Psychology Dictionary

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F scale: a measuring instrument used by Adorno to measure the authoritarian personality, by exploring the extent to which people agree with statements such 'Obedience and respect for authority are the most important virtues children should learn.'

face recognition: involves the comparison of a perceived stimulus pattern with stored representations of familiar faces.

face validity: the extent to which the measure appears (at face value) to test what it claims to.

false memory debate: see recovered memories

false memory syndrome: see recovered memories.

false negative (also called a Type II error): in inferential statistics, concluding that the observed results are due only to chance when in fact a significant effect exists

false positive (also called a Type 1 error): in inferential statistics, concluding that an observed outcome is significant when in fact it reflects only chance.

falsifiability: a criterion to evaluate a theory against, whereby the theory should state circumstances where it can be proven wrong.

family systems theory: the view of the family as a set of interacting and interdependent components.

fatigue effects: when participants become tired or bored if a demanding or repetitive task is repeated, resulting in deteriorating performance.

feature detection theories: used to explain pattern recognition, proposes that images are processed in terms of their component parts, which then match the features of a pattern stored in memory.

feature processing: in visual perception, the ability to detect contours, crucial for object recognition.

feelings: the expression and sensation of emotion; created, expressed and stored in the emotional body.

Festinger (1919-1989): a renowned social psychologist who developed the theories of cognitive dissonance (whereby incongruity between beliefs or behaviours cause psychological discomfort) and social comparison theory.

field experiments: an experiment in a natural setting, rather than the comparatively artificial setting of the laboratory. Consequently, extraneous variables are difficult to control.

fight-or-flight response: a series of internal activities that are set off when an organism is faced with a threat, in preparation of defending or attacking (fight) or fleeing to safety (flight).

filial imprinting: the best known form of imprinting. When a young animal learns the characteristics of its parent. It is most obvious in nidifugous birds, who imprint on their parents and then follow them around.

filognosy: love for the knowledge of self-realisation as inspired by as well the western as eastern concepts of emancipation that together make for   the integrity of the different views, forms of logic and intelligence one finds in modern society on a global scale.

fixation: in psychoanalytic theory, a preference for the mode of gratification associated with a particular stage of psychosexual development as a result of too much or too little gratification at that stage.

fixed interval schedule: a reinforcement applied on a systematic time basis, for instance, every four minutes.

fixed ratio schedule: a reinforcement applied according to a number of predetermined responses, for instance one reinforcement for every three responses.

flashbulb memory: memory related to an emotionally arousing event.

flooding: a behavioural therapy to treat phobias, through exposure to the feared object for an extended period of time, with no opportunity for escape.

fluid intelligence: an abstract form of intelligence that includes the ability to analyse complex relationships, reason and find solutions to problems.

follow-up study: continuing contact with participants after a study, in order to examine any long-term effects that may have arisen as a result of their participation.

foot-in-the-door technique: a method of compliance method, whereby people are more likely to comply if they initially agree to a small request, followed by a larger request later on. (see also door-in-the-face technique.)

forced-choice item: a test where respondents select one of a number of differing responses, in order to reduce likelihood of socially desirable responses.

forebrain: see brain

forgetting: the inability to recall or recognise what has previously been remembered. Forgetting has been explained by a number of accounts ? trace-dependent forgetting (the memory trace is lost), cue-dependent forgetting (the lack of necessary cues to retrieve the memory), repression (painful memories are unconsciously repressed) or interference

fovea: a small area on the retina, that contains closely packed cones, onto which light from an object is focused upon.

frame of mind (state of mind): a temporary psychological state i.e. Mental or emotional attitude or mood.

fraternal twin: see dizygotic twin

free association: A psychodynamic technique, whereby a patient is encouraged to freely talk about their thoughts, wishes, experiences and mental images as they arise, in the hope of allowing preconscious content to surface in the consciousness.

free will vs determinism: refers to the debate between those who believe that external or internal factors acting upon the individual determine behaviour (determinism), and those that believe individuals respond actively to the outside world (free will).

frequency distribution: a statistical analysis of a set of data reflecting how often each score occur. Frequency distributions can be represented in a number of graphical ways, including histograms

Freud (1856-1939): the founder of the psychoanalytic school of psychology, emphasised the importance of the unconscious mind, childhood experiences and repressed urges. His theory of psychosexual development outlines five stages; oral, anal, phallic, latent and genital, according to the different objects fixated upon at each specific stage. Freud also focused on the structure and development of personality; comprised of three parts - the id, ego and superego. Conflicts between the id and superego are dealt with by the ego that utilizes ?a target="_parent" href="">defence mechanisms? for instance, denial. Furthermore, he applied a range of his ideas to dreams to understand unconscious desires, for instance, repressed urges often manifest in dreams through symbolic images. Freuds work, albeit controversial, has had a huge impact on psychology, in particular through psychoanalysis and his therapeutic techniques (e.g. free association).

Freudian slip: a slip-up, either in speech, writing or in memory lapses that reflects the hidden worries or focus of the unconscious mind.

frontal lobe: the area of the cortex in front of the central fissure, and above the lateral fissure; involved in motor control and cognitive processes

frontal lobotomy: an operation, popular in the 1940s and 1950s, which involved sectioning or removing sections of the frontal lobes, often to treat cases of bipolar mood disorder or chronic pain.

frustration-aggression theory: a theory of aggression developed by Dollard and Miller which proposes that frustration ?whereby people are blocked or prevented from reaching their goals ?results in a great chance of aggression occurring.

fully functioning person: portrayed by Rogers as the ideal of growth; healthy growth is demonstrated by openness, a high level of spontaneity, compassion and self-direction.

functional fixedness: in Gestalt theory, perceiving an object as having only one already established or associated use; an inability to identify a new use.

functional MRI (fMRI): brain imaging technique that scans by measuring magnetic changes in the flow of blood to cells in the brain.

fundamental attribution error: in attribution theory, the inclination to overemphasise the influence of dispositional factors (e.g. personality) and underestimating the role of situational factors (e.g. weather) on a persons behaviour.

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You learn something every day if you pay attention.
Ray LeBlond

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