Counseling, Psychotherapy & Self Help Systems A-C

A glossary of terms from psychology, medical & various systems and schools of therapy.

AAMFT - American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists

ablation The removal of tissue with a vacuum or scalpel, sometimes used as a research technique (allowing investigators to ask how an organism functions in the absence of this tissue).

abnormal psychology.

absolute threshold The lowest intensity of some stimulus that produces a response.

ACA - The American Counseling Association

acceptance  conformity that involves both acting and believing in accord with social pressure. One of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of dying, in which the dying come to terms with their approaching death.

accessory structures In sensory processing, the parts of sensory systems that gather external stimulus energies and fashion the proximal stimulus, which the receptors then transduce.

accommodation (1) The process by which the lens is thickened or flattened to focus on an object. (2) In Piaget’s theory of development, one of the twin processes that underlies cognitive development. Seeassimilation and accommodation. The altering of previous concepts in response to new information.

accommodative distortion Retrospective alterations of memory to fit a schema. See alsoschema.

acetylcholine A neurotransmitter found in many parts of the nervous system. Among many other functions, it serves as an excitatory transmitter at the synaptic junctions between muscle fibers and motor neurons.

achromatic colors Colors, such as black, white, and the neutral grays, that do not have the property of hue.

acne vulgaris: a common, chronic skin disease, especially among adolescents and young adults, characterized by inflammation of the sebaceous apparatus, causing pimples on the face, back, and chest.

acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS): a condition in which acquired deficiency of certain leukocytes, especially T cells, results in a variety of infections, some forms of cancer, and the degeneration of the system: caused by a virus that infects T cells and is transmitted via body fluids, especially sexual secretions and blood.

acquisition The initial step toward remembering in which new information is taken in.

across-fiber theory The theory that a certain sensory quality is signaled by the pattern of neural activity across a number of different nerve fibers.

ACSW - Academy of Certified Social Workers - requires 2 years post masters experience in generic social work

action potential A brief change in the electrical potential of an axon, which is the physical basis of the nervous impulse.

activation-synthesis hypothesis An account which holds that dreams may reflect the brain’s aroused state during REM sleep, when the cerebral cortex is active but shut off from sensory input. This helps explain the content and often disjointed form of REM dreams.

active euthanasia: the deliberate termination of life to eliminate pain.

active memorySeeworking memory.

active span tasks Tasks in which research participants are asked to remember materials while simultaneously working on some other task; such tasks are an effective means of measuring working memory’s capacity.

activity dependence A property of neuronal plasticity such that changes in a neuron’s functioning will occur only if that neuron is active (i.e., firing) at the same time as another neuron.

activity theory: sees a positive correlation between keeping active and aging well.

actor-observer difference The difference in attributions made by actors who describe their own actions and observers who describe another person’s. The former emphasizes external, situational causes; the latter, internal, dispositional factors. See alsoattribution theory, fundamental attribution error, self-serving attributional bias.

Actor-observer effect The tendency for people to attribute their own behavior to external causes but that of others to internal factors.

act-outcome representation A type of association hypothesized by Edward Tolman to be the product of instrumental learning; an organism that has acquired this sort of association has acquired the knowledge that a certain type of act leads to a particular outcome.

acuity The ability to distinguish between separate points projected on the retina. Acuity is greatest in the fovea, where the receptors are closely bunched together. Acuteness; keenness, as of thought or vision.

acute stress disorder A reaction sometimes observed in individuals who have experienced a traumatic event that is characterized by recurrent nightmares and waking flashbacks of the traumatic event.

adaptation The process by which the sensitivity to a particular stimulus declines when it is continually presented. A change in behavior to meet situational demands.

adaptation-level phenomenon  the tendency to adapt to a given level of stimulation and thus to notice and react to changes from that level.

adaptive value In evolutionary terms, the extent to which an attribute increases the likelihood of viable offspring.

addiction The result of repeated use of some drugs. The consequences are increased tolerance and withdrawal symptoms, which cause addiction to be self-perpetuating.

additive color mixture Mixing colors by stimulating the eye with two or more sets of wavelengths simultaneously (e.g., by focusing filtered light from two projectors on the same spot). See alsosubtractive color mixture.

adequate stimulus An electrical pulse above the threshold, or critical point, that induces an action potential in a neuron.

adipose cells The cells within the body that provide long-term storage of energy resources, usually in the form of fatty acids that can be converted to glucose when needed.

adolescence: ages 12 to 19.

adolescent growth spurt: a noticeable increase in height and weight during adolescence.

adrenal medulla The inner core of the adrenal gland, which regulates the release of epinephrine (adrenaline) and norepinephrine into the bloodstream.

adrenaline See epinephrine.

adult learners: students age 25 or older.

affective disorder: a mood disorder that causes a person to experience abnormally high and/or low feelings.Seemood disorders.

afferent nerves Nerves that carry messages to the brain.

aftereffect of visual movement An effect observed after one stares at a steadily moving object for a while. If one now looks at a stationary object, it appears to be moving in the direction opposite to the movement observed initially.

age clock: the internal sense of timing of physical and social events that determines the various life stages through which adults pass.

age-30 transition: a stage in the novice phase of early adulthood; early adulthood ranging from ages 28 to 33.

ageism: discrimination against people on the basis of age; specifically, discrimination against, and prejudicial stereotyping of, older people.

Aggression Any form of behavior that is intended to harm or injure some person, oneself, or an object. Physical or verbal behavior intended to hurt someone. In laboratory experiments, this might mean delivering electric shocks or saying something likely to hurt another's feelings. By this social psychological definition, one can be socially assertive without being aggressive.

aggression: forceful, attacking behavior, either constructively self-assertive and self-protective or destructively hostile to others or to oneself.

Aggressive script A guide for behavior and problem solving that is developed and stored in memory, and is characterized by aggression.

agnosia A serious disturbance in the organization of sensory information produced by lesions in certain cortical areas. An example is visual agnosia in which the patient can see but often does not recognize what it is that he sees.

agonists Drugs that enhance the activity of a neurotransmitter, often by increasing the amount of transmitter substance available (e.g., by blocking reuptake or by increasing the availability of precursors).

agoraphobia The fear of being alone and outside of the home, especially in a public place; often observed in those with panic disorder. See alsophobia.

