AP Psychology Vocabulary / Terms

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absolute threshold

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104 Terms

1

absolute threshold

the minimum stimulus energy needed to detect a particular stimulus 50 percent of the time

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accommodation (sensation + perception)

(1) in sensation and perception, the process by which the eye’s lens changes shape to focus near or far objects on the retina.

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accomodation (developmental psychology)

(2) in developmental psychology, adapting our current understandings (schemas) to incorporate new information

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4

achievement test

a test designed to assess what a person has learned

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acquisition

in classical conditioning, the initial stage, when one links a neutral stimulus and an unconditioned stimulus so that the neutral stimulus begins triggering the conditioned response. In operant conditioning, the strengthening of a reinforced response

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action potential

a neural impulse; a brief electrical charge that travels down an axon

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active listening

empathic listening in which the listener echoes, restates, and clarifies. A feature of Rogers’ client-centered therapy

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8

acute schizophrenia (reactive schizophrenia)

a form of _____ that can begin at any age; frequently occurs in response to a traumatic event

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9

adaptation-level phenomenon

our tendency to form judgments (of sounds, of lights, of income) relative to a neutral level defined by our prior experience

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10

adolescence

a transition period from childhood to adulthood, extending from puberty to independence

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11

adrenal glands

a pair of endocrine glands that sit just above the kidneys and secrete hormones (epinephrine and norepinephrine) that help arouse the body in times of stress

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12

affiliation need

the need to build relationships and to feel part of a group

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13

agonist

a molecule that increases a neurotransmitter’s action

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agoraphobia

fear of avoidance of situations, such as crowds or wide open places, where one has felt loss of control and panic

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15

AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome)

a life-threatening, sexually transmitted infection caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). AIDS depletes the immune system, leaving the person vulnerable to infections

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alcohol use disorder / alcoholism

alcohol use marked by tolerance, withdrawal, and a drive to continue problematic use

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algorithm

a methodical, logical rule or procedure that guarantees solving a particular problem. Contrasts with the usually speedier -- but also more error-prone-- use of heuristics

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18

all-or-none response

a neuron’s reaction of either firing (with a full-strength response) or not firing

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19

alpha waves

the relatively slow brain waves of a relaxed, awake state

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20

altruism

unselfish regard for the welfare of others

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21

Alzheimer’s disease

a neurocognitive disorder marked by neural plaques, often with onset after age 80, and entailing a progressive decline in memory and other cognitive abilities

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22

amphetamines

drugs, such as methamphetamine, that stimulate neural activity, causing accelerated body function and associated energy and mood changes

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amygdala

two lima-bean-sized neural clusters in the limbic system; linked to emotion, especially fear and anger

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24

androgny

displaying both traditional masculine and feminine psychological characteristics

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25

anorexia nervosa

an eating disorder in which a person (usually an adolescent female) maintains a starvation diet despite being significantly underweight; sometimes accompanied by excessive exercise

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antagonist

a molecule that inhibits or blocks a neurotransmitter’s action

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anterograde amnesia

an inability to form new memories

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28

antidepressant drugs

drugs used to treat depression, anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and posttraumatic stress disorder. (Several widely used antidepressant drugs are selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors— SSRIs.)

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antipsychotic drugs

drugs used to treat schizophrenia and other forms of severe thought disorder

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30

antisocial personality disorder

a personality disorder in which a person (usually a man) exhibits a lack of conscience for wrongdoing, even toward friends and family members; may be aggressive and ruthless or a clever con artist

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anxiety disorders

psychological disorders characterized by distressing, persistent anxiety or maladaptive behaviors that reduce anxiety

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aphasia

impairment of language, usually caused by left hemisphere damage either to Broca’s area (impairing speaking) or to Wernicke’s area (impairing understanding)

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applied research

scientific study that aims to solve practical problems

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34

aptitude test

a test designed to predict a person’s future performance; _____ is the capacity to learn

