AP Psychology Review
Created by David Silverman
BELOW. In addition, I would also recommend that you take the Barron’s
practice exams in the back of your book. The Barron’s with the CD also
contains additional practice exams. The more practice the better!
The 1999 and 1994 AP Psychology Exams
Every FRQ (and rubrics with explanations) given since 2003. YOU SHOULD PRACTICE
The resources I posted on the school website are INVALUABLE! Please
refer to them as well as the powerpoints I created for the last three chapters.
Research Methods
Basic vs Applied Research
Basic research
Basic research explores questions
that are of interest to
psychologists but are not intended
to have immediate, real-world
Applied research
Applied research is conducted in
order to solve practical problems.
Hypotheses and Variables
A hypothesis expresses a relationship between two variables.
Variables are things that can change among the participants in the research.
EX- Religion, stress level, and height are variables.
The dependent variable depends on the independent variable.
A change in the independent variable will produce a change in the dependent
In testing a hypothesis, researchers manipulate the independent variable and
measure the dependent variable.
A theory tries to explain something and allows researchers to come up with
testable hypotheses to try to collect data that support the theory.
Researchers have to both name the variables they will study and provide
operational definitions of them.
When you operationalize a variable, you explain how you will measure it.
The goal in selecting a sample is that it is representative of a larger
The definition of random selection is that every member of the population
has an equal chance of being selected.
Stratified sampling allows a researcher to make sure that the sample
represents the population on some criteria.
EX- A researcher making sure that a study sample represents each race in the same
proportion that it appears in the overall population.
Experimental Method
An experiment lets the researcher manipulate the independent variable and
control for confounding variables.
A confounding variable is any difference between the experimental and control
conditions (except for the independent variable) that could affect the dependent
Assignment is the process by which participants are put into an experimental
or control group. Random assignment means that each participant has an
equal chance of being placed into any group.
Situation-relevant confounding variables can also affect an experiment. The
situations into which the different groups are put must also be equivalent,
except for the differences caused by the independent variable.
Making the environments into which the two groups are placed as similar as
possible controls for situation-relevant confounding variables.
Experimenter bias is an unconscious tendency for researchers to treat
members of the experimental and control groups differently to
increase the chance of confirming their hypothesis.
This can be eliminated by using a double-blind procedure. A
double blind occurs when neither the participants or the
researcher know the results.
Experiments usually involve at least one experimental group and a
control group. The experimental group is the one that gets the
treatment (the independent variable). The control group is isolated.
Even selecting the group of people to experiment on can affect the
performance of that group. This finding is known as the Hawthorne
Correlational Method
A correlation expresses a relationship between two variables without
explaining the cause. Correlations can be either positive or negative.
A positive correlation between two things means that the presence of one thing
predicts the presence of the other.
A negative correlation means that the presence of one thing predicts the absence
of the other.
Correlation does not imply causation.
Naturalistic Observation and Case
Naturalistic Observation
This implies observing their participants in their natural habitats without
interacting with them at all. A study outside of a lab.
The goal of naturalistic observation is to get a realistic picture of the subjects
behavior so control is sacrificed.
Case Studies
The case study method is used to get a full detailed picture of the participants.
Clinical psychologists often use case studies to present information about a person
suffering from a particular disorder.
The focus on a single individual or small group means that the findings cannot be
generalized to a larger population.
Descriptive Statistics
Descriptive statistics describe a set of data.
If you are researching what kinds of pets your schoolmates have, you could
show that data by creating a frequency distribution that would tell you how
many students had dogs, cats, pigs, etc
Frequency distributions can be turned into line graphs called frequency
polygons or bar graphs known as histograms.
The y-axis (vertical) always represents frequency, while whatever you are graphing
(pets) is graphed along the x-axis (horizontal).
Measures of central tendency try to
show the center of a distribution
The mean is the average of all the scores in a distribution.
To calculate the mean, you add up all the scores in the distribution and divide
by the total number of scores.
The median is the central score in the distribution.
To find the median of a distribution, write the scores down in ascending (or
descending) order. If there are an odd number of scores the mean is the
middle one.
If the distribution contains an even number of scores, the median is the
average of the middle two scores.
The mode is the score that appears most frequently.
If two scores appear equally frequently than any other score the
distribution is bimodal.
