Absolute threshold
The smallest amount of stimulation needed for detection by a sense.
Action Potential
A transient all-or-nothing electrical current that is conducted down the axon when the membrane potential reaches the threshold of excitation.
Adoption study
A behavior genetic research method that involves comparison of adopted children to their adoptive and biological parents.
Age identity
How old or young people feel compared to their chronological age; after early adulthood, most people feel younger than their chronological age.
Loss of the ability to perceive stimuli.
Ambulatory assessment
An overarching term to describe methodologies that assess the behavior, physiology, experience, and environments of humans in naturalistic settings.
Loss of the ability to smell.
Anterograde amnesia
Inability to form new memories for facts and events after the onset of amnesia.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Part of the neuron that extends off the soma, splitting several times to connect with other neurons; main output of the neuron.
Behavioral genetics
The empirical science of how genes and environments combine to generate behavior.
The study of behavior.
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.
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.
Bottom-up processing
Building up to perceptual experience from individual pieces.
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.
Cartesian catastrophe
The idea that mental processes taking place outside conscious awareness are impossible.
To sort or arrange different items into classes or categories.
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 Nervous System
The portion of the nervous system that includes the brain and spinal cord.
The distinctive structure at the back of the brain, Latin for “small brain.”
Usually refers to the cerebral cortex and associated white matter, but in some texts includes the subcortical structures.
Chemical senses
Our ability to process the environmental stimuli of smell and taste.
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.
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
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.
Classical conditioning
Describes stimulus-stimulus associative learning.
Spiral bone structure in the inner ear containing auditory hair cells.
Cognitive psychology
The study of mental processes.
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).
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 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 (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 of the retina sensitive to color. Located primarily in the fovea.
Confidence interval
An interval of plausible values for a population parameter; the interval of values within the margin of error of a statistic.
Factors that undermine the ability to draw causal inferences from an experiment.
The cognitive, emotional, and social influences that cause young children to create and act consistently with internal standards of conduct.
Having knowledge of something external or internal to oneself; being aware of and responding to one’s surroundings.
Awareness of ourselves and our environment.
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.
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.”
Continuous development
Ways in which development occurs in a gradual incremental manner, rather than through sudden jumps.
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).
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.
Corpus Callosum
The thick bundle of nerve cells that connect the two hemispheres of the brain and allow them to communicate.
Measures the association between two variables, or how they go together.
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.
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.
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)
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.
Dark adaptation
Adjustment of eye to low levels 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.
Part of a neuron that extends away from the cell body and is the main input to the neuron.
Dependent variable
The variable the researcher measures but does not manipulate in an experiment.
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.
Deviant peer contagion
The spread of problem behaviors within groups of adolescents.
Dichotic listening
An experimental task in which two messages are presented to different ears.
Differential susceptibility
Genetic factors that make individuals more or less responsive to environmental experiences.
Differential threshold (or difference 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.
Discontinuous development
Discontinuous development
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.
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
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.
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.
Dorsal pathway
Pathway of visual processing. The “where” pathway.
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.
(Electroencephalography) The recording of the brain’s electrical activity over a period of time by placing electrodes on the scalp.
Effortful control
A temperament quality that enables children to be more successful in motivated self-regulation.
Electroencephalography (EEG)
A neuroimaging technique that measures electrical brain activity via multiple electrodes on the scalp.
Electronically activated recorder, or EAR
A methodology where participants wear a small, portable audio recorder that intermittently records snippets of ambient sounds around them.
Empirical methods
Approaches to inquiry that are tied to actual measurement and observation.
The belief that knowledge comes from experience.
The initial experience of perceiving and learning events.
The pact of putting information into memory.
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.
A term indicating the change in the nervous system representing an event; also, memory trace.
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
Memory for events in a particular time and place.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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)
Fluid intelligence
Type of intelligence that relies on the ability to use information processing resources to reason logically and solve novel problems.
Individuals commit to an identity without exploration of options.
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.
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 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.
