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AB Design
A single subject research design that contains one baseline (A) and one treatment (B).

ABAB Design
A single subject research design that contains a baseline (A1), treatment (B1), a second baseline (B2) and a second treatment phase (B2)

Alpha (lowercase)
The abbreviation for probability of error in statistical results. See Type I Error. (a)

Alternative Hypothesis
The hypothesis that states there is a difference between two or more sets of data.

Absolute Zero
Characteristic of a scale of measurement that contains a point where the scale has no value.

The creation of new cognitive schemas when objects, experiences, or other information does not fit with existing schemas.

Action Potential
The firing on a neuron. Occurs when the charge inside the neuron becomes more positive than the charge outside.

A neurotransmitter associated with voluntary movement, sleep and wakefulness.

An interpersonal style where only the immediate needs of the self are considered rather than the needs of others. (As opposed to passive or assertive)

An anxiety disorder characterized by an intense fear of leaving one's home.

All or None Law
Either a neuron completely fires or it does not fire at all.

Alpha (lowercase)
The abbreviation for probability of error in statistical results. See Type I Error. (a)

Alternative Hypothesis
The hypothesis that states there is a difference between two or more sets of data.

Behavior that is unselfish and may even be detrimental but which benefits others.

Loss of memory. Usually only a partial loss such as for a period of time or biographical information.

A part of the brain's limbic system that attaches emotional significance to information and mediates both defensive and aggressive behavior.

Anal Expulsive Personality
Stemming from the Anal stage, a child who becomes fixated due to over control transfers his or her unresolved anal (or control) issues into characteristics such as cruelty, pushiness, messiness, or disorganization.

Anal Retentive Personality
Stemming from the Anal stage, a child who becomes fixated due to under control transfers his or her unresolved anal (or control) issues into characteristics such as compulsivity, stinginess, cleanliness, organization, and obstinance.

Anal Stage
Freud's second stage of psychosexual development where the primary sexual focus is on the elimination or holding onto feces. The stage is often thought of as representing a child's ability to control his or her own world.

See Psychoanalysis.

Analysis of Variance
An inferential statistical procedure used to test whether or not the means of two or more sets of data are equal to each other.

Analysis of Variance.

The physiological and psychological reaction to an expected danger, whether real or imagined.

The impairment of the ability to communicate either through oral or written discourse as a result of brain damage.

Approach-Approach Conflict
The conflict presented when two opposite but equally appealing choices are available but can not both be obtained.

Approach-Avoidance Conflict
The conflict presented when the best positive choice will result in a negative outcome as well as positive.   

Arousal Theory
The theory stating that we are motivated by our innate desire to maintain an optimal level of arousal.

Style of interpersonal interaction where both the needs of the self and others are considered. (As opposed to passive or aggressive)

Incorporating objects, experiences, or information into existing schemas.

The phenomenon in learning that states we are better able to remember information if it is paired with something we are familiar with or otherwise stands out.

The strong bond a child forms with his or her primary caregiver.

An idea or belief about the etiology of a certain behavior.

Attribution Theory
The theory that argues people look for explanation of behavior, associating either dispositional (internal) attributes or situational (external) attributes.

Authoritarian [parents]
Parenting style focused on excessive rules, rigid belief systems, and the expectation of unquestioned obedience.

Authoritative [parents]
Parenting style focused on setting reasonable rules and expectations while encouraging communication and independence.

Autonomic Nervous System
Part of the peripheral nervous system that regulates the involuntary actions of the body (e.g., breathing, heart rate, blood pressure, pupil dilation). Also regulates the Fight or Flight Phenomenon.

Availability Heuristic
A rule of thumb stating that information more readily available in our memory is more important than information not as easily accessible.

Aversion Therapy
A type of behavioral treatment where an aversive stimuli is paired with a negative behavior in hopes that the behavior will change in the future to avoid the aversive stimuli.

Avoidance-Avoidance Conflict
The conflict where both possible choices have an equal negative outcome.

The tail-like part of the neuron through which information exits the cell.


Behavior Modification
The application of behavioral theory to change a specific behavior.

Behavior Therapy
The application of behavioral theory (e.g. conditioning, reinforcement) in the treatment of mental illness.

The school of psychology founded on the premise that behavior is measurable and can be changed through the application of various behavioral principles.

Bell-Shaped Curve
Also referred to as a normal distribution or normal curve, a bell-shaped curve is a perfect mesokurtic curve where the mean, median, and mode are equal.

Beta (uppercase)
Abbreviation for Power in statistical results. See Type II Error. (b)

Binocular Cues
Visual cues (convergence and retinal disparity) that require both eyes to perceive distance (as opposed to monocular cues)

Being attracted to or aroused by members of both genders. See Sexual Orientation.

Blind Study
As a way to avoid the placebo effect in research, this type of study is designed without the subject's knowledge of the anticipated results and sometimes even the nature of the study. The subjects are said to be 'blind' to the expected results.

Broca’s Aphasia
An aphasia associated with damage to the Broca's area of the brain, demonstrated by the impairment in producing understandable speech.

Changes in thoughts, emotions, and behavior as a result of extended job stress and unrewarded repetition of duties. Burnout is seen as extreme dissatisfaction, pessimism, lowered job satisfaction, and a desire to quit.


Canonical Correlation
A correlational technique used when there are two or more X and two or more Y. (Example: The correlation between (age and sex) and (income and life satisfaction)

Castration Anxiety
According to Freud's Stages of Psychosexual Development, the fear a boy in the phallic stage experiences due to a fear that his father will render him powerless if his father finds out about his attraction toward his mother.

The emotional release associated with the expression of unconscious conflicts.

CEEB Score
A standard score that sets the mean to five-hundred and standard deviation to one-hundred. Used on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT)

Cell Body
The main part of a neuron where the information is processed.

Central Nervous System
The brain and the spinal cord.

Central Tendency
A statistical measurement attempting to depict the average score in a distribution (see mean, median, and/or mode)

A young child's tendency to focus only on his or her own perspective of a specific object and a failure to understand that others may see things differently.

Part of the brain associated with balance, smooth movement, and posture.

Cerebral Hemispheres
The two halves of the brain (right and left)

Chemical Imbalance  
A generic term for the idea that chemical in the brain are either too scarce or too abundant resulting in or contributing to a mental disorder such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Others believe that the disorder precedes the imbalance, suggesting that a change in mood, for example, changes our chemicals rather than the chemical changing our mood.

A unit of information used in memory

Combining smaller units of measurement or chunks into larger chunks. (e.g., a seven chunk phone number such as 5-5-5-1-2-1-2 becomes a five chunk number such as 5-5-5-12-12)

Classical Conditioning  
The behavioral technique of pairing a naturally occurring stimulus and response chain with a different stimulus in order to produce a response which is not naturally occurring.

Client Centered Therapy
A humanistic therapy based on Carl Roger's beliefs that an individual has an unlimited capacity for psychological growth and will continue to grow unless barriers are placed in the way.

