Glossary of Psychology

Looking for definitions of psychology terms? Don’t worry, we have you covered. Below you will find out glossary of psychology.

ablation: surgical removal of brain tissue, used to aid identification of brainlocalisation.

abnormal behaviour: behaviour which is regarded by society as deviant or maladaptive; according to DSM, an individual must be suffering or show maladaptive functioning in order for behaviour to be described as abnormal.

abnormal psychology: the empirical study of abnormal behaviour, which seeks to describe, explain and predict abnormal behaviour.

absent-mindedness: may refer to 1) a low level of attention (“blanking” or “zoning out”); or 2) intense attention to a single object of focus (hyperfocus) that makes a person oblivious to events around him/her; or 3) unwarranted distraction of attention from the object of focus by irrelevant thoughts or environmental events.

absolute threshold: the minimum amount of energy required for a sensory experience to be produced

abstinence syndromesee withdrawal.

abstract: existing only in the mind; separated from embodiment; “abstract words like `truth’ and `justice'”.

accessibility: in long-term memory, the principle that remembering and forgetting are dependent on effective retrieval; without the proper cues, information which exists in long-term memory may not be accessible.

accommodation:  in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, the process of changing existing schemas when new information cannot be assimilated.

acetylcholine: is a neurotransmitterfound in the brain, where it is crucial for the regulation of memory (loss of acetylcholine has been implicated in Alzheimer’s diseaseand in the peripheral nervous system, where it activates the actions of muscles.

achievement motivation: is the inclination to persevere at tasks that may be complex or demanding for the individual.

acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS): is a deadly disease caused by the ‘human immunodeficiency virus -HIV’, that weakens the immune system and subsequently, the body’s resilience to fight infection.

action potential: the nerve impulse that travels down the axon and triggers the release of neurotransmittersinto a synapse.

action slips: a form of absent-mindedness where a person performs an action that was not intended; caused by not paying attention to what is going on.

activity theory: proposes that individuals prefer to remain active and productive in later life, even resisting disengagement from society – contrasts with social disengagement theory.

actor/observer biases: these refer to the tendency for (a) ‘actors’ to explain their own behaviour in situational terms and (b) observers to explain the behaviour of others in dispositional (person) terms.

actualisation: an important concept in humanistic psychology, meaning the achievement of one’s potential.

actualizing tendency: in Rogers’s theory, an innate drive which reflects the desire to grow, to develop and to enhance one’s capacities.

adaptation: a feature of an organism that has been shaped by natural selection so that it enhances the fitness of its possessor. Alternative meaning: One adapts the way of living to the medicine and will then be forced to change one’s living habits if one has to stop taking the medicine. An example of this is if one lives a verystressful life and manages to continue with this due to sedatives.

addiction: now little used term that referred to physical dependence and was associated with its negative effects, such as on social functioning.

Adler (1870-1937)– an Austrian doctor and psychologist, who was initially influenced by Freud, and later developed his own theory of personality andpsychotherapy, through “individual psychology”. Adler strongly believed in treating each patient holistically as a “whole person”, and a range of his ideas and techniques have been applied to a variety of psychology, including cognitive behavioural therapy and holistic psychology.

adoption studies: employed to demonstrate the influence of genetics (as opposed to environment) by comparing the correlations between adopted children and either their biological parents or adoptive parents on a measurable trait (e.g. intelligence).

Adorno (1903-1969): was a philosopher, sociologist and composer.  Within social psychology, is largely remembered for defining the authoritarian personality (characterised by intolerance of ambiguity, prejudiced attitudes and conformity to authority, with an emphasis on the influence of childhood experiences and internalisation) and the subsequent development of the F-scale (a measurement of the authoritarian personality).

adrenal glands: endocrine glands, located just above the kidneys, which play an important role in arousal and stress; the outer layer, the cortex, secretescorticosteroids and the medulla (the inner core) secretes epinephrine(adrenaline) and norepinephrine(noradrenaline).

adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH): released by the anterior pituitary during stressful situations. ACTH, in turn, triggers the release of corticosteroids (another type of hormone). Corticosteroids produce many of the effects of the stressresponse.

advertising: seeks to influence consumer attitudes and behaviour, through a variety of persuasive techniques, for instance use of fear appeals.

aetiology:  the study of the causes of a disease or mental disorder.

affect: emotion or mood, e.g. sadness. Within abnormal psychology, patients may display different types of affect disturbance, e.g. blunted, flat or inappropriate affect.

affectionless psychopathy: condition proposed by Bowlbywhereby individuals display little remorse or guilt for their crimes.

affective disorder: see mood disorder.

afferent neurons: the communication of the senses experienced by the body are conveyed to the central nervous system by afferent neurons for processing.

affiliation: the desire of people to associate with others.

ageism: a form of stereotyping and discrimination against the elderly.

agency: the belief that human beings are free to make decisions and have control over their own lives.

agency theory: theory developed by Milgram to explain why people obey orders that go against the conscience. When people see themselves as mere agents of another person, they will obey that person’s orders, feeling themselves free of individual responsibility.

aggression: an action or a series of actions where the aim is to cause harm to another person or object.

agoraphobia: anxiety disorder in which a person feels anxiety about experiencing panic attacks in public, and therefore avoids public situations.

AIDS: see acquired immune deficiency syndrome.

aims: the general investigative purpose of the study.

alarm reaction: see general adaptation syndrome.

alcoholism: physical dependency on alcohol.

alpha/beta bias: alpha bias refers to theories and research which assume real and enduring differences between men and women. Beta bias theories and research have traditionally ignored or minimised differences between men and women.

alpha rhythm/waves: the average brain wave pattern (between eight to thirteen per second) whilst in a relaxed, wakeful state.

altered states of awareness: any state of awareness which differs from normal waking awareness; examples include meditation, sleep, drug states and psychosis.

alternative hypothesis: a testable statement that states the expected result of the study, specifying the effect of the independent variable upon the dependent variable, based on the researcher’s knowledge from observations, related studies and previous investigations.

altruism (animal): an animal is considered to be engaging in altruistic behaviour when by so doing it increases the survival chances of another animal whilst decreasing its own.

altruism (human): as with animal altruism, this involves some cost to the altruist and some benefit to the recipient. Unlike animal altruism, there is often evidence of ‘kindly intent’ on the part of the altruist.

Alzheimer’s disease: A degenerative brain disorder, which is characterised by gradual memory loss, deteriorating cognitive skills, increasing disorientation and a reduction in intellectual ability. Linked to the deterioration of acetylcholine pathways in the brain.

ambiguous figure: any stimulus which can be perceived in more than one way.

American Sign Language: manual-visual language system, including gestures, used by hearing-impaired individuals in America.

amnesia: a significant loss of memory as a result of brain damage or psychologicaltraumaAnterograde amnesia refers to the inability to learn and remember new information after brain damage and retrograde amnesiarefers to the loss of memories from before brain damage.

amphetamine delusional disorder: a form of mental disorder resulting from the excessive use of amphetamines; its primary symptom, extreme paranoiddelusions, can make it appear symptomatically identical to paranoid schizophrenia.

amygdala: an almond-shaped structure in the limbic system which plays a role in basic emotions, aggression and the development of emotional memories.

anal personality: an adult who has remained ‘fixated’ during the anal stageof psychosexual development and displays an anally retentive personality, which is characterised by obsessive cleanliness, stinginess and aggressiveness, as a result of either excessive or insufficient gratification of id impulses during the anal stage.

anally retentive: commonly abbreviated to “anal”, is used conversationally to describe a person with such attention to detail that the obsession becomes an annoyance to others, and can be carried out to the detriment of the anal-retentive person.

anal stage: the second stage in Freud’s theory of psychosexual development, from 15 months to 3 years. According to psychoanalytic theory – when the child’s main source of pleasure is the anus.

analytical psychology: branch of psychology developed by Jung – emphasizes the interplay between oppositional forces within the psyche and the ways in which these internal conflicts affect personality development.

analysis of variance (ANOVA): see covariation principle.

androcentrism: refers to the tendency of some theories to offer an interpretation of women based on an understanding of the lives of men (see also alpha/beta bias).

androgens: hormones whose functions are related to masculine characteristics; the most important is testosterone.

androgyny: gender role identity where an individual possesses both male and female (personality) characteristics.

anger management: a programme designed to teach individuals how to apply self-control in order to reduce anger against others.

animal language: as an area of research, this refers to either (a) attempts to teach nonhuman animals to speak, or (b) studies of animals’ ‘natural’ language in their own natural environment.

animal research: the use of non-human animals in empirical research, on the basis of greater control, objectivity and similar genetic makeup. However, the use of non-human animals has raised a number of ethical and moral questions.

animism: the belief that inanimate objects are alive and as such have life-like qualities such as feelings and intentions. A child may get angry and smack his bicycle because it ‘made him get hurt’. Animism is a characteristic found in children in Piaget’s second stage of intellectual development, the pre-operational stage. Piaget believed that animism was a characteristic of the child’s egocentricreasoning – if the child has feelings and intentions, then so must all other things.

anonymity: a state for an individual within a crowd where each person loses their sense of individuality.

anorexia nervosa: (literally, a nervous loss of appetite) a disorder characterised by the pursuit of extreme thinness and by an extreme loss of weight.

ANS: see autonomic nervous system.

antagonist: a substance that hinders the activity of a neurotransmitter, through reducing the amount available.

antagonistic: opposition in physiological action; especially : interaction of two or more substances such that the action of any one of them on living cells or tissues is lessened.

antecedent control: a behavioural measure in which the intervention occurs before the behaviour arises. Antecedent procedures include education, attitude change and inducing or preventing behaviours by controlling the triggers which cause them to occur.

anterior pituitary: The front portion of the pituitary, a small gland in the head called the master gland. Hormones secreted by the anterior pituitary influence growth, sexual development, skin pigmentation, thyroid function, and adrenocortical function.

anterograde amnesia: the inability to learn and remember new information after brain damage.

anthropomorphism: assigning human feelings and emotions to non-human animals.

anti-anxiety drug: a drug which functions as a central nervous systemdepressant, but whose primary behavioural effect is the reduction of anxiety.

anti-conformity: refers to behaviour carried out in order to oppose the norms of the group.

anti-depressants: a drug which is used to treat clinical depression, primarily by enhancing the activity of the neurotransmitter serotonin.

anti-inflammatory: a medication to reduce inflammation (the body’s response to surgery, injury, irritation, or infection).

anti-social behaviour: this is a general term used to refer to any behaviour that harms or offends another person. Common examples are aggressionand discrimination.

anti-social personality disorder: individuals who show a lack of regard for others, are impulsive, and behave in an socially unacceptable manner.

anti­psychotic drug: a drug used to treat psychotic symptoms, such as disordered thoughts, delusions, or hallucinations.

anxiety: a negative emotional state, characterised by high physiological arousaland nervousness or fear.

anxiety disorders: the most common of adult mental disorders, characterised by severe anxiety and feelings of tension. Phobias are probably the most familiar of these disorders.

APA: the American Psychological Association

aphasia: language impairment as a result of brain injury or lesions.

aphonia: an inability to produce normal speech sounds.

applications: actual or possible ways of using psychological knowledge in an applied or practical setting.

appraisal: a judgement about whether a potentially stressful situation is threatening, challenging or harmful.

archetypes: in Jung’s theory, patterns or frameworks within the collective unconscious which serve to organise our experiences, providing the basis of many fantasies, myths and symbols.

arousal: refers to the body’s level of alertness and activation as reflected in certain physiological responses such as heart rate or muscle tension.

artificial intelligence (AI): in computer science, the attempt to build machines which can function intelligently, and the use of such machines to test our understanding of human intelligence.

Asch effect: see conformity (majority influence)

assimilation: in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, the process of fitting new information into existing schemas.

association areas: parts of the cortex that receive input from more than one sensory system.

assumption: something taken for granted as being true.

Atkinson and Shiffrin (1968): proposed the multi-store model of memory, comprised of three stages; incoming sensory information, short-term memory (7+/- 2 “chunks” of information) and long-term memory.

Atkinson and Shiffrin model of memory: also known as the multi-store model of memory. Proposes the existence of three separate but linked systems – sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory.

attachment: a two-way bond between two individuals (humans or some other animal species), in which each individual gains a sense of security from the other.

attachment theory: a psychodynamic approach to developmental psychology, which places a lot of emphasis on the formation of a secure attachment between infant and primary carer(s).

attention: the process of selectively focusing on particular stimulus elements, typically those deemed most significant.

attention deficit disorder (ADD): neurological condition that is often evident from childhood. ADD may cause restlessness, disorganisation, hyperactivity, distractibility, and mood swings.

attenuator model of attention: Treisman’s proposal that, instead of selecting one channel and blocking the others, the filtering mechanism (a) selects one channel and passes it on for semantic analysis, and (b) allows the unattended channels through for processing but in weakened (attenuated) form.

attitude: a personal belief of an evaluative nature, such as good or bad, likeable or not likeable, which influences our reactions towards people or things.

attribution (of causality): the way in which we infer the causes of our own or another person’s behaviour according to a set of cognitive rules and biases. As a result of these strategies we decide whether a person’s behaviour is caused by their own stable characteristics, or whether it is a result of situational influences.

attribution theory: a theory that seeks to explain the causes of behaviour in terms of either dispositional (personality) factors or situational factors.

attributional biases: in attribution theory, common faults in attributing causes to behaviour such that mistakes are made and the causes of behaviour are misunderstood. An example is self-serving bias in which we attribute our own good and worthy behaviours to personality factors (I gave my mum a bunch of flowers because I am kind) and any bad or unworthy behaviours to situational factors (I shouted at mum because I’ve got a headache).

audience effect: how performance on a task can be affected by others watching – either improves performance (social facilitation) or reduces performance (social inhibition)

auditory adaptation: the tendency of repeated or continuous sounds to appear less loud over time. As we habituate to the stimulus of the sound its apparent loudness decreases.

auditory cortex: the area of the brain (in the temporal cortex) that connects fibers of the auditory nerve and interprets nerve impulses in a form that is perceived as sound.

auditory fatigue: occurs on exposure to intense sounds which cause a persistent reduction in apparent loudness.

autonomic conditioning (also called ‘learned operant control of autonomic responses’): the conditioning of changes in autonomic (involuntary) responses (such as heart rate or blood pressure) by means of operant reinforcement.

authoritarian personality: personality style strongly associated with prejudicedattitudes, where the person is intolerant of ambiguity or uncertainty, submissive to those in authority and dismissive or arrogant towards those perceived to be of lower social status.

autistic disorder (autism): a developmental disorder, whereby children are unresponsive and avoid contact with others, and demonstrate a lack of language and communication skills. Autism is a type of pervasive developmental disorder.

autokinetic effect: an optical illusion experienced when a person in a totally dark room sees a stationary spot of light appearing to move.

automatic processing: a rapid mental operation that does not involve conscious awareness and often improves with practice, e.g. the Stroop effect.

autonomic nervous system: part of the nervous system that maintains the normal functioning of the body’s inner environment The ANS has two subdivisions: (a) the sympathetic division whose activity mobilises energy resources and prepares the body for action, and (b) the parasympathetic divisionwhose activity tends to conserve the body’s energy resources and restore inner calm.

availability: in memory, the principle that remembering is determined by whether the information exists in long-term memory or not; forgetting implies that the information is destroyed.

availability heuristic: a rule of thumb used to make decisions about frequencies of events based on how easily relevant examples can be remembered  a cognitiveshort cut

aversion therapy: a behavioural treatment that aims to rid the individual of an undesirable habit (e.g. smoking) by pairing the habit with unpleasant (aversive) consequences.

aversive: an unpleasant stimulus or event.

aversive conditioning: a form of behaviour modification which is designed to induce an aversive response to stimuli which are associated with existing undesirable behaviours.

awareness: in biological psychology, awareness comprises a human’s or an animal’s perception and cognitive reaction to a condition or event. Awareness does not necessarily imply understanding, just an ability to be conscious of, feel or perceive.

axon: the relatively elongated portion of a neuron between the cell body and the terminals which provides the signal pathway for a nerve impulse.

backward conditioning: a form of classical conditioningwhereby the conditioned stimulus is presented after the unconditioned stimulus.

balance theory: proposed by Heider (1946), whereby individuals are motivated to seek balance in their attitudes towards themselves and other people. “Sentiment” or liking relations may be balanced or unbalanced according to the overall valence of affect between people.

Bandura (1925 -): was a key proponent of behaviourism. Best remembered for his research into observational learning or modelling in the “Bobo doll experiment”. His work also includes self-efficacy, aggression and personality theory.

bar chart: this is used to display nominal data and average scores in the form of a graph. There are gaps between each bar that is plotted on the graph.

baseline: a datum of comparison to measure against the effects of a manipulated variable (the independent variable).

basic anxiety: in Horney’s psychodynamic theory, an intense sense of isolation and helplessness which is the primary source of human motivation.

basic trust (vs mistrust): sense of security towards a parent/caregiver and world around them, that develops in an infant after being given loving and responsive care.

Bateson (1904-1980) : proposed the ‘double bind?theory of faulty communication patterns within families of patients of schizophrenia.

behavioural model of abnormality: the view that abnormal behaviours are maladaptive learned responses to the environment which can be replaced by more adaptive behaviours.

behavioural psychology: an approach to psychology that emphasises the learning of behaviour and objective recording.

behavioural therapy: a form of treatment that aims to change behaviour by means of systematic desensitisation, behaviour modification, or aversion therapy.

behaviourism: one of the major perspectives in psychology that concentrates on overt (observable) behaviour rather than covert (unobservable) mental processing. Behaviours are seen as being acquired through the processes of learning, and the role of the environment is seen to be crucial in development.

behaviour modification: is a general label for attempts to change behaviour by using appropriate and timely reinforcement.

