AP Psychology Flashcards

An early school of psychology that used
introspection to explore the elemental structure
of the human mind. (Wilhelm Wundt)
A school of psychology that focused on how our
mental and behavioral processes function-how they
enable us to adapt, survive and flourish. (William
Cognitive Perspective
The view that our thoughts and how we
encode, process, store and retrieve
information influences our behavior.
Humanistic Perspective
The view that our behavior is influenced by our
need for love and acceptance and a desire to
achieve self-fulfillment and our potential.
Social Cultural Perspective
The view that behavior is influenced by
the interaction between people (and
their thinking) and their social context.
Behavioral Perspective
The view that we are shaped by our
environment and learn from those
around us.
Biological Perspective
The view that our biology shapes and
enables emotions, memories and
sensory experiences.
Developmental Psychology
A branch of psychology that studies
physical, cognitive, and social change
throughout the life span.
Educational Psychology
The study of how psychological
processes affect and can enhance
teaching and learning.
Personality Psychology
The study of an individual's
characteristic pattern of thinking,
feeling, and acting.
Social Psychology
The scientific study of how we think
about, influence, and relate to one
Industrial-Organized Psychology
The application of psychological
concepts and methods to optimizing
human behavior in workplaces.
Human Factors Psychology
A branch of psychology that explores how people
and machines interact and how machines and
physical environments can be made safe and easy to
Counseling Psychology
A branch of psychology that assists people with
problems in living (often related to school, work,
or marriage) and in achieving greater well-being.
Clinical Psychology
A branch of psychology that studies,
assesses, and treats people with
psychological disorders.
A branch of medicine dealing with psychological
disorders; practiced by physicians who sometimes
provide medical (for example, drug) treatments as
well as psychological therapy.
Community Psychology
A branch of psychology that studies how people
interact with their social environments and how
social institutions affect individuals and groups.
Biopsychosocial - Three Main
Levels of Analysis
An integrated approach that
incorporates biological, psychological,
and social-cultural levels of analysis.
Naturalistic Observation
Case Study
Observing and recording behavior in
naturally occurring situations without trying
to manipulate and control the situation.
An observation technique in which one
person is studied in depth in the hope
of revealing universal principles.
A technique for ascertaining the self-reported
attitudes or behaviors of a particular group, usually
by questioning a representative, random sample of
the group.
Hindsight Bias
The tendency to believe, after learning an
outcome, that one would have foreseen it. (Also
known as the I-knew-it-all-along phenomenon.)
The tendency to be more confident
than correct, to overestimate the
accuracy of one's beliefs and judgments.
Scientific Attitude
It equips us to be curious, skeptical, and humble in
scrutinizing competing ideas or our own
observations as well as carrying into everyday life as
critical thinking.
All the cases in a group, from which samples may be
drawn for a study. (Note: Except for national studies,
this does not refer to a country's whole population.)
Operational Definition
A statement of the procedures (operations) used to
define research variables. For example, human
intelligence may be operationally defined as what an
intelligence test measures.
Independent Variable
The experimental factor that is
manipulated; the variable whose effect is
being studied.
Dependent Variable
The outcome factor; the variable that
may change in response to manipulations
of the independent variable.
Extraneous or Confounding
A factor other than the independent
variable that might produce an effect in
an experiment.
Control Group
In an experiment, the group that is not exposed to
the treatment; contrasts with the experimental group
and serves as a comparison for evaluating the effect
of the treatment.
Experimental Group
In an experiment, the group that is
exposed to the treatment, that is, to one
version of the independent variable.
Random Assignment
Assigning participants to experimental and control
conditions by chance, thus minimizing pre-existing
differences between those assigned to the different
Ethical Guidelines
1) Participants should know the basic purpose of the study
2) Participants have the right to withdraw or decline study
3) Participants should receive benefits that outweigh the costs or risks
4) Participants have the right to expect anonymity
5) Participants have the right to know when they are deceived
Positive Correlation
Increases in one variable are
matched by increases in another.
Negative Correlation
Increases in one variable are matched
by decreases in the second variable.
Illusory Correlation
The perception of a relationship
where none exists.
The most frequently occurring
score(s) in a distribution.
The arithmetic average of a distribution,
obtained by adding the scores and then
dividing by the number of scores.
The middle score in a distribution; half
the scores are above it and half are
below it.
A nerve cell; the basic building
block of the nervous system.
The extension of a neuron, ending in branching
terminal fibers, through which messages pass to
other neurons or to muscle or glands.
The bushy, branching extensions of a
neuron that receive messages and
conduct impulses toward the cell body.
Chemical messengers that traverse the synaptic gaps between
neurons. When released by the sending neuron, neurotransmitters
travel across the synapse and bind to receptor sites on the
receiving neuron, thereby influencing whether that neuron will
generate a neural impulse.
Central Nervous System (CNS)
The system that includes the brain
and spinal cord.
Peripheral Nervous System (PNS)
The sensory and motor neurons that
connect the central nervous system
(CNS) to the rest of the body.
Right Hemisphere
This hemisphere is more adept at expressive and
creative tasks such as recognizing faces, expressing
and reading emotions, imagination, and intuition.