Distribution Graphs
When a distribution includes an extreme score (or group of scores) that is
very high the distribution is positively skewed. When the skew is caused by a
low score (or group of scores), the distribution is negatively skewed.
A, symmetrical distribution; B, positively skewed distribution; C, negatively
skewed distribution.
Measuring Distribution
Measures of variability try to show the diversity of the distribution.
The range is the distance between the highest and lowest score in a
The variance and standard deviation are closely related; standard deviation is
just the square root of the variance.
Both measures essentially relate the average distance of any score from the mean.
The higher the variance and standard deviation, the more spread out the
Z scores measure the distance of a score from the mean in units of standard
deviation. Scores below the mean have negative z scores, while scores above the
mean have positive z scores (page 64 in Barron’s).
Approximately 68 percent of scores in a normal distribution fall within one standard
deviation of the mean, approximately 95 percent of scores fall within two standard
deviations of the mean, and almost 99 percent of scores fall within three standard
deviations of the mean.
A correlation measures the relationship between two variables
A positive correlation= the presence of one thing predicts the presence of
the other. This is graphed by a line sloping upward from left to right.
A negative correlation= the presence of one thing predicts the absence of
the other. This is graphed by a line sloping downward from left to right.
When no relationship exists between two things, no correlation exists.
The strength of a correlation can be determined by a statistic called the
correlation coefficient. Correlation coefficients range from −1 and +1 where
−1 is a perfect, negative correlation and +1 is a perfect, positive correlation.
The number 0 denotes the weakest possible correlation—no correlation—
which means that knowing something about one variable tells you nothing
about the other.
A correlation may be graphed using a scatter plot. A scatter plot graphs pairs of
values, one on the y-axis and one on the x-axis. Using various points to create a
general line. EX below: number of hours of study per week could be plotted on
the x-axis while GPAs could be plotted on the y-axis.
Inferential Statistics
The purpose of inferential statistics is to determine whether or not findings
can be applied to the larger population from where the sample was selected.
How much a sample differs from the population is the sampling error.
Some of the inferential statistical tests are t-tests, chi square tests, and
They all take into account both the magnitude of the difference found
and the size of the sample. All these tests are indicated by a “p value”.
The smaller the p value, the more significant the results.
A p value of .05 is the cutoff for statistically significant results. A p value
of .05 means that a 5 percent chance exists that the results occurred by
A p value can never equal 0 because we can never be 100 percent certain
that results did not happen due to chance.
Sensation and Perception
Sensation and Perception
Sensation- How are sensory receptors and nervous system receive information
(stimulus) from the environment
Perception- The process of organizing and interpreting sensory information to
recognize meaningful objects and events
Bottom Up Processing
You notice something (your senses) and then you focus on it, access your memory that is
related to it and fully process. Start by examining small details and putting them into a
bigger picture
Top Down Processing
Opposite. See the total picture first, then your senses see the smaller details
Types of Thresholds
Absolute Threshold
The minimum amount of stimulation for an organism to detect 50% of time
Difference Threshold
EX: When kids focusing on tv, they can’t always hear parents on the fist few attempts. However
if the kids hear something that is more interesting than what they are viewing, they will
“magically “ hear it, (like who wants Ice cream?)
The minimum difference that a person can detect between2 stimulus required for
detection 50% of the time EX: HD vs SD TV options
Sensation Threshold- 2 stimulus must be different by a constant minimum
Sensory Adaptation
You eat something hot or spicy, at first it is overwhelming but then it doesn’t feel as strong
Weber’s law
To perceive a difference between 2 stimuli they must differ by a constant percentage, not a
constant amount
Quarters shoes and envelopes example
Signal Detection Theory
How and when we detect the presence of a faint stimulus amid background stimulation
Based on experience, fatigue level, expectations
Subliminal Stimulation
Focus of conscious awareness on a particular stimulus
Cocktail Party Effect
Below your level of awareness
Selective attention
Charlie Brown and Lucy (football) he never figures it out so his signal detection is weak
The ability to listen to one person among many people talking
Sensory Adaptation
Diminished sensitivity due to constant stimulation
We don’t detect things we see all the time- Only drastic changes we are not used to
We see the world as it is useful to us, not as it really is
WAVELENGTHS-One peak of one light wave to the next peak
Hue- color- Short and long wavelengths change the hue (color) we see
The rainbow displays the color hues in order from longest light waves to shortest
waves. Roy.G.Biv
All of the colorwaves together = white light (sunlight)
Short wavelengths= high frequency, bluish colors, and high pitched sounds
Long wavelengths= low frequency, reddish colors, and low pitched sounds
Light wavelengths that are LONGER than visible light are infrared waves, microwaves, radio
waves. We can’t see these.
