Chapter One: What is Psychology
Psychology: The science of behavior and mental processes.
Structuralism: The school of psychological thought considered the organized
structure of immediate, conscious experience the proper subject matter of
Introspection: A persons description and analysis of what he or she is thinking and
feeling; also known as self-examination.
Functionalism: The school of psychological thought (an outgrowth of
structuralism) that was concerned with how and why the conscious mind works; its
main aim was to know how the contents of consciousness functioned and worked
Gestalt Psychology: The school of psychological thought that argued that behavior
cannot be viewed as a whole; the focus was on the unity of perception and thinking.
Psychoanalytic Approach: The school of psychological thought developed by
Freud, which assumes that psychological maladjustment is a consequence of anxiety
resulting from unresolved conflicts and forces of which a person may be unaware;
includes the therapeutic technique known as psychoanalysis.
Behaviorism: The school of psychological thought that rejects the study of the
contents of consciousness and focuses n describing and measuring only that which
is observable directly or through assessment instruments.
Humanistic Psychology: The school of psychological thought that emphasizes the
uniqueness of each human being and the idea that human beings have free will to
determine their destinies.
Self-actualization: The fundamental human need to strive to fulfill ones potential,
thus a state of motivation, according to Maslow; in a humanists view, a final level of
psychological development in which a person attempts to minimize ill health,
function fully, have a superior perception of reality, and feel a strong sense of self-
Cognitive Psychology: The school of psychological thought that focuses on the
mental processes and activities involved in perception, learning, memory, and
Biopsychology Perspective: The psychological perspective that examines how
biological factors affect behavior and how behavior can change the brain function;
also known as the neuroscience perspective. Eclecticism: In psychology, a combination of theories, facts or techniques; the
practice of using whatever clinic and counseling techniques are appropriate for
individual client rather then relying on one school of psychology.
Positive Psychology: The subfield of psychology that combines an emphasis on
positive human values such as optimism and well-being with an emphasis on
research and assessment.
Industrial/Organizational Psychology: The subfield of psychology that studies
how individual behavior is affected by the work environment, by co-workers, and
by organizational practices.
Evolutionary Psychology: The psychological perspective that seeks to explain and
predict behavior by analyzing how specific behaviors, over the course of many
generations, have led to adaptations that allow the species to survive; it assumes
that behavioral tendencies that help organisms adapt, fit in, and survive in their
current environment make it more likely that those organisms ill survive long
enough to reproduce and thus pass on the genes that support those survival
Psychologist: A professional who studies behavioral principles in scientific
research or applied settings.
Clinical Psychologist: A mental health practitioner who views behavior and mental
processes from a psychological perspective and who uses research based
knowledge to treat persons with serious emotional or behavioral problems or to do
research into the causes of behavior.
Counseling Psychologist: Mental health practitioner who assists people whom
emotional or behavioral problems through the use of testing, psychotherapy, and
other therapies; this profession is very similar to clinical psychology.
Psychiatrist: A physician (medical doctor) specializing in the treatment of patients
with emotional disorders.
Psychoanalyst: A psychiatrist or, occasionally, non-medical practitioner who has
studied the technique of psychoanalysis and uses it to treat people with emotional
Chapter Two: The Science of Psychology
Empiricism: The idea that knowledge should be acquired through careful
Theory: A collection of interrelated ideas and observations that together describe,
explain and predict mental processes. Scientific Method: The technique used in psychology and other sciences to discover
knowledge about human behavior and mental processes.
Hypothesis: A tentative statement or ideas expressing a relationship between
events or variables that is to be evaluated in a research study.
Experiment: A procedure in which a researcher systematically manipulates and
observes elements of a situation in order to test a hypothesis and ideally, establish a
Variable: A condition or a characteristic of a situation or a person that is subject to
change or that differs either within or across situations or individuals.
Independent Variable: The condition that the experimenter directly and
intentionally manipulates to see what changes occur as a result ofthe manipulation.
Dependant Variable: The behavior or response that is expected to change because
of the manipulation of the independent variable.
Sample: A group of individuals who participate in a study and are assumed to be
representative of the larger population.
Operational Definition: A definition of a variable in terms of the set of methods or
procedures used to measure or study it.
Participant: An individual who takes part in an experiment and whose behavior is
observed and recorded.
Experimental Group: In an experiment, the group of participants who receive
some level of the independent variable as a treatment.
Control Group: In an experiment, the comparison group-the group of participants
who are tested on the dependent variable in the same way as the experimental
group but who receive the standard treatment.
Descriptive Research Methods: The type of research that involves describing
existing events rather than performing a manipulation of an independent variable
and observing changes.
Case Study: A descriptive research method that involves intensive observation and
analysis of single individual.
Naturalistic Observation: A descriptive research method that involves
observation of behavior in a naturally occurring situation rather than in a
laboratory. Survey: A descriptive research method in which a set of questions is posed to a
larger group of participants.
Representative Sample: A sample that reflects pertinent characteristics of the
population from which it was drawn.
Correlation Study: A descriptive research method that attempts to determine the
strength of a relationship between two variables.
Ex Post Facto Study: A descriptive research method that allows researchers to
describe differences among groups of participants.
Statistics: The branch of mathematics that deals with classifying and analyzing data.
Descriptive Statistics: A category of statistics that includes procedures to
summarize, condense, and describe sets of data.
Measure of Central Tendency: A descriptive statistic tells which score best
represents an entire set of scores.
Mean: A measurement of central tendency that reflects the average of a set of
Mode: The most frequent score in a set of scores.
Median: The point in the ordered distribution of a set of scores that has 50% of the
scores above it and 50% of the scores below it.
Range: A measure of the variability of a set of scores that is calculated by
subtracting he lowest scores from the highest scores.
Standard Deviation: A measure of the variability of the scores in a set from the
mean of the set.
Correlation Coefficient: A description statistic used to assess the degree of
relationship between two variables of interest in a correlation study.
Inferential Statistics: A category of statistics that allows researchers to conclude
whether the results they have obtained from experiments form meaningful patterns.
Significant Difference: A difference that is unlikely to have occurred because of
chance alone, and thus is inferred to be most likely due to the systematic
manipulation of a variable in a research study.
Ethnocentrism: The tendency to believe that ones own ethnic cultural group is the
standard, the reference point against which other people and groups should be
Ethics: Rules concerning proper and acceptable conduct that investigators use to
guide their studies and that govern the treatment of animals, the rights of human
beings, and the responsibilities of researchers.