Left Hemisphere
This hemisphere is more adept at tasks that involve
logic, language, and analytical thinking such as
organization, critical thinking, math and numbers, and
Corpus Callosum
The large band of neural fibers
connecting the two brain hemispheres
and carrying messages between them.
Cerebral Cortex
The intricate fabric of interconnected neural cells
that covers the cerebral hemispheres; the body's
ultimate control and information-processing center.
Occipital Lobe
The portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the back
of the head; includes the visual areas, which receive
visual information from the opposite visual field.
Frontal Lobe
The portion of the cerebral cortex lying just behind
the forehead; involved in speaking and muscle
movements and in making plans and judgments.
Temporal Lobe
The portion of the cerebral cortex lying roughly
above the ears; includes the auditory areas, each of
which receives auditory information primarily from
the opposite ear.
Parietal Lobe
The portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the
top of the head and toward the rear; receives
sensory input for touch and body position.
Brain Plasticity
The brain's ability to change, especially during
childhood, by reorganizing after damage or by
building new pathways based on experience.
PET (Positron Emission
Tomography) Scan
A visual display of brain activity that detects
where a radioactive form of glucose goes
while the brain performs a given task.
MRI (Magnetic Resonance
A technique that uses magnetic fields and radio
waves to produce computer-generated images that
distinguish among different types of soft tissue;
allows us to see structures within the brain.
CT Scan
A series of X-ray photographs taken from different
angles and combined by computer into a composite
representation of a slice through the body. Also
called CAT scan.
EEG (electroencephalogram)
An amplified recording of the waves of electrical
activity sweeping across the brain's surface. These
waves are measured by electrodes placed on the
The biochemical units of heredity that make
up the chromosomes; a segment of DNA
capable of synthesizing a protein.
The proportion of variation among individuals that
we can attribute to genes. The heritability of a trait
may vary, depending on the range of populations
and environments studied.
Evolutionary Psychology
The study of the roots of behavior and
mental processes using the principles of
natural selection.
Natural Selection
The principle that, among the range of inherited trait
variations, those that lead to increased reproduction
and survival will most likely be passed on to
succeeding generations.
The process by which our sensory receptors and
nervous system receive and represent stimulus
energies from our environment.
Bottom-Up Processing
Analysis that begins with the sensory
receptors and works up to the brain's
integration of sensory information.
Absolute Threshold
The minimum stimulation needed to
detect a particular stimulus 50 percent
of the time.
Sensory Adaptation
Diminished sensitivity as a consequence
of constant stimulation.
Visual Processing (how it works)
After processing by bipolar and ganglion cells in the retina,
neural impulses travel through the optic nerve, to the thalamus,
and on to the visual cortex. In the visual cortex, feature detectors
respond to specific features of the visual stimulus.
Phi Phenomenon
An illusion of movement created when
two or more adjacent lights blink on and
off in quick succession.
Functions of the Inner Ear
This part of the ear serves to balance
the body and convert sound waves to
electrical impulses
Functions of the Middle Ear
It amplifies the vibrations and relays
them to the fluid-filled cochlea.
Frequency Theory
In hearing, the theory that the rate of nerve impulses
traveling up the auditory nerve matches the
frequency of a tone, thus enabling us to sense its
The process of organizing and interpreting
sensory information, enabling us to
recognize meaningful objects and events.
Top-down Processing
Information processing guided by higher-level
mental processes, as when we construct perceptions
drawing on our experience and expectations.
A binocular cue for perceiving depth; the extent to
which the eyes converge inward when looking at an
object. The greater the inward strain, the closer the
Perceptual Constancy
The perceptual stability of the size, shape, and
brightness, and color for familiar objects seen at
varying distances, different angles, and under
different lighting conditions.
Perceptual Set
A mental predisposition to perceive
one thing and not another.
Criticisms of Parapsychology and
Skeptics argue that (1) to believe in it, you must believe
the brain is capable of perceiving without sensory input,
and (2) researchers have been unable to replicate the
phenomena under controlled conditions.
Our awareness of ourselves and
our environment.
A social interaction in which one person (the
hypnotist) suggests to another (the subject) that
certain perceptions, feelings, thoughts, or behaviors
will spontaneously occur.
Circadian Rhythm
The biological clock; regular bodily rhythms
(for example, of temperature and
wakefulness) that occur on a 24-hour cycle.
Stage 1 (sleep)
Characterized by the irregular brain
waves of non-REM sleep, often with the
sensation of falling or floating
Stage 2 (sleep)
Characterized by the irregular brain waves of
non-REM sleep, lasting about 20 minutes
and sleep spindles (bursts of brain activity)
Stage 3 (sleep)
Characterized by the irregular brain
waves of non-REM sleep, lasting about
30 minutes with large, slow delta waves
REM (Rapid Eye Movement) Sleep
A recurring sleep stage during which vivid dreams
commonly occur. Also known as paradoxical sleep,
because the muscles are relaxed (except for minor
twitches) but other body systems are active.
