Vocabulary

5α-reductase
An enzyme required to convert testosterone to 5α-dihydrotestosterone.
Absolute threshold
The smallest amount of stimulation needed for detection by a sense.
Acceptance and commitment therapy
A therapeutic approach designed to foster nonjudgmental observation of one’s own mental processes.
Action Potential
A transient all-or-nothing electrical current that is conducted down the axon when the membrane potential reaches the threshold of excitation.
Adherence
In health, it is the ability of a patient to maintain a health behavior prescribed by a physician. This might include taking medication as prescribed, exercising more, or eating less high-fat food.
Aggression
A form of social interaction that includes threat, attack, and fighting.
Agnosia
Loss of the ability to perceive stimuli.
Agonists
A drug that increases or enhances a neurotransmitter’s effect.
Agoraphobia
A sort of anxiety disorder distinguished by feelings that a place is uncomfortable or may be unsafe because it is significantly open or crowded.
Agreeableness
A personality trait that reflects a person’s tendency to be compassionate, cooperative, warm, and caring to others. People low in agreeableness tend to be rude, hostile, and to pursue their own interests over those of others.
Alogia
A reduction in the amount of speech and/or increased pausing before the initiation of speech.
Amnesia
The loss of memory.
Anchoring
The bias to be affected by an initial anchor, even if the anchor is arbitrary, and to insufficiently adjust our judgments away from that anchor.
Anhedonia
Loss of interest or pleasure in activities one previously found enjoyable or rewarding.
Anhedonia/amotivation
A reduction in the drive or ability to take the steps or engage in actions necessary to obtain the potentially positive outcome.
Anosmia
Loss of the ability to smell.
Antagonist
A drug that blocks a neurotransmitter’s effect.
Anxiety
A mood state characterized by negative affect, muscle tension, and physical arousal in which a person apprehensively anticipates future danger or misfortune.
Anxiety disorder
A group of diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) classification system where anxiety is central to the person’s dysfunctioning. Typical symptoms include excessive rumination, worrying, uneasiness, apprehension, and fear about future uncertainties either based on real or imagined events. These symptoms may affect both physical and psychological health. The anxiety disorders are subdivided into panic disorder, specific phobia, social phobia, posttraumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
Aromatase
An enzyme that converts androgens into estrogens.
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.
Attributional style
The tendency by which a person infers the cause or meaning of behaviors or events.
Audience design
Constructing utterances to suit the audience’s knowledge.
Audition
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.
Autobiographical memory
Memory for the events of one’s life.
Automatic bias
Automatic biases are unintended, immediate, and irresistible.
Automatic thoughts
Thoughts that occur spontaneously; often used to describe problematic thoughts that maintain mental disorders.
Aversive racism
Aversive racism is unexamined racial bias that the person does not intend and would reject, but that avoids inter-racial contact.
Axon
Part of the neuron that extends off the soma, splitting several times to connect with other neurons; main output of the neuron.
Balancing between goals
Shifting between a focal goal and other goals or temptations by putting less effort into the focal goal—usually with the intention of coming back to the focal goal at a later point in time.
Behavioral medicine
A field similar to health psychology that integrates psychological factors (e.g., emotion, behavior, cognition, and social factors) in the treatment of disease. This applied field includes clinical areas of study, such as occupational therapy, hypnosis, rehabilitation or medicine, and preventative medicine.
Behaviorism
The study of behavior.
Biases
The systematic and predictable mistakes that influence the judgment of even very talented human beings.
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.
Biofeedback
The process by which physiological signals, not normally available to human perception, are transformed into easy-to-understand graphs or numbers. Individuals can then use this information to try to change bodily functioning (e.g., lower blood pressure, reduce muscle tension).
Biological vulnerability
A specific genetic and neurobiological factor that might predispose someone to develop anxiety disorders.
Biomedical Model of Health
A reductionist model that posits that ill health is a result of a deviation from normal function, which is explained by the presence of pathogens, injury, or genetic abnormality.
Biopsychosocial Model of Health
An approach to studying health and human function that posits the importance of biological, psychological, and social (or environmental) processes.
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.
Blocking
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.
Borderline Personality Disorder
This personality disorder is defined by a chronic pattern of instability. This instability manifests itself in interpersonal relationships, mood, self-image, and behavior that can interfere with social functioning or work. It may also cause grave emotional distress.
Bottom-up processing
Building up to perceptual experience from individual pieces.
Bounded awareness
The systematic ways in which we fail to notice obvious and important information that is available to us.
Bounded ethicality
The systematic ways in which our ethics are limited in ways we are not even aware of ourselves.
Bounded rationality
Model of human behavior that suggests that humans try to make rational decisions but are bounded due to cognitive limitations.
Bounded self-interest
The systematic and predictable ways in which we care about the outcomes of others.
Bounded willpower
The tendency to place greater weight on present concerns rather than future concerns.
Brain Stem
The “trunk” of the brain comprised of the medulla, pons, midbrain, and diencephalon.
Broca’s Area
An area in the frontal lobe of the left hemisphere. Implicated in language production.
Catatonia
Behaviors that seem to reflect a reduction in responsiveness to the external environment. This can include holding unusual postures for long periods of time, failing to respond to verbal or motor prompts from another person, or excessive and seemingly purposeless motor activity.
Categorize
To sort or arrange different items into classes or categories.
Central Nervous System
The portion of the nervous system that includes the brain and spinal cord.