AHP(B) The Association of Humanistic Psychology in Britain. Has a code of Ethics but doesn't accredit. AHP(B) is the `parent` body of UK AHPP and has its own humanistic journal `Self & Society`.

alarm call Special, genetically programmed cry that impels members of a given species to seek cover. A biological puzzle, since it suggests a form of altruism in which the individual giving the call appears to endanger her own survival. See alsoaltruism.

algorithm In computer problem solving, a procedure in which all of the operations are specified step-by-step. See alsoheuristics.

all-or-none law A law that describes the fact that all action potentials have the same amplitude regardless of the stimulus that triggered them.

alpha male The most dominant male in an animal group’s dominance hierarchy. See alsodominance hierarchies.

alpha waves Fairly regular EEG waves, between eight to twelve per second, characteristic of a relaxed, waking state, usually with eyes closed.

alternative hypothesis In statistics, the hypothesis that the null hypothesis is false, that an obtained difference is so far from zero that one has to assume that the mean difference in the population is greater than zero and that the experimental condition has some effect. See alsonull hypothesis.

altruism (1) Acting so as to elevate the interests and welfare of others above one’s own. (2) As used by sociobiologists, any behavior pattern that benefits individuals who are not one’s own offspring (e.g., an alarm call). Such altruism has biological survival value because the altruist’s beneficiaries tend to be close relatives who carry a high proportion of his or her own genes. In cases of reciprocal altruism, altruism is based on the expectation that today’s giver will be tomorrow’s taker. See alsoalarm call. A motive to increase another's welfare without conscious regard for one's self-interests.

Altruistic helping A form of helping in which the ultimate goal of the helper is to increase another's welfare without expecting anything in return.

Alzheimer’s disease A degenerative brain disorder characterized by memory loss followed by increasing disorientation and culminating in total physical and mental helplessness and death. One of the major sites of the destruction is a pathway of acetylcholine-releasing cells leading from the base of the forebrain to the cortex and hippocampus. See alsoacetylcholine. A progressive, irreversible disease characterized by degeneration of the brain cells and commonly leading to severe dementia.

ambidextrous: able to use both hands with equal ease.

ambiguity (in sentence meaning) The case in which a sentence (i.e., one surface structure) has two meanings (i.e., two underlying structures). (For example, "These missionaries are ready to eat" overheard in a conversation between two cannibals.) American Sign Language (ASL) The manual-visual language system of deaf persons in America .

amino acid The building blocks of proteins.

amniocentesis test: the surgical procedure of inserting a hollow needle through the abdominal wall into the uterus of a pregnant woman and extracting amniotic fluid, which may be analyzed to determine the sex of the developing fetus or the presence of disease, genetic defects, and so on.

amnion: the innermost membrane of the sac enclosing the embryo; it is filled with a watery fluid called amniotic fluid.

amniotic fluid: the watery fluid that fills the amniotic sac and cushions the developing fetus against injury and shock and provides constant temperature in the amniotic sac.

amniotic sac: a double-layered membrane formed from the fusion of the amnion and chorion; it encloses the embryo and is filled with amniotic fluid.

amphetamine psychosis A pattern of symptoms similar to those observed in paranoid schizophrenia, but produced by frequent and large doses of amphetamines.

amphetamines Drugs that increase the availability of dopamine norepinephrine, causing increased arousal and excitement. Large doses may lead to frenetic hyperactivity and delusions. See alsoamphetamine psychosis.

amplitude The height of a wave crest, often used as a measure of intensity of a sound or light wave.

amygdala An almond-shaped structure in the temporal lobe that plays a central role in emotion and in the evaluation of stimuli.

anal character According to Freud, a personality type that derives from serious conflicts during the anal stage and is distinguished by three symptomatic traits: compulsive orderliness, stubbornness, and stinginess. See alsoanal stage.

anal expulsive: refers to traits in an adult — such as messiness and altruism — that may be regarded as unconscious psychic residues of the anal stage.

anal retentive: refers to traits in an adult — such as orderliness, stinginess, strict adherence to schedules, and obstinancy — that may be regarded as unconscious psychic residues of the anal stage.

anal stage In psychoanalytic theory, the stage of psychosexual development during which the focus of pleasure is on activities related to elimination. The second stage of psychosexual development, in which interest centers on excretory functions.

analgesic A pain reliever.

analogical representation A representation that shares some of the physical characteristics of an object; for example, a picture of a mouse is an analogical representation because it looks like the small rodent it represents.

analytic intelligence According to some investigators, the type of intelligence typically measured by intelligence tests and crucial for success in academic pursuits.

androgen Any male sex hormone (e.g., testosterone).

Androgyny Possessing many traditionally masculine and feminine personality traits.

anger: one of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of dying, in which the dying feel resentment or rage about their terminal illness.

angiotensin A substance produced by the kidneys when there is a decrease in the amount of liquid passing through them, activating receptors in the brain that monitor the volume of blood and other fluids in the body.

anomia A difficulty in finding words that is often experienced by people with brain injuries.

anorexia nervosa An eating disorder that primarily afflicts young women and that is characterized by an exaggerated concern with being overweight and by compulsive dieting, sometimes to the point of self-starvation and death. See alsobulimia. An eating disorder, chiefly in young women, characterized by aversion to food and obsession with weight loss; manifested in self-induced starvation, excessive exercise, and so on.

A-not-B effect The tendency of infants around nine months of age to search for a hidden object by reaching for place A, where it was previously hidden, rather than a new place B, where it was hidden most recently while the child was watching.

antagonists Drugs that impede the activity of a neurotransmitter, often by decreasing the amount available (e.g., by speeding reuptake and decreasing availability of precursors).

anterograde amnesia A memory deficit suffered after some brain damage. It is an inability to learn and remember any information imparted after the injury, with little effect on memory for information acquired before the injury. See alsoretrograde amnesia.

anticipatory grief: feelings of loss and guilt while the dying person is still alive.

Anticonformity Opposition to social influence on all occasions, often caused by psychological reactance.

antidepressant drugs Drugs that alleviate depressive symptoms, presumably because they increase the availability of certain neurotransmitters (especially norepinephrine and serotonin) at synaptic junctions. The three major classes are monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors and tricyclics, and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors.

antidiuretic hormone (ADH)Seevasopressin.

antipsychotic drugsSeeatypical antipsychotics, classical antipsychotics.

antisocial personality disorder Also called psychopathy or sociopathy. The term describes persons who get into continual trouble with society, are indifferent to others, are impulsive, and have little concern for the future or remorse about the past.

anxiety A global apprehensiveness related to uncertainty.

anxiety disorder: an abnormal state, characterized by a feeling of being powerless and unable to cope with threatening events, typically imaginary, and by physical tension, as shown by sweating, trembling, and so on.Seeacute stress disorder, dissociative disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder, phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), social phobia, specific phobia.

anxiety hierarchySeesystematic desensitization.

anxiolytics More commonly known as minor tranquilizers, these drugs are given to patients suffering from disabling anxiety. Most types work by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter GABA and are highly addictive.

