted body image, and fear of weight gain or presence of overt behaviors designed to interfere with gaining weight


attributing human characteristics to another animal


the feeling that one experiences in anticipation of a possible aversive event

applied behavior analysis (ABA)

learning-based approach to assessing and treating behavioral problems

Arabic numbering system

permits written representation of any quantity, real or imagined; fundamental to mathematics and the scientific method


an institution for the maintenance and care of individuals requiring specialized assistance

attachment styles

   secure attachment style - children displaying low levels of anxiety and avoidance

   insecure-ambivalent attachment style - children displaying inconsistent emotionality

   insecure-avoidant attachment style - children who did not appear emotionally attached to the caregiver

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

diagnosed when instances of attention-related problems (e.g., distractibility, daydreaming, etc.) occur in multiple settings


feelings, beliefs, and behavior directed towards people, groups, ideas, or objects

autism spectrum disorders

based on the nature and extent of behavioral symptomology and learning disability; Asperger’s syndrome is on the “mild” part of the spectrum and those diagnosed as autistic are considered to be on the severe end of the spectrum

autonomic nervous system

governs the activity of the smooth muscles and glands internal to the body involved in circulation, respiration, and digestion; resulting behavior is often considered involuntary


long branches of a neuron that connect to the dendrites of more distant neurons


the first phase of a small-N design in which performance is assessed prior to the manipulation of an independent variable

behavioral excesses and behavioral deficits

behaviors that occur more or less frequently than desired

behavioral neuroscience

the study of the implications of human and animal behavior with respect to neurological mechanisms

behavioral trapping

A phenomenon whereby naturally existing reinforcers are sufficient to maintain a behavior.  For example, after receiving stars for reading a child continues reading just for the pleasure.


early school describing psychology as a natural science with the goal of predicting and controlling observable behavior

Big Five

trait dimensions found in different cultures include: introversion/extraversion; low anxiety/high anxiety; receptivity (i.e., open-mindedness/tough- (i.e., closed-) mindedness); accommodation (i.e., dependence)/ independence; and lack of restraint (i.e., impulsive)/self-control


consumption of large quantities of food in a short time

binocular cues

Information obtained from both of our eyes

bipolar disorders

characterized by extreme excitability and irritability (mania); bipolar 1 includes extended periods of extreme highs and lows whereas the high is not as extreme in bipolar 2; cyclothymia is characterized by less severe and more frequent mood swings.


when prior experience with one component of a compound stimulus results in subjects not learning to respond to another component

Bootzin Technique

learning-based approach to the treatment of insomnia based on principles of stimulus control

bottom-up process

sensory elements are combined to perceive meaningful units

Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS)

a program for problem-drinking college students consisting of interviews and on-line assessment designed to enable the prescription of specific behavioral recommendations and the development of skills to counter peer pressure, negative emotions, and other triggers for excessive and binge drinking


characterized by consumption of large quantities of food in a short time (i.e., binging) followed by attempts to lose weight through extreme measures such as induced vomiting or consuming laxatives (i.e., purging); those diagnosed with binge eating disorder do not engage in purging

bystander apathy

research finding that the likelihood of helping someone was related to the number of others present at the time

Cannon-Bard theory of emotion

suggests that autonomic arousal and our emotional response occur at the same time in reaction to an emotion-eliciting external stimulus


basic building blocks for plants and animals; the human body is comprised of trillions of cells

central nervous system

the brain and spinal cord

central sulcus

a deep fissure at the borders of the frontal and parietal lobes where large strips of neural tissue dedicated to sensation (the primary somatosensory cortex) and movement (the primary motor cortex) meet


tiny threads contained within a cell’s nucleus

circadian rhythm

internal process that regulates the sleep–wake cycle and causes the urge to sleep; repeats every 24 hours


Gestalt principle of organization that incomplete objects will be perceived as being complete

cognitive dissonance theory

Festinger's proposal that conflict results when holding contradictory beliefs or when there is an apparent discrepancy between one’s beliefs and behavior

cognitive-behavioral treatments

empirically validated talking therapy procedures based on psychological principles


prior response resulting in ability to demonstrate self-control


behaving in a manner that is consistent with another person's request

compound stimulus

two or more stimuli overlapping in time (e.g. a light and tone going on and off together)


behaviors one feels the need to repeat despite their interfering with achievement of other tasks

concept learning

responding in the same way to all instances of a stimulus class

conditioned reinforcers and punishers

reinforcers and punishers that acquire their effectiveness through experience, either being paired with or exchangeable for other reinforcers or punishers

conditioned response (CR)

learned response to a previously neutral stimulus resulting from its being presented immediately prior to another stimulus (the US)

conditioned stimulus (CS)

novel stimulus that acquires the capacity to elicit a response (the CR) as the result of occurring prior to another stimulus (the US)

conduct disorder

repetitive and persistent pattern of behavior in which the basic rights of others or major age-appropriate societal norms or rules are violated


nerve cells that require more light than rods, but are sensitive to color


opposing demands; examples include:

   approach-approach (choosing between two desirable   possibilities)

