Abstract principles

During the formal operational stage, adolescents are able to understand abstract principles which have no physical reference.


Expanding the framework of knowledge to accommodate a new situation.

Achievement tests

Used to measure what a child has already learned.


Pimples on the skin due to overactive sebaceous (oil-producing) glands.

Active euthanasia

Intentionally causing death, usually through a lethal dose of medication.

Active genotype-environment correlation

Occurs when individuals seek out environments that support their genetic tendencies.

Activity Theory

States that greater satisfaction with one’s life occurs with those who remain active.

Adaptive immune system

The adaptive immune system includes the tonsils, spleen, bone marrow, thymus, circulatory system and the lymphatic system that work to produce and transport T cells.

Advance directives

Include documents that mention a health care agent and living wills.

Advanced care planning

Refers to all documents that pertain to end-of-life care.

Advanced sleep phase syndrome

Similar to other adults, older adults need between 7 to 9 hours of sleep per night, but they tend to go to sleep earlier and get up earlier than those younger. This pattern is called advanced sleep phase syndrome.

Age of viability

The first chance of survival outside the womb, known as the age of viability, is reached at about 24 weeks.


A specific age group, such as toddler, adolescent, or senior.

Age-related macular degeneration

The loss of clarity in the center field of vision, due to the deterioration of the macula, the center of the retina.


Prejudice based on age.


Different versions of a gene.


A procedure in which a needle is used to withdraw a small amount of amniotic fluid and cells from the sac surrounding the fetus and later tested.

Analytic thought

Deliberate, conscious, and rational.

Analytical Intelligence

Refers to academic problem solving and performing calculations.


Refers to attributing life-like qualities to objects.


Total loss of smell.


A temporary lack of oxygen to the brain.

Anticipatory grief

Grief that occurs when a death is expected and survivors have time to prepare to some extent before the loss.


The process of programmed cell death.

Articulation disorder

Refers to the inability to correctly produce speech sounds (phonemes) because of imprecise placement, timing, pressure, speed, or flow of movement of the lips, tongue, or throat.


Refers to having no sexual attraction to any sex/gender.


Fitting the new information into an existing schema.


A buildup of fatty plaque in the arteries.


The close bond with a caregiver from which the infant derives a sense of security.

Attachment-related anxiety

Refers to the extent to which an adult worries about whether their partner really loves them.

Attachment-related avoidance

Refers to whether an adult can open up to others, and whether they trust and feel they can depend on others.

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

A child with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) shows a constant pattern of inattention and/or hyperactive and impulsive behavior that interferes with normal functioning.


What makes people like, and even love, each other.


Occurs when participants fail to complete all portions of a study.


The traditional model of parenting in which parents make the rules and children are expected to be obedient.


Authoritative parents are supportive and show interest in their kids’ activities, but are not overbearing and allow them to make constructive mistakes.

Autistic savants

People who score low on intelligence tests overall but who nevertheless may have exceptional skills in a given domain, such as math, music, art, or in being able to recite statistics in a given sport.

Autobiographical memory

Our personal narrative.


Intentional vocalizations that lack specific meaning and comprise a consonant-vowel repeated sequence, such as ma-ma-ma, da-da-da.

Basic emotions

Interest, happiness, anger, fear, surprise, sadness and disgust.

Behavioral Genetics

The scientific study of the interplay between the genetic and environmental contributions to behavior.


The period after a loss during which grief and mourning occurs.

Bicultural identity

The individual sees himself or herself as part of both the ethnic minority group and the larger society.


A technique where the individual is shown bodily information that is not normally available to them (e.g., heart rate), and then taught strategies to alter this signal.

Biological age

How quickly the body is aging.


Refers to attraction to any sex or gender.


Consists of both an inner and outer group of cells.

Body Mass Index (BMI)

Expresses the relationship of height to weight.

Boomerang kids

Young adults who are returning after having lived independently outside the home.

Broca’s area

An area in front of the left hemisphere near the motor cortex that is responsible for language production.


Unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance.


Refers to becoming disillusioned and frustrated at work.


The name given to a collection of related diseases in which the body’s cells begin to divide without stopping and spread into surrounding tissues.


Those who have inherited only one recessive-gene.

Case studies

Descriptive records of one or a small group of individuals’ experiences and behavior.


Clouding of the lens of the eye.

Categorical self

Focused on external qualities.

Cellular senescence

A cell turning itself off.

Central executive

Oversees working memory, allocating resources where needed and monitoring whether cognitive strategies are being effective.


Refers to focusing on only one characteristic of an object to the exclusion of others.


From head to tail.

Cephalocaudal development

Growth from head to tail.

Cesarean Section (C-section)

A Cesarean Section (C-section) is surgery to deliver the baby by being removed through the mother's abdomen.

Child Abuse and Neglect

Refers to any recent act or failure to act on the part of a parent or caretaker which results in death, serious physical or emotional harm, sexual abuse or exploitation; or an act or failure to act, which presents an imminent risk of serious harm.


A waxy fatty substance carried by lipoprotein molecules in the blood.

Chorionic Villus Sampling

A procedure in which a small sample of cells is taken from the placenta and tested.

Chromosomal abnormality

Occurs when a child inherits too many or two few chromosomes.

Chronic illnesses

Illnesses that are ongoing, generally incurable conditions that require continuing medical attention and affect daily life.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)

A progressive lung disease in which the airways become damaged making it difficult to breathe.

