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Psychology Test 1 1

Key Terms
Behavior Everything we do that can be directly observed.

behavioral approach A psychological perspective emphasizing the scientific study of

observable behavioral responses and their environmental determinants.

biological approach A psychological perspective that examines behavior and mental processes
through a focus on the body, especially the brain and nervous system.

cognitive approach A psychological perspective that focuses on the mental processes involved
in knowing: how we direct our attention, perceive, remember, think, and solve problems.

critical thinking The process of thinking reflectively and productively, as well as evaluating

evolutionary approach A psychological perspective that uses evolutionary ideas such as

adaptation, reproduction, and "survival of the fittest" as the basis for explaining specific human

Functionalism An early school of psychology that was concerned with the functions and
purposes of the mind and behavior in individuals' adaptation to the environment.

humanistic approach A psychological perspective that emphasizes a person’s positive qualities,

capacity for positive growth, and the freedom to choose any destiny.

mental processes The thoughts, feelings, and motives that each of us experiences privately but
that cannot be observed directly.

natural selection An evolutionary process that favors organisms' traits or characteristics that are
best adapted to reproduce and survive.

Neuroscience The scientific study of the structure, function, development, genetics, and
biochemistry of the nervous system.

positive psychology movement The push for a stronger emphasis on research involving the
experiences that people value, the traits associated with optimal capacities for love and work, and
positive group and civic values.

psychodynamic approach A psychological perspective emphasizing unconscious thought, the

conflict between biological instincts and society's demands, and early family experiences.

psychology The scientific study of behavior and mental processes.

Psychopathology The study of mental illness.

science In psychology, the use of systematic methods to observe, describe, predict, and explain

sociocultural approach A psychological perspective that examines the ways in which the social
and cultural environments influence behavior.

Structuralism An early school of psychology that attempted to identify the structures of the
human mind.

case study An in-depth look at a single individual; also known as a case history.

control group A comparison group that is as much like the experimental group as possible and
is treated in every way like the experimental group except for the manipulated factor.

correlational research A research strategy that identifies the relationships between two or more
variables in order to describe how these variables change together.

dependent variable A factor that can change in an experiment in response to changes in the
independent variable.

descriptive statistics Mathematical procedures that are used to describe and summarize sets of
data in a meaningful way.

double-blind experiment An experiment that is conducted so that neither the experimenter nor
the participants are aware of which participants are in the experimental group and which are in
the control group until after the results are calculated.

ecological validity The extent to which an experimental design is representative of the real-
world issues it is supposed to address.

ethnic gloss Using an ethnic label, such as "African American" or "Latino," in a superficial way
that portrays the ethnic group as more homogeneous than it really is.

experiment A carefully regulated procedure in which one or more variables believed to

influence the behavior being studied are manipulated while all other variables are held constant.

experimental group A group in the research study whose experience is manipulated.

experimenter bias The influence of the experimenter's own expectations on the outcome of the

hypothesis An idea that is arrived at logically from a theory. It is a prediction that can be tested.
independent variable The manipulated experimental factor in an experiment.
inferential statistics Mathematical methods that are used to indicate whether data sufficiently
support or confirm a research hypothesis.

internal validity The extent to which changes in the dependent variable are due to the
manipulation of the independent variable.

longitudinal design A special kind of systematic observation that involves obtaining measures
of the variables of interest in multiple waves over time.

mean A statistical measure of central tendency that is calculated by adding all the scores and
then dividing by the number of scores.

median A statistical measure of central tendency that falls exactly in the middle of a distribution
of scores after they have been arranged (or ranked) from highest to lowest.

meta-analysis A method that allows researchers to combine the results of several different
studies on a similar topic in order to establish the strength of an effect.

mode A statistical measure of central tendency; the score that occurs most often.

naturalistic observation Observation of behavior in real-world settings with no effort made to

manipulate or control the situation.

operational definition An objective description of how a research variable is going to be

measured and observed.

placebo A harmless, inert substance that may be given to participants instead of a presumed
active agent, such as a drug, and that has no specific physiological effect.

placebo effect The situation where participants' expectations, rather than the experimental

population The entire group about which the investigator wants to draw conclusions.

random assignment The assignment of participants to research groups by chance.

random sample A sample that gives every member of the population an equal chance of being

range A statistical measure of variability that is the distance between the highest and lowest

research participant bias The influence of research participants' expectations on their behavior
within an experiment.
sample The subset of the population chosen by the investigator for study.

standard deviation A statistical measure of variability that involves how much the scores vary
on the average around the mean of the sample.

standardized test A test that requires people to answer a series of written or oral questions or
sometimes both.