Coefficient of Determination
The statistic or number determined by squaring the correlation coefficient. Represents the amount of variance accounted for by that correlation.

Coercive Power
Power derived through the ability to punish.

The process of receiving, processing, storing, and using information.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy   
Treatment involving the combination of behaviorism (based on the theories of learning) and cognitive therapy (based on the theory that our cognitions or thoughts control a large portion of our behaviors).

Cognitive Dissonance
he realization of contradictions in one's own attitudes and behaviors.

Cognitive Psychology
The sub-field of psychology associated with information processing and the role it plays in emotion, behavior, and physiology.

Cognitive Therapy
The treatment approach based on the theory that our cognitions or thoughts control a large part of our behaviors and emotions. Therefore, changing the way we think can result in positive changes in the way we act and feel.

Cohort Effects
The effects of being born and raised in a particular time or situation where all other members of your group has similar experiences that make your group unique from other groups

Collective Unconscious
According to Jung, the content of the unconscious mind that is passed down from generation to generation in all humans.

The physical act resulting from an obsession. Typically a compulsive act is done in an attempt to alleviate the discomfort created by an obsession.

Concrete Operational Stage
According to Piaget, the stage of cognitive development where a child between the ages of 7 and 12 begins thinking more globally and outside of the self but is still deficient in abstract thought.

Concurrent Validity
A measurements ability to correlate or vary directly with an accepted measure of the same construct

Conditioned Response
The response in a stimulus-response chain that is not naturally occurring, but rather has been learned through its pairing with a naturally occurring chain.

Conditioned Stimulus
The stimulus in a stimulus-response chain that is not naturally occurring, but rather has been learned through its pairing with a naturally occurring chain.

The process of learning new behaviors or responses as a result of their consequences.

Confidence Interval
The level of certainty that the true score falls within a specific range. The smaller the range the less the certainty.

Changing your attitudes, beliefs, thoughts, or behaviors in order to be more consistent with others.

Any variable that is not part of a research study but still has an effect on the research results

According to Freud, the restriction demanded by the superego.

Awareness of yourself and the world around you.

The understanding, typically achieved in later childhood, that matter remains the same even when the shape changes ( i.e., a pound of clay is still a pound of clay whether it is rolled in a ball or pounded flat).

The physiological changes in the brain associated with memory storage.

Consolidation Failure
The failure to store information in memory.

Any variable that remains the same throughout a study.

Any variable that can not be directly observed but rather is measured through indirect methods. (Examples: intelligence, motivation)

Construct Validity
The general validity of a measuring device. Construct validity answers the question of whether or not the measuring device actually measures the construct under question.

Content Validity
A measurement device’s ability to be generalized to the entire content of what is being measured.

Context Dependent Memory   
The theory that information learned in a particular situation or place is better remembered when in that same situation or place.

Continuous Reinforcement
The application of reinforcement every time a specific behavior occurs.

Control Group
The group of subjects in an experiment that does not receive the independent variable.

The binocular cue to distance referring to the fact that the closer an object, the more inward our eyes need to turn in order to focus

Convergent Thinking
Logical and conventional thought leading to a single answer.

Conversion Disorder
A somatoform disorder where the individual experiences a loss of sensation or function due to a psychological belief (e.g., paralysis, blindness, deafness).

Correlated Sample
Sample data that is related to each other.

The degree to which two or more variables a related to each other. A correlation refers to the direction that the variables move and does not necessarily represent cause and effect. (Example: height and weight are correlated. As one increases, the other tends to increase as well)

Correlation Coefficient
The statistic or number representing the degree to which two or more variables are related. Often abbreviated 'r.'

Counter conditioning
The use of conditioning to eliminate a previously conditioned response. The conditioned stimulus (CS) is repaired with a different unconditioned stimulus (UCS) to eventually elicit a new conditioned response (CR)

Critical Period
A time frame deemed highly important in developing in a healthy manner; can be physically, emotionally, behaviorally, or cognitively.

Critical Value
The value of a statistic required in order to consider the results significant.

Cross Sectional Study
A research study that examines the effects of development (maturation) by examining different subjects at various ages

Cross Sequential Study
A research study that examines the effects of development (maturation) by combining longitudinal and cross sectional studies

The psychological and psychological response to the belief that there are too many people in a specified area.

Crystallized Intelligence
The part of intelligence which involves the acquisition, as opposed to the use, of information


Theory which states that memory fades and/or disappears over time if it is not used or accessed.

Declarative Memory
The part of long-term memory where factual information is stored, such as mathematical formulas, vocabulary, and life events.

Deductive Reasoning
Decision making process in which ideas are processed from the general to the specific.

Defenses (Defense Mechanisms)
Psychological forces which prevent undesirable or inappropriate impulses from entering consciousness (e.g., forgetting responsibilities that we really didn't want to do, projecting anger onto a spouse as opposed to your boss). Also called Defense Mechanisms, Defense System, or Ego Defenses.

Degrees of Freedom
The numbers of individual scores that can vary without changing the sample mean. Statistically written as 'N-1' where N represents the number of subjects.

False belief system (e.g., believing you are Napoleon, have magical powers, or the false belief that others are 'out to get you.').

Extensions of the cell body of a neuron responsible for receiving incoming neurotransmitters.

Dependent Variable
The variable in an experiment that is measured; the outcome of an experiment.

Descriptive Statistics
The branch of statistics that focuses on describing in numerical format what is happening now within a population. Descriptive statistics require that all subjects in the population (the entire class, all males in a school, all professors) be tested.

Developmental Psychology
The area of psychology focused on how children grow psychologically to become who they are as adults.

Deviation IQ Score
A standard score used for reporting IQ scores where the mean is set to 100 and standard deviation to 15

Difference Threshold
The smallest change in perception which is noticeable at least 50% of the time.

In behavioral theory, the learned ability to differentiate between two similar objects or situations.

Inability to recognize or be aware of who we are (person), what we are doing (situation), the time and date (time), or where we are in relation to our environment (place). To be considered a problem, it must be consistent, result in difficulty functioning, and not due to forgetting or being lost.

The pushing out of older information in short term memory to make room for new information.

Dispositional Attribute
An attribute explained or interpreted as being caused by internal influences.

A separation from the self, with the most severe resulting in Dissociative Identity Disorder. Most of us experience this in very mild forms such as when we are driving long distance and lose time or find ourselves day dreaming longer than we thought.

The phenomenon in memory that states we are better able to remember information if it is distinctive or different from other information.

Divergent Thinking
The ability to use previously gained information to debate or discuss issues which have no agreed upon definitive resolution.

A neurotransmitter associated with movement, attention and learning and the brain's pleasure and reward system.

Dopamine Hypothesis
The theory that schizophrenia is caused by an excess amount of dopamine in the brain. Research has found that medication to reduce dopamine can reduce the positive symptoms of schizophrenia.

