An enzyme required to convert testosterone to 5α-dihydrotestosterone.
Abducens nucleus
A group of excitatory motor neurons in the medial brainstem that send projections through the VIth cranial nerve to control the ipsilateral lateral rectus muscle. In addition, abducens interneurons send an excitatory projection across the midline to a subdivision of cells in the ipsilateral oculomotor nucleus, which project through the IIIrd cranial nerve to innervate the ipsilateral medial rectus muscle.
Ability model
An approach that views EI as a standard intelligence that utilizes a distinct set of mental abilities that (1) are intercorrelated, (2) relate to other extant intelligences, and (3) develop with age and experience (Mayer & Salovey, 1997).
Surgical removal of brain tissue.
Absolute stability
Consistency in the level or amount of a personality attribute over time.
Absolute threshold
The smallest amount of stimulation needed for detection by a sense.
Acceptance and commitment therapy
A therapeutic approach designed to foster nonjudgmental observation of one’s own mental processes.
Changing one's beliefs about the world and how it works in light of new experience.
An organic compound neurotransmitter consisting of acetic acid and choline. Depending upon the receptor type, acetycholine can have excitatory, inhibitory, or modulatory effects.
Action Potential
A transient all-or-nothing electrical current that is conducted down the axon when the membrane potential reaches the threshold of excitation.
Action potential
A transient all-or-nothing electrical current that is conducted down the axon when the membrane potential reaches the threshold of excitation.
Active person–environment transactions
The interplay between individuals and their contextual circumstances that occurs whenever individuals play a key role in seeking out, selecting, or otherwise manipulating aspects of their environment.
Active-constructive responding
Demonstrating sincere interest and enthusiasm for the good news of another person.
The fact that after people first react to good or bad events, sometimes in a strong way, their feelings and reactions tend to dampen down over time and they return toward their original level of subjective well-being.
Evolved solutions to problems that historically contributed to reproductive success.
In health, it is the ability of a patient to maintain a health behavior prescribed by a physician. This might include taking medication as prescribed, exercising more, or eating less high-fat food.
To take in and raise a child of other parents legally as one’s own.
Adoption study
A behavior genetic research method that involves comparison of adopted children to their adoptive and biological parents.
An emotional process; includes moods, subjective feelings, and discrete emotions.
Feelings that can be described in terms of two dimensions, the dimensions of arousal and valence (Figure 2). For example, high arousal positive states refer to excitement, elation, and enthusiasm. Low arousal positive states refer to calm, peacefulness, and relaxation. Whereas “actual affect” refers to the states that people actually feel, “ideal affect” refers to the states that people ideally want to feel.
Affective forecasting
Predicting how one will feel in the future after some event or decision.
Afferent nerve fibers
Single neurons that innervate the receptor hair cells and carry vestibular signals to the brain as part of the vestibulocochlear nerve (cranial nerve VIII).
Afferent nerves
Nerves that carry messages to the brain or spinal cord.
Fast-conducting sensory nerves with myelinated axons. Larger diameter and thicker myelin sheaths increases conduction speed. Aβ-fibers conduct touch signals from low-threshold mechanoreceptors with a velocity of 80 m/s and a diameter of 10 μm; Aδ-fibers have a diameter of 2.5 μm and conduct cold, noxious, and thermal signals at 12 m/s. The third and fastest conducting A-fiber is the Aα, which conducts proprioceptive information with a velocity of 120 m/s and a diameter of 20 μm.
Age effects
Differences in personality between groups of different ages that are related to maturation and development instead of birth cohort differences.
Age identity
How old or young people feel compared to their chronological age; after early adulthood, most people feel younger than their chronological age.
Age in place
The trend toward making accommodations to ensure that aging people can stay in their homes and live independently.
Any behavior intended to harm another person who does not want to be harmed.
A form of social interaction that includes threat, attack, and fighting.
Loss of the ability to perceive stimuli.
Due to damage of Wernicke’s area. An inability to recognize objects, words, or faces.
A drug that increases or enhances a neurotransmitter’s effect.
A sort of anxiety disorder distinguished by feelings that a place is uncomfortable or may be unsafe because it is significantly open or crowded.
A personality trait that reflects a person’s tendency to be compassionate, cooperative, warm, and caring to others. People low in agreeableness tend to be rude, hostile, and to pursue their own interests over those of others.
A core personality trait that includes such dispositional characteristics as being sympathetic, generous, forgiving, and helpful, and behavioral tendencies toward harmonious social relations and likeability.
Pain due to a stimulus that does not normally provoke pain, e.g., when a light, stroking touch feels painful.
A reduction in the amount of speech and/or increased pausing before the initiation of speech.
A desire to improve the welfare of another person, at a potential cost to the self and without any expectation of reward.
A motivation for helping that has the improvement of another’s welfare as its ultimate goal, with no expectation of any benefits for the helper.
Ambivalent sexism
A concept of gender attitudes that encompasses both positive and negative qualities.
Ambulatory assessment
An overarching term to describe methodologies that assess the behavior, physiology, experience, and environments of humans in naturalistic settings.
The loss of memory.
A region located deep within the brain in the medial area (toward the center) of the temporal lobes (parallel to the ears). If you could draw a line through your eye sloping toward the back of your head and another line between your two ears, the amygdala would be located at the intersection of these lines. The amygdala is involved in detecting relevant stimuli in our environment and has been implicated in emotional responses.
Two almond-shaped structures located in the medial temporal lobes of the brain.
A brain structure in the limbic system involved in fear reactivity and implicated in the biological basis for social anxiety disorder.
Pain relief.
The bias to be affected by an initial anchor, even if the anchor is arbitrary, and to insufficiently adjust our judgments away from that anchor.
Anecdotal evidence
An argument that is based on personal experience and not considered reliable or representative.
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities one previously found enjoyable or rewarding.
A reduction in the drive or ability to take the steps or engage in actions necessary to obtain the potentially positive outcome.
The belief that everyone and everything had a “soul” and that mental illness was due to animistic causes, for example, evil spirits controlling an individual and his/her behavior.
Anomalous face overgeneralization hypothesis
Proposes that the attractiveness halo effect is a by-product of reactions to low fitness. People overgeneralize the adaptive tendency to use low attractiveness as an indicator of negative traits, like low health or intelligence, and mistakenly use higher-than-average attractiveness as an indicator of high health or intelligence.
Loss of the ability to smell.
A drug that blocks a neurotransmitter’s effect.
Anterograde amnesia
Inability to form new memories for facts and events after the onset of amnesia.
A pervasive pattern of disregard and violation of the rights of others. These behaviors may be aggressive or destructive and may involve breaking laws or rules, deceit or theft.
Antisocial personality disorder
Counterpart diagnosis to psychopathy included in the third through fifth editions of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM; APA, 2000). Defined by specific symptoms of behavioral deviancy in childhood (e.g., fighting, lying, stealing, truancy) continuing into adulthood (manifested as repeated rule-breaking, impulsiveness, irresponsibility, aggressiveness, etc.).
A mood state characterized by negative affect, muscle tension, and physical arousal in which a person apprehensively anticipates future danger or misfortune.
A state of worry or apprehension about future events or possible danger that usually involves negative thoughts, unpleasant physical sensations, and/or a desire to avoid harm.
Anxiety disorder
A group of diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) classification system where anxiety is central to the person’s dysfunctioning. Typical symptoms include excessive rumination, worrying, uneasiness, apprehension, and fear about future uncertainties either based on real or imagined events. These symptoms may affect both physical and psychological health. The anxiety disorders are subdivided into panic disorder, specific phobia, social phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Attachment style that involves suppressing one’s own feelings and desires, and a difficulty depending on others.
Attachment style that is self-critical, insecure, and fearful of rejection.
Due to damage of the Broca’s area. An inability to produce or understand words.
Appraisal structure
The set of appraisals that bring about an emotion.
Appraisal theories
Evaluations that relate what is happening in the environment to people’s values, goals, and beliefs. Appraisal theories of emotion contend that emotions are caused by patterns of appraisals, such as whether an event furthers or hinders a goal and whether an event can be coped with.
Archival research
A type of research in which the researcher analyses records or archives instead of collecting data from live human participants.
Arcuate fasciculus
A fiber tract that connects Wernicke’s and Broca’s speech areas.
An enzyme that converts androgens into estrogens.
Arousal: cost–reward model
An egoistic theory proposed by Piliavin et al. (1981) that claims that seeing a person in need leads to the arousal of unpleasant feelings, and observers are motivated to eliminate that aversive state, often by helping the victim. A cost–reward analysis may lead observers to react in ways other than offering direct assistance, including indirect help, reinterpretation of the situation, or fleeing the scene.
An excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter that is widely used by vestibular receptors, afferents, and many neurons in the brain.
When minor participants are asked to indicate their willingness to participate in a study. This is usually obtained from participants who are at least 7 years old, in addition to parent or guardian consent.
A place of refuge or safety established to confine and care for the mentally ill; forerunners of the mental hospital or psychiatric facility.
Attachment behavioral system
A motivational system selected over the course of evolution to maintain proximity between a young child and his or her primary attachment figure.
Attachment behaviors
Behaviors and signals that attract the attention of a primary attachment figure and function to prevent separation from that individual or to reestablish proximity to that individual (e.g., crying, clinging).
Attachment figure
Someone who functions as the primary safe haven and secure base for an individual. In childhood, an individual’s attachment figure is often a parent. In adulthood, an individual’s attachment figure is often a romantic partner.
Attachment patterns
(also called “attachment styles” or “attachment orientations”) Individual differences in how securely (vs. insecurely) people think, feel, and behave in attachment relationships.
Attachment theory
Theory that describes the enduring patterns of relationships from birth to death.
A way of thinking or feeling about a target that is often reflected in a person’s behavior. Examples of attitude targets are individuals, concepts, and groups.
A psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor.
A connection between personality attributes and aspects of the environment that occurs because individuals with particular traits are drawn to certain environments.
The psychological process of being sexually interested in another person. This can include, for example, physical attraction, first impressions, and dating rituals.
Attractiveness halo effect
The tendency to associate attractiveness with a variety of positive traits, such as being more sociable, intelligent, competent, and healthy.
Attributional style
The tendency by which a person infers the cause or meaning of behaviors or events.
When a participant drops out, or fails to complete, all parts of a study.
A connection between personality attributes and aspects of the environment that occurs because individuals with particular traits drop out from certain environments.
Audience design
Constructing utterances to suit the audience’s knowledge.
Ability to process auditory stimuli. Also called hearing.
Auditory canal
Tube running from the outer ear to the middle ear.
Auditory hair cells
Receptors in the cochlea that transduce sound into electrical potentials.
Authoritarian parenting
Parenting style that is high is demandingness and low in support.
A parenting style characterized by high (but reasonable) expectations for children’s behavior, good communication, warmth and nurturance, and the use of reasoning (rather than coercion) as preferred responses to children’s misbehavior.
Authoritative parenting
A parenting style that is high in demandingness and high in support.
Authority stage
Stage from approximately 2 years to age 4 or 5 when parents create rules and figure out how to effectively guide their children’s behavior.
Autobiographical memory
Memory for the events of one’s life.
Autobiographical narratives
A qualitative research method used to understand characteristics and life themes that an individual considers to uniquely distinguish him- or herself from others.
Autobiographical reasoning
The ability, typically developed in adolescence, to derive substantive conclusions about the self from analyzing one’s own personal experiences.
A behavior or process has one or more of the following features: unintentional, uncontrollable, occurring outside of conscious awareness, and cognitively efficient.
Automatic bias
Automatic biases are unintended, immediate, and irresistible.
Automatic empathy
A social perceiver unwittingly taking on the internal state of another person, usually because of mimicking the person’s expressive behavior and thereby feeling the expressed emotion.
Automatic process
When a thought, feeling, or behavior occurs with little or no mental effort. Typically, automatic processes are described as involuntary or spontaneous, often resulting from a great deal of practice or repetition.
Automatic thoughts
Thoughts that occur spontaneously; often used to describe problematic thoughts that maintain mental disorders.
Autonomic nervous system
A part of the peripheral nervous system that connects to glands and smooth muscles. Consists of sympathetic and parasympathetic divisions.
Availability heuristic
The tendency to judge the frequency or likelihood of an event by the ease with which relevant instances come to mind.
Availability heuristic
A heuristic in which the frequency or likelihood of an event is evaluated based on how easily instances of it come to mind.
Average life expectancy
Mean number of years that 50% of people in a specific birth cohort are expected to survive. This is typically calculated from birth but is also sometimes re-calculated for people who have already reached a particular age (e.g., 65).
Aversive racism
Aversive racism is unexamined racial bias that the person does not intend and would reject, but that avoids inter-racial contact.
A pervasive pattern of social inhibition, feelings of inadequacy, and hypersensitivity to negative evaluation.
A conscious experience or the capability of having conscious experiences, which is distinct from self-awareness, the conscious understanding of one’s own existence and individuality.
An emotion associated with profound, moving experiences. Awe comes about when people encounter an event that is vast (far from normal experience) but that can be accommodated in existing knowledge.
Axial plane
See “horizontal plane.”
Part of the neuron that extends off the soma, splitting several times to connect with other neurons; main output of the neuron.
Part of the neuron that extends off the soma, splitting several times to connect with other neurons; main output of the neuron.
Balancing between goals
Shifting between a focal goal and other goals or temptations by putting less effort into the focal goal—usually with the intention of coming back to the focal goal at a later point in time.
Basal ganglia
Subcortical structures of the cerebral hemispheres involved in voluntary movement.
Basic-level category
The neutral, preferred category for a given object, at an intermediate level of specificity.
Basking in reflected glory
The tendency for people to associate themselves with successful people or groups.
Behavioral genetics
The empirical science of how genes and environments combine to generate behavior.
Behavioral medicine
A field similar to health psychology that integrates psychological factors (e.g., emotion, behavior, cognition, and social factors) in the treatment of disease. This applied field includes clinical areas of study, such as occupational therapy, hypnosis, rehabilitation or medicine, and preventative medicine.
The study of behavior.
Benevolent sexism
The “positive” element of ambivalent sexism, which recognizes that women are perceived as needing to be protected, supported, and adored by men.
The systematic and predictable mistakes that influence the judgment of even very talented human beings.
The idea that parents influence their children, but their children also influence the parents; the direction of influence goes both ways, from parent to child, and from child to parent.
Bidirectional relations
When one variable is likely both cause and consequence of another variable.
Big data
The analysis of large data sets.
Big Five
A broad taxonomy of personality trait domains repeatedly derived from studies of trait ratings in adulthood and encompassing the categories of (1) extraversion vs. introversion, (2) neuroticism vs. emotional stability, (3) agreeable vs. disagreeableness, (4) conscientiousness vs. nonconscientiousness, and (5) openness to experience vs. conventionality. By late childhood and early adolescence, people’s self-attributions of personality traits, as well as the trait attributions made about them by others, show patterns of intercorrelations that confirm with the five-factor structure obtained in studies of adults.
Big Five
Five, broad general traits that are included in many prominent models of personality. The five traits are neuroticism (those high on this trait are prone to feeling sad, worried, anxious, and dissatisfied with themselves), extraversion (high scorers are friendly, assertive, outgoing, cheerful, and energetic), openness to experience (those high on this trait are tolerant, intellectually curious, imaginative, and artistic), agreeableness (high scorers are polite, considerate, cooperative, honest, and trusting), and conscientiousness (those high on this trait are responsible, cautious, organized, disciplined, and achievement-oriented).
Big-C Creativity
Creative ideas that have an impact well beyond the everyday life of home or work. At the highest level, this kind of creativity is that of the creative genius.
Binocular advantage
Benefits from having two eyes as opposed to a single eye.
Binocular disparity
Difference is images processed by the left and right eyes.
Binocular vision
Our ability to perceive 3D and depth because of the difference between the images on each of our retinas.
The process by which physiological signals, not normally available to human perception, are transformed into easy-to-understand graphs or numbers. Individuals can then use this information to try to change bodily functioning (e.g., lower blood pressure, reduce muscle tension).
Biological vulnerability
A specific genetic and neurobiological factor that might predispose someone to develop anxiety disorders.
Biomedical Model of Health
A reductionist model that posits that ill health is a result of a deviation from normal function, which is explained by the presence of pathogens, injury, or genetic abnormality.
Biopsychosocial model
A model in which the interaction of biological, psychological, and sociocultural factors is seen as influencing the development of the individual.
Biopsychosocial Model of Health
An approach to studying health and human function that posits the importance of biological, psychological, and social (or environmental) processes.
Birth cohort
Individuals born in a particular year or span of time.
Blatant biases
Blatant biases are conscious beliefs, feelings, and behavior that people are perfectly willing to admit, are mostly hostile, and openly favor their own group.
Blended family
A family consisting of an adult couple and their children from previous relationships.
Blind to the research hypothesis
When participants in research are not aware of what is being studied.
In classical conditioning, the finding that no conditioning occurs to a stimulus if it is combined with a previously conditioned stimulus during conditioning trials. Suggests that information, surprise value, or prediction error is important in conditioning.
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC)
Blood Alcohol Content (BAC): a measure of the percentage of alcohol found in a person’s blood. This measure is typically the standard used to determine the extent to which a person is intoxicated, as in the case of being too impaired to drive a vehicle.
Blood-oxygen-level-dependent (BOLD)
The signal typically measured in fMRI that results from changes in the ratio of oxygenated hemoglobin to deoxygenated hemoglobin in the blood.
Boomerang generation
Term used to describe young adults, primarily between the ages of 25 and 34, who return home after previously living on their own.
A pervasive pattern of instability of interpersonal relationships, self-image, and affects, and marked impulsivity.
Borderline Personality Disorder
This personality disorder is defined by a chronic pattern of instability. This instability manifests itself in interpersonal relationships, mood, self-image, and behavior that can interfere with social functioning or work. It may also cause grave emotional distress.
“Bottom-up” or external causes of happiness
Situational factors outside the person that influence his or her subjective well-being, such as good and bad events and circumstances such as health and wealth.
Bottom-up processing
Building up to perceptual experience from individual pieces.
Bouncing balls illusion
The tendency to perceive two circles as bouncing off each other if the moment of their contact is accompanied by an auditory stimulus.
Bounded awareness
The systematic ways in which we fail to notice obvious and important information that is available to us.
Bounded ethicality
The systematic ways in which our ethics are limited in ways we are not even aware of ourselves.
Bounded rationality
Model of human behavior that suggests that humans try to make rational decisions but are bounded due to cognitive limitations.
Bounded self-interest
The systematic and predictable ways in which we care about the outcomes of others.
Bounded willpower
The tendency to place greater weight on present concerns rather than future concerns.
Brain stem
The “trunk” of the brain comprised of the medulla, pons, midbrain, and diencephalon.
Brain Stem
The “trunk” of the brain comprised of the medulla, pons, midbrain, and diencephalon.
Broca’s area
An area in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere. Implicated in language production.
Broca’s Area
An area in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere. Implicated in language production.
Bystander intervention
The phenomenon whereby people intervene to help others in need even if the other is a complete stranger and the intervention puts the helper at risk.
Surgical procedure in which the corpus callosum is severed (used to control severe epilepsy).
Seeking out someone else with whom to share your good news.
Cartesian catastrophe
The idea that mental processes taking place outside conscious awareness are impossible.
Case study
A thorough study of a patient (or a few patients) with naturally occurring lesions.
Behaviors that seem to reflect a reduction in responsiveness to the external environment. This can include holding unusual postures for long periods of time, failing to respond to verbal or motor prompts from another person, or excessive and seemingly purposeless motor activity.
To sort or arrange different items into classes or categories.
A set of entities that are equivalent in some way. Usually the items are similar to one another.
Greek term that means to cleanse or purge. Applied to aggression, catharsis is the belief that acting aggressively or even viewing aggression purges angry feelings and aggressive impulses into harmless channels.
C​athartic method
A therapeutic procedure introduced by Breuer and developed further by Freud in the late 19th century whereby a patient gains insight and emotional relief from recalling and reliving traumatic events.
Related to whether we say one variable is causing changes in the other variable, versus other variables that may be related to these two variables.
Cell membrane
A bi-lipid layer of molecules that separates the cell from the surrounding extracellular fluid.
Central Nervous System
The portion of the nervous system that includes the brain and spinal cord.
Central nervous system
The part of the nervous system that consists of the brain and spinal cord.
Central route to persuasion
Persuasion that employs direct, relevant, logical messages.
Central sulcus
The major fissure that divides the frontal and the parietal lobes.
A nervous system structure behind and below the cerebrum. Controls motor movement coordination, balance, equilibrium, and muscle tone.
The distinctive structure at the back of the brain, Latin for “small brain.”
The distinctive structure at the back of the brain, Latin for “small brain.”
