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Psych: Ch. 1-6


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Dependent Variable
the outcome factor; the variable that may change in response to manipulations of the independent variable
Formal Operational Stage
in Piaget's theory, the stage of cognitive development (normally beginning about age 12) during which people begin to think logically about abstract concepts
a tone's experienced highness or lowness; depends on frequency
Random Sample
a sample that fairly represents a population because each member has an equal chance of inclusion
retinal receptor cells that are concentrated near the center of the retina and that function in daylight or in well-lit conditions
Bottom-Up Processing
analysis that begins with the sensory receptors and works up to the brain's integration of sensory information
the fertilized egg
Depth Perception
the ability to see objects in three dimensions although the images that strike the retina are two dimensional; allows us to judge distance
the complete instructions for making an organism, consisting of all the genetic material in that organism's chromosomes
Developmental Psychology
a branch of psychology that studies physical, cognitive, and social change throughout the life span
Cerebral Cortex
the intricate fabric of interconnected neural cells that covers the cerebral hemispheres; the body's ultimate control and information-processing center
Temporal Lobes
the portion of the cerebral cortex lying roughly above the ears; includes the auditory areas, each of which receives auditory information primarily from the opposite ear
Cochlear Implant
a device for converting sounds into electrical signals and stimulationg the auditory nerve through electrodes threaded into the cochlea
all the cases in a group, from which samples may be drawn for a study
Fetal Alcohol Syndrome
physical and cognitive abnormalities in children caused by a pregnant woman's heavy drinking
Sensory Cortex
the area at the front of the parietal lobes that registers and processes body touch and movement sensations
Y Chromosome
the sex chromosome found only in males
the brain's sensory switchboard, located on top of the brainstem; it directs messages to the sensory receiving areas in the cortex and transmits replies to the cerebellum and medulla
biological growth processes that enable orderly changes in behavior, relatively uninfluenced by experience
the process by which certain animals form attachments during a critical period very early in life
Concrete Operational Stage
in Piaget's theory, the stage of cognitive development (from about 6 or 7 to 11 years of age) during which children gain the mental operations that enable them to think logically about concrete events
the central focal point in the retina, around which the eye's cones cluster
Sensorineural Hearing Loss
hearing loss caused by damage to the cochlea's receptor cells or to the auditory nerves; also called nerve deafness
Stranger Anxiety
the fear of strangers that infants commonly display, beginning by about 8 months of age
Natural Selection
the principle that, among the range of inherited trait variations, those that lead to increased reproduction and survival will most likely be passed on to succeeding generations
Gender Schema Theory
the theory that children learn from their cultures a concept of what it means to be male and female and that they adjust their behavior accordingly
all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicating
Inattentional Blindness
failing to see visible objects when our attention is directed elsewhere
the distance from the peak of one light or sound wave to the peak of the next
a measure of the extent to which two factors vary together, and thus of how well either factor predicts the other
Conduction Hearing Loss
hearing loss caused by damage to the mechanical system that conducts sound waves to the cochlea
Illusory Correlation
the perception of a relationship where none exists
Occipital Lobes
the portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the back of the head; includes the visual areas, which receive visual information from the opposite visual field
Wernicke's Area
controls language reception- a brain area involved in language comprehension and expression; usually in the left temporal lobe
the system for sensing the position and movement of individual body parts
interpreting one's new experience in terms of one's existing schemas
the acquisition of a traditional masculine or feminine role
Placebo Effect
experimental results caused by expectations alone; any effect on behavior caused by the administration of an inert substance or condition, which is assumed to be an active agent
Personal Space
the buffer zone we like to maintain around our bodies
threadlike structures made of DNA molecules that contain the genes
Naturalistic Observation
observing and recording behavior in naturally occurring situations without trying to manipulate and control the situation
conversion of one form of energy into another
every nongenetic influence, from prenatal nutrition to the people and things around us
the sense or act of hearing
the developing human organism from about 2 weeks after fertilization through the second month
