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ABC Charts – Charts used to record antecedents, behaviors, and consequences

Abnormal behavior – Behavior thought to be a combination of personal distress, psychological dysfunction, deviance from social norms, dangerousness to self and others, and costliness to society

Abolishing operation – When an event makes a reinforcer or punisher less potent and so less likely to occur

Absent-mindedness – When we forget to do things or have a lapse of attention such as not remembering where we put our keys

Acceptance techniques – A cognitive behavior modification strategy in which the person comes to accept that which he/she cannot change

Accommodation – When novel information is obtained we update an existing schema or create a brand new one

Achievement need – The desire to do things well, outperform others, and overcome obstacles

Action stage – The stage of change when the person engages in behavior change

Actor-observer bias – When the actor overestimates the influence of the situation on their own behavior while the observer overestimates the importance of the actor’s personality traits on the actor’s behavior (dispositional)

Acute pain – Pain that is brief, begins suddenly, has a clear source, and is adaptive

Adaptation – When schemas change due to direct experience with our environment

Adaptation energy – Your body’s ability to deal with change or demands

Adherence – Our willingness or motivation to follow orders, as well as our ability to do so

Affect heuristic – Thinking with our heart and not our head

Affective forecasting – A cognitive process in which we anticipate how we will feel in the future when a similar situation arises or we complete our goal

Affective traits – Stable predispositions for how we respond to our world and lead us to react to events we experience in specific ways

Affiliation need – Our motive to establish, maintain, or restore social relationships with others, whether individually or through groups

Agreeableness – A personality trait characterized by being trusting and helpful

Alarm Reaction – Part of the General Adaptation Syndrome, this stage begins when the body recognizes that it must fight off some physical or psychological danger

Algorithms – A logical sequence of steps that always produces a correct solution to the problem

Altruism – When a person desires to maximize other’s outcomes regardless of their own outcome

Altruistic behavior – When we help others for the sake of helping them

Amnesia – A condition in which an individual is unable to remember what happened either shortly before (retrograde) or after (anterograde) a head injury

Amygdala – The part of the brain responsible for evaluating sensory information and quickly determining its emotional importance

Analgesics – Painkillers

Anal Stage – Lasting from 2-3 years, the libido is focused on the anus as toilet training occurs

Animistic thinking – Assigning lifelike qualities to inanimate objects

Antecedents – Environmental events or stimuli that trigger a behavior

Apostasy – When a person completely abandons their faith and becomes nonreligious

Applied Science – The type of science which desires to find solutions to real-world problems

Appraisal – The process of interpreting the importance of a demand and how we might react to it

Archetypes – According to Jung, unlearned tendencies that allow us to experience life in a specific way

Assimilation – When new information is made to fit into existing schemas

Associative learning – When we link together two pieces of information sensed from our environment

Associative play – When two or more children interact with one another by sharing or borrowing toys or materials

Attachment – An emotional bond established between two individuals and involving one’s sense of security

Attention – Our ability to focus on certain aspects of our environment at the exclusion of others

Attention Focused Exercises – Relaxation occurs when attention is directed to a neutral or pleasant stimulus

Attitude – A belief, feeling or tendency that we hold in regard to a person, a group of people, an idea, or an activity

Attitude object – What the attitude concerns

Attribution theory – States that people are motivated to explain their own and other people’s behavior by attributing causes of that behavior to either something in themselves or a trait they have or to something outside the person

Authoritarian parenting style – A parenting style characterized by a controlling, rigid, and cold parent

Authoritative parenting style – Parents who set firm, clear limits on their child’s behavior

Authority – We are more likely to comply with a request if it comes from someone who knows what they are talking about

Autonomic nervous system – Regulates functioning of blood vessels, glands, and internal organs such as the bladder, stomach, and heart; It consists of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems

Autonomy – Defined as independence and a sense of control over one’s life

Autonomy need – The desire to feel in control of our own actions rather than at the whim of outside forces, being independent, and self-reliant

Autonomy vs. shame and doubt – Erikson’s second stage of personality development occurring from 18 to 36 months and when the child develops independence and autonomy if parents encourage exploration and freedom

Availability heuristic – A heuristic used when we make estimates about how often an event occurs based on how easily we can remember examples

Avoidance behavior – In operant conditioning, this is when we engage in behaviors to avoid a negative consequence due to prior learning

Awareness training – The stage of habit reversal in which the client must be aware of exactly what the habit is, when it occurs, in what situations, and with whom around



Babbling – Speechlike but meaningless sounds

Backup reinforcers – The regular reinforcers the person has in their life that come to be associated with tokens in a token economy

Base rate fallacy – When we overestimate the chances that some thing or event has a rare property, or we underestimate that something has a common property

Baseline Phase – The phase of behavior modification before any strategy or strategies are put into effect; serves as a comparison with the treatment phase

Basic evils – According to Horney, all the negative factors in a child’s environment that can cause basic anxiety

Basic Science – The type of science concerned with the acquisition of knowledge for the sake of the knowledge and nothing else

Behavior – What people do, say, or think/feel

Behavioral deficit – A behavior we want to increase as it is currently either not being performed or being performed not at the desired level.

