Active-constructive responding
Demonstrating sincere interest and enthusiasm for the good news of another person.
Evolved solutions to problems that historically contributed to reproductive success.
To take in and raise a child of other parents legally as one’s own.
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.
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 core personality trait that includes such dispositional characteristics as being sympathetic, generous, forgiving, and helpful, and behavioral tendencies toward harmonious social relations and likeability.
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.
A desire to improve the welfare of another person, at a potential cost to the self and without any expectation of reward.
Ambulatory assessment
An overarching term to describe methodologies that assess the behavior, physiology, experience, and environments of humans in naturalistic settings.
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.
Anecdotal evidence
An argument that is based on personal experience and not considered reliable or representative.
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.
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.
Archival research
A type of research in which the researcher analyses records or archives instead of collecting data from live human participants.
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.
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 psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor.
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.
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.
Authoritarian parenting
Parenting style that is high is demandingness and low in support.
Authoritative parenting
A parenting style that is high in demandingness and high in support.
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.
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.
Aversive racism
Aversive racism is unexamined racial bias that the person does not intend and would reject, but that avoids inter-racial contact.
Basking in reflected glory
The tendency for people to associate themselves with successful people or groups.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Seeking out someone else with whom to share your good news.
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.
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.
Central route to persuasion
Persuasion that employs direct, relevant, logical messages.
Chameleon effect
The tendency for individuals to nonconsciously mimic the postures, mannerisms, facial expressions, and other behaviors of one’s interaction partners.
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.
Arrangement where two unmarried adults live together.
Within attachment theory, the gaining of insight into and reconciling one’s childhood experiences.
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.
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.
​Complex experimental designs
An experiment with two or more independent variables.
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.
The coordination of multiple partners toward a common goal that will benefit everyone involved.
A measure of 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
Decomposed games
A task in which an individual chooses from multiple allocations of resources to distribute between him- or herself and another person.
Demand characteristics
Subtle cues that make participants aware of what the experimenter expects to find or how participants are expected to behave.
Dependent variable
The variable the researcher measures but does not manipulate in an experiment.
Descriptive norm
The perception of what most people do in a given situation.
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.
Directional goals
The motivation to reach a particular outcome or judgment.
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.
The pattern of variation in data.
Downward comparison
Making mental comparisons with people who are perceived to be inferior on the standard of comparison.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Empty Nest
Feelings of sadness and loneliness that parents may feel when their adult children leave the home for the first time.
The uniquely human form of learning that is taught by one generation to another.
Formal agreement to get married.
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.
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.
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.
Change over time. Is the definition changing?
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.
Explicit attitude
An attitude that is consciously held and can be reported on by the person holding the attitude.
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.
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 systems theory
Theory that says a person cannot be understood on their own, but as a member of a unit.
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.
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.
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”
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.
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.
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.
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 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 neuroanatomy
Classifying how regions within the nervous system relate to psychology and behavior.
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.
Gene Selection Theory
The modern theory of evolution by selection by which differential gene replication is the defining process of evolutionary change.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
The complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being—not just the absence of disease or infirmity.
Health behaviors
Behaviors that are associated with better health. Examples include exercising, not smoking, and wearing a seat belt while in a vehicle.
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.
Partnering with someone who is unlike you in a meaningful way.
Mental shortcuts that enable people to make decisions and solve problems quickly and efficiently.
A mental shortcut or rule of thumb that reduces complex mental problems to more simple rule-based decisions.
Partnering with someone who is like you in a meaningful way.
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 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.
Hot cognition
The mental processes that are influenced by desires and feelings.
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.
A logical idea that can be tested.
A possible explanation that can be tested through research.
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.
Impact bias
A bias in affective forecasting in which one overestimates the strength or intensity of emotion one will experience after some event.
Implicit Association Test
Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures relatively automatic biases that favor own group relative to other groups.
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 (IAT)
A computer-based categorization task that measures the strength of association between specific concepts over several trials.
Implicit attitude
An attitude that a person cannot verbally or overtly state.
Implicit measures of attitudes
Measures of attitudes in which researchers infer the participant’s attitude rather than having the participant explicitly report it.
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.
Individual differences
Psychological traits, abilities, aptitudes and tendencies that vary from person to person.
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.
Industrial/Organizational psychology
Scientific study of behavior in organizational settings and the application of psychology to understand work behavior.
Informational influence
Conformity that results from a concern to act in a socially approved manner as determined by how others act.
A social group to which an individual identifies or belongs.
An agent’s mental state of committing to perform an action that the agent believes will bring about a desired outcome.
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).
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 self
The tendency to define the self in terms of social contexts that guide behavior.
Interindividual-intergroup discontinuity
The tendency for relations between groups to be less cooperative than relations between individuals.
Internal validity
The degree to which a cause-effect relationship between two variables has been unambiguously established.
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.
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.
Intimate partner violence
Physical, sexual, or psychological abuse inflicted by a partner.
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.
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.
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.
Laboratory environments
A setting in which the researcher can carefully control situations and manipulate variables.
Learned helplessness
The belief, as someone who is abused, that one has no control over his or her situation.