the proportion of variation among individuals that we can attribute to genes
the number of complete wavelengths that pass a point in a given time (for example, per second)
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
in psychology, the biologically and socially influenced characteristics by which people define male and female
a set of expectations (norms) about a social position, defining how those in the position ought to behave
the effect of one factor (such as environment) depends on another factor (such as heredity)
Perceptual Adaptation
in vision, the ability to adjust to an artificially displaced or even inverted visual field
Top-Down Processing
information processing guided by higher-level mental processes, as when we construct perceptions drawing on our experience and expectations
adapting one's current understandings (schemas) to incorporate new information
the developing human organism from 9 weeks after conception to birth
a binocular cue for perceiving depth; the extent to which the eyes converge inward when looking at an object
Optic Nerve
the nerve that carries neural impulses from the eye to the brain
Operational Definition
a statement of the procedures (operations) used to define research variables
an emotional tie with another person; shown in young children by their seeking closeness to the caregiver and showing distress on separation
Gender Role
a set of expected behaviors for males and for females
Social Learning Theory
the theory that we learn social behavior by observing and imitating and by being rewarded or punished
an explanation using an integrated set of principles that organizes observations and predicts behaviors or events
X Chromosome
the sex chromosome found in both men and women
the most important of the male sex hormones
the process of organizing and interpreting sensory information, enabling us to recognize meaningful objects and events
Motor Cortex
an area at the rear of the frontal lobes that controls voluntary movements
the time of natural cessation of menstruation; also refers to the biological changes a woman experiences as her ability to reproduce declines
Color Constancy
perceiving familiar objects as having consistent color, even if changing illumination alters the wavelengths reflected by the object
Absolute Threshold
the minimum stimulation needed to detect a particular stimulus 50 percent of the time
the study of paranormal phenomena, including ESP and psychokinesis
the controversial claim that perception can occur apart from sensory input
Binocular Cues
depth cues, such as retinal disparity and convergence, that depend on the use of two eyes
Longitudinal Study
research in which the same people are restudied and retested over a long period
Evolutionary Psychology
the study of the evolution of behavior and the mind, using principles of natural selection
Middle Ear
the chamber between the eardrum and cochlea containing three tiny bones (hammer, anvil, and stirrup) that concentrate the vibrations of the eardrum on the cochlea's oval window
Parallel Processing
the processing of several aspects of a problem simultaneously; the brain's natural mode of information processing for many functions, including vision
the base of the brainstem; controls heartbeat and breathing
a condition in which faraway objects are seen more clearly than near objects because the image of near objects is focused behind the retina
Cross-Sectional Study
a study in which people of different ages are compared with one another
Sensory Adaptation
diminished sensitivity as a consequence of constant stimulation
the adjustable opening in the center of the eye through which light enters
Identical Twins
twins who debelop from a single fertilized egg that splits in two, creating two genetically identical organisms
a testable prediction, often implied by a theory
Sensory Interaction
the principle that one sense may influence another, as when the smell of food influences its taste
retinal receptors that detect black, white, and gray; necessary for peripheral and twilight vision, when cones don't respond
Double-blind Procedure
an experimental procedure in which both the research participants and the research staff are ignorant (blind) about whether the research participants have received the treatment or a placebo
Fluid Intelligence
one's ability to reason speedily and abstractly; tends to decrease during late adulthood
Human Factors Psychology
a branch of psychology that explores how people and machines interact and how machines and physical environments can be made safe and easy to use
Nature-nurture issue
the longstanding controversey over the relative contributions that genes and experience make to the development of psychological traits and behaviors
Phi Phenomenon
an illusion of movement created when two or more adjacent lights blink on and off in quick succession
transmitted cultural elements
Secondary Sex Characteristics
nonreproductive sexual characteristics, such as female breasts and hips, male voice quality, and body hair
Gender Identity
one's sense of being male or female
Control Condition
the condition of an experiment that contrasts with the experimental condition and serves as a comparison for evaluating the effect of the treatment
