data driven See bottom-up.
DCSW - Diplomate in Clinical Social Work
death education: provides people with information on dying, legal issues, and various practical matters.
death: the permanent cessation of all life functions.
debrief: to give information concerning research that has just been completed.
Debriefing A procedure at the conclusion of a research session in which participants are given full information about the nature and hypotheses of the study.
decay A theory of forgetting in which memory traces erode largely through the passage of time (presumably because of some metabolic events unfolding as time passes).
Deception A research technique that provides false information to persons participating in a study. Concealing the purpose and procedures of a study from participants.
decibels The logarithmic units used to describe sound intensity (or amplitude).
deciduous teeth: baby teeth; teeth that fall out at a certain stage of growth.
decision making The process of forming probability estimates of events and using them to choose between different courses of action.
decision/commitment: making the decision to commit to a relationship with another person.
declarative knowledge Knowing "that" (e.g., knowing someone’s name) as contrasted with procedural knowledge, which is knowing "how" (e.g., knowing how to ride a bicycle).
deductive reasoning Reasoning in which one tries to determine whether some statement follows logically from certain premises, as in the analysis of syllogisms. This is in contrast with inductive reasoning in which one observes a number of particular instances and tries to determine a general rule that covers them all.
deep processingSeedepth-of-processing approach.
defense mechanism In psychoanalytic theory, a collective term for a number of reactions that try to ward off or lessen anxiety by various unconscious means. See alsodisplacement, projection, rationalization, reaction formation, repression.
deferred imitation A pattern of imitation first observed in children late in the second year of life in which the child mimics an action observed some time in the past.
definition (of a word) A set of necessary and sufficient features shared by all members of a category that are the criteria for membership in that category.
definitional theory of meaning The theory that our mental representation of word meaning is made up of a small number of simpler concepts. The representation of bachelor, for example, is made up of "adult," "unmarried," and "male."
deindividuation A weakened sense of personal identity in which self-awareness is merged in the collective goals of a group. The loss of a sense of individual identity and a loosening of normal inhibitions against engaging in behavior that is inconsistent with internal standards.
deindividuation loss of self-awareness and evaluation apprehension; occurs in group situations that foster responsiveness to group norms, good or bad.
deinstitutionalization A movement intended to obtain better and less expensive care for chronically mentally ill patients in their own communities rather than at large, centralized hospitals.
delay of gratification The postponement of immediate satisfaction in order to achieve a more important reward later on, a process that plays an important role in some behavioral-cognitive approaches to personality.
delivery: expelling the baby and placenta from the vagina.
delusion Systematized false beliefs, often of grandeur or persecution.
demand characteristics The cues that tell a research participant what the experimenter expects. Cues in an experiment that tell the participant what behavior is expected.
dementia: mental deterioration; a severe organic mental deficiency or impairment.
dendrites A typically highly branched part of a neuron that receives impulses from receptors or other neurons and conducts them toward the cell body and axon.
denial: one of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of dying, in which the dying refuse to acknowledge their inevitable death, perhaps believing a mistake has been made.
Dependent variable The experimental variable that is measured because it is believed to depend on the manipulated changes in the independent variable. The variable being measured, so-called because it may depend on manipulations of the independent variable. Avariable whose value is determined by the value of another variable.
depolarization A drop of the membrane potential of a neuron from its resting potential. The basis of neural excitation.
depression A state of deep and pervasive dejection and hopelessness, accompanied by apathy and a feeling of personal worthlessness. See alsomajor depression. An emotional condition, either neurotic or psychotic, characterized by feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, and so on; also one of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's stages of dying.
Depressive explanatory style A habitual tendency to attribute negative events to internal, stable, and global causes, and positive events to external, unstable, and specific causes.
depressive realism the tendency of mildly depressed people to make accurate rather than self-serving judgments, attributions, and predictions.
depth cues Sources of information that signal the distance from the observer to the distal stimulus. Some depth cues are present in a single retinal image (the pictorial cues), some require a comparison of the information received from the two eyes (binocular cues), some involve the pattern of motion in the retinal image (parallax and optic flow), and some arise from the positions of the eyes in viewing (e.g., convergence angle).
depth perception: the ability to see objects in perspective.
depth-of-processing approach An approach to memory that stresses the nature of encoding at the time of acquisition. It argues that deeper levels of processing (for example, attending to a word’s meaning) lead to better retention and retrieval than shallower levels of processing (for example, attending to the word’s sound). Thus, maintenance rehearsal leads to much poorer retrieval than elaborative rehearsal. See alsoencoding, elaborative rehearsal, maintenance rehearsal.
descriptive rulesSeeprescriptive rules.