Cerebral cortex
The outermost gray matter of the cerebrum; the distinctive convolutions characteristic of the mammalian brain.
Cerebral hemispheres
The cerebral cortex, underlying white matter, and subcortical structures.
Usually refers to the cerebral cortex and associated white matter, but in some texts includes the subcortical structures.
Usually refers to the cerebral cortex and associated white matter, but in some texts includes the subcortical structures.
Consists of left and right hemispheres that sit at the top of the nervous system and engages in a variety of higher-order functions.
C-fibers: Slow-conducting unmyelinated thin sensory afferents with a diameter of 1 μm and a conduction velocity of approximately 1 m/s. C-pain fibers convey noxious, thermal, and heat signals; C-tactile fibers convey gentle touch, light stroking.
Chameleon effect
The tendency for individuals to nonconsciously mimic the postures, mannerisms, facial expressions, and other behaviors of one’s interaction partners.
Character strength
A positive trait or quality deemed to be morally good and is valued for itself as well as for promoting individual and collective well-being.
Chemical senses
Our ability to process the environmental stimuli of smell and taste.
Child abuse
Injury, death, or emotional harm to a child caused by a parent or caregiver, either intentionally or unintentionally.
Term used to describe people who purposefully choose not to have children.
Term used to describe people who would like to have children but are unable to conceive.
A feeling of goosebumps, usually on the arms, scalp, and neck, that is often experienced during moments of awe.
Chromosomal sex
The sex of an individual as determined by the sex chromosomes (typically XX or XY) received at the time of fertilization.
Chronic disease
A health condition that persists over time, typically for periods longer than three months (e.g., HIV, asthma, diabetes).
Chronic pain
Persistent or recurrent pain, beyond usual course of acute illness or injury; sometimes present without observable tissue damage or clear cause.
Chronic stress
Discrete or related problematic events and conditions which persist over time and result in prolonged activation of the biological and/or psychological stress response (e.g., unemployment, ongoing health difficulties, marital discord).
The process of grouping information together using our knowledge.
Chutes and Ladders
A numerical board game that seems to be useful for building numerical knowledge.
Cingulate gyrus
A medial cortical portion of the nervous tissue that is a part of the limbic system.
Circadian Rhythm
Circadian Rhythm: The physiological sleep-wake cycle. It is influenced by exposure to sunlight as well as daily schedule and activity. Biologically, it includes changes in body temperature, blood pressure and blood sugar.
Classical conditioning
Describes stimulus-stimulus associative learning.
Classical conditioning
The procedure in which an initially neutral stimulus (the conditioned stimulus, or CS) is paired with an unconditioned stimulus (or US). The result is that the conditioned stimulus begins to elicit a conditioned response (CR). Classical conditioning is nowadays considered important as both a behavioral phenomenon and as a method to study simple associative learning. Same as Pavlovian conditioning.
Clock time
Scheduling activities according to the time on the clock.
Spiral bone structure in the inner ear containing auditory hair cells.
Snail-shell-shaped organ that transduces mechanical vibrations into neural signals.
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
Psychotherapy approach that incorporates cognitive techniques (targeting unhelpful thoughts) and behavioral techniques (changing behaviors) to improve psychological symptoms.
Cognitive bias modification
Using exercises (e.g., computer games) to change problematic thinking habits.
Cognitive failures
Every day slips and lapses, also called absentmindedness.
Cognitive psychology
The study of mental processes.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
A family of approaches with the goal of changing the thoughts and behaviors that influence psychopathology.
Arrangement where two unmarried adults live together.
Within attachment theory, the gaining of insight into and reconciling one’s childhood experiences.
Group of people typically born in the same year or historical period, who share common experiences over time; sometimes called a generation (e.g., Baby Boom Generation).
Cohort effects
Differences in personality that are related to historical and social factors unique to individuals born in a particular year.
Cohort effects
When research findings differ for participants of the same age tested at different points in historical time.
Collective efficacy
The shared beliefs among members of a group about the group’s ability to effectively perform the tasks needed to attain a valued goal.
Collective self-esteem
Feelings of self-worth that are based on evaluation of relationships with others and membership in social groups.
The cultural trend in which the primary unit of measurement is the group. Collectivists are likely to emphasize duty and obligation over personal aspirations.
Belief system that emphasizes the duties and obligations that each person has toward others.
The sense that a goal is both valuable and attainable
Common ground
Information that is shared by people who engage in a conversation.
Common knowledge effect
The tendency for groups to spend more time discussing information that all members know (shared information) and less time examining information that only a few members know (unshared).
Common-pool resource
A collective product or service that is freely available to all individuals of a society, but is vulnerable to overuse and degradation.
Commons dilemma game
A game in which members of a group must balance their desire for personal gain against the deterioration and possible collapse of a resource.
Describes a state of having more than one psychological or physical disorder at a given time.
Compensatory reflexes
A stabilizing motor reflex that occurs in response to a perceived movement, such as the vestibuloocular reflex, or the postural responses that occur during running or skiing.
​Complex experimental designs
An experiment with two or more independent variables.
Computerized axial tomography
A noninvasive brain-scanning procedure that uses X-ray absorption around the head.
The mental representation of a category.
Concrete operations stage
Piagetian stage between ages 7 and 12 when children can think logically about concrete situations but not engage in systematic scientific reasoning.
Conditioned aversions and preferences
Likes and dislikes developed through associations with pleasurable or unpleasurable sensations.
Conditioned compensatory response
In classical conditioning, a conditioned response that opposes, rather than is the same as, the unconditioned response. It functions to reduce the strength of the unconditioned response. Often seen in conditioning when drugs are used as unconditioned stimuli.
Conditioned response
A learned reaction following classical conditioning, or the process by which an event that automatically elicits a response is repeatedly paired with another neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus), resulting in the ability of the neutral stimulus to elicit the same response on its own.
Conditioned response (CR)
The response that is elicited by the conditioned stimulus after classical conditioning has taken place.
Conditioned stimulus (CS)
An initially neutral stimulus (like a bell, light, or tone) that elicits a conditioned response after it has been associated with an unconditioned stimulus.
Photoreceptors that operate in lighted environments and can encode fine visual details. There are three different kinds (S or blue, M or green and L or red) that are each sensitive to slightly different types of light. Combined, these three types of cones allow you to have color vision.
Photoreceptors of the retina sensitive to color. Located primarily in the fovea.
An actor working with the researcher. Most often, this individual is used to deceive unsuspecting research participants. Also known as a “stooge.”
A trusted person with whom secrets and vulnerabilities can be shared.
Confidence interval
An interval of plausible values for a population parameter; the interval of values within the margin of error of a statistic.
Changing one’s attitude or behavior to match a perceived social norm.
Changing one’s attitude or behavior to match a perceived social norm.
Factors that undermine the ability to draw causal inferences from an experiment.
An emotion associated with conflicting and contrary information, such as when people appraise an event as unfamiliar and as hard to understand. Confusion motivates people to work through the perplexing information and thus fosters deeper learning.
The cognitive, emotional, and social influences that cause young children to create and act consistently with internal standards of conduct.
A personality trait that reflects a person’s tendency to be careful, organized, hardworking, and to follow rules.
A personality trait consisting of self-control, orderliness, industriousness, and traditionalism.
Having knowledge of something external or internal to oneself; being aware of and responding to one’s surroundings.
Conscious experience
The first-person perspective of a mental event, such as feeling some sensory input, a memory, an idea, an emotion, a mood, or a continuous temporal sequence of happenings.
Conscious goal activation
When a person is fully aware of contextual influences and resulting goal-directed behavior.
Awareness of ourselves and our environment.
The quality or state of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. It has been defined as the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.
Consciousness: the awareness or deliberate perception of a stimulus
Conservation problems
Problems pioneered by Piaget in which physical transformation of an object or set of objects changes a perceptually salient dimension but not the quantity that is being asked about.
Process by which a memory trace is stabilized and transformed into a more durable form.
The process occurring after encoding that is believed to stabilize memory traces.
Contemplative science
A research area concerned with understanding how contemplative practices such as meditation can affect individuals, including changes in their behavior, their emotional reactivity, their cognitive abilities, and their brains. Contemplative science also seeks insights into conscious experience that can be gained from first-person observations by individuals who have gained extraordinary expertise in introspection.
Stimuli that are in the background whenever learning occurs. For instance, the Skinner box or room in which learning takes place is the classic example of a context. However, “context” can also be provided by internal stimuli, such as the sensory effects of drugs (e.g., being under the influence of alcohol has stimulus properties that provide a context) and mood states (e.g., being happy or sad). It can also be provided by a specific period in time—the passage of time is sometimes said to change the “temporal context.”
Contingency management
A reward or punishment that systematically follows a behavior. Parents can use contingencies to modify their children’s behavior.
Continuous development
Ways in which development occurs in a gradual incremental manner, rather than through sudden jumps.
Continuous distributions
Characteristics can go from low to high, with all different intermediate values possible. One does not simply have the trait or not have it, but can possess varying amounts of it.
Literally “opposite side”; used to refer to the fact that the two hemispheres of the brain process sensory information and motor commands for the opposite side of the body (e.g., the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body).
Literally “opposite side”; used to refer to the fact that the two hemispheres of the brain process sensory information and motor commands for the opposite side of the body (e.g., the left hemisphere controls the right side of the body).
Relative difference in the amount and type of light coming from two nearby locations.
Contrast gain
Process where the sensitivity of your visual system can be tuned to be most sensitive to the levels of contrast that are most prevalent in the environment.
Feeling like you have the power to change your environment or behavior if you need or want to.
Convergent thinking
The opposite of divergent thinking, the capacity to narrow in on the single “correct” answer or solution to a given question or problem (e.g., giving the right response on an intelligence tests).
Converging evidence
Similar findings reported from multiple studies using different methods.
Convoy Model of Social Relations
Theory that proposes that the frequency, types, and reciprocity of social exchanges change with age. These social exchanges impact the health and well-being of the givers and receivers in the convoy.
The coordination of multiple partners toward a common goal that will benefit everyone involved.
Coping potential
People's beliefs about their ability to handle challenges.
Coronal plane
A slice that runs from head to foot; brain slices in this plane are similar to slices of a loaf of bread, with the eyes being the front of the loaf.
Corpus Callosum
The thick bundle of nerve cells that connect the two hemispheres of the brain and allow them to communicate.
A measure of the association between two variables, or how they go together.
Measures the association between two variables, or how they go together.
Correlational research
A type of descriptive research that involves measuring the association between two variables, or how they go together.
Corresponsive principle
The idea that personality traits often become matched with environmental conditions such that an individual’s social context acts to accentuate and reinforce their personality attributes.
A hormone made by the adrenal glands, within the cortex. Cortisol helps the body maintain blood pressure and immune function. Cortisol increases when the body is under stress.
Cost–benefit analysis
A decision-making process that compares the cost of an action or thing against the expected benefit to help determine the best course of action.
Counterfactual thinking
Mentally comparing actual events with fantasies of what might have been possible in alternative scenarios.
Cover story
A fake description of the purpose and/or procedure of a study, used when deception is necessary in order to answer a research question.
C-pain or Aδ-fibers
C-pain fibers convey noxious, thermal, and heat signals
Cross-cultural psychology (or cross-cultural studies)
An approach to researching culture that emphasizes the use of standard scales as a means of making meaningful comparisons across groups.
Cross-cultural studies (or cross-cultural psychology)
An approach to researching culture that emphasizes the use of standard scales as a means of making meaningful comparisons across groups.
Crossmodal phenomena
Effects that concern the influence of the perception of one sensory modality on the perception of another.
Crossmodal receptive field
A receptive field that can be stimulated by a stimulus from more than one sensory modality.
Crossmodal stimulus
A stimulus with components in multiple sensory modalties that interact with each other.
Cross-sectional design
Research method that involves observation of all of a population, or a representative subset, at one specific point in time.
Cross-sectional research
A research design used to examine behavior in participants of different ages who are tested at the same point in time.
Cross-sectional studies
Research method that provides information about age group differences; age differences are confounded with cohort differences and effects related to history and time of study.
Cross-sectional study/design
A research design that uses a group of individuals with different ages (and birth cohorts) assessed at a single point in time.
Adolescent peer groups characterized by shared reputations or images.
Crystallized intelligence
Type of intellectual ability that relies on the application of knowledge, experience, and learned information.
C-tactile fibers
C-tactile fibers convey gentle touch, light stroking
Cue overload principle
The principle stating that the more memories that are associated to a particular retrieval cue, the less effective the cue will be in prompting retrieval of any one memory.
Cues: a stimulus that has a particular significance to the perceiver (e.g., a sight or a sound that has special relevance to the person who saw or heard it)
Cultural differences
An approach to understanding culture primarily by paying attention to unique and distinctive features that set them apart from other cultures.
Cultural display rules
These are rules that are learned early in life that specify the management and modification of emotional expressions according to social circumstances. Cultural display rules can work in a number of different ways. For example, they can require individuals to express emotions “as is” (i.e., as they feel them), to exaggerate their expressions to show more than what is actually felt, to tone down their expressions to show less than what is actually felt, to conceal their feelings by expressing something else, or to show nothing at all.
Cultural intelligence
The ability and willingness to apply cultural awareness to practical uses.
Cultural psychology​
An approach to researching culture that emphasizes the use of interviews and observation as a means of understanding culture from its own point of view.
Cultural relativism
The idea that cultural norms and values of a society can only be understood on their own terms or in their own context.
Cultural relativism
The principled objection to passing overly culture-bound (i.e., “ethnocentric”) judgements on aspects of other cultures.
Cultural script
Learned guides for how to behave appropriately in a given social situation. These reflect cultural norms and widely accepted values.
Cultural similarities
An approach to understanding culture primarily by paying attention to common features that are the same as or similar to those of other cultures
A pattern of shared meaning and behavior among a group of people that is passed from one generation to the next.
Shared, socially transmitted ideas (e.g., values, beliefs, attitudes) that are reflected in and reinforced by institutions, products, and rituals.
Culture of honor
A culture in which personal or family reputation is especially important.
Cumulative continuity principle
The generalization that personality attributes show increasing stability with age and experience.
Cutaneous senses
The senses of the skin: tactile, thermal, pruritic (itchy), painful, and pleasant.
Daily Diary method
A methodology where participants complete a questionnaire about their thoughts, feelings, and behavior of the day at the end of the day.
Daily hassles
Irritations in daily life that are not necessarily traumatic, but that cause difficulties and repeated stress.
Dark adaptation
Adjustment of eye to low levels of light.
Dark adaptation
Process that allows you to become sensitive to very small levels of light, so that you can actually see in the near-absence of light.
Day reconstruction method (DRM)
A methodology where participants describe their experiences and behavior of a given day retrospectively upon a systematic reconstruction on the following day.
The fading of memories with the passage of time.
Declarative memory
Conscious memories for facts and events.
Decomposed games
A task in which an individual chooses from multiple allocations of resources to distribute between him- or herself and another person.
The removal of the potential for female traits.
Defensive coping mechanism
An unconscious process, which protects an individual from unacceptable or painful ideas, impulses, or memories.
Deliberative phase
The first of the two basic stages of self-regulation in which individuals decide which of many potential goals to pursue at a given point in time.
False beliefs that are often fixed, hard to change even in the presence of conflicting information, and often culturally influenced in their content.
Demand characteristics
Subtle cues that make participants aware of what the experimenter expects to find or how participants are expected to behave.
The removal of the potential for male traits.
Part of a neuron that extends away from the cell body and is the main input to the neuron.
Part of a neuron that extends away from the cell body and is the main input to the neuron.
Deoxygenated hemoglobin
Hemoglobin not carrying oxygen.
Departure stage
Stage at which parents prepare for a child to depart and evaluate their successes and failures as parents.
A pervasive and excessive need to be taken care of that leads to submissive and clinging behavior and fears of separation.
Dependent variable
The variable the researcher measures but does not manipulate in an experiment.
Dependent variable
The variable the researcher measures but does not manipulate in an experiment.
A change in a cell’s membrane potential, making the inside of the cell more positive and increasing the chance of an action potential.
When receptor hair cells have mechanically gated channels open, the cell increases its membrane voltage, which produces a release of neurotransmitter to excite the innervating nerve fiber.
Depressants: a class of drugs that slow down the body’s physiological and mental processes.
Depth perception
The ability to actively perceive the distance from oneself of objects in the environment.
Dissociative Experiences Scale.
Descending pain modulatory system
A top-down pain-modulating system able to inhibit or facilitate pain. The pathway produces analgesia by the release of endogenous opioids. Several brain structures and nuclei are part of this circuit, such as the frontal lobe areas of the anterior cingulate cortex, orbitofrontal cortex, and insular cortex; and nuclei in the amygdala and the hypothalamus, which all project to a structure in the midbrain called the periaqueductal grey (PAG). The PAG then controls ascending pain transmission from the afferent pain system indirectly through the rostral ventromedial medulla (RVM) in the brainstem, which uses ON- and OFF-cells to inhibit or facilitate nociceptive signals at the spinal dorsal horn.
Descriptive norm
The perception of what most people do in a given situation.
Detection thresholds
The smallest amount of head motion that can be reliably reported by an observer.
Developed countries
The economically advanced countries of the world, in which most of the world’s wealth is concentrated.
Developing countries
The less economically advanced countries that comprise the majority of the world’s population. Most are currently developing at a rapid rate.
Developmental intergroup theory
A theory that postulates that adults’ focus on gender leads children to pay attention to gender as a key source of information about themselves and others, to seek out possible gender differences, and to form rigid stereotypes based on gender.
Deviant peer contagion
The spread of problem behaviors within groups of adolescents.
Diagnostic criteria
The specific criteria used to determine whether an individual has a specific type of psychiatric disorder. Commonly used diagnostic criteria are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, 5th Edition (DSM-5) and the Internal Classification of Disorders, Version 9 (ICD-9).
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
A treatment often used for borderline personality disorder that incorporates both cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness elements.
Dialectical worldview
A perspective in DBT that emphasizes the joint importance of change and acceptance.
Dichotic listening
A task in which different audio streams are presented to each ear. Typically, people are asked to monitor one stream while ignoring the other.
Dichotic listening
An experimental task in which two messages are presented to different ears.
Dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, is at the far end of the dissociative disorder spectrum. It is characterized by at least two distinct, and dissociated personality states. These personality states – or ‘alters’ - alternately control a person’s behavior. The sufferer therefore experiences significant memory impairment for important information not explained by ordinary forgetfulness.
Differential stability
Consistency in the rank-ordering of personality across two or more measurement occasions.
Differential susceptibility
Genetic factors that make individuals more or less responsive to environmental experiences.
Differential threshold
The smallest difference needed in order to differentiate two stimuli. (See Just Noticeable Difference (JND))
Diffuse Optical Imaging​ (DOI)
A neuroimaging technique that infers brain activity by measuring changes in light as it is passed through the skull and surface of the brain.
Diffuse optical imaging (DOI)
A neuroimaging technique that infers brain activity by measuring changes in light as it is passed through the skull and surface of the brain.
The force on molecules to move from areas of high concentration to areas of low concentration.
Diffusion of responsibility
When deciding whether to help a person in need, knowing that there are others who could also provide assistance relieves bystanders of some measure of personal responsibility, reducing the likelihood that bystanders will intervene.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
A primary androgen that is an androgenic steroid product of testosterone and binds strongly to androgen receptors.
Directional goals
The motivation to reach a particular outcome or judgment.
Directional tuning
The preferred direction of motion that hair cells and afferents exhibit where a peak excitatory response occurs and the least preferred direction where no response occurs. Cells are said to be “tuned” for a best and worst direction of motion, with in-between motion directions eliciting a lesser but observable response.
Discontinuous development
Discontinuous development
Discrimination is behavior that advantages or disadvantages people merely based on their group membership.
Discrimination is behavior that advantages or disadvantages people merely based on their group membership.
Discriminative stimulus
In operant conditioning, a stimulus that signals whether the response will be reinforced. It is said to “set the occasion” for the operant response.
When participants demonstrated increased attention (through looking or listening behavior) to a new stimulus after having been habituated to a different stimulus.
Disorganized behavior
Behavior or dress that is outside the norm for almost all subcultures. This would include odd dress, odd makeup (e.g., lipstick outlining a mouth for 1 inch), or unusual rituals (e.g., repetitive hand gestures).
Disorganized speech
Speech that is difficult to follow, either because answers do not clearly follow questions or because one sentence does not logically follow from another.
Dissociation: the heightened focus on one stimulus or thought such that many other things around you are ignored; a disconnect between one’s awareness of their environment and the one object the person is focusing on
A disruption in the usually integrated function of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the environment.
Dissociative amnesia
Loss of autobiographical memories from a period in the past in the absence of brain injury or disease.