the oldest part and central core of the brain, beginning where the spinal cord swells as it enters the skull
Blind Spot
the point at which the optic nerve leaves the eye, creating a "blind" spot because no receptor cells are located there
Case Study
an observation technique in which one person is studied in depth in the hope of revealing universal principles
Feature Detectors
nerve cells in the brain that respond to specific features of the stimulus, such as shape, angle, or movement
Inner Ear
the innermost part of the ear, containing the cochlea, semicircular canals, and vestibular sacs
a disorder that appears in childhood and is marked by deficient communication, social interaction, and understanding of others' states of mind
Fraternal Twins
twins who develop from separate fertilized eggs
Behavior Genetics
the study of the relative power and limits of genetic and environmental influences on behavior
in Erickson's theory, the ability to form close, loving relationships; a primary developmental task in late adolescence and early adulthood
Independent Variable
the experimental factor that is manipulated; the variable whose effect is being studied
the principle (which Piaget believed to be a part of concrete operational reasoning) that properties such as mass, volume, and number remain the same despite changes in the forms of objects
Parietal Lobes
the portion of the cerebral cortex lying at the top of the head and toward the rear; receives sensory input for touch and body position
the transition period from childhood to adulthood, extending from puberty to independence
repeating the essence of a research study, usually with different participants in different situations, to see whether the basic finding extends to other participants and circumstances
a coiled, bony, fluid-filled tube in the inner ear through which sound waves trigger nerve impulses
Perceptual Constancy
perceiving objects as unchanging (having consistent lightness, color, shape, and size) even as illumination and retinal images change
Primary Sex Characteristics
the body structures (ovaries, testes, and external genitalia) that make sexual reproduction possible
Sensorimotor Stage
in Piaget's theory, the stage (from birth to about 2 years of age) during which infants know the world mostly in terms of their sensory impressions and motor activities
a technique for ascertaining the self-reported attitudes or behaviors of people, usually by questioning a representative, random sample of them
the amount of energy in a light or sound wave, which we perceive as brightness or loudness, as determined by the wave's amplitude
the period of sexual maturation, during which a person becomes capable of reproducing
the perceptual tendency to organize stimuli into coherent groups
decreasing responsiveness with repeated stimulation
Critical Period
an optimal period shortly after birth when an organism's exposure to certain stimuli or experiences produces proper development
Association Areas
areas of the cerebral cortex that are not involved in primary motor or sensory functions; rather, they are involved in higher mental functions such as learning, remembering, thinking, and speaking
an organized whole
Visual Cliff
a laboratory device for testing depth perception in infants and young animals
Preoperational Stage
in Piaget's theory, the stage (from about 2 to 6 or 7 years of age) during which a child learns to use language but does not yet comprehend the mental operations of concrete logic
an understood rule for accepted and expected behavior
Rooting Reflex
a baby's tendency, when touched on the cheek, to turn toward the touch, open the mouth, and search for the nipple
Visual Capture
the tendency for vision to dominate the other senses
the biochemical units of heredity that make up the chromosomes; a segment of DNA capable of synthesizing a protein
the activation, often unconsciously, of certain associations, thus predesposing one's perception, memory, or response
the light-sensitive inner surface of the eye, containing the receptor rods and cones plus layers of neurons that begin the processing of visual information
agents, such as chemicals and viruses, that can reach the embryo or fetus during prenatal development and cause harm
two lima bean-sized neural clusters that are components of the limbic system and are linked to emotion
a condition in which nearby objects are seen more clearly that distant objects because distant objects focus in front of the retina
Young-Helmholtz Trichromatic Theory
the theory that the retina contains three different color receptors- one most sensitve to red, one to green, one to blue- which when stimulated in combination can produce the perception of any color
Vestibular Sense
the sense of body movement and position, including the sense of balance
Monocular Cues
depth cues, such as interposition and linear perspective, available to either eye alone
Gate-Control Theory
the theory that the spinal cord contains a neurological "gate" that blocks pain signals or allows them to pass on to the brain
Selective Attention
the focusing of conscious awareness on a paricular stimulus, as in the cocktail party effect