Intensity- correlates with the brightness of the colors we see
The higher the wave the more intense (bright) the color is
Saturation- by seeing differences in purity of light waves, we can see different shades of
color. How deep the color looks.
Vision- The Process
STEP ONE: Gathering Light- Light reflects off of objects and is gathered by the eye. How we see color depends on light
intensity (how much energy the light contains) and light wavelength (which affects the hue).
STEP TWO: Within the Eye- Light enters through our cornea (our protective covering that helps focus light).
Dialate- The pupil acts like a camera-is opened and closed by the muscles (iris). Opens to let light in and closes when less light is
Accommodation- The process of light entering through the pupil and being focused by the curved lens. Our eyes ability to focus, change
size, and change depending on what we look at.
Lens- changes shape to focus images onto the retina. It is a flipped image (your brain translates it correctly)
Retina- Contains sensory receptors
Optic Nerve- passes information from the eye to the brain
STEP THREE: how light we sense is turned into the ability of our brain to perceive it
Transduction- the transfer of one form of energy to another
Light energy is transformed into electrical or neural energy that our brain interprets as light
Light activates lights in retina.
Cones- first layer of cells activated by and detect color, daylight, and well lit conditions. concentrated close to the retina.
Rods- cells that are activated by and detect black, white, gray, twilight and low light. We have more Rods (120 million) than Cones (6-7million) and they are
Blindspot- the area where we have no cones/rods
Fovea- Center of the retina with the most cones.
If enough Cones/Rods are activated-Bi-polar cells (which transmit messages to the ganglion cells) the next layer is activated (the ganglion
cells). These cells send impulses to the LGN (lateral geniculate nucleus- a region in the thalamus).
STEP FOUR: In the brain
LGN sends to various lobes. The visual cortex of the brain receives these impulses.
Vision Complications
 Myopia-
Near sighted- nearby objects are
seen more clearly than distant ones
 Hyperopia-
faraway objects are seen more
clearly than closer ones
Levels of Consciousness
Dualism- believe that humans consist of thoughts and matter. Matter being everything that
has substance (thought gives people free will and never dies)
Monism- Disagree with dualists and believe that thought, matter, and everything are aspects
of the same substance (thought dies with body)
Mere Exposure Effect- the idea that being exposed to things (even when unaware) makes us
prefer that stimuli over something we have never experienced.
Priming- closely related to the above. People answering questions will respond more quickly
and/or more accurately if they have been asked the question before.
Blindsight- the experience when blind people actually can ‘see’ a path of a moving
object. Thought to be another level of consciousness observing stimuli. Daredevil?
The 5 Levels of Consciousness
Conscious Level- The information about yourself and your
environment that you are aware of right now in each moment.
Nonconscious Level- Things our body does that we’re not usually
aware of (nonconscious is controlling heartbeat, breath, etc).
Preconscious Level- Information that you aren’t thinking about
in this moment, but could if someone prompted it (Ex- if
someone asks you what your favorite childhood toy was).
Subconscious Level- Information that we are not aware that we
know of but must exist based on behavior (examples above with
mere-exposure effect and priming).
Unconscious Level- It is believed that that there are memories
repressed in our mind that we can’t access.
Circadian Rhythm- the process of our metabolic & thought process for a 24 hours.
Sleep cycle is part of this.
Sleep Cycle- our typical sleep patterns within our circadian rhythm. We cycle through different sleep
stages during the night and our brainwaves and levels of awareness change.
Sleep onset- the beginning stages of falling asleep. Our brain is producing alpha waves. We are
awake but drowsy and might experience hallucinations (like falling). Also in stage 1.
Stages 1 and 2- Brains produce theta waves-in and out of wakefulness. Lasts about 1-5 minutes,
and is 2-5% of a normal nights sleep. Stage 2 accounts for about 45-60% of sleep.