The principle that unusual events (in a context of similar events) will be recalled and recognized better than uniform (nondistinctive) events.
Distractor task
A task that is designed to make a person think about something unrelated to an impending decision.
The pattern of variation in data.
Divergent thinking
The opposite of convergent thinking, the capacity for exploring multiple potential answers or solutions to a given question or problem (e.g., coming up with many different uses for a common object).
Divided attention
The ability to flexibly allocate attentional resources between two or more concurrent tasks.
DNA methylation
Covalent modifications of mammalian DNA occurring via the methylation of cytosine, typically in the context of the CpG dinucleotide.
DNA methyltransferases (DNMTs)
Enzymes that establish and maintain DNA methylation using methyl-group donor compounds or cofactors. The main mammalian DNMTs are DNMT1, which maintains methylation state across DNA replication, and DNMT3a and DNMT3b, which perform de novo methylation.
A neurotransmitter in the brain that is thought to play an important role in regulating the function of other neurotransmitters.
Dorsal pathway
Pathway of visual processing. The “where” pathway.
Double flash illusion
The false perception of two visual flashes when a single flash is accompanied by two auditory beeps.
Downward comparison
Making mental comparisons with people who are perceived to be inferior on the standard of comparison.
Drive state
Affective experiences that motivate organisms to fulfill goals that are generally beneficial to their survival and reproduction.
Drug diversion
When a drug that is prescribed to treat a medical condition is given to another individual who seeks to use the drug illicitly.
Dunning-Kruger Effect
The tendency for unskilled people to be overconfident in their ability and highly skilled people to underestimate their ability.
Durability bias
A bias in affective forecasting in which one overestimates for how long one will feel an emotion (positive or negative) after some event.
Early adversity
Single or multiple acute or chronic stressful events, which may be biological or psychological in nature (e.g., poverty, abuse, childhood illness or injury), occurring during childhood and resulting in a biological and/or psychological stress response.
Ecological momentary assessment
An overarching term to describe methodologies that repeatedly sample participants’ real-world experiences, behavior, and physiology in real time.
Ecological validity
The degree to which a study finding has been obtained under conditions that are typical for what happens in everyday life.
Ecological validity
The degree to which a study finding has been obtained under conditions that are typical for what happens in everyday life.
The outermost layer of a developing fetus.
(Electroencephalography) The recording of the brain’s electrical activity over a period of time by placing electrodes on the scalp.
Efferent nerves
Nerves that carry messages from the brain to glands and organs in the periphery.
Effortful control
A temperament quality that enables children to be more successful in motivated self-regulation.
Sigmund Freud’s conception of an executive self in the personality. Akin to this module’s notion of “the I,” Freud imagined the ego as observing outside reality, engaging in rational though, and coping with the competing demands of inner desires and moral standards.
Ego defenses
Mental strategies, rooted in the ego, that we use to manage anxiety when we feel threatened (some examples include repression, denial, sublimation, and reaction formation).
Ego depletion
The idea that people have a limited pool of mental resources for self-control (e.g., regulating emotions, willpower), and this pool can be used up (depleted).
Ego depletion
The state of diminished willpower or low energy associated with having exerted self-regulation.
The exhaustion of physiological and/or psychological resources following the completion of effortful self-control tasks, which subsequently leads to reduction in the capacity to exert more self-control.
A motivation for helping that has the improvement of the helper’s own circumstances as its primary goal.
Elder abuse
Any form of mistreatment that results in harm to an elder person, often caused by his/her adult child.
A measure of electrical activity generated by the brain’s neurons.
A technique that is used to measure gross electrical activity of the brain by placing electrodes on the scalp.
Electroencephalography (EEG)
A neuroimaging technique that measures electrical brain activity via multiple electrodes on the scalp.
Electroencephalography (EEG)
A neuroimaging technique that measures electrical brain activity via multiple electrodes on the scalp.
Electronically activated recorder (EAR)
A methodology where participants wear a small, portable audio recorder that intermittently records snippets of ambient sounds around them.
Electronically activated recorder, or EAR
A methodology where participants wear a small, portable audio recorder that intermittently records snippets of ambient sounds around them.
Electrostatic pressure
The force on two ions with similar charge to repel each other; the force of two ions with opposite charge to attract to one another.
Elicited imitation
A behavioral method used to examine recall memory in infants and young children.
Emerging adulthood
A new life stage extending from approximately ages 18 to 25, during which the foundation of an adult life is gradually constructed in love and work. Primary features include identity explorations, instability, focus on self-development, feeling incompletely adult, and a broad sense of possibilities.
An experiential, physiological, and behavioral response to a personally meaningful stimulus.
Emotion coherence
The degree to which emotional responses (subjective experience, behavior, physiology, etc.) converge with one another.
Emotion fluctuation
The degree to which emotions vary or change in intensity over time.
Emotion regulation
The ability to recognize emotional experiences and respond to situations by engaging in strategies to manage emotions as necessary.
Emotional intelligence
The ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions. (Salovey & Mayer, 1990). EI includes four specific abilities: perceiving, using, understanding, and managing emotions.
Emotion-focused coping
Coping strategy aimed at reducing the negative emotions associated with a stressful event.
Changes in subjective experience, physiological responding, and behavior in response to a meaningful event. Emotions tend to occur on the order of seconds (in contract to moods which may last for days).
Empathic concern
According to Batson’s empathy–altruism hypothesis, observers who empathize with a person in need (that is, put themselves in the shoes of the victim and imagine how that person feels) will experience empathic concern and have an altruistic motivation for helping.
The ability to vicariously experience the emotions of another person.
Empathy–altruism model
An altruistic theory proposed by Batson (2011) that claims that people who put themselves in the shoes of a victim and imagining how the victim feel will experience empathic concern that evokes an altruistic motivation for helping.
Empirical methods
Approaches to inquiry that are tied to actual measurement and observation.
The belief that knowledge comes from experience.
Empty Nest
Feelings of sadness and loneliness that parents may feel when their adult children leave the home for the first time.
The pact of putting information into memory.
The initial experience of perceiving and learning events.
Process by which information gets into memory.
Encoding specificity principle
The hypothesis that a retrieval cue will be effective to the extent that information encoded from the cue overlaps or matches information in the engram or memory trace.
The uniquely human form of learning that is taught by one generation to another.
Endocrine gland
A ductless gland from which hormones are released into the blood system in response to specific biological signals.
A characteristic that reflects a genetic liability for disease and a more basic component of a complex clinical presentation. Endophenotypes are less developmentally malleable than overt behavior.
An endogenous morphine-like peptide that binds to the opioid receptors in the brain and body; synthesized in the body’s nervous system.
Formal agreement to get married.
A term indicating the change in the nervous system representing an event; also, memory trace.
A protein produced by a living organism that allows or helps a chemical reaction to occur.
Enzyme induction
Process through which a drug can enhance the production of an enzyme.
Heritable changes in gene activity that are not caused by changes in the DNA sequence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epigenetics
The study of heritable changes in gene expression or cellular phenotype caused by mechanisms other than changes in the underlying DNA sequence. Epigenetic marks include covalent DNA modifications and posttranslational histone modifications.
The genome-wide distribution of epigenetic marks.
Episodic memory
The ability to learn and retrieve new information or episodes in one’s life.
Episodic memory
Memory for events in a particular time and place.
Error management theory (EMT)
A theory of selection under conditions of uncertainty in which recurrent cost asymmetries of judgment or inference favor the evolution of adaptive cognitive biases that function to minimize the more costly errors.
Any of the C18 class of steroid hormones, so named because of the estrus-generating properties in females. Biologically important estrogens include estradiol and estriol.
Professional guidelines that offer researchers a template for making decisions that protect research participants from potential harm and that help steer scientists away from conflicts of interest or other situations that might compromise the integrity of their research.
Ethnocentric bias (or ethnocentrism)
Being unduly guided by the beliefs of the culture you’ve grown up in, especially when this results in a misunderstanding or disparagement of unfamiliar cultures.
Ethnographic studies
Research that emphasizes field data collection and that examines questions that attempt to understand culture from it's own context and point of view.
The causal description of all of the factors that contribute to the development of a disorder or illness.
The practice of selective breeding to promote desired traits.
Euphoria: an intense feeling of pleasure, excitement or happiness.
Eureka experience
When a creative product enters consciousness.
Evaluative priming​ task
An implicit attitude task that assesses the extent to which an attitude object is associated with a positive or negative valence by measuring the time it takes a person to label an adjective as good or bad after being presented with an attitude object.
A physiological measure of large electrical change in the brain produced by sensory stimulation or motor responses.
The recording of participant brain activity using a stretchy cap with small electrodes or sensors as participants engage in a particular task (commonly viewing photographs or listening to auditory stimuli).
Measures the firing of groups of neurons in the cortex. As a person views or listens to specific types of information, neuronal activity creates small electrical currents that can be recorded from non-invasive sensors placed on the scalp. ERP provides excellent information about the timing of processing, clarifying brain activity at the millisecond pace at which it unfolds.
Evocative person–environment transactions
The interplay between individuals and their contextual circumstances that occurs whenever attributes of the individual draw out particular responses from others in their environment.
Change over time. Is the definition changing?
Excitatory postsynaptic potentials
A depolarizing postsynaptic current that causes the membrane potential to become more positive and move towards the threshold of excitation.
An example in memory that is labeled as being in a particular category.
Experience sampling methods
Systematic ways of having participants provide samples of their ongoing behavior. Participants' reports are dependent (contingent) upon either a signal, pre-established intervals, or the occurrence of some event.
Experience-sampling method
A methodology where participants report on their momentary thoughts, feelings, and behaviors at different points in time over the course of a day.
Experimenter expectations
When the experimenter’s expectations influence the outcome of a study.
Explicit attitude
An attitude that is consciously held and can be reported on by the person holding the attitude.
Exposure therapy
A form of intervention in which the patient engages with a problematic (usually feared) situation without avoidance or escape.
Exposure treatment
A technique used in behavior therapy that involves a patient repeatedly confronting a feared situation, without danger, to reduce anxiety.
External cues
Stimuli in the outside world that serve as triggers for anxiety or as reminders of past traumatic events.
External validity
The degree to which a finding generalizes from the specific sample and context of a study to some larger population and broader settings.
The sense of the external world, of all stimulation originating from outside our own bodies.
Decrease in the strength of a learned behavior that occurs when the conditioned stimulus is presented without the unconditioned stimulus (in classical conditioning) or when the behavior is no longer reinforced (in instrumental conditioning). The term describes both the procedure (the US or reinforcer is no longer presented) as well as the result of the procedure (the learned response declines). Behaviors that have been reduced in strength through extinction are said to be “extinguished.”
A personality trait that reflects a person’s tendency to be sociable, outgoing, active, and assertive.
Extrinsic motivation
Motivation stemming from the benefits associated with achieving a goal such as obtaining a monetary reward.
Broad personality traits can be broken down into narrower facets or aspects of the trait. For example, extraversion has several facets, such as sociability, dominance, risk-taking and so forth.
Facial expressions
Part of the expressive component of emotions, facial expressions of emotion communicate inner feelings to others.
Factor analysis
A statistical technique for grouping similar things together according to how highly they are associated.
False memories
Memory for an event that never actually occurred, implanted by experimental manipulation or other means.
False-belief test
An experimental procedure that assesses whether a perceiver recognizes that another person has a false belief—a belief that contradicts reality.
Family of orientation
The family one is born into.
Family of procreation
The family one creates, usually through marriage.
Family Stress Model
A description of the negative effects of family financial difficulty on child adjustment through the effects of economic stress on parents’ depressed mood, increased marital problems, and poor parenting.
Family systems theory
Theory that says a person cannot be understood on their own, but as a member of a unit.
Fantasy proneness
The tendency to extensive fantasizing or daydreaming.
Fear conditioning
A type of classical or Pavlovian conditioning in which the conditioned stimulus (CS) is associated with an aversive unconditioned stimulus (US), such as a foot shock. As a consequence of learning, the CS comes to evoke fear. The phenomenon is thought to be involved in the development of anxiety disorders in humans.
Fear of negative evaluation
The preoccupation with and dread of the possibility of being judged negatively by others.
Fear of positive evaluation
The dread associated with favorable public evaluation or acknowledgment of success, particularly when it involves social comparison.
A general term used to describe a wide range of states that include emotions, moods, traits and that typically involve changes in subjective experience, physiological responding, and behavior in response to a meaningful event. Emotions typically occur on the order of seconds, whereas moods may last for days, and traits are tendencies to respond a certain way across various situations.
The induction of female traits.
Field experiment
An experiment that occurs outside of the lab and in a real world situation.
Fight or flight response
The physiological response that occurs in response to a perceived threat, preparing the body for actions needed to deal with the threat.
Fight or flight response
A biological reaction to alarming stressors that prepares the body to resist or escape a threat.
First-person perspective
Observations made by individuals about their own conscious experiences, also known as introspection or a subjective point of view. Phenomenology refers to the description and investigation of such observations.
Five-Factor Model
(also called the Big Five) The Five-Factor Model is a widely accepted model of personality traits. Advocates of the model believe that much of the variability in people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can be summarized with five broad traits. These five traits are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
Five-Factor Model
Five broad domains or dimensions that are used to describe human personality.
Fixed action patterns (FAPs)
Sequences of behavior that occur in exactly the same fashion, in exactly the same order, every time they are elicited.
Fixed mindset
The belief that personal qualities such as intelligence are traits that cannot be developed. People with fixed mindsets often underperform compared to those with “growth mindsets”
Sudden, intense re-experiencing of a previous event, usually trauma-related.
Flashbulb memory
A highly detailed and vivid memory of an emotionally significant event.
Flashbulb memory
Vivid personal memories of receiving the news of some momentous (and usually emotional) event.
Flat affect
A reduction in the display of emotions through facial expressions, gestures, and speech intonation.
The combination of smell and taste.
Flexible Correction Model
Flexible Correction Model: the ability for people to correct or change their beliefs and evaluations if they believe these judgments have been biased (e.g., if someone realizes they only thought their day was great because it was sunny, they may revise their evaluation of the day to account for this “biasing” influence of the weather)
To live optimally psychologically, relationally, and spiritually.
Fluid intelligence
Type of intelligence that relies on the ability to use information processing resources to reason logically and solve novel problems.
Any member of a lineup (whether live or photograph) other than the suspect.
Folk explanations of behavior
People’s natural explanations for why somebody did something, felt something, etc. (differing substantially for unintentional and intentional behaviors).
Foot in the door
Obtaining a small, initial commitment.
A part of the nervous system that contains the cerebral hemispheres, thalamus, and hypothalamus.
Individuals commit to an identity without exploration of options.
The letting go of negative thoughts, feelings, and behaviors toward an offender.
Formal operations stage
Piagetian stage starting at age 12 years and continuing for the rest of life, in which adolescents may gain the reasoning powers of educated adults.
(plural form, fornices) A nerve fiber tract that connects the hippocampus to mammillary bodies.
Foster care
Care provided by alternative families to children whose families of orientation cannot adequately care for them; often arranged through the government or a social service agency.
Four-Branch Model
An ability model developed by Drs. Peter Salovey and John Mayer that includes four main components of EI, arranged in hierarchical order, beginning with basic psychological processes and advancing to integrative psychological processes. The branches are (1) perception of emotion, (2) use of emotion to facilitate thinking, (3) understanding emotion, and (4) management of emotion.
The bias to be systematically affected by the way in which information is presented, while holding the objective information constant.
Free association
In psychodynamic therapy, a process in which the patient reports all thoughts that come to mind without censorship, and these thoughts are interpreted by the therapist.
Free rider problem
A situation in which one or more individuals benefit from a common-pool resource without paying their share of the cost.
Frog Pond Effect
The theory that a person’s comparison group can affect their evaluations of themselves. Specifically, people have a tendency to have lower self-evaluations when comparing themselves to higher performing groups.
Frontal lobe
The front most (anterior) part of the cerebrum; anterior to the central sulcus and responsible for motor output and planning, language, judgment, and decision-making.
Frontal lobe
The most forward region (close to forehead) of the cerebral hemispheres.
Frontal Lobe
The front most (anterior) part of the cerebrum; anterior to the central sulcus and responsible for motor output and planning, language, judgment, and decision-making.
Full-cycle psychology
A scientific approach whereby researchers start with an observational field study to identify an effect in the real world, follow up with laboratory experimentation to verify the effect and isolate the causal mechanisms, and return to field research to corroborate their experimental findings.
Functional capacity
The ability to engage in self-care (cook, clean, bathe), work, attend school, and/or engage in social relationships.
Functional distance
The frequency with which we cross paths with others.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging
A measure of changes in the oxygenation of blood flow as areas in the brain become active.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging
(or fMRI) A noninvasive brain-imaging technique that registers changes in blood flow in the brain during a given task (also see magnetic resonance imaging).
Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): A neuroimaging technique that infers brain activity by measuring changes in oxygen levels in the blood.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
Entails the use of powerful magnets to measure the levels of oxygen within the brain that vary with changes in neural activity. That is, as the neurons in specific brain regions “work harder” when performing a specific task, they require more oxygen. By having people listen to or view social percepts in an MRI scanner, fMRI specifies the brain regions that evidence a relative increase in blood flow. In this way, fMRI provides excellent spatial information, pinpointing with millimeter accuracy, the brain regions most critical for different social processes.
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI)
Functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI): A neuroimaging technique that infers brain activity by measuring changes in oxygen levels in the blood.
Functional neuroanatomy
Classifying how regions within the nervous system relate to psychology and behavior.
A school of American psychology that focused on the utility of consciousness.
F​unctionalist theories of emotion
Theories of emotion that emphasize the adaptive role of an emotion in handling common problems throughout evolutionary history.
Fundamental attribution error
The tendency to emphasize another person’s personality traits when describing that person’s motives and behaviors and overlooking the influence of situational factors.
Short for “general factor” and is often used to be synonymous with intelligence itself.
g or general mental ability
The general factor common to all cognitive ability measures, “a very general mental capacity that, among other things, involves the ability to reason, plan, solve problems, think abstractly, comprehend complex ideas, learn quickly, and learn from experience. It is not merely book learning, a narrow academic skill, or test-taking smarts. Rather, it reflects a broader and deeper capability for comprehending our surroundings—‘catching on,’ ‘making sense of things,’ or ‘figuring out’ what to do” (Gottfredson, 1997, p. 13).
Gamma-aminobutyric acid
A major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the vestibular commissural system.
Gaze stability
A combination of eye, neck, and head responses that are all coordinated to maintain visual fixation (fovea) upon a point of interest.
The cultural, social, and psychological meanings that are associated with masculinity and femininity.
Gender constancy
The awareness that gender is constant and does not change simply by changing external attributes; develops between 3 and 6 years of age.
Gender discrimination
Differential treatment on the basis of gender.
Gender identity
A person’s psychological sense of being male or female.
Gender roles
The behaviors, attitudes, and personality traits that are designated as either masculine or feminine in a given culture.
Gender schema theory
This theory of how children form their own gender roles argues that children actively organize others’ behavior, activities, and attributes into gender categories or schemas.
Gender schemas
Organized beliefs and expectations about maleness and femaleness that guide children’s thinking about gender.
Gender stereotypes
The beliefs and expectations people hold about the typical characteristics, preferences, and behaviors of men and women.
A specific deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence that codes for a specific polypeptide or protein or an observable inherited trait.
Gene Selection Theory
The modern theory of evolution by selection by which differential gene replication is the defining process of evolutionary change.
General Adaptation Syndrome
A three-phase model of stress, which includes a mobilization of physiological resources phase, a coping phase, and an exhaustion phase (i.e., when an organism fails to cope with the stress adequately and depletes its resources).
General population
A sample of people representative of the average individual in our society.
Related to whether the results from the sample can be generalized to a larger population.
Generalizing, in science, refers to the ability to arrive at broad conclusions based on a smaller sample of observations. For these conclusions to be true the sample should accurately represent the larger population from which it is drawn.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
Excessive worry about everyday things that is at a level that is out of proportion to the specific causes of worry.
Genome-wide association study (GWAS)
A study that maps DNA polymorphisms in affected individuals and controls matched for age, sex, and ethnic background with the aim of identifying causal genetic variants.
The DNA content of a cell’s nucleus, whether a trait is externally observable or not.
Gestalt psychology
An attempt to study the unity of experience.
Global subjective well-being
Individuals’ perceptions of and satisfaction with their lives as a whole.
Globus pallidus
A nucleus of the basal ganglia.
An excitatory amino acid neurotransmitter that is widely used by vestibular receptors, afferents, and many neurons in the brain.
The cognitive representation of a desired state (outcome).
Goal priming
The activation of a goal following exposure to cues in the immediate environment related to the goal or its corresponding means (e.g., images, words, sounds).