Behavioral definition – A precise, objective, unambiguous description of the target behavior or a competing behavior

Behavioral excess – A behavior that we want to decrease because it is causing us some type of trouble in our life

Bias – When current knowledge, beliefs, and feelings skew our memory of past events

Biologically prepared – The term coined by Martin Seligman which indicates that human beings are prepared to learn some associations over others

Blocking – When we experience the tip-of-the-tongue phenomena and just cannot remember something

Boomerang children – Children who leave home and come back due to an inability to make ends meet or find a job

Broaden-and-build model – Says positive emotions widen our cognitive perspective, aid us in thinking more broadly and creatively, build resources, and help us acquire new skills to face the challenge while negative emotion promotes a narrow way of thinking

Buffering hypothesis – The idea that social support lessens or even eliminates the harmful effects of stress

Bystander effect – States the chances that we will aid someone needing help decreases as the number of bystanders increases



Calorie – A measure of energy

Cannon-Bard Theory of emotion – Says that an emotion and physiological response occur simultaneously

Cardinal traits – Traits that dominate the person’s whole life

Case studies – A detailed description of one person or a small group based on careful observation

Central executive – Tells us where to focus our attention and can even home in on specific aspects of a stimulus

Central nervous system (CNS) – The control center for the nervous system which receives, processes, interprets, and stores incoming sensory information

Central traits – Central characteristics that form the basis of personality

Centration – The tendency to focus only on one aspect of a situation at the exclusion of others

Cephalocaudal principle – States that development proceeds from head (cephalo) to toe or tail (caudal)

Change – Anything, whether good or bad, that requires us to adapt

Change blindness – When we fail to notice a difference in two pictures presented in rapid succession, compared to side-by-side

Choice overload phenomenon – When having too many choices leaves us feeling frustrated, less satisfied, and regretful

Chronic pain – Pain which lasts for a long period of time and up to months or years, is fleeting (it comes and goes), disrupts normal patterns such as sleep and appetite, and is the result of a disease or injury

Chunking – Taking larger lists of unrelated and meaningless material and grouping them into smaller, meaningful units

Circadian rhythms – Affect fluctuations in wakefulness, metabolism, body temperature, and the release of hormones

Cognition need – A desire to understand and make reasonable the world of experience

Cognitive behavioral therapy – A type of therapy which focuses on exploring relationships among a person’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors and seeks to reduce maladaptive cognitions

Cognitive closure need – Our desire to have answers, predictability, order and structure, be decisive, and avoid uncertainty

Cognitive coping skills training – A cognitive behavior modification strategy which teaches social skills, communication, and assertiveness through direct instruction, role playing, and modeling

Cognitive development – The type of development which focuses on changes in intellectual development and how they affect behavior

Cognitive dissonance theory – When you hold two contradictory cognitions, or thoughts, at the same time which cause a state of anxiety or discomfort

Cognitive restructuring, also called rational restructuring – A cognitive behavior modification strategy in which maladaptive cognitions are replaced with more adaptive ones

Collective unconscious – According to Jung, the part of the psyche which is the innate knowledge that we come into this world with

Commitment – According to Sternberg, the cognitive component of love and occurs when you decide you truly love the person

Commitment and consistency – States that once we have committed to a position we are more likely to display behavior consistent with our initial action when asked to comply with new requests

Common traits – Constructs that allow individuals within a given culture to be compared

Compensation hypothesis – A theory of religious attachment which states that insecurely attached individuals are motivated to compensate for the absence of a secure relationship with their parents by believing in a loving God

Competence need – The desire to feel that we are able to handle tasks and when we do so, to feel satisfaction

Competing behavior – A behavior which interferes with the successful completion of a target behavior

Competing response – In habit reversal, this is a behavior that is incompatible with the habit and makes it occurrence nearly impossible or difficult

Competition – An attempt to maximize one’s own outcome relative to others

Compliance – Efforts to get a person to say yes, or to agree to a request

Compromise – When we attempt to find a solution that works for all parties

Concrete operations – Piaget’s third stage of cognitive development in which children now understand conservation, reversibility, and cause and effect but their thinking is still grounded in concrete experiences and concepts

Conditioning – A type of associative learning involving the linking of two events

Conditions of worth – When our personal worth is contingent on acting right or saying the right things

Confirmation bias – Occurs when we seek information and arrive at conclusions that confirm our existing beliefs

Conformity – A type of social influence in which a person behaves the way others are behaving either so that they are accepted by the group or because they are unsure how to act

Conflict – Arises when we face two or more incompatible demands, opportunities, needs, or goals

Confrontation – When we attack a problem head on

Conscientiousness – A personality trait described as being organized, hardworking, reliable, disciplined, and careful

Consciousness – According to Freud, the level of personality that is the seat of our awareness

Consequence – The outcome of a behavior that either encourages it to be made again in the future or discourages its future occurrence.

Conservation – Understanding that an object is fundamentally the same despite changing its properties

Consolidation – When we stabilize and solidify a memory

Contemplation stage – The stage of change when change is seriously considered, but within the next six months

Contingency – When one thing occurs due to another

Control group – The group that does not receive the treatment or is not manipulated in an experiment

Control strategies – Tactics used to improve memory

Conventional morality – According to Kohlberg, the stage of moral development beginning around age 10 which focuses on obeying rules out of conformity and then moving to a law and order orientation

Cooperation – When the person wants to maximize join outcomes

Cooperative play – When children play together and are engaged in the same task

Correlational research – A research method which examines the relationship between two variables or two groups of variables

Correspondent inference theory – A theory which provides one way to determine if a person’s behavior is due to dispositional or situational factors and involves examining the context in which the behavior occurs

Counterconditioning – The reversal of previous learning

Courtesy stigma – When stigma affects people associated with the person with a mental disorder

Covariation theory – Says we rely on three kinds of information about behavior: distinctiveness, consensus, and consistency to determine its cause

Covert – Behavior cannot be observed

Critical thinking – Our ability to assess claims made by others and make objective judgments that are independent of emotion and anecdote and based on hard evidence



Daily hassles – Petty annoyances that over time take a toll on us

Dangerousness – When behavior represents a threat to the safety of the person or others

Decenter – Taking on multiple aspects of a situation

Deconversion – The process of leaving one’s faith

Deductive reasoning – When the procedure needed to draw a conclusion is clear and only one answer is possible

Deferred imitation – When a behavior occurs but not in the presence of the model

Deindividuation – When we feel a loss of personal responsibility when in a group

Demand – Anything that has the potential to exceed a person’s resources and cause stress if a solution is not found

Denial – Sometimes life is so hard all we can do is deny how bad it is

Dependent variable (DV) – The variable that is measured

Depth perception – The ability to perceive the world in three dimensions

Descriptive statistics – A type of statistic which provides a means of summarizing or describing data, and presenting the data in a usable form

Desensitization – When the client is exposed to fear producing stimuli in a gradual fashion and according to a fear hierarchy and then uses relaxation techniques to reduce sympathetic nervous system arousal; has two forms – systematic or in vivo

Developmental psychology – The subfield of psychology that studies patterns of growth, stability, and change that occur during the life span.

