Sample A subset of a population selected as participants in an experiment.
Saturation The dimension of color space that captures the purity and vividness of color sensations.
Schedules of reinforcement In operant conditioning, the patterns of delivering and withholding reinforcement.
Schemas General conceptual frameworks, or clusters of knowledge, regarding objects, people, and situations; knowledge packages that encode generalizations about the structure of the environment.
Schemes Piaget's term for cognitive structures that develop as infants and young children learn to interpret the world and adapt to their environment.
Schizophrenic disorder Severe form of psychopathology characterized by the breakdown of integrated personality functioning, withdrawal from reality, emotional distortions, and disturbed thought processes.
SCIENTIFIC METHOD The set of procedures used for gathering and interpreting objective information in a way that minimizes error and yields dependable generalizations.
Selective optimization with compensation A strategy for successful aging in which one makes the most of gains while minimizing the impact of losses that accompany normal aging.
Selective social interaction theory The view that suggests that, as people age, they become more selective in choosing social partners who satisfy their emotional needs.
Self-actualization A concept in personality psychology referring to a person's constant striving to realize his or her potential and to develop inherent talents and capabilities.
SELF-AWARENES The top level of consciousness; cognizance of the autobiographical character of personally experienced events.
SELF-CONCEPT A person's mental model of his or her abilities and attributes.
SELF-EFFICACY The set of beliefs that one can perform adequately in a particular situation.
SELF-ESTEEM A generalized evaluative attitude toward the self that influences both moods and behavior and that exerts a powerful effect on a range of personal and social behaviors.
SELF-FULFILLING PROPHECY A prediction made about some future behavior or event that modifies interactions so as to produce what is expected.
SELF-HANDICAPPING The process of developing, in anticipation of failure, behavioral reactions and explanations that minimize ability deficits as possible attributions for the failure.
SELF-PERCEPTION THEORY The idea that people observe themselves in order to figure out the reasons they act as they do; people infer what their internal states are by perceiving how they are acting in a given situation.
SELF-REPORT MEASURES The self-behaviors that are identified through a participant's own observations and reports.
SELF-SERVING BIAS A class of attributional biases in which people tend to take credit for their successes and deny responsibility for their failures.
Semantic memories Generic, categorical memories, such as the meanings of words and concepts.
Sensation The process by which stimulation of a sensory receptor gives rise to neural impulses that result in an experience, or awareness of, conditions inside or outside the body.
Sensory adaptation A phenomenon in which receptor cells lose their power to respond after a period of unchanged stimulation; allows a more rapid reaction to new sources of information.
Sensory memory The initial memory processes involved in the momentary preservation of fleeting impressions of sensory stimuli.
Sensory neurons The neurons that carry messages from sense receptors toward the central nervous system.
Sensory physiology The study of the way in which biological mechanisms convert physical events into neural events.
Sensory receptors Specialized cells that convert physical signals into cellular signals that are processed by the nervous system.
Serial position effect A characteristic of memory retrieval in which the recall of beginning and end items on a list is often better than recall of items appearing in the middle.
Serial processes Two or more mental processes that are carried out in order, one after the other.
Set A temporary readiness to perceive or react to a stimulus in a particular way.
Sex chromosomes Chromosomes that contain the genes that code for the development of male or female characteristics.
Sex differences Biologically based characteristics that distinguish males from females.
Sexism Discrimination against people because of their sex.
Sexual arousal The motivational state of excitement and tension brought about by physiological and cognitive reactions to erotic stimuli.
Sexual scripts Socially learned programs of sexual responsiveness.
Shamanism A spiritual tradition that involves both healing and gaining contact with the spirit world.
Shape constancy The ability to perceive the true shape of an object despite variations in the size of the retinal image.
Shaping by successive approximations A behavioral method that reinforces responses that successively approximate and ultimately match the desired response.
Short-term memory (STM) Memory processes associated with preservation of recent experiences and with retrieval of information from long-term memory; short-term memory is of limited capacity and stores information for only a short length of time without rehearsal.
Shyness The hesitation to get involved with, and/or the inability to process an instinctively unfamiliar energy present.
Signal detection theory (SDT) A systematic approach to the problem of response bias that allows an experimenter to identify and separate the roles of sensory stimuli and the individual's criterion level in producing the final response.
