AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGYCAL ASOCIATION
Glossary of Psychological Terms
From Gerrig, Richard J. & Philip G. Zimbardo. Psychology And Life, 16/e. Published by Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MA. Copyright (c) 2002 by Pearson Education. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.
A-B-A design Experimental design in which participants first experience the baseline condition (A), then experience the experimental treatment (B), and then return to the baseline (A).
Abnormal psychology The area of psychological investigation concerned with understanding the nature of individual pathologies of mind, mood, and behavior.
Absolute threshold The minimum amount of physical energy needed to produce a reliable sensory experience; operationally defined as the stimulus level at which a sensory signal is detected half the time.
Accommodation The process by which the ciliary muscles change the thickness of the lens of the eye to permit variable focusing on near and distant objects.
Accommodation According to Piaget, the process of restructuring or modifying cognitive structures so that new information can fit into them more easily; this process works in tandem with assimilation.
Acquisition The stage in a classical conditioning experiment during which the conditioned response is first elicited by the conditioned stimulus.
Action potential The nerve impulse activated in a neuron that travels down the axon and causes neurotransmitters to be released into a synapse.
Acute stress A transient state of arousal with typically clear onset and offset patterns.
Addiction A condition in which the body requires a drug in order to function without physical and psychological reactions to its absence; often the outcome of tolerance and dependence.
Ageism Prejudice against older people, similar to racism and sexism in its negative stereotypes.
Aggression Behaviors that cause psychological or physical harm to another individual.
Agoraphobia An extreme fear of being in public places or open spaces from which escape may be difficult or embarrassing.
AIDS Acronym for acquired immune deficiency syndrome, a syndrome caused by a virus that damages the immune system and weakens the body's ability to fight infection.
Algorithm A step-by-step procedure that always provides the right answer for a particular type of problem.
All-or-none law The rule that the size of the action potential is unaffected by increases in the intensity of stimulation beyond the threshold level.
Altruism Prosocial behaviors a person carries out without considering his or her own safety or interests.
Alzheimer's disease A chronic organic brain syndrome characterized by gradual loss of memory, decline in intellectual ability, and deterioration of personality.
Amacrine cells Cells that integrate information across the retina; rather than sending signals toward the brain, amacrine cells link bipolar cells to other bipolar cells and ganglion cells to other ganglion cells.
Ambiguity A perceptual object that may have more than "one interpretation.
Amnesia A failure of memory caused by physical injury, disease, drug use, or psychological trauma.
Amygdala The part of the limbic system that controls emotion, aggression, and the formation of emotional memory.
Analytic psychology A branch of psychology that views the person as a constellation of compensatory internal forces in a dynamic balance.
Anchoring heuristic An insufficient adjustment up or down from an original starting value when judging the probable value of some event or outcome.
Animal cognition The cognitive capabilities of nonhuman animals; researchers trace the development of cognitive capabilities across species and the continuity of capabilities from nonhuman to human animals.
Anorexia nervosa An eating disorder in which an individual weighs less than 85 percent of her or his expected weight but still controls eating because of a self-perception of obesity.
Anticipatory coping Efforts made in advance of a potentially stressful event to overcome, reduce, or tolerate the imbalance between perceived demands and available resources.
Anxiety An intense emotional response caused by the preconscious recognition that a repressed conflict is about to emerge into consciousness.
Anxiety disorders Mental disorders marked by physiological arousal, feelings of tension, and intense apprehension without apparent reason.
Apparent motion A movement illusion in which one or more stationary lights going on and off in succession are perceived as a single moving light; the simplest form of apparent motion is the phi phenomenon.
Archetype A universal, inherited, primitive, and symbolic representation of a particular experience or object.
Assimilation According to Piaget, the process whereby new cognitive elements are fitted in with old elements or modified to fit more easily; this process works in tandem with accommodation.
Association cortex The parts of the cerebral cortex in which many high-level brain processes occur.
Attachment Emotional relationship between a child and the "regular caregiver.
Attention A state of focused awareness on a subset of the available perceptual information.