Descriptive statistics Numbers that summarize and describe the behavior or characteristics of a particular sample of participants in a study.
descriptive statistics: statistics used for describing the characteristics of the population and subjects.
despair: a loss of hope; Erik Erikson believed that those in late adulthood struggled with the fear that there is too little time to begin a new life course.
developmental psychology: the scientific study of age-related changes throughout the human life span.
developmentalists: researchers who study human development.
developmentally disabled: persons who are slowed or delayed in development or progress, especially because of subnormal intellectual functioning and social skills.
deviation IQ A measure of intelligence-test performance based on an individual’s standing relative to his own age-mates (e.g., an IQ of 100 is average and IQs of 70 and 130 correspond to percentile ranks of 2 and 98 respectively). See alsoIntelligence Quotient.
diabetes mellitus: a chronic form of diabetes involving an insulin deficiency and characterized by an excess of sugar in the blood and urine, and by hunger, thirst, and gradual loss of weight.
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental DisordersSeeDSM.
dialect: the form or variety of a spoken language peculiar to a region, community, social group, occupational group, and so on.
diathesis-stress conception The belief that many organic and mental disorders arise from an interaction between a diathesis (a predisposition toward an illness) and some form of precipitating environmental stress.
dichotic presentation An experimental procedure in which the participant hears two simultaneous messages, one presented to each ear. Typically, one of these is to be attended to and the other ignored.
didactic learning: an educational method in which a teacher lectures to students.
difference threshold The amount by which a given stimulus must be increased or decreased so that the research participant can perceive a just-noticeable difference (jnd).
differentiation A progressive change from the general to the particular and from the simpler to the more complex that characterizes embryological development. According to some theorists, the same pattern holds for the development of behavior after birth.
diffusion of responsibilitySeebystander effect.
Diffusion of responsibility The belief that the presence of other people in a situation makes one less personally responsible for the events that occur in that situation.
diminishing returns principle Applied to the perceived value of money, the principle states that the increase in the subjective value produced by every additional dollar decreases the more dollars the person has already. The same principle applies to the subjective value of other gains and losses. It also applies to the psychological magnitude of sensory qualities, as in the case of Weber’s law.
direct perception In Gibson’s theory, our ability to perceive informa-tion about sizes directly, without any intermediate cognitive steps.
directed thinking Thinking that is aimed at the solution of a problem.
discipline: treatment that corrects or punishes and is intended to control or to establish habits of self-control.
disclosure reciprocity the tendency for one person's intimacy of self-disclosure to match that of a conversational partner.
Discounting principle A principle of attribution theory stating that whenever there are several possible causal explanations for a particular event, people tend to be much less likely to attribute the effect to any particular cause.
Discrimination A negative action toward members of a specific social group. A process of learning to respond to certain stimuli that are reinforced and not to others that are unreinforced.
discriminative stimuli In instrumental conditioning, the external stimuli that signal a particular relationship between the instrumental response and the reinforcer. For example, a green light is a positive discriminative stimulus when it signals to a pigeon that it will get food if it hops on a treadle; the reverse is true of a red light, or the negative discriminative stimulus, which indicates that this action will not lead to a food reward.
disengagement theory: views aging as a process of mutual withdrawal in which older adults voluntarily slow down by retiring, as expected by society.
disinhibition An increase of some reaction tendency by the removal of some inhibiting influence upon it (e.g., the increased strength of a frog’s spinal reflexes after decapitation).
disorganized type of schizophrenia A subtype of schizophrenia in which the predominant symptoms are extreme incoherence of thought and marked inappropriateness of behavior and affect.
displacement In psychoanalytic theory, a redirection of an impulse from a channel that is blocked into another, more available outlet (e.g., displaced aggression, as in a child who hits a sibling when punished by her parents).
displacement the redirection of aggression to a target other than the source of the frustration. Generally, the new target is a safer or more socially acceptable target.
display A term used by ethologists to describe genetically preprogrammed responses that serve as stimuli for the reaction of others of the same species, and thus serve as the basis of a communication system (e.g., mating rituals).
display rules A culture’s rules about what facial signals may or may not be given and in what contexts.
dispositional quality Any underlying attribute that characterizes a given individual and makes him more disposed than others to engage in a particular behavior (e.g., the presence or absence of some ability or some personality trait).
dissociation (1) A term used for symptoms when a patient is impaired in one function but relatively unaffected in another. (2) In post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), the period of numbness immediately after the trauma in which the sufferer feels estranged, socially unresponsive, and oddly unaffected by the traumatizing event.
