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Pain The body's response to noxious stimuli that are intense enough to cause, or threaten to cause, tissue damage.

Panic disorder An anxiety disorder in which sufferers experience unexpected, severe panic attacks that begin with a feeling of intense apprehension, fear, or terror.

Parallel forms Different versions of a test used to assess test reliability; the change of forms reduces effects of direct practice, memory, or the desire of an individual to appear consistent on the same items.

Parallel processes Two or more mental processes that are carried out simultaneously.

Parasympathetic division The subdivision of the autonomic nervous system that monitors the routine operation of the body's internal functions and conserves and restores body energy.

Parental investment The time and energy parents must spend raising their offspring.

Parenting practices Specific parenting behaviors that arise in response to particular parental goals.

Parenting styles The manner in which parents rear their children; an authoritative parenting style, which balances demandingness and responsiveness, is seen as the most effective.

Parietal lobe Region of the brain behind the frontal lobe and above the lateral fissure; contains somatosensory cortex.

Partial reinforcement effect The behavioral principle that states that responses acquired under intermittent reinforcement are more difficult to extinguish than those acquired with continuous reinforcement.

Participant modeling A therapeutic technique in which a therapist demonstrates the desired behavior and a client is aided, through supportive encouragement, to imitate the modeled behavior.

Pastoral counselor A member of a religious order who specializes in the treatment of psychological disorders, often combining spirituality with practical problem solving.

Patient The term used by those who take a biomedical approach to the treatment of psychological problems to describe the person being treated.

Peace psychology An interdisciplinary approach to the prevention of nuclear war and the maintenance of peace.

Perceived control The belief that one has the ability to make a difference in the course or the consequences of some event or experience; often helpful in dealing with stressors.

Perception The processes that organize information in the sensory image and interpret it as having been produced by properties of objects or events in the external, three-dimensional world.

Perceptual constancy The ability to retain an unchanging percept of an object despite variations in the retinal image.

Perceptual organization The processes that put sensory information together to give the perception of a coherent scene over the whole visual field.

Peripheral nervous system (PNS) The part of the nervous system composed of the spinal and cranial nerves that connect the body's sensory receptors to the CNS and the CNS to the muscles and glands.

Personality The unique psychological qualities of an individual that influence a variety of characteristic behavior patterns (both overt and covert) across different situations and over time.

Personality disorder A chronic, inflexible, maladaptive pattern of perceiving, thinking, and behaving that seriously impairs an individual's ability to function in social or other settings.

Personality inventory A self-report questionnaire used for personality assessment that includes a series of items about personal thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.

Personality types Distinct patterns of personality characteristics used to assign people to categories; qualitative differences, rather than differences in degree, used to discriminate among people.

Persuasion Deliberate efforts to change attitudes.

PET scans Brain images produced by a device that obtains detailed pictures of activity in the living brain by recording the radioactivity emitted by cells during different cognitive or behavioral activities.

Phantom limb phenomenon As experienced by amputees, extreme or chronic pain in a limb that is no longer there.

Phenotype The observable characteristics of an organism, resulting from the interaction between the organism's genotype and its environment.

Pheromones Chemical signals released by organisms to communicate with other members of the species; often serve as long-distance sexual attractors.

Phi phenomenon The simplest form of apparent motion, the movement illusion in which one or more stationary lights going on and off in succession are perceived as a single moving light.

Phobia A persistent and irrational fear of a specific object, activity, or situation that is excessive and unreasonable, given the reality of the threat.

Phonemes Minimal units of speech in any given language that make a meaningful difference in speech production and reception; r and l are two distinct phonemes in English but variations of one in Japanese.

Photoreceptors Receptor cells in the retina that are sensitive to light.

Physical development The bodily changes, maturation, and growth that occur in an organism starting with conception and continuing across the life span.

Physiological dependence The process by which the body becomes adjusted to and dependent on a drug.

Pitch Sound quality of highness or lowness; primarily dependent on the frequency of the sound wave.

Pituitary gland Located in the brain, the gland that secretes growth hormone and influences the secretion of hormones by other endocrine glands.

Place theory The theory that different frequency tones produce maximum activation at different locations along the basilar membrane, with the result that pitch can be coded by the place at which activation occurs.

Placebo control An experimental condition in which treatment is not administered; it is used in cases where a placebo effect might occur.

Placebo effect A change in behavior in the absence of an experimental manipulation.

Placebo therapy A therapy independent of any specific clinical procedures that results in client improvement.

Pons The region of the brain stem that connects the spinal cord with the brain and links parts of the brain to one another.

Population The entire set of individuals to which generalizations will be made based on an experimental sample.

Positive punishment A behavior is followed by the presentation of an aversive stimulus, decreasing the probability of that behavior.

Positive reinforcement A behavior is followed by the presentation of an appetitive stimulus, increasing the probability of that behavior.

Possible selves The ideal selves that a person would like to become, the selves a person could become, and the selves a person is afraid of becoming; components of the cognitive sense of self.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) An anxiety disorder characterized by the persistent reexperience of traumatic events through distressing recollections, dreams, hallucinations, or dissociative flashbacks; develops in response to rapes, life-threatening events, severe injuries, and natural disasters.