Double Blind Study
Research method in which both the subjects and the experimenter are unaware or 'blind' to the anticipated results.

An internal motivation to fulfill a need or reduce the negative aspects of an unpleasant situation.

Drug Therapy
The use of medication to treat a mental illness.


In Psychoanalytical theory, the part of the personality which maintains a balance between our impulses (id) and our conscience (superego).

The thinking in the preoperational stage of cognitive development where children believe everyone sees the world fro the same perspective as he or she does.

Ego Defense Mechanisms
See Defenses

Ego Ideal
In psychoanalytic thought, this is the ideal or desired behavior of the ego according to the superego.

Ellis, Albert
A cognitive Psychologist who developed the concept of Rational-Emotive Therapy.

Feelings about a situation, person, or objects that involves changes in physiological arousal and cognitions.

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)
The awareness of and ability to manage one's emotions in a healthy and productive manner.

The transformation of information to be stored in memory.

A neurotransmitter involved in pain relief, and feelings of pleasure and contentedness.

A neurotransmitter involved in energy and glucose metabolism. Too little has been associated with depression.

Episodic Memory
Subcategory of Declarative memory where information regarding life events are stored.

Equal Intervals
Characteristic of a scale of measurement where the individual units possess the qualities of equal intervals. The difference between each unit of measurement is exactly the same.

Equity Theory
The theory that argues a couple must see each other as contributing and benefiting equally to the relationship for them both to feel comfortable in the relationship.

The amount of other variables (aside from what you are measuring) that can impact the observed score

Error Level
The level of accepted error within a given set of data. The greater the error level, the wider the confidence interval.

Escape Conditioning
Operant conditioning based on the idea that a behavior is more likely to be repeated if it results in the cessation of a negative event.

An idea about a characteristic of a population based on sample data (e.g., the sample mean IQ was 102 so we estimate that the population mean IQ is also 102)

A correlational technique used primarily for non-linear relationships. (Example, income and age are positively correlated until older age at which point the correlation reverses itself to some extent.

Causal relationships of diseases; theories regarding how the specific disease or disorder began.

Experimental Group
In research, the group of subjects who receive the independent variable.

Experimental Method
Research method using random assignment of subjects and the manipulation of variables in order to determine cause and effect.

Experimenter Bias
Errors in a research study due to the predisposed notions or beliefs of the experimenter.

Expert Power
Power derived through advanced knowledge or experience in a particular subject.

Ex-Post-Facto (After the Fact) Research
Research method in which the independent variable is administered prior to the study without the researcher’s control and its effects are investigated afterward

External Locus of Control   
The belief that the environment has more control over life circumstances than the individual does.

External Validity
The extent to which the data collected from a sample can be generalized to the entire population.

The reduction and eventual disappearance of a learned or conditioned response after it is no longer paired with the unconditioned stimulus-response chain.

Extrinsic Motivation  
The desire or push to perform a certain behavior based on the potential external rewards that may be received as a result.

Personality style where the individual prefers outward and group activity as opposed to inward and individual activity.


Factor Analysis  
A statistical technique used to determine the number of components in a set of data. These components are then named according to their characteristics allowing a researcher to break down information into statistical groups.

Factorial ANOVA
An Analysis of Variance used when there are two or more independent variables. When there are two, the ANOVA is called a Two-Way ANOVA, three independent variables would use a Three-Way ANOVA, etc.

Family Therapy  
Treatment involving family members which seeks to change the unhealthy familial patterns and interactions.

In Freud's theory of psychosexual development, the failure to complete a stage successfully which results in a continuation of that stage into later adulthood.

Fixed Interval Schedule   
A schedule in which the reinforcement is presented after a specific period of time.

Fixed Ratio Schedule
A schedule in which the reinforcement is presented after a specific number of responses.

A condition in which arousal and/or sexual gratification is attained through inanimate objects (shoes, pantyhose) or non-sexual body parts (feet, hair). Is considered a problem when the object is needed in order to obtain arousal or gratification and the individual can not can not complete a sexual act without this object present.

Frequency Distribution
A table showing the number of occurrences for each score

Frequency Effect
The phenomenon in memory which states that we tend to remember information better if it is repeated.

Freud, Sigmund
Dr. Freud is often referred to as the father of clinical psychology. His extensive theory of personality development (psychoanalytical theory) is the cornerstone for modern psychological thought, and consists of (1) the psychosexual stages of development, (2) the structural model of personality (id, ego, superego), and (3) levels of consciousness (conscious, subconscious, and unconscious). See Psychoanalysis.

A behavioral technique used to treat phobias in which the client is presented with the feared stimulus until the associated anxiety disappears.

Fluid Intelligence
According to Cattell, the part of intelligence which involves the use, as opposed to the acquisition, of information.

Formal Operational Stage
Pavlov's fourth and final stage of cognitive development where thinking becomes more abstract.

Presenting information either positively or negatively in order to change the influence is has on an individual or group.

Free Association
The psychoanalytic technique of allowing a patient to talk without direction or input in order to analyze current issues of the client.

Frontal Lobe
The lobe at the front of the brain associated with movement, speech, and impulsive behavior.

The feelings, thoughts, and behaviors associated with not achieving a particular goal or the belief that a goal has been prematurely interrupted.

Frustration-Aggression Hypothesis
The theory arguing that aggression is the natural reaction to frustration.

The school of thought popular in the 19th century emphasizing conscious experiences as a precursor to behavior

Fundamental Attribution Error
The tendency to over estimate the internal attributes of another person's actions.

General intelligence. Typically compared to s which represents specific intelligences. G is the culmination of all possible s's.

GABA (Gamma-Amino Butyric Acid)
A neurotransmitter involved in the inhibition of anxiety and excitation. Too little GABA has been associated with anxiety disorders.

Gender Identity
The internal sense of being either male or female. Usually congruent with biological gender, but not always as in Gender Identity Disorder.

Gender Role
The accepted behaviors, thoughts, and emotions of a specific gender based upon the views of a particular society or culture.

Gender Typing
The process of developing the behaviors, thoughts, and emotions associated with a particular gender.

The tendency to associate stimuli, and therefore respond similarly to, due to their closeness on some variable such as size, shape, color, or meaning.

Genital Stage
Freud's final stage of psychosexual development where healthy sexual development is defined as attraction to a same aged, opposite sexed peer.

German word typically translated as meaning 'whole' or 'form.'

Gestalt Therapy   
Treatment focusing on the awareness and understanding of one's feelings.

Grouped Frequency Distribution
A table showing the number of occurrences for a grouping of scores. Used a lot in educational settings where a score of 90 to 100 may be grouped as an A, a score of 80 to 90 may be grouped as a B, etc.

Group Polarization
The tendency for members of a cohesive group to make more extreme decisions due to the lack of opposing views.