dissociative amnesia A form of memory loss in which an individual seems unable to remember some period of her life, or even her entire past, including her own identity. This memory loss is often understood as a means of coping with extraordinarily painful events.
dissociative disorders Disorders in which a whole set of mental events is stored out of ordinary consciousness. These include dissociative amnesia, fugue states and, very rarely, cases of dissociative identity disorder.
dissociative fugue A state in which the person wanders away from home, and then, days or even months later, suddenly realizes that he is in a strange place and does not know how he got there; this pattern is often understood as a means of coping with (and escaping from) extraordinarily painful events.
dissociative identity disorder Formerly multiple personality disorder. A dissociative disorder that results in a person developing two or more distinct personalities.
dissonance theorySeecognitive dissonance.
distal stimulus An object or event outside (e.g., a tree) as contrasted to the proximal stimulus (e.g., the retinal image of the tree), which is the pattern of physical energies that originates from the distal stimulus and impinges on a sense organ.
distance cuesSeedepth cues.
distance education: taking courses through alternative learning formats, such as intensive study classes conducted one weekend per month, telecourses provided over the television, or virtual classrooms set up on the Internet.
distortion: when a subject does not respond honestly to questions.
distress calls The innate signals through which a human or animal infant indicates its need of aid.
distressor: a negative event, such as a death or loss of a job, that is stressful.
distributed representations A model of cognitive organization, especially semantic memory, in which each concept is represented, not by a designated node or group of nodes, but by a widespread pattern of activation across the entire network. See also connectionist models, local representations, network model, node.
divorce: the legal and formal dissolution of a marriage.
doctrine of specific nerve energies The law formulated by Johannes MŸller which holds that differences in sensory quality are not caused by differences in the stimuli themselves but by the different nervous structures that these stimuli excite. Thus, stimulating the retina will produce sensations of light, whether the retina is stimulated by a beam of light or pressure to the eyeball.
dodo bird verdict An expression often used to summarize the comparison of the effectiveness of different forms of psychotherapy. According to the dodo bird in Alice in Wonderland, "Everyone has won and all must have prizes." Regarding psychotherapy, this statement is understood to mean that all the major forms of psychotherapy are equally effective.
dominance hierarchies A social order developed by animals that live in groups by which certain individuals gain status and exert power over others. See alsoalpha male.
door-in-the-face technique A method for achieving compliance in which a certain request is preceded by a much larger one. The refusal of the first request, and the apparent concession on the part of the requester, makes people more likely to agree to the second demand, feeling that they should now make a concession of their own.
Door-in-the-face technique A two-step compliance technique in which, after having a large request refused, the influencer counteroffers with a much smaller request.
door-in-the-face technique a strategy for gaining a concession. After someone first turns down a large request (the door-in-the-face), the same requester counteroffers with a more reasonable request.
dopamine (DA) A neurotransmitter involved in various brain structures, including those that control motor action.
dopamine hypothesis of schizophrenia Asserts that schizophrenics are oversensitive to the neurotransmitter dopamine. Evidence for this view comes from the fact that the classical antipsychotics, which alleviate positive schizophrenic symptoms, block dopamine transmission. See alsoclassical antipsychotics, phenothiazines.
dopamine-serotonin interaction hypothesis Asserts that schizophrenics are oversensitive to both dopamine and serotonin. Evidence for this view comes from the fact that atypical antipsychotics, which relieve both positive and negative symptoms, block receptors for both dopamine and serotonin. See alsoatypical antipsychotics.
double-blind technique A technique for evaluating drug effects independent of the effects produced by the expectations of research participants (placebo effects) and of physicians. This is done by assigning patients to a drug group or a placebo group with both patients and staff members in ignorance of who is assigned to which group. See alsoplacebo effect.
drive-reduction theory A theory that claims that all built-in rewards are at bottom reductions of some noxious bodily state. The theory has difficulty in explaining motives in which one seeks stimulation, such as sex and curiosity.
drug tolerance The decrease in responsiveness to a drug developed after repeated use of a drug. Addicts must use increasingly larger doses to obtain the same effect that was produced previously.
DSM-III The diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Assocaition adopted in 1980. A major distinction between it and its predecessor is that it categorizes mental disorders by their descriptive characteristics rather than by theories about their underlying cause. Thus, a number of disorders that were formerly grouped together under the general heading "neurosis" (e.g., phobias, conversion disorders) are now classified under separate headings. See alsoconversion disorders, neurosis, phobia.