Chronological age

The number of years since your birth.


The historical context in which these experiences occur.


Refers to the surgical removal of the foreskin of the penis.


A disease in which the liver becomes scarred and does not function properly.


Individuals who identify with a role that corresponds to the sex assigned to them at birth (for example, they were born with male sex characteristics, were assigned as a boy, and identify today as a boy or man) are cisgender.


Refers to the midlife transition when fertility declines.


Groups of individuals who interact frequently.

Clustering rehearsal

In clustering rehearsal, we rehearses previous material while adding in additional information.

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)

To eliminate binge-eating and purging behaviors, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) assists sufferers by identifying distorted thinking patterns and changing inaccurate beliefs.

Cognitive domain

Encompasses the changes in intelligence, wisdom, perception, problem- solving, memory, and language.

Cognitive theories

Focus on how our mental processes or cognitions change over time.


A group of people who are born at roughly the same period in a particular society.

Cohort effect

Impact of having been born in a certain time-period.


The conscious decision to stay together.

Competent loners

Among divorcees, the competent loners are those who used their divorce experience to grow emotionally, but who choose to stay single.

Complicated grief

Includes atypical grief reactions.

Concrete Operational Stage

Involves mastering the use of logic in concrete ways.

Consensual validation

Having others like and believe in the same things we do makes us feel validated in our beliefs.


Refers to the ability to recognize that moving or rearranging matter does not change the quantity.

Contact comfort

The infant's need for physical closeness and touching.

Contextual information

The information surrounding language.

Continuous development

Assume development is a more slow and gradual process.

Conventional morality

Conventional morality is about people caring about the effect of their actions on others.

Convergent Thinking

Thinking that is directed toward finding the correct answer to a given problem.

Convoy Model of Social Relations

Suggests that the social connections that people accumulate differ in levels of closeness and are held together by exchanges in social support.


A one-syllable combination of a consonant and a vowel sound (e.g., coo or ba).

Corpus Callosum

A dense band of fibers that connects the two hemispheres of the brain.

Correlational research

Research designed to discover relationships among variables and to allow the prediction of future events from present knowledge.


The thin outer covering of the brain involved in voluntary activity and thinking.

Creative Intelligence

Refers to the ability to adapt to new situations and create new ideas.

Critical thinking

Refers to a detailed examination of beliefs, courses of action, and evidence.

Cross-sectional research

Compares samples that represent a cross-section of the population who vary in age.


Characterized more by shared reputations or images than actual interactions.

Crystallized intelligence

Refers to the accumulated knowledge of the world we have acquired throughout our lives.

Cultural relativity

An appreciation for cultural differences and the understanding that cultural practices are best understood from the standpoint of that particular culture.


The totality of our shared language, knowledge, material objects, and behavior.

Curative care

Designed to overcome and cure disease and illness.


A recent form of bullying that involves electronic technology.

Damage or Error Theories

Emphasize environmental factors that cause cumulative damage in organisms.


A procedure designed to fully explain the purposes and procedures of the research and remove any harmful aftereffects of participation.


Occurs whenever research participants are not completely and fully informed about the nature of the research project before participating in it.

Declarative memories

Sometimes referred to as explicit memories, they are memories for facts or events that we can consciously recollect.

Deductive reasoning

This type of reasoning starts with some overarching principle, and based on this proposes specific conclusions.

Deep structure

The deep structure of an idea refers to how the idea is represented in the fundamental universal grammar that is common to all languages.

Deferred Imitation

Refers to the imitation of actions after a time delay.

Delayed gratification

The ability to hold out for a larger reward by forgoing a smaller immediate reward.


Branching extensions that collect information from other neurons.

Dependent variable

In an experiment is a measured variable that is expected to be influenced by the experimental manipulation.

Descriptive research

Research that describes what is occurring at a particular point in time.

Developmental Psychology

Also known as Human Development or Lifespan Development, developmental psychology is the scientific study of ways in which people change, as well as stay the same, from conception to death.

Deviant peer contagion

The process by which peers reinforce problem behavior by laughing or showing other signs of approval that then increase the likelihood of future problem behavior.


A disease in which the body does not control the amount of glucose in the blood.

Dialectical thought

The ability to bring together salient aspects of two opposing viewpoints or positions.

Diastolic pressure

The pressure in the blood vessels when the heart is at rest.


Ideas are true or false; good or bad; and there is no middle ground.

Directed forgetting

In directed forgetting people are asked to forget or ignore some information, but not other information.

Disenfranchised grief

Grief that is not socially recognized.

Distalproximal development

Growth in adolescence proceeds from the extremities toward the torso.

Divergent Thinking

The ability to generate many different ideas or solutions to a single problem.

Divided attention

The ability to switch our focus between tasks or external stimuli is called divided attention or multitasking.


Two eggs or ova are released and fertilized by two separate sperm, resulting in dizygotic or fraternal twins.

Dominant genes

Express themselves in the phenotype even when paired with a different version of the gene


Involved in reward circuits.

Down syndrome

A chromosomal disorder caused by the presence of all or part of an extra 21st chromosome.

Dry eye syndrome

Occurs when the eye does not produce tears properly, or when the tears evaporate too quickly because they are not the correct consistency.

Durable power of attorney for health care

Durable power of attorney for health care names the person who should make health care decisions in the event that the patient is incapacitated.


