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Open University DSE212 - Glossary Part 2


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Phallic stage
Third stage of psychosexual development where the focus is on the genitals and pleasure from stimulating the genital area.
Phenomenal consciousness
The kind of consciousness we have that involves the 'raw feel' or experience associated with consciousness. This is distinguished from information or knowledge that might be gained whilst conscious. We experience a loud noise, for example, in a certain way, and this is independent of the information the noise conveys.
Phenomenological experience
An individual's unique experience of perception of the world.
The physical structure and behaviour of an animal that arises from the interaction of the genotype and the environment.
Phonic approaches
An approach to teaching reading that emphasizes the relationships between letters (graphemes) and their corresponding sounds (phonemes).
A scientist who studies the structure and function of the body.
The study of the structure and function of the body.
Any therapy that is used for a specific symptom or disease, but which is actually thought to be ineffective for that purpose. A placebo is usually employed in clinical trials for comparison with the 'active' treatment under study. A study with no placebo is an 'open study' (see Box 5.6).
Placebo effect
An effect obtained by an apparently neutral procedure, which owes its efficacy to a belief by the patient that a therapeutic intervention has taken place.
Planum temporale
Area of cortex involved in language.
The capacity for organised alteration or development in the structure and/or function of the nervous system, typically with beneficial outcomes.
Positive indicators
A symptom or characteristic that can be used to identify a condition by its presence.
Positive psychology
An approach to psychology (initiated by Csikszentmihalyi and Seligman) which aims to use scientific psychology to enhance the wellbeing of both persons and communities.
Positron emission tomography
A technique for forming images of the activity of the brain.
The way that the intended rather than the literal meaning of language is inferred.
Pre-post test design
An experimental design where participants are tested at the beginning of the study, before an intervention is administered, and then again at the end of the period of intervention.
Pretend play
Refers to play that involves the use of imagination where a person 'pretends' to be someone or something else, or uses an object as something else for the purposes of play.
Primacy effect
The finding, in memory experiments, that participants are more likely to remember the first few items from a list of items.
Primary attachment relationship
An attachment to another person, normally a parent or other caregiver, formed by a child during early infancy. Is also used to refer to an older child's or adult's close relationship(s).
A method of investigating the effect on recognition of a target word by preceding it with a different word: the priming stimulus. In semantic priming the two words are related in meaning. In associative priming they are typically words that occur close together in text or speech.
An approach that assumes that outcomes are more or less likely to occur.
Procedural memory
A subsystem of memory concerned with knowing how to do something, e.g. riding a bike, this knowledge being difficult to describe using words.
A part of a neuron, an extension.
A defence mechanism whereby repressed feelings such as aggression or sexuality are projected onto (and are thus seen as characteristics of) other persons.
A statement consisting of a single idea or unit of meaning.
Aspects of the sound of speech, such as stress and rhythm, that function to clarify or reinforce the meaning of a sentence.
Psychic determinism
The notion that our actions and experiences are determined by unconscious residues of early experience.
Internal psychic conflict between different forces or aspects of the self and the defences and distortions this may involve.
Psychosocial identity recognizes the influence of both personal and social factors on identity development. Core identity The central identity that individuals have to achieve from different aspects of their identities if they are to be psychologically healthy.
Psychosocial moratorium
A socially approved period in which young people can try out different social roles and so find their own niche in society.
Something normally described as aversive which follows a behaviour and lowers the probability that the behaviour will occur again.
Qualia (pronounced 'kwah-lee-uh')
The 'raw feels' or experiences that comprise phenomenal consciousness.
Rapid automatized naming task
A task requiring rapid naming of a series of letters, numbers, colours or common objects, which should involve automatic processes owing to the familiarity of the stimuli.
Reaction formation
A defence whereby a repressed impulse is held in check by exaggerating the opposite tendency.
Reading Recovery System
An intensive individualized technique for teaching reading devised by Marie Clay.
Reality principle
The idea that, providing all goes well enough during the course of development, individuals are increasingly able to recognize the nature of the reality that they experience.
The type of retrieval process that involves searching for something stored in memory and bringing it into consciousness.
Recency effect
The finding, in memory experiments, that participants are more likely to remember the last few items from a list of items.
Receptive field
The part of a sensory surface, such as the retina of the eye, which when stimulated influences a neuron under investigation.
Receptor cell
A cell specialized to detect, for example, light.
Refers to the principle of 'give and take' - that if one person 'gives' in some way, there will be a similar gesture made by the recipient at some point.
The type of retrieval process that involves finding a match in memory for something that is in the external world.
An approach to scientific explanation that seeks insight by reducing to a smaller scale of explanation.
Referral bias
Any influence on the composition of a study sample that arises from the particular method or source by which participants are recruited.
An automatic response to a stimulus.
The maintenance of stable conditions for bodily variables such as temperature.
