Psychology: Psychology Vocab A-B Flashcards

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a disorder that appears in childhood and is marked by deficient communication, social interaction, and understanding of others' states of mind (p. 147)


absolute threshold

the minimum stimulation needed to detect a particular stimulus 50 percent of the time (p. 195)


achievement v. aptitude tests

achievement test =
a test designed to assess what a person has learned (p. 432)

aptitude tests -
a test designed to predict a person's future performance; aptitude is the capacity to learn
(p. 432)


afferent (v. efferent nerves)

Afferent or sensory neurons receive information from the outside (sensory receptors) and sends them to other neurons so the body could produce a response

Efferent neurons or motor neurons receive information from other neurons and sends that information to effectors (muscles,glands), which produce a response.



[uh-MIG-duh-la] two almond shaped neural clusters that are components of the limbic system and are linked to emotion (p. 74)


availability heuristic

estimating the likelihood of events based on their availability in memory; if instances come readily to mind (perhaps because of their vividness), we presume such events are common (p. 390)


accommodation (Piaget)

Initially proposed by Jean Piaget, the term accommodation refers to part of the adaptation process. The process of accommodation involves altering one's existing schemas, or ideas, as a result of new information or new experiences. New schemas may also be developed during this process.


approach-avoidance conflict

Psychological conflict that results when a goal has both desirable and undesirable aspects.

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interpreting one's new experience in terms of one's existing schemas. (p. 143)



impairment of language, usually caused by left hemisphere damage either to Broca's area (impairing speaking) or to Wernicke's area ( impairing understanding) (p. 82)



An inability to recognize sensory inputs such as light, sound, and touch). Agnosia is typically a result of brain injury. For example, damaging the back part of the brain can cause visual agnosia (inability to properly recognize objects by sight).



Apraxia is neurological condition characterized by loss of the ability to perform activities that a person is physically able and willing to do.



Leaving home can be a reason to panic for some. Agoraphobia refers to a fear of any place where escape may be difficult, including large open spaces or crowds, as well as various means of travel.


acetylcholine (ACh)

The acetic ester of choline, the neurotransmitter substance at cholinergic synapses. It is hydrolyzed rapidly into choline and acetic acid by acetylcholinesterase in the tissues and by pseudocholinesterase in the blood.,-ach)



an interpretation of what is not human or personal in terms of human or personal characteristics


Alzheimer's disease

a progressive and irreversible brain disorder characterized by gradual deterioration of memory, reasoning, language, and finally, physical functioning. (p. 178)


antisocial personality disorder

a personality disorder in which the person (usually a man) exhibits lack of conscience for wrong-doing, even toward friends and family members. May be aggressive and ruthless or a clever con artist.
(p. 654)


alpha waves (v. beta/delta/theta)

alpha waves =
the relatively slow brain waves of a relaxed, awake state (p. 272)

delta waves =
the large, slow brain waves associated with deep sleep (p. 273)

beta waves =
an electrical rhythm of the brain with a frequency of 13 to 30 cycles per second that is associated with normal conscious waking experience

theta waves =
Theta Brain Waves are the second slowest frequency of brain waves. They typically cycle at a rate of 4-7 times per second (4 Hz – 7 Hz). Theta Brain Waves have long been associated with early stages of sleep and the process of dreaming. Theta Brain Waves are of high amplitude and usually kick in when you experience powerful surges of emotion. Theta Waves have been associated with states of enhanced creativity, “Super Learning,” deeper relaxation, day-dreaming, and sleep-dream activity.


autonomic (v. somatic) nervous

autonomic nervous =
the part of the peripheral nervous system that controls the glands and the muscles of the internal organs (such as the heart). Its sympathetic division arouses; its parasympathetic division calms. (p. 66)

somatic nervous system =
the division of the peripheral nervous system that controls the body's skeletal muscles. Also call the skeletal nervous system (p. 66)


anal stage (retentive/expulsive)

anal stage (expulsive) =
Indicating personality traits, such as conceit, ambition, and generosity, originating in habits, attitudes, or values associated with infantile pleasure in the expulsion of feces.

anal stage (retentive)=
Indicating personality traits, such as meticulousness, avarice, and obstinacy, originating in habits, attitudes, or values associated with infantile pleasure in retention of feces.



unselfish regard for or devotion to the welfare of others



a drug that relieves anxiety
— anxiolytic adjective



a methodical, logical rule or procedure that guarantees solving a particular problem. Contracts with the usually speedier-but also more error-prone use of heuristics. (p. 387)


association areas

areas of the cerebral cortex that are not involved in primary motor or sensory functions; rather , they are involved in highte mental functions such as learning, remembering, thinking and speaking.
(p. 80)


apparent motion

Apparent motion A movement illusion in which one or more stationary lights going on and off in succession are perceived as a single moving light; the simplest form of apparent motion is the phi phenomenon.