Refers to problems in math.


A writing disability.


Involves having difficulty in the area of reading.


When preeclampsia causes seizures, the condition is known as eclampsia.

Ecological Systems Theory

Provides a framework for understanding and studying the many influences on human development

Ecotopic pregnancy

Occurs when a fertilized egg implants itself outside of the uterus.

Ectopic Pregnancy

Occurs when the zygote becomes attached to the fallopian tube before reaching the uterus.

Egocentric Speech

A practice engaged in because of a child’s inability to see things from another’s point of view.


Refers to the tendency of young children not to be able to take the perspective of others, and instead the child thinks that everyone sees, thinks, and feels just as they do.


Multi-cellular organism.

Embryonic disk

The inner group of cells, or embryonic disk, become the embryo.

Emotion-focused coping

Regulates the emotions that come with stress.

Emotional self-regulation

Refers to strategies we use to control our emotional states so that we can attain goals.

Empty nest

Refers to the time period when children are grown up and have left home.

Empty nest syndrome

Refers to great emotional distress experienced by parents, typically mothers, after children have left home.


The repeated passage of feces into inappropriate places (involuntary or intentional).


Rules of endogamy indicate the groups we should marry within and those we should not marry in.


Among divorcees, the enhancers are those who had used the experience to better themselves and seek more productive intimate relationships.


The repeated voiding of urine into bed or clothes (involuntary or intentional).

Epidural block

A regional analgesic that can be used during labor and alleviates most pain in the lower body without slowing labor.


Refers to how environmental factors are thought to change gene expression by switching genes on and off.


studies modifications in DNA that affect gene expression and are passed on when the cells divide.

Episodic memories

Tied to specific events in time.

Ethnic identity

Refers to how people come to terms with who they are based on their ethnic or racial ancestry.


The belief that our own culture is superior.


Intentionally ending one’s life when suffering from a terminal illness or severe disability.

Event-based prospective memories

Having to remember to do something when a certain event occurs.

Evocative genotype-environment correlation

Refers to how the social environment reacts to individuals based on their inherited characteristics.

Excitement phase

The phase in which the intrinsic (inner) motivation to pursue sex arises.

Executive function (EF)

Refers to self-regulatory processes, such as the ability to inhibit a behavior or cognitive flexibility, that enable adaptive responses to new situations or to reach a specific goal.


Includes the larger contexts of community.

Experimental research

Research in which a researcher manipulates one or more variables to see their effects.


Refers to specialized skills and knowledge that pertain to a particular topic or activity.

Extraneous variables

Variables that are not part of the experiment that could inadvertently effect either the experimental or control group, thus distorting the results.

Family capital

A form of power that can be used to improve a child's education.


Words are easily learned by making connections between new words and concepts already known.

Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASD)

An umbrella term for the range of effects that can occur due to alcohol consumption during pregnancy


From the ninth week until birth, the organism is referred to as a fetus.

Fine motor skills

Focus on the muscles in our fingers, toes, and eyes, and enable coordination of small actions (e.g., grasping a toy, writing with a pencil, and using a spoon).


Little spots or “cobwebs” that float around the field of vision.


The mental state of being completely present and fully absorbed in a task.

Fluency disorders

Affect the rate of speech.

Fluid intelligence

Refers to the capacity to learn new ways of solving problems and performing activities quickly and abstractly.

Flynn effect

Refers to the observation that scores on intelligence tests worldwide have increased substantially over the past decades.

Follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH)

Responsible for ovulation in females by triggering egg maturity; it also stimulates sperm production in males.

Free radicals

Free radicals are missing an electron and create instability in surrounding molecules by taking electrons from them.

Frontal lobe

Responsible primarily for thinking, planning, memory, and judgment.


Hard particles, including fatty materials, bile pigments, and calcium deposits, that can develop in the gallbladder.

Gamete intra-fallopian tube transfer (GIFT)

Involves implanting both sperm and ova into the fallopian tube and fertilization is allowed to occur naturally.


Post-divorce parents gatekeep, that is, they regulate the flow of information about their new romantic partner to their children.


Refers to social or cultural distinctions associated with a given sex.

Gender Dysphoria

Refers to the distress accompanying a mismatch between one’s gender identity and biological sex.

Gender Identity

Refers to the self-identification based on a continuum from male to female.

Gender role

Refers to society's concept of how men and women are expected to act and behave.

Gender Roles

The expectations associated with being male or female.

Gender Schemas

Our own conceptions of the attributes associated with maleness or femaleness.

General Adaptation Syndrome

A three-phase model of stress, which includes a mobilization of physiological resources phase, a coping phase, and an exhaustion phase (i.e., when an organism fails to cope with the stress adequately and depletes its resources).

General Intelligence Factor (g)

The construct that the different abilities and skills measured on intelligence tests have in common.


Encompasses procreativity, productivity, and creativity.


Recipes for making proteins.

Genetic counseling

A service that assists individuals identify, test for, and explain potential genetic conditions that could adversely affect themselves or their offspring.


The sum total of all the genes a person inherits.

Genotype-Environment Correlations

The processes by which genetic factors contribute to variations in the environment.

Genotype-Environment Interactions

Involve genetic susceptibility to the environment.


Refers to children who have an IQ of 130 or higher.

Glass ceiling

Refers to organizational discrimination in the workplace that limits the career advancement of women.


