Psychology Dictionary -- F

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.