DSM-III-R The diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association adopted in 1987, a relatively minor revision of its predecessor, DSM-III.
DSM-IV The current diagnostic manual of the American Psychiatric Association (adopted in 1994), a substantial revision of its predecessor, DSM-III-R.
dual attitudes differing implicit (automatic) and explicit (consciously controlled) attitudes toward the same object. Verbalized explicit attitudes may change with education and persuasion; implicit attitudes change slowly, with practice that forms new habits.
dual-center theory A hypothesis about the hypothalamic control of eating. One center (in the lateral hypothalamus) was hypothesized as the "on" center, the initiator of eating; another center (in the ventromedial region) was hypothesized as the "off" center, the terminator of eating. Current evidence indicates, however, that these brain regions, while crucial for eating, are only a part of the circuits controlling eating.
duplex theory of vision The theory that rods and cones handle different aspects of vision. The rods are the receptors for night vision; they operate at low light intensities and lead to achromatic (colorless) sensations. The cones are used in day vision; they respond at higher illumination levels and are responsible for sensations of color.
dyslexia Any difficulty in reading not associated with obvious problems like bad eyesight.
eardrum The taut membrane that transmits vibrations caused by sound waves across the middle ear to the inner ear.
early adult transition: a stage in the novice phase of early adulthood, ranging from ages 17 to 22.
early adulthood: ages 17 to 45.
early childhood: ages 2 to 6.
early phase of labor: the phase of labor that consists of mild, minute-long contractions that occur every 15 minutes.
eclampsia: an attack of convulsions; specifically, a disorder that may occur late in pregnancy, characterized by convulsions, edema, and elevated blood pressure.
ectoderm: the outer layer of cells of an embryo from which the nervous system, skin, hair, teeth, and so on are developed.
ectopic pregnancy: a pregnancy with the fertilized ovum developing outside the uterus, as in a fallopian tube.
ectotherms Organisms that control their body temperature by using mechanisms that are mostly external (such as choosing a sunny or shady environment). Previously called cold blooded.
Ed.D. - Doctor of Education degree under which there are psychologists and counselors
effectors Organs of action; in humans, muscles and glands.
efferent nerves Nerves that carry messages to the effectors.
ego integrity: maintaining one's sense of wholeness.
ego psychology An approach to psychology that, in addition to the neo-Freudian concern with cultural and interpersonal factors, stresses the healthy aspects of the self as it tries to cope with reality.
ego: that part of the psyche that experiences the external world, or reality, through the senses, organizes the thought processes rationally, and governs action; it mediates between the impulses of the id, the demands of the environment, and the standards of the superego. In Freud’s theory, a set of reactions that try to reconcile the id’s blind pleasure strivings with the demands of reality. These lead to the emergence of various skills and capacities that eventually become a system that can look at itself — an "I." See alsoid and superego.
egocentric viewing: everything in relation to oneself; self-centered.
egocentrism In Piaget’s theory, a characteristic of preoperational children, an inability to see another person’s point of view.
egoism a motive (supposedly underlying all behavior) to increase one's own welfare. The opposite of altruism, which aims to increase another's welfare.
Egoistic helping A form of helping in which the ultimate goal of the helper is to increase his or her own welfare.
eidetic memory A relatively rare kind of memory characterized by relatively long-lasting and detailed images of scenes that can be scanned as if they were physically present.
Elaboration likelihood model A theory that there are two ways in which persuasive messages can cause attitude change, each differing in the amount of cognitive effort or elaboration they require. A theory that asserts that the factors that make for persuasion depend on the extent to which the arguments of the persuasive message are thought about (elaborated). If they are seriously thought about, the central route to persuasion will be used, and attitude change will depend on the nature of the arguments. If they are not seriously considered, the peripheral route to persuasion will be used, and attitude change will depend on more peripheral factors.
elaborative rehearsal Rehearsal in which material is actively reorganized and elaborated while in working memory. In contrast to maintenance rehearsal, this confers considerable benefit. See alsomaintenance rehearsal.
elderly abuse: the neglect and/or physical and emotional abuse of dependent elderly persons.
Electra complexSeeOedipus complex. The unconscious tendency of a daughter to be attached to her father and hostile toward her mother.
electroconvulsive shock treatment (ECT) A somatic treatment, mostly used for cases of severe depression, in which a brief electric current is passed through the brain to produce a convulsive seizure.
electroencephalogram (EEG) A record of the summed activity of cortical cells picked up by wires placed on the skull.