The loss of peripheral vision, frequently due to a buildup of fluid in eye that damages the optic nerve.


A caregiver's and child's styles match and communication and interaction can flow.

Gray Matter

Regions of the brain that contain the cell bodies.


The normal process of reacting to a loss. It can be in response to a physical loss, such as a death, or a social loss including a relationship or job.

Gross motor skills

Focus on large muscle groups that control our head, torso, arms and legs and involve larger movements (e.g., balancing, running, and jumping).

Habituation Procedures

Measuring decreased responsiveness to a stimulus after repeated presentations.


The United States is heteronormative, meaning that society supports heterosexuality as the norm.


Attraction to individuals of the opposite sex/gender.

Holophrasic Speech

One word expressions.


Refers to marriage between people who share social characteristics.


Adolescents who are similar to one another choose to spend time together in a “birds of a feather flock together” way.


Encompasses a range of negative attitudes and feelings toward homosexuality or people who are identified or perceived as being lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).


Attraction to individuals of one's own sex/gender.


Involve uncommitted sexual encounters.

Hormonal Stress Theory or Neuroendocrine Theory of Aging

Suggests that as we age the ability of the hypothalamus to regulate hormones in the body begins to decline leading to metabolic problems

Hospice care

Whether at home, in a hospital, nursing home, or hospice facility involves a team of professionals and volunteers who provide terminally ill patients with medical, psychological, and spiritual support, along with support for their families.

Hot flash

A surge of adrenaline that can awaken the brain from sleep.

Human sexuality

Refers to people's sexual interest in and attraction to others, as well as their capacity to have erotic experiences and responses.


A condition in which the pressure against the wall of the arteries becomes too high.


The small area at the base of the brain consisting of several groups of nerve-cell bodies that receives input from the limbic system.


Specific statements about the relationship between variables.

Hypothetical-deductive reasoning

Developing hypotheses based on what might logically occur.

Identity achievement

Identity achievement refers to those who after exploration have made a commitment.

Identity diffusion

A status that characterizes those who have neither explored the options, nor made a commitment to an identity.

Identity foreclosure

Those in identity foreclosure have made a commitment to an identity without having explored the options.

Identity moratorium

A status that describes those who are activity exploring in an attempt to establish an identity, but have yet to have made any commitment.

Imaginary audience

The adolescent’s belief that those around them are as concerned and focused on their appearance as they themselves are.

In vitro fertilization (IVF)

A procedure that involves removing eggs from the female and fertilizing the eggs outside the woman’s body.


Refers to sexual contact between a child and family members.

Incomplete dominance

The dominant gene does not completely suppress the recessive gene.

Independent variable

In an experiment, is the causing variable that is created or manipulated by the experimenter.

Induced Birth

Delivered before labor begins.

Inductive Reasoning

A logical process in which multiple premises believed to be true are combined to obtain a specific conclusion.

Infant-directed Speech

Involves exaggerating the vowel and consonant sounds, using a high-pitched voice, and delivering the phrase with great facial expression.

Infantile amnesia

Refers to the inability to recall memories from the first few years of life.

Information Processing

Based on the ideas and research of several cognitive scientists studying how individuals perceive, analyze, manipulate, use, and remember information.

Informed consent

Explains as much as possible about the true nature of the study, particularly everything that might be expected to influence willingness to participate.

Inhibition theory

Argues that older adults have difficulty with inhibitory functioning, or the ability to focus on certain information while suppressing attention to less pertinent information tasks.

Innate immune system

The innate immune system is made up of the skin, mucous membranes, cough reflex, stomach acid, and specialized cells that alert the body of an impending threat.


Having trouble falling asleep and staying asleep.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ)

A measure of intelligence that is adjusted for age.


Involves being directly questioned by a researcher.


Involves the ability the share feelings, personal thoughts and psychological closeness with the other.


Thinking about one’s thoughts.

Intuitive thought

Automatic, unconscious, and fast.

Intuitive Thought Substage

Lasting from 4 to 7 years, this substage is marked by greater dependence on intuitive thinking rather than just perception.


A person or persons who keep the family connected and who promote solidarity and continuity in the family.

Klinefelter Syndrome (XXY)

Results when an extra X chromosome is present in the cells of a male.

Knowledge base

Refers to knowledge in particular areas that makes learning new information easier.


A form of severe protein malnutrition.


As bones weaken in the spine, adults gradually lose height and their posture becomes hunched over, which is called kyphosis.

Laboratory observation

Conducted in a setting created by the researcher.


A system of communication that uses symbols in a regular way to create meaning.


The process in which different functions become localized primarily on one side of the brain.

Learning Disability

A specific impairment of academic learning that interferes with a specific aspect of schoolwork and that reduces a student's academic performance significantly.

Learning Theory

Also known as Behaviorism, is based on the premise that it is not possible to objectively study the mind, and therefore psychologists should limit their attention to the study of behavior itself.


Time off from work and duties.


Sexual motivation, often referred to as libido, is a person's overall sexual drive or desire for sexual activity.

Life expectancy

The predicted number of years a person born in a particular time period can reasonably expect to live.


The length of time a species can exist under the most optimal conditions.

Limbic system

Regulates emotion and reward.

Linked lives

The notion that people in important relationships, such as children and parents, mutually influence each other’s developmental pathways.