   avoidance-avoidance (choosing between two undesirable possibilities)

   approach-avoidance (having to make a cost-benefit analysis weighing positive and negative possibilities)

   double approach-avoidance (having to choose between possibilities, each having positive and negative features)


behaving in a manner consistent with others' standards, rules, and regulations

confounding variables

non-controlled variables in an experiment which could impact upon the dependent variable (e.g., wind could affect the time it takes for objects to fall)

conservation of number, mass, and liquid volume

tasks developed by Piaget to demonstrate developmental differences in understanding that despite manipulation (e.g., spreading out a row of coins), some properties do not change (e.g., number)

control learning

acquiring the ability to change the environment (also referred to as instrumental or operant conditioning)


coordinated movement of two eyes, permitting focusing upon specific objects


nerve fibers folded in such a manner as to increase the amount of surface area in the total space

corpus callosum

thick network of nerve fibers enabling the two sides of the brain to communicate


non-experimental method measuring the degree of relationship between two variables (e.g.,  comparing how many ounces of coffee people drink with how many hours they sleep)


procedure designed to substitute a desirable for an undesirable behavior (for example substituting relaxation for anxiety)

covert behaviors

behaviors that cannot be observed by others (e.g., thoughts and feelings)


systematic exposure to the specific environmental cues that trigger undesirable behavior


consensually agreed-upon rules relating situations (i.e., antecedents), behaviors, and consequences


procedure sometimes used to disguise the true topic of an experiment

defense mechanisms

postulated by Freud to prevent sources of unconscious conflict from reaching consciousness


small branches of a neuron that can connect to nearby neurons

dependent variable

behavioral variable potentially affected by the independent variable in a psychology experiment

depersonalization disorder

often described as an “out-of-body experience”, you realize it is not true, but feel as though you are watching yourself

depth perception

the relative location of objects and distance (how far objects are from you) in three-dimensional space


procedure designed to reduce anxiety by teaching an individual to relax while being exposed to a hierarchy (ordered list) of anxiety-eliciting events


the assumption that nature is lawful and may be understood through systematic study

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)

comprehensive listing of mental illness disease labels and definitions (i.e., behavioral criteria)

diathesis-stress model

assumes that individuals vary in their susceptibility to the effects of stress

difference threshold

the minimum amount of change in intensity required for a person to notice a difference

direct learning
discriminative stimulus

stimulus that signals a particular behavior will be reinforced (i.e., followed by an appetitive stimulus)

disruptive, impulse-control, and conduct disorders

disorders characterized by emotional problems and poor self-control

dissociative amnesia

usually a temporary disorder affecting episodic (i.e., autobiographical) memory; the most common of the dissociative disorders

dissociative disorders

characterized by a disconnect between an individual’s immediate experience and memory of the past (e.g., "out of body" experience)

dissociative identity disorder

characterized by two or more distinct, integrated personalities appearing at different times; each personality can exist in isolation from the others, with little or no memory of the other’s existence


acronym for deoxyribonucleic acid, which includes all the information required for cell replication

dominant trait

trait requiring a genetic contribution from only one parent

Down syndrome

neurodevelopmental disorder that occurs when a child inherits a fragment or entire third copy of the 21st chromosome

drive-reduction model

motivational model assuming that deprivation of appetitive stimuli or presence of aversive stimuli will arouse and direct behavior until the drive is satisfied

elaborative rehearsal

active rehearsal strategies related to the meaning of material

electromagnetic wavelength

extends from infinitesimally small gamma rays (measured in fractions of nanometers) to TV and radio waves which can extend for thousands of meters


layers of cells from which all organs and body parts will eventually develop

emerging adulthood

developmental phase when extended education continues after the end of adolescence (e.g., graduation from high school at about the age of 18) and adulthood (financial independence, living apart from one’s parents, starting a family, etc.)


feeling associated with specific circumstances

emotional memory

feelings based on prior experience


observable and measurable

endocrine system

consists of ductless glands that secrete hormones (chemical messengers) into the blood stream to maintain homeostasis; enables communication between different parts of the body playing critical roles in metabolism, growth, sexual development, reproduction, and responding to stress


a drug causing autonomic arousal

episodic memory

chronological listing of life events


surfaces of the nasal passage and tongue containing receptors sensitive to specific odors and tastes


sense of balance

Erik Erikson’s theory of Lifespan Development

Erikson described eight developmental stages, each associated with a conflicts. Successful resolution of the conflict associated with a particular stage resulted in acquisition of the related “virtue” (e.g., trust, autonomy, initiative, etc.) for the rest of one’s life; unsuccessful resolution would result in developmental problems during subsequent stages.