Embarrassment An unpleasant emotion experienced when we believe that we cannot perform coherently in a social situation.
embedded sentence A sentence structure in which one full sentence is included in the midst of another, as in "The girl who ate the hamburger hit the ball." Here the sentence "[she] ate the hamburger" interrupts the flow of the main sentence, "The girl . . . hit the ball."
embryo The earliest stage in a developing animal. In humans, up to about eight weeks after conception. An animal in the earliest stages of its development in the uterus or the egg, specifically, in humans, from conception to about the eighth week.
emergency reaction Intense sympathetic arousal that mobilizes an organism for a crisis.
empathic concern A feeling of sympathy and concern for the sufferings of another coupled with the desire to relieve this suffering. See alsovicarious distress.
Empathy A feeling of compassion and tenderness upon viewing a victim's plight. The vicarious experience of another's feelings; putting oneself in another's shoes. the projection of one's own personality into the personality of another in order to understand the person better; ability to share in another's emotions, thoughts, or feelings.
Empathy-altruism hypothesis A theory proposing that experiencing empathy for someone in need produces an altruistic motive for helping.
empiricism A school of thought that holds that all knowledge comes by way of empirical experience, that is, through the senses.
empty-nest syndrome: a form of mental depression said to be caused in parents by the loss felt when their children grow up and leave home.
encoding specificity principle The hypothesis that retrieval is most likely if the context at the time of recall approximates that during the original encoding.
encoding The process by which information is stored in memory.
endocrine system The system of ductless glands whose secretions are released directly into the bloodstream and affect organs elsewhere in the body (e.g., adrenal gland).
endoderm: the inner layer of cells of the embryo, from which the lining of the digestive tract, other internal organs, and certain glands are formed.
endometrium: the inner lining of the uterus.
endorphin A drug produced within the brain itself whose effects and chemical composition are similar to such pain-relieving opiates as morphine.
endotherms Organisms that control their body temperature by using mechanisms that are mostly internal or physiological. Previously called warm blooded.
entering the adult world: a stage in the novice phase of early adulthood, ranging from ages 22 to 28.
epinephrine (adrenaline) A neurotransmitter released into the bloodstream by the adrenal medulla as part of sympathetic activation (e.g., racing heart).
episiotomy: incision of the perineum, often performed during childbirth to prevent injury to the vagina.
episodic memory Memory for particular events in one’s own life (e.g., I missed the train this morning). See alsogeneric memory.
equal-status contact contact on an equal basis. Just as a relationship between people of unequal status breeds attitudes consistent with their relationship, so do relationships between those of equal status. Thus, to reduce prejudice, interracial contact should be between persons equal in status.
equilibrium: Piaget's term for the basic process underlying the human ability to adapt; the search for balance between self and the world.
equipotentiality The claim (contradicted by much evidence) that organisms can learn to associate any response with any reward or to associate any pair of stimuli.
Equity theory The theory that people are most satisfied in a relationship when the ratio between rewards and costs is similar for both partners. A condition in which the outcomes people receive from a relationship are proportional to what they contribute to it. Note: Equitable outcomes needn't always be equal outcomes.
erogenous zone: an area of the body that is particularly sensitive to sexual stimulation. In psychoanalytic theory, the mouth, anus, and genitals. These regions are particularly sensitive to touch. According to Freud, the various pleasures associated with each of them have a common element, which is sexual.
escape learning Instrumental learning in which reinforcement consists of the reduction or cessation of an aversive stimulus (e.g., electric shock). See alsoavoidance learning, punishment training.
estrogen A female sex hormone that dominates the first half of the female cycle through ovulation. Any of several female sex hormones that cause estrus; estrogen helps to stimulate enlargement of the reproductive organs and relaxation of associated ligaments, stimulate development of the uterine lining and mammary glands, and prevent contractions of the uterus.
estrus In mammals, the period in the cycle when the female is sexually receptive (in heat).
ethical dilemma: a situation in which a researcher must make a difficult moral decision.
Ethnic identity An individual's sense of personal identification with a particular ethnic group.