Living wills

Written or video statements that outline the health care initiates the person wishes under certain circumstances.

Longitudinal research

Involves studying a group of people who are the same age, and measuring them repeatedly over a period-of-time.

Loss orientation

Emphasizes the feelings of loss and yearning for the deceased.

Low birth weight

A child is considered low birth weight if he or she weighs less than 5 pounds 8 ounces.

Luteinizing hormone (LH)

Triggers the release of a mature egg in females during the process of ovulation.


Includes the cultural elements, such as global economic conditions, war, technological trends, values, philosophies, and a society’s responses to the global community.

Major Neurocognitive Disorder

Diagnosed as a significant cognitive decline from a previous level of performance in one or more cognitive domains and interferes with independent functioning.

MAMA cycling

Moving back and forth between moratorium and achievement.


Infantile marasmus refers to starvation due to a lack of calories and protein.

Maternal immune hypothesis

Proposes a progressive immunization to male-specific antigens after the birth of successive sons in some mothers, which increases the effect of anti-male antibodies on the sexual differentiation of the brain in the developing fetus.

Maudsley Approach

The Maudsley Approach has parents of adolescents with anorexia nervosa be actively involved their child’s treatment, such as assuming responsibility for feeding the child.

Mechanics of intelligence

Are dependent on brain functioning and decline with age, similar to fluid intelligence.

Mediation deficiency

Occurs when a child does not grasp the strategy being taught, and thus, does not benefit from its use.

Medical orders

Medical orders are crafted by a medical professional on behalf of a seriously ill patient.


The gamete’s chromosomes duplicate, and then divide twice resulting in four cells containing only half the genetic material of the original gamete.


The first menstrual period.


Defined as 12 months without menstruation.

Mental age

The age at which a person is performing intellectually.

Mere exposure

The tendency to prefer stimuli (including, but not limited to people) that we have seen more frequently.


Includes the larger organizational structures, such as school, the family, or religion.

Metabolic stress

The life sustaining activities of the body, such as circulating the blood, eliminating waste, controlling body temperature, and neuronal firing in the brain.

Metabolic Syndrome

A cluster of several cardiometabolic risk factors, including large waist circumference, high blood pressure, and elevated triglycerides, LDL, and blood glucose levels, which can lead to diabetes and heart disease.


The process by which the body converts food and drink into energy.


Refers to the knowledge we have about our own thinking and our ability to use this awareness to regulate our own cognitive processes.


Includes the individual’s setting and those who have direct, significant contact with the person, such as parents or siblings.

Minor Neurocognitive Disorder

Diagnosed as a modest cognitive decline from a previous level of performance in one of more cognitive domains and does not interfere with independent functioning.


A cell organelle that uses oxygen to produce energy from food.


The cell’s nucleus making an exact copy of all the chromosomes and splitting into two new cells.


Monozygotic or identical twins occur when a fertilized egg splits apart in the first two weeks of development.


A string of one or more phonemes that makes up the smallest units of meaning in a language.

Motor skills

Refer to our ability to move our bodies and manipulate objects.


The process by which people adapt to a loss.


Whose parents come from two or more ethnic or racial groups.


A coating of fatty tissues around the axon of the neuron.

Naturalistic observation

Psychologists observe and record behavior that occurs in everyday settings.


Heredity plays the most important role in bringing about that feature.


Refers to being neither employed nor in education or training.

Negative correlation

Occurs when high values for one variable tend to be associated with low values for the other variable.


Theorists who provide “new” interpretations of Piaget’s theory.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome

If a baby’s mother used an addictive drug during pregnancy that baby can get addicted to the drug before birth and go through drug withdrawal after birth, also known as Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome.


The formation of neurons.


Refers to the brain’s ability to change, both physically and chemically, to enhance its adaptability to environmental change and compensate for injury.

Non-declarative memories

Sometimes referred to as implicit memories, they are typically automated skills that do not require conscious recollection.

Non-organic failure to thrive

The diagnosis for an infant who does not grow, develop, or gain weight on schedule.

Normal Distribution (or bell curve)

The pattern of scores usually observed in a variable that clusters around its average.


Someone who has limited experiences with a particular task.


One's environment is most significant in shaping the way we are.


Children who are at or above the 95th percentile are considered obese.

Object permanence

The understanding that even if something is out of sight, it still exists.


The lack of recognition from parents that children are overweight or obese.

Occipital lobe

is at the very back of the skull and processes visual information.

Occupational sexism

Involves discriminatory practices, statements, or actions, based on a person's sex, that occur in the workplace.


Refers to logical manipulation of information.


The release of tension.


A disease that thins and weakens bones to the point that they become fragile and break easily.


Believing that a label applies to all objects that are similar to the original object.


Children’s whose BMI is at or above the 85th percentile for their age are considered overweight.


Facilitates bonding and makes social connections more rewarding.

Palliative care

Focuses on providing comfort and relief from physical and emotional pain to patients throughout their illness, even while being treated.

Palmer Grasp

At about 4 months of age grasping an object involves the use of the fingers and palm, but no thumbs. This is known as the Palmer Grasp.


Refers to attraction to all sexes/genders.

Parietal lobe

Extends from the middle to the back of the skull and which is responsible primarily for processing information about touch.

Parkinson’s disease

Characterized by motor tremors, loss of balance, poor coordination, rigidity, and difficulty moving.