Central route to persuasion
Persuasion that employs direct, relevant, logical messages.
Cerebellum
The distinctive structure at the back of the brain, Latin for “small brain.”
Cerebrum
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.
Chromosomal sex
The sex of an individual as determined by the sex chromosomes (typically XX or XY) received at the time of fertilization.
Chronic disease
A health condition that persists over time, typically for periods longer than three months (e.g., HIV, asthma, diabetes).
Chronic stress
Discrete or related problematic events and conditions which persist over time and result in prolonged activation of the biological and/or psychological stress response (e.g., unemployment, ongoing health difficulties, marital discord).
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.
Cochlea
Spiral bone structure in the inner ear containing auditory hair cells.
Cognitive bias modification
Using exercises (e.g., computer games) to change problematic thinking habits.
Cognitive failures
Every day slips and lapses, also called absentmindedness.
Cognitive psychology
The study of mental processes.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
A family of approaches with the goal of changing the thoughts and behaviors that influence psychopathology.
Commitment
The sense that a goal is both valuable and attainable
Common ground
Information that is shared by people who engage in a conversation.
Comorbidity
Describes a state of having more than one psychological or physical disorder at a given time.
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
A learned reaction following classical conditioning, or the process by which an event that automatically elicits a response is repeatedly paired with another neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus), resulting in the ability of the neutral stimulus to elicit the same response on its own.
Conditioned response (CR)
The response that is elicited by the conditioned stimulus after classical conditioning has taken place.
Conditioned stimulus (CS)
An initially neutral stimulus (like a bell, light, or tone) that elicits a conditioned response after it has been associated with an unconditioned stimulus.
Cones
Photoreceptors of the retina sensitive to color. Located primarily in the fovea.
Conformity
Changing one’s attitude or behavior to match a perceived social norm.
Confounds
Factors that undermine the ability to draw causal inferences from an experiment.
Conscientiousness
A personality trait that reflects a person’s tendency to be careful, organized, hardworking, and to follow rules.
Conscious goal activation
When a person is fully aware of contextual influences and resulting goal-directed behavior.
Consciousness
Awareness of ourselves and our environment.
Consciousness
The quality or state of being aware of an external object or something within oneself. It has been defined as the ability to experience or to feel, wakefulness, having a sense of selfhood, and the executive control system of the mind.
Consciousness
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.
Consolidation
The process occurring after encoding that is believed to stabilize memory traces.
Context
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.
Continuous distributions
Characteristics can go from low to high, with all different intermediate values possible. One does not simply have the trait or not have it, but can possess varying amounts of it.
Contralateral
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).
Control
Feeling like you have the power to change your environment or behavior if you need or want to.
Corpus Callosum
The thick bundle of nerve cells that connect the two hemispheres of the brain and allow them to communicate.
Correlation
Measures the association between two variables, or how they go together.
Cross-sectional design
Research method that involves observation of all of a population, or a representative subset, at one specific point in time.
Crowds
Adolescent peer groups characterized by shared reputations or images.
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
Cues: a stimulus that has a particular significance to the perceiver (e.g., a sight or a sound that has special relevance to the person who saw or heard it)
Cultural 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.
Daily hassles
Irritations in daily life that are not necessarily traumatic, but that cause difficulties and repeated stress.
Dark adaptation
Adjustment of eye to low levels of light.
Defeminization
The removal of the potential for female traits.
Defensive coping mechanism
An unconscious process, which protects an individual from unacceptable or painful ideas, impulses, or memories.
Deliberative phase
The first of the two basic stages of self-regulation in which individuals decide which of many potential goals to pursue at a given point in time.
Delusions
False beliefs that are often fixed, hard to change even in the presence of conflicting information, and often culturally influenced in their content.
Demasculinization
The removal of the potential for male traits.
Dendrites
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
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.
DES
Dissociative Experiences Scale.
Descriptive norm
The perception of what most people do in a given situation.
Deviant peer contagion
The spread of problem behaviors within groups of adolescents.
Diagnostic criteria
The specific criteria used to determine whether an individual has a specific type of psychiatric disorder. Commonly used diagnostic criteria are included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, 5th Edition (DSM-5) and the Internal Classification of Disorders, Version 9 (ICD-9).
Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT)
A treatment often used for borderline personality disorder that incorporates both cognitive-behavioral and mindfulness elements.
Dialectical worldview
A perspective in DBT that emphasizes the joint importance of change and acceptance.
Dichotic listening
A task in which different audio streams are presented to each ear. Typically, people are asked to monitor one stream while ignoring the other.
DID
Dissociative identity disorder, formerly known as multiple personality disorder, is at the far end of the dissociative disorder spectrum. It is characterized by at least two distinct, and dissociated personality states. These personality states – or ‘alters’ - alternately control a person’s behavior. The sufferer therefore experiences significant memory impairment for important information not explained by ordinary forgetfulness.
Differential 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.
Dihydrotestosterone (DHT)
A primary androgen that is an androgenic steroid product of testosterone and binds strongly to androgen receptors.
Discontinuous development
Discontinuous development
Discrimination
Discrimination is behavior that advantages or disadvantages people merely based on their group membership.
Discriminative stimulus
In operant conditioning, a stimulus that signals whether the response will be reinforced. It is said to “set the occasion” for the operant response.
Disorganized behavior
Behavior or dress that is outside the norm for almost all subcultures. This would include odd dress, odd makeup (e.g., lipstick outlining a mouth for 1 inch), or unusual rituals (e.g., repetitive hand gestures).