essential features of language

essential features of language include:

interchangeability (ability to transmit and receive messages)

semanticity (specific signals have specific meanings)

arbitrariness of connection between a meaningful unit (e.g., word) and its reference

discreteness of basic units of sound (phonemes) and meaning (morphemes)

productivity (units of meaning must be combined to create new sounds and sentences

syntax (the sequence of meaningful units must matter)

displacement (ability to communicate about things that are not present in the past and future)

evaluative conditioning

use of classical conditioning procedures to establish likes and dislikes by pairing neutral objects with appetitive and aversive stimuli


in biology, a change in the characteristics of a species over the course of generations


neural process stimulating a nerve cell to transmit information

exhibitionistic disorder

exposing oneself to strangers


research method in which an independent variable is manipulated in order to determine an effect on a specific dependent variable

explicit memory

requires conscious effort; can be sub-divided into semantic memory and episodic memory

external validity

the ability to apply cause-and-effect conclusions under naturalistic conditions


process in which a previously established predictive stimulus (CS) is no longer followed by the second stimulus (US) resulting in a reduction in strength of the CR

factor analysis

statistical procedure designed to determine the interrelationships of different variables (factors)

feature detectors

cells in the visual cortex that respond to stimuli likely to convey adaptive information; there are specialized cells for movement, lines, edges, and angles


unborn offspring resulting from embryonic development

fixed interval schedule

the opportunity for reinforcement is available after a constant amount of time since the previous reinforced response

fixed ratio schedule

reinforcement occurs after a constant number of responses

fixed-interval scallop

the cumulative response pattern characteristic of the FI reinforcement schedule; there is an extended pause after reinforcement followed by a gradual increase in response rate until the reward becomes available again

forgetting curve

graph of loss of retention of learned materials over time

formal operations

the final of Piaget's four developmental stages, reached between 12 and 15 years of age; the more adult-like teenager is able to imagine abstract concepts, enabling logical thinking, scientific hypothesis testing, and every day problem-solving

four-stage model of observational learning

the four logically necessary observational learning processes include attention, retention, response production, and motivation

fragile-X syndrome

neurodevelopmental disorder that results when there is a mutation of a known specific gene on the X chromosome

Freudian model

approach to assessment and treatment based on the assumption that psychiatric disorders stemmed from unconscious conflict between impulsive demands of the id and the moral standards of the superego

Freudian personality theory

describes the human condition as a conflict between basic needs and drives and the demands of one’s conscience

frontal lobe

part of brain involved in self-control

functional fixedness

when the usual function of an object interferes with consideration of another use in a different context


early school of psychology interested in how conscious experience enabled adaptation to environmental demands

fundamental attribution error

an out-group member’s failings are attributed to personal dispositional factors (e.g., the person is lazy, stupid, etc.) whereas in-group members’ failings are attributed to situational factors (e.g., it is a hot day, the problem is difficult, etc.)

gender dysphoria

extreme unhappiness or anxiety resulting from aversion to one’s body and sexual identity; one feels they are a different gender than the sex assigned at birth

general problem-solving process

strategy consisting of five stages including: (1) general orientation (i.e., recognizing that one has a problem); (2) problem definition and formulation in objective terms; (3) generation of problem-solving alternatives; (4) decision making involving a cost-benefit analysis of the options; (5) implementation, verification, and fine-tuning of the strategy

generalized anxiety disorder

chronic anxiety occurring across many situations

generalized reinforcers

conditioned reinforcers paired with or exchangeable for a variety of other reinforcers (e.g., tokens and money)


basic units of heredity, comprised of DNA and located on chromosomes in the cell nucleus


inherited instructions contained within an individual’s genes

Gestalt psychology

early school of psychology that rejected the structuralist goal of analyzing conscious experience, arguing that conscious experience consists of organized meaningful units (summarized by "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts")

Good Behavior Game (GBG)

a classroom management program in which the teacher divides the class into two or three teams of students and records the number of inappropriate behaviors (e.g., leaving one’s seat, talking out, etc.); at the end of the day, the members of the team with the fewest check marks receive school-related rewards such as free time, etc.


two or more individuals sharing a social relationship

Health Action Process Approach

emphasizes the importance of different types of self-efficacy in the development of the intent and ability to change health-related behavior

health psychology

a sub-discipline of psychology dedicated to the prevention and treatment of illness


auditory sense resulting from sound waves impinging on hair cells in the basilar membrane of the ear; enables organisms to detect the presence and location of dangerous or appetitive objects at a distance

hedonic model

a “carrot-and-stick” model of motivation assuming that one acts to seek pleasure and avoid pain

hierarchy of human needs

Maslow's integration of biological and psychological needs into one overarching schema portrayed as a pyramid; physiological needs form the base of the pyramid, followed by safety and security, love and interpersonal relationships, self-esteem, and self-actualization at the pyramid’s peak

higher-order conditioning

if a previously neutral stimulus (e.g. a light) is presented in a predictive relationship with a second, previously established CS (e.g., a tone previously paired with shock), this results in a CR occurring to the light despite it never being paired with shock


a representation of the amount of “brain space” in the cortex allotted to sensation and movement for different parts of the body


secreted by glands and carried in the blood as chemical messengers activating other glands and parts of the body

human genome

all the genetic information characteristic of our species

humanistic ecology

the attempt to identify and create niches in which individuals are able to achieve their self-defined goals and realize their potential while serving the needs of a social group


stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete an activating hormone to another gland to maintain homeostasis


incorporating another individual's (often a parent) values and beliefs

identity crisis

questioning of one’s personal qualities, goals, and social roles; frequently occurs during adolescence

identity states

Marcia distinguished between four different identity states based on two considerations; had exploration occurred and had a commitment been made. The four possibilities are diffusion (No/No), foreclosure (No/Yes), diffusion (Yes/No), and achievement (Yes/Yes)

illness anxiety disorder

debilitating anxiety resulting from real or imagined health concerns

implicit memory

does not require being conscious; sub-divided into procedural memory and emotional memory


failure to demonstrate self-control (i.e., delay gratification)

independent variable

potential causal variable manipulated in an experiment

indirect influence on behavior

when an individual's characteristics influence how others treat them

indirect learning

acquiring new behavior by observing others or symbolically through language


generally applied to children up till three years of age; sometimes sub-divided into “newborn” (between birth and one month) and “toddler” (between one and three years) stages


neural process decreasing the ability for a nerve cell to transmit information

inner ear

contains the cochlea, a snail shaped tube filled with fluid


Kohler believed solving a problem required insight consisting of perceptual reorganization of elements in the visual field to attain closure


unlearned, complex, stereotyped behavior, characteristic of all the members of a species

intermittent explosive disorder

recurrent outbursts that demonstrate an inability to control impulses, including either verbal aggression (tantrums, verbal arguments or fights) or physical aggression; aggressive behavior is grossly disproportionate to the magnitude of psychosocial stressors

internal validity

the ability to draw cause-and-effect conclusions from research findings


connect nerve cells to each other

intrinsic and extrinsic motivation

engaging in an activity due to its intrinsic stimulation as opposed to receiving something extrinsic (e.g., food, an award, or money)


procedure used by Wundt and structuralists to study conscious experience; translates to "looking inward."

IQ (intelligence quotient) score

obtained by dividing a child’s mental age, measured by a test, by the child’s chronological age and multiplying by 100

James-Lange theory of emotion

proposal that we label our emotions based upon our biological and behavioral reactions to stimuli rather than the other way around


acronym for just noticeable difference; the amount of change required to report a difference half the time


sense of muscle tension




a consensually agreed upon collection of arbitrary symbols representing objects, events, properties, and relationships among objects and events


the left side of the brain connects to the right side of the body and vice versa; certain activities appear more characteristic of one side than the other

Law of Accelerating Returns

Raymond Kurzweil's proposal that the rate of evolutionary biological and technological change is increasing

law of temporal contiguity

objects or events occurring close in time become associated

learned helplessness

detrimental emotional and behavioral effects resulting from the inability to affect outcomes

learned industriousness

the combination of persistence, willingness to expend maximum effort, and delay gratification

learning set

may refer to a number of experiences that have something in common or to the effect of those experiences (as in being “set up”)


hormone that responds to rising glucose levels, amino acids, or fatty acids in the blood by reducing your desire to eat

levels (styles) of moral development

Kohlberg's three levels were based on Piaget’s model of cognitive development

pre-conventional morality is based on extrinsic rewards and punishers

conventional morality is based on sources of authority such as parents, religion, and legal documents

post-conventional morality is based on the application of universal principles of fairness and justice (e.g., the Golden Rule)

long-term memory

permanent result of prior direct and indirect learning (e.g., facts)

longitudinal studies

studies of individuals over extended periods of time

magazine training

pairing of the sound of the food delivery mechanism in a Skinner box with food; this enables food to be used as a reinforcer with the shaping procedure

maintenance rehearsal

repeating information over and over again

major depressive disorder

sadness or emptiness most of the day and/or markedly diminished interest or pleasure in activities

marshmallow test

an adult places a single marshmallow in front of a child with the instruction that it could be eaten immediately or if the child waits a certain amount of time (e.g., 20 minutes), a second marshmallow would be provided


developmental processes that occur as the result of aging

medical diagnosis

provides information concerning the etiology (i.e., initial cause and/or maintaining conditions), prognosis (i.e., course of the disorder in the absence of treatment), and treatment of a biological syndrome (i.e., collection of symptoms occurring together)

medical model

treats adaptive disorders as though they are diseases

memory span tests

require repeating letters, words, or numerical digits in order

middle ear

an enclosed chamber behind the eardrum that includes the three tiniest bones (ossicles) in the body described as the hammer, anvil, and stirrup

monocular cues

based upon the information available to one eye

Moro reflex

infants spread their hands and then restore them to a holding position when experiencing a sudden loss of support


involves arousal and direction of behavior to address a specific condition

multiple baseline designs

small-N design consisting of a baseline followed by an intervention phase repeated at different times across different subjects, situations, or behaviors

multiple intelligence model

Gardner proposed distinct types of intelligence: verbal/linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, musical/rhythmic, intra- and inter-personal, existential, and naturalistic


different reinforcement contingencies are reliably associated with distinct antecedent stimuli

multisystemic therapy (MST)

a comprehensive treatment approach to conduct disorder incorporating evidence-based practices in the child’s home, school, and community


a permanent chemical change in the composition of a gene’s DNA

natural selection

when inherited traits that increase the ability to survive and reproduce are transmitted to future generations

nature-nurture controversy

debate regarding the importance of genetic as opposed to experiential factors as causes of behavior

need for achievement (nAch)

desire to compete and excel in activities of personal interest

negative punishment

consequence in which removing (response cost) or preventing (time out) an appetitive stimulus results in a decrease in the frequency of behavior

negative reinforcement

consequence in which removing (escape) or preventing (avoidance) an aversive stimulus results in an increase in the frequency of behavior

nervous system

structures that transmit information regarding external and internal stimulation and coordinate behavior.

