AP Psychology Vocab

critical thinking

the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue in order to form a judgment.


the view that (a) knowledge comes from experience via the senses, and (b) science flourishes through observation and experiment.


early school of thought promoted by Wundt and Titchener; used introspection to reveal the structure of the human mind


A method of self-observation in which participants report their thoughts and feelings


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


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 Psychology

the scientific study of mental processes, including perception, thought, memory, and reasoning

cognitive neuroscience

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


the scientific study 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

A process in which individuals that have certain inherited traits tend to survive and reproduce at higher rates than other individuals because of those traits.

evolutionary psychology

the study of the evolution of behavior and the mind, using principles of natural selection

behavior genetics

How much our genes and our environment influence our individual differences


the enduring behaviors, ideas, attitudes, values, and traditions shared by a group of people and transmitted from one generation to the next

positive psychology

the scientific study of human flourishing, with the goals of discovering and promoting strengths and virtues that help individuals and communities to thrive

biopsychosocial approach

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

behavioral psychology

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

biological psychology

a branch of psychology concerned with the links between biology and behavior

psychodynamic psychology

how behavior springs from unconscious drives and conflicts

social-cultural psychology

how behavior and thinking vary across situations and cultures

testing effect

enhanced memory after retrieving, rather than simply rereading, information


a study method incorporating five steps: Survey, Question, Read, Retrieve, Review


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

basic research

pure science that aims to increase the scientific knowledge base

developmental psychology

a branch of psychology that studies 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

Idustrial-Organizational (I/O) Psychology

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

human factors psychology

a branch of psychology that explores how people and machines interact and how machines and physical environments can be made safe and easy to use

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 sometimes provide medical (for example, drug) treatments as well as psychological therapy

community psychologist

a psychologist who may work in a mental health or social welfare agency