attachment theory


an emotional tie with another person; shown in young children by their seeking closeness to the caregiver and showing distress on spearation. (p. 150)


attribution theory

the theory that we tend to give a casual explanation for someone's behavior, often by crediting either the situation or the person's disposition. (P. 696)


aversive conditioning

a type of counterconditioning that associates an unpleasant state (such as nausea) with an unwanted behavior (such as drinking alcohol) (p. 667)


aggression (hostile/instrumental)

any physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt or destroy. (p 719)


anti-diuretic hormones

vasopressin is a anti-diuretic hormone, related to oxytocin, that is secreted by the posterior lobe of the pituitary gland, constricts blood vessels, raises blood pressure, stimulates intestinal motility, and reduces the excretion of urine.


arousal theory

based on the ideas that different individuals perform better at different levels of arousal and that every individual seeks to find its optimum level. For example, some people enjoy a quite evening to relax, while others might prefer a loud concert.


amnesia (anterograde v. retrograde)

the loss of memory (p 358)

Anterograde amnesia is a loss of the ability to create new memories after the event that caused the amnesia, leading to a partial or complete inability to recall the recent past, while long-term memories from before the event remain intact.

Retrograde amnesia, where memories created prior to the event are lost.


action potential (v. resting)

action potential=
a neural impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an axon. The action potential is generated by the movement of positively charged atoms in and out of channels in the axon's membrane. (p 159)

resting potential=
the inactivated state of a neuron. The neuron is negatively charged at this point and the cell membrane does not let positive charges (ions) in.


APA standards

American Psychological Association APA has approved a variety of practice guidelines and related criteria as APA policy. These guidelines are intended to educate practitioners and provide recommendations about professional conduct. As such, they are useful tools for psychologists in practice to develop and maintain competencies and/or learn about new practice areas.


all or none response

The rule that the size of the action potential is unaffected by increases in the intensity of stimulation beyond the threshold level.


activation-synthesis model

a theory of dreaming developed by researchers J. Allan Hobson and Robert McCarley. First proposed in 1977, this theory suggests that the physiological processes of the brain cause dreams.


anxiety disorders

psychological disorders characterized by distressing, persistent anxiety or maladaptive behaviors that reduce anxiety. (p 627)


affiliation motive

It is a drive to relate to people on a social basis. Persons with affiliation motivation perform work better when they are complimented for their favorable attitudes and co-operation.


applied science (v. basic)

applied research=
scientific study that aims to solve practical problems (p 13)

basic research pure science that aims to increase the scientific knowledge base (p 13)


Atkinson and Schiffrin's model

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classic model of memory. It is sometimes called the modal model or the dual process model.

Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968) suggest that memory is made up of a series of stores (see above)

The multi store model (Atkinson and Shiffrin 1968) describes memory in terms of information flowing through a system.

Information is detected by the sense organs and enters the sensory memory.

If attended to this information enters the short term memory.

Information from the STM is transferred to the long-term memory only if that information is rehearsed.

If rehearsal does not occur, then information is forgotten, lost from short term memory through the processes of displacement or decay.


attitude discrepant behavior

we try to justify the behavior


Adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH)

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Adrenocorticotropic hormone, as its name implies, stimulates the adrenal cortex. More specifically, it stimulates secretion of glucocorticoids such as cortisol, and has little control over secretion of aldosterone, the other major steroid hormone from the adrenal cortex.


anxiety disorders

psychological disorders characterized by distressing, persistent anxiety or maladaptive behaviors that reduce anxiety (p. 627)



1: considering human beings as the most significant entity of the universe
2: interpreting or regarding the world in terms of human values and experiences


agonists (v. antagonists)

one that is engaged in a struggle

a person who opposes another person


antidepressants (tricyclic)

a drug that is used to relieve or prevent depression in a person

being a chemical with three usually fused rings in the molecular structure and especially a tricyclic antidepressant


anima and animus

an individual's true inner self that in the analytic psychology of C. G. Jung reflects archetypal ideals of conduct; also : an inner feminine part of the male personality

a strong feeling of dislike or hatred



a perfect example of something


antipsychotic medication

A drug used to treat psychotic symptoms, such as delusions or hallucinations, in which patients are unable to distinguish fantasy from reality.


actor-observer effect

The actor-observer bias is a term in social psychology that refers to a tendency to attribute one's own actions to external causes, while attributing other people's behaviors to internal causes. Essentially, people tend to make different attributions depending upon whether they are the actor or the observer in a situation.

The actor-observer bias tends to be more pronounced in situations where the outcomes are negative. For example, in a situation where a person experiences something negative, the individual will often blame the situation or circumstances. When something negative happens to another person, people will often blame the individual for their personal choices, behaviors and actions.