neurocognitive disorders

deterioration in healthy cognitive functioning impacting on customary daily activities; diagnosed later in life than neurodevelopmental disorders; when severe, the individual may be unable to maintain an independent lifestyle

neurodevelopmental disorders

based on clinical and behavioral observations made during childhood and adolescence; suspected to be the result of impairments in the brain or central nervous system resulting from heredity or problems occurring during fetal development


cells that respond to external and internal stimulation (i.e., sensory neurons) and carry information to parts of the body capable of responding (i.e., motor neurons)


chemicals released by nerve cells that can bind with receptors in the second neuron; major neurotransmitters include dopamine (alertness) , norepinephrine (attention and concentration), and  serotonin (pleasure and anxiety)

neutral stimulus

a stimulus that does not influence behavior

normal curve

a symmetrical bell-shaped curve characteristic of many variables in nature; the peak indicates the average score and the width indicates the extent to which the scores are close to the mean (i.e., the consistency).


passive compliance with others' demands

object permanence

understanding that objects continue to exist once they disappear from view


thoughts that repeatedly intrude upon one’s conscious experience

obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)

disorder characterized by repetitious behaviors such as hoarding or placing things in neat piles

occipital lobe

part of brain involved in vision

operational definition

defining a term by the procedures used to measure it; the operational definition of learning describes how one objectively determines whether a behavioral observation is an example of the process

operational definition of learning

a relatively permanent change in behavior potential resulting from experience

opponent-process theory of color vision

proposes that there is an achromatic (i.e., without color) brightness system and a color system based upon the combined results of red-green and blue-yellow opponent channels; stimulation of one of the colors of an opponent pair is presumed to inhibit perception of the other

oppositional defiant disorder

actively refusing to comply with requests or rules; intentionally annoying others; arguing; blaming others for one’s mistakes; being spiteful or seeking revenge

outer ear

includes the ear flap, ear canal, and eardrum

overt behavior

observable and measurable behavior (e.g., head-scratching, crying, doing push-ups, etc.)


aversive sensations resulting from intense mechanical, thermal, or chemical stimulation of skin receptors; indicates the presence of potentially dangerous objects or conditions

panic attacks

unpredictable, debilitating anxiety; physical symptoms may include a rapid pulse, shortness of breath, perspiration, and trembling

parametric studies

experimental procedure in which different values of an independent variable are presented (e.g., presenting different magnitudes of a reward or presenting it after different delays, etc.)

paraphilic disorder

the experience of intense sexual arousal under non-normative conditions


calms the body upon removal of the stress or danger

parathyroid glands

located on the rear surface of the thyroid gland; control the amount of calcium in the blood and bones

parenting styles

Baumrind described four styles based upon whether parents were demanding or not (i.e., specified clear rules of conduct and required their children to comply), or responsive or not (i.e., affectionate and sensitive to their children’s needs and feelings)

negligent parents (low demandingness, low responsiveness) do not specify codes of conduct and are not affectionate or responsive

indulgent parents (low demandingness, high responsiveness) do not specify codes of conduct but are affectionate and responsive

authoritarian parents (high demandingness, low responsiveness) specify strict codes of conduct in a non-responsive manner

authoritative parents (high demandingness, high responsiveness) specify strict codes of conduct within a context of warmth and sensitivity to the children’s needs

parietal lobe

part of brain involved with sensation originating in the skin, muscles, and joints

partial-recall procedure

randomly presenting a sample of items from a set in order to infer the total amount recalled


the integration and interpretation of sensory information

perceptual constancy

an object’s shape and size is perceived as remaining constant despite differences in orientation and location


an individual's distinctive characteristics, qualities, and behaviors

personality disorders

DSM disorders characterized by a style of rigid, maladaptive thinking and behaving; examples include:

paranoid personality disorder; schizoid personality disorder; antisocial personality disorder; borderline personality disorder; histrionic personality disorder; narcissistic personality disorder; avoidant personality disorder; dependent personality disorder; and obsessive-compulsive personality disorder (not the same as obsessive-compulsive disorder)


observable physical and behavioral characteristics of a species

phi phenomenon

subjective experience of apparent movement based upon the timing of discreet events. The experience of continuity of movie films is an example


an extreme and irrational fear occurring in a specific situation

phonetic alphabet

permits written representation of any pronounceable word in a language

Piaget's Stage Theory of Cognitive Development

sensorimotor stage - (from approximately birth to two years); the child is pre-verbal, learning the relationships between sensory stimuli and movement

pre-operational stage - (from about two to seven years); the child is able to use language to acquire skills and knowledge.