Goal-directed behavior
Instrumental behavior that is influenced by the animal’s knowledge of the association between the behavior and its consequence and the current value of the consequence. Sensitive to the reinforcer devaluation effect.
Gonadal sex
The sex of an individual as determined by the possession of either ovaries or testes. Females have ovaries, whereas males have testes.
Good genes hypothesis
Proposes that certain physical qualities, like averageness, are attractive because they advertise mate quality—either greater fertility or better genetic traits that lead to better offspring and hence greater reproductive success.
Goodness of fit
The match or synchrony between a child’s temperament and characteristics of parental care that contributes to positive or negative personality development. A good “fit” means that parents have accommodated to the child’s temperamental attributes, and this contributes to positive personality growth and better adjustment.
Gradually escalating commitments
A pattern of small, progressively escalating demands is less likely to be rejected than a single large demand made all at once.
Inflated self-esteem or an exaggerated sense of self-importance and self-worth (e.g., believing one has special powers or superior abilities).
A feeling of appreciation or thankfulness in response to receiving a benefit.
Gray matter
Composes the bark or the cortex of the cerebrum and consists of the cell bodies of the neurons (see also white matter).
Gray matter
The outer grayish regions of the brain comprised of the neurons’ cell bodies.
Group cohesion
The solidarity or unity of a group resulting from the development of strong and mutual interpersonal bonds among members and group-level forces that unify the group, such as shared commitment to group goals.
Group level
A focus on summary statistics that apply to aggregates of individuals when studying personality development. An example is considering whether the average score of a group of 50 year olds is higher than the average score of a group of 21 year olds when considering a trait like conscientiousness.
Group polarization
The tendency for members of a deliberating group to move to a more extreme position, with the direction of the shift determined by the majority or average of the members’ predeliberation preferences.
A set of negative group-level processes, including illusions of invulnerability, self-censorship, and pressures to conform, that occur when highly cohesive groups seek concurrence when making a decision.
Growth mindset
The belief that personal qualities, such as intelligence, can be developed through effort and practice.
Ability to process gustatory stimuli. Also called taste.
The action of tasting; the ability to taste.
(plural) Folds between sulci in the cortex.
A fold between sulci in the cortex.
(plural form, gyri) A bulge that is raised between or among fissures of the convoluted brain.
Instrumental behavior that occurs automatically in the presence of a stimulus and is no longer influenced by the animal’s knowledge of the value of the reinforcer. Insensitive to the reinforcer devaluation effect.
When participants demonstrated decreased attention (through looking or listening behavior) to repeatedly-presented stimuli.
Occurs when the response to a stimulus decreases with exposure.
Hair cells
The receptor cells of the vestibular system. They are termed hair cells due to the many hairlike cilia that extend from the apical surface of the cell into the gelatin membrane. Mechanical gated ion channels in the tips of the cilia open and close as the cilia bend to cause membrane voltage changes in the hair cell that are proportional to the intensity and direction of motion.
Perceptual experiences that occur even when there is no stimulus in the outside world generating the experiences. They can be auditory, visual, olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), or somatic (touch).
Hallucinogens: substances that, when ingested, alter a person’s perceptions, often by creating hallucinations that are not real or distorting their perceptions of time.
The popular word for subjective well-being. Scientists sometimes avoid using this term because it can refer to different things, such as feeling good, being satisfied, or even the causes of high subjective well-being.
A state of well-being characterized by relative permanence, by dominantly agreeable emotion ranging in value from mere contentment to deep and intense joy in living, and by a natural desire for its continuation.
Hawthorne Effect
An effect in which individuals change or improve some facet of their behavior as a result of their awareness of being observed.
Hawthorne Studies
A series of well-known studies conducted under the leadership of Harvard University researchers, which changed the perspective of scholars and practitioners about the role of human psychology in relation to work behavior.
According to the World Health Organization, it is a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
The complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being—not just the absence of disease or infirmity.
Health behavior
Any behavior that is related to health—either good or bad.
Health behaviors
Behaviors that are associated with better health. Examples include exercising, not smoking, and wearing a seat belt while in a vehicle.
Hedonic well-being
Component of well-being that refers to emotional experiences, often including measures of positive (e.g., happiness, contentment) and negative affect (e.g., stress, sadness).
A component of the prosocial personality orientation; describes individuals who have been helpful in the past and, because they believe they can be effective with the help they give, are more likely to be helpful in the future.
Prosocial acts that typically involve situations in which one person is in need and another provides the necessary assistance to eliminate the other’s need.
The oxygen-carrying portion of a red blood cell.
Heritability coefficient
An easily misinterpreted statistical construct that purports to measure the role of genetics in the explanation of differences among individuals.
Partnering with someone who is unlike you in a meaningful way.
Inter-individual and subgroup differences in level and rate of change over time.
Heterotypic stability
Consistency in the underlying psychological attribute across development regardless of any changes in how the attribute is expressed at different ages.
Mental shortcuts that enable people to make decisions and solve problems quickly and efficiently.
cognitive (or thinking) strategies that simplify decision making by using mental short-cuts
A mental shortcut or rule of thumb that reduces complex mental problems to more simple rule-based decisions.
HEXACO model
The HEXACO model is an alternative to the Five-Factor Model. The HEXACO model includes six traits, five of which are variants of the traits included in the Big Five (Emotionality [E], Extraversion [X], Agreeableness [A], Conscientiousness [C], and Openness [O]). The sixth factor, Honesty-Humility [H], is unique to this model.
Highlighting a goal
Prioritizing a focal goal over other goals or temptations by putting more effort into the focal goal.
High-stakes testing
Settings in which test scores are used to make important decisions about individuals. For example, test scores may be used to determine which individuals are admitted into a college or graduate school, or who should be hired for a job. Tests also are used in forensic settings to help determine whether a person is competent to stand trial or fits the legal definition of sanity.
(plural form, hippocampi) A nucleus inside (medial) the temporal lobe implicated in learning and memory.
Histone acetyltransferases (HATs) and histone deacetylases (HDACs)
HATs are enzymes that transfer acetyl groups to specific positions on histone tails, promoting an “open” chromatin state and transcriptional activation. HDACs remove these acetyl groups, resulting in a “closed” chromatin state and transcriptional repression.
Histone modifications
Posttranslational modifications of the N-terminal “tails” of histone proteins that serve as a major mode of epigenetic regulation. These modifications include acetylation, phosphorylation, methylation, sumoylation, ubiquitination, and ADP-ribosylation.
A pervasive pattern of excessive emotionality and attention seeking.
The tendency of an organism to maintain a stable state across all the different physiological systems in the body.
Homeostatic set point
An ideal level that the system being regulated must be monitored and compared to.
Homo habilis
A human ancestor, handy man, that lived two million years ago.
Homo sapiens
Modern man, the only surviving form of the genus Homo.
Partnering with someone who is like you in a meaningful way.
Adolescents tend to associate with peers who are similar to themselves.
Homotypic stability
Consistency of the exact same thoughts, feelings, and behaviors across development.
Honeymoon effect
The tendency for newly married individuals to rate their spouses in an unrealistically positive manner. This represents a specific manifestation of the letter of recommendation effect when applied to ratings made by current romantic partners. Moreover, it illustrates the very important role played by relationship satisfaction in ratings made by romantic partners: As marital satisfaction declines (i.e., when the “honeymoon is over”), this effect disappears.
Horizontal plane
A slice that runs horizontally through a standing person (i.e., parallel to the floor); slices of brain in this plane divide the top and bottom parts of the brain; this plane is similar to slicing a hamburger bun.
An organic chemical messenger released from endocrine cells that travels through the blood to interact with target cells at some distance to cause a biological response.
Chemicals released by cells in the brain or body that affect cells in other parts of the brain or body.
Hostile attribution bias
The tendency of some individuals to interpret ambiguous social cues and interactions as examples of aggressiveness, disrespect, or antagonism.
Hostile attribution bias
The tendency to perceive ambiguous actions by others as aggressive.
Hostile expectation bias
The tendency to assume that people will react to potential conflicts with aggression.
Hostile perception bias
The tendency to perceive social interactions in general as being aggressive.
Hostile sexism
The negative element of ambivalent sexism, which includes the attitudes that women are inferior and incompetent relative to men.
An experience or trait with cognitive, behavioral, and emotional components. It often includes cynical thoughts, feelings of emotion, and aggressive behavior.
Hot cognition
The mental processes that are influenced by desires and feelings.
Having an accurate view of self—not too high or low—and a realistic appraisal of one’s strengths and weaknesses, especially in relation to other people.
Humorism (or humoralism)
A belief held by ancient Greek and Roman physicians (and until the 19th century) that an excess or deficiency in any of the four bodily fluids, or humors—blood, black bile, yellow bile, and phlegm—directly affected their health and temperament.
A change in a cell’s membrane potential, making the inside of the cell more negative and decreasing the chance of an action potential.
When receptor hair cells have mechanically gated channels close, the cell decreases its membrane voltage, which produces less release of neurotransmitters to inhibit the innervating nerve fiber.
Excessive daytime sleepiness, including difficulty staying awake or napping, or prolonged sleep episodes.
Hypnosis: the state of consciousness whereby a person is highly responsive to the suggestions of another; this state usually involves a dissociation with one’s environment and an intense focus on a single stimulus, which is usually accompanied by a sense of relaxation
Hypnotherapy: The use of hypnotic techniques such as relaxation and suggestion to help engineer desirable change such as lower pain or quitting smoking.
Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis
A system that involves the hypothalamus (within the brain), the pituitary gland (within the brain), and the adrenal glands (at the top of the kidneys). This system helps maintain homeostasis (keeping the body’s systems within normal ranges) by regulating digestion, immune function, mood, temperature, and energy use. Through this, the HPA regulates the body’s response to stress and injury.
Part of the diencephalon. Regulates biological drives with pituitary gland.
A brain structure located below the thalamus and above the brain stem.
A portion of the brain involved in a variety of functions, including the secretion of various hormones and the regulation of hunger and sexual arousal.
A logical idea that can be tested.
A possible explanation that can be tested through research.
A logical idea that can be tested.
Term used by the ancient Greeks and Egyptians to describe a disorder believed to be caused by a woman’s uterus wandering throughout the body and interfering with other organs (today referred to as conversion disorder, in which psychological problems are expressed in physical form).
Identical twins
Two individual organisms that originated from the same zygote and therefore are genetically identical or very similar. The epigenetic profiling of identical twins discordant for disease is a unique experimental design as it eliminates the DNA sequence-, age-, and sex-differences from consideration.
Sometimes used synonymously with the term “self,” identity means many different things in psychological science and in other fields (e.g., sociology). In this module, I adopt Erik Erikson’s conception of identity as a developmental task for late adolescence and young adulthood. Forming an identity in adolescence and young adulthood involves exploring alternative roles, values, goals, and relationships and eventually committing to a realistic agenda for life that productively situates a person in the adult world of work and love. In addition, identity formation entails commitments to new social roles and reevaluation of old traits, and importantly, it brings with it a sense of temporal continuity in life, achieved though the construction of an integrative life story.
Identity achievement
Individuals have explored different options and then made commitments.
Identity diffusion
Adolescents neither explore nor commit to any roles or ideologies.
Image-making stage
Stage during pregnancy when parents consider what it means to be a parent and plan for changes to accommodate a child.
Imaginal performances
When imagining yourself doing well increases self-efficacy.
A method of staining tissue including the brain, using antibodies.
Impact bias
A bias in affective forecasting in which one overestimates the strength or intensity of emotion one will experience after some event.
Impasse-driven learning
An approach to instruction that motivates active learning by having learners work through perplexing barriers.
Implemental phase
The second of the two basic stages of self-regulation in which individuals plan specific actions related to their selected goal.
Implicit Association Test
An implicit attitude task that assesses a person’s automatic associations between concepts by measuring the response times in pairing the concepts.
Implicit Association Test
Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures relatively automatic biases that favor own group relative to other groups.
Implicit association test (IAT)
A computer-based categorization task that measures the strength of association between specific concepts over several trials.
Implicit Associations Test
Implicit Associations Test (IAT): A computer reaction time test that measures a person’s automatic associations with concepts. For instance, the IAT could be used to measure how quickly a person makes positive or negative evaluations of members of various ethnic groups.
Implicit attitude
An attitude that a person cannot verbally or overtly state.
Implicit learning
Occurs when we acquire information without intent that we cannot easily express.
Implicit measures of attitudes
Measures of attitudes in which researchers infer the participant’s attitude rather than having the participant explicitly report it.
Implicit memory
A type of long-term memory that does not require conscious thought to encode. It's the type of memory one makes without intent.
Implicit motives
These are goals that are important to a person, but that he/she cannot consciously express. Because the individual cannot verbalize these goals directly, they cannot be easily assessed via self-report. However, they can be measured using projective devices such as the Thematic Apperception Test (TAT).
Inattentional blindness
The failure to notice a fully visible, but unexpected, object or event when attention is devoted to something else.
Inattentional blindness
The failure to notice a fully visible object when attention is devoted to something else.
Inattentional deafness
The auditory analog of inattentional blindness. People fail to notice an unexpected sound or voice when attention is devoted to other aspects of a scene.
Incidental learning
Any type of learning that happens without the intention to learn.
Two characteristics or traits are separate from one another-- a person can be high on one and low on the other, or vice-versa. Some correlated traits are relatively independent in that although there is a tendency for a person high on one to also be high on the other, this is not always the case.
Independent self
The tendency to define the self in terms of stable traits that guide behavior.
Independent self
A model or view of the self as distinct from others and as stable across different situations. The goal of the independent self is to express and assert the self, and to influence others. This model of self is prevalent in many individualistic, Western contexts (e.g., the United States, Australia, Western Europe).
Independent variable
The variable the researcher manipulates and controls in an experiment.
Independent variable
The variable the researcher manipulates and controls in an experiment.
Individual differences
Psychological traits, abilities, aptitudes and tendencies that vary from person to person.
Individual differences
Ways in which people differ in terms of their behavior, emotion, cognition, and development.
Individual level
A focus on individual level statistics that reflect whether individuals show stability or change when studying personality development. An example is evaluating how many individuals increased in conscientiousness versus how many decreased in conscientiousness when considering the transition from adolescence to adulthood.
The cultural trend in which the primary unit of measurement is the individual. Individualists are likely to emphasize uniqueness and personal aspirations over social duty.
Belief system that exalts freedom, independence, and individual choice as high values.
Industrial/Organizational psychology
Scientific study of behavior in organizational settings and the application of psychology to understand work behavior.
Information processing theories
Theories that focus on describing the cognitive processes that underlie thinking at any one age and cognitive growth over time.
Informational influence
Conformity that results from a concern to act in a socially approved manner as determined by how others act.
The process of getting permission from adults for themselves and their children to take part in research.
Group to which a person belongs.
A social group to which an individual identifies or belongs.
Inhibitory functioning
Ability to focus on a subset of information while suppressing attention to less relevant information.
Inhibitory postsynaptic potentials
A hyperpolarizing postsynaptic current that causes the membrane potential to become more negative and move away from the threshold of excitation.
A sleep disorder in which there is an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep as long as desired. Symptoms also include waking up too early, experience many awakenings during the night, and not feeling rested during the day.
Institutional Review Boards (IRBs)
A committee that reviews and approves research procedures involving human participants and animal subjects to ensure that the research is conducted in accordance with federal, institutional, and ethical guidelines.
Instrumental conditioning
Process in which animals learn about the relationship between their behaviors and their consequences. Also known as operant conditioning.
The process by which the perceptual system combines information arising from more than one modality.
Integrative ​or eclectic psychotherapy​
Also called integrative psychotherapy, this term refers to approaches combining multiple orientations (e.g., CBT with psychoanalytic elements).
Integrative or ​eclectic psychotherapy
Also called integrative psychotherapy, this term refers to approaches combining multiple orientations (e.g., CBT with psychoanalytic elements).
An individual’s cognitive capability. This includes the ability to acquire, process, recall and apply information.
An agent’s mental state of committing to perform an action that the agent believes will bring about a desired outcome.
Intentional learning
Any type of learning that happens when motivated by intention.
The quality of an agent’s performing a behavior intentionally—that is, with skill and awareness and executing an intention (which is in turn based on a desire and relevant beliefs).
Interaural differences
Differences (usually in time or intensity) between the two ears.
Interdependent self
The tendency to define the self in terms of social contexts that guide behavior.
Interdependent self
A model or view of the self as connected to others and as changing in response to different situations. The goal of the interdependent self is to suppress personal preferences and desires, and to adjust to others. This model of self is prevalent in many collectivistic, East Asian contexts (e.g., China, Japan, Korea).
Interdependent stage
Stage during teenage years when parents renegotiate their relationship with their adolescent children to allow for shared power in decision-making.
An emotion associated with curiosity and intrigue, interest motivates engaging with new things and learning more about them. It is one of the earliest emotions to develop and a resource for intrinsically motivated learning across the life span.
Other memories get in the way of retrieving a desired memory
Interindividual-intergroup discontinuity
The tendency for relations between groups to be less cooperative than relations between individuals.
Internal bodily or somatic cues
Physical sensations that serve as triggers for anxiety or as reminders of past traumatic events.
Internal validity
The degree to which a cause-effect relationship between two variables has been unambiguously established.
The sense of the physiological state of the body. Hunger, thirst, temperature, pain, and other sensations relevant to homeostasis. Visceral input such as heart rate, blood pressure, and digestive activity give rise to an experience of the body’s internal states and physiological reactions to external stimulation. This experience has been described as a representation of “the material me,” and it is hypothesized to be the foundation of subjective feelings, emotion, and self-awareness.
Interoceptive avoidance
Avoidance of situations or activities that produce sensations of physical arousal similar to those occurring during a panic attack or intense fear response.
This refers to the relationship or interaction between two or more individuals in a group. Thus, the interpersonal functions of emotion refer to the effects of one’s emotion on others, or to the relationship between oneself and others.
Interpretive stage
Stage from age 4or 5 to the start of adolescence when parents help their children interpret their experiences with the social world beyond the family.
Intersexual selection
A process of sexual selection by which evolution (change) occurs as a consequences of the mate preferences of one sex exerting selection pressure on members of the opposite sex.
Interview techniques
A research method in which participants are asked to report on their experiences using language, commonly by engaging in conversation with a researcher (participants may also be asked to record their responses in writing).
Intimate partner violence
Physical, sexual, or psychological abuse inflicted by a partner.
Intra- and inter-individual differences
Different patterns of development observed within an individual (intra-) or between individuals (inter-).
This refers to what occurs within oneself. Thus, the intrapersonal functions of emotion refer to the effects of emotion to individuals that occur physically inside their bodies and psychologically inside their minds.
Intrasexual competition
A process of sexual selection by which members of one sex compete with each other, and the victors gain preferential mating access to members of the opposite sex.
Intrinsic motivation
Motivation stemming from the benefits associated with the process of pursuing a goal such as having a fulfilling experience.
Intrinsically motivated learning
Learning that is “for its own sake”—such as learning motivated by curiosity and wonder—instead of learning to gain rewards or social approval.
A method of focusing on internal processes.
Invasive Procedure
A procedure that involves the skin being broken or an instrument or chemical being introduced into a body cavity.
Involuntary or obligatory responses
Behaviors in which individuals engage that do not require much conscious thought or effort.
Ion channels
Proteins that span the cell membrane, forming channels that specific ions can flow through between the intracellular and extracellular space.
Ionotropic receptor
Ion channel that opens to allow ions to permeate the cell membrane under specific conditions, such as the presence of a neurotransmitter or a specific membrane potential.
Short for “intelligence quotient.” This is a score, typically obtained from a widely used measure of intelligence that is meant to rank a person’s intellectual ability against that of others.
Jet Lag
Jet Lag: The state of being fatigued and/or having difficulty adjusting to a new time zone after traveling a long distance (across multiple time zones).
Joint attention
Two people attending to the same object and being aware that they both are attending to it.
Joint family
A family comprised of at least three generations living together. Joint families often include many members of the extended family.
Just noticeable difference (JND)
The smallest difference needed in order to differentiate two stimuli. (see Differential Threshold)
Kin selection
According to evolutionary psychology, the favoritism shown for helping our blood relatives, with the goals of increasing the likelihood that some portion of our DNA will be passed on to future generations.
Knowledge emotion​s
A family of emotions associated with learning, reflecting, and exploring. These emotions come about when unexpected and unfamiliar events happen in the environment. Broadly speaking, they motivate people to explore unfamiliar things, which builds knowledge and expertise over the long run.
Laboratory environments
A setting in which the researcher can carefully control situations and manipulate variables.
Latent inhibition
The ability to filter out extraneous stimuli, concentrating only on the information that is deemed relevant. Reduced latent inhibition is associated with higher creativity.