Refers to the intense, physical attraction partners feel toward one another.

Passive euthanasia

Occurs when life-sustaining support is withdrawn.

Passive genotype-environment correlation

Occurs when children passively inherit the genes and the environments their family provides.

Pearson Correlation Coefficient

Symbolized by the letter r, is the most common statistical measure of the strength of linear relationships among variables.

Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID)

An infection of a woman’s reproductive organs.


Refers to a period of transition in which a woman's ovaries stop releasing eggs and the level of estrogen and progesterone production decreases.

Periodic limb movement disorder

Causes people to jerk and kick their legs every 20 to 40 seconds during sleep.


Permissive parenting involves holding expectations of children that are below what could be reasonably expected from them.

Personal fable

The belief that one is unique, special, and invulnerable to harm.


Refers to an individual’s consistent pattern of feeling, thinking, and behaving.


The features that are actually expressed.


The smallest unit of sound that makes a meaningful difference in a language.

Phonological loop

Maintains information about auditory stimuli.

Physical domain

Includes changes in height and weight, sensory capabilities, the nervous system, as well as the propensity for disease and illness.

Physician-assisted suicide

A form of active euthanasia whereby a physician prescribes the means by which a person can die.

Pincer Grasp

The use of the thumb comes at about 9 months of age when the infant is able to grasp an object using the forefinger and thumb. Now the infant uses a Pincer Grasp.


A structure connected to the uterus that provides nourishment and oxygen from the mother to the developing embryo via the umbilical cord.

Placenta abruption

Occurs when a placenta separates prematurely from the uterine wall.

Placenta previa

Occurs when a placenta lies low in the uterus and covers all or part of the cervix.


Our ability to change and that many of our characteristics are malleable.

Plateau phase

The period of sexual excitement with increased heart rate and circulation that sets the stage for orgasm.

Plus 50 Initiative

Assists community college in creating or expanding programs that focus on workforce training and new careers for the plus-50 population.


The result of several genes.


Refers to attraction to multiple sexes/genders, respectively.


All the people that the researcher wishes to know about.

Positive correlation

When the straight line indicates that individuals who have high values for one variable also tend to have high values for the other variable.

Postconventional moral development

Goes beyond convention or what other people think to a higher, universal ethical principle of conduct that may or may not be reflected in the law.

Postformal Thought

Adults are not as influenced by what others think: this advanced type of thinking is referred to as Postformal Thought.

Practical Intelligence

Refers to the ability to demonstrate common sense and street-smarts.

Practice effects

Occur when participants become better at a task over time because they have done it again and again; not due to natural psychological development.


How we communicate effectively and appropriately with others.

Pragmatics of intelligence

Cultural exposure to facts and procedures that are maintained as one ages and are similar to crystalized intelligence.

Preconventional morality

Focuses on self-interest.


Also known as Toxemia, preeclampsia is characterized by a sharp rise in blood pressure, a leakage of protein into the urine as a result of kidney problems, and swelling of the hands, feet, and face during the third trimester of pregnancy.


The belief that a tiny, fully formed human is implanted in the sperm or egg at conception and then grows in size until birth.

Prefrontal cortex

Involved in the control of impulses, organization, planning, and making good decisions.

Preoperational Stage

In the preoperational stage, children use symbols to represent words, images, and ideas, which is why children in this stage engage in pretend play.


A common form of hearing loss in late adulthood that results in a gradual loss of hearing.


A loss of smell due to aging.


A baby born at less than 37 weeks gestation.

Primary aging

Biological factors, such as molecular and cellular changes, and oxidative damage are called primary aging.

Primary sexual characteristics

Changes in the reproductive organs.


Changes in behavior as a result of frequent or recent experiences.

Private Speech

Inner speech.

Problem-focused coping

Problem-focused coping is thought of as actively addressing the event that is causing stress in an effort to solve the issue at hand.

Processing speed theory

Suggests that as the nervous system slows with advanced age our ability to process information declines.

Production deficiency

In a production deficiency the child does not spontaneously use a memory strategy, and has to be prompted to do so.

Programmed Theories

Follow a biological timetable, possibly a continuation of childhood development.

Prospective memory

Refers to remembering things we need to do in the future.


The extent to which people are physically near us.


From the midline outward.

Proximodistal development

Growth from the midline outward.

Psychological age

Our psychologically adaptive capacity compared to others of our chronological age.

Psychological moratorium

During adolescence we experience psychological moratorium, where teens put on hold commitment to an identity while exploring the options.

Psychophysiological Assessment

Researchers may record psychophysiological data, such as measures of heart rate, hormone levels, or brain activity to help explain development.

Psychosocial crises

Each period of life has a unique challenge or crisis that the person who reaches it must face.

Psychosocial domain

Focuses on changes in emotion, self- perception and interpersonal relationships with families, peers, and friends.


A period of rapid growth and sexual maturation.

Q-sort technique

A large number of behaviors are recorded on cards and the observer sorts the cards in a way that reflects the type of behavior that occurs within the situation.

Rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder

Occurs when one’s muscles can move during REM sleep and sleep is disrupted.

Reactive Attachment Disorder

Those children experiencing neglectful situations and also displaying markedly disturbed and developmentally inappropriate attachment behavior, such as being inhibited and withdrawn, minimal social and emotional responsiveness to others, and limited positive affect, may be diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder.