theory Theory stating that cells in the visual system respond to red-green and blue-yellow
colors; a given cell might be excited by red and inhibited by green, whereas another might be
excited by yellow and inhibited by blue.

third variable problem The situation where an extraneous variable that has not been measured
accounts for the relationship between two others.

validity The soundness of the conclusions we draw from an experiment. In the realm of testing,
validity specifically refers to the extent to which a test measures what it is intended to measure.

variable Anything that can change.

action potential The brief wave of electrical charge that sweeps down the axon during the
transmission of a nerve impulse.

adrenal glands Important endocrine glands that are instrumental in regulating moods, energy
level, and the ability to cope with stress.

afferent nerves Sensory nerves that transport information to the brain.

agonist A drug that mimics or increases a neurotransmitter's effects.

all-or-none principle Once an electrical impulse reaches a certain level of intensity, it fires and
moves all the way down the axon without losing any of its intensity.

antagonist A drug that blocks a neurotransmitter's effects.

association cortex Region of the cerebral cortex in which the highest intellectual functions,
including thinking and problem solving, occur; also called association areas.

autonomic nervous system The division of the PNS that communicates with the body’s internal
organs. It consists of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems.

axon The part of the neuron that carries information away from the cell body to other cells.
basal ganglia Large clusters of neurons, located above the thalamus and under the cerebral
cortex, that work with the cerebellum and the cerebral cortex to control and coordinate voluntary

brain stem The region of the brain that includes most of the hindbrain (excluding the
cerebellum) and the midbrain.

cell body The part of the neuron that contains the nucleus, which directs the manufacture of
substances that the neuron needs for growth and maintenance.

central nervous system (CNS) The brain and spinal cord.

cerebral cortex Highest level of the forebrain, where the highest mental functions, such as
thinking and planning, take place.

chromosomes Threadlike structures that contain genes and DNA. Humans have 23 chromosome
pairs in the nucleus of every cell. Each parent contributes one chromosome to each pair.

corpus callosum The large bundle of axons that connects the brain’s two hemispheres.

dendrites Branches of a neuron that receive and orient information toward the cell body; most
neurons have numerous dendrites.

deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) A complex molecule that contains genetic information; makes up

dominant-recessive genes principle principle The principle that, if one gene of a pair governing
a given characteristic (such as eye color) is dominant and one is recessive, the dominant gene
overrides the recessive gene. A recessive gene exerts its influence only if both genes in a pair are

efferent nerves Motor nerves that carry the brain's output.

endocrine system A set of glands that regulate the activities of certain organs by releasing their
chemical products (hormones) into the bloodstream.

forebrain The highest level of the brain. Key structures in the forebrain are the limbic system,
thalamus, basal ganglia, hypothalamus, and cerebral cortex.

frontal lobe The part of the cerebral cortex just behind the forehead that is involved in the
control of voluntary muscles, intelligence, and personality.

genes The units of hereditary information. They are short segments of chromosomes, composed
of DNA.
genotype An individual's genetic heritage; his or her actual genetic material.
glial cells Cells that provide support and nutritional benefits in the nervous system.

hindbrain The lowest portion of the brain, consisting of the medulla, cerebellum, and pons.

Hormones Chemical messengers manufactured by the endocrine glands.

hypothalamus Small forebrain structure involved in regulating eating, drinking, and sex;
directing the endocrine system; and monitoring emotion, stress, and reward.

limbic system Loosely connected network of structures—including the amygdala and

hippocampus—that play important roles in memory and emotion.

midbrain Located between the hindbrain and forebrain, a region in which many nerve-fiber
systems ascend and descend to connect the higher and lower portions of the brain.

motor cortex Area of the cerebral cortex that processes information about voluntary movement.

myelin sheath The layer of fat cells that encases and insulates most axons. The myelin sheath
speeds up the transmission of nerve impulses.

nervous system The body's electrochemical communication circuitry, made up of billions of


neural networks Networks of nerve cells that integrate sensory input and motor output.

neurons Nerve cells that are specialized for processing information. Neurons are the basic units
of the nervous system.

neurotransmitters Chemicals that carry information across the synaptic gap from one neuron to
the next.

occipital lobe The part of the cerebral cortex at the back of the head that is involved in vision.

parasympathetic nervous system The division of the autonomic nervous system that calms the

parietal lobe Area of the cerebral cortex at the top of the head that is involved in registering
spatial location, attention, and motor control.
peripheral nervous system The network of nerves that connects the brain and spinal cord to
other parts of the body. It is divided into the somatic nervous system and the autonomic nervous

phenotype The expression of an individual’s genotype in observable, measurable characteristics.

pituitary gland An important endocrine gland at the base of the skull that controls growth and
regulates other glands.