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35

assimilation

interpreting our new experiences in terms of our existing schemas

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36

association areas

areas of the cerebral cortex that aren’t involved in primary motor or sensory functions; rather, they are involved in higher mental functions such as learning, remembering, thinking, and speaking

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associative learning

learning that certain events occur together. The events may be two stimuli (as in classical conditioning) or a response and its consequence (as in operant conditioning)

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attachment

an emotional tie with another person; shown in young children by their seeking closeness to their caregiver and showing distress on separation

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39

attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

a psychological disorder marked by extreme inattention and/or hyperactivity and impulsivity

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40

attitude

feelings, often influenced by our beliefs, that predispose use to respond in a particular way to objects, people, and events

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41

attribution theory

the theory that we explain someone’s behavior by crediting either the situation or the person’s disposition

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42

audition

the sense or act of hearing

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43

Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)

a disorder that appears in childhood and is marked by significant deficiencies in communication and social interaction, and by rigidly fixated interests and repetitive behaviors

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44

automatic processing

unconscious encoding of incidental information, such as space, time, and frequency, and of well-learned information, such as word meanings

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45

autonomic nervous system (ANS)

the part of the peripheral nervous system that controls the glands and the muscles of the internal organs (like the heart). Its sympathetic division arouses; its parasympathetic division calms

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availability heuristic

estimating the likelihood of events based on their availability in memory; if instances come readily to mind (perhaps because of their vividness), we presume such events are common

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47

aversive conditioning

a type of counterconditioning that associates an unpleasant state (such as nausea) with an unwanted behavior (such as drinking alcohol)

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48

axon

the neuron extension that passes messages through its branches to other neurons or to muscles or glands

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49

babbling stage

beginning around 4 months, the stage of speech development in which an infant spontaneously utters various sounds at first unrelated to the household language

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barbiturates

drugs that depress central nervous system activity, reducing anxiety but impairing memory and judgement

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basal metabolic rate

the body’s resting rate of energy output

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basic research

pure science that aims to increase the scientific knowledge base

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53

basic trust

according to Erik Erikson, a sense that the world is predictable and trustworthy; said to be formed during infancy by appropriate experiences with responsive caregivers

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54

behavior feedback effect

the tendency of behavior to influence our own and others’ thoughts, feelings,a nd actions

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55

behavior genetics

the study of the relative power and limits of genetic and environmental influences on behavior

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56

behavior therapy

therapy that applies learning principles to the elimination of unwanted behaviors

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57

behavioral approach

focuses on the effects of learning on our personality development

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58

behavioral psychology

the scientific study of observable behavior, and its explanation by principles of learning

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59

behaviorism

the view that psychology (1) should be an objective science that (2) studies behavior without reference to mental processes. Most psychologists today agree with (1) but not with (2)

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60

belief perseverance

clinging to one’s initial conceptions after the basis on which they were formed has been discredited

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61

binge-eating disorder

significant binge-eating episodes, followed by distress, disgust, or guilt, but without the compensatory behavior that marks bulimia nervosa

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62

biofeedback

a system for electronically recording, amplifying, and feeding back information regarding a subtle physiological state, such as blood pressure or muscle tension

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63

biological psychology

the scientific study of the links between biological (genetic, neural, hormonal) and psychological processes

(aka behavioral neuroscientists, neuropsychologists, behavior geneticists, physiological psychologists, or biopsychologists)

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biomedical therapy

prescribed medications or procedures that act directly on the person’s physiology

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65

biopsychosocial approach

an integrated approach that incorporates biological, psychological, and social-cultural viewpoints

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66

bipolar disorder

a disorder in which a person alternates between the hopelessness and lethargy of depression and the overexcited state of mania

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67

blind spot

the point at which the optic nerve leaves the eye, creating a “blind” spot because no receptor cells are located there

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68

blindsight

a condition in which a person can respond to a visual stimulus without consciously experiencing it

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69

bottom-up processing

analysis that begins with the sensory receptors and works up to the brain’s integration of sensory information