Significant difference A difference between experimental groups or conditions that would have occurred by chance less than an accepted criterion; in psychology, the criterion most often used is a probability of less than 5 times out of 100, or p < .05.
Situational variables External influences on behavior.
Size constancy The ability to perceive the true size of an object despite variations in the size of its retinal image.
Sleep apnea A sleep disorder of the upper respiratory system that causes the person to stop breathing while asleep.
Social categorization The process by which people organize the social environment by categorizing themselves and others into groups.
Social development The ways in which individuals' social interactions and expectations change across the life span.
Social intelligence A theory of personality that refers to the expertise people bring to their experience of life tasks.
Social-learning theory The learning theory that stresses the role of observation and the imitation of behaviors observed in others.
Social-learning therapy A form of treatment in which clients observe models' desirable behaviors being reinforced.
Social norms The expectation a group has for its members regarding acceptable and appropriate attitudes and behaviors.
Social perception The process by which a person comes to know or perceive the personal attributes of himself or herself and other people.
Social phobia A persistent, irrational fear that arises in anticipation of a public situation in which an individual can be observed by others.
SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY The branch of psychology that studies the effect of social variables on individual behavior, attitudes, perceptions, and motives; also studies group and intergroup phenomena.
Social role A socially defined pattern of behavior that is expected of a person who is functioning in a given setting or group.
Social support Resources, including material aid, socioemotional support, and informational aid, provided by others to help a person cope with stress.
Socialization The lifelong process whereby an individual's behavioral patterns, values, standards, skills, attitudes, and motives are shaped to conform to those regarded as desirable in a particular society.
Sociobiology A research field that focuses on evolutionary explanations for the social behavior and social systems of humans and other animal species.
Soma The cell body of a neuron, containing the nucleus and cytoplasm.
Somatic nervous system The subdivision of the peripheral nervous system that connects the central nervous system to the skeletal muscles and skin.
Somatosensory cortex The region of the parietal lobes that processes sensory input from various body areas.
Specific phobias Phobias that occur in response to specific types of objects or situations.
Split-half reliability A measure of the correlation between test takers' performance on different halves (e.g., odd- and even-numbered items) of a test.
Spontaneous recovery The reappearance of an extinguished conditioned response after a rest period.
Spontaneous-remission effect The improvement of some mental patients and clients in psychotherapy without any professional intervention; a baseline criterion against which the effectiveness of therapies must be assessed.
Standard deviation (SD) The average difference of a set of scores from their mean; a measure of variability.
Standardization A set of uniform procedures for treating each participant in a test, interview, or experiment or for recording data.
Stereotype threat The threat associated with being at risk for confirming a negative stereotype of one's group.
Stereotypes Generalizations about a group of people in which the same characteristics are assigned to all members of a group.
Stigma The negative reaction of people to an individual or group because of some assumed inferiority or source of difference that is degraded.
Stimulus discrimination A conditioning process in which an organism learns to respond differently to stimuli that differ from the conditioned stimulus on some dimension.
Stimulus-driven capture A determinant of why people select some parts of sensory input for further processing; occurs when features of stimuli-objects in the environment-automatically capture attention, independent of the local goals of a perceiver.
Stimulus generalization The automatic extension of conditioned responding to similar stimuli that have never been paired with the unconditioned stimulus.
Storage The retention of encoded material over time.
Stress The pattern of specific and nonspecific responses an organism makes to stimulus events that disturb its equilibrium and tax or exceed its ability to cope.
Stress moderator variables Variables that change the impact of a stressor on a given type of stress reaction.
Stressor An internal or external event or stimulus that induces stress.
Structuralism The study of the structure of mind and behavior; the view that all human mental experience can be understood as a combination of simple elements or events.
Superego The aspect of personality that represents the internalization of society's values, standards, and morals.
Sympathetic division The subdivision of the autonomic nervous system that deals with emergency response and the mobilization of energy.
Synapse The gap between one neuron and another.
Synaptic transmission The relaying of information from one neuron to another across the synaptic gap.
Systematic desensitization A behavioral therapy technique in which a client is taught to prevent the arousal of anxiety by confronting the feared stimulus while relaxed.