Disorganized speech
Speech that is difficult to follow, either because answers do not clearly follow questions or because one sentence does not logically follow from another.
Dissociation
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
Dissociation
A disruption in the usually integrated function of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the environment.
Distinctiveness
The principle that unusual events (in a context of similar events) will be recalled and recognized better than uniform (nondistinctive) events.
Dopamine
A neurotransmitter in the brain that is thought to play an important role in regulating the function of other neurotransmitters.
Dorsal pathway
Pathway of visual processing. The “where” pathway.
Early adversity
Single or multiple acute or chronic stressful events, which may be biological or psychological in nature (e.g., poverty, abuse, childhood illness or injury), occurring during childhood and resulting in a biological and/or psychological stress response.
Ego defenses
Mental strategies, rooted in the ego, that we use to manage anxiety when we feel threatened (some examples include repression, denial, sublimation, and reaction formation).
Ego-depletion
The exhaustion of physiological and/or psychological resources following the completion of effortful self-control tasks, which subsequently leads to reduction in the capacity to exert more self-control.
Electroencephalography (EEG)
A neuroimaging technique that measures electrical brain activity via multiple electrodes on the scalp.
Emotion-focused coping
Coping strategy aimed at reducing the negative emotions associated with a stressful event.
Empiricism
The belief that knowledge comes from experience.
Encoding
The initial experience of perceiving and learning events.
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.
Endocrine gland
A ductless gland from which hormones are released into the blood system in response to specific biological signals.
Engrams
A term indicating the change in the nervous system representing an event; also, memory trace.
Enzyme
A protein produced by a living organism that allows or helps a chemical reaction to occur.
Enzyme induction
Process through which a drug can enhance the production of an enzyme.
Episodic memory
Memory for events in a particular time and place.
Episodic memory
The ability to learn and retrieve new information or episodes in one’s life.
Estrogen
Any of the C18 class of steroid hormones, so named because of the estrus-generating properties in females. Biologically important estrogens include estradiol and estriol.
Eugenics
The practice of selective breeding to promote desired traits.
Euphoria
Euphoria: an intense feeling of pleasure, excitement or happiness.
Experimenter expectations
When the experimenter’s expectations influence the outcome of a study.
Exposure therapy
A form of intervention in which the patient engages with a problematic (usually feared) situation without avoidance or escape.
External cues
Stimuli in the outside world that serve as triggers for anxiety or as reminders of past traumatic events.
Extinction
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.”
Extraversion
A personality trait that reflects a person’s tendency to be sociable, outgoing, active, and assertive.
Extrinsic motivation
Motivation stemming from the benefits associated with achieving a goal such as obtaining a monetary reward.
Facets
Broad personality traits can be broken down into narrower facets or aspects of the trait. For example, extraversion has several facets, such as sociability, dominance, risk-taking and so forth.
Factor analysis
A statistical technique for grouping similar things together according to how highly they are associated.
False memories
Memory for an event that never actually occurred, implanted by experimental manipulation or other means.
Fantasy proneness
The tendency to extensive fantasizing or daydreaming.
Fear conditioning
A type of classical or Pavlovian conditioning in which the conditioned stimulus (CS) is associated with an aversive unconditioned stimulus (US), such as a foot shock. As a consequence of learning, the CS comes to evoke fear. The phenomenon is thought to be involved in the development of anxiety disorders in humans.
Feminization
The induction of female traits.
Fight or flight response
A biological reaction to alarming stressors that prepares the body to resist or escape a threat.
Five-Factor Model
(also called the Big Five) The Five-Factor Model is a widely accepted model of personality traits. Advocates of the model believe that much of the variability in people’s thoughts, feelings, and behaviors can be summarized with five broad traits. These five traits are Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness, and Neuroticism.
Fixed action patterns (FAPs)
Sequences of behavior that occur in exactly the same fashion, in exactly the same order, every time they are elicited.
Flashback
Sudden, intense re-experiencing of a previous event, usually trauma-related.
Flashbulb memory
A highly detailed and vivid memory of an emotionally significant event.
Flashbulb memory
Vivid personal memories of receiving the news of some momentous (and usually emotional) event.
Flat affect
A reduction in the display of emotions through facial expressions, gestures, and speech intonation.
Flavor
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)
Foils
Any member of a lineup (whether live or photograph) other than the suspect.
Foot in the door
Obtaining a small, initial commitment.
Foreclosure
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.
Framing
The bias to be systematically affected by the way in which information is presented, while holding the objective information constant.
Free association
In psychodynamic therapy, a process in which the patient reports all thoughts that come to mind without censorship, and these thoughts are interpreted by the therapist.
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.
Functional capacity
The ability to engage in self-care (cook, clean, bathe), work, attend school, and/or engage in social relationships.
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.
Functionalism
A school of American psychology that focused on the utility of consciousness.
G
Short for “general factor” and is often used to be synonymous with intelligence itself.
General Adaptation Syndrome
A three-phase model of stress, which includes a mobilization of physiological resources phase, a coping phase, and an exhaustion phase (i.e., when an organism fails to cope with the stress adequately and depletes its resources).
General population
A sample of people representative of the average individual in our society.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD)
Excessive worry about everyday things that is at a level that is out of proportion to the specific causes of worry.
Gestalt psychology
An attempt to study the unity of experience.
Goal
The cognitive representation of a desired state (outcome).