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70

brainstem

the oldest part and central core of the brain, beginning where the spinal cord swells as it enters the skull; the brainstem is responsible for automatic survival functions

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71

Broca’s area

helps control language expression—an area of the frontal lobe, usually in the left hemisphere, that directs the muscle movements involved in speech

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72

bulimia nervosa

an eating disorder in which a person’s binge eating (usually of high-calorie foods) is followed by inappropriate weight-loss promoting behavior, such as vomiting, laxative use, fasting, or excessive exercise

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73

bystander effect

the tendency for any given bystander to be less likely to give aid if other bystanders are present

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74

cannon-bard theory

the theory that an emotion-arousing stimulus simultaneously triggers (1) physiological responses and (2) the subjective experience of emotion

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75

case study

a descriptive technique in which one individual or group is studied in depth in the hope of revealing universal principles

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76

catharsis

the idea that “releasing” aggressive energy (through action or fantasy) relieves aggressive urges

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77

cell body

the part of a neuron that contains the nucleus; the cell’s life-support center

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78

central nervous system (CNS)

the brain and spinal cordce

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79

ntral route persuasion

occurs when interested people focus on the arguments and respond with favorable thoughts

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80

cerebellum

the “little brain” at the rear of the brainstem; functions include processing sensory input, coordinating movement output and balance, and enabling nonverbal learning and memory

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81

cerebral cortex

the intricate fabric of interconnected neural cells covering the cerebral hemispheres; the body’s ultimate control and information-processing center

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82

change blindness

failing to notice changes in the environment; a form of inattentional blindness

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83

chromosomes

threadlike structures made of DNA molecules that contain the genes

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84

chronic schizophrenia (aka process schizophrenia)

a form of ________ in which symptoms usually appear by late adolescence or early adulthood. As people age, psychotic episodes last longer and recovery periods shorten

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85

chunking

organizing items into familiar, manageable units; often occurs authomatically

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86

circadian rhythm

our biological clock; regular bodily rhythms (for example, of temperature and wakefulness) that occur on a 24-hour cycle

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87

classical conditioning

a type of learning in which we link two or more stimuli; as a result, to illustrate with Pavlov’s classic experiment, the first stimulus (a tone) comes to elicit behavior (drooling) in anticipation of the second stimulus (food)

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88

client-centered therapy (aka person-centered therapy)

a humanistic therapy, developed by Carl Rogers, in which the therapist uses techniques such as active listening within an accepting, genuine, empathic environment to facilitate clients’ growth

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89

clinical psychology

a branch of psychology that studies, assesses, and treats people with psychological disorders

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90

cocaine

a powerful and addictive stimulant derived from the coca plant; produces temporarily increased alertness and euphoria

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91

cochlea

a coiled, bony, fluid-filled tube in the inner ear; sound waves traveling through the cochlear fluid trigger nerve impulses

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cochlear implant

a device for converting sounds into electrical signals and stimulating the auditory nerve through electrodes threaded into the cochlea

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93

cognition

all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating

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94

cognitive dissonance theory

the theory that we act to reduce the discomfort (dissonance) we feel when two of our thoughts (cognitions) are inconsistent. For example, when we become aware that our attitudes and our actions clash, we can reduce the resulting dissonance by changing our attitudes

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95

cognitive learning

the acquisition of mental information, whether by observing events, by watching others, or through language

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96

cognitive learning

the acquisition of mental information, whether by observing events, by watching others, or through language

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97

cognitive map

a mental representation of the layout of one’s environment/ for example, after exploring a maze, rats act as if they have learned a cognitive map of it

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98

cognitive neuroscience

the interdisciplinary study of the brain activity linked with cognition (including perception, thinking, memory, and language)

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99

cognitive psychology

the study of mental processes, such as occur when we perceive, learn, remember, think, communicate, and solve problems

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cognitive therapy

therapy that teaches people new, more adaptive ways of thinking; based on the assumption that thoughts intervene between events and our emotional reactions

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