Preattentive processing Processing of sensory information that precedes attention to specific objects.

Preconscious memories Memories that are not currently conscious but that can easily be called into consciousness when necessary.

Predictive validity See criterion validity.

Prefrontal lobotomy An operation that severs the nerve fibers connecting the frontal lobes of the brain with the diencephalon, especially those fibers of the thalamic and hypothalamic areas; best-known form of psychosurgery.

Prejudice A learned attitude toward a target object, involving negative affect (dislike or fear), negative beliefs (stereotypes) that justify the attitude, and a behavioral intention to avoid, control, dominate, or eliminate the target object.

Primacy effect Improved memory for items at the start of a list.

Primary reinforcers Biologically determined reinforcers such as food and water.

Priming In the assessment of implicit memory, the advantage conferred by prior exposure to a word or situation.

Problem solving Thinking that is directed toward solving specific problems and that moves from an initial state to a goal state by means of a set of mental operations.

Problem space The elements that make up a problem: the initial state, the incomplete information or unsatisfactory conditions the person starts with; the goal state, the set of information or state the person wishes to achieve; and the set of operations, the steps the person takes to move from the initial state to the goal state.

Procedural memory Memory for how things get done; the way perceptual, cognitive, and motor skills are acquired, retained, and used.

Projective test A method of personality assessment in which an individual is presented with a standardized set of ambiguous, abstract stimuli and asked to interpret their meanings; the individual's responses are assumed to reveal inner feelings, motives, and conflicts.

Prosocial behaviors Behaviors that are carried out with the goal of helping other people.

Prototype The most representative example of a category.

Proximal stimulus The optical image on the retina; contrasted with the distal stimulus, the physical object in the world.

Psychiatrist An individual who has obtained an M.D. degree and also has completed postdoctoral specialty training in mental and emotional disorders; a psychiatrist may prescribe medications for the treatment of psychological disorders.

Psychic determinism The assumption that mental and behavioral reactions are determined by previous experiences.

Psychoactive drugs Chemicals that affect mental processes and behavior by temporarily changing conscious awareness of reality.

Psychoanalysis The form of psychodynamic therapy developed by Freud; an intensive and prolonged technique for exploring unconscious motivations and conflicts in neurotic, anxiety-ridden individuals.

Psychoanalyst An individual who has earned either a Ph.D. or an M.D. degree and has completed postgraduate training in the Freudian approach to understanding and treating mental disorders.

Psychobiography The use of psychological (especially personality) theory to describe and explain an individual's course through life.

Psychodynamic personality theories Theories of personality that share the assumption that personality is shaped by and behavior is motivated by powerful inner forces.

Psychodynamic perspective A psychological model in which behavior is explained in terms of past experiences and motivational forces; actions are viewed as stemming from inherited instincts, biological drives, and attempts to resolve conflicts between personal needs and social requirements.

Psychological assessment The use of specified procedures to evaluate the abilities, behaviors, and personal qualities of people.

Psychological dependence The psychological need or craving for a drug.

Psychological diagnosis The label given to psychological abnormality by classifying and categorizing the observed behavior pattern into an approved diagnostic system.

Psychologist An individual with a doctoral degree in psychology from an organized, sequential program in a regionally accredited university or professional school.

Psychology The scientific study of the behavior of individuals and their mental processes.

Psychometric function A graph that plots the percentage of detections of a stimulus (on the vertical axis) for each stimulus intensity (on the horizontal axis).

Psychometrics The field of psychology that specializes in mental testing.

Psychoneuroimmunology The research area that investigates interactions between psychological processes, such as responses to stress, and the functions of the immune system.

Psychopathological functioning Disruptions in emotional, behavioral, or thought processes that lead to personal distress or block one's ability to achieve important goals.

Psychopharmacology The branch of psychology that investigates the effects of drugs on behavior.

Psychophysics The study of the correspondence between physical stimulation and psychological experience.

Psychosocial stages Proposed by Erik Erikson, successive developmental stages that focus on an individual's orientation toward the self and others; these stages incorporate both the sexual and social aspects of a person's development and the social conflicts that arise from the interaction between the individual and the social environment.

Psychosomatic disorders Physical disorders aggravated by or primarily attributable to prolonged emotional stress or other psychological causes.

Psychosurgery A surgical procedure performed on brain tissue to alleviate a psychological disorder.

Psychotherapy Any of a group of therapies, used to treat psychological disorders, that focus on changing faulty behaviors, thoughts, perceptions, and emotions that may be associated with specific disorders.

Psychotic disorders Severe mental disorders in which a person experiences impairments in reality testing manifested through thought, emotional, or perceptual difficulties; no longer used as a diagnostic category after DSM-III.

Puberty The attainment of sexual maturity; indicated for girls by menarche and for boys by the production of live sperm and the ability to ejaculate.

Punisher Any stimulus that, when made contingent upon a response, decreases the probability of that response.

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