Goal-directed behavior
Instrumental behavior that is influenced by the animal’s knowledge of the association between the behavior and its consequence and the current value of the consequence. Sensitive to the reinforcer devaluation effect.
Gonadal sex
The sex of an individual as determined by the possession of either ovaries or testes. Females have ovaries, whereas males have testes.
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.
Grandiosity
Inflated self-esteem or an exaggerated sense of self-importance and self-worth (e.g., believing one has special powers or superior abilities).
Gustation
Ability to process gustatory stimuli. Also called taste.
Habit
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.
Hallucinations
Perceptual experiences that occur even when there is no stimulus in the outside world generating the experiences. They can be auditory, visual, olfactory (smell), gustatory (taste), or somatic (touch).
Hallucinogens
Hallucinogens: substances that, when ingested, alter a person’s perceptions, often by creating hallucinations that are not real or distorting their perceptions of time.
Health
According to the World Health Organization, it is a complete state of physical, mental, and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.
Health behavior
Any behavior that is related to health—either good or bad.
Heuristics
cognitive (or thinking) strategies that simplify decision making by using mental short-cuts
Heuristics
Mental shortcuts that enable people to make decisions and solve problems quickly and efficiently.
HEXACO model
The HEXACO model is an alternative to the Five-Factor Model. The HEXACO model includes six traits, five of which are variants of the traits included in the Big Five (Emotionality [E], Extraversion [X], Agreeableness [A], Conscientiousness [C], and Openness [O]). The sixth factor, Honesty-Humility [H], is unique to this model.
Highlighting a goal
Prioritizing a focal goal over other goals or temptations by putting more effort into the focal goal.
Homophily
Adolescents tend to associate with peers who are similar to themselves.
Hormone
An organic chemical messenger released from endocrine cells that travels through the blood to interact with target cells at some distance to cause a biological response.
Hostility
An experience or trait with cognitive, behavioral, and emotional components. It often includes cynical thoughts, feelings of emotion, and aggressive behavior.
Hypersomnia
Excessive daytime sleepiness, including difficulty staying awake or napping, or prolonged sleep episodes.
Hypnosis
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
Hypnotherapy: The use of hypnotic techniques such as relaxation and suggestion to help engineer desirable change such as lower pain or quitting smoking.
Identity achievement
Individuals have explored different options and then made commitments.
Identity diffusion
Adolescents neither explore nor commit to any roles or ideologies.
Implemental phase
The second of the two basic stages of self-regulation in which individuals plan specific actions related to their selected goal.
Implicit Association Test
Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures relatively automatic biases that favor own group relative to other groups.
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.
Inattentional blindness
The failure to notice a fully visible, but unexpected, object or event when attention is devoted to something else.
Inattentional deafness
The auditory analog of inattentional blindness. People fail to notice an unexpected sound or voice when attention is devoted to other aspects of a scene.
Independent
Two characteristics or traits are separate from one another-- a person can be high on one and low on the other, or vice-versa. Some correlated traits are relatively independent in that although there is a tendency for a person high on one to also be high on the other, this is not always the case.
Independent 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.
Informational influence
Conformity that results from a concern to act in a socially approved manner as determined by how others act.
Ingroup
Group to which a person belongs.
Insomnia
A sleep disorder in which there is an inability to fall asleep or to stay asleep as long as desired. Symptoms also include waking up too early, experience many awakenings during the night, and not feeling rested during the day.
Instrumental conditioning
Process in which animals learn about the relationship between their behaviors and their consequences. Also known as operant conditioning.
Integrative ​or eclectic psychotherapy​
Also called integrative psychotherapy, this term refers to approaches combining multiple orientations (e.g., CBT with psychoanalytic elements).
Integrative or ​eclectic psychotherapy
Also called integrative psychotherapy, this term refers to approaches combining multiple orientations (e.g., CBT with psychoanalytic elements).
Intelligence
An individual’s cognitive capability. This includes the ability to acquire, process, recall and apply information.
Internal bodily or somatic cues
Physical sensations that serve as triggers for anxiety or as reminders of past traumatic events.
Interoceptive avoidance
Avoidance of situations or activities that produce sensations of physical arousal similar to those occurring during a panic attack or intense fear response.
Interpersonal
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.
Intrapersonal
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.
Intrinsic motivation
Motivation stemming from the benefits associated with the process of pursuing a goal such as having a fulfilling experience.
Introspection
A method of focusing on internal processes.
IQ
Short for “intelligence quotient.” This is a score, typically obtained from a widely used measure of intelligence that is meant to rank a person’s intellectual ability against that of others.
Jet Lag
Jet Lag: The state of being fatigued and/or having difficulty adjusting to a new time zone after traveling a long distance (across multiple time zones).
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.
Lexical hypothesis
The lexical hypothesis is the idea that the most important differences between people will be encoded in the language that we use to describe people. Therefore, if we want to know which personality traits are most important, we can look to the language that people use to describe themselves and others.
Lexicon
Words and expressions.
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.
Linguistic intergroup bias
A tendency for people to characterize positive things about their ingroup using more abstract expressions, but negative things about their outgroups using more abstract expressions.
Longitudinal study
A study that follows the same group of individuals over time.
Lucid dreams
Any dream in which one is aware that one is dreaming.
Magnetic resonance imaging
A set of techniques that uses strong magnets to measure either the structure of the brain (e.g., gray matter and white matter) or how the brain functions when a person performs cognitive tasks (e.g., working memory or episodic memory) or other types of tasks.