Group Therapy
Psychotherapy conducted with at least three or four non-related individuals who are similar in some are, such as gender, age, mental illness, or presenting problem.

Group Think
The tendency for members of a cohesive group to reach decisions without weighing all the facts, especially those contradicting the majority opinion.

Sense of taste.


The decrease in response to a stimulus due to repetition (e.g., not hearing the ticking of a clock after getting used to it)

False perception of reality (e.g., hearing voices that aren't there or seeing people who do not exist) [auditory (hearing); visual (sight); olfactory (smell); tactile (touch); and taste].

Halo Effect   
The tendency to assign generally positive or generally negative traits to a person after observing one specific positive or negative trait, respectively.

Hawthorne Effect
The phenomenon that subject behavior changes by the mere fact that they are being observed.

Health Psychology
The specific field in psychology concerned with psychology’s impact on health, physical well being, and illness.

Being attracted to or aroused by members of the opposite gender. See Sexual Orientation.

A rule of thumb based on experience used to make decisions.

Hierarchy of Needs  
Maslow’s Theory of Motivation which states that we must achieve lower level needs, such as food, shelter, and safety before we can achieve higher level needs, such as belonging, esteem, and self-actualization.

Higher Order Conditioning
Pairing a second conditioned stimulus with the first conditioned stimulus in order to produce a second conditioned response.

Part of the limbic system. Involved more in memory, and the transfer of information from short-term to long-term memory.

External events that take place during a research study that are not part of the study but have an effect on the outcome

The tendency of the body (and the mind) to natural gravitate toward a state of equilibrium or balance.

An irrational hostility, hatred, or fear of homosexuals.

Being attracted to or aroused by members of the same gender. See Sexual Orientation.

Humanistic Psychology   
A theoretical view of human nature which stresses a positive view of human nature and the strong belief in psychological homeostasis.

Humanistic Therapy
Treatment focused on increasing awareness of one's self concept.

A deep state of relaxation where an individual is more susceptible to suggestions.

A trained, and often licensed, therapist who utilizes the therapeutic technique of hypnosis as part of a treatment regimen.

An individual, most likely unlicensed, who uses hypnosis techniques or variations of these techniques for a variety of reasons, including treatment and/or entertainment.

A part of the brain that controls the autonomic nervous system, and therefore maintains the body’s homeostasis (controls body temperature, metabolism, and appetite. Also translates extreme emotions into physical responses.

A prediction about the relationship between two or more variables.


In Psychoanalytical theory, the part of the personality which contains our primitive impulses such as sex, anger, and hunger.

Ideal Self
Humanistic term representing the characteristics, behaviors, emotions, and thoughts to which a person aspires.

Misperception of reality (e.g., the illusion of a lake in the middle of a desert).

Utilizing the mind to create a mental representation of a sensory experience.

Inappropriate Affect  
Expressing contradictory behavior when describing or experiencing an emotion (e.g., smiling when discussing something sad; laughing when talking about the death of a loved one).

Independent Samples
Sample data that is independent or not related to each other.

Independent Variable  
The variable in an experiment that is manipulated or compared.

Inductive Reasoning  
Decision making process in which ideas are processed from the specific to the general.

Industrial/Organizational Psychology   
The area or specialty in psychology focused on the application of psychological principles in the work force.

Inferential Statistics
The branch of statistics that focuses on describing in numerical format what might be happening or what might happen (estimation) in the future (probability). Inferential statistics required the testing of only a sample of the population. (Example: 100 students rather than all students).

Substances such as spray paint, freon, and glue that produce an intoxicating effect when inhaled.

Occurring without learning, inborn.

A legal term representing the inability to know right from wrong or the inability to understand the consequences of one's actions.

The understanding of a relationship between current thoughts, feelings, and/or behaviors and where these originated or how they are maintained.

A behavior we are born with and therefore does not need to be learned.

The degree to which one can adapt to one’s environment.

Intelligence Quotient [IQ]  
The scores achieved on psychological tests aimed at quantifying intellectual ability.

Interaction Effects
When the effect of one variable on another is contingent on a third variable, this contingency is called an interaction effect.

Internal Consistency
An estimate of how reliable a test is when items on the test are compared to each other. See split-half and odd-even reliability.

Internal Locus of Control  
The belief that an individual has more control over life circumstances than the environment does.

Internal Validity
A measure of the trustworthiness of a sample of data. Internal validity looks at the subject, testing, and environment in which the data collection took place.

Interquartile Range
The difference between the scores (or estimated scores) at the 75th percentile and the 25th percentile. Used more than the range because it eliminates extreme scores.

Interval Estimation
Estimating the population statistic based on a range around a sample statistic.

Interval Scale
Any scale of measurement possessing magnitude and equal intervals, but not an absolute zero.

A subjective personality and mental health assessment typically consisting of questions and answers.

Intrinsic Motivation  
The motivation or desire to do something based on the enjoyment of the behavior itself rather than relying on or requiring external reinforcement.

The process of examining one's own consciousness.

The tendency to focus energy inward resulting in decreased social interaction. 


Just Noticeable Difference  
The smallest change in a sensory perception that is detectable 50% of the time.

Jung, Carl
A student of Freud who split from the Psychoanalytic Society because of his disagreements with Freud, especially his view of the collective unconscious.


The shape of a curve or distribution of scores (See Leptokurtic, Mesokurtic, and Platykurtic).


Latency Stage
Freud's fourth stage of psychosexual development where sexuality is repressed in the unconscious and children focus on identifying with their same sex parent and interact with same sex peers.

Latent Content
Freud's term for the underlying or hidden content represented in the symbols of dreams.

Latent Learning   
Learning that occurs without apparent reinforcement but is not demonstrated until such time as reinforcement occurs.

Law of Effect   
Theory proposed by Thorndike stating that those responses that are followed by a positive consequence will be repeated more frequently than those that are not.

Learned Helplessness   
A condition that occurs after a period of negative consequences where the person begins to believe they have no control.

A relatively permanent change in behavior due to an interaction with the environment.

Learning Theory    
Based on the idea that changes in behavior result more from experience and less from our personality or how we think or feel about a situation.

Legitimate Power
Power derived through one's position, such as a police officer or elected official.

Sigmund Freud’s terminology of sexual energy or sexual drive.

Limbic System
A brain system that plays a role in emotional expression, particularly in the emotional component of behavior, memory, and motivation.

Locus of Control
A belief about the amount of control a person has over situations in their life.

Longitudinal Study
A research design that assesses the effects of development (maturation) by using the same subjects over an extended period of time

Long Term Memory  
Relatively permanent memory.

Lower Confidence Limit
The lower limit of a confidence interval. If prediction states that the true score falls between 80 and 90, then the lower confidence level is 80.

Lucid Dream   
A dream in which you are aware of dreaming and are sometimes able to manipulate the dream.


Characteristic of a scale of measurement where the individual units possess the qualities of greater than, equal to, or less than.