Berkowitz (1926 ): specialises in aggression, in particular instrumental andemotional aggression, the frustration-aggression hypothesis and intergroup hostility.

beta rhythm: also known as beta activity. Whilst an individual is alert and responsive, beta activity is depicted by irregular, low-amptitude waves on an EEG.

bias: a source of error which results in a systematic distortion of results.

biased sampling: a sample of participants is not representative of the populationfrom which it was taken, and thus is likely to over-represent one group (e.g. by gender, working class etc)

binge eating:is related to “bulimia nervosa” but sometimes occurs without the compensatory behaviour to get rid of the excess calories.

binomial sign test:a non-parametric inferential statistical test. Used when you have nominal data, the research is repeated measures (or matched pairs) and you are looking for a difference in the effect each level of the independent variable has on the dependent variable.

biochemical:refers to those chemical processes involving human biological function.

biofeedback: feedback to a person about some bodily process (e.g. heart rate, muscle tension) of which the person is usually unaware.

biological model/biomedical approach to abnormality: emphasises the role of physiological processes (i.e. genetic and biochemical factors) in causing mental disorders, and in the treatment of disorders..

biological psychology:the study of the relationship between the physiologicalsystems in the body and behaviour.

biological rhythms: activity that occur with some regularity in an organism.Infradian rhythms occur less than once a day (e.g. human menstrual cycle), circadian rhythms repeat themselves every 24 hours (e.g. sleep/waking cycle), andultradian rhythms more than once a day (e.g. stages of sleep during one night).

biological (somatic) therapies:an approach to the treatment of mental disordersthat relies on the use of physical or chemical methods.

biopsychosocial model: a model of heath and illness are determined by multiple factors, including social, cultural, psychological and biological, which can thus have multiple effects.

bipolar disorder/depression:  (manic depressive disorder) a mood disordercharacterised by extremes of mania and depression.

bobo doll: an inflatable toy used in Albert Bandura’s studies of aggressionimitation.

body language: sometimes referred to as ‘non-verbal communication’, in other words, what you can tell about someone’s mood or frame of mind by the expression on their face, the way they are standing or sitting, etc.

Bolwby (1907 -1990): a British psychologist, who focused primarily on attachmentbonds between a caregiver and a child, and how the strength or deprivation of the bond may affect the child’s cognitive, social and emotional development, epitomised in Bowlby’s maternal deprivation hypothesis.

bonding: the process whereby the young of a species form a bond with their parent(s). In the bonding process, parents also bond with their offspring and thus safeguard them from abuse or abandonment.

bottom-up approach: in the context of offender profiling, an approach that starts from the available evidence from the crimes committed by a particular offender (the ‘bottom’) and attempts to look for connections and links between them that will give a clue to the characteristics of the criminal.

bottom-up processing: of information (stimulus) that is determined solely by aspects of the stimulus.

BPS: an abbreviation of the British Psychological Society.

brain: the portion of the central nervous system which lies within the skull, responsible for controlling a range of behaviours.  The brain is the centrepiece of the nervous system.  Neuroscientists have identified different areas of the brain.  These areas perform a range of different functions.  The brain consists of three interconnected layers.  The central core, limbic system and cerebral cortex.

brain disorder: any abnormality in the brain that results in impaired functioning or thinking.

brain stem: the region at the top of the spinal cord, composed of three primary structures; the medulla, the pons and the midbrain.

brain ventricles: cavities in the brain that contain a clear, colourless fluid called cerebrospinal fluid which acts as a buffer against damage caused by blows to the head.

brain wave: (neurophysiology) rapid fluctuations of voltage between parts of thecerebral cortex that are detectable with an electroencephalograph.

brief:a description given to participants to indicate what will be expected of them during a study and to describe its general purpose so that they can give their informed consent to participate. It should also state their right to withdraw at any time.

British Crime Survey: a regular, large, face-to­face survey of adults living in private households in England and Wales. Its main purpose is to monitor trends in crime but it also covers a range of other topics such as attitudes to crime.

Broca’s aphasia: characterised as a disturbance of speech production, whilst language comprehension remains largely intact. Occurs as a result of damage to Broca’s area.

Broca’s area:the area of the inferior prefrontal cortex of the left hemisphere of the brain, hypothesised by Broca to be the centre of speech production.

buffers: term used in social influence research to refer to any aspect of a situation that protects people from having to confront the consequences of their actions.

bulimia_nervosa: characterised by secret binge eating followed by vomiting, misuse of laxatives, diuretics, excessive exercise, etc., in order to lose weight.

bystander behaviour: the behaviour shown by those who witness an emergency. This is often referred to as ‘bystander apathy’ because of the tendency of bystanders to ignore the emergency when in the company of others.

bystander intervention:the act of assisting strangers in an emergency.

capacityquantifies the amount of information that can be held in memory, e.g. short-term memory has a limited capacity of 7 +/- 2 items.

capacity models / resource allocation models (of divided attention): those models proposing that we have a pool of processing resources that we can allocate according to the demands of the task and environmental factors.

cardiovascular system: consists of two parts, the heart and the blood vessels. It is a system for distributing oxygen and nutrients to the organs in the body. Heart rate, blood pressure and local blood volume are three measures of cardiovascular activity commonly used in research by psychophysiologists.

case studya detailed description of a single individual, typically used to provide information on the person’s history and to aid in interpreting the person’s behaviour.

castration anxietythe anxiety that boys suffer during the Oedipus complex that their rivalrous father may castrate them.

CAT (computed axial tomography) scans: a non-invasive, multiple X-ray procedure for creating images of the brain.

cataplexysudden paralysis of some or all muscles brought on by laughter, anger, or strong emotions; a hallmark of narcolepsy.

catatonic schizophreniaa form of schizophrenia, characterised by a patient who displays motor abnormalities, for instance, changing between a state of complete immobility to energised excitement.

categorisation: a short cut used when processing information. A category is a set of items perceived to have at least one feature in common. In interpersonal perception, categories such as young-old and male-female are used.

catharsis: a term used in psychodynamic psychology to mean the release of emotion. An example is crying to release sadness.

cause and effectestablishing that the independent variable has had a clear effect upon the dependent variable.

central core: this exists in all vertebrates.  The central core regulates the basic life processes such as breathing, pulse, arousal, movement, balance, sleep and also the early stages of processing sensory information.  The central core includes the thalamus, pons, cerebellum, reticular formation and medulla.

central nervous system (CNS): the brain, together with the nerve pathways of the spinal cord.

central tendencya single value which is representative of a set of numbers by indicating the most typical value. Three measures of central tendency are the mean, median and mode.

centrationa characteristic of the preoperational stage of cognitive development. Children centre on one aspect of a problem and overlook other perceptual factors.

cerebellum(‘little brain’ in Latin) two small hemispheres located beneath the cortical hemispheres, at the back of the head; the cerebellum plays an important role in directing movements and balance.

cerebral cortexan area of the brain resembling a folded sheet of grey tissue that covers the rest of the brain. The cerebral cortex directs the brains higher cognitive and emotional functions.  It is divided into two almost symmetrical halves called the cerebral hemispheres.  Each hemisphere contains four lobes.  Areas within these lobes regulate all forms of conscious experience such as emotion, perception, thought and planning as well as unconscious cognitive and emotional processes.  The cerebral cortex includes the frontal lobe, occipital lobe, parietal lobe and temporal lobe.

cerebral dominance: the tendency for one hemisphere to be superior for particular functions.

cerebral hemispheres: two half spheres, made up of the cortex and underlying structures, which comprise the major portion of the brain.

chaos theory: a branch of mathematics dealing with non-linear functions which has been applied to the modelling of situations such as the weather and stock markets; non-linear systems are not predictable, because very small changes in initial conditions can result in radical differences at a later point.

charisma: a personal attractiveness or interestingness that enables you to influence others.

checklist: a simple list of all the behaviours being recorded. On every occurrence of a behaviour on the list, a single tally is recorded. At the end of the observation period, the observer has a record of the number of occurrences of each of the behaviours being investigated.

child psychology: ( developmental psychology) the branch of psychology that studies the social and mental development of children.

child rearing stylesvarying style of parenting classified according to the extent parents are demanding of their child and/or responsive to the childs needs, including authoritative and authoritarian parenting.

chi-squared (x2) test of associationa nonparametric inferential statistical test. Used when you have nominal data, the research is independent groups and you are looking for an association between the independent variable and the dependent variable.

chromosomesthread-like genetic structures composed of double strands of DNA and proteins, containing the genes; in humans, there are twenty-three pairs of chromosomes.

chromosome abnormalitiestypically occur when a chromosome is missing or there is an extra chromosome, e.g. Downs syndrome.

chronic schizophreniaused to diagnose schizophrenics who show no significant improvement after therapy or treatment over a long period of time.

chunk: the basic measure of short-term memory capacity, representing a meaningful unit, such as random letters, numbers or words.

chunkingcombining individual letters or numbers into larger meaningful units

circadian rhythma roughly 24-hour cycle which is determined by an internal body clock, e.g. the sleep-wake cycle.

classical conditioninga basic form of learning, whereby a neutral stimulus is repeatedly paired with an unconditioned stimulus (UCS), that naturally produces an unconditioned response (UCR). After several trials, the neutral stimulus is now a conditioned stimulus (CS) and thus produces a conditioned response (CR).

claustrophobiaan intense fear of confined spaces such as lifts.

client-centred therapyan humanistic approach to therapy developed by Carl Rogers, in which the person seeking treatment (termed a client), not the therapist, is seen as directing the process of therapy; later called person-centred therapy.

clinical interviewa flexible research method that uses open-ended questions to obtain a lot of information from a participant.

clinical psychologista psychologist who has possesses a doctorate in psychology and has been trained to assess and treat psychological problems.

clinical psychologyfocuses on the assessment and treatment of abnormal or maladaptive behaviour.

closed questions: questions that have set answers for participants to choose from.

closure: a term used in Gestalt therapy to mean the emotional experience of moving on from a past trauma.

CNSsee central nervous system

cocktail party effectrefers to (,I) a person’s ability to concentrate on just one conversation although others are going on all around and (b) the way a person engaged in (attending to) one conversation will nevertheless hear their own class=”d-title” name if it is mentioned in a nearby conversation.

codes of practice: ethical guidelines produced by psychological organisations such as the BPS and the APAcontaining advice on research and practice.

confidence: is generally described as a state of being certain, either that a hypothesis or prediction is correct, or that a chosen course of action is the best or most effective given the circumstances at the time.

cognitionthe processes of reasoning, thoughts, attitudes and memories.

cognitive: a process of information storage and retrieval, which can be utilised flexibly in behaviour. In humans, cognitive?relates to mental operations sometimes termed thought processes, eg reasoning, calculation and planning.

cognitive ability: the psychological concept that refers to such processes as perceiving, knowing, recognising, conceptualising, judging, and reasoning.

cognitive appraisal theory: devised by Lazarus, stating that our cognitive appraisal of a situation in crucial in experiencing emotions.

cognitive behavioural programmes: programmes designed to modify behaviour by changing attitudes and thoughts.

cognitive behavioural therapiestechniques that involve helping clients to identify their negative, irrational thoughts and to replace these with more positive, rational ways of thinking.

cognitive development: the growth of cognitive (thinking) abilities. This may be studied by examining changes in the form and structure of children’s thinking as they get older, or by looking at individual differences in the power of children’s thinking as measured, e.g. by IQ tests.

cognitive dissonancein Festinger’s theory, a state of tension created when there are conflicts between an individual’s behaviour and beliefs, or between two beliefs.

cognitive interviewan interview technique designed to be used by police investigators to help elicit accurate information from eyewitnesses.

cognitive labelling theorySchachter and Singer’s theory that it is the combination of physiological arousal and cognitive appraisal that leads to the experience of emotion.

cognitive map: Tolman’s term for the mental representation of learned relationships among stimuli.

cognitive model of abnormality: the view that stresses the role of cognitive problems (such as illogical thought processes) in abnormal functioning.

cognitive neo-association theory: Berkowitz’s theory that thoughts, memories and behaviour may be triggered by affective states and/or priming.

cognitive neuroscience:a hybrid discipline aimed at identifying the biological bases of cognitive processes by combining techniques for the study of cognitive processes with measures of physiological processes.

cognitive pathology: a phenomenon whereby researchers selectively ignore simplifying assumptions and other limitations which are part of the foundations of their theories and methods.

cognitive processes: aspects of mental ‘behaviour’ that focus on the acquisition, storage, retrieval and use of knowledge, for instance in memory and perception.

cognitive psychology: research field in psychology that focuses on mental processes used to acquire, store, retrieve and use knowledge.

cognitive restructuring: in Ellis’s rational-emotive therapy, a process for modifying faulty beliefs and the negative emotions they produce, in order to develop realistic beliefs and self acceptance.

cognitive science: the study of human intelligence and of the symbol-processing nature of cognition.

cognitive therapy: a form of therapy which focuses on the role of faulty beliefs and thought patterns in abnormal behaviour; because it also encourages testing beliefs via behavioural strategies, it is sometimes called’ cognitive behavioural therapy’. See also rational-emotive therapy.

cohort: a group of individuals who were born during the same time interval, i.e. a ‘generation’.

collective unconsciousin Jung’s theory, a biologically based portion of the unconscious which reflects universal themes and ideas, not individual experience.

collectivisman orientation which emphasises a person’s connections and obligations to a social group (family, tribe, etc.); when applied to describe a culture, typically contrasted to individualism.

collectivist society: a society characterised by a high level of mutual interdependence between individuals.

collectivistic cultures: cultures that value group loyalty, prefer group to individual decisions and where the needs of the group outweigh the concerns of the individual.

colour processing/vision: refers to the ability to see chromatic colours (hues) such as yellow, green and blue. Two theories have been proposed trichromatic and opponent process – but no satisfactory complete explanation exists.

Comfortable Interpersonal Distance Scale: a non-invasive method used to measure people’s personal space.

community environmental design: differs from urban renewal because these projects allow the current residents in the area to have an input in the redesign of the area.

companionate love: the emotional state that combines feelings of affection and attachment characterised by mutual concern for each other – less intense than romantic love.

compensation: in Adler’s theory, a process of engaging in activities intended to produce a feeling of superiority over othersin order to overcome feelings of inferiority.

competitive altruism: (also called ‘costly signalling theory’) the concept that individuals will make large public sacrifices if they believe there is a long-term personal benefit.

complementarity: a concept developed by physicists to deal with the existence of two models which are both useful, but not directly reconcilable.

compliancea form of social influence, whereby an individual seeks to influence another to comply with a demand.

compulsion: an irresistible impulse to act, regardless of the rationality of the motivation.

computerised axial tomograms (CAT): see computed tomography.

computerised imaging techniques:for studying brain function which use computers to convert information into a three-dimensional model of the brain which can be viewed on a television monitor.

computed tomography (CT): imaging technique using X-rays.

concept(s)an idea or group of ideas that might be used as the basis for a psychological theory.

concordance a technique for studying inheritance by examining characteristics of individuals whose genetic relationship is known.

concrete operational periodIn Piaget’s stages of cognitive development, a period between ages seven and eleven during which children gain a better understanding of mental operations. Children begin thinking logically about concrete events, but have difficulty understanding abstract or hypothetical concepts.

concurrent validityan indicator of validity, which compares measures of the same phenomenon to determine whether they produce similar results in the same circumstances.

conditional positive regardacceptance and caring given to a person only for meeting certain standards of behaviour.

conditioned emotional response: an emotional response such as fear which is established through classical conditioning.

conditioned reinforcer: stimuli which act as reinforcers but are not based on biological survival, such as attention, praise or money.

conditioned response:in classical conditioning, a response to a previously neutral stimulus which has become a conditioned stimulus by repeated pairing with an unconditioned stimulus.

conditioned stimulus: a stimulus which by repeated pairings with an unconditioned stimulus comes to elicit a conditioned response.

conditions for growth: the conditions under which healthy development of personality occurs; defined by Rogers as unconditional positive regard, openness and empathy.

conditions of worth: restrictions imposed on self-expression in order to earn positive regard.

conditioningsee classical and operant conditioning.

conduct disorder is used to describe a pattern of repetitive behavior of children where the rights of others or the current social norms are violated. Symptoms include verbal and physical. aggression, cruel behavior toward people and pets, destructive behavior, lying, truancy, vandalism, and stealing.

conesphotoreceptor cells located in the centre of the retina that allow us to see colour.

confederatesindividuals who pose as participants in empirical research, in order to produce responses from real? participants in the study.

confidentialitythe ethical concern that information gathered during psychological research or therapy should not be divulged to others unless otherwise agreed in advance or unless there is a legal requirement to disclose it.

confirmation: in research, the process of determining that observations are consistent with the hypothesis being true.

confirmation bias: a form of cognitive error based on the tendency to seek out information which supports one’s beliefs, and ignore contradictory information.

conformity: a type of social influence expressed through exposure to the views of a majority and our submission to those views.

confound: in experimental research, a situation where two variables change simultaneously, making it impossible to determine their relative influence.

confounding variable: uncontrolled variable that produces an unwanted effect on the dependent variable. It obscures the effect of the independent variable.

congruence: in Rogers’s theory, a feeling of integration experienced when the self and ideal self match.

consciencea person’s moral sense of right and wrong, chiefly as it affects their own behaviour.

consciousin Freud’s theory, that aspect of the mind which contains those thoughts and feelings of which we are immediately aware at a given moment.

consciousness: is regarded to comprise qualities such as subjectivity, self-awareness, sentience, and the ability to perceive the relationship between oneself and one’s environment. It is a subject of much research in philosophy of mind, psychology, neuroscience, and cognitive science.

consentan ethical necessity, whereby participants agree to procedures that will take place and are given the right to withdraw at any time in the study.

conservation: understanding that physical characteristics of number or quantity do not change, even though the appearance may change, and is demonstrated by children in the pre-operational stage of Piagets theory of development.

consequent control: a behavioural measure in which the intervention follows the behaviour to be changed. Consequent procedures can affect behaviours by using pleasant or unpleasant consequences (positive or negative reinforcement or punishment) to make their performance more or less likely or through the use of feedback.

constant errors: uncontrolled variables that act on only one level of the independent variable. Their action may either be in the same direction as a predicted difference, exaggerating the apparent effect of the independent variable or in the opposite direction, obscuring the effect of the independent variable.

constructive theories of perceptiontop-down (or concept driven) theories that emphasise the need for several sources of information in order to construct our perception of the world. In addition to information available in the sensory stimulus, we need to use higher cognitive processes, according to this theory, to interpret the information appropriately.

construct validity: an indicator of validity, which aims to demonstrate that the phenomenon being measured actually exists, for example, by justifying it in relation to a model or theory.

contact hypothesis: suggestion that prejudice can be reduced if members of different groups are brought into contact with each other.

content analysisexamination of certain types of media (e.g. books, TV; magazines, the Internet) to see what effect they may be having on our perceptions and/or behaviour. It involves the analysis of language, certain words or certain activities that appear in the chosen media.,

context-dependent forgetting: failure to retrieve information from long-term memory due to the absence of appropriate contextual cues.

contiguity: in behaviourism, the principle that a reinforcer must occur immediately after a response in order for learning to occur.