Masculinization
The induction of male traits.
Maternal behavior
Parental behavior performed by the mother or other female.
Mechanoreceptors
Mechanical sensory receptors in the skin that response to tactile stimulation.
Melatonin
Melatonin: A hormone associated with increased drowsiness and sleep.
Memory traces
A term indicating the change in the nervous system representing an event.
Metabolism
Breakdown of substances.
Mind–body connection
The idea that our emotions and thoughts can affect how our body functions.
Mindfulness
A process that reflects a nonjudgmental, yet attentive, mental state.
Mindfulness
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?)
Mindfulness-based therapy
A form of psychotherapy grounded in mindfulness theory and practice, often involving meditation, yoga, body scan, and other features of mindfulness exercises.
Misinformation effect
A memory error caused by exposure to incorrect information between the original event (e.g., a crime) and later memory test (e.g., an interview, lineup, or day in court).
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.
Mock witnesses
A research subject who plays the part of a witness in a study.
Mood disorder
A group of diagnoses in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) classification system where a disturbance in the person’s mood is the primary dysfunction. Mood disorders include major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, dysthymic and cyclothymic disorder.
Moratorium
State in which adolescents are actively exploring options but have not yet made identity commitments.
Motivation
The psychological driving force that enables action in the course of goal pursuit.
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.
Nature
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.
Neurodevelopmental
Processes that influence how the brain develops either in utero or as the child is growing up.
Neurons
Individual brain cells
Neuropsychoanalysis
An integrative, interdisciplinary domain of inquiry seeking to integrate psychoanalytic and neuropsychological ideas and findings to enhance both areas of inquiry (you can learn more by visiting the webpage of the International Neuropsychoanalysis Society at http://www.neuropsa.org.uk/).
Neuroticism
A personality trait that reflects the tendency to be interpersonally sensitive and the tendency to experience negative emotions like anxiety, fear, sadness, and anger.
Neurotransmitter
A chemical messenger that travels between neurons to provide communication. Some neurotransmitters, such as norepinephrine, can leak into the blood system and act as hormones.
Neurotransmitter
A chemical substance produced by a neuron that is used for communication between neurons.
Neurotransmitters
Chemical substance released by the presynaptic terminal button that acts on the postsynaptic cell.
Nightmares
An unpleasant dream that can cause a strong negative emotional response from the mind, typically fear or horror, but also despair, anxiety, and great sadness. The dream may contain situations of danger, discomfort, psychological or physical terror. Sufferers usually awaken in a state of distress and may be unable to return to sleep for a prolonged period of time.
Nociception
Our ability to sense pain.
Nonconscious goal activation
When activation occurs outside a person’s awareness, such that the person is unaware of the reasons behind her goal-directed thoughts and behaviors.
Norm
Assessments are given to a representative sample of a population to determine the range of scores for that population. These “norms” are then used to place an individual who takes that assessment on a range of scores in which he or she is compared to the population at large.
Normative influence
Conformity that results from a concern for what other people think of us.
Numerical magnitudes
The sizes of numbers.
Nurture
The environments, starting with the womb, that influence all aspects of children’s development.
Obedience
Responding to an order or command from a person in a position of authority.
Object permanence task
The Piagetian task in which infants below about 9 months of age fail to search for an object that is removed from their sight and, if not allowed to search immediately for the object, act as if they do not know that it continues to exist.
Object relations theory
A modern offshoot of the psychodynamic perspective, this theory contends that personality can be understood as reflecting mental images of significant figures (especially the parents) that we form early in life in response to interactions taking place within the family; these mental images serve as templates (or “scripts”) for later interpersonal relationships.
Observational learning
Learning by observing the behavior of others.
Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
This anxiety disorder is characterized by intrusive thoughts (obsessions), by repetitive behaviors (compulsions), or both. Obsessions produce uneasiness, fear, or worry. Compulsions are then aimed at reducing the associated anxiety. Examples of compulsive behaviors include excessive washing or cleaning; repeated checking; extreme hoarding; and nervous rituals, such as switching the light on and off a certain number of times when entering a room. Intrusive thoughts are often sexual, violent, or religious in nature...
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
A disorder characterized by the desire to engage in certain behaviors excessively or compulsively in hopes of reducing anxiety. Behaviors include things such as cleaning, repeatedly opening and closing doors, hoarding, and obsessing over certain thoughts.
Occipital Lobe
The back most (posterior) part of the cerebrum; involved in vision.
Odorants
Chemicals transduced by olfactory receptors.
Olfaction
Ability to process olfactory stimuli. Also called smell.
Olfactory epithelium
Organ containing olfactory receptors.
Openness to Experience
A personality trait that reflects a person’s tendency to seek out and to appreciate new things, including thoughts, feelings, values, and experiences.
Operant
A behavior that is controlled by its consequences. The simplest example is the rat’s lever-pressing, which is controlled by the presentation of the reinforcer.
Operant conditioning
See instrumental conditioning.
Operational definitions
How researchers specifically measure a concept.
Opponent-process theory
Theory proposing color vision as influenced by cells responsive to pairs of colors.
Ossicles
A collection of three small bones in the middle ear that vibrate against the tympanic membrane.
Outgroup
Group to which a person does not belong.
Overconfident
The bias to have greater confidence in your judgment than is warranted based on a rational assessment.
