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Psychology Dictionary


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

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


Emotion     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. 


Encoding     The transformation of information to be stored in memory.


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


Etiology   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.


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


Extinction     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.




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.


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


Fixation     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.

Fetish   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 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.


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


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


Framing     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.


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


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





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.


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


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

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


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.


Gustation   Sense of taste.





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

Hallucination   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.


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


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

Heuristic   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


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


Homophobia   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.

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


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


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


Hypothesis   A prediction about the relationship between two or more variables.





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

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


Imagery   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 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.


Innate   Occurring without learning, inborn.


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


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


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


Intelligence   The ability to adapt to one’s environment.


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


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.


Introversion   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.  



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