contextual reinstatement: in the context of criminal psychology, a way of improving memory for an event by returning to the place where it happened or asking the witness to imagine themselves back in that place and in the same emotional state.

contingency of reinforcement: in operant conditioning, a description of the relationship between a response and a reinforcer.

continuity: in developmental theory, the view that changes occur through a continuous gradual process, rather than as a series of discrete stages; continuity is an assertion about the processes that underlie development, as well as the changes observed in behaviour.

continuous reinforcement: a reinforcement schedule in which every response is followed by a reinforcer; equivalent to an FR (Fixed Ratio) 1 schedule.

contrast processing: term used in the study of visual perception to describe the ability to differentiate between brightness levels in adjoining areas.

control(psychological): the sense that one can anticipate events that occur in one’s environment – a feeling that one can accomplish things and is not at the mercy of forces beyond one’s control. Types of control include: informational, decisional, behavioural, cognitive and retrospective.

control groupin an experimental design, group used as a baseline to compare the effect of the independent variable in the experimental group.

controlled (attentional) processing: a mental operation that is conscious, relatively slow and easily interrupted.

controls: the steps taken to limit factors that could distort the collection of valid and reliable data.

convenience sample: a quasi-random sampling procedure in which the potential sample pool actually differs from the population – for example, selecting university students instead of people in general; the impact on representativeness (if any) often depends on what behaviour is being studied.

convergent problem: a problem which has a single solution, and all elements lead towards that solution; also called closed-end or well-defined problems.

coping: a person’s efforts to minimise, control or tolerate environmental demands that are judged to exceed their resources to fight or avoid.

coprolaliaan uncontrollable use of obscene language; often accompanied by mental disorders.

corpus callosum: a wide band of nerve fibres which connect the two hemispheres of the brain.

correlation: the degree of relatedness between two sets of scores. If two sets of scores are correlated, it enables researchers to predict (with varying degrees of certainty) the approximate value of one score if they know the value of the other. A positive correlation exists when high values on one variable are associated with high values on another variable. A negative correlation exists when high values on one variable are associated with low values on another variable.

correlational analysis: a type of analysis used to measure the extent of relationship between variables that are thought likely to co-vary.

correlation coefficient: a descriptive statistic measuring the degree of relationship between two variables; for positive correlations, it is a number which varies between 0.0 and + 1.0, and for negative correlations between 0.0 and -1.0; in both cases, the closer the value is to I, the stronger the relationship between the two variables.

cortex:  the outer layer of the brain which controls many of our higher functions like speech and perception.

cortical activity: neural activity in the cortex of the brain.

corticosteroidsdrugs that mimic the action of a group of hormones produced by adrenal glands; they are anti-inflammatory and act as bronchodilators.

counter balancing: the systematic variation of the order of presentation of the levels of the independent variable (eg. Half of the participants first undergo Condition A followed by Condition B, whilst the other half do vice versa), in a repeated measures design, to avoid order and fatigue effects.

counter factual thinking: thinking about events that did not actually take place, such as winning when we in fact lost.

counter transferenceas part of psychoanalytic therapy, the therapist may transfer feelings or conflicts they may have about their own life, or significant others in it, onto the client. It is imperative that the therapist recognises this possibility and guards against it.

co-variation model of attribution: Kelley’s theory that people decide on the cause of a behaviour by weighing up how consistent and distinctive the behaviour is and how much consensus there is about it.

covariation principleproposes that individuals attribute behaviour to a causal factor if it existed whilst the behaviour took place, but was not there when it did not occur.

Craik and Lockhart (1972): put forward the levels of processing model of memory, as a counterpoint to the multi-store model of memory. Memory is seen as a product of the depth of processing and encoding of information; for instance shallow processing or deep processing (e.g. semantic processing).

creativity: the capacity to produce something which is both unique and useful.

criminal psychology: is the study of the wills, thoughts, intentions and reactions of criminals.

crisis: a psychological conflict which needs to be resolved if the individual is to move on to the next stage of development.

criterion: a standard or test by which individual things or people may be compared and judged.

critical period: a crucial period in a person’s or animal’s development when certain experiences must happen for normal development to proceed. Today it is more common to use the term sensitive period to describe the optimum period for certain experiences to happen.

critical value: the value that is compared with the observed (calculated) value in an inferential statistical test. Each inferential statistical test has a table or tables of critical values. The comparison with the observed (calculated) allows you to conclude if you have found a significant result.

cross cultural study: a study conducted across two or more cultures in order to make comparisons between them.

cross sectional sample: a sample which is deliberately selected in such a way that the sample matches the population for particular characteristics, such as age and income.

cross sectional study: a research design based on selecting representative groups who vary on a particular characteristic; when the characteristic is age, this design provides a means of making developmental comparisons.

cross tolerance:this phenomenon arises in some drug categories, such as the opiates (heroin, morphine etc) and tryptamines (LSD, mescaline and psilocybin) when the prolonged use of one drug in the group results in the development of tolerance to the others opioids.

crowdmay refer to a large, cohesive gathering of individuals or to the act of coming together to form a tightly-spaced group. In addition, crowding is used to refer to the psychological perceptions associated with this increase in density.

crowding: the feeling that is induced if our expectations about the use of space are violated by the presence of others.

crystallised intelligenceknowledge and skills already acquired by a person, e.g. arithmetic.

cue-arousal theory: suggests that the presence of specific cues in the environment triggers aggressive behaviour.

cue-dependent coding: the concept that all information is stored in memory as a set of relationships called the context; remembering is seen as dependent on restoring the cues which formed the original context.

cue-dependent forgettingfailure to recall memory due to a lack of cues that were present at the time of memory encoding.

cultural biasa tendency in psychological theory and research to ignore the differences between cultures and impose understanding based on the study of one culture alone.

cultural identity: the influence of one’s culture on the development of identity. Individualist cultures stress the importance of personal achievement and independence, while collectivist cultures stress the importance of collective achievement and dependence.

cultural relativismin the context of atypical psychology, the acknowledgement that symptoms may differ across cultures.

culturea system of values, beliefs and practices that characterise a particular group, for example a national or ethnic group.

culture-bound syndromeA mental disorder that appears to be confined to the members of a particular cultural group.

custom: a practice from the past that people continue to observe.

dark adaptationthe gradual process through which the eyes adjust from a change in illumination from light to low light intensity.

Darwin (1809-1882): a hugely influential naturalist, who proposed that all species evolve through natural selection so that traits that enhance survival are passed on.

daydream: a visionary fantasy experienced while awake, especially one of happy, pleasant thoughts, hopes, or ambitions.

debriefing: an ethical procedure that occurs at the end of a study, whereby participants are given as much information as possible about the study, are given the option to discuss  their experience of the study, to ensure that participants leave the experiment in the same emotional state as they entered.

decay: the loss of information in memory over a long period of time.

deceptionin research, the intentional misleading and misinforming of participants with regard to the aim of the study.

decibels (dB):a measure of volume (sound intensity) .decision-making: reasoning that involves considering and choosing different options.

declarative knowledgememory for facts (semantic knowledge) and events (episodic knowledge).

deduction/deductive reasoning: the logical process of drawing a particular conclusion from a set of general principles.

defence mechanismpsychological strategies as part of Freudian psychoanalytic theory, that are used to distort or deny reality, in order to cope with anxiety and/or a situation which an individual feels is difficult to cope with.

deindividuationa process through which group members cease to view themselves as individuals. Individual identity is replaced with identification with a group.

delinquency: criminal/antisocial activity.

delusion: unfounded and irrational beliefs held despite contrary evidence. Characteristic of mental disorders such as schizophrenia, can be manifested in delusions of grandeur (believing that one is famous or powerful) or delusions of persecution (believing that one is being chased or followed).

demand characteristiccues in an experiment that reveal information to participants about the aim and expected outcome, thereby influencing their behavior and subsequently confounding the results.

dementiadisorder characterised by considerable deterioration in cognitive function, for instance in loss of memory. Different types of dementia include corticial dementias (e.g. Alzheimers disease) and sub-cortical dementias (e.g. Huntingtons disease).

demographic: a socioeconomic or similar factor that defines a certain group or area.

dendritesbranched fibres at the end of the cell body of a neuron that receive incoming impulses

deniala defence mechanism whereby an individual may denies or rejects some aspect of reality.

deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA): the molecule which forms basis of heredity. DNA holds all genetic information on the chromosomes.

dependent personality disordera form of personality disorder, whereby an individual is heavily reliant upon others and demonstrates feelings of inadequacy and helplessness when alone.

dependent variable (DV): in an experiment, the values of the variable that change as a result of manipulation of the independent variable.

depression (unipolar disorder): a type of mood disorder, characterised by persistent feelings of great sadness, hopelessness, worthlessness, guilt and a loss of interest in activities.

deprivation: a condition of having too little of something.

depth/distance (visual) perceptionthe capability to view the world three-dimensionally, utilising monocular and binocular cues to appraise depth and distance between objects.

descriptive statisticsthe description and summation of sets of scores in statistics

determinism: the assumption that all behaviour has specific causes.

developmental psychologyalso known as human development. It is the scientific study of the processes which underlie and control growth and change in behaviour over time.

deviant behavior: behavior that is a recognised violation of social norms.?

diagnosisthe identification and classification of a psychological disorder.

Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM): a multi-axial manual used for the classification, definition and description of mental health disorders.

diathesis-stress model: an explanation of mental disorders based on a combination of genetic vulnerability (diathesis) and environmental influences.

dichotic listening: utilised in attention research, whereby a different auditory message is simultaneously presented to each ear. Participants are required to repeat one of the messages whilst ignoring the other.

diencephalona part of the forebrain, containing the thalamus and the hypothalamus.

diffusion of responsibilityoccurs in groups when an individual feels less responsibility because accountability is diffused amongst the group. Evident in emergency situations, whereby the larger the number of bystanders, the less responsibility each bystander feels.

digit spana test of short-term memory, whereby participants are presented with a series of digits and asked to repeat them. Average digit span is 7 +/- 2.

directional hypothesisstates which of the two condition means will be larger, most often used, one tailed T-test.

discovery learninga Piagetian belief that children learn through self-discovery, aided by a teacher providing suitable materials, thereby stimulating intrinsic satisfaction.

discrete variable: measurement using of a discrete category (eg. Gender) as opposed to a continuous score (e.g height, weight, intelligence).

discrimination: unequal and unlawful treatment based upon race, colour, creed, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, veteran status, or sexual orientation.

disengagement theory: mutual process of disengagement in activities expected by the individual and by society.

disorganised speechone of the positive symptoms of schizophreniaa disturbance whereby speech is disjointed and incoherent.

displacementforgetting in short-term memory, as a result of to new incoming information replacing the previous contents

dispositional attributionwhen behavior is attributed to internal factors that are directly controllable by a person, e.g. an individuals effort or ability, as opposed to external factors (situational attributions), such as the weather or bad luck.

dissociative disorder: Is a condition, often caused by trauma, in which a person disconnects from a full awareness of self, time, or external circumstances as a defence against unpleasant realities or memories.

distal cause: a factor which has an indirect effect on behaviour, such as previous experiences in similar situations.

divided attentionthe ability to divide our attentional processing between more than one task.

dizygotic twins (non-identical twins): twins that develop from different zygotes (eggs) and only share about fifty percent of their DNA.

door-in-the-face techniquea technique used to induce compliancewhereby individuals are first asked a large favour, followed by a smaller favour, which is more likely to be followed.

dopaminea chemical neurotransmitter in the brain, important for learning and the experience of pleasure and reward.

dopamine hypothesisargues that schizophrenia is based on over-activity of synapses that depend on dopamine.

double-bind theorya theory of schizophrenia proposed by Bateson, which argues that faulty communication patterns within the family contribute to the onset of schizophrenia.

double-blind design: a form of experimental control, whereby both the subject and experimenter are kept uninformed about the purpose of the experiment, to reduce any forms of bias (in particular, experimenter bias).

Down’s syndromea chromosomal disorder that is characterised by low IQ levels.

dreaming: a stage of sleep typified by the experience of visual imagery and rapid eye movements (REM).

drive reduction theory (of motivation): Hull’s proposal that all behaviour is motivated and that motivation stems from the satisfaction of homeostatic drives (e.g. hunger and thirst). Stimuli (e.g. food and water) that decreases the drives subsequently reinforce the behaviour that led to them.

drug treatmentstreatment of psychological disorders that are based on biological explanations of abnormal behavior. Treatment includes anti-anxiety drugs, anti-depressant drugs and anti-bipolar drugs.

dysfunctional: functioning incorrectly or abnormally.

dyslexia‘developmental dyslexia’ is used to explain difficulties with written and spoken language (across differing levels of intellect) that occurs as a result of development, whilst acquired dyslexia?occurs as a result of a stroke or similar injury, whereby language skills are impaired.

echolalia: a condition often found in autisticchildren and catatonic schizophrenics, whereby individuals demonstrate a pathological repetition of other’s words, either immediately or delayed for hours or days.

efficacy: the effectiveness of a treatment used in medicine or psychotherapy.

ego: (Latin for ‘I’) in psychoanalysis, the part of personality that serves to mediate between id and superego, by directing instinctual drives and urges into appropriate channels.

egocentricity: evident at the preoperational stage, whereby a young child is unable to take the perspective of another person. Piaget’s ‘three mountains’ experiment is a test of egocentricity, as children are unable to see how the ‘mountains’ would look to a child at a different location.

elaborative rehearsal: the active processing of items to improve memory, through a variety of methods, from focusing on sensory characteristics (visual appearance, sound) to an emphasis on the semantic content (meaning) of information.

electroconvulsive shock treatment (ECT): the use of passing small amounts of electric current through the brain, inducing a convulsion or epileptic seizure, as an effective treatment for severe depression.

electroencephalograph (EEG): a non-invasive method of recording the electrical activity of the brain, by fixing electrodes to the scalp.

emancipation (psychological): The step by step development of the personality of a self-reliant mature individual. All good education guides towards mature self-reliance and  self-realisation.

emotion: an pattern of intense changes in physiological arousal, behavior, cognitive processes and environmental influences that are described in subjective terms such as happiness, fear or anger.

emotion-focused coping: aims to manage the negative effects of stress on the individual, through changing an emotional response.

emotional development: the development of a full range of emotions from sad to happy to angry, and learning to deal with them appropriately.

emotional state: the state of a person’s emotions (especially with regard to pleasure or dejection).

empathy: the ability to understand another person’s perceptions and feelings; cited by Rogers as a condition for growth.

empirical data: information derived from measurements made in “real life” situations (eg, field data).

encoding: changing sensory input into a mental representation in the memorysystem.

endocrine glands: glands which secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream.

endocrinologist: a specialist of the endocrine glands and hormone systems of the body. ie pituitary gland, adrenal gland, testes.

endogenous:caused by factors within the body or mind or arising from internal structural or functional causes.

endogenous pacemakers: inherited mechanisms important for the regulation of biological rhythms, particularly in the absence of external cues. The principal endogenous pacemaker in mammals is a small group of cells in the hypothalamus, known as the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN), which regulates the production of melatonin in the pineal gland.

endorphins: a neuropeptide which plays an important role in pain and mood states.

environmental stressors (aggressive behaviour): elements of the environment that give rise to anti-social behavior, by increasing arousal which subsequently may produce negative emotions and aggressive behavior. For instance, high temperatures, intense levels of noise, and crowding can produce high levels of aggression.

episodic memory: long-term memories for personal experiences and the contexts in which they occur.

equilibration: in Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, maintaining balance between the environment and the mental structures (schemas) which we use to represent that environment.

Erikson (1902-1994): psychoanalyst and proponent of developmental psychology. Proposed eight stages of psychosocial development from birth to death, for instance identity vs. role confusion.

ergonomics: the study of the ‘fit’ between human operators and their workplace, which can be used to design working environments that maximise user efficiency.

estimator variables: in witness testimony, variables that affect the accuracy of witness testimony, that the justice system has little control over, including weather and amount of time witness was at the scene

ethical guidelines: prescriptive guidance (e.g. clear guidelines published by the BPSon the conduct of psychologists in research and practice, to oversee what is acceptable within the pursuit of a specific goal, including informed consent, right to withdraw and debriefing.

ethical hedonism: the view that individuals engage in moral behaviour, such as altruism, because it provides some personal advantage.

ethics: a major branch of philosophy.  The study of principles relating to right and wrong conduct; Morality; The standards that govern the conduct of a person, especially a member of a profession.

ethnocentrism: the practice of researching or theorising from the perspective of a particular ethnic, national or cultural group.

euphoria: a feeling of happiness, confidence, or well-being sometimes exaggerated in mood disorders as mania.

evolutionary psychology: the application of evolutionary ideas, including the importance of behavioural and mental adaptiveness over millions of years, to help explain human behaviour.

excitatory: that tends to excite or causes excitation.

existential therapies: see humanistic therapies.

exogenous zeitgebers (‘time givers’): external events that help regulate biological rhythms, for instance, light and social stimuli (see also endogenous pacemakers).

extraneous variables: variables that make possible an alternative explanation of results; an uncontrolled variable.

expectancy/incentive approaches: in the study of motivation, these approaches explore incentives that produce goal-directed behaviour.

experiment: a test under controlled conditions made to either demonstrate a known truth, examine the validity of a hypothesis, or determine the efficacy of something previously untried.

experimental methods: systematically manipulate the independent variable to determine the effect upon the dependent variable. Extraneous variables that may influence the outcome of the experiment are rigorously controlled.

experimental group: participants in an experiment who receive the independent variable. The control group serves as a comparison group.

experimental psychology: is a field of psychology that typically involves laboratory research in basic areas of the discipline.

experimenter effects: when an experimenters behavior or characteristics influence participants, through subtle cues or signals, that can affect the performance or response of subjects in the experiment.

explicit memory: requires a conscious attempt to recall memory.

external validity: an extent to which research results can be generalised beyond the specific situation studied.

extinction: when the conditioned responses ceases to be produced, with the absence of a reinforcer or unconditioned stimulus.

extroversion: a dimension of personality, characterised by sociability, the tendency to engage in conversation with others and impulsiveness. Extroversion can be measured on the Introversion-Extroversion scale of the EPI (Eysenck Personality Inventory).

eyewitness testimony: the study of the accuracy of memory following an accident or crime, and an exploration of the types of errors commonly made.

Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI): a personality test designed to measure the traits of extroversion and neuroticism.