Oxytocin
A peptide hormone secreted by the pituitary gland to trigger lactation, as well as social bonding.
Panic disorder (PD)
A condition marked by regular strong panic attacks, and which may include significant levels of worry about future attacks.
Parental behavior
Behaviors performed in relation to one’s offspring that contributes directly to the survival of those offspring
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.
Paternal behavior
Parental behavior performed by the father or other male.
Pavlovian conditioning
See classical conditioning.
Perception
The psychological process of interpreting sensory information.
Peripheral Nervous System
All of the nerve cells that connect the central nervous system to all the other parts of the body.
Peripheral route to persuasion
Persuasion that relies on superficial cues that have little to do with logic.
Personality
Enduring predispositions that characterize a person, such as styles of thought, feelings and behavior.
Personality traits
Enduring dispositions in behavior that show differences across individuals, and which tend to characterize the person across varying types of situations.
Person-centered therapy
A therapeutic approach focused on creating a supportive environment for self-discovery.
Person-situation debate
The person-situation debate is a historical debate about the relative power of personality traits as compared to situational influences on behavior. The situationist critique, which started the person-situation debate, suggested that people overestimate the extent to which personality traits are consistent across situations.
Phantom limb
The perception that a missing limb still exists.
Phantom limb pain
Pain in a limb that no longer exists.
Pharmacokinetics
The action of a drug through the body, including absorption, distribution, metabolism, and excretion.
Phonemic awareness
Awareness of the component sounds within words.
Photo spreads
A selection of normally small photographs of faces given to a witness for the purpose of identifying a perpetrator.
Piaget’s theory
Theory that development occurs through a sequence of discontinuous stages: the sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational, and formal operational stages.
Pinna
Outermost portion of the ear.
Placebo effect
When receiving special treatment or something new affects human behavior.
Polypharmacy
The use of many medications.
Positron emission tomography
A technique that uses radio-labelled ligands to measure the distribution of different neurotransmitter receptors in the brain or to measure how much of a certain type of neurotransmitter is released when a person is given a specific type of drug or does a particularly cognitive task.
Positron Emission Tomography (PET)
A neuroimaging technique that measures brain activity by detecting the presence of a radioactive substance in the brain that is initially injected into the bloodstream and then pulled in by active brain tissue.
Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
A sense of intense fear, triggered by memories of a past traumatic event, that another traumatic event might occur. PTSD may include feelings of isolation and emotional numbing.
Practitioner-Scholar Model
A model of training of professional psychologists that emphasizes clinical practice.
Prediction error
When the outcome of a conditioning trial is different from that which is predicted by the conditioned stimuli that are present on the trial (i.e., when the US is surprising). Prediction error is necessary to create Pavlovian conditioning (and associative learning generally). As learning occurs over repeated conditioning trials, the conditioned stimulus increasingly predicts the unconditioned stimulus, and prediction error declines. Conditioning works to correct or reduce prediction error.
Prejudice
Prejudice is an evaluation or emotion toward people merely based on their group membership.
Preoperational reasoning stage
Period within Piagetian theory from age 2 to 7 years, in which children can represent objects through drawing and language but cannot solve logical reasoning problems, such as the conservation problems.
Preparedness
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.
Prevalence
The number of cases of a specific disorder present in a given population at a certain time.
Prevention focus
One of two self-regulatory orientations emphasizing safety, responsibility, and security needs, and viewing goals as “oughts.” This self-regulatory focus seeks to avoid losses (the presence of negatives) and approach non-losses (the absence of negatives).
Primacy of the Unconscious
The hypothesis—supported by contemporary empirical research—that the vast majority of mental activity takes place outside conscious awareness.
Primary auditory cortex
Area of the cortex involved in processing auditory stimuli.
Primary somatosensory cortex
Area of the cortex involved in processing somatosensory stimuli.
Primary visual cortex
Area of the cortex involved in processing visual stimuli.
Priming
A stimulus presented to a person reminds him or her about other ideas associated with the stimulus.
Priming
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.
Problem-focused coping
A set of coping strategies aimed at improving or changing stressful situations.
Processing speed
The speed with which an individual can perceive auditory or visual information and respond to it.
Progesterone
A primary progestin that is involved in pregnancy and mating behaviors.
Progestin
A class of C21 steroid hormones named for their progestational (pregnancy-supporting) effects. Progesterone is a common progestin.
Progress
The perception of reducing the discrepancy between one’s current state and one’s desired state in goal pursuit.
Prohormone
A molecule that can act as a hormone itself or be converted into another hormone with different properties. For example, testosterone can serve as a hormone or as a prohormone for either dihydrotestosterone or estradiol.
Prolactin
A protein hormone that is highly conserved throughout the animal kingdom. It has many biological functions associated with reproduction and synergistic actions with steroid hormones.
Promotion focus
One of two self-regulatory orientations emphasizing hopes, accomplishments, and advancement needs, and viewing goals as “ideals.” This self-regulatory focus seeks to approach gains (the presence of positives) and avoid non-gains (the absence of positives).
Psychic causality
The assumption that nothing in mental life happens by chance—that there is no such thing as a “random” thought or feeling.
Psychoactive drugs
A drug that changes mood or the way someone feels.
Psychoanalytic therapy
Sigmund Freud’s therapeutic approach focusing on resolving unconscious conflicts.
Psychodynamic therapy
Treatment applying psychoanalytic principles in a briefer, more individualized format.