plasticity The brain's special capacity for modification and change.

resting potential The stable, negative charge of an inactive neuron.

reticular formation A midbrain system that consists of a diffuse collection of neurons involved
in stereotypical behaviors, such as walking, sleeping, or turning to attend to a sudden noise.

somatic nervous system The division of the PNS consisting of sensory nerves, whose function
is to convey information to the CNS, and motor nerves, whose function is to transmit
information to the muscles.

somatosensory cortex Area of the cerebral cortex that processes information about body

stress The response of individuals to changes in circumstances and events that threaten their
coping abilities.

stressors Circumstances and events that threaten individuals and tax their coping abilities

sympathetic nervous system The division of the autonomic nervous system that arouses the

synapses Tiny junctions between two neurons, generally where the axon of one neuron meets the
dendrites or cell body of another neuron.

temporal lobe The portion of the cerebral cortex just above the ears that is involved in hearing,
language processing, and memory.

thalamus Forebrain structure that functions as a relay station to sort information and send it to
appropriate areas in the forebrain for further integration and interpretation.

Archetypes The name Jung gave to the emotionally laden ideas and images that have rich and
symbolic meaning for all people.
big five factors of personality The "supertraits" that are thought to describe the main
dimensions of personality—specifically, neuroticism (emotional instability), extraversion,
openness to experience, agreeableness, and conscientiousness.

cognitive affective processing systems (CAPS) According to Mischel, a set of interconnected

cognitive systems through which an individual's thoughts and emotions about self and the world
become linked together in ways that matter to behavior.
collective unconscious Jung's term for the impersonal, deepest layer of the unconscious mind,
shared by all human beings because of their common ancestral past.

defense mechanisms The ego's protective methods for reducing anxiety by unconsciously
distorting reality.

Ego The Freudian structure of personality that deals with the demands of reality.

empirically keyed test A type of test that presents a host of questionnaire items to groups of
people who are already known to differ in some central way (such as individuals with a
psychological disorder versus mentally healthy individuals).

face validity The extent to which a test item appears to be valid to those who are completing it.

Hardiness A trait characterized by a sense of commitment and control and a perception of

problems as challenges rather than threats.

humanistic perspectives Views of personality that stress the person's capacity for personal
growth, freedom to choose a destiny, and positive qualities.

Id The Freudian structure of personality that consists of unconscious drives and is the
individual's reservoir of psychic energy.

individual psychology The term for Adler's approach, which views people as motivated by
purposes and goals and as striving for perfection over pleasure.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) The most widely used and researched
empirically keyed self-report personality test.

Oedipus complex In Freud's theory, a young boy's intense desire to replace his father and enjoy
the affections of his mother.

Personality A pattern of enduring, distinctive thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that

characterize the way an individual adapts to the world.

personological and life story perspectives Approaches to personality emphasizing that the way
to understand the person is to focus on his or her life history and life story—aspects that
distinguish that individual from all others.

projective test Personality assessment tool that presents individuals with an ambiguous stimulus
and then asks them to describe it or tell a story about it; in other words, to project their own
meaning onto it.
psychodynamic perspectives Views of personality as primarily unconscious (that is, beyond
awareness) and as developing in stages. Most psychoanalytic perspectives emphasize that early
experiences with parents play a role in sculpting personality.

Rorschach inkblot test A widely used projective test that uses an individual's perception of
inkblots to determine his or her personality.

self-concept A central theme in Rogers's and other humanists' views; self-concept refers to
individuals' overall perceptions and assessments of their abilities, behavior, and personalities.

self-efficacy The belief that one can master a situation and produce positive outcomes.

self-report test Also called an objective test or inventory, a type of test that directly asks people
whether specific items (usually true/false or agree/disagree) describe their personality traits.

social cognitive perspectives Approaches to personality emphasizing conscious awareness,

beliefs, expectations, and goals; social cognitive psychologists explore the person's ability to
reason; to think about the past, present, and future; and to reflect on the self.

Superego The Freudian structure of personality harshly judges the morality of our behavior.

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) A projective test designed to elicit stories that reveal
something about an individual's personality.

trait An enduring personality characteristic that tends to lead to certain behaviors.

trait theories Theories stating that personality consists of broad, enduring dispositions (traits)
that tend to lead to characteristic responses.

Type A behavior pattern A cluster of characteristics—such as being excessively competitive,

hard-driven, impatient, and hostile—related to the incidence of heart disease.

Type B behavior pattern A cluster of characteristics—such as being relaxed and

easygoing—related to good health.

unconditional positive regard Rogers's term for accepting, valuing, and being positive toward
another person regardless of the person's behavior.