Psychology Dictionary -- C

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.


he 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 is 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.'


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