Wish Fulfillment (dreams)
Sigmund Freud suggested that dreams provide a psychic safety
valve to discharge unacceptable feelings. The dream's manifest
(apparent) content may also have symbolic meanings (latent
content) that signify our unacceptable feelings.
Information Processing (dreams)
Dreams may help sift, sort, and fix a
day's experiences in our memories.
Physiological Function (dreams)
Dreams provide the sleeping brain with
periodic stimulation to help develop and
preserve neural pathways.
Activation-Synthesis Theory
The brain engages in a lot of random
neural activity during sleep. Dreams
make sense of this activity.
Cognitive Development (dreams)
We dream as a part of brain maturation
and cognitive development.
Sleep Deprivation
A state that occurs when you don't get enough sleep. It
can weaken the immune system; increase blood
pressure, stress, and irritability; and decrease mental
functioning, memory, and higher level processing.
Drugs (such as alcohol, barbiturates, and
opiates) that reduce neural activity and
slow body functions.
Drugs (such as caffeine, nicotine, and the more
powerful amphetamines, cocaine, and Ecstasy) that
excite neural activity and speed up body functions.
Psychedelic ("mind manifesting") drugs, such as
LSD, that distort perceptions and evoke sensory
images in the absence of sensory input.
The diminishing effect with regular use of the same
dose of a drug, requiring the user to take larger and
larger doses before experiencing the drug's effect.
Compulsive drug craving and use,
despite adverse consequences.
Psychoanalytic (personality)
Freud's theory of personality that
attributes thoughts and actions to
unconscious motives and conflicts.
Humanist (personality)
The theory that posits that way you see yourself (Self
Concept) and the positive influences around you
ultimately determine your personality.
Trait (personality)
A theory that attempts to learn what
traits make up personality and how they
relate to actual behavior.
Social Cognitive (personality)
Personality is the result of an interaction that
takes place between a person's thoughts
and their social context (Environment).
Myers Briggs Type Indicator
A personality inventory that asses one
on the theory of psychological types
described by C. G. Jung.
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality
Inventory (MMPI)
The most widely researched and clinically used of all personality
test. Originally developed to identify emotional disorders (still
considered its most appropriate use), this test is now used for
many other screening purposes.
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)
A projective test in which people express their
inner feelings and interests through the stories
they make up about ambiguous scenes.
Giving priority to one's own goals over group goals
and defining one's identity in terms of personal
attributes rather than group identifications.
Giving priority to the goals of one's group
(often one's extended family or work group)
and defining one's identity accordingly.
Classical Conditioning
A type of learning in which an organism comes to associate
stimuli. A neutral stimulus that signals an unconditioned stimulus
(US) begins to produce a response that anticipates and prepares
for the unconditioned stimulus. Also called Pavlovian or
respondent conditioning.
Ivan Pavlov
A Russian physiologist who
developed Classical Conditioning
Unconditioned Stimulus
In classical conditioning, a stimulus that
unconditionally - naturally and
automatically - triggers a response.
Unconditioned Response
In classical conditioning, the unlearned, naturally
occurring response to the unconditioned stimulus
(US), such as salivation when food is in the mouth.
Conditioned Stimulus
In classical conditioning, an originally irrelevant
stimulus that, after association with an unconditioned
stimulus (US), comes to trigger a conditioned
Conditioned Response
In classical conditioning, the learned
response to a previously neutral (but
now conditioned) stimulus (CS).
Neutral Stimulus
In classical conditioning, a stimulus that
naturally triggers no response that then
becomes the conditioned stimulus
The tendency, once a response has been
conditioned, for stimuli similar to the
conditioned stimulus to elicit similar responses.
Robert Rescorla's Model
A model of classical conditioning, in which learning
is conceptualized in terms of associations between
conditioned (CS) and unconditioned (US) stimuli.
Operant Conditioning
A type of learning in which behavior is
strengthened if followed by a reinforcer or
diminished if followed by a punisher.
B.F. Skinner
Positive Reinforcement
Modern behaviorism's most influential and
controversial figure who believed rewarded
behavior is likely to recur. He pioneered operant
Increasing behaviors by presenting positive stimuli,
such as food. A positive reinforcer is any stimulus
that, when presented after a response, strengthens
the response.
Negative Reinforcement
Increasing behaviors by stopping or reducing
negative stimuli, such as shock. A negative reinforcer
is any stimulus that, when removed after a response,
strengthens the response.
Positive Punishment
Decreasing behaviors by presenting negative stimuli,
such as a parking ticket. A positive punishment is any
stimulus that, when presented after a response,
weakens the response.
Negative Punishment
Decreasing behaviors by stopping or reducing
positive stimuli, such as phones. A negative
punishment is any stimulus that, when removed after
a response, weakens the response.
An operant conditioning procedure in which
reinforcers guide behavior toward closer and
closer approximations of the desired behavior.
Observational Learning
Learning by observing others; also
called social learning.
The process of observing and
imitating a specific behavior.
Pro-Social Model
Positive, constructive, helpful behavior.
The opposite of an anti-social model.
Anti-Social Model
Negative, destructive, aggressive
behavior. The opposite of a pro-social