Benzodiazepines are a class of psychoactive drugs that act as central nervous system depressants. Because death from from benzodiazepine overdose is rare, these are the CNS depressants most prescribed and have largely replaced barbiturates for use as hypnotics, anesthetics and sedatives.


balance theory

A social psychological theory based on the assumption that individuals have a deep-rooted inclination toward consistency in their relationships and cognitions. It holds that individuals constantly seek to achieve balance where social relationships enter into conflict, either by changing their sentiments or attitudes toward persons or situations, or by subjectively diminishing the importance of the conflict. Balance theory is closely related to the principles of Gestalt theory and is used to account for differences in social perception among individuals. .

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bimodal distribution

A probability distribution with two different values that are markedly more frequent than neighboring values.

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bipolar cells

Bipolar cells Nerve cells in the visual system that combine impulses from many receptors and transmit the results to ganglion cells.

Bipolar disorder A mood disorder characterized by alternating periods of depression and mania.


binocular disparity

Binocular disparity refers to the difference in image location of an object seen by the left and right eyes, resulting from the eyes' horizontal separation. The brain uses binocular disparity to extract depth information from the two-dimensional retinal images in stereopsis. In computer vision, binocular disparity refers to the difference in coordinates of similar features within two stereo images.


blood-brain barrier

A physiological mechanism that alters the permeability of brain capillaries, so that some substances, such as certain drugs, are prevented from entering brain tissue, while other substances are allowed to enter freely.

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basilar membrane

A membrane in the cochlea that, when set into motion, stimulates hair cells that produce the neural effects of auditory stimulation.


binocular disparity (cues)

depth cues, such as retinal disparity and convergence, that depend on the use of two eyes.
(p 239)


bystander intervention/apathy

the tendencay for any given bystander to be less likely to give aid if other bystanders are present. (p 736)


Babinski reflex

a reflex action of the toes, normal during infancy but abnormal after 12 to 18 months of age; after locomotion begins, it is indicative of abnormalities in the motor control pathways leading from the cerebral cortex and is widely used as a diagnostic aid in disorders of the central nervous system. It is elicited by a firm stimulus (usually scraping) on the sole of the foot, which results in dorsiflexion of the great toe and fanning of the smaller toes. Normally such a stimulus causes all the toes to bend downward.


the Big Five

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Personality researchers have proposed that there are five basic dimensions of personality.

Today, many contemporary personality psychologists believe that there are five basic dimensions of personality, often referred to as the "Big 5" personality traits.


Broca's area (aphasia)

controls language expression - an area of the frontal lobe, usually in the left hemisphere, that directs the muscle movements involved in speech.
(p 82)


bell curve

the curve of the probability density function of the normal distribution, resembling the outline of a bell.


Bobo doll experiments

The Bobo doll experiment was the name of two experiments conducted by Albert Bandura in 1961 and 1963 studying patterns of behavior associated with aggression.
Bandura hoped that the experiments would prove that aggression can be explained, at least in part, by social learning theory. The theory of social learning would state that behavior such as aggression is learned through observing and imitating others.
The experiments are important because they sparked many more studies on the effects of violent media on children.

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bottom-up processing

analysis that begins with the sense receptors and works up to the brain's integration of sensory information. (p 193)


Barnum effect

A common reference point as to why people believe the advice of psychics and astrologers - not to mention many other nice things said about them - is the 'Barnum Effect.' Named after P.T. Barnum, the Barnum Effect is based upon his famous saying 'There's a sucker born every minute.'


basic security

Basic Trust =
according to Erik Erikson a sense that the world is predictable and trustworthy; said to be formed during infancy by appropriate experiences with responsive caregivers. (p 154)


basic hostility/anxiety

Basic Anxiety is a term used by the psychologist Karen Horney to explain the ramifications of poor parenting. Basic anxiety is deep insecurity and fear that have developed in the child because of the way they were treated by their parents. It is developed because of the conflict with dependency and hostility towards mom, dad, or both. Horney argued that a child is tied to his or her parent because of dependence, not sex (as Sigmund Freud would argue). The child is dependent on the mother and father for food, shelter, and the basic needs. However, the child realizes that no matter how terrible mother and father treat him or her, he or she has nowhere to go because they are so dependent on the parents.

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Basic hostility =
is a psychological concept first described by psychoanalyst Karen Horney. It is an effect of basic evil which is also known as parental abuse. Horney described it as a bad attitude which develops in the child as a result of basic evil, such as parental abuse. The child is mistreated and becomes angry, but can do nothing as he is dependent on the very persons who mistreat them.

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backward conditioning

occurs when a conditioned stimulus immediately follows an unconditioned stimulus. Unlike with traditional conditioning models, in which the conditioned stimulus precedes the unconditioned stimulus, the conditioned response tends to be inhibitory. This is because the conditioned stimulus serves as a signal that the unconditioned stimulus has ended, rather than a reliable method of predicting the future occurrence of the unconditioned stimulus.



a system for electronically recording amplifying and feeding back information regarding a subtle physiological state such as blood pressure or muscle tension (pg 548)