PSYA02 – VOCABULARY AND DEFINITIONS
Language – a system for communicating with others using signals that are combined according to rules of grammar and convey
Grammar – a set of rules that specify how the units of language can be combined to produce meaningful messages
Phoneme – the smallest unit of sound that is recognizable as speech rather than as random noise.
Phonological rules – a set of rules that indicate how phonemes can be combined to produce speech sounds.
Morphemes – the smallest meaningful units of language.
Morphological rules – a set of rules that indicate how morphemes can be combined to form words
Syntactical rules – a set of rules that indicate how words can be combined to form phrases and sentences.
Deep structure – the meaning of a sentence
Surface structure – how a sentence is worded
Fast mapping – the fact that children can map a word onto an underlying concept after only a single exposure
Telegraphic speech – speech that is devoid of function morphemes and consists mostly of content words
Nativist theory – the view that language development is best explained as an innate, biological capacity
Language acquisition device (LAD) – a collection of processes that facilitate language learning
Genetic dysphasia – a syndrome characterized by an inability to learn the grammatical structure of language despite having
otherwise normal intelligence.
Aphasia – difficulty in producing or comprehending language.
Linguistic relativity hypothesis – the proposal that language shapes the nature of thought.
Concept – a mental representation that groups or categorizes shared features of related objects, events, or other stimuli
Family resemblance theory – members of a category have features that appear to be characteristic of category members but may
not be possessed by every member
Prototype – the “best” or “most typical” member of a category.
Exemplar theory – a theory of categorization that argues that we make category judgements by comparing a new instance with
stored memories for other instances of the category.
Category-specific deficit – a neurological syndrome that is characterized by an inability to recognize objects that belong to a
particular category thought the ability to recognize objects outside the category is undisturbed.
Rational choice theory – the classical view that we make decisions by determining how likely something is to happen, judging the
value of the outcome, and then multiplying the two.
Availability bias – items that are more readily available in memory are judged as having occurred more frequently.
Heuristic – a fast and efficient strategy that may facilitate decision making but does not guarantee that a solution will be reached.
Algorithm – a well-defined sequence of procedures or rules that guarantees a solution to a problem
Conjunction fallacy – when people think that two events are more likely to occur together than either individual event.
Representative heuristic –a mental shortcut that involves making a probability judgement by comparing an object or event to a
prototype of the object or event.
Framing effects –when people give different answers to the same problem depending on how the problem is phrased (or framed).
Sunk-cost fallacy – a framing effect in which people make decisions about a current situation based on what they have previously
invested in the situation
Prospect theory –the proposal that people choose to take on risk when evaluating potential losses and avoid risks when evaluating
Frequency format hypothesis – the proposal that our minds evolved to notice how frequently things occur, not how likely they are
Means-ends analysis – a process of searching for the means or steps to reduce differences between the current situation and the
Analogical problem solving – solving a problem by finding a similar problem with a known solution and applying that solution to the
Functional fixedness – the tendency to perceive the functions of objects as fixed.
Reasoning – a mental activity that consists of organizing information or beliefs into a series of steps to reach conclusions
Practical reasoning – figuring out what to do, or reasoning directed toward actions
Theoretical reasoning – reasoning directed toward arriving at a belief.
Belief bias – people’s judgements about whether to accept conclusions depend more on how believable the conclusions are than on
whether the arguments are logically valid.
Syllogistic reasoning – determining whether a conclusion follows from two statements that are assumed to be true.
Intelligence – the ability to direct one’s thinking, adapt to one’s circumstances, and learn from one’s experiences.
Ratio IQ – a statistic obtained by dividing a person’s mental age by the person’s physical age and then multiplying the quotient by
100 Deviation IQ – a statistic obtained by dividing a person’s test score by the average test score of people in the same age group and
then multiplying the quotient by 100.
Factor analysis – a statistical technique that explains a large number of correlations in terms of a small number of underlying factors.
Two-factor theory of intelligence – Spearman’s theory suggesting that every task requires a combination of a general ability (which
he called g) and skills that are specific to the task (which he called s).
Fluid intelligence – the ability to see abstract relationships and draw logical inferences
Crystallized intelligence – the ability to retain and use knowledge that was acquired through experience.