concrete operations stage - (from about seven to twelve years); the child appears to understand how certain operations can transform the appearance of objects but not their fundamental characteristics

formal operations stage - (from about twelve to fifteen years); the more adult-like teenager is able to imagine abstract concepts, enabling logical thinking, scientific hypothesis testing, and every day problem-solving


consumption of culturally disapproved, non-nutritious substances (e.g., ice, dirt, paper, chalk, etc.)

pineal gland

influences the sleep-wake cycle by secreting the hormone melatonin when stimulated by light


whether a sound is perceived as low (bass) or high (treble) is a function of the frequency of waves per unit of time

pituitary gland

often referred to as the master gland since it secretes several different hormones impacting upon other glands involved in maintaining homeostasis; controlled by the hypothalamus through the release of thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH)

positive punishment

consequence in which following a response by an aversive stimulus results in a decrease in the frequency

positive reinforcement

consequence in which following a response by an appetitive stimulus results in an increase in the frequency

posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)

person reports experiencing recurrent flashbacks of a traumatic event more than a month after it happened; person avoids talking about or approaching any reminder of the event

pre-operational stage

the child starts using language to acquire skills and knowledge

precision grip

ability created by the opposable thumb to touch, create, and manipulate tools

prefrontal cortex

part of brain involved in human cognitive functions including attention, perception, thinking, memory, language and consciousness.


discriminatory opinion or behavior directed toward an individual or group

primary motives

biological or unlearned sources of motivation

proactive interference

when previously learned material reduces the ability to recall newly learned material


a discrepancy between the way things are and the way one would like them to be

procedural memory

motor skills you are able to execute

projective techniques

psychodynamic assessment tools assuming that, due to their ambiguity, they would not activate defense mechanisms, thereby enabling individuals to “project” their unconscious thoughts onto the inkblots or pictures; examples are Rorshach inkblots and the Thematic Apperception Test


use of a stimulus to increase the likelihood of a desired response


sense of muscle location and movement


Gestalt principle of organization that objects close to each other are perceived as groups

pseudo- (false) explanation

use of a descriptive label for a behavior as its explanation (e.g., saying someone hits another person because he/she is aggressive)

psychiatry and clinical psychology

specializations within professional medicine and psychology that address problems related to adaptation and personal fulfillment

psychic determinism

the assumption that causes of behavior may be unconscious

psychoactive drugs

affect mood, thought, and behavior; most achieve these effects by impacting upon neurotransmitters and synaptic connections

psychological model of maladaptive behavior

instead of considering problematic behavior an illness and providing a DSM diagnosis, behavior itself is considered the target for assessment and treatment


the scientific study of individual thought, feeling, and behavior


developmental milestone initiated by the hypothalamus secreting lutenizing hormone releasing factor; this stimulates the pituitary gland to secrete the gonadotropic hormones LH (lutenizing hormone) and FSH (follicle stimulating hormone) resulting in biological changes related to sex and the ability to reproduce


attempt to lose weight through extreme measures such as induced vomiting or consuming laxatives

Pyramid of Hate

portrays a stage theory of the progression of biased ideas to hate and violence


starting fires

random assignment

procedure whereby an individual subject is equally likely to be exposed to any of the experimental conditions

Rational Emotive Therapy (RET)

Ellis' active/directive language-based approach based on the assumption that an individual’s emotional and behavioral reactions result from cognitive interpretation

reactive procedure

when observing a phenomenon influences the results (e.g., watching someone perform could affect how they do)

Realistic Conflict Theory

prejudices and stereotypes are likely to develop when there is competition between groups for scarce resources

reality principle

basing one's behavior on personal understanding of how the world works

recessive trait

trait requiring two copies of a gene

reciprocal determinism feedback loop

temperament and behavior influence how those in the environment (including caretakers) respond, which then impacts upon the development of skills and knowledge, which then influences how others react, and so on


a simple unlearned response characteristic of all the members of a species


describing hypothetical structures as though they were physical structures


the likelihood that two scorers arrive at the same diagnosis for an individual

retinal disparity

results from your eyes being separated in space, producing stimulation from slightly different angles

retroactive interference

when learning new materials reduces the ability to recall previously learned material

reversal design

A small-N design in which a baseline phase is followed by an intervention and then a return to the baseline procedures


nerve cells sensitive to light that serve as the basis for vision in the dark; rods are monochromatic (i.e., respond to only one color)


specifies the circumstances (antecedents) under which a particular act (behavior) is rewarded or punished


regurgitation of food after consumption


Vygotsky's term for providing effective support to teach a child


coherent organization of information


disabling disorder characterized by severe cognitive and emotional disturbances

scientific method

strategy for determining cause and effect in nature when the limitations of observability, testability, and replicability are met

scientist-practitioner model of professional psychology

emphasizes the complementary connection between basic and applied research and professional practice;  bases psychological interventions on findings from the different content areas (e.g., learning, motivation, etc.)