Receptive language

When an infant understands more than he or she can say.

Recessive genes

Express themselves only when paired with a similar version gene.

Reciprocal determinism

There is interplay between our personality and the way we interpret events and how they influence us.


Involuntary movements in response to stimulation.


Consistent over time.


Refers to engaging with a formal religious group’s doctrines, values, traditions, and co-members.

Representative sample

Would include the same percentages of males, females, age groups, ethnic groups, and socio-economic groups as the larger population.

Research design

The specific method a researcher uses to collect, analyze, and interpret data.


Being able to overcome challenges and successfully adapt.

Resolution period

The unaroused state before the cycle begins again.

Respiratory distress syndrome

Characterized by weak and irregular breathing.

Response inhibition

The ability to stop a behavior that has already begun.

Response initiation

The ability to not initiate a behavior before you have evaluated all of the information.

Restless legs syndrome

Feels like there is tingling, crawling, or pins and needles in one or both legs, and this feeling is worse at night.

Restoration orientation

Centers on the grieving individual reestablishing roles and activities they had prior to the death of their loved one.

Rh disease

A form of anemia.

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA)

An inflammatory disease that causes pain, swelling, stiffness, and loss of function in the joints.


The people chosen to participate in the research.

Sandwich generation

Refers to adults who have at least one parent age 65 or older and are either raising their own children or providing support for their grown children.


The loss of muscle mass and strength that occurs with aging.


The temporary support that parents or teachers give a child to do a task.

Scaffolding Theory of Aging and Cognition

States that the brain adapts to neural atrophy (dying of brain cells) by building alternative connections, referred to as scaffolding.


A framework for organizing information.

Scotopic sensitivity

The ability to see in dimmer light.

Secondary aging

Aging that occurs due to controllable factors, such as an unhealthy lifestyle including lack of physical exercise and poor diet.

Secondary sexual characteristics

Visible physical changes not directly linked to reproduction, but signal sexual maturity.

Secondary/Content Analysis

Involves analyzing information that has already been collected or examining documents or media to uncover attitudes, practices or preferences.

Secure base

A parental presence that gives the child a sense of safety as the child explores the surroundings.

Selective attention

Refers to our ability to focus on a single task or stimulus, while ignoring distracting information.

Selective optimization with compensation

Used when the elder makes adjustments, as needed, in order to continue living as independently and actively as possible.


The realization that you are separate from others.


Our self-description according to various categories, such as our external and internal qualities.

Self-conscious emotions

Envy, pride, shame, guilt, doubt, and embarrassment.


The tendency to communicate frequently, without fear of reprisal, and in an accepting and empathetic manner.


Refers to the belief that you are capable of carrying out a specific task or of reaching a specific goal.


An evaluative judgment about who we are.

Self-fulfilling prophecy

Refers to the tendency to act in such a way as to make what you predict will happen, will come true.


The ability to control impulses.

Semantic memories

Memories for facts and knowledge that are not tied to a timeline.


Refers to the set of rules we use to obtain meaning from morphemes.

Sensorimotor Period

The first stage of cognitive development.

Sensory memory

Also called the sensory register, it is the first stage of the memory system, and it stores sensory input in its raw form for a very brief duration; essentially long enough for the brain to register and start processing the information.

Separation anxiety

Fearing the departure of significant others.

Sequential research

Includes elements of both longitudinal and cross-sectional research designs.


Refers to physical or physiological differences between males, females, and intersex persons, including both their primary and secondary sex characteristics.


The defective gene is found on the X-chromosome.

Sexism or gender discrimination

Prejudice or discrimination based on a person's sex or gender.

Sexual abuse

Childhood sexual abuse is defined as any sexual contact between a child and an adult or a much older child.

Sexual orientation

A person's emotional and sexual attraction to a particular sex or gender.

Sexual response cycle

A model that describes the physiological responses that take place during sexual activity.

Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Illnesses that have a significant probability of transmission by means of sexual behavior, including vaginal intercourse, anal sex, and oral sex.


A disease that affects your nerves.

Sleep apnea

Refers to repeated short pauses in breathing, while an individual sleeps, that can lead to reduced oxygen in the blood.


Infants that have birth weights that are below expectation based on their gestational age.

Social age

Based on the social norms of our culture and the expectations our culture has for people of our age group.

Social death

Occurs when others begin to dehumanize and withdraw from someone who is terminally ill or has been diagnosed with a terminal illness.

Social desirability

Respondents may lie because they want to present themselves in the most favorable light.

Social integration

A concept used to describe the number of social roles that you have.

Social Learning Theory

States that our actions are learned by watching others.

Social referencing

Refers to the process whereby infants seek out information from others to clarify a situation and then use that information to act.

Sociocultural theory

Emphasizes the importance of culture and interaction in the development of cognitive abilities.

Socioeconomic status (SES)

A way to identify families and households based on their shared levels of education, income, and occupation.

Socioemotional Selectivity Theory

Focuses on changes in motivation for actively seeking social contact with others.

Sociometric assessment

Measures attraction between members of a group.

Specific Intelligence (s)

A measure of specific skills in narrow domains.


First ejaculation of semen.


Refers to an individual’s intrapsychic sense of connection with something transcendent (that which exists apart from an not limited by the material universe) and the subsequent feelings of awe, gratitude, compassion, and forgiveness.