F scalea measuring instrument used by Adorno to measure the authoritarian personality, by exploring the extent to which people agree with statements such ‘Obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues children should learn.’

face recognitioninvolves the comparison of a perceived stimulus pattern with stored representations of familiar faces.

face validitythe extent to which the measure appears (at face value) to test what it claims to.

false memory debatesee recovered memories

false memory syndromesee recovered memories.

false negative (also called a Type II error): in inferential statistics, concluding that the observed results are due only to chance when in fact a significant effect exists

false positive (also called a Type 1 error): in inferential statistics, concluding that an observed outcome is significant when in fact it reflects only chance.

falsifiability: a criterion to evaluate a theory against, whereby the theory should state circumstances where it can be proven wrong.

family systems theory: the view of the family as a set of interacting and interdependent components.

fatigue effects: when participants become tired or bored if a demanding or repetitive task is repeated, resulting in deteriorating performance.

feature detection theoriesused to explain pattern recognition, proposes that images are processed in terms of their component parts, which then match the features of a pattern stored in memory.

feature processing: in visual perception, the ability to detect contours, crucial for object recognition.

feelings: the expression and sensation of emotion; created, expressed and stored in the emotional body.

Festinger (1919-1989): a renowned social psychologist who developed the theories of cognitive dissonance (whereby incongruity between beliefs or behaviours cause psychological discomfort) and social comparison theory.

field experimentsan experiment in a natural setting, rather than the comparatively artificial setting of the laboratory. Consequently, extraneous variables are difficult to control.

fight-or-flight responsea series of internal activities that are set off when an organism is faced with a threat, in preparation of defending or attacking (fight) or fleeing to safety (flight).

filial imprinting: the best known form of imprinting. When a young animal learns the characteristics of its parent. It is most obvious in nidifugous birds, who imprint on their parents and then follow them around.

filognosy: love for the knowledge of self-realisation as inspired by as well the western as eastern concepts of emancipation that together make for   the integrity of the different views, forms of logic and intelligence one finds in modern society on a global scale.

fixationin psychoanalytic theory, a preference for the mode of gratification associated with a particular stage of psychosexual development as a result of too much or too little gratification at that stage.

fixed interval schedule: a reinforcement applied on a systematic time basis, for instance, every four minutes.

fixed ratio schedulea reinforcement applied according to a number of predetermined responses, for instance one reinforcement for every three responses.

flashbulb memorymemory related to an emotionally arousing event.

floodinga behavioural therapy to treat phobias, through exposure to the feared object for an extended period of time, with no opportunity for escape.

fluid intelligencean abstract form of intelligence that includes the ability to analyse complex relationships, reason and find solutions to problems.

follow-up studycontinuing contact with participants after a study, in order to examine any long-term effects that may have arisen as a result of their participation.

foot-in-the-door techniquea method of compliance method, whereby people are more likely to comply if they initially agree to a small request, followed by a larger request later on. (see also door-in-the-face technique.)

forced-choice itema test where respondents select one of a number of differing responses, in order to reduce likelihood of socially desirable responses.

forebrainsee brain

forgetting: the inability to recall or recognise what has previously been remembered. Forgetting has been explained by a number of accounts ? trace-dependent forgetting (the memory trace is lost), cue-dependent forgetting (the lack of necessary cues to retrieve the memory), repression (painful memories are unconsciously repressed) or interference.

foveaa small area on the retinathat contains closely packed cones, onto which light from an object is focused upon.

frame of mind (state of mind): a temporary psychological state i.e. Mental or emotional attitude or mood.

fraternal twin: see dizygotic twin

free associationA psychodynamic technique, whereby a patient is encouraged to freely talk about their thoughts, wishes, experiences and mental images as they arise, in the hope of allowing preconscious content to surface in the consciousness.

free will vs determinismrefers to the debate between those who believe that external or internal factors acting upon the individual determine behaviour (determinism), and those that believe individuals respond actively to the outside world (free will).

frequency distributiona statistical analysis of a set of data reflecting how often each score occur. Frequency distributions can be represented in a number of graphical ways, including histograms.

Freud (1856-1939): the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology, emphasised the importance of the unconscious mind, childhood experiences and repressed urges. His theory of psychosexual development outlines five stages; oral, anal, phallic, latent and genital, according to the different objects fixated upon at each specific stage. Freud also focused on the structure and development of personality; comprised of three parts – the id, ego and superego. Conflicts between the id and superego are dealt with by the ego that utilizes ?a target=”_parent” href=””>defence mechanisms? for instance, denial. Furthermore, he applied a range of his ideas to dreams to understand unconscious desires, for instance, repressed urges often manifest in dreams through symbolic images. Freuds work, albeit controversial, has had a huge impact on psychology, in particular through psychoanalysis and his therapeutic techniques (e.g. free association).

Freudian slipa slip-up, either in speech, writing or in memory lapses that reflects the hidden worries or focus of the unconscious mind.

frontal lobe: the area of the cortex in front of the central fissure, and above the lateral fissure; involved in motor control and cognitive processes.

frontal lobotomy: an operation, popular in the 1940s and 1950s, which involved sectioning or removing sections of the frontal lobes, often to treat cases of bipolar mood disorder or chronic pain.

frustration-aggression theorya theory of aggression developed by Dollard and Miller which proposes that frustration ?whereby people are blocked or prevented from reaching their goals ?results in a great chance of aggression occurring.

fully functioning person: portrayed by Rogers as the ideal of growth; healthy growth is demonstrated by openness, a high level of spontaneity, compassion and self-direction.

functional fixednessin Gestalt theory, perceiving an object as having only one already established or associated use; an inability to identify a new use.

functional MRI (fMRI): brain imaging technique that scans by measuring magnetic changes in the flow of blood to cells in the brain.

fundamental attribution errorin attribution theory, the inclination to overemphasise the influence of dispositional factors (e.g. personality) and underestimating the role of situational factors (e.g. weather) on a persons behaviour.

galvanic skin response (GSR) a measure of the change in electrical resistance of the skin, commonly used as a measure of autonomic reaction and arousal.

genderterm commonly used to refer to the psychological characteristics (e.g. behaviour and attitudes) of being male and female (in contrast to ‘sex’ which refers to purely physiological characteristics).

gender identityan individual’s perception about whether they are male or female.

gender roles: a given culture or society’s acceptable set of attitudes and behaviours for each gender.

gene: biological units of heredity, crucial for transmitting traits.

general adaptation syndrome (GAS): a model, proposed by Hans Selye, depicting physiological mechanisms that occur in response to a stressor over an extended period of time. There are three stages: (a) alarm stage which activates an arousal response (e.g. to fight or flee); (b) resistance stage when body is attempts to cope with the stressor; (c) exhaustion stage takes place if the stressor continues over a long period of time, leading to physical symptoms such as stomach ulcers.

general intelligence (g): mental attribute that underlies a range of intellectual tasks. Proposed by Charles Spearman, who found that people that performed well on one type of mental ability test also tended to do well on other types of test.

generalisabilitythe extent to which findings based on an study using a sample of participants are representative of the target population or of other populations.

genetic: inherited; having to do with information that is passed from parents to children through genes in sperm and egg cells.

geneticsthe study of heredity of physical and psychological traits.

geniusa term used to describe a person with exceptional ability and creativity within a particular field, for instance intellect (by defining IQS of 140 + as the guideline for genius).

genital stage: in psychoanlaytic theory, the last stage of psychosexual development, when the main source of pleasure is the genitals.

genotypethe genetic code which is inherited and carried in DNA.

Gestalta German word (translated as configuration?or organised whole? that emphasises that the whole (whether of a person or image) is greater than the sum of its parts.

Gestalt psychology: approach that views psychological phenomena, such as perception, learning and thinking, as organised, structured wholes. For instance, the Gestalt approach to problem solving seeks the need for structural understanding in comprehending how different parts of the problem fit together to reach the goal.

Gestalt therapya therapy that considers all dimensions of a person’s life and experience, to stimulate personal growth and increased self-awareness, in order to develop a sense of the whole person.

goal state: in problem solving, the desired outcome of a problem.

gratification: is the positive emotional response (happiness) to a fulfilment of desire.

group dynamicsthe branch of social psychology that studies the psychodynamics of interaction in social groups.

group polarisationthe tendency for groups to shift to make more extreme decisions than decisions made independently by members of the group. If individual members of a group are already cautious in their attitude, they will demonstrate a shift toward an even more cautious attitude during group discussion within a like-minded group. When individuals are less cautious before group discussion, they are likely to show a shift towards more risky decisions.

group therapywhen therapeutic sessions are carried out in groups rather than individually, whereby the therapist acts as a facilitator amongst the group. Group therapy can help individuals feel less isolated and through fostering social interaction, are able to discuss with and help others.

groupthinkthe tendency for decision making groups to reach a conclusion that is extreme and which tend to be unwise or unrealistic, as a result of discounting information that is inconsistent with their view and expressing disapproval against any member who disagrees.

guilt: is a higher form of development than shame. Guilt has an internal punitive voice which operates at the level superego (an internalised punitive harsh parental figure). There are two kinds of guilt: Valid guilt and invalid guilt.

habit: a behaviour that develops as a result of experience and occurs almost automatically. For instance, behaviours that satisfy psychological cravings (through for example chain smoking).

habituation: the process whereby an organism’s response to repeated stimulitemporarily decreases.

hallucination: false perceptions that occur with the lack of relevant sensory stimuli, such as hearing voices.

halo effect: a form of perceptual bias which transpires when our rating of a person on one characteristic as being positive or negative of a person affects the rating of the individual on other characteristics (similarly positive or negative). For instance, if an individual is viewed as intelligent, the rater also perceives them to be friendly.

hardiness: personality factors (control, commitment and challenge) identified by Kobasa that help mitigate against negative effects of stress.

health behaviours: activities that maintain or improve health.

health promotion: refers to strategies and tactics that help enable people to gain control of, and therefore enhance, their health through changes in lifestyle and preventative practices, significantly reduce the risk of illness.

health psychology: area of psychology that aims to understand why people become ill, how they stay healthy and how they respond and cope with illness.

hedonic relevance: the likelihood of making a dispositional attribution if we are directly involved and the consequences are serious. Therefore, we are likely to overstate the influence of dispositional factors, and underestimate the importance of situational factors.

hedonism: a belief that all behaviour is, or should be, motivated toward the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

Heider (1896-1988): Austrian psychologist who focused on interpersonal relationships, proposing balance theory and attribution theory.

helping behaviour: see altruism (human) and bystander behaviour

heredity: the biological transmission of inherited characteristics from parents to offspring.

Heritability estimate: measured by H, the heritability ratio, a statistical estimate of the degree of inheritance of a specific trait or behavior, measured by the degree of similarity between individuals who share differing amounts of genetic similarity.

hertz:a measure of frequency, cycles per second.

heterosexuality: an attraction to the opposite sex.

heuristic: cognitive strategies, or rules of thumb? Heuristics provide informal strategies to aid problem solving, which are usually more successful than random search, but less effective than algorithms..

hierarchy of needs: Maslow’s model of basic human motives, which he saw as organised in a hierarchical structure; needs range from the bottom level ofphysiological (e.g. food, water, shelter) to the highest level – self-actualisation. Needs at each level of the hierarchy must be met before the next level can be achieved.

hippocampus: part of the limbic system, located in the medial temporal lobe. Important for spatial orientation and navigation, and is crucial for memory, in particular the transfer of information from short-term to long-term memory.

histogram: used to represent the distribution of scores for one set of data. The data must be numerical and there should be no gaps between the bars.

HIV (human immunodeficiency virus): a virus that attacks white blood cells in the blood, reducing the bodys ability to fight off illness. HIV causes AIDS and can be transmitted through unprotected sex, by drug users who use similar equipment and from an infected mother to her unborn child.

holistic: used to describe an approach that focuses on the whole person, rather than their constituent parts.

Holmes and Rahe (1967):  constructed the Social Readjustment Rating Scale to measure the impact of significant life events.

homeostasis: a state of equilibrium or balance of the internal conditions of the body.

homeostatic drive theory (of eating and drinking): refers to the proposition that eating and drinking are driven by internal homeostasis.

homosexuality: a term used to describe either sexual contact with members of the same sex, or a sexual preference for one’s own sex.

hormone: chemical messengers, secreted by the endocrine glands, that affect a range of aspects of metabolism and body functioning, for instance, mood and sexual characteristics.

hostile aggression: a form of aggression to cause intentional harm of injury to another person or object.

humanistic psychology: a perspective in psychology, that views every individual as unique and as possessing an inherent capacity for making rational choices, positive growth and ultimately, maximum potential.

humanistic therapies: treatment whereby the therapist seeks see the world through the clients perspective, and to allow the client to view their situations with greater insight and acceptance, with an ultimate goal of growth and fulfilment. Examples of humanistic therapies include client-centred therapy.

Huntington’s disease (HD): is a fatal heredity disease that destroys neurons in areas of the brain involved in the emotions, intellect, and movement.

hyperactivity: a higher degree of inappropriate motor activity than is considered typical for a particular age group. See Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD).

hyperfocus: is an intense form of mental concentration or visualisation that focuses consciousness on a narrow subject, or beyond objective reality and onto subjective mental planes, daydreams, concepts, fiction, the imagination, and other objects of the mind.

hypothetical: based on assumption rather than fact or reality.

hypnosis: the induction of an altered state of consciousness, manifested in a sleep-like state or of deep relaxation. Consequently, changes in perception,memory and self-control leave an individual more vulnerable to suggestion. The use of hypnosis in therapy still remains highly controversial, particularly with the occurrence of false memories being recovered?

hypothalamus: part of the brain that is crucial in control the autonomic nervous system, maintaining homeostasis and regulating motivated behavior (e.g. appetite) and hormonal functions.

hypothesis: a testable statement, predicting the relationship between two (or more) variables, which can be accepted or rejected as a result of the research outcome.

ICD: see International Classification of Disorders.

id: in psychoanalytic theory, the unconscious, pleasure part of the personality that operates irrationally and pursues primitives drives such as anger and hunger.

ideal self: in Rogers’s humanistic theory, an evolving construct which represents the goals and aspirations of an individual.

identical twins: see monozygotic twins.

idiographic: any approach or method in psychology that focuses on the individual rather than in the development of general laws of behavior (known as thenomothetic approach).

illogical: contrary to logic; lacking sense or sound reasoning.

illusion: perceptual experiences, through the senses, that are not true representations of the physical event.

illusory correlation: perceiving a relationship between variables where none exists.

imagination: is the ability to form mental images, or the ability to spontaneously generate images within one’s own mind.

imaging techniques: see CAT, MEG, MRI and PET scans.

imitation: the learning of behaviour through the observation of others behaviour; sometimes called ‘modelling’ or ‘observational learning’ .

implosion therapy: a behavioural therapeutic technique to reduce a clientsphobia, through requiring the client to imagine the fearful stimuli. This operates on the premise of experiencing the feared situation through imagination, but in the safe context of the therapy session, in order to remove the anxiety associated with the stimuli.

impression management theory: refers to our desire to make a favourable impression on other people. We may adjust our behavior to appear positively to others, for instance, doing favours for others.

imprinting: a primitive type of learning that occurs during the early part of an animal’s life, whereby an attachment is formed to another animal that is difficult to change (filial imprinting).

immune system: system of cells and chemicals within the body that defends against infection and disease, by seeking out and destroying harmful influences.

incentive: a stimulus that elicits goal directed behaviour.

incongruence: in Rogers’s theory, a mismatch between the self and ideal selfresults in a feeling of conflict or unease.

incubation: in the Gestalt model of problem solving, a process of pausing to actively work on a problem, in order to modify one’s mental set.

independent groups designs: used in experiments when separate groups of individuals participate in the different levels of the independent variable, so that each data set is independent of each other. Also known as a between subjects or unrelated design, as comparisons are made between groups rather than within them.

independent variable (IV): the variable that is manipulated in an experiment (e.g. type of words participants receive in a memory experiment) and consequently affects the dependent variable.

individualistic cultures: cultures where self-interest and individual rights are promoted, and is characterised by low levels of mutual interdependence between individuals, rather than the collective needs and interests of others.

induction: a process of reasoning based on forming general principles from specific observations.

inductive reasoning: is the process by which a conclusion is drawn about theprobability of psychological phenomena, based on evidence and past experience, from the specific to the general.

inferiority complex: in the fields of psychology and psychoanalysis, is a feeling that one is inferior to others in some way. Such feelings can arise from an imagined or actual inferiority in the afflicted person.

inferential statistics: procedures used to analyse empirical data to test if theindependent variable has had a significant effect upon the dependent variable, in order to either accept the hypothesis or to reject it, (thereby attributing the results to chance variation).  Tests include Chi-square, Binomial Sign, Wilcoxon Matched Pairs, Mann-Whitney Uand Spearman’s Rho.

informational (social) influence: occurs when we seek informational guidance from others in groups, as a result of the desire to be right.

informed consent: an ethical requirement that participants or clients should have sufficient information about an experiment or therapeutic intervention to enable them to make an informed judgement about whether or not to participate.

infradian rhythms: occur less frequently than once every 24 hours, for instance the human menstrual cycle.

in-group: a reference to any group of which we perceive ourselves to be a member, based on global dimensions (e.g. race, religion) or specific localised dimensions (e.g. friendship).

inhibition: 1) In reference to neurons, it is a synaptic message that prevents the recipient cell from firing. 2) In reference to behavior, restraint on instinctive impulses.

inhibitory: a process used to stop an action (stop a muscle from becoming stiff) by modifying sensory input.

innate: anything that is inherited or natural to an organism, existing at birth rather than acquired.

innovation (minority influence): a form of social influence, whereby the minority in a group have an influence over the majority. A number of conditions must be met, including holding a  clear and confident position.

insecure attachment: a form of attachment between infant and caregiver that develops as a result of the caregiver’s lack of sensitive responding to the infant’s needs. The two types of insecure attachment are insecure/avoidant (children who avoid social interaction with others) and insecure/resistant (seek and reject social interaction).

insomnia: the unusually prolonged inability to fall asleep or difficulty staying asleep.

instinct: inborn pattern of behavior often responsive to specific stimuli; “the spawning instinct in salmon”; “altruistic instincts in social animals”.

instrumental aggression: aggressive behavior that is goal directed in order to achieve specific aims.

intellect: the faculty of reasoning, knowing and thinking, as distinct from feeling; the understanding or mental powers of a particular person etc.

intellectual development: (Piaget) concluded that intellectual development is the result of the interaction of hereditary and environmental factors. As the child develops and constantly interacts with the world around him, knowledge is invented and reinvented. His theory of intellectual development is strongly grounded in the biological sciences. He saw cognitive growth as an extension of biological growth and as being governed by the same laws and principles. Piagetargued that intellectual development controlled every other aspect of development –  emotional, social, and moral.

intelligence: an underlying ability which enables an individual to adapt to and function effectively within a given environment.

intelligence quotient (IQ): IQ is calculated by dividing mental age by chronological age (and multiplying by 100 to give a whole number), in order to compare the mental age of a child compared with their chronological age. It is now directly calculated as an IQ test score.

interdependence: when two or more things depend on each other.

interference theory: refers to the process that occurs when incoming information disrupts memory traces

International Classification of Disorders (lCD): a classification system of mental disorders published by the World Health Organisation. Patterns of symptoms as opposed to aetiology or treatment are emphasised, as a result, the ICD is not used for diagnostic purposes.

inter-observer reliability: a measure of the extent to which different individuals generate the same records when they observe the same sequence of behaviour. By correlating the scores of observers we can measure inter-observer reliability: individuals (or groups) with highly correlated scores are demonstrating good interobserver reliability.

interpersonal attraction: the study of factors and processes involved in the attraction between two people. As such it covers a wide range of different forms of attraction, including friendships, sexual attraction and romantic love.

interquartile range: the spread of scores for the middle 50 per cent of scores.

interval data: data with equal intervals, but not an absolute zero.

interview: usually a verbal research method consisting of either open or closedended questions.

intrinsic motivation: motivation based on taking pleasure in an activity rather working towards an external reward.

introspection: the process by which a person looks inward at their own mentalprocesses in order to gain insight into their personalities.

introversion: a part of the introversion-extroversion personality dimension associated with the personality theory of Eysenck. Introversion is associated with a reluctance to seek the stimulation of social contacts and to be generally more passive and controlled than extroverts.