Anxious/ambivalent attachment style An expectation about social relationships characterized by a concern that others will not return affection.

aphagia Refusal to eat (and in an extreme version, to drink) brought about by a lesion of the lateral hypothalamus.

aphasia A disorder of language produced by lesions in certain areas of the cortex. A lesion in Broca’s area leads to nonfluent aphasia, one in Wernicke’s area to fluent aphasia.

apparent movement The perception of movement produced by stimuli that are stationary but flash on and off at appropriate time intervals.

appeasement display A gesture or pattern of behavior which signals that an organism is conceding defeat in a conflict.

appetitive stimulus In instrumental conditioning, a stimulus that the animal will do everything to attain and nothing to prevent.

applied intelligence: practical IQ.

Applied research Research designed to increase the understanding of and solutions to real-world problems by using current social psychological knowledge.

apraxia A serious disturbance in the organization of voluntary action produced by lesions in certain cortical areas, often in the frontal lobes.

arbitration  resolution of a conflict by a neutral third party who studies both sides and imposes a settlement.


archetypes According to Carl Jung, the stories and images that constitute our collective unconscious.

Argument Argument is not being used in the usual sense of a controversy or a quarrel. Rather it is being used in the mathematical sense of "one of the independent values upon whose value the function depends". The function addition requires two values, i.e. 2 and 4. The values 2 and 4 are the arguments that the function addition needs to get the sum 2 + 4 = 6.

Arousal: Cost-reward model A theory that helping or not helping is a function of emotional arousal and analysis of the costs and rewards of helping.

artificial intelligence A field that draws on concepts from both cognitive psychology and computer science to develop artificial systems that display some aspects of humanlike intelligence. Examples are computer programs that recognize patterns or solve certain kinds of problems.

asexual: not having sexual interests or abilities.

assertiveness training A technique sometimes used by therapists to help patients develop skills in interpersonal relations. In this technique, patients are encouraged to state their needs clearly, negotiate confidently, and persevere when thwarted.

assimilation and accommodation In Piaget’s theory, the twin processes by means of which cognitive development proceeds. Assimilation is the process whereby the environment is interpreted in terms of the schemas the child has at the time. Accommodation is the way the child changes his schemas as he continues to interact with the environment.

assimilation: the application of previous concepts to new concepts.

assisted suicide: suicide committed with the assistance of a physician by a person terminally ill or in unmanageable pain.

association A linkage between two psychological processes as a result of past experience in which the two have occurred together. A broad term that subsumes conditioning and association of ideas among others.

association areas A name sometimes given to regions of the cortex that are not primary projection areas. They tend to be involved in the integration of sensory information or of motor commands.

associative links Connections in memory that tie one memory, or one concept, to another.

associative retrieval A type of memory retrieval that seems swift and effortless: The sought-after information simply "pops" into mind.

Attachment A strong emotional relationship between an infant and a caregiver. The tendency of the young of many species to stay in close proximity to an adult, usually their mother. See alsoimprinting. The bond between a mother and child; also, the process whereby one individual seeks nearness to another individual.

attention A collective label for all the processes by which we perceive selectively.

attitude A fairly stable, evaluative disposition that makes a person think, feel, or behave positively or negatively about some person, group, or social issue. A positive or negative evaluation of an object. A favorable or unfavorable evaluative reaction toward something or someone, exhibited in one's beliefs, feelings, or intended behavior.

attitude inoculation  exposing people to weak attacks upon their attitudes so that when stronger attacks come, they will have refutations available.

attractiveness  having qualities that appeal to an audience. An appealing communicator (often someone similar to the audience) is most persuasive on matters of subjective preference.

attribution An interpretive process by which we reach a judgment about the cause(s) of an act or achievement. The process by which people use information to make inferences about the causes of behavior or events.

attribution theory A theory about the process by which we try to explain a person’s behavior, attributing it to situational factors or to inferred dispositional qualities or both. See alsoactor-observer difference, fundamental attribution error, self-serving attributional bias.

attribution theory the theory of how people explain others' behavior; for example, by attributing it either to internal dispositions (enduring traits, motives, and attitudes) or to external situations.

attributional styleSeeexplanatory style.

attribution-of-arousal theory An approach that combines the James-Lange emphasis on bodily feedback with a cognitive approach to emotion. Various stimuli can trigger a general state of arousal, which is then inter-preted in light of the subject’s present situation and shaped into a specific emotional experience.

atypical antipsychotics Drugs (such as Clozaril, Risperdal, and Zyprexa) that operate by blocking receptors for both dopamine and serotonin; these drugs seem to be effective in treating schizophrenic patients’ positive symptoms, such as thought disorders and hallucinations, as well as their negative symptoms, such as apathy and emotional blunting.

Audience inhibition effect People are inhibited from helping for fear that other bystanders will evaluate them negatively if they intervene and the situation is not an emergency.

audition The sense of hearing.

auditory canal The tube that carries sound from the outer ear to the eardrum.

authoritarian parents: parents who demonstrate high parental control and low parental warmth when interacting with their children.

authoritarian personality A cluster of personal attributes (e.g., submission to persons above and harshness to those below) and social attitudes (e.g., prejudice against minority groups) that is sometimes held to constitute a distinct personality. A personality trait characterized by submissiveness to authority, rigid adherence to conventional values, and prejudice toward outgroups.

authoritative parents: parents who demonstrate appropriate levels of both parental control and parental warmth.

authoritative-reciprocal pattern A pattern of child rearing in which parents exercise considerable power but also respond to the child’s point of view and reasonable demands. Parents following this pattern set rules of conduct and are fairly demanding but also encourage the child’s independence and self-expression.

autocratic pattern A pattern of child rearing in which the parents control the child strictly, setting stern and usually unexplained rules whose infraction leads to severe, often physical, punishment.