Psychological control
Parents’ manipulation of and intrusion into adolescents’ emotional and cognitive world through invalidating adolescents’ feelings and pressuring them to think in particular ways.
Psychological reactance
A reaction to people, rules, requirements, or offerings that are perceived to limit freedoms.
Psychological vulnerabilities
Influences that our early experiences have on how we view the world.
Psychomotor agitation
Increased motor activity associated with restlessness, including physical actions (e.g., fidgeting, pacing, feet tapping, handwringing).
Psychomotor retardation
A slowing of physical activities in which routine activities (e.g., eating, brushing teeth) are performed in an unusually slow manner.
Psychoneuroimmunology
A field of study examining the relationship among psychology, brain function, and immune function.
Psychopathology
Illnesses or disorders that involve psychological or psychiatric symptoms.
Psychophysics
Study of the relationships between physical stimuli and the perception of those stimuli.
Psychosexual stage model
Probably the most controversial aspect of psychodynamic theory, the psychosexual stage model contends that early in life we progress through a sequence of developmental stages (oral, anal, Oedipal, latency, and genital), each with its own unique mode of sexual gratification.
Psychosomatic medicine
An interdisciplinary field of study that focuses on how biological, psychological, and social processes contribute to physiological changes in the body and health over time.
Psychotropic drug
A drug that changes mood or emotion, usually used when talking about drugs prescribed for various mental conditions (depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, etc.).
PTM
Post-traumatic model of dissociation.
Punisher
A stimulus that decreases the strength of an operant behavior when it is made a consequence of the behavior.
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 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.
Realism
A point of view that emphasizes the importance of the senses in providing knowledge of the external world.
Reappraisal, or ​Cognitive restructuring
The process of identifying, evaluating, and changing maladaptive thoughts in psychotherapy.
Receptor
A chemical structure on the cell surface or inside of a cell that has an affinity for a specific chemical configuration of a hormone, neurotransmitter, or other compound.
Recoding
The ubiquitous process during learning of taking information in one form and converting it to another form, usually one more easily remembered.
Recurrent dreams
The same dream narrative or dreamscape is experienced over different occasions of sleep.
Reinforced response
Following the process of operant conditioning, the strengthening of a response following either the delivery of a desired consequence (positive reinforcement) or escape from an aversive consequence.
Reinforcer
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.
Resilience
The ability to “bounce back” from negative situations (e.g., illness, stress) to normal functioning or to simply not show poor outcomes in the face of adversity. In some cases, resilience may lead to better functioning following the negative experience (e.g., post-traumatic growth).
Retina
Cell layer in the back of the eye containing photoreceptors.
Retrieval
The process of accessing stored information.
Retroactive interference
The phenomenon whereby events that occur after some particular event of interest will usually cause forgetting of the original event.
Right-wing authoritarianism
Right-wing authoritarianism (RWA) focuses on value conflicts but endorses respect for obedience and authority in the service of group conformity.
Rods
Photoreceptors of the retina sensitive to low levels of light. Located around the fovea.
SAD performance only
Social anxiety disorder which is limited to certain situations that the sufferer perceives as requiring some type of performance.
Sapir-Whorf hypothesis
The hypothesis that the language that people use determines their thoughts.
Schema
A mental representation or set of beliefs about something.
Schema (plural: schemata)
A memory template, created through repeated exposure to a particular class of objects or events.
Schizophrenia
This mental disorder is characterized by a breakdown of thought processes and emotional responses. Symptoms include auditory hallucinations, paranoid or bizarre delusions, or disorganized speech and thinking. Sufferers from this disorder experience grave dysfunctions in their social functioning and in work.
SCID-D
Structural Clinical Interview for DSM-IV Dissociative Disorders.
Scientist-practitioner model
A model of training of professional psychologists that emphasizes the development of both research and clinical skills.
Selective listening
A method for studying selective attention in which people focus attention on one auditory stream of information while deliberately ignoring other auditory information.
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.
Self-control
The capacity to control impulses, emotions, desires, and actions in order to resist a temptation and adhere to a valued goal.
Self-efficacy
The belief that one can perform adequately in a specific situation.
Self-regulation
The processes through which individuals alter their emotions, desires, and actions in the course of pursuing a goal.
S​elf-report measure
A type of psychological test in which a person fills out a survey or questionnaire with or without the help of an investigator.
Semantic memory
The more or less permanent store of knowledge that people have.
Sensation
The physical processing of environmental stimuli by the sense organs.
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.
Sex determination
The point at which an individual begins to develop as either a male or a female. In animals that have sex chromosomes, this occurs at fertilization. Females are XX and males are XY. All eggs bear X chromosomes, whereas sperm can either bear X or Y chromosomes. Thus, it is the males that determine the sex of the offspring.
Sex differentiation
The process by which individuals develop the characteristics associated with being male or female. Differential exposure to gonadal steroids during early development causes sexual differentiation of several structures including the brain.
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.
Situation model
A mental representation of an event, object, or situation constructed at the time of comprehending a linguistic description.
Sleep deprivation
A sufficient lack of restorative sleep over a cumulative period so as to cause physical or psychiatric symptoms and affect routine performances of tasks.
Sleep paralysis
Sleep paralysis occurs when the normal paralysis during REM sleep manifests when falling asleep or awakening, often accompanied by hallucinations of danger or a malevolent presence in the room.
Sleep-wake cycle
A daily rhythmic activity cycle, based on 24-hour intervals, that is exhibited by many organisms.