IQ: see intelligence quotient.

irrational: contrary to or lacking in reason or logic.

James-lange theory of emotion: the idea that the perception of an emotionarousing stimulus leads to a behavioural response that results in differing sensory and motor feedback to the brain, which is interpreted as an emotion.

jealousy: typically refers to the thoughts, feelings, and behaviours that occur when a person believes a valued relationship is being threatened by a rival. This rival may or may not know that he or she is perceived as a threat.

Jung (1875-1961): A Swiss psychologist, founder of analytical psychology. Jung placed importance on a hypothetical collective unconsciousand explored the symbolic nature of dreams. His work also included exploring the psyche through three principles; the principle of opposites, equivalence and

just world hypothesis: the assumption that the world is a fair and just place in which people receive what they deserve.

Kelley (1921-2003): was a social psychologist, focusing on interpersonal relationships and contributing to attribution theory – how individuals ‘attribute’ causes to events, for instance a “situational” or “dispositional” factor.

kin altruism: in evolutionary psychology, the concept that individuals help those who are close relatives, because it fosters the transmission of their genes.

kinaesthetics: a term used to describe the response and feedback from movement sensations in the muscles or joints.

kinship (family) studies: research that examines correlations of traits or behaviours between individuals who share differing degrees of genetic similarity.

Klinefelter’s syndrome: see XXV syndrome.

knowledge: the psychological result of perception and learning and reasoning.

Kobasa: (1979): examined resistance to stress, in particular “hardiness” to stress, characterised by commitment, control and challenge.

Korsakoff’s syndrome: a type of amnesiacommonly found in chronic alcoholics, caused by a lack of Vitamin D (thiamine).

laboratory experiments: conducted in a laboratory or a rigorously controlled environment, whereby the independent variable is manipulated, whilst all other extraneous variables are strictly controlled.

language acquisition: the processes by which children acquire or develop human language.

Language Acquisition Device (LAD): an innate mechanism that aids language development, through recognising grammatical structure.

language development: the study of the acquisition of languagewith emphasis on the development of four sub-systems of language ?phonology, semantics, pragmatics and tense and gender.

latency stage : Freud’s fourth stage of psychosexual development whereby sexual preoccupations are repressed, children focus on interact with same sex peers.

latent content : term used in Freud’s stages of psychosexual development, to signify the underlying or hidden content represented in dreams.

lateral thinking: an approach to problem solving whereby an individual looks at a problem from many different perspectives to seek to find the best solution.

lateralisation of function: refers to the distribution of functions across the two hemispheres of the brain. For instance, language ability is localised in the left hemisphere.

law of effect: a principle of learning put forward by Thorndike, which proposes that whenever a response is followed by a reward, it is strengthened and therefore more likely to be repeated.

Lazarus (1922-2002): a hugely influential psychologist who focused on the study of cognition, in particular appraisal of emotion and stress, and coping mechanisms in response to stress.

leadership: the ability of an individual or member of a group to influence other group members, in achieving group goals. A variety of characteristics have been proposed to contribute to a successful leader, including cognitive ability, charisma, and leadership motivation.

leading questions: are questions subtly communicate to the respondent to answer in a particularly way, which results in a biased answer or recall of an event. Commonly used to illustrate how memory recall can be altered after eyewitness testimony.

learned helplessness: non-responsiveness demonstrated when there is a perception of possessing a lack of control over a situation, after experience of non-contingent, unavoidable negative stimuli.

learning: a change in behavior, knowledge and skills, from interaction with the environment and experience.

least preferred co-worker theory (LPC): examines how a leader prioritises work tasks and relationships, by asking leaders to either favourably or unfavourably evaluate the person who they found difficult to work with. High LPC leader used more favourable terms to describe the LPC, and vice versa for the low LPC. High LPC leaders commonly have close and warm relationships, often prioritising a relationship before a task, whereas low LPC leaders often put the task first and will only consider relationships once work is acceptable.

lesioning: injury or destruction of brain tissue.

level of measurement:  the type of data collected; nominal, order, interval or ratio, which subsequently affects the inferential statistic used.

levels of processing theory: Craik and Lockhart’s theory that the ‘deeper’ information is processed, the more likely it is to be retained in memory.

libido: in psychoanalysis, a term used to represent energy that comes from the id, typically energy driven towards achieving sexual pleasure.

life events: refer to events that require a significant adjustment in a person’s life, for instance divorce, moving house etc. Quantified on the Holmes and Rahe “Social Readjustment Rating Scale” whereby respondents indicate the events (differing scores allocated according to greater adjustment required) that have been experienced over the previous twelve months.

light adaptation: the process by which the eye adjusts to increasing levels of light intensity, whereby the pupil shrinks and cones function to aid the adjustment.

Likert scalea type of response format used in surveys developed by Rensis Likert. Likert items have responses on a continuum and response categories such as “strongly agree,” “agree,” “disagree,” and “strongly disagree.”

limbic system: exists in mammals only. It is a series of subcortical structures which connect the cortex with other parts of the brain and which are important in regulating emotional and motivation behavior and memory. Structures within the limbic system include the thalamus, hypothalamus, amygdala and hippocampus.

localisation of function: the assumption that specific functions (e.g. movement control, language production) are associated with specific brain areas.

locus of control:  the extent to which people believe they have control over situations in their life. An internal locus of control refers to the belief that actions and consequences are under an individual control (e.g. through hard work), whereas an external locus of control refers to consequences occurring as a result of external circumstances.

logic: (from Classical Greek λόγος logos; meaning word, thought, idea, argument, account, reason, or principle) is the study of the principles and criteria of valid inference and demonstration.

logical empiricism: in philosophy of science, the assumption that it is possible to compare and evaluate theories in terms of how well they account for the evidence.

logotherapy: a theory of development and therapy developed by Frank, which proposes that finding a meaning for life is crucial for individual growth and happiness.

long-term memory (LTM): enduring memories that retain and preserve information for later retrieval over long periods. Long-term memory includes episodic memory (memory of the personal episodes), semantic memory (memory of knowledge); declarative memory (knowing ‘that’ and procedural memory(knowing ‘how’.

longitudinal study: a research method that examine changes in the same group of participants through repeated testing over an extended period of time.

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): is a painless diagnostic tool which uses a magnetic field and radio waves to see inside the body without using x-rays or surgery; a computer then interprets the radio waves and creates a picture of the internal body tissues.

maladaptive behavior: behavior that bring stress.

manic depressive disorder: see bipolar disorder/depression

manifest content: in Freud’s theory of dreams, the superficial, symbolic form of a dream which the conscious mind is aware of, both during sleep and on waking, which is assumed to hide the true meaning.

mania: an emotional state typified by intense elation, unrestricted euphoria, hyperactivity, excessive talkativeness, grandiose feelings or thoughts and disrupted thought processes.

Mann-Whitney U test: A non-parametric inferential statistical test. Employed with ordinal data and independent groups.

Maslow (1908-1970) : a humanistic psychologist who proposed humanistic psychology as a third force?in reaction to the perspectives of psychoanalysis andbehaviourism, and the belief that humans are essentially good. Maslows ‘hierachy of needs’proposes a psychological structure of needs and tendencies, whereby basic needs (e.g. hunger) must be satisfied before higher needs (e.g. self-esteem) can be achieved, towards an ultimate goal of self-actualisation.

matched pairs design : participants in different conditions are matched according to certain characteristics, e.g. age or gender.

maternal deprivation: children deprived of maternal care and love in early childhood are likely to suffer some degree of emotional, social or intellectualretardation in later life. Prolonged separation (resulting in an attachment bond breaking) was proposed by Bowlby to cause the deprivation syndrome.

maturation: processes in development which seem to be relatively independent of environmental influences, such as depth perception and walking; implied in the term is the assumption that the characteristics are governed by heredity.

mean: measure of central tendency, calculated by the total sum of all the scores, divided by the total number of scores.

median: measure of central tendency that utilises the mid-point of the ranked data.

means-ends analysis: a type of problem solving strategy that is used in computer programs, whereby problems are broken down into their constituent parts and then solved in turn until the solution is found.

measure of dispersion: a measurement of the spread or variability in a set of scores.

medical model: a theory of abnormal behaviour which assumes that all such disorders have physiological causes.

medical model of abnormality: views mental disorders as having physiologicalcauses , e.g. genetic and biochemical.

meditation: refers to techniques that focus the mind and promote a state of calmness so that the mind and body can be brought into greater harmony to facilitate health and healing.

medulla: a small region of the brain stem, that regulates basic bodily processes including breathing and the heartbeat.

MEG (magnetoenecephalography): non-invasive technique for visualising (imaging) the brain by recording tiny magnetic fields produced by active neurons.

melancholia: originally first described by the Greeks and Romans, and characterised by a deep and persistent sadness and now corresponds closely to depression.

memory: the capacity to encode, retain, store and retrieve information.

mental: refers to the mind, the collective aspects of intellect and consciousness.

mental set: in Gestalt theory , the schema used to organise perception of a new problem.

mental age: the level of intellectual functioning which is suitable for children of a particular age. Typically, mental age is equivalent to chronological age, but if a child is of lower/higher intelligence the mental age will be accordingly lower/higher than chronological age.

mental disorders: anxiety disorders, conduct disorder, depressive disorders,oppositional defiant disorder, pervasive development disorder or Tourette’s syndrome.

mental health: a state of psychological and emotional well-being that enables an individual to work, love, relate to others effectively, and resolve conflicts.

mental retardation: individuals who have significantly below average intellectualfunctioning, with IQ scores of 70-75 or below, combined with inability to use adaptive skills.

mere exposure effect: the higher the levels of exposure to a stimulus, the more likely we are to develop a greater attraction to it.

meta-analysis: a statistical technique that involves combining and analysing the data of a number of independent studies.

metabolic: pertaining to all chemical functions within the body.

method of loci: a technique to increase memory effectiveness through memorising a series of different locations (such as rooms in a house) and then imagining an item to be remembered at each location. Items are then recalled by mentally “walking through” the house and “seeing” the item.

midbrain: a region of the brain that relays sound input to the auditory cortex.

milieu therapy: a humanistic approach to the treatment of psychological disorders that emphasises the importance of an institution in recovery. An environment is created whereby staff and patients are viewed as equal, and an atmosphere is fostered of self-respect.

Milgram (1933- 1984): an influential social psychologist who is best known for his controversial study on obedience to authority, under conditions whereby obeying conflicts with personal conscience.

mind: collectively refers to the aspects of intellect and consciousness manifested as combinations of thought, perception, memory, emotion, will and imagination; mind is the stream of consciousness. It includes all of the brain’s consciousprocesses.

minority influence: the effect when a persuasive minority exerts pressure to change the attitudes, beliefs or behaviours of the majority. Minorities are most influential when they appear consistent and principled.

misattribution: a mistaken attribution of an emotional response to a cause that did not produce it.

mitosis: a type of cell division within the body, whereby cells divide into other cells, each with the full set of chromosomesEach of these cells receives an exact copy of the chromosomes in the original cell. During development, mitosis occurs again and again, until finally the adult organism is created.

mnemonics: techniques that improve memory, often through using existing familiar information (e.g. imagery) during the encoding of new information to aid later retrieval and access. See method of loci.

mock juries: a group of participants who are required to imagine and act as members of a jury, to investigate factors affecting the decision making process.

mode: the score that occurs most frequently within a data sample.

modelling: the term used by Bandura to describe the process of learning and socialisation, through observing and imitating others.

monism: the view that mind and body are a single unit.

monozygotic (identical) twins: twins that develop from the same zygote (egg) and therefore share 100 percent of their genes.

mood: mental or emotional state.

mood disorders: a mood disturbance, characterised by emotional extremes, alternating between extreme depression and mania.

moral development: the process through which children learn to understand the differences between right and wrong and can make independent decisions on moral issues.

morality: in the strictest sense of the word, deals with that which is innatelyregarded as right or wrong. The term is often used to refer to a system of principles and judgments shared by cultural, religious, and philosophical concepts and beliefs, by which humans subjectively determine whether given actions are right or wrong.

moral realism: part of Piagets theory of moral development, whereby children understand that the rules of adults are firm and unquestionable.

moratorium: a term devised by Erikson to describe a period during which adolescents consider various values and goals, in order to understand and establish their own individual identity.

mores: refers to standards of behaviour or customs that are appropriate within a society, and accepted by the majority.

morpheme: the smallest significant unit of speech that conveys meaning.

motivation: an internal state that arouses, drives and directs behaviour, that have been accounted for by physiological explanations (e.g. internal drives such as hunger), behavioural explanations and psychological explanations (e.g. for complex human behaviours, such as the need for achievement).

motive: a specific need or desire, such as hunger or achievement, that energizes and directs behavior.

motor neuron: nerves that transmit messages from the central nervous system (i.e. spinal cord or brain) to individual muscle cells .

MRI: see magnetic resonance imaging.

multiaxial diagnosis: used in the DSM classification system of mental disorders, whereby patients are assessed on a variety of axises (e.g. clinical conditions, psychosocial and environmental factors)

multimodal therapy: a cognitive behavioural therapy developed by Lazarus, which aims to consider all aspects of a disorder. To be effective, seven different dimensions, represented by BASIC IB?(behavior, affects, sensations, images, cognitions, interpersonal relationships, and biological functioning) must be focused on and treated.

multiple personality disorder (MPD): a dissociative disorder, whereby two or more distinct and separate personalities are manifested within the same individual, each displaying different interests, memories and behaviour patterns.

multi-store model of memory: devised by Atkinson and Shiffrin, represents memory as a flow of information in a set sequence between a rigid set of structures, including sensory memory, short-term memory and long-term memory.

myelin sheath: a layer of fatty tissue that covers the axons of nerve cells, insulating the axon from other axons and to increase the conduction of nerve impulses along the axon.

narcolepsyan uncommon sleep disorder, narcolepsy is marked by recurring irrepressible attacks of sleep during normal waking hours, as well as by cataplexy, sleep paralysis and hallucinations.

nativismthat aspects of cognitive processes and behaviour are innate.

natural experiment:   experiment whereby the researcher cannot directly control the independent variable nor participant allocation to conditions.

naturalistic observation: a study whereby the observer does not manipulate any variables within a natural setting where behaviour takes place, by merely observing and recording. Observational technique can be divided into participant observation (where the researcher takes contributes to a groups behaviour, whilst participants are unaware of the observers true purpose or identity) and non-participant observation (whereby the researcher remains inconspicuous).

natural selection: a principle of Darwins theory of evolution that animals that have adapted better to their envir onment allows some members of a species to produce more offspring that others, as a result of possessing advantageous traits that improve survival chances and increase reproductive success.

nature vs nurture: a debate within psychology that explores the extent to which specific aspects of behaviour are inherited or learnt as a result of environmental influences.

negative correlation: a relationship between two measured variables where as one variable increases the other variable decreases.

negative emotions: can be described as any feeling which causes you to be miserable and sad. These emotions make you dislike yourself and others, and take away your confidence.

negative reinforcementin operant conditioning, a method to increase the probability and strength of a response by removing or withholding an aversive stimuli  (negative reinforcer)

negative-state reliefproposal that we assist others in order to alleviate negative feelings, for instance to lessen feelings of guilt or sadness.

negative symptoms: in abnormal psychology, particularly with reference to schizophrenia, deficits in functioning that reveal the absence of expected behaviours, for instance, flat affect and limited speech.

neo-Freudiana term that is used to characterise a group of Freudian-influenced psychologists who, whilst accepting the concept of unconscious conflict, disagree over the extent of the influence of bodily pleasures or frustrations and have placed greater emphasis on other aspects of behaviour and experience. Famous neo-Freudians include Adler and Jung.

neonate research: investigations carried out using newborn infants.

nerve impulsethe electrical signal produced when a neuron is active, which passes from the dendrites, along the axon, to the specific terminals.

neurological disorderdisturbance in structure or function of the nervous system resulting from developmental abnormality, disease, injury, or toxin.

neuron(‘nerve cell’) a cell of the nervous system that functions to receive and communicate information to other cells .

neurophysiologystudy of the workings of the nervous system including brain function.

neuroscience:a branch of psychology, also called physiological psychology. Neuroscience is the study of the functioning of the nervous system which includes the structures and functioning of the brain and its relationship to behaviour.

neurosis: a mental or personality disturbance not attributable to any known neurological or organic dysfunction.

neuroticism:is a fundamental personality trait in the study of psychology. It can be defined as an enduring tendency to experience negative emotional states.

neurotransmitterchemical messengers released by the terminals of a neuron which cross between the synapses of neurons, to have an excitatory or inhibitory effect on an adjacent neuron.

neutral stimulus: in classical conditioning, a stimulus which initially fails to elicit a response, but as conditioning continues, becomes a conditioned stimulus.