Main Effect
The effect of one variable on another without any other variables or subgroups involvement.

Manifest Content
According to Freud, the story-like superficial content of a dream, often representing only the daily activities and little underlying unconscious material.

Maslow, Abraham
Humanistic Theorist most famous for the development of the Hierarchy of Needs.

Changes due to the natural process of aging as determined by your genetics

A measure of central tendency determined by adding all scores together and dividing by the number of scores. Often referred to as the statistical average.

Measure of Central Tendency   
An average (see Mean, Median, and/or Mode)

Measurement, Scales of
Categories of data based on their numerical characteristics (See Ratio, Interval, Ordinal, and Nominal Scales)

A measure of central tendency that uses the middle most occurring score in a distribution (the score that occurs at exactly the 50th percentile).

Medulla Oblongata
Part of the brainstem that controls vital life-sustaining functions such as heartbeat, breathing, blood pressure, and digestion.

Memory Effect
Error in research that results from subjects recalling previous testing and applying that knowledge to current testing.

A curve or distribution that has a balanced amount of variance so that is resembles a normal curve.

Meta Analysis
The statistical procedure used to combine numerous and independent research results into one study. Each research study becomes one subject in the meta-analysis.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, 2nd. Edition    
An Objective test utilizing 567 items which have been empirically derived to measure a variety of psychological concerns.

See Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, 2nd. Edition.

A measure of central tendency that uses the most frequently occurring score. A distribution with two or more scores that are equal and occur most frequently is called multi-modal.

Learning through the imitation or observation of others.

Subject drop-out in a research study. Mortality becomes a problem when a disproportionate drop out rate occurs between two or more groups (Example: 30% of males drop out of group one while only 2% of males drop out in group two, resulting in uneven groups).

The process that energizes and/or maintains a behavior.

Internal states that provide direction for one's behaviors.

Multiple Correlation
A correlational technique used when there is one X and two or more Y. (Example: the correlation between age and (math and English ability).


Symbol used for the number of subjects or data in a distribution. A study with 10 subjects would have an N equal to 10.

Naturalistic Observation  
A research method where the subject(s) is(are) observed without interruption under normal or natural circumstances.

NCE Score
A standard score that sets the mean to fifty and standard deviation to 21.06, allowing the 99th percentile to have a score of 99 and the first percentile a score of 1.

Negative Correlation  
a correlation where one two variables tend to move in the opposite direction (example: the number of pages printed and the amount of ink left in your printer are negatively correlated. The more pages printed, the less ink you have left.)

Negative Skew
A curve or distribution of scores that has extreme scores below the mean that are atypical of the majority of scores.

A specialized nerve cell.

A chemical found in animals that plays a role in our behavior, cognitions, and emotions.

A frightening dream occurring in REM sleep.

Nominal Scale
Any scale that contains no magnitude. Often nominal is thought of as name only, meaning that the variables of a nominal scale can be identified but not measured.

Nondeclarative Memory   
A subsystem within Long term memory which consists of skills we acquire through repetition and practice (e.g., dance, playing the piano, driving a car)

Nonparametric Test
Any statistic that is designed for ordinal or nominal data or data that is not normally distributed

A neurotransmitter associated with eating and alertness. Too little has been associated with depression and too much has been associated with schizophrenia.

An expectation based on multiple observations.

Normal Curve  
A graphical interpretation of a population that is ‘bell shaped’ as it has the highest frequency in the middle and this frequency diminishes the farther you get from the center on either end. The mean, median, and mode are all equal in a perfect normal curve.

Normal Distribution
The scores of a sample or population that, when graphed, fall on or close to a normal curve. A normal distribution is often ideal in research because the data can then be said to have all of the characteristics of a normal curve.

Null Hypothesis
The hypothesis that states there is no difference between two or more sets of data.


Object Permanence  
The understanding that objects exist even when they are not directly observed.

Objective Techniques   
A generic term for the psychological procedures used to measure personality which rely on measurable or objective techniques such as the MMPI-2 and WAIS-III.

A persistent and seemingly uncontrollable thought.

Occipital Lobe
One of for lobes of the brain. Contains the visual cortex and therefore plays a major role in the interpretation of visual information.

Odd-Even Reliability
The correlation coefficient determined by comparing odd items of the measurement to the even items. One method to determine the internal consistency of a test or measuring device.

The sense of smell.

An Analysis of Variance used when there is only one main effect.

Operant Conditioning  
Learning that occurs due to the manipulation of the possible consequences.

Optimal Level of Arousal
Theory arguing that humans are driven to increase or decrease arousal to produce a comfortable level that is not over- nor under stimulating.

Oral Aggressive Personality
Stemming from the Oral stage, a child who becomes fixated due to over stimulation transfers his or her unresolved oral issues into aggression and hostility.

Oral Receptive Personality
Stemming from the Oral stage, a child who becomes fixated due to under stimulation transfers his or her unmet oral needs into smoking, drinking, talking, biting fingernails, or sucking one's own thumb, for example.

Oral Stage
Freud's first stage of psychosexual development where the primary sexual focus is on the mouth through sucking, tasting, and verbalizing.

Order Effects
The effects of administering treatments in a particular order

Ordered Array
A table consisting of data in order of highest to lowest or lowest to highest where each data is given a numbered rank depicting it's difference from the highest or lowest score

Ordinal Scale
Any scale that reflects only magnitude but does not contain equal intervals or an absolute zero

A technique used to improve memory where information is learned to the point that it can be repeated without mistake more than one time.


Panic Attack   
Period of extreme anxiety and physical symptoms such as heart palpitations, shakiness, dizziness, and racing thoughts. Initial attacks are often reported to feel like a heart attack due to the heart palpitations. A medical exam should be conducted to rule out any such condition.

Parallel Form Reliability
The correlation coefficient determined by comparing the scores of the two similar measuring devices (or forms of the same test) administered to the same people at one time.

A summary value of a specific population characteristic (e.g., mean age, standard deviation of IQ’s, median income)

Parasympathetic Nervous System
A subsystem of the Autonomic Nervous System (ANS) that returns the body to homeostasis.

Parietal Lobe
One of four lobes of the brain. Contains the Somatosensory Cortex d is therefore involved in the processing of touch, pressure, temperature, and pain.

Peak Experience
A life experience considered paramount due to the feeling of unity with the world.

Pearson Product-Moment Correlation
A correlation statistic used primarily for two sets of data that are of the ratio or interval scale. The most commonly used correlational technique.

Penis Envy
In Psychoanalytic Thought, the desire of girls to posses a penis and therefore have the power that being male represents.

Percentile Rank
Percentage of scores falling at or below a specific score. A percentile rank of 95 means that 95% of all of the scores fall at or below this point. In other words, the score is as good as or better than 95% of the scores.

The process of organizing and using information that is received through the senses.

Perceptual Constancy
The ability to perceive objects as unchanged despite the change noticed by the senses (e.g., the ability to understand and see buildings as remaining the same height even though they appear larger as we get closer to them).