Ethnocentrism A pattern of increased hostility toward outgroups accompanied by increased loyalty to one's ingroup.
ethnocentrism a belief in the superiority of one's own ethnic and cultural group, and a corresponding disdain for all other groups.
ethology A branch of zoology concerned with the behavior of animals under natural conditions.
eustressor: a positive event, such as marriage or vacations, that is stressful.
euthanasia: act or practice of causing death painlessly in order to end suffering: advocated by some as a way to deal with persons dying of incurable, painful diseases.
evaluation apprehension concern for how others are evaluating us.
event-related potentials A pattern of electroencephalogram (EEG) reactions to a particular response, usually averaged together over many trials.
evolutionary psychology the study of the evolution of behavior using principles of natural selection.
exchange relationship A hypothesized type of social relationship in which the relationship depends on reciprocity; if goods (or esteem or loyalty) are given by one of the partners in the relationship, then the other must respond in kind.
excitation threshold The voltage difference between a neuron’s interior and exterior that, if exceeded, causes the neuron to fire. This voltage is about -55 millivolts in mammals. If the voltage reaches this threshold (from a "resting" voltage of -70 millivolts), the neuron’s membrane destabilizes, leading to an action potential.
Excitation transfer A psychological process in which arousal caused by one stimulus is transferred and added to arousal elicited by a second stimulus.
excitation transfer effects The transfer of autonomic arousal from one situation to another, as when strenuous exercise leads to an increased arousal when presented with aggression-arousing or erotic stimuli.
Exemplification Eliciting perceptions of integrity and moral worthiness.
existential anxiety: emotional troubles that arise from the denial of death.
existential psychology: the search for meaning in life through the study of death.
existential therapy A humanistic therapy that emphasizes people’s free will and tries to help them achieve a personal outlook that will give meaning to their lives.
experiential intelligence: the ability to transfer learning effectively to new skills.
experiment A study in which the investigator manipulates one (or more than one) variable (the independent variable) to determine its effect on the research participant’s response (the dependent variable).
Experimental methods Research designed to test cause-effect relationships between variables.
experimental realism degree to which an experiment absorbs and involves its participants. The degree to which an experiment absorbs and involves those who participate in it.
experimental research studies that seek clues to cause-effect relationships by manipulating one or more factors (independent variables) while controlling others (holding them constant).
experimental research: research based on, tested by, or having the nature of an experiment.
experimenter bias: when researchers' expectations about what should or should not happen in a study sway the results.
expert systems Computer problem-solving programs with a very narrow scope that only deal with problems in a limited domain of knowledge (e.g., the diagnosis of infectious diseases).
explanatory style one's habitual way of explaining life events. A negative, pessimistic, depressive explanatory style attributes failures to stable, global, and internal causes. The characteristic manner in which a person explains good or bad fortunes that befall him. An explanatory style in which bad fortunes are generally attributed to internal, global, and stable causes may create a predisposition that makes a person vulnerable to depression.
explicit memory Memory retrieval in which there is awareness of remembering at the time of retrieval. See alsoimplicit memory.
expressive aphasia A disorder in which the patient has difficulty with the production of speech. Expressive aphasia is caused by a cortical lesion that damages one’s ability to organize the movements necessary for speech production into a unified sequence.
External attribution An attribution that locates the cause of an event to factors external to the person, such as luck, or other people, or the situation.
external validity The degree to which a study’s participants, stimuli, and procedures adequately reflect the world as it actually is. The extent to which a study's findings can be generalized to people beyond those in the study itself.
externality hypothesis The hypothesis that some and perhaps all obese people are relatively unresponsive to their own internal hunger state but are much more susceptible to signals from without.
extinction In classical conditioning, the weakening of the tendency of the conditioned stimulus (CS) to elicit the conditioned response (CR) by unreinforced presentations of the CS. In instrumental conditioning, a decline in the tendency to perform the instrumental response brought about by unreinforced occurrences of that response.
extralinguistic factors Factors outside of the language itself that influence (and usually ease) language comprehension. Examples include gestures and the scene that is being discussed.
extramarital affair: having sexual intercourse with someone other than one's spouse.
extraneous variable: a variable unrelated to an experiment (such as room temperature or noise level) that may interfere with the results of the experiment.
extrapyramidal system One of the two cerebral motor control systems; it is older in evolutionary terms, and it controls relatively gross movements of the head, limbs, and trunk.
extroversion/introversion In Eysenck’s system, a trait dimension that refers to the main direction of a person’s energies; toward the outer world of objects and other people (extroversion) or toward the inner world of one’s own thoughts and feelings (introversion).
facial feedback hypothesis The hypothesis that sensory feedback from the facial muscles will lead to subjective feelings of emotion that correspond to the particular facial pattern. Seebasic emotions.
factor analysis A statistical method for studying the interrelations among various tests, the object of which is to discover what the tests have in common and whether these communalities can be ascribed to one or several factors that run through all or some of these tests.
fallopian tube: either of two slender tubes that carry ova from the ovaries to the uterus.
false alarmSeepayoff matrix.