Autokinetic effect An optical illusion that occurs when someone stares at a stationary point of light in a darkened room where there is no frame of reference. The light appears to move in various directions. Self (auto) motion (kinetic). The apparent movement of a stationary point of light in the dark. Perhaps you have experienced this when thinking you have spotted a moving satellite in the sky, only to realize later that it was merely an isolated star.

automatization A process whereby components of a skilled activity become subsumed under a higher-order organization and are run off automatically.

autonomic nervous system (ANS) A part of the nervous system that controls the internal organs, usually not under voluntary control.

autonomy: the ability to function independently without control by others.

availability heuristic A rule of thumb often used to make probability estimates, which depends on the frequency with which certain events readily come to mind. This can lead to errors, since, for example, very vivid events will be remembered out of proportion to their actual frequency of occurrence. The tendency to judge thefrequency or probability of an even in terms of how easy it is to think of examples of that event.

availability heuristic  an efficient but fallible rule-of-thumb that judges the likelihood of things in terms of their availability in memory. If instances of something come readily to mind, we presume it to be commonplace.

aversion therapy A form of behavior therapy in which the undesirable response leads to an aversive stimulus (e.g., the patient shocks herself every time she reaches for a cigarette).

Aversive racism Attitudes toward members of a racial group that incorporate both egalitarian social values and negative emotions, causing one to avoid interaction with members of the group.

aversive stimulus In instrumental conditioning, a stimulus such as an electric shock, which the animal does everything to avoid and nothing to attain.

avoidance learning Instrumental learning in which the response averts an aversive stimulus before it occurs. See alsoescape learning, punishment training.

Avoidant attachment style An expectation about social relationships characterized by a lack of trust and a suppression of attachment needs.

axon Part of a neuron that transmits impulses to other neurons or effectors.

axon terminals The knoblike swellings on the ends of an axon. The terminals contain the synaptic vesicles that are filled with neurotransmitters.

babble: the meaningless sounds babies make while learning to control their vocalizations.

backward pairing A classical conditioning procedure in which the conditioned stimulus (CS) follows the unconditioned stimulus ( US ). See alsoforward pairing, simultaneous pairing.

BACP The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy. An advisory charitable organisation concerned with setting standards for counselling and training nationally. It has a complaints procedure, code of ethics and practice. It also accredits, although you can belong to it without being accredited by it.

bacteria: tiny creatures making up a division (Bacteria) of microorganisms that are typically one-celled, have no chlorophyll, multiply by simple division, and can be seen only with a microscope: They occur in three main forms, spherical (cocci), rod-shaped (bacilli), and spiral (spirilla); some bacteria cause diseases such as pneumonia and anthrax, and others are necessary for fermentation, nitrogen fixation, and so on.

Balance theory A theory that people desire cognitive consistency or balance in their thoughts, feelings, and social relationships.

ballottement: a type of pelvic examination in which a physician or nurse feels for a fetus in the uterus.

bargaining  seeking an agreement through direct negotiation between parties to a conflict. One of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of dying in which the dying tries to bargain with God or another religious figure, promising to change, make amends, or atone for his or her wrongdoings in order to avoid death.

Barnum effect Describes the fact that a description of one’s personality will often be uncritically accepted as valid if it is stated in sufficiently general terms.

basal ganglia In the extrapyramidal motor system, a set of subcortical structures in the cerebrum that send messages to the spinal cord through the midbrain to modulate various motor functions.

base rateSeerepresentativeness heuristic.

basic emotions According to some theorists, a small set of elemental, built-in emotions revealed by distinctinve patterns of physiological reaction and facial expression. See alsofacial feed-back hypothesis.

Basic research Research designed to increase knowledge about social behavior.

basic: intelligence academic IQ.

basilar membraneSeecochlea.

Basking in reflected glory (BIRGing) Actively identifying with and embracing the success and positive evaluations of others as is they were one's own.

BCD - Board Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work - 5 years post masters experience in a full time clinical setting

behavior therapy A general approach to psychological treatment which (1) holds that the disorders to which it addresses itself are produced by maladaptive learning and must be remedied by reeducation, (2) proposes techniques for this reeducation based on principles of learning and conditioning, (3) focuses on the maladaptive behaviors as such rather than on hypothetical unconscious processes of which they may be expressions.

behavioral confirmation  a type of self-fulfilling prophecy whereby people's social expectations lead them to act in ways that cause others to confirm their expectations.

behavioral contrast A pattern of responding in which an organism seems to evaluate a reward relative to other rewards that are available or that have been available recently. For example, an animal might respond only weakly to a reward of two pellets if it recently received a reward of five pellets for some other response.

behavioral medicine  an interdisciplinary field that integrates and applies behavioral and medical knowledge about health and disease.

behavioral-cognitive approach to personality An approach that defines personality differences by the way in which different people act and think about their actions. It tends to emphasize situational determinants and prior learning in trying to explain how such differences come about. See alsohumanistic approach, psychodynamic approach, sociocultural approach, situationism, trait theory.

Behaviorism A school of psychological thought that advocates the study of observable behavior rather than unobservable mental processes.

behaviorism A theoretical outlook that emphasizes the role of environment and of learning and insists that people must be studied objectively and from the outside.

Belief An estimate of the probability that something is true.

belief perserverance  persistence of one's initial conceptions, as when the basis for one's belief is discredited but an explanation of why the belief might be true survives.

belongingness in learning The fact that the ease with which associations are formed depends upon the items to be associated. This holds for classical conditioning in which some CS-US combinations are more effective than others (e.g., learned taste aversions) and for instrumental conditioning in which some response-reinforcer combinations work more easily than others (e.g., specific defense reactions in avoidance conditioning of species). See alsobiological constraints, equipotentiality.

bereavement: to be left in a sad or lonely state, as by loss or death.

beta rhythm A rhythmic pattern in the electrical activity of the brain, often observed when one is engaged in active thought.

between-family differences In research on the genetics of behavior, a term often used to refer to the role of environment. It describes environmental differences that apply to entire families, such as differences in socioeconomic status, religion, or child-rearing attitudes. For most personality attributes, these seem to be less important than within-family differences. See alsowithin-family differences.

between-group heritability The extent to which variation between groups (as in the difference between the mean IQs of U.S. whites and blacks) is attributable to genetic factors. See alsoheritability ratio (H), within-group heritability.

bibliotherapy: dealing with death by reading books about dying.

bidirectional activation models Models of pattern recognition in which elements are activated as well as inhibited from both lower levels (bottom-up processing) and higher levels (top-down processing).