Perfect Correlation
A correlation of either +1.0 or -1.0. A perfect correlation is extremely rare and when it occurs means that predicting one score based on another score is perfect or without error.

Person Centered Therapy   
The therapeutic technique based on humanistic theory which is non-directive and empathic.

The stable set of individual characteristics that make us unique.

Personality Disorder
A maladaptive and stable set of individual characteristics that cluster to form a recognized disorder.

Permissive [parents]   
Parenting style consisting of very few rules and allowing children to make most decisions and control their own behavior.

The deliberate attempt to influence the thoughts, feelings or behaviors of another.

Phallic Personality
Stemming from the Phallic stage, a child who becomes fixated may develop a personality characterized by selfishness, impulsivity, and a lack of or reduced ability to feel empathy.

Phallic Stage
Freud's third stage of psychosexual development where the primary sexual focus is on symbolism of the genitals.

Phi Correlation
A correlational technique used when both variables are binary (Example true/false, yes/no, or on/off)

Phi Phenomenon
The perception of motion based on two or more stationary objects (e.g., the perception of chaser lights brought about by different lights blinking at different times).

An intense fear of a specific object or situation. Most of us consider ourselves to have phobias, but to be diagnosable, the fear must significantly restrict our way of life.

A treatment condition used to control for the placebo effect where the treatment has no real effect on its own.

Placebo Effect    
The phenomenon in research where the subject’s beliefs about the outcome can significantly effect the outcome without any other intervention.

The ability of the brain, especially in our younger years to compensate for damage.

A curve or distribution of scores that has a lot of variance

Pleasure Principle    
Freud’s theory regarding the id’s desire to maximize pleasure and minimize pain in order to achieve immediate gratification.

Point Biserial Correlation
A correlational technique used when one variable is numeric and the other is binary (Example age and sex or income and true/false)

Point Estimation
Estimating the population statistic based on a single sample statistic.

Part of the brain that plays a role in the regulation of states of arousal, including sleep and dreaming.

The entire group to which research is hoping to generalize (e.g., males, adults, U.S. citizens).

Population Mean
The true mean of the entire population often estimated using the sample mean. Abbreviated with the lowercase Greek letter mu. (m)

Population Standard Deviation
The true standard deviation of the population often estimated by using the sample standard deviation. Often abbreviated with the lowercase Greek letter sigma. (s)

Positive Correlation   
A correlation where as one variable increases, the other also increases, or as one decreases so does the other. Both variables move in the same direction.

Positive Reinforcement   
Something positive provided after a response in order to increase the probability of that response occurring in the future.

Positive Skew
A curve or distribution of scores that has extreme scores above the mean that are atypical of the majority of scores

The strength or the data to find a difference when there truly is a difference. Power is abbreviated with the capital Greek letter beta (b).

Predictive Validity
A measurements ability to predict scores on another measurement that is related or purports to measure the same or similar construct

Negative beliefs, attitudes, or feelings about a person's entire character based on only one characteristic. This belief is often based on faulty information.

Preoperational Stage
Piaget's second stage of cognitive development in which a child develops objects permanency and language.

Pretest-Posttest Method
A method of determining the amount of change that occurred in a set of data by measuring the data prior to treatment and then after treatment and comparing the two measurement outcomes.

Primacy Effect   
The tendency to remember the first bit of information in a series due to increased rehearsal.

Primary Reinforcer
A reinforcer that meets our basic needs such as food, water, sleep, or love.

Proactive Interference
Interference in memory due to prior learning.

Probability of Error
The likelihood that error caused the results of data analysis. If the probability of error is greater than the predetermined acceptable level of error then the results are said to be 'not significant.'

Probability Sample
Also called representative samples, a probability sample consists of characteristics that are close to the population that they represent.

In Psychoanalytic Theory, the defense mechanism whereby we transfer or project our feelings about one person onto another.

Projective Techniques   
A generic term for the psychological procedures used to measure personality which rely on ambiguous stimuli.

A medical doctor with training in mental illness.

Developed by Sigmund Freud, this type of therapy is known for long term treatment, typically several times per week, where the unresolved issues from the individual's childhood are analyzed and resolved. These issues are considered to be primarily unconscious in nature and are kept from consciousness through a complex defense system.

Psychoanalytic Theory
Theory developed by Freud consisting of the structural model of personality, topographical model of personality, defense mechanisms, drives, and the psychosexual stages of development. The primary driving force behind the theory is the id, ego and superego and the division of consciousness into the conscious mind, the pre/subconscious, and the unconscious.

Psychodynamic Therapy   
A modern adaptation of psychoanalytic therapy which has made sometimes minor and sometimes major changes to Freud's original theories.

The treatment of mental illness or related issues based on psychological theory.

The study of emotion, cognition, and behavior, and their interaction.

Break from reality, usually identified by hallucinations, delusions, and/or disorientation.

Psychotropic Medication
Prescription medication used primarily to treat mental illness.

The adding of a negative stimulus in order to decrease a response (e.g., spanking a child to decrease negative behavior).   Q

Quasi-Experimental Research
Any research study that uses specific experimental methods but does not randomize subjects


Symbol used for the Pearson-product moment correlation (correlation coefficient)

Random Assignment   
Assigning subjects to experimental groups based on chance.

Random Sample   
A group of subjects representing the population who are selected through chance.

the difference between the highest and lowest score in a distribution (often 1 is added to the result when computing statistics to allow for the 0.5 on either end lost due to rounding).

Rank-Ordered Array
A table consisting of data in order of highest to lowest or lowest to highest where each data is given a numbered rank depicting it's difference from the highest or lowest score

Ratio Scale
Any scale of measurement possessing magnitude, equal intervals, and an absolute zero

Rational Emotive Therapy   
A Cognitive Therapy based on Albert Ellis' theory that cognitions control our emotions and behaviors; therefore, changing the way we think about things will affect the way we feel and the way we behave.

A defense mechanism where one believes or states an acceptable explanation for a behavior as opposed to the real explanation.

Raw Data
The initial data gathered that has not yet been graphed, organized, or analyzed.

Reaction Formation  
A defense mechanism where unacceptable impulses are converted to their opposite.

Reality Principle
According the Freud, the attempt by the ego to satisfy both the id and the superego while still considering the reality of the situation.

Recency Effect   
The tendency to remember the last bit of information due to the shorter time available for forgetting.

Tendency to fill in the gaps in our memory and often believe these represent true memories.

Referent Power
Power given to an individual due to respect and/or desire to be similar to that individual.

A therapeutic technique in humanistic therapy where the feelings and thoughts of the client are reflected or reworded back to the client to assist in understanding them.

Regression Analysis
Used with a correlation to determine a regression equation that predicts or estimates a persons score on one variable if the other is known.

Repeating information in order to improve our recall of this information.