Social and cultural
Society refers to a system of relationships between individuals and groups of individuals; culture refers to the meaning and information afforded to that system that is transmitted across generations. Thus, the social and cultural functions of emotion refer to the effects that emotions have on the functioning and maintenance of societies and cultures.
Social anxiety disorder (SAD)
A condition marked by acute fear of social situations which lead to worry and diminished day to day functioning.
Social brain hypothesis
The hypothesis that the human brain has evolved, so that humans can maintain larger ingroups.
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 identity theory
Social identity theory notes that people categorize each other into groups, favoring their own group.
Social integration
The size of your social network, or number of social roles (e.g., son, sister, student, employee, team member).
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 networks
Networks of social relationships among individuals through which information can travel.
Social proof
The mental shortcut based on the assumption that, if everyone is doing it, it must be right.
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 support
The perception or actuality that we have a social network that can help us in times of need and provide us with a variety of useful resources (e.g., advice, love, money).
Social zeitgeber
Zeitgeber is German for “time giver.” Social zeitgebers are environmental cues, such as meal times and interactions with other people, that entrain biological rhythms and thus sleep-wake cycle regularity.
Sociocultural theories
Theory founded in large part by Lev Vygotsky that emphasizes how other people and the attitudes, values, and beliefs of the surrounding culture influence children’s development.
Socioeconomic status (SES)
A person’s economic and social position based on income, education, and occupation.
Soma
Cell body of a neuron that contains the nucleus and genetic information, and directs protein synthesis.
Somatosensation
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.
Specific vulnerabilities
How our experiences lead us to focus and channel our anxiety.
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.
Standardize
Assessments that are given in the exact same manner to all people . With regards to intelligence tests standardized scores are individual scores that are computed to be referenced against normative scores for a population (see “norm”).
State
When a symptom is acute, or transient, lasting from a few minutes to a few hours.
Stereotype Content Model
Stereotype Content Model shows that social groups are viewed according to their perceived warmth and competence.
Stereotype threat
The phenomenon in which people are concerned that they will conform to a stereotype or that their performance does conform to that stereotype, especially in instances in which the stereotype is brought to their conscious awareness.
Stereotypes
Stereotype is a belief that characterizes people based merely on their group membership.
Stimulants
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.
Storage
The stage in the learning/memory process that bridges encoding and retrieval; the persistence of memory over time.
Strange situation
A laboratory task that involves briefly separating and reuniting infants and their primary caregivers as a way of studying individual differences in attachment behavior.
Stress
A pattern of physical and psychological responses in an organism after it perceives a threatening event that disturbs its homeostasis and taxes its abilities to cope with the event.
Stressor
An event or stimulus that induces feelings of stress.
Structural model
Developed to complement and extend the topographic model, the structural model of the mind posits the existence of three interacting mental structures called the id, ego, and superego.
Structuralism
A school of American psychology that sought to describe the elements of conscious experience.
Subtle biases
Subtle biases are automatic, ambiguous, and ambivalent, but real in their consequences.
Suicidal ideation
Recurring thoughts about suicide, including considering or planning for suicide, or preoccupation with suicide.
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.
Synapse
The tiny space separating neurons.
Synapses
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.
Syntax
Rules by which words are strung together to form sentences.
System 1
Our intuitive decision-making system, which is typically fast, automatic, effortless, implicit, and emotional.
System 2
Our more deliberative decision-making system, which is slower, conscious, effortful, explicit, and logical.
Target cell
A cell that has receptors for a specific chemical messenger (hormone or neurotransmitter).
Tastants
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.
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.
Testosterone
The primary androgen secreted by the testes of most vertebrate animals, including men.
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.
Thought-action fusion
The tendency to overestimate the relationship between a thought and an action, such that one mistakenly believes a “bad” thought is the equivalent of a “bad” action.
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.
Topographic model
Freud’s first model of the mind, which contended that the mind could be divided into three regions: conscious, preconscious, and unconscious. (The “topographic” comes from the fact that topography is the study of maps.)
Trait
When a symptom forms part of the personality or character.
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.
Transduction
The conversion of one form of energy into another.
Trauma
An event or situation that causes great distress and disruption, and that creates substantial, lasting damage to the psychological development of a person.
Trichromatic theory
Theory proposing color vision as influenced by three different cones responding preferentially to red, green and blue.
Trigger features
Specific, sometimes minute, aspects of a situation that activate fixed action patterns.
Tympanic membrane
Thin, stretched membrane in the middle ear that vibrates in response to sound. Also called the eardrum.
Type A Behavior
Type A behavior is characterized by impatience, competitiveness, neuroticism, hostility, and anger.
Type B Behavior
Type B behavior reflects the absence of Type A characteristics and is represented by less competitive, aggressive, and hostile behavior patterns.
Unconditional positive regard
In person-centered therapy, an attitude of warmth, empathy and acceptance adopted by the therapist in order to foster feelings of inherent worth in the patient.
Unconditioned response (UR)
In classical conditioning, an innate response that is elicited by a stimulus before (or in the absence of) conditioning.
Unconditioned stimulus (US)
In classical conditioning, the stimulus that elicits the response before conditioning occurs.
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.
Vivid dreams
A dream that is very clear, where the individual can remember the dream in great detail.
Weber’s law
States that just noticeable difference is proportional to the magnitude of the initial stimulus.
Working memory
The ability to maintain information over a short period of time, such as 30 seconds or less.