material organized in a meaningful sequence

second signal system

Pavlov's term for when words, through classical conditioning, acquired the capacity to influence behavior

secondary motives

psychological or learned sources of motivation


visual sense resulting from light waves impinging on retinal rods and cones in the eye; enables organisms to avoid bumping into objects and to identify food sources


ability to delay gratification (i.e., choose a large delayed reward rather than a small immediate reward)


an individual’s expectancy that they are able to perform a specific task


one's personal evaluation

semantic memory

knowledge base including vocabulary, concepts, and ideas

semi-circular canals

three circles filled with fluid and containing hair cells which respond to the position of and speed of movement of the head in three-dimensional space; this information is transmitted to the thalamus and parietal lobe of the cerebral cortex where it is combined with information obtained through the eyes regarding the body’s position in space and sensors of the muscles and joints; Integration of this information enables us to maintain our balance while stationary or in motion


the initial detection of a stimulus resulting from the physical stimulation of a receptor in a sense organ (e.g., eye, ear, etc.); each sense responds to a specific type of physical stimulation and possesses specific receptor cells

sensorimotor stage

the child is preverbal, learning the relationships between sensory (e.g., visual and auditory) stimuli and movement (from approximately birth to two years)

sensory adaptation

change in threshold values resulting from continual exposure to a stimulus

sensory memory

exists immediately after presentation of a stimulus, is unconscious, and highly detailed


accidental discovery

serial-position effect

the finding that one learns the items at the beginning and end of a list before learning the items in the middle

serum serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)

popular anti-depressant medications that affect the balance of the neurotransmitters serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine; by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin, its level is increased in the synaptic cleft enabling it to bind with other neurotransmitter receptor cells

sex glands

ovaries for the female and testes for the male;  secrete hormones controlling the development of the reproductive sex organs and secondary sex characteristics during puberty

sexual dysfunction

a consistent problem occurring during the desire, arousal, or orgasm phases of normal sexual activity

sexual response cycle

four stages starting with excitement, followed by plateau, orgasm, and resolution

shaping procedure

reinforcing successive approximations to a desired response

short-term memory

knowledge currently available for rehearsal (e.g., after looking up a phone number)

SIBIS (Self-Injurious Behavior Inhibiting System)

a device consisting of a sensor module attached to a radio transmitter straps onto the head and is used to punish head banging with a mild electric shock to the arm or leg


Gestalt principle of organization that objects that are similar to each other are grouped together

small-N design

experimental procedure involving systematic manipulation of an independent variable with ongoing measurement of behavior


olfactory sense resulting from odorous molecules impinging on smell receptors in the nose

social anxiety disorder (social phobia)

extreme and irrational anxiety related to real or imagined situations involving other people

social diffusion effect

the inverse relationship between the number of people present and the likelihood of providing assistance

social influence

examples include compliance, peer pressure to conform, and obedience to authority

social learning

change in behavior resulting from observation of others or symbolic communication (i.e., language)

social psychology

studies the effects of the presence, or imagined presence, of other people on one’s thoughts, feelings, and actions

social roles

the position one holds in a social setting can dictate what behaviors are considered appropriate


the implementation of culturally establisshed rules in parenting, schooling, and other inter-personal relations

somatic division of the peripheral nervous system

responds to sensory information originating outside the body and stimulates the skin, joints, and skeletal muscles; the resulting behavior is often considered voluntary.

somatic symptom disorder

severe medical symptoms (e.g., blindness, loss of the ability to move a hand, etc.) with no indication of a biological cause


lies toward the bottom of your rib cage and is involved in the removal of red blood cells

spoiling effect

when prior non-contingent reward interferes with learning new behaviors

spontaneous recovery

increase in the strength of a prior learned response after an extended time between extinction trials

stage of concrete operations

the child appears to understand how certain operations can transform the appearance of objects but not their fundamental characteristics

stage theory

describes human development as a fixed sequence of capabilities resulting in qualitatively different ways of responding to the world

stages of sleep

four stages starting with REM (rapid eye movements associated with dreaming) and ending with deep sleep

standard deviation

statistical measure of variability (consistency)


calculated an IQ (intelligence quotient) by dividing a child’s mental age, based on its score, by its chronological age


a widely held description of a social group

stimulus class

collection of objects sharing at least one common property

stimulus discrimination

if during acquisition, one stimulus (the CS+, e.g., a light) is predictive of a second stimulus (US, e.g., food), but a different stimulus (CS-, e.g., a tone) is never followed by the US, a CR (e.g., salivation) will occur to the CS+ (light) and not the CS- (tone)

stimulus generalization

a previously acquired learned response occurs in the presence of stimuli other than the original one, the likelihood being a function of the degree of similarity

stimulus-response chain

a sequence of behaviors in which each response alters the environment producing the discriminative stimulus for the next response

strange situation procedure

children are observed playing, with and without their mother present, while strangers walk in and out of the room


earliest school of psychology, defining the discipline as the study of the mind, with the goal of analyzing conscious experience using the method of introspection

substance use disorder

taking addictive substances in large amounts or for long time periods; inability to cut down or stop using the substance; interference with performance at work, home or school

supraorganic culture

cultural adaptations resulting from human changes to the environment


activation arouses body under stressful or dangerous conditions to prepare for “fight or flight.”