Anything that follows a behavior that increases the chances of that behavior occurring again.

A defense mechanism where one reverts to an earlier stage of development.

A statistical measure of a tests consistency, or ability to result in similar scores if given repeatedly.

Reliability Coefficient
The correlation coefficient is called the reliability coefficient when a correlation is used to determine or estimate reliability.

The strength of a research study is only as good as its ability to be replicated. In other words, if a study has significant results but can not be done again, it is difficult to assess whether it was a good study or a result of error.

Representative Sample
A sample or subgroup of the population that possesses the same characteristics of the population

Representativeness Heuristic  
A rule of thumb where similarity to a prototype or similar situation dictates a decision.

In Psychoanalytic Theory, the defense mechanism whereby our thoughts are pulled out of our consciousness and into our unconscious.

In psychoanalysis, the client's refusal to participate in a therapeutic intervention due to underlying issues unrelated to the intervention.

Response Prevention
A therapeutic technique where stimuli is presented to the client but the client is not permitted to exercise his or her typical response. Used for the treatment of phobias, obsessive compulsive disorder and other anxiety disorders.

Reticular Formation (Reticular Activating System)
Part of the brain stem involved in arousal and attention, sleep and wakefulness, and control of reflexes.

Retinal Disparity
The binocular cue to distance referring to the distance between the two images sent to the brain by our eyes. The farther apart these images, the closer the object.

The process of bringing material out of long term memory and into consciousness.

Retroactive Interference
Interference in memory created by later learning.

Reversal Design
Any single subject design that includes the removal of treatment to determine if the subject reverts to baseline (ex. ABA, ABAB)

A child's ability to reverse operations and therefore recognize that the qualities of an object remain the same despite changes in appearance. Occurs in Piaget's Concrete Operational Stage of Cognitive Development (e.g., 1+2=3 to 3-2=1).

Reward Power
Power derived through an ability to offer rewards.

Rogers, Carl  
A humanistic Psychologist who developed Client-Centered Therapy.

Rorschach Inkblot Test  
A projective technique utilizing ambiguous inkblots as stimuli.


Portion of the entire population used to estimate what is likely happening within a population.

Sample Mean
Abbreviated with a lowercase x with a horizontal line over top (called 'x-bar'), the sample mean is the true mean of a sample of data often used to estimate the true mean of the entire population.

Sample Standard Deviation
The standard deviation of a sample of the population. Often used to estimate the true population standard deviation. Often abbreviated 'SD."

Sampling Error
The amount of error associated with a sample due to its deviation from the population

Scatter Plot
A graphical representation of data received in a correlational study.

The cognitive structure utilized to make sense of the world.

Secondary Reinforcer   
A reinforcer other than one which meets our basic needs such as food or water (e.g., intellectual stimulation, money, praise).

Selection Bias    
Errors in the selection and placement of subjects into groups that results in differences between groups which could effect the results of an experiment.

Self Actualization  
The process of understanding oneself more completely and being aware of issues affecting one's life.

The subjective perception of the self.

Self Efficacy    
One's belief in his or her own ability.

Self Serving Bias   
The tendency to assign internal attributes to successes and external factors to failures.

Semantic Memory   
The part of declarative memory that stores general information such as names and facts.

Semi-Interquartile Range
One half of the interquartile range

Information brought in through the senses.

Sensorimotor Stage
The first stage in Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development where a child's primary way of learning about the world is through the senses and movement.

Sensory Adaptation
The reduced ability to sense a stimulus after prolonged exposure.

Sensory Memory   
The brief storage of information brought in through the senses; typically only lasts up to a few seconds.

Separation Anxiety
Distress caused by the absence of an infant's primary caregiver

A neurotransmitter involved in mood, sleep, appetite, and impulsive and aggressive behavior. Too little has been associated with depression and some anxiety disorders (e.g., obsessive-compulsive disorder). Many antidepressants attempt to reduce the amount of serotonin that is taken back (reuptake) into the sending neuron (e.g., Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors [SRI]).

Sexual Orientation   
A feeling of attractedness or arousal associated with a particular gender. Sexual behavior can be a result of this but does not necessarily define a person's orientation.

Gradually molding a specific response by reinforcing responses that come close to the desired response.

Short Term Memory   
The stage of memory where information is stored for up to 30 seconds prior to either being forgotten or transferred to long term memory.

Sigma (lowercase)
The abbreviation for the standard deviation of a population. (s)

Sigma (uppercase)
The abbreviation for summation. (S)

Situational Attribute
An attribute explained or interpreted as being caused by external influences.

Skinner, B. F.   
Considered the father of behavioral therapy. He once stated that with the ability to control a child's environment, he could raise a child to become anything he wanted.

Skinner Box
A cage designed for animals in operant conditioning experiments.

The degree to which a curve or distribution of scores has extreme scores atypical of the majority of scores

Social Facilitation   
The effect of other’s presence on one’s performance. Typically we perform simple or well-learned tasks better in front of others and difficult or novel tasks worse.

Social Learning Theory
Developmental theory arguing that personality is learned through the interactions with the environment.

Social Loafing   
The tendency for people to work less on a task the greater the number of people are working on that task.

Social Psychology  
The branch of psychology which focuses on society and it's impact on the individual.

Social Roles   
Accepted behaviors associated with a particular position within a group.

Social Skills
Skills or behaviors deemed desirable or necessary to effectively interact with society.

Social Support
Term used to describe the degree of emotional support afforded a client by friends, family, and other acquaintances.

Somatic Nervous System
Sub system of the Peripheral Nervous System (PNS). Primary function is to regulate the actions of the skeletal muscles.

Spearman's Rho
A correlational technique used primarily for rank ordered data (ordinal scale).

Split-Half Reliability
The correlation coefficient determined by comparing first half of the measurement to the second half. Measure of the internal consistency of a test or measuring device.

Spontaneous Recovery
The tendency for previously learned information to resurface rapidly after a period of extinction. Information that is spontaneously recovered is thought to lay dormant but not forgotten (e.g., riding a bicycle after a long period of not riding).

A period of development that occurs at about the same time for each person. Developmental and Personality theories are often made up of a series of stages.

Stage Theory
The idea that an individual must pass through one stage of development before he or she can reach the next stage.

Standard Deviation   
A measure of spread within a distribution (the square root of the variance). The most popular and most reliable measure of variability but the more skewed a distribution, the more error there will be in the standard deviation because of its reliance on the mean.

Standard Error of Measurement
a statistical procedure used to determine the amount of error of any measurement device

Standard Error of the Mean
An estimation of the unaccounted for error within a mean. If the mean is 10 and the standard error of the mean is 2, then the true score is likely to fall somewhere between 8 and 12 or 10 +/- 2.

The process of making a test or procedure the same for everyone so that results can be compared to each other.

