Glossary of ap psych 1-15

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Aaron Beck
is a famous American psychologist who is a cognitive psychologist. He believes that much depression can be explained on the part of patients by examining a patient's faulty, illogical, and self-defeating (depressive) thoughts. Basically, one becomes depressed by a process of constantly thinking depressing thoughts, putting oneself down, looking on the darker side of things. Instead of seeing the glass as half full, the depressed person always sees the glass half empty.
The absolute threshold
a term from an area of psychology dealing with sensation. Specifically, it refers to the slightest sensation that a person can detect. For example, the softest sound you can detect, the lightest touch you can detect, the dimmest light you can detect. It is that point at which you can react to the slighest sensation. Obviously, different people have different sensory thresholds (piano tuners and coffee tasters) according to their training, level of expectation and even the situation.
Achievement tests
are designed to test what you know, aptitude tests are designed to measure your ability to do something (like an IQ test). Some tests, such as the SATs are a combination of both.
Action and resting potentials
refer to the firing of nerve cells. Remember that your brain is composed of trillions of nerve cells (called neurons), and all of thinking, feeling, moving and sensing is ultimately governed by what these tiny little cells do. When a nerve is firing - which is sort of like a little electro-chemical spark going off- it is said to be in a state known as an "action potential". The neurons builds up energy to a certain point then fires it's spark (action potential) down the neuron, across a gap between neurons called a "synapse" and the spark causes the next neuron (or muscle) to either fire or not to fire. Then, the neurons sort of recovers (refractory period) and resumes a "resting state" known as a "resting potential" where it basically sits around ready to fire again. This whole firing pattern of resting and action is governed by a constant flow and and exchange of electrically charged ions (sodium, cloride, potassium). When the neuron is resting it is mostly negatively charged and the outside of the neurons is mostly positively charged. When it is firing, the inside reverses polarity and becomes positively chaged pushing it's negative ions to the outside. This in rushing and out rushing of negative and positive ions is governed by little sodium/potassium pumps and other chemical/electrical systems that keep the neurons going back and forth from a resting potential to an action potential. If anything happens to this delicate system, we've got big problems: paralysis, depression, hyperactivity, etc.
refers to how sharp your vision is. Good vision is usually referred to as 20/20. This means you can see at 20 feet what most normal people can see at 20 feet. Acuity is governed by the shape of the eye and the ability of the lens of your eye to bend and move (accomodation) to bring things into focus.
Mary Ainsworth
a famous psychologist who did a lot of important studies on attachment, infants and small children bonding to their parents. Basically, she found that when you place small children in strange situations (say in a strange room where their mother is absent) some kids get real upset while other kids seem to adjust easily and don't get so bent out of shape. And the child's reaction is dependent on the quality of the attachment they have with their mother. Children with secure attachments tend to handle the situation relatively easily, while children with insecure attachments tend to not handle strange situations easily and they cry and get all upset.
Albert Bandura
a famous American psychologist who pioneered a kind of learning known as "Observational Learning". Bandura researched the powerful effects of imitation and modeling in learning. He did a famous study called the Bobo doll study on the effects of kids watching adult aggressive behavior
Albert Ellis
a famous American therapist who pioneered a kind of therapy called "Rational Emotive Therapy." Basically, it's a kind of cognitive therapy that (like Aaron Beck) believes that one's psychological problems stem most likely from illogical, self-defeating and irrational thinking. But Ellis' approach is rather blunt and in your face, whereas Beck's approach is not so confrontational.
Alfred Adler
a famous neo-Freudian psychologist who, among other things, developed the concept of the "inferiority complex."
"all-or-nothing principle"
refers to the neural firing pattern of nerons. It states that once a neurons builds up it's electrical charge to fire, all of the neuron will fire or none of it will fire. It can't half fire.
is behavior that you do just to be kind, without any thought of what you might get out of it. And we're more likely to engage in altruistic behavior (come to someone's aid in an emergency) if we sense a real danger, if we're in a good mood, if we're not in a hurry, if we feel competent that we can help, if we have a personal stake it it, if the person is like ourselves (race, family, fraternity) and other similar factors. This area of reseach was impacted by the tragic case in 1968 of a woman known as Kitty Genovese
the governing organization that represents professional psychologists in the United States. Among other things, it licenses psychologists, approves research, makes sure ethical guidelines are followed in experiments, provides accreditation for psychology programs at universities, lobbys for mental health issues and publishes a ton of professional journals.
a serious condition in which one loses his/her memory. it can be short-term or long-term. Anteriograde amnesia is when you can't lay down new memories, it's as if when you learn new stuff it just doesn't stick (it won't save). Retrograde amnesia is the opposite, it is an inability to recall pervious memories. Both of these are usually caused by brain damage or head trauma.
Apparent motion
comes from an area of psychology known as perception. Simply, it's the perception that something is moving when it really isn't. It usually occurs when stationary object are flashed at the eye at a certain speed and you perceive they are moving when they really aren't. For example, when Christmas lights flash on and off in a sequential order, they look like they are moving in a certain direction. Or when we flash 250,000 still cartoon drawings past a light it looks like the cartoon figures are moving on the screen when really they are not.
refers to your body as it readies itself to respond to something. Imagine if you come across a snake, your heart beats, you perspire, your pupils dialate, your pulse quickens. These are all states of physiological arousal usually preparing you for what is known as the "fight or flight" response. Arousal is governed by the autonomic nervous system - specifically the sympathetic nervous system which gets us hyped and excited and the parasympathetic nervous system which calms you down, restoring you to normal, after the danger has passed.

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