Attitude The learned, relatively stable tendency to respond to people, concepts, and events in an evaluative way.
Attribution theory A social-cognitive approach to describing the ways the social perceiver uses information to generate causal explanations.
Attributions Judgments about the causes of outcomes.
Audience design The process of shaping a message depending on the audience for which it is intended.
Auditory cortex The area of the temporal lobes that receives and processes auditory information.
Auditory nerve The nerve that carries impulses from the cochlea to the cochlear nucleus of the brain.
Automatic processes Processes that do not require attention; they can often be performed along with other tasks without interference.
Autonomic nervous system (ANS) The subdivision of the peripheral nervous system that controls the body's involuntary motor responses by connecting the sensory receptors to the central nervous system (CNS) and the CNS to the smooth muscle, cardiac muscle, and glands.
Availability heuristic A judgment based on the information readily available in memory.
Aversion therapy A type of behavioral therapy used to treat individuals attracted to harmful stimuli; an attractive stimulus is paired with a noxious stimulus in order to elicit a negative reaction to the target stimulus.
Axon The extended fiber of a neuron through which nerve impulses travel from the soma to the terminal buttons.
Basic level The level of categorization that can be retrieved from memory most quickly and used most efficiently.
Basilar membrane A membrane in the cochlea that, when set into motion, stimulates hair cells that produce the neural effects of auditory stimulation.
Behavior The actions by which an organism adjusts to its environment.
Behavior analysis The area of psychology that focuses on the environmental determinants of learning and behavior.
Behavior modification The systematic use of principles of learning to increase the frequency of desired behaviors and/or decrease the frequency of problem behaviors.
Behavior therapy See behavior modification.
Behavioral confirmation The process by which people behave in ways that elicit from others specific expected reactions and then use those reactions to confirm their beliefs.
Behavioral data Observational reports about the behavior of organisms and the conditions under which the behavior occurs or changes.
Behavioral measures Overt actions and reactions that are observed and recorded, exclusive of self-reported behavior.
Behavioral rehearsal Procedures used to establish and strengthen basic skills; as used in social-skills training programs, requires the client to rehearse a desirable behavior sequence mentally.
Behaviorism A scientific approach that limits the study of psychology to measurable or observable behavior.
Behaviorist perspective The psychological perspective primarily concerned with observable behavior that can be objectively recorded and with the relationships of observable behavior to environmental stimuli.
Belief-bias effect A situation that occurs when a person's prior knowledge, attitudes, or values distort the reasoning process by influencing the person to accept invalid arguments.
Between-subjects design A research design in which different groups of participants are randomly assigned to experimental conditions or to control conditions.
Biofeedback A self-regulatory technique by which an individual acquires voluntary control over nonconscious biological processes.
Biological constraints on learning Any limitations on an organism's capacity to learn that are caused by the inherited sensory, response, or cognitive capabilities of members of a given species.
Biological perspective The approach to identifying causes of behavior that focuses on the functioning of the genes, the brain, the nervous system, and the endocrine system.
Biomedical therapies Treatments for psychological disorders that alter brain functioning with chemical or physical interventions such as drug therapy, surgery, or electroconvulsive therapy.
Biopsychosocial model A model of health and illness that suggests that links among the nervous system, the immune system, behavioral styles, cognitive processing, and environmental factors can put people at risk for illness.
Bipolar cells Nerve cells in the visual system that combine impulses from many receptors and transmit the results to ganglion cells.
Bipolar disorder A mood disorder characterized by alternating periods of depression and mania.
Blocking A phenomenon in which an organism does not learn a new stimulus that signals an unconditioned stimulus, because the new stimulus is presented simultaneously with a stimulus that is already effective as a signal.
Body image The subjective experience of the appearance of one's body.
Bottom-up processing Perceptual analyses based on the sensory data available in the environment; results of analyses are passed upward toward more abstract representations.
Brain stem The brain structure that regulates the body's basic life processes.
Brightness The dimension of color space that captures the intensity of light.