Stages 3 and 4- Delta sleep- these are low and slow waves when we are a in a deep sleep and very
unaware. Lasts around 15-30 minutes. Deepest stage of sleep- Delta sleep replenishes the body’s
chemical supplies, hormones in children, and fortifying our immune system.
We circulate through stages 1-4, when you are in Stage 1 your eyes twitch and are more easily
woken (REM- rapid eye movement) 20-25% of a normal nights sleep. During this stage our brains
appear as active as when we are awake. Detailed dreams usually happen in REM sleep
More stress during the day=longer REM periods
Sleep Disorders (or sleeplessness)
Insomnia- trouble falling sleep. Most common (10% of population)
Narcolepsy- more extreme sleeplessness that leads to
unpredictable/uncontrollable sleep times. Very rare (.001%) of the population.
Sleep Apnea- causes a person to temporarily stop breathing during sleep. When a
person wakes and gasps for air (apparent with snorers)- just as common as
**Night Terrors- vivid nightmares that people don’t remember (nightmares are
remembered). This usually happens in the first few hours of the night in stage 4
**Somnambulism - sleep-walking and moving during REM
**more common in young kids
Dreams and Hypnosis
Dreams- the series of story-like images we experience during sleep. Various theories…
Sigmund Freud- interpreted dreams to attempt to uncover unconscious desires. Our “wish
fulfillment”- acts out our unconscious desires during sleep. He believed that even during sleep our
ego protected us in the unconscious mind (protected sleep)
Manifest Content- literal content of our dreams (EX-showing up for school naked. The dream facts)
Latent Content- unconscious meaning of the above (EX- could mean there are issues with
vulnerability or anxiety about a deeper meaning, etc)
Activation-synthesis Theory- sees dreams as a brain REM reactions (purely biological). Says
dreams have no meaning.
Information Processing Theory- sees the brain as processing information and dealing with stress
from the day. Babies might need more REM sleep because babies learn so much new info each day.
Hypnosis- There are three theories that attempt to explain the state of Hypnosis…
#1 Role Theory- states that it is not an alternate state of consciousness at all. This theory believes some
people are more easily hypnotized than others. This characteristic is called hypnotic suggestibility. More
prone to being easily hypnotized.
#2 State Theory- says that hypnosis involves entering points of consciousness and can fix ailments or
alleviate pain.
#3 Dissociation Theory- states that hypnosis causes us to divide our consciousness voluntarily. One part
responds to hypnotist. One part retains awareness of reality. Started by researcher Ernest Hilgard.
Psychoactive DRUGS -change brain chemistry
FOUR COMMON CATEGORIES of Psychoactive Drugs:
#1) Stimulants- speed up your body processes. Leads to high tolerance, withdrawal effects, anxiety, heart
issues. EX: cocaine, nicotine, caffeine.
#2) Depressants- slow down the body processes (regardless of the effects on perceived energy). Slows down
motor control, reaction time, and coordination. EX: alcohol, anti depressants, tranquilizers, etc
#3) Hallucinogens (aka psychedelics)- change the perception of reality. They don’t speed up or slow down
body processes, but can cause short or long term vivid hallucinations. Effects are extreme and unpredictable.
EX: LSD, peyote, mushrooms, etc
#4) Opiates- act as agonists for endorphins and thus are powerful pain killers and mood elevators. Most
physically addictive due to rapid change in brain chemistry. EX: similar to opium- morphine, heroin, etc
Blood-brain barrier- Thick blood walls around blood vessels. Our brain’s natural defense systems from letting
chemicals affect our brain. Drugs can bypass these barriers
Agonists- molecules in drugs that bypass barrier by mimicking the body’s neurotransmitters.
Antagonists- molecules that prevent the brain from using receptor sites.
Tolerance- when your body starts to build up defenses to the chemicals and produces a need for more of that
chemical in order to feel the same effects.
Withdrawal- the symptoms and effects of a high tolerance when you remove the chemical and your body
physically craves it. Withdrawal symptoms vary based on the drug (headache, sleeplessness, sweats)
Classical Conditioning
Ivan Pavlov found that dogs learned to connect the sounds in the
environment where they were fed with the food that was given to
them. They began to salivate when they are hearing the sounds.