Dialectical reasoning – When an adult considers the validity of conflicting viewpoints by examining the evidence in support of and against each argument

Diaphragmatic breathing – Also called deep breathing; person breathes in a deep, slow rhythmic fashion

Differential reinforcement – When we attempt to get rid of undesirable or problem behaviors by using the positive reinforcement of desirable behaviors

Differential Reinforcement of Alternative Behavior (DRA) – When we reinforce the desired behavior and do not reinforce undesirable behavior

Differential Reinforcement of Incompatible Behavior (DRI) – This strategy delivers a reinforcer when another behavior is used instead of the problem behavior; we substitute the behavior

Differential Reinforcement of Low Rates of Responding (DRL) – When we want to reduce the occurrence of a behavior, not eliminate it

Differential Reinforcement of Other Behavior (DRO) – When we deliver a reinforcer contingent on the absence of an undesirable behavior for some period

Discounting principle – States that when more than one cause is possible for a person’s behavior we will be less likely to assign any cause

Discriminated behavior – When a behavior is more likely to occur in the presence of the SD and not the SΔ

Discrimination – When a person acts in a way that is negative against a group of people

Discrimination training – Involves the reinforcement of a behavior when one stimulus is present but extinguishing the behavior when a different stimulus is present

Discriminative stimuli (also called a SD) – When cues in the environment bring about a specific behavior

Disease – When there is physical damage within our body

Display rules – Standards or rules for when, where, and how our emotions can be communicated

Displacement – When we satisfy an impulse with a different object because focusing on the primary object may get us in trouble

Dispositional attribution – Something inside the person such as a trait that is the cause of behavior

Distal goal – A goal whose completion is far off in time

Distancing – When the person chooses not to deal with a situation for some time

Distracted – When one stimulus interferes with our attending to another

Distressors – Negative life events that have the ability to cause stress

Divergent thinking – Thinking that involves more than one possible solution and that is open-ended

Divided attention – When we focus on more than one stimulus at a time

Downward social comparison – When self-esteem is at stake, we tend to compare ourselves to others who are obviously less competent or successful

Drive – A state of tension which we want to resolve since it is uncomfortable

Drive reduction model A model of motivation which proposes that we engage in motivated behavior to satisfy a deficient need which makes the drive or state of tension end

Duchenne smiles – Real smiles




Echolocate – Being able to find the direction a sound came from

Egalitarian – When a relationship becomes more balanced in terms of power and influence

Ego – According to Freud, the part of personality that attempts to mediate the desires of the id against the demands of reality, and eventually the moral limitations or guidelines of the superego

Ego – According to Jung, the part of the psyche which is the conscious mind and chooses which thoughts, feelings, or memories can enter consciousness

Egocentrism – When a child cannot take another person’s point of view because they only see the world from their frame of reference

Ego-defense mechanisms – According to Freud, they protect us from the pain created by balancing both the will of the id and the superego, but are considered maladaptive if they are misused and become our primary way of dealing with stress

Ego integrity vs. despair – Erikson’s eighth stage of personality development occurring during late adulthood and when the adult looks back over life, evaluates it, and comes to terms with the decisions that were made

Emotion focused coping (PFC) – Strategies we employ to deal with stress

Emotional disclosure – When a therapist has a client talk or write about negative events that lead to the expression of strong emotions

Emotions – Our immediate response to a situation that is personally meaningful and is intense but short-lived

Emphasizing the positive – When we focus on good things related to a problem and downplay negative ones

Empty nest syndrome – When parents have trouble dealing with their children leaving home

Enactive learning – Learning by doing

Encoding – When we pay attention to and take in information that can then be processed or moved to LTM

Episodic memory – The memory of a personally experienced event

Epistemology – The branch of philosophy that seeks to understand knowledge

Eros – Our life instincts which are manifested through the libido and are the creative forces that sustain life

Establishing operation – When an event makes a reinforcer or punisher more potent and so more likely to occur

Ethics – The branch of philosophy which studies what we ought to do or what is best to do

Eugenics – The social policy that stated that the most fit individuals in a society could be “encouraged” to breed which would lead to an improvement of inherited traits of the human race over generations

Eustressors – Positive life events that  have the ability to cause stress

Evolutionary history – The shared history of a species and understanding why we act the way we do now

Evolutionary psychology – The area of psychology focused on discovering the evolutionary origins of human behaviors

Exhaustion – Part of the General Adaptation Syndrome, this is when a person runs out of adaptation energy and the ability to combat stress

Expectancy-value theory – States that a person’s likelihood to successfully complete a goal is dependent on their expectation of success multiplied by how valuable they deem success to be for them

Experiment – A controlled test of a hypothesis in which a researcher manipulates one variable and measures its effect on another variable

Experimental group – The group that receives the treatment or is manipulated in an experiment

Explicit memory – A type of LTM which includes the knowledge of facts and events

Extraversion – A personality trait that involves being sociable, seeking out social activity, being fun-loving, and affectionate

Extreme Stressors – Stressors that can move a person from demand to stress very fast

Extinction – When something that we do, say, think/feel has not been reinforced for some time  and so the behavior begins to weaken and eventually stops

Extinction burst – When extinction first occurs, the person or animal is not sure what is going on and begins to make the response more often (frequency), longer (duration), and more intensely

Extrinsic religiosity – Called upon when needed as in times of crisis, is not part of the person’s daily life, the individual sees faith and belief as superficial, religion is viewed as a means to an end, God is seen as punitive and stern, and the person believes they are under external control



Facial-feedback hypothesis – States that our facial muscles send information to the brain which aids in our recognition of the emotion we are experiencing

Fading – The gradual removal of a prompt(s) once the behavior continues in the presence of the SD