A school of American psychology that focused on the utility of consciousness.
Gender schemas
Organized beliefs and expectations about maleness and femaleness that guide children’s thinking about gender.
A specific deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) sequence that codes for a specific polypeptide or protein or an observable inherited trait.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Ability to process gustatory stimuli. Also called taste.
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.
Occurs when the response to a stimulus decreases with exposure.
Hallucinogens: substances that, when ingested, alter a person’s perceptions, often by creating hallucinations that are not real or distorting their perceptions of time.
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).
Heritability coefficient
An easily misinterpreted statistical construct that purports to measure the role of genetics in the explanation of differences among individuals.
Inter-individual and subgroup differences in level and rate of change over time.
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.
Adolescents tend to associate with peers who are similar to themselves.
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.
A logical idea that can be tested.
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.
Identity achievement
Individuals have explored different options and then made commitments.
Identity diffusion
Adolescents neither explore nor commit to any roles or ideologies.
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 learning
Occurs when we acquire information without intent that we cannot easily express.
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.
Inattentional blindness
The failure to notice a fully visible object when attention is devoted to something else.
Incidental learning
Any type of learning that happens without the intention to learn.
Independent variable
The variable the researcher manipulates and controls in an experiment.
Individual differences
Ways in which people differ in terms of their behavior, emotion, cognition, and development.
Information processing theories
Theories that focus on describing the cognitive processes that underlie thinking at any one age and cognitive growth over time.
Inhibitory functioning
Ability to focus on a subset of information while suppressing attention to less relevant information.
Instrumental conditioning
Process in which animals learn about the relationship between their behaviors and their consequences. Also known as operant conditioning.
Intentional learning
Any type of learning that happens when motivated by intention.
Other memories get in the way of retrieving a desired memory
Internal validity
The degree to which a cause-effect relationship between two variables has been unambiguously established.
Intra- and inter-individual differences
Different patterns of development observed within an individual (intra-) or between individuals (inter-).
A method of focusing on internal processes.
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).
Just noticeable difference (JND)
The smallest difference needed in order to differentiate two stimuli. (see Differential Threshold)
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Margin of error
The expected amount of random variation in a statistic; often defined for 95% confidence level.
Mechanical sensory receptors in the skin that response to tactile stimulation.
Medial temporal lobes
Inner region of the temporal lobes that includes the hippocampus.
Melatonin: A hormone associated with increased drowsiness and sleep.
Memory traces
A term indicating the change in the nervous system representing an event.
Mere-exposure effects
The result of developing a more positive attitude towards a stimulus after repeated instances of mere exposure to it.
Describes the knowledge and skills people have in monitoring and controlling their own learning and memory.
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?)
Misinformation effect
When erroneous information occurring after an event is remembered as having been part of the original event.
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.
State in which adolescents are actively exploring options but have not yet made identity commitments.
Multimodal perception
The effects that concurrent stimulation in more than one sensory modality has on the perception of events and objects in the world.
Myelin Sheath
Fatty tissue, that insulates the axons of the neurons; myelin is necessary for normal conduction of electrical impulses among neurons.
The genes that children bring with them to life and that influence all aspects of their development.
Nervous System
The body’s network for electrochemical communication. This system includes all the nerves cells in the body.
Neural impulse
An electro-chemical signal that enables neurons to communicate.
Individual brain cells
Chemical substance released by the presynaptic terminal button that acts on the postsynaptic cell.
Our ability to sense pain.
Nonassociative learning
Occurs when a single repeated exposure leads to a change in behavior.
Numerical magnitudes
The sizes of numbers.
The environments, starting with the womb, that influence all aspects of children’s development.
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.
Observational learning
Learning by observing the behavior of others.
Occipital Lobe
The back most (posterior) part of the cerebrum; involved in vision.
Chemicals transduced by olfactory receptors.
Ability to process olfactory stimuli. Also called smell.
Olfactory epithelium
Organ containing olfactory receptors.
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
Describes stimulus-response associative learning.