The stimulus that evokes a response is the unconditioned stimulus
(US or UCS). The US in this case is the food.
Food creates the natural response of salivation. This response is
called the unconditioned response (UR or UCR).
Through repeated pairings with a neutral stimulus such as a bell,
animals will come to associate the two stimuli together.
Ultimately, animals will salivate when hearing the bell alone. Once
the bell elicits salivation, a conditioned response (CR), it is no
longer a neutral stimulus but rather a conditioned stimulus (CS)
Learning occurs once the animals react to the CS without being shown
the US. This learning is also called acquisition since the animals have
acquired a new behavior.
The process of unlearning a behavior is known as extinction.
Extinction occurs when the CS no longer elicits the CR
Animals conditioned to respond to particular stimulus will also respond to
similar stimuli. The dogs may salivate to a number of bells, not just the one
with which they were trained. This tendency to respond to similar CSs is
known as generalization. Subjects can be trained, however, to tell the
difference, or discriminate, between various stimuli.
The unethical experiment conducted by John Watson and Rosalie Rayner
conditioned a little boy named Albert to fear a white rat.
This is known as aversive conditioning. Whereas Pavlov’s dogs were
conditioned with something pleasant (food), baby Albert was conditioned
to have a negative response to the white rat. Aversive conditioning can
also be used in healthy ways.
To stop biting their nails, some people paint them with something
Operant Conditioning
Operant conditioning is a kind of learning based on the association of
consequences with one’s behaviors. Edward Thorndike was one of the first
people to research this kind of learning with his cat experiment
The hungry cat was locked in a cage next to a dish of food. The cat had to get out
of the cage in order to get the food. Thorndike found that the amount of time
decreased gradually; the cat didn’t seem to understand after success, how to get
out. This meant that the cat learned the new behavior without mental activity but
rather simply connected a stimulus and a response.
Thorndike’s law of effect says that if the consequences of a behavior are
pleasant, the stimulus-response (S-R) will be strengthened and the likelihood
of the behavior will increase.
If the consequences of a behavior are unpleasant, the S-R connection will weaken
and the likelihood of the behavior will decrease. He used the term instrumental
learning to describe his work because he believed the consequence was
instrumental in shaping future behaviors.
B. F. Skinner is the best-known psychologist to research operant conditioning.
Skinner invented the Skinner box to use in his research of animal learning. A
Skinner box usually has a way to deliver food to an animal and a lever to press or
disk to peck in order to get the food. The food is called a reinforcer, and the
process of giving the food is called reinforcement.
Anything that makes a behavior more likely to occur is called a reinforcer. Two
kinds of reinforcement exist.
Positive reinforcement refers to the addition of something pleasant.
Negative reinforcement refers to the removal of something unpleasant.
For instance, if we give a rat in a Skinner box food when it presses a lever, we are using
positive reinforcement. However, if we terminate a loud noise or shock in response to a
press of the lever, we are using negative reinforcement. The latter example results in
escape learning.
Escape learning allows one to terminate an aversive stimulus.
If Davey creates a ruckus in the English class he hates and is asked to leave, he is using
escape learning.
Avoidance learning is when one tries to avoid the unpleasant stimulus altogether.
An example of avoidance learning would be if Sammy cut English class.
Primary reinforcers are, in and of themselves, rewarding.
They include things like food, water, and rest.
Secondary reinforcers are things we have learned to value like praise or the
chance to play a video game.
Money is a special kind of secondary reinforcer, called a generalized reinforcer,
because it can be traded for virtually anything.
One example of generalized reinforcers is known as a token economy. In a token economy,
every time people perform a desired behavior, they are given a token. They are allowed to
trade their tokens for any one of a variety of reinforcers.
What serves as a reinforcer for some may not have the same effect on others.
The idea that the reinforcing properties of something depend on the situation, is
shown in the Premack principle.
Reinforcement Schedules
The most effective way of teaching a new behavior at first is by rewarding
the behavior each time. This process is known as continuous reinforcement.
Once the behavior is learned however, you can actually get higher response
rates by using a partial-reinforcement schedule
Also, the partial-reinforcement effect says behaviors will be more resistant to
extinction if the animal has not been reinforced continuously.
Reinforcement schedules differ in two ways:
What determines when reinforcement is delivered—the number of responses made
(ratio schedules) or the passage of time (interval schedules).