Lateral geniculate nucleus
(or LGN) A nucleus in the thalamus that is innervated by the optic nerves and sends signals to the visual cortex in the occipital lobe.
Lateral inhibition
A signal produced by a neuron aimed at suppressing the response of nearby neurons.
Lateral rectus muscle
An eye muscle that turns outward in the horizontal plane.
Lateral sulcus
The major fissure that delineates the temporal lobe below the frontal and the parietal lobes.
Lateral vestibulo-spinal tract
Vestibular neurons that project to all levels of the spinal cord on the ipsilateral side to control posture and balance movements.
To the side; used to refer to the fact that specific functions may reside primarily in one hemisphere or the other (e.g., for the majority individuals, the left hemisphere is most responsible for language).
Law of effect
The idea that instrumental or operant responses are influenced by their effects. Responses that are followed by a pleasant state of affairs will be strengthened and those that are followed by discomfort will be weakened. Nowadays, the term refers to the idea that operant or instrumental behaviors are lawfully controlled by their consequences.
Learned helplessness
The belief, as someone who is abused, that one has no control over his or her situation.
A region in the brain that suffered damage through injury, disease, or medical intervention.
Lesion studies
A surgical method in which a part of the animal brain is removed to study its effects on behavior or function.
Damage or tissue abnormality due, for example, to an injury, surgery, or a vascular problem.
Abnormalities in the tissue of an organism usually caused by disease or trauma.
Letter of recommendation effect
The general tendency for informants in personality studies to rate others in an unrealistically positive manner. This tendency is due a pervasive bias in personality assessment: In the large majority of published studies, informants are individuals who like the person they are rating (e.g., they often are friends or family members) and, therefore, are motivated to depict them in a socially desirable way. The term reflects a similar tendency for academic letters of recommendation to be overly positive and to present the referent in an unrealistically desirable manner.
Levels of analysis
Complementary views for analyzing and understanding a phenomenon.
Lexical hypothesis
The lexical hypothesis is the idea that the most important differences between people will be encoded in the language that we use to describe people. Therefore, if we want to know which personality traits are most important, we can look to the language that people use to describe themselves and others.
Words and expressions.
Life course theories
Theory of development that highlights the effects of social expectations of age-related life events and social roles; additionally considers the lifelong cumulative effects of membership in specific cohorts and sociocultural subgroups and exposure to historical events.
Life domains
Various domains of life, such as finances and job.
Life satisfaction
A person reflects on their life and judges to what degree it is going well, by whatever standards that person thinks are most important for a good life.
Life satisfaction
The degree to which one is satisfied with one’s life overall.
Life span theories
Theory of development that emphasizes the patterning of lifelong within- and between-person differences in the shape, level, and rate of change trajectories.
Light adaptation
Adjustment of eye to high levels of light.
Limbic System
Includes the subcortical structures of the amygdala and hippocampal formation as well as some cortical structures; responsible for aversion and gratification.
Limbic system
Includes the subcortical structures of the amygdala and hippocampal formation as well as some cortical structures; responsible for aversion and gratification.
Limbic system
A loosely defined network of nuclei in the brain involved with learning and emotion.
Limited capacity
The notion that humans have limited mental resources that can be used at a given time.
Linguistic inquiry and word count
A quantitative text analysis methodology that automatically extracts grammatical and psychological information from a text by counting word frequencies.
Linguistic intergroup bias
A tendency for people to characterize positive things about their ingroup using more abstract expressions, but negative things about their outgroups using more abstract expressions.
Little-c creativity
Creative ideas that appear at the personal level, whether the home or the workplace. Such creativity needs not have a larger impact to be considered creative.
Lived day analysis
A methodology where a research team follows an individual around with a video camera to objectively document a person’s daily life as it is lived.
Local dominance effect
People are generally more influenced by social comparison when that comparison is personally relevant rather than broad and general.
Longitudinal research
A research design used to examine behavior in the same participants over short (months) or long (decades) periods of time.
Longitudinal studies
Research method that collects information from individuals at multiple time points over time, allowing researchers to track cohort differences in age-related change to determine cumulative effects of different life experiences.
Longitudinal study
A study that follows the same group of individuals over time.
Longitudinal study/design
A research design that follows the same group of individuals at multiple time points.
A physical sexual posture in females that serves as an invitation to mate.
Lucid dreams
Any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming.
Japanese way of thinking that emphasizes attention to the spaces between things rather than the things themselves.
Being cunning, strategic, or exploitative in one’s relationships. Named after Machiavelli, who outlined this way of relating in his book, The Prince.
Magnetic resonance imaging
A set of techniques that uses strong magnets to measure either the structure of the brain (e.g., gray matter and white matter) or how the brain functions when a person performs cognitive tasks (e.g., working memory or episodic memory) or other types of tasks.
Magnetic resonance imaging
Or MRI is a brain imaging noninvasive technique that uses magnetic energy to generate brain images (also see fMRI).
Magnification factor
Cortical space projected by an area of sensory input (e.g., mm of cortex per degree of visual field).
Term referring to behaviors that cause people who have them physical or emotional harm, prevent them from functioning in daily life, and/or indicate that they have lost touch with reality and/or cannot control their thoughts and behavior (also called dysfunctional).
Fabrication or exaggeration of medical symptoms to achieve secondary gain (e.g., receive medication, avoid school).
A connection between personality attributes and aspects of the environment that occurs whenever individuals with particular traits actively shape their environments.
Manipulation check
A measure used to determine whether or not the manipulation of the independent variable has had its intended effect on the participants.
Margin of error
The expected amount of random variation in a statistic; often defined for 95% confidence level.
Marriage market
The process through which prospective spouses compare assets and liabilities of available partners and choose the best available mate.
The induction of male traits.
Mastery goals
Goals that are focused primarily on learning, competence, and self-development. These are contrasted with “performance goals” that are focused on the quality of a person’s performance.
Maternal behavior
Parental behavior performed by the mother or other female.
Maturity principle
The generalization that personality attributes associated with the successful fulfillment of adult roles increase with age and experience.
Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT)
A 141-item performance assessment of EI that measures the four emotion abilities (as defined by the four-branch model of EI) with a total of eight tasks.
McGurk effect
An effect in which conflicting visual and auditory components of a speech stimulus result in an illusory percept.
Activities or objects that contribute to goal attainment.
Mechanically gated ion channels
Ion channels located in the tips of the stereocilia on the receptor cells that open/close as the cilia bend toward the tallest/smallest cilia, respectively. These channels are permeable to potassium ions, which are abundant in the fluid bathing the top of the hair cells.
Mechanical sensory receptors in the skin that response to tactile stimulation.
Medial prefrontal cortex
An area of the brain located in the middle of the frontal lobes (at the front of the head), active when people mentalize about the self and others.
Medial temporal lobes
Inner region of the temporal lobes that includes the hippocampus.
Medial vestibulo-spinal tract
Vestibular nucleus neurons project bilaterally to cervical spinal motor neurons for head and neck movement control. The tract principally functions in gaze direction and stability during motion.
Medulla oblongata
An area just above the spinal cord that processes breathing, digestion, heart and blood vessel function, swallowing, and sneezing.
Melatonin: A hormone associated with increased drowsiness and sleep.
Memory traces
A term indicating the change in the nervous system representing an event.
The act of representing the mental states of oneself and others. Mentalizing allows humans to interpret the intentions, beliefs, and emotional states of others.
Mere-exposure effect
The notion that people like people/places/things merely because they are familiar with them.
Mere-exposure effect
The tendency to prefer stimuli that have been seen before over novel ones. There also is a generalized mere-exposure effect shown in a preference for stimuli that are similar to those that have been seen before.
Mere-exposure effects
The result of developing a more positive attitude towards a stimulus after repeated instances of mere exposure to it.
Derived from Franz Anton Mesmer in the late 18th century, an early version of hypnotism in which Mesmer claimed that hysterical symptoms could be treated through animal magnetism emanating from Mesmer’s body and permeating the universe (and later through magnets); later explained in terms of high suggestibility in individuals.
Breakdown of substances.
A substance necessary for a living organism to maintain life.
Describes the knowledge and skills people have in monitoring and controlling their own learning and memory.
Copying others’ behavior, usually without awareness.
Mind–body connection
The idea that our emotions and thoughts can affect how our body functions.
Mindfulness: a state of heightened focus on the thoughts passing through one’s head, as well as a more controlled evaluation of those thoughts (e.g., do you reject or support the thoughts you’re having?)
A process that reflects a nonjudgmental, yet attentive, mental state.
Mindfulness-based therapy
A form of psychotherapy grounded in mindfulness theory and practice, often involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and other features of mindfulness exercises.
Mirror neurons
Neurons identified in monkey brains that fire both when the monkey performs a certain action and when it perceives another agent performing that action.
Misinformation effect
When erroneous information occurring after an event is remembered as having been part of the original event.
Misinformation effect
A memory error caused by exposure to incorrect information between the original event (e.g., a crime) and later memory test (e.g., an interview, lineup, or day in court).
Mixed and Trait Models
Approaches that view EI as a combination of self-perceived emotion skills, personality traits, and attitudes.
Mnemonic devices
A strategy for remembering large amounts of information, usually involving imaging events occurring on a journey or with some other set of memorized cues.
Mock witnesses
A research subject who plays the part of a witness in a study.
Modern family
A family based on commitment, caring, and close emotional ties.
Keeping track of a target behavior that is to be regulated.
Monochronic (M-time)
Monochronic thinking focuses on doing one activity, from beginning to completion, at a time.
Mood disorder
A group of diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) classification system where a disturbance in the person’s mood is the primary dysfunction. Mood disorders include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, dysthymic and cyclothymic disorder.
Mood-congruent memory
The tendency to be better able to recall memories that have a mood similar to our current mood.
State in which adolescents are actively exploring options but have not yet made identity commitments.
A face or other image that has been transformed by a computer program so that it is a mixture of multiple images.
Motivated skepticism
A form of bias that can result from having a directional goal in which one is skeptical of evidence despite its strength because it goes against what one wants to believe.
The psychological driving force that enables action in the course of goal pursuit.
Motor control
The use of thinking to direct muscles and limbs to perform a desired action.
Motor cortex
Region of the frontal lobe responsible for voluntary movement; the motor cortex has a contralateral representation of the human body.
Multicultural experiences
Individual exposure to two or more cultures, such as obtained by living abroad, emigrating to another country, or working or going to school in a culturally diverse setting.
Multigenerational homes
Homes with more than one adult generation.
Of or pertaining to multiple sensory modalities.
Multimodal perception
The effects that concurrent stimulation in more than one sensory modality has on the perception of events and objects in the world.
Multimodal perception
The effects that concurrent stimulation in more than one sensory modality has on the perception of events and objects in the world.
Multimodal phenomena
Effects that concern the binding of inputs from multiple sensory modalities.
Multisensory convergence zones
Regions in the brain that receive input from multiple unimodal areas processing different sensory modalities.
Multisensory enhancement
See “superadditive effect of multisensory integration.”
Fatty tissue, produced by glial cells (see module, “Neurons”) that insulates the axons of the neurons; myelin is necessary for normal conduction of electrical impulses among neurons.
Myelin sheath
Substance around the axon of a neuron that serves as insulation to allow the action potential to conduct rapidly toward the terminal buttons.
Myelin Sheath
Fatty tissue, that insulates the axons of the neurons; myelin is necessary for normal conduction of electrical impulses among neurons.
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a need for admiration, and lack of empathy.
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), need for admiration, and lack of empathy.
Narrative identity
An internalized and evolving story of the self designed to provide life with some measure of temporal unity and purpose. Beginning in late adolescence, people craft self-defining stories that reconstruct the past and imagine the future to explain how the person came to be the person that he or she is becoming.
Natural selection
Differential reproductive success as a consequence of differences in heritable attributes.
Naturalistic observation
Unobtrusively watching people as they go about the business of living their lives.
The genes that children bring with them to life and that influence all aspects of their development.
Need for closure
The desire to come to a decision that will resolve ambiguity and conclude an issue.
Need to belong
A strong natural impulse in humans to form social connections and to be accepted by others.
The finding that increasing the number of competitors generally decreases one’s motivation to compete.
Negative feelings
Undesirable and unpleasant feelings that people tend to avoid if they can. Moods and emotions such as depression, anger, and worry are examples.
Negative state relief model
An egoistic theory proposed by Cialdini et al. (1982) that claims that people have learned through socialization that helping can serve as a secondary reinforcement that will relieve negative moods such as sadness.
Failure to care for someone properly.
Nervous System
The body’s network for electrochemical communication. This system includes all the nerves cells in the body.
Neural crest
A set of primordial neurons that migrate outside the neural tube and give rise to sensory and autonomic neurons in the peripheral nervous system.
Neural impulse
An electro-chemical signal that enables neurons to communicate.
Neural induction
A process that causes the formation of the neural tube.
Neural plasticity
The ability of synapses and neural pathways to change over time and adapt to changes in neural process, behavior, or environment.
Brain progenitor cells that asymmetrically divide into other neuroblasts or nerve cells.
Processes that influence how the brain develops either in utero or as the child is growing up.
The study of how the brain and hormones act in concert to coordinate the physiology of the body.
The lining of the neural tube.
Individual brain cells
An integrative, interdisciplinary domain of inquiry seeking to integrate psychoanalytic and neuropsychological ideas and findings to enhance both areas of inquiry (you can learn more by visiting the webpage of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society at http://www.neuropsa.org.uk/).
The study of the nervous system.
Neuroscience methods
A research method that deals with the structure or function of the nervous system and brain.
A personality trait that reflects the tendency to be interpersonally sensitive and the tendency to experience negative emotions like anxiety, fear, sadness, and anger.
A chemical substance produced by a neuron that is used for communication between neurons.
A chemical messenger that travels between neurons to provide communication. Some neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, can leak into the blood system and act as hormones.
Chemical substance released by the presynaptic terminal button that acts on the postsynaptic cell.
Chemical substance released by the presynaptic terminal button that acts on the postsynaptic cell.
A chemical compound used to send signals from a receptor cell to a neuron, or from one neuron to another. Neurotransmitters can be excitatory, inhibitory, or modulatory and are packaged in small vesicles that are released from the end terminals of cells.
An unpleasant dream that can cause a strong negative emotional response from the mind, typically fear or horror, but also despair, anxiety, and great sadness. The dream may contain situations of danger, discomfort, psychological or physical terror. Sufferers usually awaken in a state of distress and may be unable to return to sleep for a prolonged period of time.
Our ability to sense pain.
The neural process of encoding noxious stimuli, the sensory input from nociceptors. Not necessarily painful, and crucially not necessary for the experience of pain.
High-threshold sensory receptors of the peripheral somatosensory nervous system that are capable of transducing and encoding noxious stimuli. Nociceptors send information about actual or impending tissue damage to the brain. These signals can often lead to pain, but nociception and pain are not the same.
Naming conventions.
Nonassociative learning
Occurs when a single repeated exposure leads to a change in behavior.
Nonconscious goal activation
When activation occurs outside a person’s awareness, such that the person is unaware of the reasons behind her goal-directed thoughts and behaviors.
Noninvasive procedure
A procedure that does not require the insertion of an instrument or chemical through the skin or into a body cavity.
Assessments are given to a representative sample of a population to determine the range of scores for that population. These “norms” are then used to place an individual who takes that assessment on a range of scores in which he or she is compared to the population at large.
Normative influence
Conformity that results from a concern for what other people think of us.
Noxious stimulus
A stimulus that is damaging or threatens damage to normal tissues.
Nuclear families
A core family unit comprised of only the parents and children.
Collection of nerve cells found in the brain which typically serve a specific function.
Nucleus accumbens
A region of the basal forebrain located in front of the preoptic region.
Numerical magnitudes
The sizes of numbers.
The environments, starting with the womb, that influence all aspects of children’s development.
Nurturing stage
Stage from birth to around 18-24 months in which parents develop an attachment relationship with child and adapt to the new baby.
Responding to an order or command from a person in a position of authority.
Responding to an order or command from a person in a position of authority.
Object permanence
The understanding that objects continue to exist even when they cannot be directly observed (e.g., that a pen continues to exist even when it is hidden under a piece of paper).
Object permanence task
The Piagetian task in which infants below about 9 months of age fail to search for an object that is removed from their sight and, if not allowed to search immediately for the object, act as if they do not know that it continues to exist.
Object relations theory
A modern offshoot of the psychodynamic perspective, this theory contends that personality can be understood as reflecting mental images of significant figures (especially the parents) that we form early in life in response to interactions taking place within the family; these mental images serve as templates (or “scripts”) for later interpersonal relationships.
Objective social variables
Targets of research interest that are factual and not subject to personal opinions or feelings.
Observational learning
Learning by observing the behavior of others.
Observational learning
Learning by observing the behavior of others.
Observational learning
Learning by observing the behavior of others.
A pervasive pattern of preoccupation with orderliness, perfectionism, and mental and interpersonal control, at the expense of flexibility, openness, and efficiency.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
This anxiety disorder is characterized by intrusive thoughts (obsessions), by repetitive behaviors (compulsions), or both. Obsessions produce uneasiness, fear, or worry. Compulsions are then aimed at reducing the associated anxiety. Examples of compulsive behaviors include excessive washing or cleaning; repeated checking; extreme hoarding; and nervous rituals, such as switching the light on and off a certain number of times when entering a room. Intrusive thoughts are often sexual, violent, or religious in nature...
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
A disorder characterized by the desire to engage in certain behaviors excessively or compulsively in hopes of reducing anxiety. Behaviors include things such as cleaning, repeatedly opening and closing doors, hoarding, and obsessing over certain thoughts.
Occipital lobe
The back part of the cerebrum, which houses the visual areas.
Occipital lobe
The back most (posterior) part of the cerebrum; involved in vision.
Occipital Lobe
The back most (posterior) part of the cerebrum; involved in vision.
Ocial touch hypothesis
Proposes that social touch is a distinct domain of touch. C-tactile afferents form a special pathway that distinguishes social touch from other types of touch by selectively firing in response to touch of social-affective relevance; thus sending affective information parallel to the discriminatory information from the Aβ-fibers. In this way, the socially relevant touch stands out from the rest as having special positive emotional value and is processed further in affect-related brain areas such as the insula.
Oculomotor nuclei
Includes three neuronal groups in the brainstem, the abducens nucleus, the oculomotor nucleus, and the trochlear nucleus, whose cells send motor commands to the six pairs of eye muscles.
Oculomotor nucleus
A group of cells in the middle brainstem that contain subgroups of neurons that project to the medial rectus, inferior oblique, inferior rectus, and superior rectus muscles of the eyes through the 3rd cranial nerve.
Chemicals transduced by olfactory receptors.
OECD countries
Members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, comprised of the world’s wealthiest countries.
Ability to process olfactory stimuli. Also called smell.
The sense of smell; the action of smelling; the ability to smell.
Olfactory epithelium
Organ containing olfactory receptors.
A person or animal that is able to survive by eating a wide range of foods from plant or animal origin.
A vast database of occupational information containing data on hundreds of jobs.
Open ended questions
Research questions that ask participants to answer in their own words.
Openness to Experience
A personality trait that reflects a person’s tendency to seek out and to appreciate new things, including thoughts, feelings, values, and experiences.
Openness to experience
One of the factors of the Big Five Model of personality, the factor assesses the degree that a person is open to different or new values, interests, and activities.
O​penness to experience
One of the five major factors of personality, this trait is associated with higher curiosity, creativity, emotional breadth, and open-mindedness. People high in openness to experience are more likely to experience interest and awe.
A behavior that is controlled by its consequences. The simplest example is the rat’s lever-pressing, which is controlled by the presentation of the reinforcer.
Operant conditioning
See instrumental conditioning.
Operant conditioning
Describes stimulus-response associative learning.
Operational definitions
How researchers specifically measure a concept.
The process of defining a concept so that it can be measured. In psychology, this often happens by identifying related concepts or behaviors that can be more easily measured.
How researchers specifically measure a concept.
Opponent Process Theory
Theory of color vision that assumes there are four different basic colors, organized into two pairs (red/green and blue/yellow) and proposes that colors in the world are encoded in terms of the opponency (or difference) between the colors in each pair. There is an additional black/white pair responsible for coding light contrast.
Opponent-process theory
Theory proposing color vision as influenced by cells responsive to pairs of colors.
Oppositional defiant disorder
A childhood behavior disorder that is characterized by stubbornness, hostility, and behavioral defiance. This disorder is highly comorbid with ADHD.
Optimal level
The level that is the most favorable for an outcome.
Orbital frontal cortex
A region of the frontal lobes of the brain above the eye sockets.
When an idea or solution has a low probability of occurrence.
Orthonasal olfaction
Perceiving scents/smells introduced via the nostrils.
A collection of three small bones in the middle ear that vibrate against the tympanic membrane.