Operant conditioning
See instrumental conditioning.
Operational definitions
How researchers specifically measure a concept.
Opponent-process theory
Theory proposing color vision as influenced by cells responsive to pairs of colors.
A collection of three small bones in the middle ear that vibrate against the tympanic membrane.
A numerical result summarizing a population (e.g., mean, proportion).
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.
Pavlovian conditioning
See classical conditioning.
The psychological process of interpreting sensory information.
Perceptual learning
Occurs when aspects of our perception changes as a function of experience.
Peripheral Nervous System
All of the nerve cells that connect the central nervous system to all the other parts of the body.
Phantom limb
The perception that a missing limb still exists.
Phantom limb pain
Pain in a limb that no longer exists.
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.
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.
Placebo effect
When receiving special treatment or something new affects human behavior.
A larger collection of individuals that we would like to generalize our results to.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Primary auditory cortex
Area of the cortex involved in processing auditory stimuli.
Primary somatosensory cortex
Area of the cortex involved in processing somatosensory stimuli.
Primary visual cortex
Area of the cortex involved in processing visual stimuli.
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.
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).
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.
Psychometric approach
Approach to studying intelligence that examines performance on tests of intellectual functioning.
Study of the relationships between physical stimuli and the perception of those stimuli.
A stimulus that decreases the strength of an operant behavior when it is made a consequence of the behavior.
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
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.
A point of view that emphasizes the importance of the senses in providing knowledge of the external world.
Type of memory task where individuals are asked to remember previously learned information without the help of external cues.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photoreceptors of the retina sensitive to low levels of light. Located around the fovea.
The collection of individuals on which we collect data.
Scientist-practitioner model
A model of training of professional psychologists that emphasizes the development of both research and clinical skills.
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.
Selective attention
The ability to select certain stimuli in the environment to process, while ignoring distracting information.
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.
Semantic memory
The more or less permanent store of knowledge that people have.
The physical processing of environmental stimuli by the sense organs.
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.
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.
Signal detection
Method for studying the ability to correctly identify sensory stimuli.
Social Learning Theory
The theory that people can learn new responses and behaviors by observing the behavior of others.
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 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.
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.
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.
Cell body of a neuron that contains the nucleus and genetic information, and directs protein synthesis.
Ability to sense touch, pain and temperature.
Somatotopic map
Organization of the primary somatosensory cortex maintaining a representation of the arrangement of the body.
Sound waves
Changes in air pressure. The physical stimulus for audition.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A school of American psychology that sought to describe the elements of conscious experience.
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
Subliminal perception
The ability to process information for meaning when the individual is not consciously aware of that information.
Successful aging
Includes three components: avoiding disease, maintaining high levels of cognitive and physical functioning, and having an actively engaged lifestyle.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Early emerging differences in reactivity and self-regulation, which constitutes a foundation for personality development.
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 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.
Groups of closely related phenomena or observations.
Theory of mind
Children’s growing understanding of the mental states that affect people’s behavior.
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 processing
Experience influencing the perception of stimuli.
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.
The conversion of one form of energy into another.
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.
Trichromatic theory
Theory proposing color vision as influenced by three different cones responding preferentially to red, green and blue.
Twin studies
A behavior genetic research method that involves comparison of the similarity of identical (monozygotic; MZ) and fraternal (dizygotic; DZ) twins.
Tympanic membrane
Thin, stretched membrane in the middle ear that vibrates in response to sound. Also called the eardrum.
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.
Ventral pathway
Pathway of visual processing. The “what” pathway.
Vestibular system
Parts of the inner ear involved in balance.
Vicarious reinforcement
Learning that occurs by observing the reinforcement or punishment of another person.
Weber’s law
States that just noticeable difference is proportional to the magnitude of the initial stimulus.
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.
Working memory
The form of memory we use to hold onto information temporarily, usually for the purposes of manipulation.
Working memory
Memory system that allows for information to be simultaneously stored and utilized or manipulated.