The pattern of reinforcement—either constant (fixed schedules) or changing
(variable schedules).
A fixed-ratio (FR) schedule gives reinforcement after a set number of
responses. For example, if a pigeon is on an FR-5 schedule, it will be
rewarded after the fifth bar press.
A variable-ratio (VR) schedule also gives reinforcement based on the number
of bar presses, but that number varies. A pigeon on a VR-5 schedule might be
rewarded after the second press, then the ninth press, then the third press,
then the sixth press.
A fixed-interval (FI) schedule requires that a certain amount of time elapse
before a bar press will result in a reward. In an FI-3 minute schedule the
pigeon will be reinforced for the first bar press that occurs after three
minutes have passed.
A variable-interval (VI) schedule varies the amount of time required to pass
before a response will result in reinforcement. In a VI-3 minute schedule, the
pigeon will be reinforced for the first response made after an average time of
three minutes.
Variable schedules are more resistant to extinction than fixed schedules.
Contingency Model of Classical
The Pavlovian model of classical conditioning is known as the contiguity
model because it states that the more times two things are paired, the
greater the learning that will take place.
Robert Rescorla revised the Pavlovian model to take into account a more
complex set of circumstances. This model is known as the contingency
Dog A is presented with a bell paired with food ten times in a row. Dog B also
experiences ten pairings of bell and food. However, intermixed with those ten
trials are five trials in which food is presented without the bell and five more trials
in which the bell is rung but no food is presented. Once these training periods are
over, which dog will have a stronger salivation response to the bell?
Observational Learning
People and animals learn many things simply by observing others.
This observational learning is also known as modeling and was
studied a great deal by Albert Bandura in formulating his sociallearning theory. This type of learning is said to be species-specific;
it only occurs between members of the same species.
Modeling has two basic components, observation and then imitation.
There is a lot of research that indicate that children learn violent
behaviors from watching violent television programs and violent adult
Bandura, Ross, and Ross’s (1963) Bobo doll experiment illustrated
this point.
Latent, Abstract, and Insight Learning
Latent learning (latent meaning hidden) was studied by Edward Tolman.
Abstract learning involves understanding concepts such as tree or same rather
than learning simply to press a bar or peck a disk in order to secure a reward.
Latent learning is learning that becomes obvious only once a reinforcement is given
for demonstrating it. Behaviorists had previously held that learning is evidenced by
gradual changes in behavior, but Tolman conducted a famous experiment
illustrating that sometimes learning occurs but is not immediately evidenced.
Pigeons have learned to peck pictures they had never seen before if those pictures
were of chairs.
Wolfgang Kohler is well known for his studies of insight learning in
chimpanzees. Insight learning occurs when one suddenly realizes how to solve
a problem.
Cognitive Psychology
Three-Box/Information-Processing Model- information passes through three stages
before it is stored. First processed by our sensory memory, then info is encoded into our
short term, finally some of that information is encoded into our long term memory
Sensory Memory (aka iconic memory)- our split second holding tank for all our incoming
sensory information (less than a second). George Sperling -experiment where he flashed
a grid of nine letters for 1/20th of a second and asked participants to recall any of the
rows. The participants could recall any of the rows perfectly.
Explicit VS Implicit Memories- Explicit memories (aka declarative memories) -the ones
we usually think of. They are the conscious memories of facts/events that we actively try
to recall. Implicit memories (aka nondeclarative)- the memories that are unintentional
& we might not realize them
Photographic memory/Eidetic memory indicates that someone has very powerful &
enduring visual images (EX: Psychologist Alexandra Luria studied a person that
remembers a string of 15 numbers 15 years later).
Levels of Processing Model - Think about memories like a processing model. Memories
are either deeply (or elaborately) processed or shallowly (or maintenance)
processed. The more and longer you study= the more likely you are able to recall it later.
Memories: Short Term vs Long Term
Short Term Memory (Working Memory)
Long Term Memory
are actively working-(the ones we are aware of in our
consciousness). If we do nothing with these
memories, they fade in about 10-30 seconds. Is said
to have a ‘Magic Number’ limit of 7 items. To
increase the ability to memorize more than 5-9 itemsthere are brain tools that people use
permanent storage for memories. Scientists don’t think
there is a limit on time or space in our long-term
memory- so if a memory makes it there, it will most likely
be there for life (although it can fade or decay). There
are 3 formats…
Mnemonic devices let people (BATD) (Never Eat
Soggy Waffles)
#1) Episodic Memory- memories of events, stored in
chronological, sequential way. Ex: You remember the
last time you went out on a date.