Excluding one or more individuals from a group by reducing or eliminating contact with the person, usually by ignoring, shunning, or explicitly banishing them.
Being excluded and ignored by others.
Other-oriented empathy
A component of the prosocial personality orientation; describes individuals who have a strong sense of social responsibility, empathize with and feel emotionally tied to those in need, understand the problems the victim is experiencing, and have a heightened sense of moral obligations to be helpful.
Small calcium carbonate particles that are packed in a layer on top of the gelatin membrane that covers the otolith receptor hair cell stereocilia.
Otolith receptors
Two inner ear vestibular receptors (utricle and saccule) that transduce linear accelerations and head tilt relative to gravity into neural signals that are then transferred to the brain.
A social group to which an individual does not identify or belong.
A social category or group with which an individual does not identify.
Group to which a person does not belong.
The bias to have greater confidence in your judgment than is warranted based on a rational assessment.
Oxygenated hemoglobin
Hemoglobin carrying oxygen.
A peptide hormone secreted by the pituitary gland to trigger lactation, as well as social bonding.
A nine amino acid mammalian neuropeptide. Oxytocin is synthesized primarily in the brain, but also in other tissues such as uterus, heart and thymus, with local effects. Oxytocin is best known as a hormone of female reproduction due to its capacity to cause uterine contractions and eject milk. Oxytocin has effects on brain tissue, but also acts throughout the body in some cases as an antioxidant or anti-inflammatory.
Pace of life
The frequency of events per unit of time; also referred to as speed or tempo.
Defined as “an unpleasant sensory and emotional experience associated with actual or potential tissue damage, or described in terms of such damage,” according to the International Association for the Study of Pain.
Panic disorder (PD)
A condition marked by regular strong panic attacks, and which may include significant levels of worry about future attacks.
A numerical result summarizing a population (e.g., mean, proportion).
A pervasive distrust and suspiciousness of others such that their motives are interpreted as malevolent.
Parasympathetic nervous system
A division of the autonomic nervous system that is slower than its counterpart—that is, the sympathetic nervous system—and works in opposition to it. Generally engaged in “rest and digest” functions.
Parasympathetic nervous system (PNS)
One of the two major divisions of the autonomic nervous system, responsible for stimulation of “rest and digest” activities.
Parent management training
A treatment for childhood behavior problems that teaches parents how to use contingencies to more effectively manage their children’s behavior.
Parental behavior
Behaviors performed in relation to one’s offspring that contributes directly to the survival of those offspring
Parietal lobe
An area of the cerebrum just behind the central sulcus that is engaged with somatosensory and gustatory sensation.
Parietal Lobe
The part of the cerebrum between the frontal and occipital lobes; involved in bodily sensations, visual attention, and integrating the senses.
Parietal lobe
The part of the cerebrum between the frontal and occipital lobes; involved in bodily sensations, visual attention, and integrating the senses.
Participant demand
When participants behave in a way that they think the experimenter wants them to behave.
Participant variable
The individual characteristics of research subjects - age, personality, health, intelligence, etc.
Paternal behavior
Parental behavior performed by the father or other male.
To define a trait or collection of traits as medically or psychologically unhealthy or abnormal.
Pavlovian conditioning
See classical conditioning.
Perceived social support
A person’s perception that others are there to help them in times of need.
The psychological process of interpreting sensory information.
Perceptual learning
Occurs when aspects of our perception changes as a function of experience.
Performance assessmen​t
A method of measurement associated with ability models of EI that evaluate the test taker’s ability to solve emotion-related problems.
Performance experiences
When past successes or failures lead to changes in self-efficacy.
Periaqueductal gray
The gray matter in the midbrain near the cerebral aqueduct.
Peripheral nervous system
The part of the nervous system that is outside the brain and spinal cord.
Peripheral Nervous System
All of the nerve cells that connect the central nervous system to all the other parts of the body.
Peripheral route to persuasion
Persuasion that relies on superficial cues that have little to do with logic.
Permissive parenting
Parenting that is low in demandingness and high in support.
Personal distress
According to Batson’s empathy–altruism hypothesis, observers who take a detached view of a person in need will experience feelings of being “worried” and “upset” and will have an egoistic motivation for helping to relieve that distress.
Enduring predispositions that characterize a person, such as styles of thought, feelings and behavior.
Characteristic, routine ways of thinking, feeling, and relating to others.
A person’s relatively stable patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior.
Personality disorders
When personality traits result in significant distress, social impairment, and/or occupational impairment.
Personality traits
Enduring dispositions in behavior that show differences across individuals, and which tend to characterize the person across varying types of situations.
Person-centered therapy
A therapeutic approach focused on creating a supportive environment for self-discovery.
Person–environment transactions
The interplay between individuals and their contextual circumstances that ends up shaping both personality and the environment.
Person-situation debate
The person-situation debate is a historical debate about the relative power of personality traits as compared to situational influences on behavior. The situationist critique, which started the person-situation debate, suggested that people overestimate the extent to which personality traits are consistent across situations.
Phantom limb
The perception that a missing limb still exists.
Phantom limb pain
Pain in a limb that no longer exists.
Phantom pain
Pain that appears to originate in an amputated limb.
The action of a drug through the body, including absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion.
A treatment approach that involves using medications to alter a person’s neural functioning to reduce psychological symptoms.
The pattern of expression of the genotype or the magnitude or extent to which it is observably expressed—an observable characteristic or trait of an organism, such as its morphology, development, biochemical or physiological properties, or behavior.
Phonemic awareness
Awareness of the component sounds within words.
Photo spreads
A selection of normally small photographs of faces given to a witness for the purpose of identifying a perpetrator.
A photochemical reaction that occurs when light hits photoreceptors, producing a neural signal.
A now-discredited field of brain study, popular in the first half of the 19th century that correlated bumps and indentations of the skull with specific functions of the brain.
Physical abuse
The use of intentional physical force to cause harm.
Piaget’s theory
Theory that development occurs through a sequence of discontinuous stages: the sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational stages.
Outermost portion of the ear.
Visible part of the outer ear.
Placebo effect
Effects from a treatment that are not caused by the physical properties of a treatment but by the meaning ascribed to it. These effects reflect the brain’s own activation of modulatory systems, which is triggered by positive expectation or desire for a successful treatment. Placebo analgesia is the most well-studied placebo effect and has been shown to depend, to a large degree, on opioid mechanisms. Placebo analgesia can be reversed by the pharmacological blocking of  opioid receptors. The word “placebo” is probably derived from the Latin word “placebit” (“it will please”).
Placebo effect
When receiving special treatment or something new affects human behavior.
Planning fallacy
A cognitive bias in which one underestimates how long it will take to complete a task.
Pluralistic ignorance
Relying on the actions of others to define an ambiguous need situation and to then erroneously conclude that no help or intervention is necessary.
Polychronic (P-time)
Polychronic thinking switches back and forth among multiple activities as the situation demands.
The use of many medications.
A bridge that connects the cerebral cortex with the medulla, and reciprocally transfers information back and forth between the brain and the spinal cord.
A larger collection of individuals that we would like to generalize our results to.
Positive feelings
Desirable and pleasant feelings. Moods and emotions such as enjoyment and love are examples.
Positive psychology
The science of human flourishing. Positive Psychology is an applied science with an emphasis on real world intervention.
A particle having the same mass and numerically equal but positive charge as an electron.
Positron Emission Tomography
(or PET) An invasive procedure that captures brain images with positron emissions from the brain after the individual has been injected with radio-labeled isotopes.
Positron emission tomography
A technique that uses radio-labelled ligands to measure the distribution of different neurotransmitter receptors in the brain or to measure how much of a certain type of neurotransmitter is released when a person is given a specific type of drug or does a particularly cognitive task.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
A neuroimaging technique that measures brain activity by detecting the presence of a radioactive substance in the brain that is initially injected into the bloodstream and then pulled in by active brain tissue.
Positron emission tomography (PET)
A neuroimaging technique that measures brain activity by detecting the presence of a radioactive substance in the brain that is initially injected into the bloodstream and then pulled in by active brain tissue.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
A sense of intense fear, triggered by memories of a past traumatic event, that another traumatic event might occur. PTSD may include feelings of isolation and emotional numbing.
Practice effect
When participants get better at a task over time by “practicing” it through repeated assessments instead of due to actual developmental change (practice effects can be particularly problematic in longitudinal and sequential research designs).
Practitioner-Scholar Model
A model of training of professional psychologists that emphasizes clinical practice.
Prediction error
When the outcome of a conditioning trial is different from that which is predicted by the conditioned stimuli that are present on the trial (i.e., when the US is surprising). Prediction error is necessary to create Pavlovian conditioning (and associative learning generally). As learning occurs over repeated conditioning trials, the conditioned stimulus increasingly predicts the unconditioned stimulus, and prediction error declines. Conditioning works to correct or reduce prediction error.
Prejudice is an evaluation or emotion toward people merely based on their group membership.
An evaluation or emotion toward people based merely on their group membership.
Preoperational reasoning stage
Period within Piagetian theory from age 2 to 7 years, in which children can represent objects through drawing and language but cannot solve logical reasoning problems, such as the conservation problems.
Preoptic area
A region in the anterior hypothalamus involved in generating and regulating male sexual behavior.
Preoptic region
A part of the anterior hypothalamus.
The idea that an organism’s evolutionary history can make it easy to learn a particular association. Because of preparedness, you are more likely to associate the taste of tequila, and not the circumstances surrounding drinking it, with getting sick. Similarly, humans are more likely to associate images of spiders and snakes than flowers and mushrooms with aversive outcomes like shocks.
The number of cases of a specific disorder present in a given population at a certain time.
Prevention focus
One of two self-regulatory orientations emphasizing safety, responsibility, and security needs, and viewing goals as “oughts.” This self-regulatory focus seeks to avoid losses (the presence of negatives) and approach non-losses (the absence of negatives).
Primacy of the Unconscious
The hypothesis—supported by contemporary empirical research—that the vast majority of mental activity takes place outside conscious awareness.
Primary auditory cortex
Area of the cortex involved in processing auditory stimuli.
Primary auditory cortex
A region of the cortex devoted to the processing of simple auditory information.
Primary Motor Cortex
A strip of cortex just in front of the central sulcus that is involved with motor control.
Primary Somatosensory Cortex
A strip of cerebral tissue just behind the central sulcus engaged in sensory reception of bodily sensations.
Primary somatosensory cortex
Area of the cortex involved in processing somatosensory stimuli.
Primary visual cortex
A region of the cortex devoted to the processing of simple visual information.
Primary visual cortex
Area of the cortex involved in processing visual stimuli.
Primary visual cortex (V1)
Brain region located in the occipital cortex (toward the back of the head) responsible for processing basic visual information like the detection, thickness, and orientation of simple lines, color, and small-scale motion.
A process by which a concept or behavior is made more cognitively accessible or likely to occur through the presentation of an associated concept.
The process by which exposing people to one stimulus makes certain thoughts, feelings or behaviors more salient.
A stimulus presented to a person reminds him or her about other ideas associated with the stimulus.
The process by which recent experiences increase a trait’s accessibility.
Priming: the activation of certain thoughts or feelings that make them easier to think of and act upon
Principle of inverse effectiveness
The finding that, in general, for a multimodal stimulus, if the response to each unimodal component (on its own) is weak, then the opportunity for multisensory enhancement is very large. However, if one component—by itself—is sufficient to evoke a strong response, then the effect on the response gained by simultaneously processing the other components of the stimulus will be relatively small.
Principle of Inverse Effectiveness
The finding that, in general, for a multimodal stimulus, if the response to each unimodal component (on its own) is weak, then the opportunity for multisensory enhancement is very large. However, if one component—by itself—is sufficient to evoke a strong response, then the effect on the response gained by simultaneously processing the other components of the stimulus will be relatively small.
Prisoner’s dilemma
A classic paradox in which two individuals must independently choose between defection (maximizing reward to the self) and cooperation (maximizing reward to the group).
Problem-focused coping
A set of coping strategies aimed at improving or changing stressful situations.
Processing speed
The time it takes individuals to perform cognitive operations (e.g., process information, react to a signal, switch attention from one task to another, find a specific target object in a complex picture).
Processing speed
The speed with which an individual can perceive auditory or visual information and respond to it.
A primary progestin that is involved in pregnancy and mating behaviors.
A class of C21 steroid hormones named for their progestational (pregnancy-supporting) effects. Progesterone is a common progestin.
The perception of reducing the discrepancy between one’s current state and one’s desired state in goal pursuit.
A molecule that can act as a hormone itself or be converted into another hormone with different properties. For example, testosterone can serve as a hormone or as a prohormone for either dihydrotestosterone or estradiol.
A social perceiver’s assumption that the other person wants, knows, or feels the same as the perceiver wants, know, or feels.
Projective hypothesis
The theory that when people are confronted with ambiguous stimuli (that is, stimuli that can be interpreted in more than one way), their responses will be influenced by their unconscious thoughts, needs, wishes, and impulses. This, in turn, is based on the Freudian notion of projection, which is the idea that people attribute their own undesirable/unacceptable characteristics to other people or objects.
A protein hormone that is highly conserved throughout the animal kingdom. It has many biological functions associated with reproduction and synergistic actions with steroid hormones.
Promotion focus
One of two self-regulatory orientations emphasizing hopes, accomplishments, and advancement needs, and viewing goals as “ideals.” This self-regulatory focus seeks to approach gains (the presence of positives) and avoid non-gains (the absence of positives).
Sensory information regarding muscle position and movement arising from receptors in the muscles, tendons, and joints.
Thoughts, actions, and feelings that are directed towards others and which are positive in nature.
Prosocial behavior
Social behavior that benefits another person.
Prosocial personality orientation
A measure of individual differences that identifies two sets of personality characteristics (other-oriented empathy, helpfulness) that are highly correlated with prosocial behavior.
A typical, or average, member of a category. Averageness increases attractiveness.
Physical nearness.
The relative closeness or distance from a given comparison standard. The further from the standard a person is, the less important he or she considers the standard. When a person is closer to the standard he/she is more likely to be competitive.
Psychic causality
The assumption that nothing in mental life happens by chance—that there is no such thing as a “random” thought or feeling.
Psychoactive drugs
A drug that changes mood or the way someone feels.
Psychoanalytic therapy
Sigmund Freud’s therapeutic approach focusing on resolving unconscious conflicts.
Psychodynamic therapy
Treatment applying psychoanalytic principles in a briefer, more individualized format.
Developing from psychological origins.
Psychological abuse
Aggressive behavior intended to control a partner.
Psychological adaptations
Mechanisms of the mind that evolved to solve specific problems of survival or reproduction; conceptualized as information processing devices.
Psychological control
Parents’ manipulation of and intrusion into adolescents’ emotional and cognitive world through invalidating adolescents’ feelings and pressuring them to think in particular ways.
Psychological essentialism
The belief that members of a category have an unseen property that causes them to be in the category and to have the properties associated with it.
Psychological reactance
A reaction to people, rules, requirements, or offerings that are perceived to limit freedoms.
Psychological vulnerabilities
Influences that our early experiences have on how we view the world.
Psychometric approach
Approach to studying intelligence that examines performance on tests of intellectual functioning.
Psychomotor agitation
Increased motor activity associated with restlessness, including physical actions (e.g., fidgeting, pacing, feet tapping, handwringing).
Psychomotor retardation
A slowing of physical activities in which routine activities (e.g., eating, brushing teeth) are performed in an unusually slow manner.
A field of study examining the relationship among psychology, brain function, and immune function.
Illnesses or disorders that involve psychological or psychiatric symptoms.
Synonymous with psychopathic personality, the term used by Cleckley (1941/1976), and adapted from the term psychopathic introduced by German psychiatrist Julius Koch (1888) to designate mental disorders presumed to be heritable.
A pattern of antisocial behavior characterized by an inability to empathize, egocentricity, and a desire to use relationships as tools for personal gain.
Study of the relationships between physical stimuli and the perception of those stimuli.
Psychophysiological methods
Any research method in which the dependent variable is a physiological measure and the independent variable is behavioral or mental (such as memory).
Psychophysiological responses
Recording of biological measures (such as heart rate and hormone levels) and neurological responses (such as brain activity) that may be associated with observable behaviors.
Psychosexual stage model
Probably the most controversial aspect of psychodynamic theory, the psychosexual stage model contends that early in life we progress through a sequence of developmental stages (oral, anal, Oedipal, latency, and genital), each with its own unique mode of sexual gratification.
Psychosomatic medicine
An interdisciplinary field of study that focuses on how biological, psychological, and social processes contribute to physiological changes in the body and health over time.
Psychotropic drug
A drug that changes mood or emotion, usually used when talking about drugs prescribed for various mental conditions (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc.).
Post-traumatic model of dissociation.
A stimulus that decreases the strength of an operant behavior when it is made a consequence of the behavior.
Inflicting pain or removing pleasure for a misdeed. Punishment decreases the likelihood that a behavior will be repeated.
The probability of observing a particular outcome in a sample, or more extreme, under a conjecture about the larger population or process.
Qualitative changes
Large, fundamental change, as when a caterpillar changes into a butterfly; stage theories such as Piaget’s posit that each stage reflects qualitative change relative to previous stages.
Quantitative changes
Gradual, incremental change, as in the growth of a pine tree’s girth.
Quantitative genetics
Scientific and mathematical methods for inferring genetic and environmental processes based on the degree of genetic and environmental similarity among organisms.
Quantitative law of effect
A mathematical rule that states that the effectiveness of a reinforcer at strengthening an operant response depends on the amount of reinforcement earned for all alternative behaviors. A reinforcer is less effective if there is a lot of reinforcement in the environment for other behaviors.
Quasi-experimental design
An experiment that does not require random assignment to conditions.
Random assignment
Assigning participants to receive different conditions of an experiment by chance.
Random assignment
Assigning participants to receive different conditions of an experiment by chance.
Random assignment
Using a probability-based method to divide a sample into treatment groups.
Random sampling
Using a probability-based method to select a subset of individuals for the sample from the population.
Rational self-interest
The principle that people will make logical decisions based on maximizing their own gains and benefits.
Reactive person–environment transactions
The interplay between individuals and their contextual circumstances that occurs whenever attributes of the individual shape how a person perceives and responds to their environment.
A point of view that emphasizes the importance of the senses in providing knowledge of the external world.
Reappraisal, or ​Cognitive restructuring
The process of identifying, evaluating, and changing maladaptive thoughts in psychotherapy.
Type of memory task where individuals are asked to remember previously learned information without the help of external cues.
Recall memory
The process of remembering discrete episodes or events from the past, including encoding, consolidation and storage, and retrieval.
Received social support
The actual act of receiving support (e.g., informational, functional).
Receptive field
The portion of the world to which a neuron will respond if an appropriate stimulus is present there.
A chemical structure on the cell surface or inside of a cell that has an affinity for a specific chemical configuration of a hormone, neurotransmitter, or other compound.
Reciprocal altruism
According to evolutionary psychology, a genetic predisposition for people to help those who have previously helped them.
The act of exchanging goods or services. By giving a person a gift, the principle of reciprocity can be used to influence others; they then feel obligated to give back.
The ubiquitous process during learning of taking information in one form and converting it to another form, usually one more easily remembered.
Type of memory task where individuals are asked to remember previously learned information with the assistance of cues.
Recurrent dreams
The same dream narrative or dreamscape is experienced over different occasions of sleep.
Redemptive narratives
Life stories that affirm the transformation from suffering to an enhanced status or state. In American culture, redemptive life stories are highly prized as models for the good self, as in classic narratives of atonement, upward mobility, liberation, and recovery.
Reference group effect
The tendency of people to base their self-concept on comparisons with others. For example, if your friends tend to be very smart and successful, you may come to see yourself as less intelligent and successful than you actually are. Informants also are prone to these types of effects. For instance, the sibling contrast effect refers to the tendency of parents to exaggerate the true extent of differences between their children.
The idea that the self reflects back upon itself; that the I (the knower, the subject) encounters the Me (the known, the object). Reflexivity is a fundamental property of human selfhood.
Reinforced response
Following the process of operant conditioning, the strengthening of a response following either the delivery of a desired consequence (positive reinforcement) or escape from an aversive consequence.
Any consequence of a behavior that strengthens the behavior or increases the likelihood that it will be performed it again.
Reinforcer devaluation effect
The finding that an animal will stop performing an instrumental response that once led to a reinforcer if the reinforcer is separately made aversive or undesirable.
Relational aggression
Intentionally harming another person’s social relationships, feelings of acceptance, or inclusion within a group.
Relationship bank account
An account you hold with every person in which a positive deposit or a negative withdrawal can be made during every interaction you have with the person.
The consistency of test scores across repeated assessments. For example, test-retest reliability examines the extent to which scores change over time.