The capacities a person has to relate to another; the qualities of their approach to a relationship.
Reminiscence bump
The disproportionately higher number of memories recalled from the adolescent and early adult period compared to other life periods
Repertory grid
A method devised by Kelly for eliciting and plotting the relationships between the constructs used by a person.
The process of producing cells from the original precursor cell, the fertilized egg cell.
Representativeness heuristic
Refers to a tendency to make categorisations according to whether an item is representative of the category to which it might belong.
A much-used defence mechanism where disturbing feelings are shut out of consciousness.
The coming together of sperm and egg cells and the production of a new individual.
Response time
A measure of how quickly a participant can make a response to a certain stimulus.
Retrieval cues
Cues or prompts available at retrieval that may help us find the information we are searching for in memory.
Retrieval processes
Used to recover or get access to the information stored in the memory system.
An episode in the Strange Situation when a child and mother (caregiver) are reunited after a brief separation.
The process of inactivation of a neurotransmitter by taking it back into the same neuron that released it.
Ribot's Law
The idea that older people remember past events better than recent ones.
Risk homeostasis
The modification of behaviour to maintain perceived risk at a constant level.
A type of receptor cell specialized to detect light.
Role diffusion
The failure to achieve a secure ego identity
Role schema
A mental structure that contains knowledge about social roles and social groups.
A mental structure containing knowledge relating to a particular kind of object.
Schematic processing
An efficient, but sometimes constraining, way of processing information based on pre-existing schemas.
A schema that represents a typical event.
Seduction theory
Freud's initial belief (later changed) that the origins of repressed conflict lay in early sexual experiences.
Selective attention
A conscious cognitive process controlling allocation of attention, over which we have control and involving cognitive processes such as expectancy.
The human desire for self-fulfilment and developing one's potential.
Involves a concept of self and its use in thinking and reflecting on oneself. It involves awareness of the self in the past, present and the anticipated future.
Self-report measure
A measure that relies on the participant in the research making judgements about him or herself.
Self-serving bias
An information processing bias which serves the perceiver's interests in some way, for example the tendency to attribute one's success to internal causes and failure to external causes.
semantic memory
A subsystem of longterm memory concerned with general facts or knowledge about the world, and lacking reference to the specific contextual episodes involved in their original acquisition.
A design feature of language relating to how a word reflects aspects of the world.
Semi-structured interviews
Interviews designed to cover particular themes that allow flexibility in how questions are asked.
The initial registration, by our senses, of stimuli in the world.
Sense of self
Our self concept which, in Rogers' view, originates in both our own actual experiences and evaluations of the self by others.
Sensory conspicuity
The likelihood that an object will be detected based on its intrinsic properties registered by the senses, such as shape, colour, brightness.
Sensory neuron
A type of neuron that is specialized to detect information and convey it to the central nervous system.
Serial presentation
The presentation of test items one after the other in the form of a list (or grid) that the participant has to work through in a systematic fashion.
Sex role stereotype
Based on beliefs about typical masculine or feminine behaviour. Using sex-role stereotypes (also known as gender stereotype) tends to exaggerate the differences between women and men and underestimate people's individuality.
Sexual dimorphism
Where a part of the body (including the brain) shows visible differences between males and females.
Sexual object choice
Whether we desire someone of the same or the other sex.
The reinforcement of successive approximations to a desired behaviour.
The attempt to mimic, as closely as possible in a controlled setting, a real-world situation.
Situated freedom
The idea that we have freedom but that it is constrained by factors (both physical and social) not of our choosing.
Size constancy
The awareness that the actual size of a stimulus remains constant despite changes in the size of the retinal image (e.g. when the stimulus moves away).
Skeletal muscle
A type of muscle attached to the skeleton, which is responsible for moving parts of the body such as the arm.
Smooth muscle
Muscle which is excited by the ANS, and is found in places such as the walls of blood vessels and the intestines.
Social cognition
The processing of social knowledge - perceiving, thinking, judging and explaining objects, events, relationships and issues in the social world.
Social competion
Strategies that advance social change by demanding alternative social arrangements based on new ways of thinking about social groups.
Social construction
Theory that the ways in which we understand the world are not just 'natural', but are 'constructed' between people in everyday social interactions.
Social creativity
A process of positive redefinition of a devalued social group in order to improve the social identity of its members.
Social Identity Theory (SIT)
A theory of the social processes by which people come to identify with particular groups and separate themselves from others.
Social mobility
Process by which members of groups improve their status by leaving behind their (previous) social group.
Social model of disability
A model that considers that people with physical impairments are as disabled by the limitations imposed by society as by their impairments.
Social representations
Shared cognitive and linguistic structures that we use to make sense of the social world.
Socio-cognitive conflict
The experience of being aware of conflicting ideas held by peers, which forces a re-examination of one's own understanding of that idea.