Broca's area The region of the brain that translates thoughts into speech or sign.
Bulimia nervosa An eating disorder characterized by binge eating followed by measures to purge the body of the excess calories.
Bystander intervention Willingness to assist a person in need of help.
Cannon-Bard theory of emotion A theory stating that an "emotional stimulus produces two co-occurring reactions — arousal and experience of emotion — that do not cause each other."
Case study Intensive observation of a particular individual or small group of individuals.
Catharsis The process of expressing strongly felt but usually repressed emotions.
Central nervous system (CNS) The part of the nervous system consisting of the brain and spinal cord.
Centration A thought pattern common during the beginning of the preoperational stage of cognitive development; characterized by the child's inability to take more than one perceptual factor into account at the same time.
Cerebellum The region of the brain attached to the brain stem that controls motor coordination, posture, and balance as well as the ability to learn control of body movements.
Cerebral cortex The outer surface of the cerebrum.
Cerebral hemispheres The two halves of the cerebrum, connected by the corpus callosum.
Cerebrum The region of the brain that regulates higher cognitive and emotional functions.
Child-directed speech A special form of speech with an exaggerated and high-pitched intonation that adults use to speak to infants and young children.
Chronic stress A continuous state of arousal in which an individual perceives demands as greater than the inner and outer resources available for dealing with them.
Chronological age The number of months or years since an individual's birth.
Chunking The process of taking single items of information and recoding them on the basis of similarity or some other organizing principle.
Circadian rhythm A consistent pattern of cyclical body activities, usually lasting 24 to 25 hours and determined by an internal biological clock.
Classical conditioning A type of learning in which a behavior (conditioned response) comes to be elicited by a stimulus (conditioned stimulus) that has acquired its power through an association with a biologically significant stimulus (unconditioned stimulus).
Client The term used by clinicians who think of psychological disorders as problems in living, and not as mental illnesses, to describe those being treated.
Client-centered therapy A humanistic approach to treatment that emphasizes the healthy psychological growth of the individual; based on the assumption that all people share the basic tendency of human nature toward self-actualization.
Clinical ecology A field of psychology that relates disorders such as anxiety and depression to environmental irritants and sources of trauma.
Clinical psychologist An individual who has earned a doctorate in psychology and whose training is in the assessment and treatment of psychological problems.
Clinical social worker A mental health professional whose specialized training prepares him or her to consider the social context of people's problems.
Closure A perceptual organizing process that leads individuals to see incomplete figures as complete.
Cochlea The primary organ of hearing; a fluid-filled coiled tube located in the inner ear.
Cognition Processes of knowing, including attending, remembering, and reasoning; also the content of the processes, such as concepts and memories.
Cognitive appraisal With respect to emotions, the process through which physiological arousal is interpreted with respect to circumstances in the particular setting in which it is being experienced; also, the recognition and evaluation of a stressor to assess the demand, the size of the threat, the resources available for dealing with it, and appropriate coping strategies.
Cognitive appraisal theory of emotion A theory stating that the experience of emotion is the joint effect of physiological arousal and cognitive appraisal, which serves to determine how an ambiguous inner state of arousal will be labeled.
Cognitive behavior modification A therapeutic approach that combines the cognitive emphasis on the role of thoughts and attitudes influencing motivations and response with the behavioral emphasis on changing performance through modification of reinforcement contingencies.
Cognitive development The development of processes of knowing, including imagining, perceiving, reasoning, and problem solving.
Cognitive dissonance The theory that the tension-producing effects of incongruous cognitions motivate individuals to reduce such tension.
Cognitive map A mental representation of physical space.
Cognitive perspective The perspective on psychology that stresses human thought and the processes of knowing, such as attending, thinking, remembering, expecting, solving problems, fantasizing, and consciousness.
Cognitive processes Higher mental processes, such as perception, memory, language, problem solving, and abstract thinking.
Cognitive psychology The study of higher mental processes such as attention, language use, memory, perception, problem solving, and thinking.