Prodigy – a person of normal intelligence who has an extraordinary ability
Savant – a person of low intelligence who has an extraordinary ability
Emotional intelligence – the ability to reason about emotions and to use emotions to enhance reasoning.
Fraternal twins (also called dizygotic twins) – twins who develop from two different eggs that were fertilized by two different sperm
Identical twins (also called monozygotic twins) – twins who develop from the splitting of a single egg that was fertilized by a single
Heritability coefficient – a statistic (commonly denoted as h^2) that describes the proportion of the difference between people’s
scores that can be explained by differences in their genes.
Shared environment – those environmental factors that are experienced by all relevant members of a household
Nonshared environment – those environmental factors that are not experienced by all relevant members of a household.
Developmental psychology – the study of continuity and change across the life span
Zygote – a fertilized egg that contains chromosomes from both a sperm and an egg
Germinal stage – the 2-week period of prenatal development that begins at conception
Embryonic stage – the period of prenatal development that lasts from the second week until about the eighth week.
Fetal stage – the period of prenatal development that lasts from the ninth week until birth
Myelination – the formation of a fatty sheath around the axons of a neuron
Teratogens – agents that damage the process of development, such as drugs and viruses
Fetal alcohol syndrome – a developmental disorder that stems from heavy alcohol use by the mother during pregnancy
Infancy – the stage of development that begins at birth and lasts between 18 and 24 months.
Motor development – the emergence of the ability to execute physical action
Reflexes – specific patterns of motor response that are triggered by specific patterns of sensory stimulation
Cephalocaudal rule – the “top-to-bottom” rule that describes the tendency for motor skills to emerge in sequence from the head to
Proximodistal rule – the “inside-to-outside” rule that describes the tendency for motor skills to emerge in sequence from the center
to the periphery
Cognitive development – the emergence of the ability to think and understand.
Sensorimotor stage – a stage of development that beings at birth and lasts through infancy in which infants acquire information
about the world by sensing it and moving around within it
Schemas – theories about or models of the way the world works
Assimilation – the process by which infants apply their schemas in novel situations
Accommodation – the process by which infants revise their schemas in light of new information
Object performance – the idea that objects continue to exist even when they are not visible.
Childhood – the stage of development that begins at about 18 to 24 months and lasts until adolescence
Preoperational stage – the stage of development that begins at about 2 years and ends at about 6 years, in which children have a
preliminary understanding of the physical world.
Concrete operational stage – the stage of development that begins at about 6 years and ends at about 11 years, in which children
learn how various actions or “operations” can affect or transform “concrete” objects.
Conservation – the notion that the quantitative properties of an object are invariant despite changes in the object’s appearance
Formal operational stage – the stage of development that begins around the age of 11 and lasts through adulthood, in which people
can solve nonphysical problems.
Egocentrism – the failure to understand that the world appears differently to different observers.
Theory of mind – the idea that human behaviour is guided by mental representations.
Attachment – the emotional bond that forms between newborns and their primary caregivers.
Strange situation – a behavioural test developed by Mary Ainsworth that is used to determine a child’s attachment style.
Internal working model of relationships – a set of beliefs about the self, the primary caregiver, and the relationship between them.
Temperaments – characteristic patterns of emotional reactivity
Preconventional stage – a stage of moral development in which the morality of an action is primarily determined by its
consequences for the actor
Conventional stage – a stage of moral development in which the morality of an action is primarily determined by the extent to
which it conforms to social rules. Postconventional stage – a stage of moral development at which the morality of an action is determined by a set of general
principles that reflect core values.
Adolescence – the period of development that begins with the onset of sexual maturity (about 11 to 14 years of age) and lasts until
the beginning of adulthood (about 18 to 21 years of age).
Puberty – the bodily changes associated with sexual maturity
Primary sex characteristics – bodily structures that are directly involved in reproduction
Secondary sex characteristics – bodily structures that change dramatically with sexual maturity but that are not directly involved in
Adulthood – the stage of development that begins around 18 to 21 years and ends at death.
Personality – an individual’s characteristic style of behaving, thinking, and feeling
Self-report – a series of answers to a questionnaire that asks people to indicate the extent to which sets of statements or adjectives
accurately describe their own behaviour or mental state.
Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI-2) – a well-researched clinical questionnaire used to assess personality and
Projective techniques – a standard series of ambiguous stimuli designed to elicit unique responses that reveal inner aspects of an
Rorschach Inkblot Test – a projective personality test in which individual interpretations of the meaning of a set of unstructured
inkblots are analyzed to identify a respondent’s inner feelings and interpret his or her personality structure.
Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) – a projective personality test in which respondents reveal underlying motives, concerns, and the
way they see the social world through the stories they make up about ambiguous pictures of people.
Trait – a relatively stable disposition to behave in a particular and consistent way.
Big Five – the traits of the five-factor model: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness to experience, and
Psychodynamic approach – an approach that regards personality as formed by needs, strivings, and desires largely operating
outside of awareness – motives that can also produce emotional disorders.
Dynamic unconscious – an active system encompassing a lifetime of hidden memories, the person’s deepest instincts and desires,
and the person’s inner struggle to control these forces.
Id – the part of the mind containing the drives present at birth; it is the source of our bodily needs, wants, desires, and impulses,
particularly our sexual and aggressive drives.
Ego – the component of personality, developed through contact with the external world, that enables us to deal with life’s practical
Superego – the mental system that reflects the internalization of cultural rules, mainly learned as parents exercise their authority.
Defense mechanisms – unconscious coping mechanisms that reduce anxiety generated by threats from unacceptable impulses
Rationalization – a defense mechanism that involves supplying a reasonable-sounding explanation for unacceptable feelings and
behaviour to conceal (mostly from oneself) one’s underlying motives or feelings.
Reaction formation – a defense mechanism that involves unconsciously replacing threatening inner wishes and fantasies with an
exaggerated version of their opposite
Projection – a defense mechanism that involves attributing one’s own threatening feelings, motives, or impulses to another person
Regression – a defense mechanism in which the ego deals with internal conflict and perceived threat by reverting to an immature
behaviour or earlier stage of development
Displacement – a defense mechanism that involves shifting unacceptable wishes or drives to a neutral or less-threatening
Identification – a defense mechanism that helps deal with feelings of threat and anxiety by enabling us unconsciously to take on the
characteristics of another person who seems more powerful or better able to cope.
Sublimation – a defense mechanism that involves channeling unacceptable sexual or aggressive drives into socially acceptable and
culturally enhancing activities.
Psychosexual stages – distinct early life stages through which personality is formed as children experience sexual pleasures from
specific body areas and caregivers redirect or interfere with those pleasures
Fixation –a phenomenon in which a person’s pleasure-seeking drives become psychologically stuck, or arrested, at a particular
Oral stage – the first psychosexual stage, in which experience centers on the pleasures and frustrations associated with the mouth,
sucking, and being fed.
Anal stage – the second psychosexual stage, which is dominated by the pleasures and frustrations associated with the anus,
retention and expulsion of feces and urine, and toilet training.
Phallic stage – the third psychosexual stage, during which experience is dominated by the pleasure, conflict, and frustration
associated with the phallic-genital region as well as coping with powerful incestuous feelings of love, hate, jealousy, and conflict Oedipus conflict – a developmental experience in which a child’s conflicting feelings toward the opposite-sex parent are (usually)
resolved by identifying with the same-sex parent.
Latency stage – the fourth psychosexual stage, in which the primary focus is on the further development of intellectual, creative,
interpersonal, and athletic skills.
Genital stage – the final psychosexual stage, a time for the coming together of the mature adult personality with a capacity to love,
work, and relate to others in a mutually satisfying and reciprocal manner.
Self-actualizing tendency – the human motive toward realizing our inner potential.
Existential approach – a school of thought that regards personality as governed by an individual’s ongoing choices and decisions in
the context of the realities of life and death.
Social cognitive approach – an approach that views personality in terms of how the person thinks about the situations encountered
in daily life and behaves in response to them.
Person-situation controversy – the question of whether behaviour is caused more by personality or by situational factors.
Personal constructs – dimensions people use in making sense of their experiences
Outcome expectancies – a person’s assumptions about the likely consequences of a future behaviour
Locus of control – a person’s tendency to perceive the control of rewards as internal to the self or external in the environment.
Self-concept – a person’s explicit knowledge of his or her own