AP Psych Vocab 1 - History


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).

Classical Conditioning

A type of learning in which one learns to link two or more stimuli and anticipate events


The largely conscious, "executive" part of personality that, according to Freud, mediates among the demands of the id, superego, and reality. The ego operates on the reality principle, satisfying the id's desires in ways that will realistically bring pleasure rather than pain.


The idea that what we know comes from experience, and that observation and experimentation enable scientific knowledge


Early school of thought promoted by James and influenced by Darwin; explored how mental and behavioral processes function- how they enable the organism to adapt, survive, and flourish

Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow's pyramid of human needs, beginning at the base with physiological needs that must first be satisfied before higher-level safety needs and then psychological needs become active


A reservoir of unconscious psychic energy that, according to Freud, strives to satisfy basic sexual and aggressive drives. The id operates on the pleasure principle, demanding immediate gratification.


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


Present, but not active; hidden

Natural Selection

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

Nature vs. Nurture

The longstanding controversy over the relative contributions that genes and experience make to the development of psychological traits and behaviors

Operant Conditioning

A type of learning in which behavior is strengthened if followed by a reinforcer or diminished if followed by a punisher

Operant Conditioning Chamber

Skinner box; allows a researcher to study the behavior of small organisms in a controlled environment


The science of behavior and mental processes

Puzzle Box

A cage with a latch, developed by Thorndike, to test how long it took the animal to figure out how to escape

Radical Behaviorism

B.F. Skinner's philosophy of the science of human behavior

Cognitive Revolution

A shift in psychology, beginning in the 1950s, from the behaviorist approach to an approach in which the main thrust was to explain behavior in terms of the mind. One of the outcomes of the cognitive revolution was the introduction of the information-processing approach to studying the mind.


A specific behavior is elicited by a specific stimulus (an event that evokes a behavior)

Streams of Consciousness

A phrase coined by William James to describe each person's continuous series of ever-changing thoughts


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


The part of personality that, according to Freud, represents internalized ideals and provides standards for judgment (the conscience) and for future aspirations

Survival of the Fittest

A natural process resulting in the evolution of organisms best adapted to the environment

Theory of Evolution

Organisms change and develop over time to adapt an increase rate of survival


According to Freud, a reservoir of mostly unacceptable thoughts, wishes, feelings, and memories. According to contemporary psychologists, information processing of which we are unaware.

Basic Research

Pure science that aims to increase the scientific knowledge base

Biological Psychology

The scientific study of the links between biological (genetic, neural, hormonal) and psychological processes

Applied Research

Scientific study that aims to solve practical problems

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

Experimental Psychology

The study of behavior and thinking using the experimental method

Human Factors Psychology

An I/O psychology subfield that explores how people and machines interact and how machines and physical environments can be made safe and easy to use

Industrial and Organization Psychology

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

Personality Psychology

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


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

Social Psychology

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

Clinical Psychologist

A psychologist who works in the branch of psychology that studies, assesses, and treats people with psychological disorders

Counseling Psychologist

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


A branch of medicine dealing with psychological disorders; practiced by physicians who sometimes provide medical (for example, drug) treatments as well as psychological therapy

Psychiatrist vs. Psychologist

Psychologists focus on using therapy to help their patients while psychiatrists utilize a more medical approach to helping their patients (medication)

School Psychologist

Psychologists involved in the assessment of and intervention for children in educational settings. They diagnose and treat cognitive, social, and emotional problems that may negatively influence children's learning or overall functioning at school.