Experimental Condition
the condition of an experiment that exposes participants to the treatment, that is, to one version of the independent variable
the transparent structure behing the pupil that changes shape to help focus images on the retina
the enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, and traditions shared by a large group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next
the first menstrual period
one's sense of self; according to Erikson, the adolescent's task is to solidify a sense of self by testing and integrating various roles
the study of relationships between the physical characteristics of stimuli, such as their intensity, and our psychological experience of them
Frontal Lobes
the portion of the cerebral cortex lying just behind the forehead; involved in speaking and muscle movements and in making plans and judgments
the scientific study of behavior and mental processes
the process by whih the eye's lens changes shape to focus near or far objects on the retina
Difference Threshold
the minimum difference between two stimuli required for detection 50 percent of the time
Place Theory
in hearing, the theory that links the pitch we hear with the place where the cochlea's membrane is stimulated
Retinal Disparity
a binocular cue for perceiving depth: by comparing images from the two eyeballs the brain computes distance- the greater the disparity (difference) between the two images, the closer the object
a concept or framework that organizes and interprets information
the dimension of color that is determined by the wavelength of light; what we know as the color names blue, green, and so forth
in Piaget's theory, the preoperational child's difficulty taking another's point of view
Frequency Theory
in hearing, the theory that the rate of nerve impulses traveling up the auditory nerve matches the frequency of a tone, thus enabling us to sense its pitch
Random Assignment
assigning partipants to experimental and control conditions by chance, thus minimizing preexisting differences between those assigned to the different groups
a complex molecule containing the genetic information that makes up the chromosomes
Signal Detection Theory
a theory predicting how and when we detect the presence of a faint simulus ("signal") amid background stimulation ("noise")
the process by which our sensory receptors and nervous system receive and represent stimulus energies from our environment
a research method in which an investigator manipulates one or more factors (independent variables) to observe the effect on some behavior or mental process (the dependent variable)
Social Clock
the culturally preferred timing of social events such as marriage, parenthood, and retirement
a neural center that is located in the limbic system and helps process explicit memories for storage
a ring of muscle tissue that forms the colored portion of the eye around the pupil and controls the size of the pupil opening
Object Permanence
the awareness that things continue to exist even when not perceived
below one's absolute threshold for conscious awareness
Opponent-Process Theory
the theory that opposing retinal processes (red-green, yellow-blue, white-black) enable color vision
False Consensus Effect
the tendency to overestimate the extent to which others share our beliefs and behaviors
a neural structure lying below the thalamus; it directs several maintenance activities (eating, drinking, body temperature) helps govern the endocrine system via the pituitary gland, and is linked to emotion
Corpus Callosum
the large band of neural fibers connecting the two brain hemispheres and carrying messages between them
Reticular Formation
a nerve network in the brainstem that plays an important role in controlling arousal
Broca's Area
controls language expession- an area of the frontal lobe, usually in the left hemisphere, that directs the muscle movements involved in speech
Crystallized Intelligence
one's accumulated knowledge and verbal skills; tends to increase with age
Weber's Law
the principle that, to be perceived as different, two stimuli must differ by a constant minimum percentage (rather than a constant amount)
the organization of the visual field into objects (the figures) that stand out from their surroundings (the ground)
the "little brain" attached to the rear of the brainstem; its functions include processing sensory input and coordinationg movement output and balance
a sense of one's identity and personal worth
Limbic System
a doughnut-shaped system of neural structures at the border of the brainstem and cerebral hemispheres; associated with emothins such as fear and aggression and drives such as those for food and sex
Perceptual Set
a mental predisposition to perceive one thing and not another
the sharpness of vision
a random error in gene replication that leads to a change
Theory of Mind
people's ideas about their own and others' mental states- about their feelings, perceptions, and thoughts and the behavior these might predict
Alzheimer's Disease
a progressive and irreversible brain disorder characterized by gradual deterioration of memory, reasoning, language, and, finally, physical functioning

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