Sociocultural perspective
A perspective on learning which stresses that learning involves the use of tools and artefacts and is embedded within the context of interpersonal relationships, which in turn are embedded in social and cultural systems.
'Soft' sign
Any behaviour or response that may be linked to an underlying cause (like brain damage) but which is difficult to establish or open to interpretation.
Somatic nervous system
A division of the nervous system, which controls skeletal muscles.
Somatosensory mechanisms
These mechanisms provide the brain with information from different areas of the body, so allowing it to maintain a representation of the body's condition.
Spacing effect
An effect in which memory is enhanced because learning is spread out across several sessions rather than confined to a single session.
Specific learning difficulty
Used to refer to specific difficulties in one area of learning such as reading or mathematics.
Specific reading difficulty
Used to refer to specific difficulties in learning to read, but in no other areas of academic study.
Spinal cord
A collection of neurons housed within the backbone.
An abbreviation for stimulus-response Expectancy Knowledge about a sequence of events (anticipation).
Stage theory
A theory that proposes that development occurs in a sequence of fixed order stages.
A mental representation of a person as more like a 'typical' member of a social category than the person actually is. Seen as an inevitable consequence of the basic cognitive process of overgeneralization.
Stimulus-induced shifts of attention
Shifts of attention over which we have no conscious control and are driven by something in the environment.
Stimulus-response association
The link assumed to be formed by an animal whereby a stimulus triggers a response.
Storage processes
Used to retain coded information in the memory system as internal representations.
Strange Situation
A standardized set of episodes involving a child, their mother and a stranger in a laboratory in a sequence of separations and reunions. A way of assessing attachment security.
The term coined by Orton to describe dyslexic-like symptoms (literally - 'twisted symbols').
Subject position
The place or character an individual can construct for themselves using discourses and particular recognized positions like 'the good mother'.
The inner world of subjective experience, thoughts and feelings.
A form of displacement of libido to non-sexual and personally or culturally valued goals.
Superego (or conscience)
This is based on the introjection of 'moral' attitudes through identification with significant others (especially the father). Designated by Freud the 'Above-I' (das Uber-Ich).
Symbolic interactionism
A theoretical approach which emphasizes the significance of social interaction and the use of 'symbols' within these interactions.
The capacity for stimuli presented in one sensory modality to evoke spontaneously experiences in another modality. For example to 'hear' colours
The junction between a neuron and another cell.
A combination of symptoms which regularly occur together and may have a shared neurological basis.
The analysis of sentence structure.
Belonging to or affecting the system or body as a whole. For example cardiovascular disease, with origins involving many interacting subsystems, is usually seen as systemic, whereas tuberculosis, caused by a single infectious agent, is not.
Tip of the tongue phenomenon
The feeling that although you cannot remember something it is there stored in memory just out of reach.
Top-down processing
The influence of information flowing 'down' from stored knowledge' on the interpretation of sensory information.
Refers to the idea that individuals affect their environments, that environments can affect individuals and that the combination of these influences affects development.
The psychoanalytic idea that the emotional feelings aroused in our early relationships can be unconsciously 'transferred' into relationships in adult life.
A study of experiences in which the sense of identity of self extends beyond the individual or personal to encompass spiritual aspects of being.
Two-process theories
These theories suggest that automatic and controlled processes operate simultaneously, the balance between the two depending upon the situation.
Unconditional regard
A non-judgemental attitude of warmth and respect.
Unconditional response (UCR)
A response that does not require learning.
Unconditional stimulus (UCS)
A stimulus that evokes a response without the necessity for a history of conditioning.
Unconscious perception
The result of sensory information processed automatically below the level of conscious awareness but still capable of influencing how we react and behave.
Unilateral spatial neglect
A tendency to ignore one side of the visual field or one side of an object - despite normal sensory input.
Vertical relationship
A relationship which involves one person who has more knowledge or power than the other person in the relationship.
The task of monitoring over a period of time for the appearance of a target item.
A short description of a person, event or behaviour, used in an experimental setting, which permits control over the amount and nature of information provided to participants.
Visual field
The area of the world that could potentially be seen by an individual at any one moment.
Visual neglect
A condition brought about by brain damage involving a failure to attend to or even perceive certain aspects of the environment. In unilateral visual neglect only one side of the visual field is affected (see also unilateral spatial neglect).
Visual search
The task of picking out a particular target item from a number of irrelevant (distractor) items.
Voluntary behaviour
Behaviour that is under our conscious control.
Wernicke's and Broca's area
Areas of cortex involved in language.
Will to meaning
Frankl's term for the need to find meaning and purpose in life.
Word superiority effect
The finding that a letter is detected more readily when it is embedded in a word then when it is not.
Working memory
An alternative conception of shortterm memory which reflects its active role in cognitive processing.

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