Stage theories or discontinuous development

Assume that developmental change often occurs in distinct stages that are qualitatively different from each other, and in a set, universal sequence.


The standardization of a test involves giving it to a large number of people at different ages and computing the average score on the test at each age level.

Status dropout rate

Refers to the percentage of 16 to 24 year-olds who are not enrolled in school and do not have high school credentials.

Stereotype threat

Being the target of stereotypes can adversely affect individuals’ performance on tasks because they worry they will confirm the cultural stereotypes. This is known as stereotype threat.

Stranger Anxiety

A fear of unfamiliar people.

Stranger wariness

Fearing the presence of a stranger.


Pattern of physical and psychological responses in an organism after it perceives a a threatening event that disturbs its homeostasis and taxes its abilities to cope with the event.


A stimulus that had this effect on the body (that is, causing stress).


A speech disorder in which sounds, syllables, or words are repeated or last longer than normal.

Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)

Identified when the death of a healthy infant occurs suddenly and unexpectedly, and medical and forensic investigation findings (including an autopsy) are inconclusive.

Surface structure

The surface structure of an idea refers to how the idea is expressed in any one language.


A measure administered through either a verbal or written questionnaire to get a picture of the beliefs or behaviors of a sample of people of interest.

Sustained attention

The ability to stay on task for long periods of time.

Symbolic Function Substage

Occurs between 2 and 4 years of age and is characterized by the child being able to mentally represent an object that is not present and a dependence on perception in problem solving.

Synaptic Blooming

Period of rapid neural growth.

Synaptic Pruning

Neural connections are reduced thereby making those that are used much stronger.


The formation of connections between neurons.


The set of rules of a language by which we construct sentences.

Systolic pressure

The pressure in the blood vessels when the heart beats.

Tabula Rosa

Blank slate.

Tacit knowledge

Knowledge that is pragmatic or practical and learned through experience rather than explicitly taught.

Telegraphic Speech/Text Message Speech

Occurs when unnecessary words are not used.


At the end of each chromosomal strand is a sequence of DNA that does not code for any particular protein, but protects the rest of the chromosome, which is called a telomere.


The innate characteristics of the infant, including mood, activity level, and emotional reactivity, noticeable soon after birth.

Temporal lobe

The temporal lobe is between the ears and responsible for hearing and language.


Environmental factors that can contribute to birth defects, including some maternal diseases, pollutants, drugs and alcohol.


The study of factors that contribute to birth defects.

The Lamaze Method

The emphasis of this method is on teaching the woman to be in control in the process of delivery.

The Strange Situation Technique

Conducted in a context that is unfamiliar to the child and therefore likely to heighten the child’s need for his or her parent.

Theory of mind

Refers to the ability to think about other people’s thoughts.


The tendency of children to generate theories to explain everything they encounter.

Third variable

A variable that is not part of the research hypothesis but produces the observed correlation between them.

Time-based prospective memories

Having to remember to do something at a future time.


A ringing, hissing, or roaring sound in the ears.

Tip-of-the-tongue (TOT)

Experiencing tip-of-the-tongue (TOT) events refers to experiencing “blocks” at retrieving information that we know.


Children's reasoning is typically Transductive, that is, making faulty inferences from one specific example to another.


Those who identify with a role that is different from their biological sex (for example, they were born with male sex characteristics, were assigned as a boy, but identify today as a girl, woman, or some other gender altogether) are often referred to as transgender.


The concept of transitivity means that relationship between two elements is carried over to other elements logically related to the first two, such as if A<B and B<C, then A<C.


The practice of dressing and acting in a style or manner traditionally associated with another sex.

Triarchic Theory of Intelligence

Proposes that people may display more or less analytical intelligence, creative intelligence, and practical intelligence.

Trisomy 21 or Down Syndrome

Occurs when there are three rather than two 21st chromosomes.


The outer group of cells, or trophoblast, becomes the support system which nourishes the developing organism.

Turner Syndrome

Occurs when part or all of one of the X chromosomes is lost and the resulting zygote has an XO composition.


A modern umbrella term used by some indigenous North Americans to describe gender-variant individuals in their communities.


Believing that a word can be used for only a particular object.


Uninvolved parents are disengaged from their children. They do not make demands on their children and are non-responsive.

Utilization deficiency

Refers to a child using an appropriate strategy, but it fails to aid their performance.


Measures what it is supposed to measure rather than something else.


Anything that changes in value.

Visuospatial sketchpad

Maintains information about visual stimuli.

Voice disorders

Involve problems with pitch, loudness, and quality of the voice.

Wechsler Adult lntelligence Scale (WAIS)

The most widely used intelligence test for adults.

Wernicke’s area

An area of the brain next to the auditory cortex that is responsible for language comprehension.

White Matter

The axons that form the neural pathways.

Widowhood mortality effect

Refers to the higher risk of death after the death of a spouse.


The ability to use the accumulated knowledge about practical matters that allows for sound judgment and decision making.

Working memory

The second stage of the memory system.

Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)

Occurs when children can almost perform a task, but not quite on their own without assistance.


a cell containing the combined genetic information from both parents.

Zygote intra-fallopian tube transfer (ZIFT)

A procedure in which sperm and ova are fertilized outside of the woman’s body and the fertilized egg or zygote is then implanted in the fallopian tube.


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Lifespan Development - A Psychological Perspective by Martha Lally and Suzanne Valentine-French is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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