False consensus effect – When we believe that everyone holds the same opinion we do or acts just as we do

False uniqueness effect – The belief that our skills and abilities are unique to use

Fast mapping – When children ascertain the meaning of a word from how it’s used in a sentence

Faith – Belief in the absence of proof

Fight-or-flight instinct – The strength to fight back or to flee when a threat presents itself in our environment

Fine motor skills – Small body movements

Fixated – According to Freud, when we become stuck at a stage, thereby affecting later development and possibly leading to abnormal functioning, or psychopathology

Fixed Interval schedule (FI) – When we reinforce after some set amount of time

Fixed Ratio schedule (FR) – With this schedule, we reinforce some set number of responses

Flooding – A respondent condition technique in which the person is exposed to the feared stimulus at full intensity for a prolonged period

Focalism – Overestimating to what extent we will think about the event in the future and to underestimate how other events will affect our thoughts and feelings

Forgiveness – Involves letting go of resentment and any thought we might have about getting revenge on someone for past wrongdoing

Formal operations – Piaget’s fourth stage of cognitive development when teens become capable of abstract thinking and understand that ideas can be compared and classified, just as objects can

Friendship/liking – When we make ourselves seem extra likable to a person or compliment them in an attempt to have them comply with a request

Frustration – Occurs when a person is prevented from reaching a goal because something or someone stands in the way

Fully functioning person – Being open to experience, being very creative, living every moment to the fullest, assuming responsibility for their decisions, and finally not deriving their sense of self from others

Functional fixedness – When we focus on a typical use or familiar function of an object

Fundamental attribution error – An error in assigning a cause to another’s behavior in which we automatically assume a dispositional reason for his or her actions and ignore situational factors



Gaps – Holes in the scientific literature of a given field that needs to be investigated

General Adaptation Syndrome – According to Selye, a series of three stages the body goes through when a demand is encountered in the world

Generalization training  – When we reinforce behavior across situations until generalization occurs for the stimulus class

Generativity vs. stagnation – Erikson’s seventh stage of personality development occurring during middle adulthood and when the adult focuses on leaving something behind in light of their pending death

Genital Stage – Beginning at puberty, sexual impulses reawaken and unfulfilled desires from infancy and childhood can be satisfied during lovemaking

Gestural prompt – Making gestures with your body to indicate the correct action the person should engage in

Glucose – A monosaccharide or a simple sugar that is one of the body’s preferred sources of fuel

Goal – An objective or result we desire that outlines how we will spend our time and exert energy

Goal commitment/striving – Sticking to the goal

Goal difficulty – An indication of how hard it will be to obtain the goal

Goal level – Where our goals fall within a hierarchy

Goal specificity – How specific or clear our goal is and the plan to complete it

Gradual conversion – A type of conversion which takes time, as little as a few days up to several years, and may not even be noticed

Grit – The ability to focus and persevere over time

Gross motor skills – Large body movements

Guided compliance – Physically guiding the person through the activity which is meant to be aversive and in the future he or she should engage in the desire behavior to avoid the discomfort of being guided



Habit – An acquired behavior pattern regularly followed until it has become almost involuntary (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/habit)

Habit disorder – When a habit becomes annoying for others due to an increase in frequency, duration, and/or intensity

Habituation – When we simply stop responding to repetitive and harmless stimuli in our environment

Halo effect – When we hold a favorable attitude to traits that are unrelated

Health – The absence of disease

Hemingway effect – When people are motivated to continue with a task if they believe they are close to completing it and know what needs to be done to complete it

Heuristics – Mental shortcuts

Hierarchical integration –States that development goes from simple to complex

Hierarchy of Needs – Maslow’s conception of needs in the form of a pyramid in which lower level needs had to be satisfied before upper level ones could be

Hindsight bias – Looking back over past events and claiming that we knew it all along

Holophrases – One word meant to represent a whole phrase

Homeostasis – A state of equilibrium or balance

Hunger – Desiring to eat

Hypothesis – A specific, testable prediction

Hypothetico-deductive reasoning – The use of the scientific method to test theories with hypotheses



Id – According to Freud, is the impulsive part of personality that expresses our sexual and aggressive instincts

Identification – This is when we find someone who has found a socially acceptable way to satisfy their unconscious wishes and desires and we model that behavior

Identity crisis – A period when teens choose between various alternatives presented to them

Identity vs. role confusion – Erikson’s fifth stage of personality development occurring during adolescence and when teens try and figure out what is unique and distinct about themselves and what their strengths and weaknesses are

Illness – When we are sick and have been diagnosed

Ilusory correlation – When a relationship between events appears to exist but really does not

Imaginary audience – The tendency of teenagers to feel that they are constantly being observed by others or that people are always judging them on appearance and behavior

Immune neglect – Failing to realize the role that defenses such as dissonance reduction, self-serving attributions, positive illusions, etc., play in recovering from negative emotional events when we attempt to predict our future emotional reactions

Impact bias – When we overestimate how long or how intense our reaction to a future event will be

Implicit attitude – When we are not aware we hold a prejudicial attitude against another group

Implicit memory – A type of LTM which includes knowledge based on prior experience and is called nondeclarative

Imprinting – The act of an animal following the first moving object they sense after birth

Incentives – Any reward or aversive stimulus that we come to expect in our environment

Inattentional blindness – When we miss a stimulus clearly present in our visual field when our attention is focused on a task

Independence of systems – States that different systems in the body develop at different rates

Independent variable (IV) – The variable that is manipulated

Individualism – When a person is only concerned with maximizing his or her own outcome

Inductive reasoning – A type of reasoning used when there is no single correct solution to a problem

Industry vs. inferiority – Erikson’s fourth stage of personality development occurring during middle childhood and when children are trying to meet the demands placed on them by more than just parents – by teachers, school administrators, and their peers

Inferential statistics – A type of statistics which allow for the analysis of two or more sets of numerical data

Informative social influence – Conforming because we are unsure how to act and the actions of other group members provide you with a cue