Cognitive science The interdisciplinary field of study of the approach systems and processes that manipulate information.
Cognitive therapy A type of psychotherapeutic treatment that attempts to change feelings and behaviors by changing the way a client thinks about or perceives significant life experiences.
Collective unconscious The part of an individual's unconscious that is inherited, evolutionarily developed, and common to all members of the species.
Comorbidity The experience of more than one disorder at the same time.
Complementary colors Colors opposite each other on the color circle; when additively mixed, they create the sensation of white light.
Compliance A change in behavior consistent with a communication source's direct requests.
Concepts Mental representations of kinds or categories of items or ideas.
Conditioned reinforcers In classical conditioning, formerly neutral stimuli that have become reinforcers.
Conditioned response (CR) In classical conditioning, a response elicited by some previously neutral stimulus that occurs as a result of pairing the neutral stimulus with an unconditioned stimulus.
Conditioned stimulus (CS) In classical conditioning, a previously neutral stimulus that comes to elicit a conditioned response.
Conditioning The ways in which events, stimuli, and behavior become associated with one another.
Cones Photoreceptors concentrated in the center of the retina that are responsible for visual experience under normal viewing conditions and for all experiences of color.
Conformity The tendency for people to adopt the behaviors, attitudes, and values of other members of a reference group.
Confounding variable A stimulus other than the variable an experimenter explicitly introduces into a research setting that affects a participant's behavior.
Consciousness A state of awareness of internal events and of the external environment.
Consensual validation The mutual affirmation of conscious views of reality.
Conservation According to Piaget, the understanding that physical properties do not change when nothing is added or taken away, even though appearances may change.
Consistency paradox The observation that personality ratings across time and among different observers are consistent, while behavior ratings across situations are not consistent.
Contact comfort Comfort derived from an infant's physical contact with the mother or caregiver.
Contact hypothesis The idea that direct contact between hostile groups alone will reduce prejudice.
Context of discovery The initial phase of research, in which observations, beliefs, information, and general knowledge lead to a new idea or a different way of thinking about some phenomenon.
Context of justification The research phase in which evidence is brought to bear on hypotheses.
Contextual distinctiveness The assumption that the serial position effect can be altered by the context and the distinctiveness of the experience being recalled.
Contingency management A general treatment strategy involving changing behavior by modifying its consequences.
Control procedures Consistent procedures for giving instructions, scoring responses, and holding all other variables constant except those being systematically varied.
Controlled processes Processes that require attention; it is often difficult to carry out more than one controlled process at a time.
Convergence The degree to which the eyes turn inward to fixate on an object.
Coping The process of dealing with internal or external demands that are perceived to be threatening or overwhelming.
Corpus callosum The mass of nerve fibers connecting the two hemispheres of the cerebrum.
Correlation coefficient (r) A statistic that indicates the degree of relationship between two variables.
Correlational methods Research methodologies that determine to what extent two variables, traits, or attributes are related.
Counseling psychologist Psychologist who specializes in providing guidance in areas such as vocational selection, school problems, drug abuse, and marital conflict.
Counterconditioning A technique used in therapy to substitute a new response for a maladaptive one by means of conditioning procedures.
Countertransference Circumstances in which a psychoanalyst develops personal feelings about a client because of perceived similarity of the client to significant people in the therapist's life.
Covariation principle A theory that suggests that people attribute a behavior to a causal factor if that factor was present whenever the behavior occurred but was absent whenever it did not occur.
Creativity The ability to generate ideas or products that are both novel and appropriate to the circumstances.
Criterion validity The degree to which test scores indicate a result on a specific measure that is consistent with some other criterion of the characteristic being assessed; also known as predictive validity.
Cross-sectional design A research method in which groups of participants of different chronological ages are observed and compared at a given time.
Crystallized intelligence The facet of intelligence involving the knowledge a person has already acquired and the ability to access that knowledge; measures by vocabulary, arithmetic, and general information tests.
Cultural perspective The psychological perspective that focuses on cross-cultural differences in the causes and consequences of behavior.