Nietzsche (1844-1900): Nineteenth-century philosopher.

nominal data: data that is organised on the basis of category.

nomotheticrefers to a perspective or method that attempts to establish general patterns of behaviour that can be extended to all members of a population.

non-conformityrefers to situations whereby an individual withstands the tendency to conform to the attitudes, judgements or behaviour of the majority.

non-directional hypotheses (two-tailed hypotheses): states that the independent variable will have an effect upon the dependent variable, but does not specify the direction (e.g. higher/lower scores) of effect upon the dependent variable.

non-invasive procedures: procedures (e.g. MRI, PET scans) for imaging the brain do not require direct contact and interference with brain tissue.

non-participant observationthe observer remains inconspicuous so that the behaviour of the participants is not affected.

non-verbal communicationgenerally referred to as ‘body language’ by non-psychologists, refers to any form of communication that is not conveyed through verbal or written language, for instance posture and facial expressions.

Norepinephrine or ‘noradrenaline’a neurotransmitter that is important in the regulation of mood; disturbances in its tracts have been implicated in depression and mania.

normal distributiona type of frequency distribution which is represented by a symmetrical, bell-shaped curve, whereby the mean, mode and median all lie at the highest point of the curve.

normative influencean explanation of conformity which occurs as a result of a desire to be accepted in a group and liked by others.

null hypothesisthe hypothesis that any difference between the independent and dependent variables merely occur as a result of chance, rather than as any significant effect of the independent variable.

object permanence: an understanding that objects that continue to exist, despite being hidden from sight or awareness. An important cognitive concept that, according to Piaget, does not develop until infants are eight months old or more.

objectivity: conducting an investigation and collecting data without the process being influenced by personal interpretation or bias.

observation: used to describe a situation where an observer records behaviour demonstrated by a participant. An observation does not involve manipulation of an independent variable, but simply allows the observation of relationships between variables as they occur. Observation includes a variety of differing types of observation including naturalistic observation, participant and non-participant observation.

observational learning: a process of socialisation that takes place as a result of an individual observing and imitating the behaviour of another person who serves as a model, as opposed to through direct experience. See modelling.

observational learning: a process of socialisation that takes place as a result of an individual observing and imitating the behaviour of another person who serves as a model, as opposed to through direct experience. See modelling.

observer bias: the tendency for observers to record data that may be biased as a result of personal expectations (e.g. awareness of the hypothesis) or motives, rather than recording what actually happens.

obsessions: irrational thoughts and images that are normally unfounded, but over which a person may appear to have little control over, and which may ultimately affect the normal functioning of a person.

obsessive-compulsive disorder:  an disorder characterised by obsessions (uncontrollable, persistent and irrational thoughts or wishes) and compulsions(repetitive ritualistic acts).

occipital lobe: the rearmost region of the each cerebral hemisphere, located behind the parietal lobe and above the temporal lobes. Crucial for the processing of visual information.

occupational psychology: branch of psychology that focuses on human beings in the workplace, including job satisfaction, leadership, selection and recruitment of staff and the effect of different working conditions upon performance.

Oedipal conflict: in Freud’s theory of development, the major conflict associated with the phallic stage which challenges the developing ego; class=”d-title” named after the Greek story of Oedipus, who unknowingly killed his father and married his mother.

Oedipus complex: a term devised by Freud, to describe the intense sexual love that a young boy develops toward his mother, which is followed by jealousy and rivalry with his father to seek the attention and affection of the mother. The son subsequently demonstrates castration anxiety, fearing that his father might castrate him for his incestuous feelings towards his mother, and so represses his feelings and identifies with his father.

offender profiling: a technique used based on an examination of the crime scene, including how the crime was committed, and a consideration of previous offender profiles, to build and predict a detailed description (including socio-demographiccharacteristics) of a criminal offender.

one-tailed hypothesis: see directional hypothesis.

ontogeny: the evolution (i.e. the origin and development) of an individual organism, from conception to death.

open-ended questions: questions that do not contain fixed, pre-determined responses, that allow a respondent to answer relatively freely.

operant conditioning: a form of learning that is determined by consequences that either reinforce or punish particular behaviours, that can increase or decrease the probability of the behaviour.

operation: the act of something being carried out.

Operation Headstart: an enrichment intervention programme used in the US in the 1960s for preschool children, aimed at changing the effects of social disadvantage.

operational definition: a definition of a variable or condition on the basis of the exact operation or procedure that determines its existence and makes it usable. Variables can be identified by factors that are manipulated or measured.

opportunity sample: sampling technique not based on random selection orprobability; the researcher selects those who are convenient to him or her as respondents.

oppositional defiant disorder: a disruptive pattern of behavior of children and adolescents that is characterised by defiant, disobedient, and hostile behaviours directed toward adults in positions of authority.

optic nerve: a group of fibres, comprised of the axons of ganglion cells, that leave the eyeball, carrying information from the eye towards the brain.

optimal mismatch theory: based on Piagets theory of intellectual development, aims to accelerate learning by ‘mismatching’ a child’s current level of competence with a set of problems slightly more complex than this level. If there is a correct, optimal?difference between what they can do, and what is being asked of them, children then experience a cognitive conflict and seek to find solutions through their own actions.

oral stage: the first stage in Freud’s theory of development, from birth to about 15 months, when the primary source of gratification is stimulation of the mouth and lips.

order effects: differences in participants performance that occurs as a result of participants experiencing different conditions in a specific order. Subsequently, learning and practice effects can arise (whereby participants adapt and improve on later measurements) or fatigue effects (resulting in a decline in performance on later measures).

ordinal data: data that can be rank-ordered, but intervals between ranks are not necessarily equal.

ordinate: when plotting data on a graph, the ordinate refers to information on the vertical or y axis of the graph. The dependent variable is plotted on this axis.

organ of corti: a receptive organ in the inner ear, whereby sound waves are changed into nerve impulses.

organic disorder: a disorder with a known physiological cause. For instance, schizophrenia has been linked to enlarged brain ventricles and excessivedopamine.

Origin of Species: the book in which Darwin proposed his theory of evolution in 1859.

outcome study: a technique for exploring how successful a therapeuticintervention has been. For instance, an experimental group who has been given a drug may be compared to a control group that received a placebo.

out-group: individuals who are not members of, and are not accepted by the in-group.

overcompensation: a Freudian defence mechanism, whereby an individual attempts to offset weakness in an area of their lives by focusing on another aspect of it.

pain management: the various measures and techniques employed to control and reduce pain.

panic disorder: classified under DSM as an anxiety disorder, sufferers experience attacks?that are unpredictable, and involve intense feelings of apprehension, anxiety and fear, and physiological symptoms of chest pain, dizziness and heavy breathing.

paralinguistics: refers to how something is said rather than what is said, including pauses and tone of voice.

parallel processing: an explanation of information processing, whereby two or more mental processes can be carried out simultaneously.

paranoia: is a disturbed thought process characterised by excessive anxiety or fear, often to the point of irrationality and delusion.

paranoid schizophrenia: a subcategory of schizophrenia, whereby an individual possesses an organised and systematic set of delusions or hallucinations, including that of persecution or jealousy.

parapsychology: refers to a branch of psychology that seeks to explain the paranormal (which cannot be explained in terms of normal sensory experience)

parasympathetic nervous system: combined with the sympathetic nervoussystem, comprises the autonomic nervous system of the body. The parasympathetic system is antagonistic to the sympathetic nervous system, by conserving and restoring bodily energy to restore the organism to a state of calm and relaxation.

parietal lobe: the region of the cortex behind the frontal lobe and above the lateral fissure, containing the somatosensory cortex, important for the sense of touch.

Parkinson’s disease: a degenerative neurological disorder, typified by difficulties in movement, for instance a continual rapid tremor in the limbs, a lack of sensory-motor co-ordination and a tendency to be continually tired. The condition is thought to be caused by problems in the production of the neurotransmitter dopamine.

parsimony: in the philosophy of science, the principle that the simplest possible explanation should always be sought for any event.

partial reinforcement: in operant conditioning, a contingency of reinforcement whereby a response is rewarded or punished only some of the time.

participant: (‘subjecf) in research, an individual who is the object of study or who participates in an experiment.

participant observation: a research method involving direct participation of the researcher in the events being studied.

participant variables: confounding effects that result from the characteristics of the participants that may influence the results, such as differences in age, memory, gender, state of hunger or level of arousal.

paternal deprivation:  loss of the father, or growing up without a steady father figure may have deprivation effects, including a range of emotional and social disturbances depending on the nature and length of the absence.

pathological: the quality of being diseased or dysfunctional. Sigmund Freud’spsychological theories describe and diagnose the sources of pathological social behavior in individuals.

pattern recognition: the process by which we transform and organise the raw sensory information into a meaningful whole.

Pavlovian conditioning: see classical conditioning.

peak experience: proposed by Maslow, a temporary, profound and intense experience of enhanced awareness, frequently accompanied by feelings of feeling fully alive.

peer: an individual who is in some way equal to the person with whom they are being compared on a specific dimension.

peer group: a social unit of (typically) same-age peers who share common values and standards of behaviour.

perception: the process of selection, meaningful organisation and interpretation of information from the senses.

perceptual constancy: the tendency for objects to provide the same perceptual experience despite changes in the retinal image, e.g. size constancy.

perceptual defence: a phenomenon whereby words that have a high degree of emotional content or might be considered ‘taboo’ are perceptually recognised less easily than neutral valence words.

perceptual development: the systematic development and maturation of perceptual abilities and processes over time.

perceptual organisation: processes that combine incoming sensory information into a coherent, meaningful perceptual experience. For instance, the ability to perceive patterns and to judge size and distance in a three-dimensional scene.

peripheral nervous system: nerves outside the spinal cord and brain (not part of the central nervous system).

persecution: to be badly treated, oppressed or harassed usually because of beliefs, gender, race, religion or sexual orientation.

personal space: the physical region around us that we deem to be our own, in order to regulate interactions with others.

personality: a set of qualities that make a person (or thing) distinct from another.

personality disorder: a group of disorders characterised by pathological trends in personality structure. It may show itself by lack of good judgment or poor relationships with others, accompanied by little anxiety and no personal sense of distress.

personality inventory:  a self-report questionnaire that is designed to measure personality characteristics, through questions on personal thoughts, feelings and behaviours. The Eysenck Personality Inventory (EPI) measures personality along the dimensions of neuroticism – stability and extroversion – introversio n.

person-centred therapy:  See client-centred therapy

persuasion: intentional efforts to alter attitudes.

pervasive development disorder (PDD): refers to a group of five disorders characterised by delays in the development of multiple basic functions includingsocialisation and communication. The most commonly known PDD is autism.

PET (positron emission tomography) scans: a technique for imaging brain activity by recording the extent of metabolic activity in different regions of the brainduring different cognitive or behavioural activities, through injecting a radioactive substance.

phallic stage: the third stage of development in Freud’s theory, from about 3 to 5 years of age, during which the source of gratification is focused on the genitals.

phantom limb: a mysterious phenomenon experienced by amputees who often continue to experience sensations which seem to originate from the missing limb.

phenomena: in the scientific sense, a phenomenon is an observable occurrence, pattern, or relationship between events.

phenomenological: pertaining to the way things appear or are experienced; in the humanistic approach, a reference to the emphasis on an individual’s perceptionsand feelings as defining the meaning of their behaviour.

phenotype: the observed characteristics of the individual, that manifest as a combination of genetic and environmental influences.

philosophy:  is the study of general and fundamental problems concerning matters such as existence, knowledge, truth, justice, beauty, validity, mind, and language.

philosophy of mind: is the branch of philosophy that studies the nature of themind, mental events, mental functions, mental properties, consciousness and their relationship to the physical body, particularly the brain.

philosophy of perception: concerns how mental processes and symbols depend on the world internal and external to the perceiver.

philosophy of science: is the study of assumptions, foundations, and implications of science.

philosophical: of or pertaining to philosophy; a certain critical, creative way of thinking.

phobic disorders (phobias): a type of anxiety disorder, of a persistent and irrational fear of an object or situation that is often unreasonable and unfounded in proportion to the threat, and which may interfere with an individuals function in daily life.

phoneme: minimal units of speech, that create differences in speech production and reception.

phylogeny: evolution and development of a species. See ontogenywhich refers to the evolution and development of an individual organism.

physical (physiological) dependence: a state where the body has adapted to and has become dependent on drugs, and sudden absence can result in withdrawal.

physiological: relating to the way that living things function rather than to their shape or structure.

physiologists: scientists who study living organisms and how their parts work.

Piaget (1896-1980): a Swiss developmental psychologist whose work has had a huge influence on psychology and education. Piaget defined four sequential stages of cognitive development; the sensorimotor, preoperational, concrete operational and formal operational stages, each characterised by different ways of thinking. Through development a child develops ?a target=”_blank” href=””>schemas? (mental representations), which are used to solve new problems (?a target=”_blank” href=””>assimilation? and existing schema is also changed to solve new experiences (“accommodation”.

Piagetian: of, relating to, or dealing with Jean Piaget or his writings, theories, or methods especially with respect to child development.

Piliavin (1969): completed a famous experiment demonstrating diffusion of responsibility by exploring factors that influence helping behavior of bystanders.

pituitary gland: a small gland located next to the hypothalamus, which regulates many endocrine functions, including the secretion of growth hormones, and secretes hormones that in turn trigger hormone secretions in other glands. For instance, a hormone called ACTH is released during stress, which in turn triggers the release of steroids from the cortex of the adrenal glands.

placebo: a chemically inert substance administered instead of a real drug.

placebo effect: when participants display improvements after being administered a placebo, on the belief that it has beneficial powers even though it has none.

pleasure principle: Freuds proposal that humans are motivated to achieve immediate and maximal pleasure, regardless of the cost.

pons: the pons trigger dreaming and awakening from sleep.

population: (or target population) the entire group to which the results of the study are intended to apply to and from which those individuals selected to participate in the study will be drawn.

positive correlation: a relationship between two measured variables where as one measure increases the other measured variable increases too.

positive regard: see unconditional positive regard.

positive reinforcement: in operant conditioning, a process of increasing the likelihood of a response by immediately following the response with a desirable stimulus (a positive reinforcer).

positive symptoms: behaviours related to a mental disorder which do not occur in healthy persons; for example, hallucinations in schizophrenia.

posthypnotic amnesia: a subject’s inability to remember something that happened while they were hypnotised.

post-traumatic stress disorder: a type of anxiety disorder that arises as a consequence of the experience of a traumatic event, such as a life-threatening event. Symptoms typically involve a persistent re-experience of the event, through hallucinations, recollections, flashbacks, increased anxiety and guilt.

postsynaptic: in a synapse, of or pertaining to the neuron that bears receptors forneurotransmitter released into the synaptic cleft by the presynaptic neuron.

preconscious: thoughts, experiences, and memories not in a persons immediate attention but that can be called into awareness at any moment.

predictive validity: an indicator of validity based on whether a test can accurately predict future performance on the measure in question.

prejudice: a learned negative attitude, comprised of negative affective and stereotypes towards a person or group. Behavioural manifestation is labelled ‘discrimination’

presynaptic: refers to the axonal end of the neuron where the synapse may beinhibited or stimulated to release neurotransmitters.


primacy effect: information presented first to a participant is more likely to be remembered than material subsequently presented.

primary carer: the individual that holds primary responsibility for the care of an infant, often the biological mother.

primary prevention: strategies that aim to prevent disease in currently healthy individuals, by focusing on the development of good health habits and discouraging poor ones.

primary reinforcer: reinforcers based on innate biological significance, such as food or water.

priming: a phenomenon whereby previous exposure to a word or situation, improves implicit memory and increases the activation of associated thoughts or memories.

pro-attitudinal behaviour: a tendency for people to behave in a manner that is consistent, with existing, underlying attitudes.

probability: a numerical measure of the chance that something will happen, expressed as a number between 1 (certainty) and 0 (impossibility). A probability of 0.05 is typically used in psychological investigations to represent the probability of an effect found occurring if the null hypothesis is true, ie. The results are purely due to chance factors.

procedural memory: memory for how-to?information, that we have no conscious access to, for instance, how to ride a bike.  

prognosis: when used in clinical psychology,  refers to the expected eventual outcome of a disorder.

projection: defence mechanisms whereby which unwanted thoughts are externalised or projected onto someone else.

projective test: a type of personality assessment during which an individual is asked to interpret an ambiguous, abstract stimulus and an individuals response will reveal unconscious and hidden feelings, motives and conflicts.

pro-social behaviour: behaviour that is believed to help other individuals.

protection of participants: an ethical requirement whereby researchers must minimise any risk or harm to participants.

proximal cause: a factor which is a direct influence on behaviour, such as one’s attitude or an aspect of the immediate situation.

psyche: Jungs term for the totality of each persons psychic contents.

psychiatrists: medical doctors who possess an M.D. degree and may prescribe medications for the treatment of psychological disorders.

psychoanalytic theory: is a general term for approaches to psychoanalysis which attempt to provide a conceptual framework more-or-less independent of clinical practice rather than based on empirical analysis of clinical cases.

psychoanalysis: a type of psychodynamic therapy devised by Freud, in line with the assumptions of unconscious conflict and psychosexual development. Therapyaims for the patient to gain a deeper understanding of their own unconsciousthoughts and feelings through free association and transference.

psychodynamics: the branch of social psychology that deals with the processes and emotions that determine psychology and motivation.

psychodynamic approach: a perspective that views behaviour in terms of past childhood experiences, and the influence of unconscious processes, drives and conflicts.

psychological:  relating to the way that living things function rather than to their shape or structure i.e. mental or emotional as opposed to physical in nature.

psychological dependence: the reliance upon and beliefs that are held when individuals become addicted to drugs.

psychological disorder: a psychological disorder of thought or emotion; a more neutral term than mental illness.

physiological psychology: is a subdivision of biological psychology that studies the neural mechanisms of perception and behavior through direct manipulation of the brains of nonhuman animal subjects in controlled experiments.

psychologist: means a person who by years of study, training and experience has achieved professional recognition and standing in the field of clinical psychology.

psychology: the scientific study of the behavior and mental processes.

psychometric testing: the testing of individuals to measure competence in a specific area of functioning, e.g. intelligence, personality.

psychopath: see anti-social personality disorder.

psychopharmacology: the study of the effects that drugs have on behaviour.

psychophysics: the study of the relationship between physical stimuli and the mental events that arise as a result of these stimuli. The methods developed are fundamental to sensation and perception.

psychophysiology: the branch of psychology that is concerned with thephysiological bases of psychological processes.

psychosis: any major mental disorder that involves loss of contact with reality. This usually includes delusions and/or hallucinations.

psychotic: a person afflicted with psychosis.

psychosocial: the psychological and/or social aspects of health, disease, treatment, and/or rehabilitation.


psychosurgery: surgical procedures conducted on brain tissue to alleviate the symptoms of severe psychological disorder.

psychotherapy: any variety of treatment for abnormal behaviour which is primarily verbal in nature, rather than based on the use of drugs.

psychosexual development: in psychoanalytic theory, a description of how a child progresses through set stages that vary according to the focus of gratification(oral, anal, genital) and by the person towards which this feeling is directed at.

public territory: a type of territory where there is a low amount of occupation and perception of ownership, for instance a beach.

punishment: in operant conditioning, a process whereby a response is followed by a negative reinforcer, which results in a decrease in the probability of the response.