Big Five A nickname often used to refer to Warren Norman’s five dimensions of personality: extroversion, neuroticism (or emotional instability), agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience. These five traits often emerge from factor analyses of trait terms.

bilingual: using or capable of using two languages, especially with equal or nearly equal facility.

binding problem The problem confronted by the brain of recombining the elements of a stimulus, once these elements have been separately analyzed by different neural systems.

binocular disparity An important cue for depth perception. Each eye obtains a different view of an object, the disparity becoming less pronounced the farther the object is from the observer.

biological constraints Principles governing what each species can learn easily and what it cannot learn at all. See also belongingness in learning.

biomedical model An approach to mental disorders that emphasizes somatogenic causes.

biopsychosocial: perspective studies human development by examining the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.

bipolar cells The intermediate neural cells in the eye that are stimulated by the receptors and excite the ganglion cells.

bipolar disorder A mood disorder in which the patient swings from one emotional extreme to another, experiencing both manic and depressive episodes. Formerly called manic-depressive psychosis. A psychotic disorder characterized by alternating periods of mania and mental depression; manic-depressive illness.

birth trauma: injury incurred during birth.

bisexual: sexually attracted to both sexes.

bisexuality A sexual orientation in which a person has erotic and romantic feelings for both their own and the opposite sex.

blastocyst: an embryo at the stage of development in which it consists of usually one layer of cells around a central cavity, forming a hollow sphere.

blended families: stepfamilies, in which new family units are made up of children from previous marriages.

blind spot The region of the eye that contains no visual receptors and therefore cannot produce visual sensations.

blindsight The ability of a person with a lesion in the visual cortex to reach toward or guess at the orientation of objects projected on the part of the visual field that corresponds to this lesion, even though they report that they can see absolutely nothing in that part of their visual field.

blocking effect An effect produced when two conditioned stimuli, A and B, are both presented together with the unconditioned stimulus ( US ). If stimulus A has previously been associated with the unconditioned stimulus while B has not, the formation of an association between stimulus B and the US will be impaired (that is, blocked).

blood-brain barrier Specialized membranes that surround the blood vessels within the brain and that filter toxins and other harmful chemicals, ensuring brain cells’ a relatively pure blood supply.

Body esteem A person's attitudes toward his or her body.

bogus pipeline  a procedure that fools people into disclosing their attitudes. Participants are first convinced that a machine can use their psychological responses to measure their private attitudes. Then they are asked to predict the machine's reading, thus revealing their attitudes.

borderline personality: disorder a mental illness characterized by rapid shifts in the liking and hating of self and others.

bottom-up processes Processes in form segregation that start with smaller component parts and gradually build up to the larger units (e.g. from letters to words to phrases). Seetop-down processes.

breech presentation: the delivery of a fetus presenting itself with its buttocks or feet first.

brightness A perceived dimension of visual stimuli — the extent to which they appear light or dark.

brightness contrast The perceiver’s tendency to exaggerate the physical difference in the light intensities of two adjacent regions. As a result, a gray patch looks brighter on a black background, darker on a white background.

brightness ratio The ratio between the light reflected by a region and the light reflected by the area that surrounds it. According to one theory, perceived brightness is determined by this ratio.

Broca’s area A brain area in the frontal lobe crucial for language production. See also aphasia.

bulimia An eating disorder characterized by repeated binge-and-purge bouts. In contrast to anorexics, bulimics tend to be of roughly normal weight. See alsoanorexia nervosa. An eating disorder, chiefly in young women, characterized by the gorging of large quantities of food followed by purging, as through self-induced vomiting.

burnout: a state of mental exhaustion characterized by feelings of helplessness and loss of control, as well as the inability to cope with or complete assigned work.

bystander effect The phenomenon that underlies many examples of failing to help strangers in distress: The larger the group a person is in (or thinks he is in), the less likely he is to come to a stranger’s assistance. One reason is diffusion of responsibility (no one thinks it is his responsibility to act). The finding that a person is less likely to provide help when there are other bystanders.

Bystander intervention model A theory that whether bystanders intervene in an emergency is a function of a 5-step decision making process.

California Psychological Inventory (CPI) A commonly used personality test, aimed especially at high-school and college students, that tests for traits such as dominance, sociability, responsibility, and so on.

cannula A tiny tube used to inject or withdraw small quantities of brain chemicals.

case study An observational study in which one person is studied intensively. See alsosingle-case experiment.

case study research: research in which an investigator studies an individual who has a rare or unusual condition or who has responded favorably to a new treatment.

catatonic schizophrenia A subcategory of schizophrenia. Its main symptoms are peculiar motor patterns, such as periods in which the patient is immobile and maintains strange positions for hours on end.

catch trials Trials in a signal detection experiment in which no signal is presented. These trials ensure that the observer is taking the task seriously and truly trying to determine whether a signal is present or not.

catecholamines A family of neurotransmitters that have an activating function, including epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine.

categorical scale A scale that divides responses into categories that are not numerically related. See alsointerval scale, nominal scale, ordinal scale, ratio scale.

catharsis An explosive release of hitherto dammed-up emotions that is sometimes believed to have therapeutic effects. The reduction in the aggressive drive following an aggressive act. Emotional release. The catharsis view of aggression is that aggressive drive is reduced when one "releases" aggressive energy, either by acting aggressively or by fantasizing aggression.

celibate: abstaining from sexual intercourse.

central fissure The visible fissure in the brain that separates the frontal and parietal lobes.

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

central pattern generators (CPGs) Circuits in the nervous system that orchestrate lower level reflexes and other neural activities into larger, organized acts. CPGs instigate certain crucial basic actions, such as, chewing, breathing, locomotion, etc.

Central route to persuasion Persuasion that occurs when people think carefully about a communication and are influenced by the strength of its arguments. The path of persuasion when the issue being discussed matters to the listener and the listener is not distracted. Persuasiveness will be increased by convincing arguments; other considerations (whether the person offering the arguments is attractive, the number of arguments offered) are less important. See alsoperipheral route to persuasion.

central route to persuasion  persuasion that occurs when interested people focus on the arguments and respond with favorable thoughts.

central tendency The tendency of scores in a frequency distribution to cluster around a central value. See alsomeasure of central tendency, variability.

central trait A trait that is associated with many other attributes of the person who is being judged. Warmth and coldness are central because they are important in determining overall impressions. Traits that exert a disproportionate influence on people's overall impressions, causing them to assume the presence of other traits.

cephalocaudal order: the order in which fetal development occurs, beginning with the head and ending with the lower body and extremities.

cerebellum Two small hemispheres that form part of the hindbrain and control muscular coordination and equilibrium.

cerebral cortex The outermost layer of the gray matter of the cerebral hemispheres.

cerebral hemisphere: either of the two lateral halves of the cerebrum. Two hemispherical structures that comprise the major part of the forebrain in mammals and serve as the main coordinating center of the nervous system.

cesarean section (C-section): a surgical operation for delivering a baby by cutting through the mother's abdominal and uterine walls.

channel of communication  the way the message is delivered-whether face to face, in writing, on film, or in some other way.

child development: the maturation of children.