In-group/out-group bias – Our tendency to display favoritism toward our group and hold a negative view of members outside this group

Initiative vs. guilt – Erikson’s third stage of personality development occurring from 3 to 7 years and when the child’s views of themselves change as they face conflicts between their desire to act independent of their parents and do things on their own, and the guilt that comes from failure when they do not succeed

Insight learning – The spontaneous understanding of relationships

Instinct – Responding in predictable ways to certain stimuli

Instrumental – Done with the intent to fulfill a person’s motive

Interference – When information that is similar to other information interferes in either storage or retrieval

Intellectualization– When we avoid emotion by focusing on intellectual aspects of a situation

Interpersonal attraction – Showing a preference for another person

Intimacy – According to Sternberg, the emotional component of love and involves how much we like, feel close to, and are connected to another person

Intimacy vs. isolation – Erikson’s sixth stage of personality development occurring during early adulthood and when the adult focuses on forming a stable romantic relationship

Intrinsic religiosity – A deep, personal religious belief and the individual can best be described as unselfish, altruistic, centered on faith, believing in a loving and forgiving God, anti-prejudicial, seeing people as individuals, and accepting without any reservations



James-Lange Theory of emotion – Says that an emotion occurs after a physiological reaction to an event in our environment

Just world hypothesis – The belief that good things happen to good people and bad things happen to bad people





Laboratory observation – A research design which involves observing people or animals in a laboratory setting

Lapse – When we make a mistake or slip up

Latency Stage – From 6-12 years of age, children lose interest in sexual behavior and boys play with boys and girls with girls

Learning – Any relatively permanent change in behavior due to experience and practice

Levels of processing theory – States that our memory is dependent on the depth of processing that information receives, either shallow or deep

Libido – The psychic energy that drives a person to pleasurable thoughts and behaviors

Literature review – When we conduct a literature search through our university library or a search engine such as Google Scholar to see what questions have been investigated already and what answers have been found

Load theory of attention – Posits that we can attend to task-irrelevant stimuli since only some of our cognitive resources have been used when engaged in low-load tasks, but high load tasks do not leave us any resources to process other stimuli

Locus of control The extent to which we believe we control the important events of our life

Long-term memory – Holds a great deal of information for an indefinite period of time, possibly for decades

Logic – The branch of philosophy which focuses on the structure and nature of arguments



Maintenance Phase – The phase of behavior modification which follows the treatment phase and which involves the continued measurement of our behavior to ensure that the strategies we used to bring about meaningful behavioral change stand the test of time and future or unforeseen temptations

Meaning need – Our desire to make sense of our life and can be made salient by personal tragedies

Memory – The cognitive process we use to retain and retrieve information for later use

Menarche – The first menstruation

Menopause  The cessation of monthly menstrual cycles

Mental disorders – Characterized by psychological dysfunction which causes physical and/or psychological distress or impaired functioning and is not an expected behavior according to societal or cultural standards

Mental set – When we attempt to solve a problem using what worked well in the past

Metacognition – Thinking about our thinking

Metamemory – Thinking about our memory

Metaphysics – The branch of philosophy which studies the nature of reality, what exists in the world, what it is like, and how it is ordered

Microexpressions – Facial expressions that are made briefly, involuntarily, and last on the face for no more than 500 milliseconds

Midlife crisis – When an individual may discover he or she no longer obtains satisfaction from their job or personal life and attempts to make drastic changes

Midlife transition – When we assess the past and create new goals for the future

Mindfulness – Asks the individual to redirect their past- and future- directed thoughts to the present and the problem at hand

Misattribution – When we believe a memory comes from one source when it really came from another source

Mood – An affective state that fluctuates over time, is relatively mild and can last for hours, days, or weeks

Moro reflex – When an infant hears a loud sound or sees a movement, it will flex its thighs and knees, throw its arms out and then bring them together as if embracing someone, and briefly cry

Motherese – Infant-directed speech

Motivating operations – When an event make a reinforcer or punisher more or less reinforcing or punishing

Motivation – Being moved into action or engaging in behavior directed to some end

Motive – An individual’s natural proclivity to approach things that are positive while avoiding those that are negative

Multi-method research – Using more than one research design to test a hypothesis



Natural selection – The idea that individuals in a species show a wide range of variation due to differences in their genes and that those with characteristics better suited to their environment will survive and pass these traits on to successive generations

Naturalistic observation – A research design in which the scientist studies human or animal behavior in its natural environment which could include the home, school, or a forest

Near-death experiences (NDEs) – Include an awareness of being dead, an out-of-body experience, moving through a tunnel, undertaking a life review, and/or meeting with those long gone

Need – A deficiency in some resource that our body needs

Negative feedback loop – When our desired state is less or greater than the actual state, we engage in behaviors to bring them in line with one another. Once done, this information is sent to the brain so actions taken to deal with the deficiency are ceased and the body is at equilibrium

Negative Punishment (NP) – This is when something good is taken away or subtracted making a behavior less likely in the future

Negative Reinforcement (NR) – When something bad or aversive is taken away or subtracted due to your actions, making it that you will be more likely to make the same behavior in the future when some stimuli presents itself

Neonate – Newborn

Nervous habits – Habits which occur when we are in a state of heightened arousal and nervous tension, generally causing no harm though they can be a nuisance

Neurons – Nerve cells

Neuroticism – A personality trait characterized by being anxious, insecure, or engaging in self-pity

Nonassociative learning – A type of learning in which there is no linking of information or observing the actions of those around you

non-Duchenne smiles – Fake smiles

Normative social influence – Conforming because we want to be accepted by a group



Obedience – When a person is ordered to engage in some type of motivated behavior

Obesity – Defined as having a body mass index or BMI of 30 or higher

Object permanence – Knowing that an object continues to exist even though we cannot see it

Observational learning – Learning by watching others

Onlooker play – When a child waits for the right moment to jump in and then does so

Openness – A personality trait which involves being imaginative, curious, unconventional, and independent

