K – P


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.

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.

Locus of Control

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

Long Term Memory

Relatively permanent memory.

Lucid Dream

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



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


A method of determining an average where the sum of the scores are divided by the number of scores.

Measure of Central Tendency

An average (see Mean, Median, and/or Mode)


A method of determining an average by using the score that falls in the middle of the distribution.

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 method of determining an average by using the score(s) which occurs most frequently.


The process that energizes and/or maintains a behavior.


Naturalistic Observation

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

Negative Correlation

A correlation where as one variable increases, the other decreases.


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


A frightening dream occurring in REM sleep.

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)

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.


An expectation based on multiple observations.


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.


The sense of smell.

Operant Conditioning

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


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.


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

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.

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.


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.

Pleasure Principle

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


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

Positive Correlation

A correlation where as one variable increases, the other also increases, or as one decreases so does the other.

Positive Reinforcement

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


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

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 or water.


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.

Psychodynamic Therapy

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


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


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


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