child molestation: the sexual abuse of a child, which occurs when a teenager or adult entices or forces a child to participate in sexual activity.

child physical abuse: the intentional infliction of pain, injury, and harm onto a child.

childhood amnesia The failure to remember the events of our very early childhood. This is sometimes ascribed to massive change in retrieval cues, sometimes to different ways of encoding memories in early childhood.

chloasma: a skin discoloration on the face and chest, resulting from pregnancy, disease, malnutrition, and so on.


choice reaction time A measure of the speed of mental processing in which the subject has to choose between one of several responses depending upon which stimulus is presented.

cholecystokinin (CCK) A hormone released by the duodenum that appears to send a "stop eating" message to the brain.

chorion: the outermost of the two membranes that completely envelop a fetus.

chorionic villi: small fingerlike projections in the placenta through which fetal blood circulates.

chorionic villus: sampling a test for detecting genetic abnormalities, determining sex, and so on in a fetus: Tissue samples of chorionic villus are removed from the uterus.

chromatic colors Colors that have a discernible hue. These are in contrast to the achromatic colors, which include black, the various shades of gray, and white.

chromosomes Structures in the nucleus of each cell that contain the genes, the units of hereditary transmission. A human cell has forty-six chromosomes, arranged in twenty-three pairs. One of these pairs consists of the sex chromosomes. In males, one member of the pair is an X-chromosome, the other a Y-chromosome. In females, both members are X-chromosomes. See alsogene, X-chromosome. Any of the microscopic rod-shaped bodies formed by the incorporation of the chromatin in a cell nucleus during mitosis and meiosis: They carry the genes that convey hereditary characteristics, and are constant in number for each species.

chronological age: actual age.

chunking A process of reorganizing (or recoding) materials in memory that permits a number of items to be packed into a larger unit.

circadian rhythm A rhythm that spans about a twenty-four-hour day, such as that of the sleep-waking cycle. Circadian rhythms in humans originate from a clock circuit in the hypothalamus that is set by information from the optic nerve about whether it is day or night.

classical antipsychotics Drugs (such as Thorazine and Haldol) that operate by blocking receptors for dopamine; these drugs seem to be effective in treating many schizophrenic patients’ positive symptoms, such as thought disorders and hallucinations. Also called major tranquillizers and neuroleptics.

classical conditioning (Pavlovian): a situation in which learning occurs by association when a stimulus that evokes a certain response becomes associated with a different stimulus that originally did not cause that response. A form of learning in which a hitherto neutral stimulus, the conditioned stimulus (CS), is paired with an unconditioned stimulus ( US ) regardless of what the animal does. In effect, what has to be learned is the relation between these two stimuli. See alsoinstrumental conditioning. Learning through association, when a neutral stimulus (conditioned stimulus) is paired with a stimulus (unconditioned stimulus) that naturally produces an emotional response.

classical psychoanalysis The method developed by Sigmund Freud which assumes that a patient’s ills stem from unconscious defenses against unacceptable urges that date back to early childhood.

classification: the ability to group according to features.

client-centered therapy A humanistic psychotherapy developed by Carl Rogers. See alsohumanistic therapies.

clinical psychology  the study, assessment, and treatment of people with psychological difficulties.

closure A factor in visual grouping. The perceptual tendency to fill in gaps in a figure so that it looks complete.

co-actors  co-participants working individually on a noncompetitive activity.

cochlea A coiled structure in the inner ear that contains the basilar membrane whose deformation by sound-produced pressure stimulates the auditory receptors.

cocktail-party effect The effect one experiences in settings such as noisy parties, where one tunes in to the voice of the person one is talking to and filters out the other voices as background noise. This phenomenon is often taken as the model for studying selective attention based on listening to speech.

coding The translation of stimulus information into various dimensions of sensation (e.g., intensity and quality) that are actually experienced.

cognitive appraisal: how people perceive and interpret the effects that situations have on them.

cognitive components The mental processes needed to solve complex problems. Some theories of intelligence propose that individuals differ in their skill in using these component mental processes.

cognitive consistency A state in which one’s beliefs and preferences are consistent with each other.

Cognitive consistency The tendency to seek consistency in one's cognitions.

cognitive development Intellectual growth from infancy to adulthood.

cognitive dissonance An inconsistency among some experiences, beliefs, attitudes, or feelings. According to dissonance theory, this sets up an unpleasant state that people try to reduce by reinterpreting some part of their experiences to make them consistent with the others. Tension that arises when one is simultaneously aware of two inconsistent cognitions. For example, dissonance may occur when we realize that we have, with little justification, acted contrary to our attitudes or made a decision favoring one alternative despite reasons favoring another.

cognitive map A mental representation of an environment’s spatial layout.

cognitive neuropsychology A field of inquiry in which evidence of damage to certain areas of the brain and corresponding changes in behavior are used to make inferences about underlying psychological functions.

cognitive therapy An approach to therapy that tries to change some of the patient’s habitual modes of thinking about herself, her situation, and her future. It is related to behavioral therapy because it regards such thought patterns as a form of behavior.

cognitive-behavioral model An approach to mental disorders that emphasizes the role of faulty habits of thought, such as pessimistic or catastrophic thinking.

cohabitation: to live together as husband and wife, especially when not legally married.

cohesiveness  a "we feeling"; the extent to which members of a group are bound together, such as by attraction for one another.

collateral sprouts New branches grown on previously damaged axons, allowing some recovery of function.

collective unconscious A set of primordial stories and images, hypothesized by Carl Jung to be shared by all of humanity, that underlie and shape our perceptions and desires.

collectivism A cultural pattern in which people are considered to be fundamentally interdependent and obligations within one’s family and immediate community are emphasized. Many of the societies of Latin America, and most of the cultures of Asia and Africa , are collectivist. See alsoindividualism. A philosophy of life stressing the priority of group needs over individual needs, a preference for tightly knit social relationships, and a willingness to submit to the influence of one's group. Giving priority to the goals of one's groups (often one's extended family or work group) and defining one's identity accordingly.

color circle A means of representing the visible hues, arranged in a circle according to perceptual similarity.

color disk A two-dimensional object allowing one to display two of the dimensions of color: saturation and hue. Saturation is represented by radius (with achromatic colors at the center of the disk and fully saturated colors at the periphery), and hue is represented by angular position around the disk.

color solid A three-dimensional object allowing one to display all three dimensions of color: brightness, saturation, and hue. Brightness is represented by height (with black at the bottom and white at the top), saturation by radius (with achromatic colors at the center of the solid and fully saturated colors at the periphery), and hue by angular position around the solid.