Q-sorta tool that is occasionally used in therapy. A pack of cards containing statements are presented to the client, who then sorts these into a number of categories (for example, ‘very like me’, ‘not at all like me’ and so on). If therapy is successful, there will be a shift from a great distribution of negative cards to positive cards, to reflect a positive self-image.

qualitative research (data): information in nonnumerical form, e.g. speech, written words, pictures, which places importance on the meaningful interpretation of data, rather than simply converting data to numbers, for instance, material gathered from a case study.

quantitative research (data): information in numerical form, e.g. number of students in a class, average scores on a quiz.

quasi-experimentan experimental design whereby the experimenter does not directly influence participant allocation to different conditions, but instead utilises existing groupings.

questionnaire (survey): a research method that is contains different formats of questionnaires, for example the Likert scale, open- and closed- questions.

quota sampling: a technique for obtaining participants by selecting a quota of individuals, in proportion to their frequency in the population.

random allocation: refers to the how experimenters divide participants into each experimental condition, to reduce any bias in the distribution of participantcharacteristics.

random sample: a technique for obtaining participants, whereby every member of the population has an equal chance of being selected

range: a descriptive statistic that shows the difference between the highest and the lowest scores in a data set.

rapid eye movement (REM) sleep: refers to the phase of sleep, characterised by eye movements and dreaming. In adults, REM sleep alternates with other periods of sleep (non-REM sleep) over a 9O-minute cycle. REM sleep is also accompanied by an increase in heart rate and blood pressure, and faster and more irregular breathing patterns.

rating scale: refers to the appraisal of a person or behaviour along a specific scale.

ratio data/scale: an interval scale that has a true zero point (eg. temperature).

rational: consistent with or based on or using reason; “rational behavior”.

rational-emotive therapy: a form of therapy developed by Ellis which focuses changing irrational beliefs and faulty interpretations, which result in negativeemotions and severe anxiety.

rationalisation: a defence mechanism whereby behaviour is explained and justified by offering a reason acceptable to the ego in place of the true reason.

reaction formation: a defence mechanism whereby a person a behaviour is displayed that is the opposite of a forbidden impulse. An example would be a man who deals with his homosexual feelings by displaying external resentment towardshomosexuals.

reaction time: time taken to respond to a stimulus, measured by the interval between the stimulus and the response.

realistic conflict theory: an account of prejudice and discrimination that proposes intergroup conflict and antagonism occurs when groups are competing for scarce resources.

reality principle: in Freud’s theory, the constraints and set of rules that govern theego, delaying the ids gratification, by recognition of the demands of the real world.

reasoning: is the mental (cognitive) process of looking for reasons for beliefs, conclusions, actions or feelings.

rebound: the symptoms that the medicine was going to cure returns when one stops taking the medicine and sometimes extra much so during the time just after one has gone off the medicine.

recall: in memory, the active retrieval of information.

recency effect: improved memory for list of words at the end of a list than those in the middle of the list.

recentring: in Gestalt theory, developing an alternative ?a target=”_blank” href=””>mental set?for a situation, such as when trying to solve a problem.

recidivism: reverting back to crime, for instance after being released from prison.

reciprocal altruism: in evolutionary psychology, the concept that individuals performance altruistic behaviour if the expected benefit of future help from the strangers surpasses the short-term cost of helping.

recognition: in memory, the process of identifying presented information as familiar and having been experienced before.

reconstructive memory: an account of piecing together and reassembling stored information during recall, and stored knowledge, expectations and beliefs are used to fill gaps and produce a coherent memory representation.

recovered memories: adults recover early repressed memories (often sexual abuse), which are often cited as the cause of a problem (e.g. eating disorder)

reflex: an unlearned response that is triggered by specific environmental stimuli, e.g. as a baby’s sucking on an object placed in the mouth.

refractory period: refers to the period following an action potential when a particular section of a nerve cell cannot be stimulated.

regression: in Freudian theory, a defence mechanism whereby a individual reverts to a behaviour of an earlier developmental period to prevent anxiety and satisfy current needs.

rehearsal: refers to the cognitive process involving the repetition of an item in order to maintain it in short-term memory.

reinforcer: in conditioning, any stimulus, that after following a response, increases the probability of that response occurring.

relapse: return to drug use by a user who has previously recovered. Alternative definition: The symptoms that the medicine was going to cure returns when one stops taking the medicine and sometimes extra much so during the time just after one has gone off the medicine.

related t-test: a parametric inferential statistical test. Used with interval or ratio data, a repeated measures design (or matched pairs), to investigate any difference in the effect each level of the independent variable has on the dependent variable.

relaxation training: procedures that target to reduce and relax muscle tension, heart rate and cortical activity. This is evident in systematic desensitisation.

reliability: a measure of consistency, to represent the degree to which replications of a test or method produces similar data scores.

repeated measures design: (within-subjects or related design) experimental design in which each individual participates in every level of the independent variable.

repression: defence mechanism whereby memories, feelings or ideas associated with pain or guilt are blocked from conscious awareness.

research: the process of gaining knowledge, either by an examination of appropriate theories or through empirical data.  In psychology, the term is used to refer to an investigative process such as the experiment or the case study.

resistance: in psychoanalysis, inability or unwillingness of a patient to accept the analysts interpretations of their behaviour and to discuss certain ideas or experiences.

responder bias (participant reactivity): Arial”> tendency of a participant to produce biased responses as a result of wanting to appear socially desirable or to be in line with what the experimenter wants.

restoration accounts of sleep: the hypothesis that the purpose of sleep is to restore and repair the body.

reticular formation: a diffuse network of nerve fibres which runs through the brain stem and limbic system, with connections both up to the cortex and down to the spinal cord; that alerts the cerebral cortex to incoming sensory signals and serves to regulate arousal levels, maintain consciousness and awakening from sleep.

retina: the light sensitive part of the eye, that is comprised of three layers of neural tissue, including photoreceptors that convert light into neural responses to be passed to the brain via the optic nerve.

retrieval: the process and recovery of a stored item from memory.

retrieval cues:internal or external stimuli that aid memory retrieval.

retrograde amnesia: the inability to recall events before the cause of the amnesia, e.g. brain injury.

retrospective study: a study which assesses the impact of early experience on later development looking back from the time of the specified effect to the early experience.

reward: any event which is pleasurable or satisfying to the organism (for example, food to a hungry animal)

rewards-cost model: theory by Piliavin that proposes that altruistic behaviour is determined by weighing up the rewards and costs of helping and not helping.

risky shift: refers to the fact that people tend to make riskier decisions when they are members of a group than they would if they made the same decision independently.

ritalin: a drug whose action resembles that of the amphetamines. It has been controversially used in the treatment of children suffering from attention deficit (hyperactivity) disorder.

Rogers (1902-1987): was one of the original founders of the humanistic perspective. His theories encompassed the importance of unconditional and conditional positive regard in development of the ‘self concept’ and ‘conditions of worth’ set by others. His work has been applied to a range of domains, particularly in therapy through his development of ‘client-centred’ (now class=”d-title” named ‘person-centred’therapy.

rods (and cones): a type of receptor cell found in the retina of the eye. Rods are critical for sight during dim illumination, whereas cones are more active in good light conditions. Individuals who lack rods (or have rods that don’t function) suffer from night blindness, and cannot see properly in dim light.

role conflict: a situation where an individual occupies two roles at the same time, where each role is incompatible to the expectations of the other.

role model: a person whose behaviour is observed and imitated.

Rorschach test: a type of projective test that consists of ten bilaterally symmetrical inkblots. Participants responses and interpretations are assumed to reveal of various characteristics such as emotional responsiveness andpersonality.

SADsee seasonal affective disorder.

saliencerefers to the distinctiveness or importance of something. For example, when we are thirsty, images of drink are more salient.

samplethe group of individuals selected fromthe population to participate in a study so that the researcher can make generalisations about the whole of the original population.

sampling error: an error that occurs as a result of having a non-representative sample.

sampling method: a technique by which a sample of participants is taken from a population. Includes random sampling, stratified sampling, opportunity sampling and quota sampling.

scaffolding a term to describe how a childs learning can be advanced by a tutor who provides a framework within which the child can develop.

Schachter and Singer (1962): proposed a two-factor theory of emotion, whereby emotion is experienced as a combination of arousal and attribution (labelling).

schedule of reinforcementin operant conditioning, sequence of presenting and withholding reinforcement.

schemamental frameworks which structure knowledge, beliefs and expectations, of objects, people and situations, to guide cognitive processes and behaviour.

schizophreniaa severe form of mental disorder, characterised by distortions and disturbances of perception, thought, language and emotions.

schizophrenia in remissiona diagnostic label to indicate that at the time of diagnosis, the client is free of schizophrenic symptoms, but has had periods of schizophrenia in the past.

schizophrenogenic familya term to describe a family with faulty communication patterns and conflict between members, and has been implicated in the development of schizophrenia.

seasonal affective disorder (SAD): a mood disorder associated with changes in season.

secondary reinforcementserves as a reinforcer through association with a primary reinforcement.

secondary sexual characteristicscharacteristics that differ between the sexes, other than reproductive organs, such as body hair, facial hair and voice pitch.

secondary territory: territory with a medium degree of occupation and perception of ownership, e.g. classroom seat.

secure attachmentan attachment bond between the mother (or primary caregiver) and infant, whereby the mother is sensitive and responsive to the childs needs, who will not experience significant distress at separation from the caregiver, but who seek comfort from caregiver when frightened. Secure attachment is related to healthy subsequent cognitive and emotional development as adults, including high self-esteem and the ability to maintain loving, trusting relationships.

sedativea category of drugs that result in drowsiness and reduced sensori-motor skills by reducing central nervous system functioning.

selective attention perceptual process of focusing on specific elements of a stimulus.

self-acceptance: an acceptance of yourself as you are, warts and all.

self-actualisation : in Maslows hierarchy of needs, refers to an individuals desire to grow and reach his or her potential.  The process of becoming a person in psychological emancipation  (Carl Rogers).

self-awareness: is the explicit understanding that one exists. Furthermore, it includes the concept that one exists as an individual, separate from other people, with private thoughts.

self-categorisation theory:  proposes people are most likely to be influenced by those perceived to be similar to themselves (i.e. in-group members).

self-conceptmental representation of our sense of individuality and inter-dependence on others, and includes two aspects ? self-understanding and self-esteem.

self-disclosurethe tendency to reveal gradually more intimate information as we get to know others better.

self-efficacyan individual’s belief in ability and performance on a task or in a situation.

self-esteemevaluative attitude towards the self of how much an individual likes themselves, influencing personal and social behaviours.

self-image: is the mental picture, generally of a kind that is quite resistant to change, that depicts not only details that are potentially available to objective investigation by others (height, weight, hair color, sex, I.Q. score, etc.), but also items that have been learned by that person about himself or herself, either from personal experiences or by internalising the judgments of others.

self-fulfilling prophecy: a phenomenon whereby expectations of how others will act or behave, affects interactions and elicits the anticipated response.

self-perception theorysuggests that by observing and perceiving how we act in a situation, shapes our attitudes and other self-characterisations.

self-realisation: the emancipation of an individual towards self-reliance in respect of the integrity, or the love of knowledge, the filognosy, of the different views, forms of logic and intelligence one finds in modern society. Self-actualisation is the more specific humanist conception of self-realisation.

self-report: a method of gathering data by asking an individual to report and identify their behaviour or mental state.

self-serving bias: the tendency to bias our judgements of our own behaviour, by emphasising external factors for failure, but attributing success to ability or effort.

Selye (1907-1982): an endocrinologist, who explored physiological responses to stress, illness and disease. This led to the General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS) consisting three stages of stress; an alarm state, resistance state, and exhaustion state.

semantic memory: general memories that involve general knowledge of the world, including facts.

senses: are the physiological methods of perception. The senses and their operation, classification, and theory are overlapping topics studied by a variety of fields, most notably neuroscience, cognitive psychology (or cognitive science), and philosophy of perception.

sensitive period: (or critical period): a period in development when an organism is best able to develop a response, for instance development of language.

sensitive responsiveness: the extent to which a primary carer responds to an infants signals.

sensory memory: a modality-specific form of memory, involved in temporary preservation of sensory stimuli,  serving as a buffer between the senses and short-term memory.

sensory nerves: neural pathways in the parasympathetic nervous system which transfer information from the sensory receptors to the central nervous system.

sentience: the quality or state of being sentient; consciousness; Feeling as distinguished from perception or thought.

sentient: self-aware, choice-making consciousness. Humans and cetaceans (dolphins and whales) are the two sentient species on earth.

serial-position curve: a graphical representation of memory retrieval, whereby recall is highest for beginning (primacy effect) and end items (recency effect) on a list than in the middle.

serotonin: neurotransmitter that is important in the regulation of mood and control of aggressive behaviour.  Normally produces an inhibitory effect.

sex differences: commonly observed differences between males and females, that may be primary (associated with reproduction), secondary (biological, but not associated with reproduction) and differences of mental, emotional or behavioural characteristics.

sex-linked traitany genetically-determined characteristic, that is linked to one sex more than the other, for instance male performance at tests of spatial ability is superior to women.

sexismprejudice and discrimination against one sex by members of the other sex, for instance in employment.

sexual orientation: preference for sexual partners of the same or opposite sex

sexual selectionindividuals have features that make them attractive to members of the opposite sex (intersexual selection), or help them to compete with members of the same sex for access to mates (intrasexual selection).

shadowing: used in studies of attentioninvolves listening to and repeating a message that is presented in one ear.

shadow juriessee mock jury.

shame: a negative affect elicited by a perceived loss of self-esteem related to a particular behaviour.

shape constancyrefers to the tendency to perceive the shape of an object, despite variations in the size of the retinal image.

shapingin operant conditioning, reinforcing successive approximations to the desired response.

short-term memory (STM): memory process which preserves recent information over relatively brief intervals, of limited capacity and information is stored for only a short length of time without rehearsal.

sibling rivalryinevitable rivalry between children for parental affection and other resources.

sign languagea form of gestural communication used by the deaf.

significance level: in inferential statistics, a statement of the probability that an observed outcome is due only to chance.

significance tests: in statistics, inferential statistical procedures which are used to test whether observed results reflect real differences as a result of manipulation of variables, rather than chance variations.

simultaneous conditioningused in classical conditioning where the unconditioned (UCS) and the conditioned stimuli (CS) are presented simultaneously rather than one (the UCS) preceding the other, (the CS).

single-blind designan experiment whereby subjects are kept uninformed of the purpose and aim of the study, to avoid bias.

situational attributionattributing behaviour to be caused by factors outside of a persons control, for instance task difficulty or weather.

situational variables: confounding effects as a result of environmental influences, such as lighting, noise levels and temperature.

size constancythe tendency to perceive objects as being closer to their actual size rather than the physical size registered on the retina of the eye.

skewed distributionan asymmetrical frequency distribution, whereby the median is usually more representative than the mean as a measure of central tendency.

skillthe ability that a person has to carry out a task successfully and competently.

Skinner (1904-1990): influential behaviourist, who pioneered the principle of operant conditioning, including schedules of reinforcement, shaping and subsequent behavior modification.

sleep: a natural and periodic state of rest during which consciousness of the world is suspended.

sleep apnea: a temporary suspension of breathing occurring repeatedly during sleep that often affects overweight people or those having an obstruction in the breathing tract, an abnormally small throat opening, or a neurological disorder.

sleep disordersinclude insomnia, sleep apnea and narcolepsy.

sleeper effectthe effect of persuasive messages may not have an immediate effect, but may be revealed in a change of behaviour after a period of time.

sociability: a child’s inclination to interact with others and to seek their attention or approval.

social behaviour: any behaviour which involves others or is oriented towards others

social cognitionthe mental processes involved in the way individuals perceive and react to social situations.

social comparisontendency of judging our own behaviour against that of others.

social desirability: either behaving in a way to bring social approval from others, or responding in a self-evaluative situation (e.g. interview, questionnaire) to present ourselves in a way that reveals more socially desirable characteristics (whilst potentially hiding undesirable characteristics).

social development: growth of social behaviours, such as the ability to form attachments, develop healthy self-esteem and form successful relationships.

social drift theory (hypothesis): the attempt to explain the relationship between social class and serious mental illness by suggesting that those who are seriously mentally ill ‘drift’ down the socio-economic scale.

social facilitation and inhibition (SFI): an improvement in performance on a task due to the presence of others (social facilitation), or an impairment in performance due to the presence of others (social inhibition).

social identity theoryproposition that individuals categorise themselves and others into in-groups and out-groups. Negative comparisons are made between the two groups as a result of a need to maintain a positive social identity, subsequently giving rise to competition and discrimination.

social influence: how an individual’s behaviour is affected by others, such as conformity pressures and group dynamics.

social inhibition: is what keeps humans from becoming involved in potentially objectionable actions and/or expressions in a social setting.

social learning theoryproposes that learning occurs through imitation and modelling of behaviour of role models.

social loafing: the phenomenon in which people working together on a task tend to contribute less individual effort than they would if working alone.

social norms: expected standards of acceptable and appropriate behaviour and attitudes for members of a group or society.

socially sensitive research research that may have direct social consequences for participants or the population represented. For instance, research into racial differences.

social skills training: a programme to teach people to improve social skills, such as making eye contact.

social psychology: an attempt to understand and explain how the thoughts, feelings and behaviour of individuals are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others.

socialisation: is used by sociologists, social psychologists and educationalists to refer to the process of learning ones culture and how to live within it. For the individual it provides the resources necessary for acting and participating within their society

Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS): a rating scale, devised by Holmes and Rahe, that scores important life events and life changes according to their psychological impact and degree of adjustment required. Higher scores on the SRRS indicate a higher risk of stress-related ill health..

social supportpeople and/or services that are supportive during difficult periods, including information (e.g. advice) or emotional support (e.g. reassurance that one is cared for).

socio-demographic: pertaining to or characterised by a combination of sociological and demographic characteristics

socioeconomicsor socio-economics is the study of the relationship between economic activity and social life.

sociologist: a social scientist who studies the institutions and development of human society.

sociology: is the scientific or systematic study of society, including patterns of social relations, social stratification, social interaction, and culture.

somatic treatmentstreatments of mental disorders that employ physical and chemical methods, e.g Electroconvulsive Shock Treatment(ECT).

somatosensory cortex : a part of the brain responsible for processing stimulation coming from the skin, body wall, muscles, bones, tendons and joints. It plays a part in determining pain intensity.

spatial memoryis the ability of animals to form a internal representation or map of its familiar area or home range.