Damage or tissue abnormality due, for example, to an injury, surgery, or a vascular problem.
Levels of analysis
Complementary views for analyzing and understanding a phenomenon.
Linguistic inquiry and word count
A quantitative text analysis methodology that automatically extracts grammatical and psychological information from a text by counting word frequencies.
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.
Being cunning, strategic, or exploitative in one’s relationships. Named after Machiavelli, who outlined this way of relating in his book, The Prince.
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.
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.
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.
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 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 effect
The notion that people like people/places/things merely because they are familiar with them.
Copying others’ behavior, usually without awareness.
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.
Modern family
A family based on commitment, caring, and close emotional ties.
Mood-congruent memory
The tendency to be better able to recall memories that have a mood similar to our current mood.
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.
Multigenerational homes
Homes with more than one adult generation.
A pervasive pattern of grandiosity (in fantasy or behavior), a 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.
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 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.
The study of how the brain and hormones act in concert to coordinate the physiology of the body.
Normative influence
Conformity that results from a concern for what other people think of us.
Nuclear families
A core family unit comprised of only the parents and children.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A social group to which an individual does not identify or belong.
A social category or group with which an individual does not identify.
A numerical result summarizing a population (e.g., mean, proportion).
Participant variable
The individual characteristics of research subjects - age, personality, health, intelligence, etc.
Perceived social support
A person’s perception that others are there to help them in times of need.
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.
A person’s relatively stable patterns of thought, feeling, and behavior.
Physical abuse
The use of intentional physical force to cause harm.
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.
A larger collection of individuals that we would like to generalize our results to.
An evaluation or emotion toward people based merely on their group membership.
Prejudice is an evaluation or emotion toward people merely based on their group membership.
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.
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).
A social perceiver’s assumption that the other person wants, knows, or feels the same as the perceiver wants, know, or feels.
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.
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.
Physical nearness.
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 reactance
A reaction to people, rules, requirements, or offerings that are perceived to limit freedoms.
A pattern of antisocial behavior characterized by an inability to empathize, egocentricity, and a desire to use relationships as tools for personal gain.
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.
Random assignment
Using a probability-based method to divide a sample into treatment groups.
Random assignment
Assigning participants to receive different conditions of an experiment by chance.
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.
Received social support
The actual act of receiving support (e.g., informational, functional).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 participant
A person being studied as part of a research program.
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.
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.
A mental model or representation that organizes the important information about a thing, person, or event (also known as a script).
Scientific method
A method of investigation that includes systematic observation, measurement, and experiment, and the formulation, testing, and modification of hypotheses.
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.
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.
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 feeling of confidence in one’s own abilities or worth.
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.
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.
Sexual abuse
The act of forcing a partner to take part in a sex act against his or her will.
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.
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.
The process of representing the other person’s mental state.
Imaginary or real imitation of other people’s behavior or feelings.
Single parent family
An individual parent raising a child or children.
Situational identity
Being guided by different cultural influences in different situations, such as home versus workplace, or formal versus informal roles.
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 attribution
The way a person explains the motives or behaviors of others.
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 way people process and apply information about others.
Social cognition
The study of how people think about the social world.
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
Improvement in task performance that occurs when people work in the presence of other people.
Social facilitation
When performance on simple or well-rehearsed tasks is enhanced when we are in the presence of others.
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
Active engagement and participation in a broad range of social relationships.
Social loafing
The reduction of individual effort exerted when people work in groups compared with when they work alone.
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
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 value orientation (SVO)
An assessment of how an individual prefers to allocate resources between him- or herself and another person.
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).
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.
Standard scale
Research method in which all participants use a common scale—typically a Likert scale—to respond to questions.
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.
Stereotype Content Model
Stereotype Content Model shows that social groups are viewed according to their perceived warmth and competence.
Our general beliefs about the traits or behaviors shared by group of people.
Stereotype is a belief that characterizes people based merely on their group membership.
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.
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.
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 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”).
Subjective social variables
Targets of research interest that are not necessarily factual but are related to personal opinions or feelings
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.
Subtle biases
Subtle biases are automatic, ambiguous, and ambivalent, but real in their consequences.
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.
Support support network
The people who care about and support a person.
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 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.
Two people displaying the same behaviors or having the same internal states (typically because of mutual mimicry).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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).
Traditional family
Two or more people related by blood, marriage, and—occasionally-- by adoption.
Trigger features
Specific, sometimes minute, aspects of a situation that activate fixed action patterns.
Two-parent family
A family consisting of two parents—typical both of the biological parents-- and their children.
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.
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.
Upward comparisons
Making mental comparisons to people who are perceived to be superior on the standard of comparison.
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.
Aggression intended to cause extreme physical harm, such as injury or death.
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).
Weapons effect
The increase in aggression that occurs as a result of the mere presence of a weapon.
WEIRD cultures
Cultures that are western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic.
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.
Work and organizational psychology
Preferred name for I/O psychology in Europe.
Working models
An understanding of how relationships operate; viewing oneself as worthy of love and others as trustworthy.