colostrum: the first fluid, rich in protein, secreted by the mother's mammary glands for several days just after birth of the young.

common sense As used in the discussion of artificial intelligence, the term refers to an understanding of what is relevant to a problem.

companionate love A state of emotion (usually contrasted with romantic love) characterized by the affection we feel for those whose lives are deeply intertwined with our own. The affection we feel for those with whom our lives are deeply entwined. The affection we feel for those with whom our lives are deeply intertwined. A relationship in which two people are both committed and intimate, but not passionate.

comparative method A research method in which one makes systematic comparisons among different species in order to gain insights into the function of a particular structure or behavior, or the evolutionary origins of that structure or behavior.

compensatory reaction An internally produced response through which the body seeks to reduce the effects of some external influence by producing a reaction opposite in its characteristics to those of the external influence. For example, the body produces an increase in pain sensitivity in response to the decrease in pain sensitivity caused by morphine, thereby canceling out morphine’s reaction and so producing drug tolerance.

complementarity  the popularly supposed tendency, in a relationship between two people, for each to complete what is missing in the other. The questionable complementarity hypothesis proposes that people attract those whose needs are different, in ways that complement their own.

complementary colors Two colors that, when additively mixed with each other in the right proportions, produce the sensation of gray.

complex cells A type of cell in the visual cortex that is sensitive to an input’s orientation and so fires at its maximal rate only if the input is tilted appropriately. These cells are often sensitive to the direction of movement of a target.

complex partial seizure disorder (CPSD) A kind of epilepsy that seems to make neurons within the amygdala hyperactive, leading sufferers to attach inappropriate emotional and motivational significance to objects, places, and events.

Compliance Publicly acting in accord with a direct request. Conformity that involves publicly acting in accord with social pressure while privately disagreeing. Obedience is acting in accord with a direct order.

compulsionsSeeobsessive-compulsive disorders.

concept A class or category that subsumes a number of individual instances. An important way of relating concepts is through propositions, which make some assertion that relates a subject (e.g., chickens) and a predicate (e.g., lay eggs).

conception: when a sperm and egg unite, resulting in an embryo or fetus.

concordance The probability that a person who stands in a particular familial relationship to a patient (e.g., an identical twin) has the same disorder as the patient.

concrete operations period In Piaget’s theory, the period from ages six or seven to about eleven. At this time, the child has acquired mental operations that allow him to abstract some essential attributes of reality, such as number and substance, but these operations are as yet applicable only to concrete events and cannot be considered entirely in the abstract.

conditioned emotional response (CER) A technique in which a conditioned stimulus evokes fear, which in turn suppresses whatever other activities the animal is currently engaged in. For example, a rat will no longer press a lever for a food reward after several trials involving a light or tone that precedes an electrical shock.

conditioned reflexSeeconditioned response.

conditioned reinforcer An initially neutral stimulus that acquires reinforcing properties through pairing with another stimulus that is already reinforcing.

conditioned response (CR) A response elicited by some initially neutral stimulus, the conditioned stimulus (CS), as a result of pairings between that CS and an unconditioned stimulus (US). This CR is typically not identical with the unconditioned response though it often is similar to it. See alsoconditioned stimulus (CS), unconditioned response (UR), unconditioned stimulus (US).

conditioned stimulus (CS) In classical conditioning, the stimulus which comes to elicit a new response by virtue of pairings with the unconditioned stimulus. See alsoconditioned response (CR), unconditioned response (UR), unconditioned stimulus (US).

cones Visual receptors that respond to greater light intensities and give rise to chromatic (color) sensations.

confabulation Sincere but false recollections, usually produced when one encounters a gap in the memory record and (unwittingly) tries to fill this gap.

Confederate An accomplice of an experimenter whom research participants assume is a fellow participant or bystander. An accomplice of the experimenter.

confidence interval An interval around a sample mean within which the population mean is likely to fall. In common practice, the largest value of the interval is 2 standard errors above the mean and the smallest value is 2 standard errors below it.

confirmation bias The tendency to seek evidence to support one’s hypothesis rather than to look for evidence that will undermine the hypothesis. A tendency to search for information that confirms one's preconceptions.

conflict  a perceived incompatibility of actions or goals.

Conformity A yielding to perceived group pressure. The act of going along with what other people think or do. Evidence suggests that there are two main reasons people conform: the desire to be right and the desire to be liked. A change in behavior or belief as a result of real or imagined group pressure.

confounds Uncontrolled factors in an experiment that could systematically influence the outcome.

congenital defects: birth defects existing as such at birth.

conjunction of features In a visual search procedure, a target that is composed of several different features (i.e., a red X as opposed to the feature red or the feature diagonal). Search times required to find these kinds of targets are longer and increase with the number of distractors that are displayed.

connectionist models A model of how information in memory is re-trieved that relies on distributed representations. In a distributed representation, a concept is conveyed by a pattern of activation across an entire network, rather than by the activation of a single node. In such models, processing depends on having just the right links between concepts, at just the right strengths.

conservation of number In Piaget’s theory, the understanding that the number of objects in a group remains constant despite any changes in their spatial arrangement (e.g., a child at age six realizes that there is the same number of objects in a row of six closely spaced bottles as in a row of six bottles spaced far apart).

conservation of quantity In Piaget’s theory, the understanding that the quantity of a substance remains unchanged despite a visible change in appearance (thus in liquid conservation, the realization that the amount of liquid remains the same when poured from a tall, thin beaker into a short, wide jar).

conservation: the concept that physical properties remain constant even as appearance and form changes.

construct validity The extent to which performance on a test fits into a theoretical schema about the attribute the test tries to measure.

consummate love: the ideal form of love in adulthood that involves three components: passion, intimacy, and commitment.

Contact hypothesis The theory that under certain conditions, direct contact between antagonistic groups will reduce prejudice.

content morphemes Morphemes that carry the main burden of meaning (e.g., strange). This is in contrast to function morphemes that add details to the meaning but also serve various grammatical purposes (e.g., the suffixes s and er, the connecting words and, or, if, and so on).

contextual intelligence: the ability to apply intelligence practically, including taking into account social, cultural, and historical contexts.

contiguity The togetherness in time and space of two events, which is sometimes regarded as the condition that leads to association.

contingency A relation between two events in which one is dependent upon another. If the contingency is greater than zero, then the probability of event A will be greater when event B is present than when it is absent.

contingency management A form of behavior therapy in which the environment is structured such that certain behaviors are reliably followed by well-defined consequences.