small spaces separating the dendrites and axon endings where chemical exchange between neurons occur

talking therapies

cognitive behavioral therapies for specific and stylistic thinking patterns


gustatory sense resulting from substances stimulating taste buds on the tongue; enables detection of edible foods or poisonous substances


the idea expressed by Hippocrates and Galen, that human personality can be categorized into distinct temperaments presumed to be inherited causes of moods and behavior

temporal lobe

part of brain involved in hearing, memory, and language

the "unconscious"

Freud distinguished between those things of which we are currently aware, those which we can voluntarily retrieve, and those that we ordinarily cannot voluntarily retrieve

The Early Risers

conduct disorder prevention program focusing on parent training, peer relations, and school performance; parents are instructed in effective disciplining techniques, children meet with “friendship groups”, and a family advocate works with parents

the magical number seven, plus or minus two

the apparent limit to the number of chunks of information that can be maintained in short-term memory

The Stone Age, Bronze Age, and Iron Age

the Stone Age was the time period prior to recorded history lasting for approximately 2-1/2 million years. During this period, humans and their ancestors fashioned tools made with hard edges and points from items found in nature. It took until the Bronze Age (3300-1200 BC) and Iron Age (1200-900 BC) for tools to be manufactured.

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

personality test requiring descriptions of a series of ambiguous pictures of people in different situations


sense of temperature

three-part psychic apparatus

Freud's description of the human condition as the conscious attempt of the ego to manage a “tug of war” between genetically determined unconscious drives (the Id) and the mostly unconscious conscience (superego)

three-stage model of memory

sensory memory creates information available for rehearsal in short-term memory that can be rehearsed, elaborated upon and encoded, permitting interpretation and storage in long-term memory

three-stage sequence of circular reactions

repetitive behaviors taking place during the sensorimotor (first) period of child development

primary circular reactions  repetition of a behavior for its own sake, or perhaps the resultant sensations

secondary circular reactions repetitions of acts resulting in a specific environmental effect

tertiary circular reactions attempts to produce the same environmental effect with different responses


an important part of the immune system, located below the thyroid gland in the middle of the chest

thyroid gland

affects metabolism by controlling the rate at which energy is expended; one of the glands under the control of the pituitary gland

token economy

establishes contingencies between a tangible generalized reinforcer (token) and desirable behaviors; tokens can be exchangeed for desirable items or opportunities to engage in pleasurable activities

top-down process

meaningful units based on prior experience are used to determine the elements of sensation

TOTE (test-operate-test-exit)

testing before and after implementing a problem-solving strategy to decide when one has succeeded


feeling sense resulting from tactile stimulation of pressure receptors on the skin


individual patterns of behavior (including thoughts and feelings) that are consistent across time and situations


process through which physical stimulation is converted into neurological action potential and transmitted from receptors to higher brain regions for further processing


responding to stimuli on the basis of a relationship

trichromatic theory of color vision

proposes that all the colors humans perceive result from combinations of the outputs of photoreceptors for three primary colors (red, green, and blue)

two-factor theory of emotion

proposes that human emotions are based on a combination of bottom-up and top-down processing; the first stage consists of an emotion-eliciting stimulus resulting in a general state of autonomic arousal; the second stage examines the environmental circumstances, attributing the arousal to a specific cause

unconditioned reinforcers and punishers

reinforcers and punishers that acquire their effectiveness through genetic mechanisms (e.g., food, water, painful stimuli, etc.)

unconditioned response (UR)

response elicited by a stimulus (US) as the result of heredity

unconditioned stimulus (US)

stimulus that elicits a response (UR) as the result of heredity

universality of human facial expressions

the following facial expressions have been found across many cultures: happy, sad, contempt, fear, disgust, anger and surprise

Unusual Uses Test

an assessment of creativity in which one is asked to list as many uses as possible for different objects

variable interval schedule

the opportunity for reinforcement is available after an average amount of time since the previous reinforced response

variable ratio schedule

reinforcement occurs after an average number of responses

warning stimulus

stimulus that signals a behavior will be punished (followed by an aversive event)


gradually transitioning an infant from liquid to solid foods

Weber’s Law

there is a constant ratio between the size of a stimulus and the amount of change in value required to notice a difference (the jnd); for example, if the ratio is one-tenth, you would need to increase a 10-inch line by one inch and a 20-inch line by two inches to notice the difference

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale (WAIS)

intelligence test separating performance on verbal and non-verbal tasks

win-stay, lose-shift

If correct on the first trial of a two-choice discrimination problem, one continues to choose the same stimulus; if incorrect, one switches to the other possibility

zone of proximal development

behavior that a child is ready to learn


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Psychology Copyright © by Jeffrey C. Levy is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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