Operant conditioning – A type of associate learning which focuses on consequences that follow a response or behavior that we make (anything we do, say, or think/feel) and whether it makes a behavior more or less likely to occur

Opportunity costs – When we engage in motivated behavior at the expense at other, potentially attractive, options

Oral Stage – Beginning at birth and lasting to 24 months, the libido is focused on the mouth and sexual tension is relieved by sucking and swallowing at first, and then later by chewing and biting as baby teeth come in

Orienting response – When a stimulus which we habituated changes in some way and regains our attention

Out-group homogeneity – Our tendency to see members of an outgroup as being more similar than members of our ingroup

Overcorrection procedures – When a person is expected to engage in effortful behavior for an extended period after the occurrence of an undesirable behavior

Overt – Behavior that is observable

Overweight – Defined as a BMI of 25-29.9



Pain – A sharp unpleasant sensation usually felt in some specific part of the body (from Merriam-Webster dictionary online)

Parallel play – Between 1 ½ and 2 years of age, children play side-by-side, doing the same thing or similar things, but not interacting with each other

Parasympathetic nervous system – The part of the autonomic nervous system that calms the body after sympathetic nervous system arousal

Passion – According to Sternberg, the motivational component of love involving attraction, romance, and sex

Perceived self-interest – When we help someone with an expectation of a specific form of repayment

Perception – The act of assigning meaning to raw sensory data

Perceptual load – How difficult a task is

Perceptual set – The influence of our beliefs, attitudes, biases, stereotypes, and mood on how we perceive and respond to events in our world

Peripheral nervous system – Consists of everything outside the brain and spinal cord; It handles the CNS’s input and output and divides into the somatic and autonomic nervous systems

Permissive (indulgent) parenting style – Parents who provide inconsistent and lax feedback,   require little of their children, and do not feel like they have much to do with how their children turn out

Persistence – When unwanted memories continue and are not forgotten

Personal disposition – A trait that is unique to the person and so comparisons cannot be made

Personal fable – A teen’s unrealistic sense of their own uniqueness

Personal history – The history of one’s own life

Personal unconscious – According to Jung, the part of the psyche which includes anything which is unconscious, but can be brought into consciousness

Personality – An individual’s unique pattern of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that persists over time and across situations

Personality assessment – The measurement of personality

Personality inventories – Objective tests that ask the participant questions about their behavior and feelings in different situations and uses numbered scales

Personality traits – A specific set of behaviors or habits that persist over time and across situations

Persuasion – A premeditated and intentional effort to change someone’s attitude

Phallic Stage – Occurring from about age 3 to 5-6 years, the libido is focused on the genitals and children develop an attachment to the parent of the opposite sex and are jealous of the same sex parent

Philosophy – The love and pursuit of knowledge

Physical development – Includes changes in the body’s size and shape and how the body’s composition determines behavior

Physical energy – A type of resource that includes having the glucose necessary to sustain the activity

Physical prompt – Guiding the person through physical contact to make the correct response

Pineal gland – Receives signals from the SCN and increases production of the hormone melatonin

Positive practice A form of overcorrection in which a person is made to engage in the correct form of the behavior over and over again

Positive psychology – The subfield of psychology which studies happiness, love, hope, optimism, life satisfaction, goal setting, leisure, and subjective well-being using quantitative methods

Positive Punishment (PP) – If something bad or aversive is given or added, then the behavior is less likely to occur in the future

Positive regard by others – When a person is loved and accepted exactly as they are right now

Positive Reinforcement (PR) – If something good is given or added, then the behavior is more likely to occur in the future

Positive self-regard – When we see ourselves in a favorable light and feel accepted by others

Postconventional morality – According to Kohlberg, the stage of moral development which most never reach in which laws are seen as immoral and needing change and universal ethical principles are focused on

Postformal thought – Realizing that more than one answer can be correct

Power need – A desire to exert influence over others, to be in charge, to be noticed, and to achieve high status

Preconscious – According to Freud, the level of personality that includes all of our sensations, thoughts, memories, and feelings

Precontemplative stage – The stage of change when the person is not considering making a change and even resists the idea

Preconventional morality – According to Kohlberg, the stage of moral development up to age 10 in which children obey rules because they are afraid of being punished and later to gain a reward

Prejudice – When someone holds a negative belief about a group of people

Prelinguistic communication – The type of communication that occurs before language is possible

Preoperational stage – Piaget’s second stage of cognitive development characterized by acquisition of the symbolic function

Preparation stage – The stage of change when the person gets ready to change within the next month

Presbycusis – Not being able to hear high-pitched, high-frequency sounds

Presbyopia – The loss of near vision

Pressure – When we feel forced to speed up, intensify, or shift direction in our behavior

Primary aging – Naturally occurring changes during adulthood

Primary appraisal (PA) – When a demand is detected we must decide if this is something we need to worry about

Principle of least effort – When a person can choose between two incentives which have approximately the same incentive value, he/she will choose the one that is easiest to achieve

Problem focused coping (PFC) – Strategies we employ to deal with a demand

Problems – When we cannot achieve a goal due to an obstacle that we are unsure how to overcome

Procedural memory – Memory of how to complete a task

Processing capacity – How much information we can handle

Projection – When we attribute threatening desires or unacceptable motives to others

Projective tests – A type of personality test which probes our unconscious mind

Prompts – A stimulus that is added to the situation and increases the likelihood that the desirable response will be made when it is needed

Prompt delay – When you present the SD and then wait for the correct response to be made

Prompt fading – When the prompt is gradually removed as it is no longer needed; can fade within a prompt or across prompts

Propositional thought – When teens gain the ability to examine the logic of verbal statements without referring to real world situations

Proselyte – The person who undergoes conversion

Prosocial behavior – Any act we willingly make that is meant to help others, whether the ‘others’ are a group of people or just one person

Prospective memory – Remembering to do tasks in the future

Proximal goal – A goal whose completion is close in time; also called subgoals

Proximodistal principle – States that development proceeds from near (proximo) to far (distal)

