Psychology Dictionary -- L

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.