Remote associations
Associations between words or concepts that are semantically distant and thus relatively unusual or original.
Renewal effect
Recovery of an extinguished response that occurs when the context is changed after extinction. Especially strong when the change of context involves return to the context in which conditioning originally occurred. Can occur after extinction in either classical or instrumental conditioning.
Representativeness heuristic
A heuristic in which the likelihood of an object belonging to a category is evaluated based on the extent to which the object appears similar to one’s mental representation of the category.
Research confederate
A person working with a researcher, posing as a research participant or as a bystander.
Research design
The strategy (or “blueprint”) for deciding how to collect and analyze research information.
Research methods
The specific tools and techniques used by researchers to collect information.
Research participant
A person being studied as part of a research program.
The ability to “bounce back” from negative situations (e.g., illness, stress) to normal functioning or to simply not show poor outcomes in the face of adversity. In some cases, resilience may lead to better functioning following the negative experience (e.g., post-traumatic growth).
Resting membrane potential
The voltage inside the cell relative to the voltage outside the cell while the cell is a rest (approximately -70 mV).
Cell layer in the back of the eye containing photoreceptors.
The process of accessing stored information.
Process by which information is accessed from memory and utilized.
Retroactive interference
The phenomenon whereby events that occur after some particular event of interest will usually cause forgetting of the original event.
Retrograde amnesia
Inability to retrieve memories for facts and events acquired before the onset of amnesia.
Retronasal olfaction
Perceiving scents/smells introduced via the mouth/palate.
Reward value
A neuropsychological measure of an outcome’s affective importance to an organism.
Right-wing authoritarianism
Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) focuses on value conflicts but endorses respect for obedience and authority in the service of group conformity.
Rites or actions performed in a systematic or prescribed way often for an intended purpose. Example: The exchange of wedding rings during a marriage ceremony in many cultures.
Photoreceptors that are very sensitive to light and are mostly responsible for night vision.
Photoreceptors of the retina sensitive to low levels of light. Located around the fovea.
A front-back plane used to identify anatomical structures in the body and the brain.
Rubber hand illusion
The false perception of a fake hand as belonging to a perceiver, due to multimodal sensory information.
SAD performance only
Social anxiety disorder which is limited to certain situations that the sufferer perceives as requiring some type of performance.
Safety behaviors
Actions people take to reduce likelihood of embarrassment or minimizing anxiety in a situation (e.g., not making eye contact, planning what to say).
Sagittal plane
A slice that runs vertically from front to back; slices of brain in this plane divide the left and right side of the brain; this plane is similar to slicing a baked potato lengthwise.
The collection of individuals on which we collect data.
Samples of convenience
Participants that have been recruited in a manner that prioritizes convenience over representativeness.
Sandwich generation
Generation of people responsible for taking care of their own children as well as their aging parents.
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
The hypothesis that the language that people use determines their thoughts.
The state of being full to satisfaction and no longer desiring to take on more.
Correspondence between an individual’s needs or preferences and the rewards offered by the environment.
Correspondence between an individual’s abilities and the ability requirements of the environment.
A mental model or representation that organizes the important information about a thing, person, or event (also known as a script).
A mental representation or set of beliefs about something.
Schema (plural: schemata)
A memory template, created through repeated exposure to a particular class of objects or events.
The gender categories into which, according to gender schema theory, children actively organize others’ behavior, activities, and attributes.
A pervasive pattern of detachment from social relationships and a restricted range of expression of emotions in interpersonal settings.
This mental disorder is characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and emotional responses. Symptoms include auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking. Sufferers from this disorder experience grave dysfunctions in their social functioning and in work.
A pervasive pattern of social and interpersonal deficits marked by acute discomfort with, and reduced capacity for, close relationships as well as perceptual distortions and eccentricities of behavior.
Structural Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders.
Scientific method
A method of investigation that includes systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
Scientist-practitioner model
A model of training of professional psychologists that emphasizes the development of both research and clinical skills.
Scientist-practitioner model
The dual focus of I/O psychology, which entails practical questions motivating scientific inquiry to generate knowledge about the work-person interface and the practitioner side applying this scientific knowledge to organizational problems.
Second shift
Term used to describe the unpaid work a parent, usually a mother, does in the home in terms of housekeeping and childrearing.
Secure attachments
Attachment style that involves being comfortable with depending on your partner and having your partner depend on you.
Security of attachment
An infant’s confidence in the sensitivity and responsiveness of a caregiver, especially when he or she is needed. Infants can be securely attached or insecurely attached.
A connection between personality attributes and aspects of the environment that occurs whenever individuals with particular attributes choose particular kinds of environments.
Selective attention
The ability to select certain stimuli in the environment to process, while ignoring distracting information.
Selective listening
A method for studying selective attention in which people focus attention on one auditory stream of information while deliberately ignoring other auditory information.
Selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors (SSRIs)
A class of antidepressant medications often used to treat SAD that increase the concentration of the neurotransmitter serotonin in the brain.
Self as autobiographical author
The sense of the self as a storyteller who reconstructs the past and imagines the future in order to articulate an integrative narrative that provides life with some measure of temporal continuity and purpose.
Self as motivated agent
The sense of the self as an intentional force that strives to achieve goals, plans, values, projects, and the like.
Self as social actor
The sense of the self as an embodied actor whose social performances may be construed in terms of more or less consistent self-ascribed traits and social roles.
Self-categorization theory
Self-categorization theory develops social identity theory’s point that people categorize themselves, along with each other into groups, favoring their own group.
The extent to which the self is defined as independent or as relating to others.
The capacity to control impulses, emotions, desires, and actions in order to resist a temptation and adhere to a valued goal.
The belief that one can perform adequately in a specific situation.
The belief that you are able to effectively perform the tasks needed to attain a valued goal.
Self-enhancement bias
The tendency for people to see and/or present themselves in an overly favorable way. This tendency can take two basic forms: defensiveness (when individuals actually believe they are better than they really are) and impression management (when people intentionally distort their responses to try to convince others that they are better than they really are). Informants also can show enhancement biases. The general form of this bias has been called the letter-of-recommendation effect, which is the tendency of informants who like the person they are rating (e.g., friends, relatives, romantic partners) to describe them in an overly favorable way. In the case of newlyweds, this tendency has been termed the honeymoon effect.
Self-enhancement effect
The finding that people can boost their own self-evaluations by comparing themselves to others who rank lower on a particular comparison standard.
The extent to which a person feels that he or she is worthy and good. The success or failure that the motivated agent experiences in pursuit of valued goals is a strong determinant of self-esteem.
The feeling of confidence in one’s own abilities or worth.
Self-evaluation maintenance (SEM)
A model of social comparison that emphasizes one’s closeness to the comparison target, the relative performance of that target person, and the relevance of the comparison behavior to one’s self-concept.
Self-expansion model
Seeking to increase one’s capacity often through an intimate relationship.
Self-perceptions of aging
An individual’s perceptions of their own aging process; positive perceptions of aging have been shown to be associated with greater longevity and health.
The complex process through which people control their thoughts, emotions, and actions.
The processes through which individuals alter their emotions, desires, and actions in the course of pursuing a goal.
The process of altering one’s responses, including thoughts, feelings, impulses, actions, and task performance.
Self-report assessment
A method of measurement associated with mixed and trait models of EI, which evaluates the test taker’s perceived emotion-related skills, distinct personality traits, and other characteristics.
S​elf-report measure
A type of psychological test in which a person fills out a survey or questionnaire with or without the help of an investigator.
Self-report measure
A type of questionnaire in which participants answer questions whose answers correspond to numerical values that can be added to create an overall index of some construct.
Semantic memory
The more or less permanent store of knowledge that people have.
Semicircular canals
A set of three inner ear vestibular receptors (horizontal, anterior, posterior) that transduce head rotational accelerations into head rotational velocity signals that are then transferred to the brain. There are three semicircular canals in each ear, with the major planes of each canal being orthogonal to each other.
The physical processing of environmental stimuli by the sense organs.
Increased responsiveness of nociceptive neurons to their normal input and/or recruitment of a response to normally subthreshold inputs. Clinically, sensitization may only be inferred indirectly from phenomena such as hyperalgesia or allodynia. Sensitization can occur in the central nervous system (central sensitization) or in the periphery (peripheral sensitization).
Occurs when the response to a stimulus increases with exposure
Sensorimotor stage
Period within Piagetian theory from birth to age 2 years, during which children come to represent the enduring reality of objects.
Sensory adaptation
Decrease in sensitivity of a receptor to a stimulus after constant stimulation.
Sensory modalities
A type of sense; for example, vision or audition.
Sequential research designs
A research design that includes elements of cross-sectional and longitudinal research designs. Similar to cross-sectional designs, sequential research designs include participants of different ages within one study; similar to longitudinal designs, participants of different ages are followed over time.
Serotonin norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)
A class of antidepressant medications often used to treat SAD that increase the concentration of serotonin and norepinephrine in the brain.
Biological category of male or female as defined by physical differences in genetic composition and in reproductive anatomy and function.
Sex determination
The point at which an individual begins to develop as either a male or a female. In animals that have sex chromosomes, this occurs at fertilization. Females are XX and males are XY. All eggs bear X chromosomes, whereas sperm can either bear X or Y chromosomes. Thus, it is the males that determine the sex of the offspring.
Sex differentiation
The process by which individuals develop the characteristics associated with being male or female. Differential exposure to gonadal steroids during early development causes sexual differentiation of several structures including the brain.
Sexual abuse
The act of forcing a partner to take part in a sex act against his or her will.
Sexual harassment
A form of gender discrimination based on unwanted treatment related to sexual behaviors or appearance.
Sexual orientation
Refers to the direction of emotional and erotic attraction toward members of the opposite sex, the same sex, or both sexes.
Sexual selection
The evolution of characteristics because of the mating advantage they give organisms.
​Sexual strategies theory
A comprehensive evolutionary theory of human mating that defines the menu of mating strategies humans pursue (e.g., short-term casual sex, long-term committed mating), the adaptive problems women and men face when pursuing these strategies, and the evolved solutions to these mating problems.
A task in which the individual is asked to repeat an auditory message as it is presented.
Shape theory of olfaction
Theory proposing that odorants of different size and shape correspond to different smells.
Shared mental model
Knowledge, expectations, conceptualizations, and other cognitive representations that members of a group have in common pertaining to the group and its members, tasks, procedures, and resources.
The act of avoiding or ignoring a person, and withholding all social interaction for a period of time. Shunning generally occurs as a punishment and is temporary.
Sibling contrast effect
The tendency of parents to use their perceptions of all of their children as a frame of reference for rating the characteristics of each of them. For example, suppose that a mother has three children; two of these children are very sociable and outgoing, whereas the third is relatively average in sociability. Because of operation of this effect, the mother will rate this third child as less sociable and outgoing than he/she actually is. More generally, this effect causes parents to exaggerate the true extent of differences between their children. This effect represents a specific manifestation of the more general reference group effect when applied to ratings made by parents.
Signal detection
Method for studying the ability to correctly identify sensory stimuli.
Silent language
Cultural norms of time and time use as they pertain to social communication and interaction.
Imaginary or real imitation of other people’s behavior or feelings.
The process of representing the other person’s mental state.
Single parent family
An individual parent raising a child or children.
Situation model
A mental representation of an event, object, or situation constructed at the time of comprehending a linguistic description.
Situational identity
Being guided by different cultural influences in different situations, such as home versus workplace, or formal versus informal roles.
Sleep deprivation
A sufficient lack of restorative sleep over a cumulative period so as to cause physical or psychiatric symptoms and affect routine performances of tasks.
Sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis occurs when the normal paralysis during REM sleep manifests when falling asleep or awakening, often accompanied by hallucinations of danger or a malevolent presence in the room.
Sleep-wake cycle
A daily rhythmic activity cycle, based on 24-hour intervals, that is exhibited by many organisms.
Social and cultural
Society refers to a system of relationships between individuals and groups of individuals; culture refers to the meaning and information afforded to that system that is transmitted across generations. Thus, the social and cultural functions of emotion refer to the effects that emotions have on the functioning and maintenance of societies and cultures.
Social and emotional learning (SEL)
The real-world application of EI in an educational setting and/or classroom that involves curricula that teach the process of integrating thinking, feeling, and behaving in order to become aware of the self and of others, make responsible decisions, and manage one’s own behaviors and those of others (Elias et al., 1997)
Social anxiety
Excessive anticipation and distress about social situations in which one may be evaluated negatively, rejected, or scrutinized.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
An anxiety disorder marked by severe and persistent social anxiety and avoidance that interferes with a person’s ability to fulfill their roles in important life domains.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
A condition marked by acute fear of social situations which lead to worry and diminished day to day functioning.
Social attribution
The way a person explains the motives or behaviors of others.
Social brain
The set of neuroanatomical structures that allows us to understand the actions and intentions of other people.
Social brain hypothesis
The hypothesis that the human brain has evolved, so that humans can maintain larger ingroups.
Social categorization
The act of mentally classifying someone into a social group (e.g., as female, elderly, a librarian).
Social category
Any group in which membership is defined by similarities between its members. Examples include religious, ethnic, and athletic groups.
Social cognition
The study of how people think about the social world.
Social cognition
The way people process and apply information about others.
Social comparison
The process of contrasting one’s personal qualities and outcomes, including beliefs, attitudes, values, abilities, accomplishments, and experiences, to those of other people.
Social comparison
The process by which people understand their own ability or condition by mentally comparing themselves to others.
Social constructivism
Social constructivism proposes that knowledge is first created and learned within a social context and is then adopted by individuals.
Social dominance orientation
Social dominance orientation (SDO) describes a belief that group hierarchies are inevitable in all societies and even good, to maintain order and stability.
Social facilitation
When performance on simple or well-rehearsed tasks is enhanced when we are in the presence of others.
Social facilitation
Improvement in task performance that occurs when people work in the presence of other people.
Social identity
A person’s sense of who they are, based on their group membership(s).
Social identity theory
Social identity theory notes that people categorize each other into groups, favoring their own group.
Social identity theory
A theoretical analysis of group processes and intergroup relations that assumes groups influence their members’ self-concepts and self-esteem, particularly when individuals categorize themselves as group members and identify with the group.
Social influence
When one person causes a change in attitude or behavior in another person, whether intentionally or unintentionally.
Social integration
The size of your social network, or number of social roles (e.g., son, sister, student, employee, team member).
Social integration
Active engagement and participation in a broad range of social relationships.
Social learning theory
This theory of how children form their own gender roles argues that gender roles are learned through reinforcement, punishment, and modeling.
Social Learning Theory
The theory that people can learn new responses and behaviors by observing the behavior of others.
Social loafing
The reduction of individual effort exerted when people work in groups compared with when they work alone.
Social models
Authorities that are the targets for observation and who model behaviors.
Social network
Network of people with whom an individual is closely connected; social networks provide emotional, informational, and material support and offer opportunities for social engagement.
Social networks
Networks of social relationships among individuals through which information can travel.
Social neuroscience
An interdisciplinary field concerned with identifying the neural processes underlying social behavior and cognition.
Social or behavioral priming
A field of research that investigates how the activation of one social concept in memory can elicit changes in behavior, physiology, or self-reports of a related social concept without conscious awareness.
Social proof
The mental shortcut based on the assumption that, if everyone is doing it, it must be right.
Social psychology
The branch of psychological science that is mainly concerned with understanding how the presence of others affects our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
Social referencing
The process by which one individual consults another’s emotional expressions to determine how to evaluate and respond to circumstances that are ambiguous or uncertain.
Social referencing
This refers to the process whereby individuals look for information from others to clarify a situation, and then use that information to act. Thus, individuals will often use the emotional expressions of others as a source of information to make decisions about their own behavior.
Social reputation
The traits and social roles that others attribute to an actor. Actors also have their own conceptions of what they imagine their respective social reputations indeed are in the eyes of others.
Social support
A subjective feeling of psychological or physical comfort provided by family, friends, and others.
Social support
A social network’s provision of psychological and material resources that benefit an individual.
Social support
The perception or actuality that we have a social network that can help us in times of need and provide us with a variety of useful resources (e.g., advice, love, money).
Social time
Scheduling by the flow of the activity. Events begin and end when, by mutual consensus, participants “feel” the time is right.
S​ocial touch hypothesis
Proposes that social touch is a distinct domain of touch. C-tactile afferents form a special pathway that distinguishes social touch from other types of touch by selectively firing in response to touch of social-affective relevance; thus sending affective information parallel to the discriminatory information from the Aβ-fibers. In this way, the socially relevant touch stands out from the rest as having special positive emotional value and is processed further in affect-related brain areas such as the insula.
Social value orientation (SVO)
An assessment of how an individual prefers to allocate resources between him- or herself and another person.
Social zeitgeber
Zeitgeber is German for “time giver.” Social zeitgebers are environmental cues, such as meal times and interactions with other people, that entrain biological rhythms and thus sleep-wake cycle regularity.
Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP)
A professional organization bringing together academics and practitioners who work in I/O psychology and related areas. It is Division 14 of the American Psychological Association (APA).
Sociocultural theories
Theory founded in large part by Lev Vygotsky that emphasizes how other people and the attitudes, values, and beliefs of the surrounding culture influence children’s development.
Socioeconomic status (SES)
A person’s economic and social position based on income, education, and occupation.
Socioemotional Selectivity Theory
Theory proposed to explain the reduction of social partners in older adulthood; posits that older adults focus on meeting emotional over information-gathering goals, and adaptively select social partners who meet this need.
Sociometer model
A conceptual analysis of self-evaluation processes that theorizes self-esteem functions to psychologically monitor of one’s degree of inclusion and exclusion in social groups.
Sodium-potassium pump
An ion channel that uses the neuron’s energy (adenosine triphosphate, ATP) to pump three Na+ ions outside the cell in exchange for bringing two K+ ions inside the cell.
Solidity principle
The idea that two solid masses should not be able to move through one another.
Cell body of a neuron that contains the nucleus and genetic information, and directs protein synthesis.
Cell body of a neuron that contains the nucleus and genetic information, and directs protein synthesis.
Somatic nervous system
A part of the peripheral nervous system that uses cranial and spinal nerves in volitional actions.
Developing from physical/bodily origins.
Ability to sense touch, pain and temperature.
Somatosensory (body sensations) cortex
The region of the parietal lobe responsible for bodily sensations; the somatosensory cortex has a contralateral representation of the human body.
Somatosensory cortex
Consists of primary sensory cortex (S1) in the postcentral gyrus in the parietal lobes and secondary somatosensory cortex (S2), which is defined functionally and found in the upper bank of the lateral sulcus, called the parietal operculum. Somatosensory cortex also includes parts of the insular cortex.
Somatotopic map
Organization of the primary somatosensory cortex maintaining a representation of the arrangement of the body.
Somatotopically organized
When the parts of the body that are represented in a particular brain region are organized topographically according to their physical location in the body (see homunculus illustration).
Sound waves
Changes in air pressure. The physical stimulus for audition.
Spatial principle of multisensory integration
The finding that the superadditive effects of multisensory integration are observed when the sources of stimulation are spatially related to one another.
Spatial Resolution
A term that refers to how small the elements of an image are; high spatial resolution means the device or technique can resolve very small elements; in neuroscience it describes how small of a structure in the brain can be imaged.
Spatial resolution
The degree to which one can separate a single object in space from another.
Spatial resolution
A term that refers to how small the elements of an image are; high spatial resolution means the device or technique can resolve very small elements; in neuroscience it describes how small of a structure in the brain can be imaged.
Specific abilities
Cognitive abilities that contain an appreciable component of g or general ability, but also contain a large component of a more content-focused talent such as mathematical, spatial, or verbal ability; patterns of specific abilities channel development down different paths as a function of an individual’s relative strengths and weaknesses.
Specific vulnerabilities
How our experiences lead us to focus and channel our anxiety.
Spina bifida
A developmental disease of the spinal cord, where the neural tube does not close caudally.
Protrusions on the dendrite of a neuron that form synapses with terminal buttons of the presynaptic axon.
Spinothalamic tract
Runs through the spinal cord’s lateral column up to the thalamus. C-fibers enter the dorsal horn of the spinal cord and form a synapse with a neuron that then crosses over to the lateral column and becomes part of the spinothalamic tract.
Split-brain Patient
A patient who has had most or all of his or her corpus callosum severed.
Split-brain patient
A patient who has had most or all of his or her corpus callosum severed.
Spontaneous recovery
Recovery of an extinguished response that occurs with the passage of time after extinction. Can occur after extinction in either classical or instrumental conditioning.
Standard scale
Research method in which all participants use a common scale—typically a Likert scale—to respond to questions.
Assessments that are given in the exact same manner to all people . With regards to intelligence tests standardized scores are individual scores that are computed to be referenced against normative scores for a population (see “norm”).
Ideas about how things should (or should not) be.