Psychology – The scientific study of behavior and mental processes

Psychosomatic disorders – Disorders in which the individual has real symptoms with a psychological cause

Public goods dilemma – When individuals must decide whether to contribute in order to establish or sustain a public good such as public television or a charity

Pull – A type of motivation which arises from outside of us

Punishment – Due to the consequence, a behavior/response is less likely to occur in the future

Push – A type of motivation which arises from within or is an internal source of motivated behavior



Quest orientation – A person who is ready to face existential questions and looks for ‘truth,’ views religious doubt as positive, is open to change, and is humanitarian



Random assignment – When participants have an equal chance of being placed in the control or experimental group

Reaction formation – When an impulse is repressed and then expressed by its opposite

Reappraisal – Our reassessment of a situation after some time has passed and we have had time to rethink it

Receptor cells – The cells that due the detecting in these sensory organs

Reciprocal altruism – When you help someone with the expectation they will do the same for you in the future when you are in a similar situation

Reciprocation – When we are more willing to comply with a request from another person if they did us a favor or gave a concession previously

Reflexes – A repertoire of behaviors aimed at helping the neonate survive

Regression – When we move from a mature behavior to one that is infantile in nature

Reinforcement – Due to the consequences, a behavior/response is more likely to occur in the future

Relapse – When an isolated mistake becomes a pattern of behavior

Relatedness need – The need to have warm relations with other people

Relational aggression – Any acts which attempt to hurt another person’s self-esteem or relationships with others

Reliability – When a test provides consistent responses

Religion – A universal attempt by philosophically or spiritually like-minded people to set out to explain the cosmology of the universe and their concept of a divine power through common conceptions and beliefs

Religious conversion – The process of changing one’s religious beliefs

Repetition blindness – When we experience a reduction in the ability to perceive repeated stimuli if flashed rapidly before our eyes

Replication – Repeating the study to confirm its results

Representative heuristic – Believing something comes from a larger category based on how well it represents the properties of the category

Repressed – According to Freud, any mental excitations that make it to the gate/door and are turned away

Repression – When unacceptable ideas, wishes, desires, or memories are blocked from consciousness

Research design – Our plan for how we are to test our hypothesis

Resistance – Part of the General Adaptation Syndrome, this is the stage when the body is successfully controlling the stress

Resource dilemma – A situation in which an individual must decide how much of a shared resource to take for him or herself

Resources – Anything we use to help us manage the demand and the exact resources we use will depend on what the demand is

Respondent conditioning – When we link a previously neutral stimulus with a stimulus that is unlearned or inborn, called an unconditioned stimulus

Response costs – Any behaviors that need to be made to achieve a goal

Restitution – A type of overcorrection procedure in which an individual is made to restore the environment to a condition that is better than it was before the undesirable behavior occurred

Retaliatory aggression – Getting back at someone for an indiscretion committed against you

Retrieval – Pulling information from long term memory

Reversibility – Reversing the order of operations

Rooting reflex – When a baby turns his or her head in the direction of a stimulation near its mouth




Sandwich generation – When an adult has to care for their aging parents and children at the same time

Satiety – Being full

Scarcity – When we are more likely to comply with a request if we believe a product is running out

Schachter-Singer Two-Factor Theory of emotion – Says that any display of emotion first begins with an assessment of our physiological reaction or bodily response but since this reaction can be similar between emotional states, we also have to make a cognitive appraisal of the situation which allows us to identify which emotion we are experiencing

Schemas – Organized ways of making sense of experience

Scientific method – A systematic method for gathering knowledge about the world around us

Seasons of life – Levison’s theory created to account for changes at home, work, and other locations in adulthood

Secondary aging – Changes occurring during adulthood that are moderated by decisions we make and the environment

Secondary appraisal (SA) – After deciding if a demand or stimulus is something that we should worry about, we formulate a plan to deal with it

Secondary traits – Tendencies that only appear in certain situations and are less crucial to one’s personality

Selective attention – When we voluntarily focus on specific sensory input from our environment

Self-actualization – Maximizing one’s potential

Self-blame – When we blame ourselves for the demand and subsequent stress we are experiencing

Self-disclosure – Telling another person about our deepest held secrets, experiences, and beliefs that we do not usually share with others

Self-efficacy – Our sense of whether we have the skills necessary to achieve the goal

Self-imposed stressors – Stressors that create stress for us and that are imposed by us

Self-instructions – Statements you write or say to yourself as positive affirmations and motivational tools

Self-isolation – When a person intentionally removes himself from social situations to avoid having to face a demand

Semantic memory – Memory of facts

Senescence – Age related changes

Sensation – The detection of physical energy that is emitted or reflected by physical objects

Sensitization – Occurs when our reactions are increased due to a strong stimulus

Sensorimotor stage – When infants focus on developing sensory abilities and learning to get around in their environment

Sensory memory – Holds all incoming sensory information detected from our environment for a very short period of time

Serial position effect – States that we recall information falling at the beginning (called primary) and end (called recency) of a list better than the information in the middle

Sexual response pattern – A distinct pattern of physiological arousal for men and women, before, during, and after sexual activity

Shaping by successive approximations or shaping – When we get a person or animal to make some desired behavior that they would not normally know to make by reinforcing approximations of that behavior gradually

Short-term memory – Holds a limited amount of information for about 15-20 seconds

Snowball effect – When one dominant personality convinces others to act and then these others convince more and so forth

Social comparison – When we evaluate whether our behavior, abilities, expertise, and opinions are appropriate or meet certain standards by comparing them to those of others

Social Darwinism The idea that like plants and animals, humans too compete in a struggle for existence and a survival of the fittest is brought about by natural selection

Social desirability – When a participant answers questions dishonestly so that he/she is seen in a more favorable light, could be an issue

Social facilitation – When the presence of other people affects our performance depending on the type of task

Social identity theory – Asserts that people have a proclivity to categorize their social world into meaningfully simplistic representations of groups of people