False consensus bias The tendency to exaggerate how common one's own characteristics and opinions are in the general population.
false consensus effect the tendency to overestimate the commonality of one's opinions and one's undesirable or unsuccessful behaviors.
false uniqueness effect the tendency to underestimate the commonality of one's abilities and one's desirable or successful behaviors.
family of origin: the family one was born into or raised by.
family resemblance structure Overlap of features among members of a category such that no members of the category have all of the features but all members have some of them.
family therapy A general term for a number of therapies that treat the family or couple, operating on the assumption that the key to family or marital distress is not necessarily in the pathology of any individual family member but is rather in the interrelationships within the family.
fear: a feeling of anxiety and agitation caused by the presence or nearness of danger, evil, pain, and so on.
feature detectors Neurons in the retina or brain that respond to specific features of the stimulus, such as movement, orientation, and so on.
feature net A model of pattern recognition in which there is a network of detectors, with feature detectors at the bottom.
Fechner’s law The assertion that the strength of a sensation is proportional to the logarithm of physical stimulus intensity.
feedback system A system in which some action produces a consequence that affects (feeds back on) the action. In negative feedback, the consequence stops or reverses the action (e.g., thermostat-controlled furnace). In positive feedback, the consequence strengthens the action (e.g., rocket that homes in on airplanes).
Femininity Possession of expressive personality traits.
fetal alcohol syndrome: a condition affecting infants, characterized variously by mental retardation, heart defects, physical malformations, and so on and caused by excessive consumption of alcohol by the mother during pregnancy.
fetus The stage in gestation following the embryonic stage. In humans, from about eight weeks until birth. The unborn young of an animal while still in the uterus or egg, especially in its later stages and specifically, in humans, from about the eighth week after conception until birth.
Field experiment An experiment conducted in natural, real-life settings, outside the laboratory.
field research research done in natural, real-life settings outside the laboratory.
figure-ground organization The segregation of the visual field into a part (the figure) that stands out against the rest (the ground).
file-drawer problem A tendency for disappointing or negative results not to be reported (and so merely dumped into a file drawer). This tendency can cause a bias in the pattern of evidence available.
fimbria: a fringe or border of hairs, fibers, and so on or a fringelike process, especially at the opening of an oviduct in mammals.
final common path The single neural output upon which two groups of nerve fibers converge.
fine motor skills: the use of small bodily movements, such as drawing or writing.
fixation (1) In problem solving, the result of rigid mental sets that makes it difficult for people to approach a problem in new and different ways. (2) In Freud’s theory of personality, the lingering attachment to an earlier stage of pleasure seeking, even after a new stage has been attained.
fixed-action patterns Term used by ethologists to describe stereotyped, species-specific behaviors triggered by genetically preprogrammed releasing stimuli.
fixed-interval scheduleSeeinterval schedule.
fixed-ratio scheduleSeeratio schedule.
flagellum: a whiplike part or process of some cells, especially of certain bacteria, protozoans, and so on, that is an organ of locomotion or produces a current in the surrounding fluid.
flashbulb memories Vivid, detailed memories said to be produced by unexpected and emotionally important events.
flooding A form of behavior therapy based on concepts derived from classical conditioning in which the patient exposes herself to whatever she is afraid of, thus extinguishing her fear. See alsoimplosion therapy.
flow chart (1) In computer science, a diagram that shows the step-by-step operation of a computer program. (2) In human cognition, similar diagrams that show the hypothesized flow of information as it is thought to be processed by the human mind.
fluid intelligence The ability, which is said to decline with age, to deal with essentially new problems. See alsocrystallized intelligence. The ability to think abstractly and deal with novel situations.
Flynn effect An effect observed worldwide over the last several decades in which IQ scores seem to be rising.
folkway: any way of thinking, feeling, behaving, and so on common to members of the same social group.
foot-in-the-door phenomenon the tendency for people who have first agreed to a small request to comply later with a larger request.
foot-in-the-door technique A technique of persuasion, initially used by door-to-door salespeople, in which one first obtains a small concession that then makes it easier to persuade the target to make a subsequent, larger concession. A two-step compliance technique in which the influencer secures compliance to a small request, and then later follows this with a larger, less desirable request.
forced compliance effect An individual forced to act or speak publicly in a manner contrary to his own beliefs may change his own views in the direction of the public action. But this will happen only if his reward for the false public pronouncement is relatively small. If the reward is large, there is no dissonance and hence no attitude change. See alsocognitive dissonance.
forebrain In mammals, the bulk of the brain. Its foremost region includes the cerebral hemispheres; its rear includes the thalamus and hypothalamus.