When a symptom is acute, or transient, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours.
State of vulnerability
When a person places him or herself in a position in which he or she might be exploited or harmed. This is often done out of trust that others will not exploit the vulnerability.
A numerical result computed from a sample (e.g., mean, proportion).
Statistical significance
A result is statistically significant if it is unlikely to arise by chance alone.
A family formed, after divorce or widowhood, through remarriage.
Hairlike projections from the top of the receptor hair cells. The stereocilia are arranged in ascending height and when displaced toward the tallest cilia, the mechanical gated channels open and the cell is excited (depolarized). When the stereocilia are displaced toward the smallest cilia, the channels close and the cell is inhibited (hyperpolarized).
Stereotype Content Model
Stereotype Content Model shows that social groups are viewed according to their perceived warmth and competence.
Stereotype threat
The phenomenon in which people are concerned that they will conform to a stereotype or that their performance does conform to that stereotype, especially in instances in which the stereotype is brought to their conscious awareness.
Our general beliefs about the traits or behaviors shared by group of people.
The beliefs or attributes we associate with a specific social group. Stereotyping refers to the act of assuming that because someone is a member of a particular group, he or she possesses the group’s attributes. For example, stereotyping occurs when we assume someone is unemotional just because he is man, or particularly athletic just because she is African American.
Stereotype is a belief that characterizes people based merely on their group membership.
A mental process of using information shortcuts about a group to effectively navigate social situations or make decisions.
Stigmatized group
A group that suffers from social disapproval based on some characteristic that sets them apart from the majority.
Stimulants: a class of drugs that speed up the body’s physiological and mental processes.
Stimulus control
When an operant behavior is controlled by a stimulus that precedes it.
The stage in the learning/memory process that bridges encoding and retrieval; the persistence of memory over time.
Strange situation
A laboratory task that involves briefly separating and reuniting infants and their primary caregivers as a way of studying individual differences in attachment behavior.
A pattern of physical and psychological responses in an organism after it perceives a threatening event that disturbs its homeostasis and taxes its abilities to cope with the event.
A threat or challenge to our well-being. Stress can have both a psychological component, which consists of our subjective thoughts and feelings about being threatened or challenged, as well as a physiological component, which consists of our body’s response to the threat or challenge (see “fight or flight response”).
Stress reaction
The tendency to become easily distressed by the normal challenges of life.
An event or stimulus that induces feelings of stress.
Stria terminalis
A band of fibers that runs along the top surface of the thalamus.
Structural model
Developed to complement and extend the topographic model, the structural model of the mind posits the existence of three interacting mental structures called the id, ego, and superego.
A school of American psychology that sought to describe the elements of conscious experience.
Structures that lie beneath the cerebral cortex, but above the brain stem.
Subjective age
A multidimensional construct that indicates how old (or young) a person feels and into which age group a person categorizes him- or herself
Subjective social variables
Targets of research interest that are not necessarily factual but are related to personal opinions or feelings
Subjective well-being
The name that scientists give to happiness—thinking and feeling that our lives are going very well.
Subjective well-being
The scientific term used to describe how people experience the quality of their lives in terms of life satisfaction and emotional judgments of positive and negative affect.
Subjective well-being scales
Self-report surveys or questionnaires in which participants indicate their levels of subjective well-being, by responding to items with a number that indicates how well off they feel.
Subliminal perception
The ability to process information for meaning when the individual is not consciously aware of that information.
Subtle biases
Subtle biases are automatic, ambiguous, and ambivalent, but real in their consequences.
Successful aging
Includes three components: avoiding disease, maintaining high levels of cognitive and physical functioning, and having an actively engaged lifestyle.
Suicidal ideation
Recurring thoughts about suicide, including considering or planning for suicide, or preoccupation with suicide.
(plural) Grooves separating folds of the cortex.
A groove separating folds of the cortex.
(plural form, sulci) The crevices or fissures formed by convolutions in the brain.
Superadditive effect of multisensory integration
The finding that responses to multimodal stimuli are typically greater than the sum of the independent responses to each unimodal component if it were presented on its own.
Superadditive effect of multisensory integration
The finding that responses to multimodal stimuli are typically greater than the sum of the independent responses to each unimodal component if it were presented on its own.
Superior temporal sulcus
The sulcus (a fissure in the surface of the brain) that separates the superior temporal gyrus from the middle temporal gyrus. Located in the temporal lobes (parallel to the ears), it is involved in perception of biological motion or the movement of animate objects.
Developing from origins beyond the visible observable universe.
Support support network
The people who care about and support a person.
An emotion rooted in expectancy violation that orients people toward the unexpected event.
Survey research
A method of research that involves administering a questionnaire to respondents in person, by telephone, through the mail, or over the internet.
Sympathetic nervous system
A division of the autonomic nervous system, that is faster than its counterpart that is the parasympathetic nervous system and works in opposition to it. Generally engaged in “fight or flight” functions.
Sympathetic nervous system
A branch of the autonomic nervous system that controls many of the body’s internal organs. Activity of the SNS generally mobilizes the body’s fight or flight response.
Sympathetic nervous system (SNS)
One of the two major divisions of the autonomic nervous system, responsible for stimulation of “fight or flight” activities.
Junction between the presynaptic terminal button of one neuron and the dendrite, axon, or soma of another postsynaptic neuron.
The tiny space separating neurons.
Junction between the presynaptic terminal button of one neuron and the dendrite, axon, or soma of another postsynaptic neuron.
Synaptic gap
Also known as the synaptic cleft; the small space between the presynaptic terminal button and the postsynaptic dendritic spine, axon, or soma.
Synaptic Gap
Also known as the synaptic cleft; the small space between the presynaptic terminal button and the postsynaptic dendritic spine, axon, or soma.
Synaptic vesicles
Groups of neurotransmitters packaged together and located within the terminal button.
Two people displaying the same behaviors or having the same internal states (typically because of mutual mimicry).
Involving a particular group of signs and symptoms.
The blending of two or more sensory experiences, or the automatic activation of a secondary (indirect) sensory experience due to certain aspects of the primary (direct) sensory stimulation.
Rules by which words are strung together to form sentences.
System 1
Our intuitive decision-making system, which is typically fast, automatic, effortless, implicit, and emotional.
System 2
Our more deliberative decision-making system, which is slower, conscious, effortful, explicit, and logical.
Systematic observation
The careful observation of the natural world with the aim of better understanding it. Observations provide the basic data that allow scientists to track, tally, or otherwise organize information about the natural world.
Target cell
A cell that has receptors for a specific chemical messenger (hormone or neurotransmitter).
Task-specific measures of self-efficacy
Measures that ask about self-efficacy beliefs for a particular task (e.g., athletic self-efficacy, academic self-efficacy).
Chemicals transduced by taste receptor cells.
Taste aversion learning
The phenomenon in which a taste is paired with sickness, and this causes the organism to reject—and dislike—that taste in the future.
Taste receptor cells
Receptors that transduce gustatory information.
The process by which members of the team combine their knowledge, skills, abilities, and other resources through a coordinated series of actions to produce an outcome.
Early emerging differences in reactivity and self-regulation, which constitutes a foundation for personality development.
A child’s innate personality; biologically based personality, including qualities such as activity level, emotional reactivity, sociability, mood, and soothability.
Temporal lobe
The part of the cerebrum in front of (anterior to) the occipital lobe and below the lateral fissure; involved in vision, auditory processing, memory, and integrating vision and audition.
Temporal lobe
An area of the cerebrum that lies below the lateral sulcus; it contains auditory and olfactory (smell) projection regions.
Temporal Lobe
The part of the cerebrum in front of (anterior to) the occipital lobe and below the lateral fissure; involved in vision, auditory processing, memory, and integrating vision and audition.
Temporal parietal junction
The area where the temporal lobes (parallel to the ears) and partial lobes (at the top of the head toward the back) meet. This area is important in mentalizing and distinguishing between the self and others.
Temporal perspective
The extent to which we are oriented toward the past, present, and future.
Temporal resolution
The degree to which one can separate a single point in time from another.
Temporal resolution
A term that refers to how small a unit of time can be measured; high temporal resolution means capable of resolving very small units of time; in neuroscience it describes how precisely in time a process can be measured in the brain.
Temporal Resolution
A term that refers to how small a unit of time can be measured; high temporal resolution means capable of resolving very small units of time; in neuroscience it describes how precisely in time a process can be measured in the brain.
Temporally graded ​​retrograde amnesia
Inability to retrieve memories from just prior to the onset of amnesia with intact memory for more remote events.
Terminal button
The part of the end of the axon that form synapses with postsynaptic dendrite, axon, or soma.
Terror management theory (TMT)
A theory that proposes that humans manage the anxiety that stems from the inevitability of death by embracing frameworks of meaning such as cultural values and beliefs.
Tertiary education
Education or training beyond secondary school, usually taking place in a college, university, or vocational training program.
The primary androgen secreted by the testes of most vertebrate animals, including men.
A structure in the midline of the brain located between the midbrain and the cerebral cortex.
A part of the diencephalon that works as a gateway for incoming and outgoing information.
The Age 5-to-7 Shift
Cognitive and social changes that occur in the early elementary school years that result in the child’s developing a more purposeful, planful, and goal-directed approach to life, setting the stage for the emergence of the self as a motivated agent.
The “I”
The self as knower, the sense of the self as a subject who encounters (knows, works on) itself (the Me).
The “Me”
The self as known, the sense of the self as the object or target of the I’s knowledge and work.
The norm of reciprocity
The normative pressure to repay, in equitable value, what another person has given to us.
The rule of scarcity
People tend to perceive things as more attractive when their availability is limited, or when they stand to lose the opportunity to acquire them on favorable terms.
The triad of trust
We are most vulnerable to persuasion when the source is perceived as an authority, as honest and likable.
Groups of closely related phenomena or observations.
Theory of mind
Emerging around the age of 4, the child’s understanding that other people have minds in which are located desires and beliefs, and that desires and beliefs, thereby, motivate behavior.
Theory of mind
Children’s growing understanding of the mental states that affect people’s behavior.
Theory of mind
The human capacity to understand minds, a capacity that is made up of a collection of concepts (e.g., agent, intentionality) and processes (e.g., goal detection, imitation, empathy, perspective taking).
Third-person perspective
Observations made by individuals in a way that can be independently confirmed by other individuals so as to lead to general, objective understanding. With respect to consciousness, third-person perspectives make use of behavioral and neural measures related to conscious experiences.
Thought-action fusion
The tendency to overestimate the relationship between a thought and an action, such that one mistakenly believes a “bad” thought is the equivalent of a “bad” action.
Threshold of excitation
Specific membrane potential that the neuron must reach to initiate an action potential.
Tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon
The inability to pull a word from memory even though there is the sensation that that word is available.
“Top-down” or internal causes of happiness
The person’s outlook and habitual response tendencies that influence their happiness—for example, their temperament or optimistic outlook on life.
Top-down processing
Experience influencing the perception of stimuli.
Topographic model
Freud’s first model of the mind, which contended that the mind could be divided into three regions: conscious, preconscious, and unconscious. (The “topographic” comes from the fact that topography is the study of maps.)
A rotational eye movement around the line of sight that consists of a clockwise or counterclockwise direction.
Traditional family
Two or more people related by blood, marriage, and—occasionally-- by adoption.
When a symptom forms part of the personality or character.
Trait curiosity
Stable individual-differences in how easily and how often people become curious.
“Traitement moral” (moral treatment)
A therapeutic regimen of improved nutrition, living conditions, and rewards for productive behavior that has been attributed to Philippe Pinel during the French Revolution, when he released mentally ill patients from their restraints and treated them with compassion and dignity rather than with contempt and denigration.
Trance States
Trance: a state of consciousness characterized by the experience of “out-of-body possession,” or an acute dissociation between one’s self and the current, physical environment surrounding them.
Transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS)
A neuroscience technique that passes mild electrical current directly through a brain area by placing small electrodes on the skull.
Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS)
A neuroscience technique whereby a brief magnetic pulse is applied to the head that temporarily induces a weak electrical current that interferes with ongoing activity.
The mechanisms that convert stimuli into electrical signals that can be transmitted and processed by the nervous system. Physical or chemical stimulation creates action potentials in a receptor cell in the peripheral nervous system, which is then conducted along the axon to the central nervous system.
The conversion of one form of energy into another.
A process in which physical energy converts into neural energy.
Transfer-appropriate processing
A principle that states that memory performance is superior when a test taps the same cognitive processes as the original encoding activity.
The term for personality changes associated with experience and life events.
Transverse plane
See “horizontal plane.”
An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption, and that creates substantial, lasting damage to the psychological development of a person.
The drilling of a hole in the skull, presumably as a way of treating psychological disorders.
Triarchic model
Model formulated to reconcile alternative historic conceptions of psychopathy and differing methods for assessing it. Conceives of psychopathy as encompassing three symptomatic components: boldness, involving social efficacy, emotional resiliency, and venturesomeness; meanness, entailing lack of empathy/emotional-sensitivity and exploitative behavior toward others; and disinhibition, entailing deficient behavioral restraint and lack of control over urges/emotional reactions.
Trichromacy theory
Theory that proposes that all of your color perception is fundamentally based on the combination of three (not two, not four) different color signals.
Trichromatic theory
Theory proposing color vision as influenced by three different cones responding preferentially to red, green and blue.
Trigger features
Specific, sometimes minute, aspects of a situation that activate fixed action patterns.
Twin studies
A behavior genetic research method that involves comparison of the similarity of identical (monozygotic; MZ) and fraternal (dizygotic; DZ) twins.
Two-parent family
A family consisting of two parents—typical both of the biological parents-- and their children.
Tympanic membrane
Ear drum, which separates the outer ear from the middle ear.
Tympanic membrane
Thin, stretched membrane in the middle ear that vibrates in response to sound. Also called the eardrum.
Type A Behavior
Type A behavior is characterized by impatience, competitiveness, neuroticism, hostility, and anger.
Type B Behavior
Type B behavior reflects the absence of Type A characteristics and is represented by less competitive, aggressive, and hostile behavior patterns.
The difference in “goodness” of category members, ranging from the most typical (the prototype) to borderline members.
Ultimatum game
An economic game in which a proposer (Player A) can offer a subset of resources to a responder (Player B), who can then either accept or reject the given proposal.
Unconditional positive regard
In person-centered therapy, an attitude of warmth, empathy and acceptance adopted by the therapist in order to foster feelings of inherent worth in the patient.
Unconditioned response (UR)
In classical conditioning, an innate response that is elicited by a stimulus before (or in the absence of) conditioning.
Unconditioned stimulus (US)
In classical conditioning, the stimulus that elicits the response before conditioning occurs.
Not conscious; the part of the mind that affects behavior though it is inaccessible to the conscious mind.
Under-determined or misspecified causal models
Psychological frameworks that miss or neglect to include one or more of the critical determinants of the phenomenon under analysis.
Of or pertaining to a single sensory modality.
Unimodal components
The parts of a stimulus relevant to one sensory modality at a time.
Unimodal cortex
A region of the brain devoted to the processing of information from a single sensory modality.
Uninvolved parenting
Parenting that is low in demandingness and low in support.
Universalism proposes that there are single objective standards, independent of culture, in basic domains such as learning, reasoning, and emotion that are a part of all human experience.
Unusual uses
A test of divergent thinking that asks participants to find many uses for commonplace objects, such as a brick or paperclip.
Upward comparisons
Making mental comparisons to people who are perceived to be superior on the standard of comparison.
Vagus nerve
The 10th cranial nerve. The mammalian vagus has an older unmyelinated branch which originates in the dorsal motor complex and a more recently evolved, myelinated branch, with origins in the ventral vagal complex including the nucleus ambiguous. The vagus is the primary source of autonomic-parasympathetic regulation for various internal organs, including the heart, lungs and other parts of the viscera. The vagus nerve is primarily sensory (afferent), transmitting abundant visceral input to the central nervous system.
Evidence related to the interpretation and use of test scores. A particularly important type of evidence is criterion validity, which involves the ability of a test to predict theoretically relevant outcomes. For example, a presumed measure of conscientiousness should be related to academic achievement (such as overall grade point average).
Value judgment
An assessment—based on one’s own preferences and priorities—about the basic “goodness” or “badness” of a concept or practice.
Value-free research
Research that is not influenced by the researchers’ own values, morality, or opinions.
A nine amino acid mammalian neuropeptide. Vasopressin is synthesized primarily in the brain, but also may be made in other tissues. Vasopressin is best known for its effects on the cardiovascular system (increasing blood pressure) and also the kidneys (causing water retention). Vasopressin has effects on brain tissue, but also acts throughout the body.
Ventral pathway
Pathway of visual processing. The “what” pathway.
Verbal persuasion
When trusted people (friends, family, experts) influence your self-efficacy for better or worse by either encouraging or discouraging you about your ability to succeed.
Verbal report paradigms
Research methods that require participants to report on their experiences, thoughts, feelings, etc., using language.
Vergence angle
The angle between the line of sight for the two eyes. Low vergence angles indicate far-viewing objects, whereas large angles indicate viewing of near objects.
Vestibular compensation
Following injury to one side of vestibular receptors or the vestibulocochlear nerve, the central vestibular nuclei neurons gradually recover much of their function through plasticity mechanisms. The recovery is never complete, however, and extreme motion environments can lead to dizziness, nausea, problems with balance, and spatial memory.
Vestibular efferents
Nerve fibers originating from a nucleus in the brainstem that project from the brain to innervate the vestibular receptor hair cells and afferent nerve terminals. Efferents have a modulatory role on their targets, which is not well understood.
Vestibular system
Parts of the inner ear involved in balance.
Vestibular system
Consists of a set of motion and gravity detection receptors in the inner ear, a set of primary nuclei in the brainstem, and a network of pathways carrying motion and gravity signals to many regions of the brain.
Vestibulocochlear nerve
The VIIIth cranial nerve that carries fibers innervating the vestibular receptors and the cochlea.
Vestibuloocular reflex
Eye movements produced by the vestibular brainstem that are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to head motion. The VOR functions to maintain visual stability on a point of interest and is nearly perfect for all natural head movements.
Vestibulo-ocular reflex
Coordination of motion information with visual information that allows you to maintain your gaze on an object while you move.
Vicarious performances
When seeing other people succeed or fail leads to changes in self-efficacy.
Vicarious reinforcement
Learning that occurs by observing the reinforcement or punishment of another person.
A short story that presents a situation that participants are asked to respond to.
Violation of expectation paradigm
A research method in which infants are expected to respond in a particular way because one of two conditions violates or goes against what they should expect based on their everyday experiences (e.g., it violates our expectations that Wile E. Coyote runs off a cliff but does not immediately fall to the ground below).
Aggression intended to cause extreme physical harm, such as injury or death.
Visual cortex
The part of the brain that processes visual information, located in the back of the brain.
Visual hemifield
The half of visual space (what we see) on one side of fixation (where we are looking); the left hemisphere is responsible for the right visual hemifield, and the right hemisphere is responsible for the left visual hemifield.
Visual perspective taking
Can refer to visual perspective taking (perceiving something from another person’s spatial vantage point) or more generally to effortful mental state inference (trying to infer the other person’s thoughts, desires, emotions).
Vivid dreams
A dream that is very clear, where the individual can remember the dream in great detail.
The difference in electric charge between two points.
Voluntary responses
Behaviors that a person has control over and completes by choice.
Weapons effect
The increase in aggression that occurs as a result of the mere presence of a weapon.
Weber’s law
States that just noticeable difference is proportional to the magnitude of the initial stimulus.
WEIRD cultures
Cultures that are western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic.
The experience of mental and physical health and the absence of disorder.
Wernicke’s area
A language area in the temporal lobe where linguistic information is comprehended (Also see Broca’s area).
What pathway
Pathway of neural processing in the brain that is responsible for your ability to recognize what is around you.
Where-and-How pathway
Pathway of neural processing in the brain that is responsible for you knowing where things are in the world and how to interact with them.
White coat hypertension
A phenomenon in which patients exhibit elevated blood pressure in the hospital or doctor’s office but not in their everyday lives.
White matter
The inner whitish regions of the cerebrum comprised of the myelinated axons of neurons in the cerebral cortex.
White matter
Regions of the nervous system that represent the axons of the nerve cells; whitish in color because of myelination of the nerve cells.
Work and organizational psychology
Preferred name for I/O psychology in Europe.
Working memory
The ability to maintain information over a short period of time, such as 30 seconds or less.
Working memory
The form of memory we use to hold onto information temporarily, usually for the purposes of manipulation.
Working memory
Short transitory memory processed in the hippocampus.
Working memory
Memory system that allows for information to be simultaneously stored and utilized or manipulated.
Working models
An understanding of how relationships operate; viewing oneself as worthy of love and others as trustworthy.