Social loafing – When the presence of others detracts from our performance

Social norms – The stated and unstated rules of society

Social proof – States that we are more willing to comply with a request if we believe other people like us are acting in the same way

Self-monitoring – When you monitor your own behavior

Situational attribution – Something outside the person that is the cause of behavior

Social referencing – When a child is faced with an uncertain circumstance or event, such as the presence of a stranger, he/she will intentionally search for information about how to act from a caregiver

Social/personality development – The type of development which examines our social interactions with others, social skills, how our relationships grow and change, and changes in personality throughout the life span

Solitary play – Playing alone

Somatic nervous system – Allows for voluntary movement by controlling the skeletal muscles and carries sensory information to the CNS

Source traits – The underlying variables that appear to determine the surface manifestation

Spermarche  – The first ejaculation

Spirituality – A belief in supernatural forces used to answer questions of how the universe works, man’s place and purpose, the existence of a higher power and a soul, and the origin of evil and suffering

Spontaneous recovery – When an organism makes an extinguished behavior in the future to see if anything happens

Stereotype threat – When we worry about being judged by a negative stereotype applied to all members of our group

Stigma – When negative stereotyping, labeling, rejection, and loss of status occur

Stimulus control – When an antecedent has been consistently linked to a behavior in the past it gains control over the behavior

Stimulus discrimination – The process of reinforcing a behavior when a specific antecedent is present and only it is present

Stimulus generalization – When a behavior occurs in the presence of similar, novel stimuli

Storage – In memory, creating a permanent record of the information

Strain – The pressure the demand causes; occurs when our resources are insufficient to handle Strain – The pressure the demand causes

Stranger anxiety – When strangers cause a child anxiety and fear, starting around age 6 months of age

Stress – Physical, psychological, and behavioral symptoms we experience when our resources and problem focused coping strategies are inadequate to deal with a demand and strain

Stress Inoculation – A form of Cognitive Behavior Therapy in which a therapist works with an individual to identify problems (the conceptualization stage), learn and practice new coping strategies (the skills acquisition and rehearsal stage), and finally put these newly acquired skills to use

Stressors – Environmental demands that create a state of tension or threat and require change or adaptation

Sublimation – When we find a socially acceptable way to express a desire

Substance abuse – Occurs when an individual consumes the substance for an extended period of time or has to ingest large amounts of the substance to get the same effect a substance provided previously

Substances – Any ingested materials that cause temporary cognitive, behavioral, and/or physiological symptoms within the individual

Sudden conversion – A type of conversion in which the change comes quickly and the person either adopts a faith they have not previously subscribed to or make of central importance their current faith that was not important previously

Suggestibility – When false memories are created due to deception or leading questions

Superego – According to Freud, the part of personality which represents society’s expectations, moral standards, rules, and represents our conscience

Suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) – A cluster of cells that receives information about light exposure from the eyes and controls our behavioral rhythms

Surface traits – Clusters of observable traits that seem to go together

Syllogism – A logical argument consisting of premises and a conclusion

Sympathetic nervous system – Involved when a person is intensely aroused; It provides the strength to fight back or to flee (fight-or-flight instinct)

Synapses – Neural connections

Synaptic pruning – When neural connections that are not used are eliminated

Synaptogenesis – The creation of new synapses



Target behavior – Whatever behavior we want to change

Telegraphic speech – When a sentence is created with the fewest number of words necessary to convey the same meaning

Temperament – All of our behavioral and emotional predispositions present when we are born

Tension reduction – When a person engages in behaviors to reduce the stress caused by a demand

Termination Stage – The stage of change when the ultimate goal has been achieved but relapse is still possible

Terror Management Theory (TMT) – The theory which posits that worldviews serve as a buffer against the anxiety we experience from knowing we will die someday

Thanatos – Our death instinct which is either directed inward as in the case of suicide and masochism or outward via hatred and aggression

Theory – A systematic explanation of a phenomenon

Thermoregulation – Maintaining a set core internal temperature

Time out – When a person is removed from an activity because they are engaging in an undesirable or problem behavior

Tokens – Something that is accrued (and accumulated over time) once the target behavior occurs; part of a token economy

Token economy – An individual is provided with something that represents desired reinforcers and takes that “something” and cashes it in later for those reinforcers

Tolerance – The need to continually increase the amount of ingested substance

Tragedy of the commons – The conflict between individual and group interests in resources over time, both of which are justifiable

Trait-environment correlation – Says our personality traits affect the situations or opportunities we choose

Trait-environment interaction – Says our personality traits influence how we react to our world

Transduction – The process of converting physical energy to neural information in the form of electrochemical codes

Transience – When our memories decrease in accessibility over time

Treatment Phase – The phase of behavior modification when the strategy or strategies are being used

Triangular theory of love – According to Sternberg, love consist of intimacy, commitment, and passion and different combinations of the three create the 8 types of love

Trust vs. mistrust – Erikson’s first stage of personality development occurring from birth to 18 months and when the child develops a sense of trust or mistrust based on how well their needs are met by their parents



Unconditional positive regard – Evaluation by another person not linked to our behavior Unconscious – According to Freud, the level of personality not available to us

Unconscious motivation – When we are motivated by forces outside conscious awareness

Uninvolved (neglectful) parenting style – Parents characterized by being unusually uninvolved in their child’s life and shows no real concern for the well-being of the child

Unmotivated – When we are motivated to another end




Valence – The feeling of satisfaction experienced when a goal is completed

Validity – When a test measures what it says it measures

Values – Reflects what we care about most in life and may guide us through decisions we have to make

Variable Interval schedule (VI) – When we reinforce someone at some changing amount of time

Variable Ratio schedule (VR) – When we reinforce some varying number of responses

Verbal prompt – Telling the person what to do



Wellness – Being in good physical and mental health

Wishful thinking – When a person hopes that a bad situation goes away or a solution magically presents itself

Withdrawal – When we avoid a situation when other forms of coping are not practical

Working memory – When we move information from long term memory to be manipulated in some way







Zeigarnik effect – When we remember best tasks that were not completed


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