Standard Score
A score derived by transforming the data based on the standard deviation. Standard scores can then be compared to one another on face value. (See z-score, T-score, NCE score, stanines, and Wechsler's Deviation IQ Score)

A standard score that literally means Standard Nine, stanines have a mean of five and a standard deviation of approximately two. Stanines 2 through 8 are exactly 1/2 standard deviations and stanines one and nine or open ended.

An observed characteristic of a sample (e.g., 20% improvement rate, range of IQ’s)

A temporary internal characteristic (e.g., depressed, angry)

State Dependent Memory  
The theory that information learned in a particular state of mind (e.g., depressed, happy, somber) is more easily recalled when in that same state of mind.

Stem and Leaf Display
A multiple column table depicting the individual digits of the scores. A score of 95 would have a stem of 9 and a leaf of 5, a score of 62 would have a stem of 6 and a leaf of 2. If a particular stem has more than one leaf, such as the scores 54, 58, and 51, the stem of 5 has three leaves, in this case 458.

Anything in the environment to which one responds.

Stimulus Discrimination
The ability to tell the difference and therefore not respond to similar stimuli.

Stimulus Generalization
The response to new stimuli due its similarity to the original stimuli.

The process of saving information in long term memory

The physical and psychological result of internal or external pressure.

Anything, internal or external, which applies psychological pressure on an individual.

School of thought from the 19th century focused on the gathering of psychological information through the examination of the structure of the mind.

Subjective Reality
The perception of reality made by an individual that may be different from the perception made by another person.

Subject Matching
A method of reducing bias in a sample of subjects by matching specific criteria of the sample to the true characteristics of the population. (Example: If the population is 60% female then 60% of the subjects in the sample should also be female)

A defense mechanism where undesired or unacceptable impulses are transformed into behaviors which are accepted by society.

In Psychoanalytical theory, the part of the personality that represents the conscience.

Hans Eysenck's term for his two distinct categories of personality traits. They include Introversion-Extroversion and Neuroticism. According to Eysenck, each of us fall on a continuum based on the degree of each supertraits.

The defense mechanism where we push unacceptable thoughts out of consciousness and into our unconscious.

A research technique in which subjects respond to a series of questions.

Aristotle’s theory of reasoning where two true statements are followed by a single logical conclusion.

Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS)
Part of the Autonomic Nervous System responsible for the fight or flight phenomenon and which plays a role (along with the Parasympathetic Nervous System) in maintaining the body's homeostasis.

The space between the axon of one neuron and the dendrites of another through which neurotransmitters travel.

Systematic Desensitization    
A treatment technique where the client is exposed to gradually increasing anxiety provoking stimuli while relaxing; the goal is for the client to eventually confront a phobia or fear without the previously associated anxiety.


A standard score that sets the mean to fifty and standard deviation to ten. Used on a number of tests including the MMPI.

A group of statistics used to determine if a significance difference exists between the means of two sets of data.

The sense of touch.

See Thematic Apperception Test

A person’s typical way of responding to his or her environment.

Temporal Lobe
One of the four lobes of the brain. Contains the auditory cortex and therefore plays a role in receptive language as well as memory and emotion.

Test-Retest Reliability
The correlation coefficient determined by comparing the scores of the same measuring device administered to the same people on two different occasions.

Tetrachoric Correlation
A correlational technique used to estimate the Pearson-Product correlation of two continuous variables that have been dichotomized (Example: age is continuous, but when it is split into two groups, such as over 40 and under 40, it becomes dichotomous).

Considered the central switching station of the brain because all of the body's senses (except the olfactory senses) pass through this before being relayed to the brain.

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)    
A subjective personality test where ambiguous pictures are shown to a subject and they are asked to tell a story related to them.

A general idea about the relationship of two or more variables.

Time Series Design
A research design where subjects are measured at specific times before and after the treatment has been administered in order to determine the long term effects of the treatment

A relatively permanent internal characteristic (e.g., friendly, outgoing)

Intense feelings directed toward the therapist that many clients experience in the process of therapy.

Trial and Error Learning
Learning that takes place through the application of possible solutions to a problem.

True Experiment
Research design that utilizes the most control over subjects and utilizes randomization

True Score
the amount of the observed score that truly represents what you are intending to measure.

An Analysis of Variance used when there are two independent variables.

Type A Personality   
A theory used to describe a person with a significant number of traits focused on urgency, impatience, success, and excessive competition.

Type B Personality   
A theory used to describe person with a significant number of traits focused on relaxation, lack of urgency, and normal or reduced competition.

Type I Error
The error that is committed when a true null hypothesis is rejected erroneously. The probability of a Type I Error is abbreviated with the lowercase Greek letter alpha.

Type II Error
The error that is committed when a false null hypothesis is accepted erroneously. The probability of a Type II Error is abbreviated with the uppercase Greek letter beta.


Unconditional Positive Regard   
The nonjudgmental empathy and respect for another person.

Unconditioned Response   
The response in a stimulus-response chain that is naturally occurring as opposed to learned.

Unconditioned Stimulus    
The stimulus in a stimulus-response chain that is naturally occurring as opposed to learned.

According to Freud, the area of the psyche where unknown wishes and needs are kept that play a significant role in our conscious behavior.

Upper Confidence Level
The upper limit of a confidence interval. If prediction states that the true score falls between 80 and 90, then the upper confidence level is 90.


Statistical technique used to determine if a test is actually measuring what it is intended to measure.

The degree to which a distribution of scores vary around the mean. High variability means scores are spread wider apart and low variability means scores are relatively close together. Typical ways of determining variability are the range, interquartile range, semi-interquartile range, variance, and standard deviation.

Any factor which has the potential to influence another factor in a research study.

Variable Interval Schedule
A schedule in which the reinforcement is presented after a varying amount of time.

Variable Ratio Schedule
A schedule in which the reinforcement is presented after a varying number of responses.

A measure of spread within a distribution (the square of the standard deviation).

Vicarious Reinforcement
The reinforcement that occurs as a result of watching a model get reinforced for a specific behavior or series of behaviors.


See Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Third Edition.

Weber's Law
The amount of change necessary to detect a different in a stimuli must be staged in a percentage since recognition of the change is relative to the characteristics of the initial stimulus (e.g., a one pound change in the weight of a pencil would be more easily recognized than a one pound weight added to a 300 pound barbell because it represents a much greater percentage of the total weight).

Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale, Third Edition   
An objective measure of intelligence. The Stanford-Binet test is also used, has very similar validity, but is not as popular.

Wernicke’s Aphasia    
Aphasia resulting from damage to the Wernicke’s area of the frontal lobe. Affects written and spoken language.


Yerkes-Dodson Law
Theory arguing that for performance to be optimal, the amount of arousal required must be optimized. Too much or too little stimulation will result in a poorer performance.


Zero Correlation
The absence of a relationship between two or more variables as determined by a correlational statistic. Often abbreviated as 'r=0.'

A standard score that sets the mean to zero and standard deviation to one.

The statistical formula to determine the z-score of a particular raw score.