Cutaneous senses The skin senses that register sensations of pressure, warmth, and cold.
Dark adaptation The gradual improvement of the eyes' sensitivity after a shift in illumination from light to near darkness.
Date rape Unwanted sexual violation by a social acquaintance in the context of a consensual dating situation.
Daytime sleepiness The experience of excessive sleepiness during daytime activities; the major complaint of patients evaluated at sleep disorder centers.
Debriefing A procedure conducted at the end of an experiment in which the researcher provides the participant with as much information about the study as possible and makes sure that no participant leaves feeling confused, upset, or embarrassed.
Decision aversion The tendency to avoid decision making; the tougher the decision, the greater the likelihood of decision aversion.
Decision making The process of choosing between alternatives; selecting or rejecting available options.
Declarative memory Memory for information such as facts and events.
Deductive reasoning A form of thinking in which one draws a conclusion that is intended to follow logically from two or more statements or premises.
Delusions False or irrational beliefs maintained despite clear evidence to the contrary.
Demand characteristics Cues in an experimental setting that influence the participants' perception of what is expected of them and that systematically influence their behavior within that setting.
Dendrites The branched fibers of neurons that receive incoming signals.
Dependent variable In an experimental setting, any variable whose values are the results of changes in one or more independent variables.
Descriptive statistics Statistical procedures that are used to summarize sets of scores with respect to central tendencies, variability, and correlations.
Determinism The doctrine that all events-physical, behavioral, and mental-are determined by specific causal factors that are potentially knowable.
Developmental age The chronological age at which most children show a particular level of physical or mental development.
Developmental psychology The branch of psychology concerned with interaction between physical and psychological processes and with stages of growth from conception throughout the entire life span.
Diathesis-stress hypothesis A hypothesis about the cause of certain disorders, such as schizophrenia, that suggests that genetic factors predispose an individual to a certain disorder, but that environmental stress factors must impinge in order for the potential risk to manifest itself.
Dichotic listening An experimental technique in which a different auditory stimulus is simultaneously presented to each ear.
Difference threshold The smallest physical difference between two stimuli that can still be recognized as a difference; operationally defined as the point at which the stimuli are recognized as different half of the time.
Diffusion of responsibility In emergency situations, the larger the number of bystanders, the less responsibility any one bystander feels to help.
Discriminative stimuli Stimuli that act as predictors of reinforcement, signaling when particular behaviors will result in positive reinforcement.
Dispositional variables The organismic variables, or inner determinants of behavior, that occur within human and nonhuman animals.
Dissociative amnesia The inability to remember important personal experiences, caused by psychological factors in the absence of any organic dysfunction.
Dissociative disorder A personality disorder marked by a disturbance in the integration of identity, memory, or consciousness.
Dissociative identity disorder (DID) A dissociative mental disorder in which two or more distinct personalities exist within the same individual; formerly known as multiple personality disorder.
Distal stimulus In the processes of perception, the physical object in the world, as contrasted with the proximal stimulus, the optical image on the retina.
Divergent thinking An aspect of creativity characterized by an ability to produce unusual but appropriate responses to problems.
DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) The physical basis for the transmission of genetic information.
Double-blind control An experimental technique in which biased expectations of experimenters are eliminated by keeping both participants and experimental assistants unaware of which participants have received which treatment.
Dream analysis The psychoanalytic interpretation of dreams used to gain insight into a person's unconscious motives or conflicts.
Dream work In Freudian dream analysis, the process by which the internal censor transforms the latent content of a dream into manifest content.
Drives Internal states that arise in response to a disequilibrium in an animal's physiological needs.
DSM-IV-TR The current diagnostic and statistical manual of the American Psychiatric Association that classifies, defines, and describes mental disorders.
Echoic memory Sensory memory that allows auditory information to be stored for brief durations.
Ego The aspect of personality involved in self-preservation activities and in directing instinctual drives and urges into appropriate channels.
Ego defense mechanisms Mental strategies (conscious or unconscious) used by the ego to defend itself against conflicts experienced in the normal course of life.
