AP Psych Terms


the view that knowledge originates in experience and that science should, therefore, rely on observation and experimentation


an early school of psychology that used introspection to explore the structural elements of the human mind


a school of psychology that focused on how our mental and behavioral processes function-how they enable us to adapt, survive and flourish

experimental psychology

the study of behavior and thinking using the experimental method


the view that psychology (1) should be an objective science that (2) studies behavior without reference to mental processes. Most research psychologists today agree with (1) but not with (2)

humanistic psychology

historically significant perspective that emphasized the growth potential of healthy people and the individual's potential for personal growth

cognitive neuroscience

the interdisciplinary study of the brain activity linked with cognition (including perception, thinking, memory, and language)


the science of behavior and mental processes

nature-nurture issue

the longstanding controversy over the relative contributions that genes and experience make to the development of psychological traits and behaviors. Today's science sees traits and behaviors arising from the interaction of nature and nurture

natural selection

the principle that, among the range of inherited trait variations, those contributing to reproduction and survival with most likely be passed on to succeeding generations

level of analysis

the differing complementary views, from biological to psychological to social-cultural, for analyzing any given phenomenon

biopsychosocial approach

an integrated approach that incorporates biological, psychological, and social-cultural levels of analysis

biological psychology

a branch of psychology that studies the links between biological (including neuroscience and behavior genetics) and psychological processes

evolutionary psychology

the study of the roots of behavior and mental processes using the principles of natural selection

psychodynamic psychology

a branch of psychology that studies how unconscious drives and conflicts influence behavior, and uses that information to treat people with psychological disorders

behavioral psychology

the scientific study of observable behavior, and its explanation by principles of learning

cognitive psychology

the scientific study of all the mental activities associated with thinking, knowing, remembering, and communicatin

social-cultural psychology

the study of how situations and cultures affect our behavior and thinking


the scientific study of the measurement of human abilities, attitudes, and traits

basic research

pure science that aims to increase the scientific knowledge base

developmental psychology

the scientific study of physical, cognitive, and social change throughout the life span

educational psychology

the study of how psychological processes affect and can enhance teaching and learning

personality psychology

the study of an individual's characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling and acting

social psychology

the scientific study of how we think about, influence, and relate to one another

applied research

scientific study that aims to solve practical problems

industrial-organizational (I/O) psychology

the application of psychological concepts and methods to optimizing human behavior in workplaces

human factors psychology

the study of how people and machines interact and the design of safe and easily used machines and environments

counseling psychology

a branch of psychology that assists people with problems in living (often related to school, work, or marriage) and in achieving greater well-being

clinical psychology

a branch of psychology that studies, assesses, and treats people with psychological disorders


a branch of medicine dealing with psychological disorders; practiced by physicians who often provide medical treatments as well as psychological therapy