Contingency model of leadership The theory that leadership effectiveness depends both on whether leaders are task oriented or relationship oriented, and on the degree to which they have situational control.

continuing education classes: taken by adults to expand their knowledge or skills for personal or work-related development.

continuity versus discontinuity: debate examines the question of whether development is solely and evenly continuous, or whether it is marked by age-specific periods.

contralateral control The pattern in which movements on the right side of the body are controlled by the left half of the brain, while movements on the left side of the body are controlled by the right half of the brain. Contralateral control is seen in nearly all vertebrate nervous systems.

control group A group to which the experimental manipulation is not applied.

Control group Experimental participants who are not exposed to the independent variable.

conventional morality: characterized by conformity, helping others, obeying the law, and keeping order.

convergence The movement of the eyes as they swivel so that both eyes are pointing toward the same visual target.

conversion disorders Formerly called conversion hysteria. A condition in which there are physical symptoms that seem to have no physical basis. They instead appear to be linked to psychological factors and are often believed to serve as a means of reducing anxiety. See alsohysteria.

conversion hysteriaSeeconversion disorders.

convolutions The wrinkles visible in the cortex that allow the enormous surface area of the human cortex to be stuffed into the relatively small space of the skull.

cooperative learning: adult-supervised education that relies on peers' interacting, sharing, planning, and supporting each other.

cornea The eye’s transparent outer coating.

corpus callosum A bundle of fibers that connects the two cerebral hemispheres. The bands of neural fibers connecting the two cerebral hemispheres.

corpus luteum: during the early stages of pregnancy, a mass of yellow tissue formed in the ovary by a ruptured graafian follicle that has discharged its ovum: If the ovum is fertilized, this tissue secretes the hormone progesterone, needed to maintain pregnancy.

correct negativeSeepayoff matrix.

correlation coefficient (r) A number that expresses both the size and the direction of a correlation, varying from +1.00 (perfect positive correlation) through 0.00 (absence of any correlation) to -1.00 (perfect negative correlation). A statistical measure of the direction and strength of the linear relationship between two variables, which can range from -1.00 to +1.00.

correlation The tendency of two variables to vary together. If one goes up as the other goes up, the correlation is positive; if one goes up as the other goes down, the correlation is negative.

correlational research  the study of the naturally occurring relationships among variables.

Correlational studies Research designed to examine the nature of the relationship between two or more naturally occurring variables. Studies in which the investigator is seeking to observe the relationship among variables that were in place prior to the study (as opposed to factors that the investigator creates or manipulates).

correspondence problem In a moving display, the difficulty in determining which aspects of the display now visible correspond to which aspects of the display visible a moment ago.

Correspondent inference An inference that the action of an actor corresponds to, or is indicative of, a stable personal characteristic.

cortexSeecerebral cortex. The higher areas of the brain, which are responsible for thinking and planning.

co-sleeping children: sleeping in the same bed as their parents.

counterconditioning A procedure for weakening a classically conditioned response (CR) by connecting the stimuli that presently evoke it to a new response that is incompatible with the CR.

counterfactual thinking  imagining what might have happened, but didn't.

Covariation principle A principle of attribution theory stating that for something to be the cause of a particular behavior, it must be present when the behavior occurs and absent when it does not occur.


cranial nerves The twelve pairs of nerves that enter and exit directly from the hindbrain. These nerves control movements of the head and neck, carry sensations from them including vision, olfaction, and audition, and regulate the various glandular secretions in the head.

creative intelligence The form of intelligence alleged by some authors as essential for devising new ideas or new strategies. Often contrasted with analytic intelligence or practical intelligence.

credibility  believability. A credible communicator is perceived as both expert and trustworthy.

criterion groups Groups whose test performance sets the validity criterion for certain tests (e.g., the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, MMPI, which uses several psychiatric criterion groups to define most of its subscales).

critical period A period in the development of an organism when it is particularly sensitive to certain environmental influences. Outside of this period, the same environmental influences have little effect (e.g., the period during which a duckling can be imprinted). After embryonic development, this phenomenon is rarely all-or-none. As a result, most developmental psychologists prefer the term sensitive period. Times of increased and favored sensitivity to particular aspects of development.

critical ratio A score, usually a z-score, that determines whether an investigator will accept or reject the null hypothesis. If a test score exceeds the critical ratio, the null hypothesis is rejected.

cross-cultural approachSeesociocultural approach.

cross-cultural method The study of the relation between a culture’s beliefs and practices and the typical personality characteristics of its members. See alsosociocultural approach.

cross-cultural research: research designed to reveal variations existing across different groups of people.

cross-gender behaviors: behaviors stereotypical of the opposite sex.

cross-sectional study: a study in which a number of different-age individuals with the same trait or characteristic of interest are studied at a single time.

cross-sequential study: a study in which individuals in a cross-sectional sample are tested more than once over a specified period of time.

crowding  a subjective feeling of not having enough space per person.

crowning: the point during labor when the baby's head can be seen at the vaginal orifice.

crystallized intelligence The repertoire of information, cognitive skills, and strategies acquired by the application of fluid intelligence to various fields. This is said to increase with age, in some cases into old age. See alsofluid intelligence. The ability to use learned information collected throughout a life span.

CSW - Clinical Social Worker

CT scan (Computerized Tomography) A technique for examining brain structure in living humans by constructing a composite X-ray picture based on views from all different angles. Also called CAT (Computerized Axial Tomography) scan.

culminating phase: a phase of early adulthood that ranges from ages 33 to 45.

cult (also called new religious movement)  a group typically characterized by (1) distinctive ritual and beliefs related to its devotion to a god or a person, (2) isolation from the surrounding "evil" culture, and (3) a charismatic leader. (A sect, by contrast, is a spinoff from a major religion.)

cultural anthropology A branch of anthropology that compares the similarities and differences among human cultures.

cultural display rules Learned but deeply ingrained conventions that govern what facial expressions of emotion may or may not be shown in what contexts.

culture fairness of a test The extent to which test performance does not depend upon information or skills provided by one culture but not another.

Culture The total lifestyle of a people from a particular social grouping, including all the ideas, symbols, preferences, and material objects that they share.The enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next.

culture-fair IQ tests: tests that are fair for all members in a culture. Tests without cultural content.

cupboard theory A hypothesis about the infant’s attachment to the primary caregiver; according to this theory, the attachment is motivated largely by the fact that the mother is a source of nourishment (whether through breast or bottle).

curare A drug that completely paralyzes the skeletal musculature but does not affect visceral reactions.

Cutting off reflected failure (CORFing) Actively disidentifying with and distancing oneself from the failures or negative evaluations of others.