Egocentrism In cognitive development, the inability of a young child at the preoperational stage to take the perspective of another person.
Elaboration likelihood model A theory of persuasion that defines how likely it is that people will focus their cognitive processes to elaborate upon a message and therefore follow the central and peripheral routes to persuasion.
Elaborative rehearsal A technique for improving memory by enriching the encoding of information.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) The use of electroconvulsive shock as an effective treatment for severe depression.
Electroencephalogram (EEG) A recording of the electrical activity of the brain.
Emotion A complex pattern of changes, including physiological arousal, feelings, cognitive processes, and behavioral reactions, made in response to a situation perceived to be personally significant.
Emotional intelligence Type of intelligence defined as the abilities to perceive, appraise, and express emotions accurately and appropriately, to use emotions to facilitate thinking, to understand and analyze emotions, to use emotional knowledge effectively, and to regulate one's emotions to promote both emotional and intellectual growth.
Encoding The process by which a mental representation is formed in memory.
Encoding specificity The principle that subsequent retrieval of information is enhanced if cues received at the time of recall are consistent with those present at the time of encoding.
Endocrine system The network of glands that manufacture and secrete hormones into the bloodstream.
Engram The physical memory trace for information in the brain.
Environmental variables External influences on behavior.
Episodic memories Long-term memories for autobiographical events and the contexts in which they occurred.
EQ The emotional intelligence counterpart of IQ.
Equity theory A cognitive theory of work motivation that proposes that workers are motivated to maintain fair and equitable relationships with other relevant persons; also, a model that postulates that equitable relationships are those in which the participants' outcomes are proportional to their inputs.
Erogenous zones Areas of the skin surface that are especially sensitive to stimulation and that give rise to erotic or sexual sensations.
Estrogen The female sex hormone, produced by the ovaries, that is responsible for the release of eggs from the ovaries as well as for the development and maintenance of female reproductive structures and secondary sex characteristics.
Etiology The causes of, or factors related to, the development of a disorder.
Evolutionary perspective The approach to psychology that stresses the importance of behavioral and mental adaptiveness, based on the assumption that mental capabilities evolved over millions of years to serve particular adaptive purposes.
Excitatory inputs Information entering a neuron that signals it to fire.
Expectancy effects Results that occur when a researcher or observer subtly communicates to participants the kind of behavior he or she expects to find, thereby creating that expected reaction.
Expectancy theory A cognitive theory of work motivation that proposes that workers are motivated when they expect their efforts and job performance to result in desired outcomes.
Experience-sampling method An experimental method that assists researchers in describing the typical contents of consciousness; participants are asked to record what they are feeling and thinking whenever signaled to do so.
Experimental methods Research methodologies that involve the manipulation of independent variables in order to determine their effects on the dependent variables.
Explicit uses of memory Conscious efforts to recover information through memory processes.
Extinction In conditioning, the weakening of a conditioned association in the absence of a reinforcer or unconditioned stimulus.
Face validity The degree to which test items appear to be directly related to the attribute the researcher wishes to measure.
Fear A rational reaction to an objectively identified external danger that may induce a person to flee or attack in self-defense.
Fight-or-flight response A sequence of internal activities triggered when an organism is faced with a threat; prepares the body for combat and struggle or for running away to safety; recent evidence suggests that the response is characteristic only of males.
Figure Object-like regions of the visual field that are distinguished from background.
Five-factor model A comprehensive descriptive personality system that maps out the relationships among common traits, theoretical concepts, and personality scales; informally called the Big Five.
Fixation A state in which a person remains attached to objects or activities more appropriate for an earlier stage of psychosexual development.
Fixed-interval schedule A schedule of reinforcement in which a reinforcer is delivered for the first response made after a fixed period of time.
Fixed-ratio schedule A schedule of reinforcement in which a reinforcer is delivered for the first response made after a fixed number of responses.
Flooding A therapy for phobias in which clients are exposed, with their permission, to the stimuli most frightening to them.