forgetting curve A curve showing the inverse relationship between memory and the retention interval.
formal operations period In Piaget’s theory, the period from about age eleven on, when genuinely abstract mental operations can be undertaken (e.g., the ability to entertain hypothetical possibilities). According to Piaget, individuals enter this stage in adolescence as they gain the ability to classify and compare objects and ideas, systematically seek solutions to problems, and consider future possibilities.
forward pairing A classical conditioning procedure in which the conditioned stimulus (CS) precedes the unconditioned stimulus ( US ). This contrasts with simultaneous pairing, in which CS and US are presented simulataneously, and backward pairing, in which CS follows US. See alsoclassical conditioning, conditioned stimulus (CS), unconditioned stimulus (US).
fovea The area of the retina on which an image falls when the viewer is looking directly at the source of the image. Acuity is greater when the image falls on the fovea than it is when it falls on any other portion of the retina.
framing A heuristic that affects the subjective desirability of an event by changing the standard of reference for judging the desirability of that event.
fraternal twins Twins that arise from two different eggs that are (simultaneously) fertilized by different sperm cells. Their genetic similarity is no greater than that between ordinary siblings. See alsoidentical twins.
free association Method used in psychoanalytic therapy in which the patient is to say anything that comes to her mind, no matter how apparently trivial, unrelated, or embarrassing.
free recall A test of memory that asks for as many items in a list as a research participant can recall regardless of order.
free riders/free loaders people who benefit from the group but give little in return.
frequency (1) In sound waves or light waves, the number of wave peaks per second. In sound, frequency governs the perceived pitch of the sound; in light, frequency governs the perceived hue of the light. (2) In statistical analysis, the number of occurrences of a particular observation.
frequency distribution An arrangement in which scores are tabulated by how often they occur.
frequency theory A proposal for how auditory frequency is encoded by the nervous system. According to the theory, firing rate in the auditory nerve corresponds to the frequency of the incoming sound wave; the nervous system then interprets different firing rates as different pitches. This theory is probably correct for low frequencies, but not for higher ones. See alsoplace theory.
Freud’s theory of dreams A theory that holds that at bottom all dreams are attempts to fulfill a wish. The wish fulfillment is in the latent dream, which represents the sleeper’s hidden desires. This latent dream is censored and reinterpreted to avoid anxiety. It reemerges in more acceptable form as the manifest dream, the dream the sleeper remembers upon awakening.
friendship: a loving relationship characterized by intimacy, but not by passion or commitment.
frontal lobe The lobe in each cerebral hemisphere that includes the prefrontal area and the motor projection areas. Lobes located in the front of the brain just under the skull, which are responsible for planning, reasoning, social judgment, and ethical decision making, among other functions.
frustration the blocking of goal-directed behavior.
Frustration-aggression hypothesis The theory that frustration causes aggression.
full-term babies: babies who arrive on or shortly before or after their due dates.
function morphemesSeecontent morphemes.
function word A word such as who or that that makes explicit the relationship among various phrases within a sentence.
Functional approach Attitude theories that emphasize that people develop and change their attitudes based on the degree to which they satisfy different psychological needs. To change an attitude, one must understand the underlying function that attitude serves.
functional fixedness A set that encourages one to think of objects in terms of their normal function.
functional MRI (fMRI) scan An adaptation of the standard MRI procedures that can measure fast-changing physiology (mostly blood flow and oxygen use) within the brain.
fundamental attribution error The tendency for observers to underestimate situational influences and overestimate dispositional influences upon others' behavior. (Also called correspondence bias, because we so often see behavior as corresponding to a disposition.) The tendency to attribute behaviors to dispositional qualities while underrating the role of the situation. See alsoactor-observer difference, attribution theory, self-serving bias.
Fundamental attribution error The tendency to make internal attributions over external attributions in explaining the behavior of others.
Fungible The dictionary gives the following definition: 1: of such a kind or nature that one specimen or part may be used in place of another specimen or equal part in the satisfaction or an obligation. 2: interchangeable. The concept of fundability mates it possible to have commodity markets. One bushel of grain is for practical purposes the same as any other bushel of grain. They are interchangeable. So it is possible to make a contract on the delivery of 100 bushels of grain at some future date. The contract is for any bushel of grain not for specific preselected bushels. However there can not be a futures market in diamonds, because a one karat gem stone has much different value that a one karat bag of industrial diamonds. They and not interchangeable. Similarly most psychological qualities, i.e. feelings are not fungible. All angers are not equal.