Spearman (1863-1945): focused on intelligence research; proposing the theoretical underlying general factor (g) of intelligence, and statistics; establishing Spearmans rank correlation coefficient and factor analysis.

species-specific behaviour: behaviours which are characteristic of all members of a particular species. These response patterns (sometimes popularly called ‘instincts’) apply to behaviours such as mating, finding food, defence and raising offspring.

split half reliabilityan evaluation of the internal consistency of a test, by splitting test items randomly into two halves and comparing participants’ performance on the two halves. The two scores should correlate highly if the test is internally reliable.

split-brain studiesrefers to studies derived from split?a target=”_blank” href=””>brain operations on epileptic patients, involves cutting the corpus callosum, and thereby separating the two hemispheres of the brain.

spontaneous recovery: in classical conditioning, after extinction, an extinguished conditioned response will be spontaneously produced.

spontaneous remission: in psychotherapy, improvement in an individual’s condition without professional intervention, often serves as a baseline criterion to compare the effectiveness of therapies.

standard deviation: a measure of dispersion; average difference of a set of scores from the mean measure.

standardised instructions: directions given to participants in a study to ensure that each participant receives the same information to minimise variation.

standardisation : A set of consistent procedures to treat participants in a test, interview, or experiment or for recording data.

statistical infrequencyany behaviour that is statistically infrequent is viewed as abnormal.

statistical significancea conclusion drawn from the data collected in a research study that the results are a result of the effect of the independent variable upon the dependent variable, and are not due to chance.

stereoscopic visionthe perceptual experience of a three-dimensional image through the combination of two different views of the same scene from the two eyes.

stereotype: an oversimplified, generalised and often inaccurate perception of an individual based upon membership of a particular group. Can often underlie prejudice and discrimination.

steroids: any of a number of natural or synthetic substances that regulate body function.

stimuli: irregular plural of stimulus

stimulant: a drug which increases activation of the central nervous system and the autonomic nervous system; decreasing fatigue, increasing physical activity and alertness, diminish hunger, and result in a temporary elevation of mood.

stimulus: in general, any event, situation, object or factor that may affect behaviour; in the behaviourist approach, a stimulus must be a measurable change in the environment.

stimulus discrimination: in conditioning, an organism learns to differentiate between stimuli that differ from the conditioned stimulus on some dimension.

stimulus generalisation: in classical conditioning, once a response to a stimulus has been learnt, the response may also be evoked by other similar stimuli that have never been paired with the unconditioned stimulus.

stimulus-response learninga term used to describe any type of learning which involves an association between a stimulus and a response.

storage: the retention of encoded information in memory over time.

stratified sample:  the sample reflect the composition of the population, for instance 20 per cent left handed individuals, 80 percent right handed individuals in the population would determine a selection of participants using the same percentages.

stress: a mismatch between the perceived demands of the environment and an organisms perceived ability to cope.

stress reduction: techniques used by an individual to cope with stress and reduce its adverse effects.

stressor: any event or stimulus (internal or external)  which triggers a stress response in an individual.

Stroop effect: is a demonstration of interference in the reaction time of a task. When a word such as blue, green, red, etc. is printed in a color differing from the color expressed by the word’s semantic meaning (e.g. the word “red” printed in blue ink), a delay occurs in the processing of the word’s color, leading to slower test reaction times and an increase in mistakes.

subconscious: in Freud’s theory,  portions of the mind which are below the level of conscious awareness.

subcortical: relating to the portion of the brain immediately below the cerebral cortex, which is the part of the brain responsible for most higher functions (sensation, voluntary muscle movement, thought, reasoning, memory, etc.)

subjective: a subjective assessment is one that is based on criteria that exist only or principally in the assessor. Two subjective assessors assessing the same item might differ widely in their assessment.

sublimationin Freud’s theory, a defence mechanism whereby energy is redirected towards a socially desirable creative activity.

substance abusea pattern of behaviour where a person relies excessively on a particular substance (e.g. alcohol or opioids such as heroin) which can ultimately interfere with the individuals daily functioning.

superegoin Freudian theory, portion of the psyche governed by moral constraints.

superordinate goala higher and more important goal than that normally pursued by individuals within a group.

suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN): is a bilateral region of the brain, located in the hypothalamus, that is responsible for controlling endogenous circadian rhythms. The neuronal and hormonal activities it generates regulate many different body functions over a 24-hour period.

symbiosisa relationship between two animals where each animal benefits.

sympathetic nervous systemsee autonomic nervous system.

symptom: a change from normal structure, function, or sensation as would be experienced by the patient and indicative of disease.

synapse: a small physical gap between two neurons, which is connected by the flow of neurotransmitter chemicals

synaptic transmissionrefers to the process by which a nerve impulse passes across the synaptic cleft from one neuron (the presynaptic neuron) to another (the postsynaptic neuron).

systematic desensitisationa behavioural therapy to treat phobias and anxieties, whereby a client is gradually exposed to situations that are more and more anxiety provoking until the fear response is replaced by one of relaxation.

system variables: in witness testimony, variables that affect the accuracy of witness testimony and over which the police (and justice system in general) have some influence, including interviewing techniques.

systems theory: a theoretical framework involving multiple interrelated elements, where the properties of the whole are different from the properties of the parts; systems are viewed as governed by processes of negative feedback (which promotes stability) and positive feedback (which promotes instability). Used to explain a range of phenomena, and a range of situations, for instance, Minuchins family systems theory.

taboo: something that is avoided, banned, or not allowed because of a cultural belief.

tabula rasa: (translation: ‘blank slate’), refers to the behaviourist belief that all human behaviour is infinitely plastic and malleable, and therefore can be explained in terms of learnt experiences, rather than genetic predispositions.

tardive dyskinesia: a condition that is occasionally experienced as a side-effect of antipsychotic drugs, typified by involuntary movements of the tongue, lips, jaw and other facial movements.

taste aversion: refers to a type of learning formed after one trial, whereby an association is formed between feelings of sickness and (usually) a particular food, resulting in an avoidance of the food.

telegraphic speech: refers to the reduced sentences (resembling telegrams) that distinguish children’s speech patterns from around 18 months to two years, demonstrating the basics of early grammar by containing crucial nouns and verbs.

telic state: a motivational state in which arousal is avoided.

temperament: aspects of personality that exist at birth and are believed to be as a result of genetic influences.

template theories: an account of pattern recognition; the proposal that we match incoming information with templates (miniature representations) of patterns stored in long-term memory.

temporal lobe: the region of the cortex below the lateral fissure; contains the auditory cortex.

territoriality: the tendency of animals to defend (e.g. through scent markings) a particular geographical area from other members of their own species, in order to gain access to and increase control over a resource.

testosterone: a male sex hormone produced by the testes, that is responsible for production of sperm and  the development of the secondary sexual characteristicsIt has also been associated with aggression.

test-retest reliability: measure of measurements consistency, by correlating (the same) test performance on two different occasions.

thalamus: part of the forebraintransmits nerve impulses, up sensory pathways to the cerebral cortex. Damage to the thalamus can result in anterograde amnesia.

thanatos: a Freudian term which represents the death instinct, characterised by aggressive behaviour and a rejection of pleasurable stimuli.

thematic apperception test (TAT): a projective test, whereby individuals are presented with ambiguous pictures and asked to generate a story from them, thereby reveal personality characteristics, motivation for power, achievement and affiliation, and in a clinical setting, any underlying emotional problems.

theory: a structured set of concepts to explain a phenomena or group of phenomena.

theory of mind: child’s understanding of the emotions and motives of other people.

therapeutic: having a beneficial effect on mental health.

therapy: any process that aids understanding and recovery from psychologicaldifficulties. A wide variety of therapies can be divided into psychotherapies(involving discussion or action) and somatic therapies (medical or biological intervention).

think-aloud protocol: comments made when by experimental participants of the mental processes and approaches used whilst working on a task.

third force: term used to describe the development of the humanistic perspectiveas an alternative to the psychoanalytic and behaviourist perspectives.

Thorndike puzzle-box: piece of laboratory apparatus used by Skinner, to demonstrate trial-and-error learning.

thought: an idea; an instance of thinking; the state or condition of thinking.

thought disturbances: in abnormal psychology, distortions of thought processes such as incoherent speech.

thought disorder: in abnormal psychology, a general term to describe disturbance of thought or speech that might be symptomatic of a mental disorder, for instance incoherent thought and speech patterns.

Thorndike (1874-1949): renowned for his animal research, exploring trial and error learning (known as instrumental learning) in animals through the development of the Thorndike ‘puzzle-box’

three mountains test: a Piagetian task to demonstrate egocentricity, whereby children are shown a model of three mountains, and watches as a doll is positioned at a different point around the mountains. Pre-operational egocentric children are unable to see from the dolls perspective of the mountains.

tip of the tongue phenomenon: a term used to refer to the experience when we feel that we know a particular word, yet are unable to retrieve it.

token economy: using the principles of operant conditioninga behaviour modification technique used to encourage particular behaviour, through the employment of secondary reinforcers (tokens) after desirable behaviour, which can be collected and exchanged for primary reinforcers (a meaningful object or privilege).

tolerance: over time, the need for greater dosages of a drug in order to achieve the same effect.

Tolman (1886 ?1959): an American psychologist who concentrated on learning (escape, latent, avoidance, approach and choice-point learning) in rats, most commonly in mazes.

top-down approach: in the context of offender profiling, an approach that examines evidence from the crime scene in light of existing classifications and theories of serious crimes (the ‘top’) and appraises which category a particular crime fits into. Commonly used by American criminal profilers.

top-down processing: perceptual processing in which previous experiences, existing knowledge, expectations, motivations or the context in which perceptiontakes place, affect how a perceived object is interpreted and classified.

Tourette’s syndrome: neurological disorder characterised by facial grimaces and tics and movements of the upper body and grunts and shouts and coprolalia.

trace-dependent forgetting: the information no longer stored in memory.

trait: a specific personal characteristic or attribute which occurs consistently and influences behaviour across a range of situations.

transference: a process during psychoanalysis, whereby a client attaches feelings towards the therapist that were previously unconsciously directed towards a significant person in their life, who may have been involved in some form of emotional conflict.

transfer of training: refers to the way in which skills learnt in one situation may to be transferred to a second, related situation.

trauma: term used either for a physical injury (as a result of an external force), or a psychological injury (caused by an emotional event).

Treisman (1935-): A British psychologist specialising in visual attention and object perception, renowned for proposing the feature integration theory of attention.

trial: in experimental psychologya single unit of experimentation where a stimulusis presented, an organism responds and a consequence follows.

trial-and-error learning: originally proposed by Thorndike, a view of learning that proposes responses that do not achieve the desired effect are gradually reduced, and those that do are gradually strengthened.

turing test: a test to determine how closely computers mimic human cognitive process.

two factor theory of emotion: is a social psychology theory that views emotion as having two components (factors): physiological arousal and cognition. According to the theory, “cognitions are used to interpret the meaning of physiological reactions to outside events.”

twin studies: refers to studies where monozygotic and dizygotic twins are studied to assess the relative contributions of genetic and environmental influences on a particular characteristic, e.g. intelligence.

type 1 error: rejecting the null hypothesis when it should be accepted.  Also called a false positive.

type 2 error: accepting the null hypothesis when it should be rejected.  Also called a false negative.

type A personality: a set of personality characteristics, including a sense of competitiveness, hostility, a constant sense of time pressure and impatience, which result in an increased risk of coronary heart disease.

ultradian rhythms: one complete cycle that repeats in less than twenty-four hours, for instance different stages of sleep several times during a single night’s sleep.

unconditional positive regard: complete acceptance and caring of an individual, without imposing conditions.

unconditioned response: in classical conditioning, a reflexive response elicited by an unconditioned stimulus, such as pupil contraction to bright light, without prior learning.

unconditioned stimulus: in classical conditioning, a stimulus which elicits a reflexive (unconditioned) response.

unconscious: in Freud’s theory, portion of the psyche that cannot be directly accessed by the unconscious, repressing urges, impulses and thoughts, which may filter into conscious awareness directly or in symbolic form.

unconscious motive: a term used to describe that much of (motivated) behaviour is a result of influences outside our conscious awareness, and manifests in defence mechanisms or other symbolic ways.

understanding: the cognitive condition of someone who understands.  It is is the possession of knowledge coupled with the capability of reasoning and making judgements relating to the applicability of the knowledge.

unfalsifiable: a theory or hypothesis is unfalsifiable if it cannot be disproved by data and thus cannot be used to make predictions.

unipolar depression: see depression

universal: any characteristic that can be applied to all members of the species, despite a variety of experiences and development.

unstructured interview: an interview whereby the interviewer does not have pre-determined questions, but instead asks questions spontaneously as topics arise.

upper quartile: the data point that is at the 75 per cent point of the data set when the data is ranked in order.

utilitarianism: states that what is ethically acceptable is that which produces the greatest pleasure and happiness (in comparison to pain and suffering) for the greatest number of people.

valence: in psychology, especially in discussing emotions, means the intrinsic attractiveness (positive valence) or aversiveness (negative valence) of an event, object, or situation.

validity: the extent to a test measures what it claims and was intended to measure.

values: involves one’s principles or standards or judgments about what is valuable or important in life.

variable: in an experimental settingany measured factor which shows variation across cases or conditions.

variable interval schedule: in operant conditioning, a schedule of reinforcement determined by the average time interval which must elapse since the last reinforcerbefore a response will be reinforced.

variable ratio schedule:in operant conditioning, a schedule of reinforcement determined by the average number of responses required to receive a reinforcer.

variability:in statistics, the dispersion of scores within a set of data.

ventro-medial hypothalamus: section of the hypothalamus, that when lesioned in a rats brain, the rat will demonstrate abnormal appetitive behaviour.

vicarious learning: see observational learning.

vicarious reinforcement: learning behaviour by observing others being rewarded for the behaviour.

visual agnosia: a general term for disorders which occur as a result of disruption of visual recognition.

visual cliff: an apparatus used to assess an infant’s perception of depth, comprised of a thick pane of glass that covers a shall drop and a deep drop. Surfaces of both are covered with the same chequered pattern; however children of six months and older will not explore the deep?side which demonstrates depth perception.

visual pathways: the routes by which nerve impulses travel from the retina to the visual areas of the brain.

visual perception: the process by which sensory information from the eyes is transformed to produce an experience of depth, distance, colour, etc.

volume:an increase in magnitude of vibration in the air (measured in decibels). Sounds increase in volume as the amplitude of the waves increases.

voluntary response: a response which is controlled by the individual rather than being elicited by specific stimuli as reflexes are.

volunteer bias: participants who volunteer for a research investigation may differ on particular characteristics from non-volunteers, therefore comprising a non-representative sample.

Wada test: a technique to anaesthetise one hemisphere of the brain at a time, by injecting a short-acting anaesthetic (sodium amytal) into the carotid artery serving one hemisphere, then a short time later repeating the procedure for the other hemisphere, in order to see which hemisphere is important for language in participants.

WAIS: see Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale.

weapon focus effect: the tendency for witnesses to a crime involving a weapon (e.g. gun) to recall details of the weapon, but to be less accurate on other details such as the perpetrator’s face.

Weber’s Law: is a law of psychophysics which states that the amount by which a stimulus must change in order for that change to be noticeable is proportional to the intensity of that stimulus. Thus, stronger stimuli would need to be increased by greater amounts than would weaker stimuli for noticeable change.

Wernicke’s aphasia: caused by damage to Wernicke’s area in the brainresulting in disruptions in processing and comprehension of speech input, whilst speech production remains unimpaired. See also Broca’s aphasia.

Wernicke’s area: area of the left temporal cortex Wernicke proposed to be the centre of language comprehension, whereby sound patterns of words are stored, in order to convert speech sounds into words.

Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale: an intelligencetestwhich measures elements of adult intelligence, including verbal intelligence and performance intelligence, which are then divided into specific abilities so that an individual performance and any deficiencies can be assessed.

Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children: a version of the WAIS that measures IQ in children aged from six to 16 years.

will: the capability of conscious choice and decision and intention.  Nietzschedefines will similarly to the “any internally motivated action” usage, but more narrowly. In this sense, will is more a “creative spark,” a certain independence and stubbornness.

wish fulfilment: in Freud’s theory, the symbolic manifestation of drives in fantasy form, as in dreams.

withdrawal: physically painful and unpleasant symptoms (such as vomiting, shaking, headaches and convulsions) suffered by a physically dependent drug user as the effects of a drug wears off.

withdrawal from investigation: an ethical requirement of psychological research that participants have the right to withdraw at any time during the study

within subjects design: see repeated measures design.

wolf children: or feral children,are children who have been found living in the wild, and often display animal-like behaviours, indicating they have been brought up by wild animals.

World Health Organisation (WHO) – an office of the UN which overseas international efforts to improve general health conditions and to address international threats such as pandemics.

word recognition threshold: is the minimum exposure of a word necessary to recognise and identify it. The threshold is set as the point at which the word can be correctly recognised 50 per cent of the time when presented.

working memory: a flexible memory system used for reasoning and language comprehension, that is comprised of the phonological loop, visuospatial sketchpad and central executive.

workplace stressors: aspects of the working environment (e.g. impending deadlines) that are experienced to be stressful, including physical stressors (such as noise, length of working day and inherent danger) and psychosocial stressors(such as relationships with co­workers, organisation of work, and role responsibility).



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