Fluid intelligence The aspect of intelligence that involves the ability to see complex relationships and solve problems.
Formal assessment The systematic procedures and measurement instruments used by trained professionals to assess an individual's functioning, aptitudes, abilities, or mental states.
Foundational theories Frameworks for initial understanding formulated by children to explain their experiences of the world.
Fovea Area of the retina that contains densely packed cones and forms the point of sharpest vision.
Frame A particular description of a choice; the perspective from which a choice is described or framed affects how a decision is made and which option is ultimately exercised.
Free association The therapeutic method in which a patient gives a running account of thoughts, wishes, physical sensations, and mental images as they occur.
Frequency distribution A summary of how frequently each score appears in a set of observations.
Frequency theory The theory that a tone produces a rate of vibration in the basilar membrane equal to its frequency, with the result that pitch can be coded by the frequency of the neural response.
Frontal lobe Region of the brain located above the lateral fissure and in front of the central sulcus; involved in motor control and cognitive activities.
Frustration-aggression hypothesis According to this hypothesis, frustration occurs in situations in which people are prevented or blocked from attaining their goals; a rise in frustration then leads to a greater probability of aggression.
Functional fixedness An inability to perceive a new use for an object previously associated with some other purpose; adversely affects problem solving and creativity.
Functional MRI (fMRI) A brain imaging technique that combines benefits of both MRI and PET scans by detecting magnetic changes in the flow of blood to cells in the brain.
Functionalism The perspective on mind and behavior that focuses on the examination of their functions in an organism's interactions with the environment.
Fundamental attribution error (FAE) The dual tendency of observers to underestimate the impact of situational factors and to overestimate the influence of dispositional factors on a person's behavior.
g According to Spearman, the factor of general intelligence underlying all intelligent performance.
Ganglion cells Cells in the visual system that integrate impulses from many bipolar cells in a single firing rate.
Gate-control theory A theory about pain modulation that proposes that certain cells in the spinal cord act as gates to interrupt and block some pain signals while sending others on to the brain.
Gender A psychological phenomenon that refers to learned sex-related behaviors and attitudes of males and females.
Gender identity One's sense of maleness or femaleness; usually includes awareness and acceptance of one's biological sex.
Gender roles Sets of behaviors and attitudes associated by society with being male or female and expressed publicly by the individual.
General adaption syndrome (GAS) The pattern of nonspecific adaptational physiological mechanisms that occurs in response to continuing threat by almost any serious stressor.
Generalized anxiety disorder An anxiety disorder in which an individual feels anxious and worried most of the time for at least six months when not threatened by any specific danger or object.
Generativity A commitment beyond one's self and one's partner to family, work, society, and future generations; typically, a crucial step in development in one's 30s and 40s.
Genes The biological units of heredity; discrete sections of chromosomes responsible for transmission of traits.
Genetics The study of the inheritance of physical and psychological traits from ancestors.
Genocide The systematic destruction of one group of people, often an ethnic or racial group, by another.
Genotype The genetic structure an organism inherits from its parents.
Gestalt psychology A school of psychology that maintains that psychological phenomena can be understood only when viewed as organized, structured wholes, not when broken down into primitive perceptual elements.
Gestalt therapy Therapy that focuses on ways to unite mind and body to make a person whole.
Glia The cells that hold neurons together and facilitate neural transmission, remove damaged and dead neurons, and prevent poisonous substances in the blood from reaching the brain.
Goal-directed selection A determinant of why people select some parts of sensory input for further processing; it reflects the choices made as a function of one's own goals.
Ground The backdrop or background areas of the visual field, against which figures stand out.
Group dynamics The study of how group processes change individual functioning.
Group polarization The tendency for groups to make decisions that are more extreme than the decisions that would be made by the members acting alone.
Groupthink The tendency of a decision-making group to filter out undesirable input so that a consensus may be reached, especially if it is in line with the leader's viewpoint.
Guided search In visual perception, a parallel search of the environment for single, basic attributes that guides attention to likely locations of objects with more complex combinations of attributes.