Chunking- by chunking items on the list you have
a better chance of remembering them. A grocery
list clumped by meals is easier to remember than
all of those individual items.
#2) Semantic Memory- general knowledge of the world
(stored as facts/meanings) Ex: You remember the
difference between ‘then and than’ or ‘too and two’
Repeating/Rephrasing- the more times you
repeat something, the higher chance of it turning
into a long term memory.
#3) Procedural Memory- memories of skills and how to
perform them (even if they are complicated described in
words) Ex: throwing a curveball, riding a bike
Memory: Retrieval (getting info from memory)
There are two types of retrieval: recognition and recall.
Recognition the process of matching a current event with one already in your memory (Ex: Have I smelled this smell
Recall is retrieving a memory with an external cue (Ex: What does Uncle Nico’s cologne smell like?”)
Studies show there are a variety of reasons why people wouldn’t be able to retrieve/recall some memories and not others
Order/sequence of events can be one factor. (Hermann Ebbinghaus established that the order of the items is related
to whether or not you will remember them). Primary effect- says we are more likely to recall items at the beginning
of a list. Recency effect- says we are more likely to recall the most recent (end of list). When the two are meshed
together (basically saying that the middle is most likely forgotten) is called the serial position effect (aka serial
position curve).
Context is also important- if you learn someone’s name first and then try to recall it later- it might be difficult. But if
you hear that someone is a serial killer, you might remember their name more deeply
Tip of the tongue phenomenon- You know someone’s name and it’s on the tip of your tongue but you can’t recall
it immediately.
Semantic Network Theory- Your brain is working through memories, qualities, etc….getting closer to recalling
the name.
Flashbulb Memories- powerful events or extreme memories that allow us to recall vivid context
details. (Ex: Most people can recall what they were doing on September 11, 2001).
Mood or emotional context also affects memory retrieval.
Mood-congruent memory- a greater likelihood of recalling an item when our mood matched the mood we were in
when the even happened. Ex- when you’re happy, you’re more likely to remember good times and the opposite.
Memory: Forgetting
Forgetting- sometimes memories fade. One cause is decay (forgetting because we don’t use the memory, or connect it
to any new memories, for a long period of time).Another cause of forgetting is interference – when other information
competes with the memories you’re trying to recall. Interference can happen in two different ways…
Retroactive Interference- Learning new info interferes with recalling older info. EX: If you study for psych at
3:00 and sociology at 6:00, you might have trouble recalling psych the next day (fresh on the brain)
Proactive Interference- Older information you already learned interferes with recalling new things. If you read a
list of numbers in one order and then again in another, the old number order screws with your ability to remember
the new list order.
People with damage to their hippocampus have an inability to encode new memories (aka anterograde
amnesia). They can still learn new things.
Studies in animals indicate that this could be stored in the cerebellum. On the neurological level, research is
focused on long-term potentiation. Neurons have the potential to strengthen connections between each other,
especially the more the neuron fires and repeats the process. This could also be linked to long term memory
Constructive Memory- the memories that our brain might create to fill in gaps. People have claimed to be able to
recover memories in therapy when they have been repressed for years. Often not real- the brain creates these.
Language: Elements and Acquisition
Elements of Language- consists of phonemes put together to become morphemes (make-up words). The
words are spoken in a particular order (Syntax.) Every language has its own syntax (grammar structure). EXwhere verbs are placed
Phonemes- the smallest unit of sound used in language. English uses 44 phonemes. Various languages=various
EX: Spanish speakers find the rolled-R phoneme natural, but others may have difficulty producing this
Morphine the smallest unit of meaningful sound. It can be words,( like a or an) or part of words,( like the
prefix ‘pre’)
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Language Acquisition- how language learning reflects and predicts our development. When babies are learning
language, they go through the same basic stages in order to master language.
#1) The first stage -at 4 months old. Babies babbling could represent a baby experimenting with different
phonemes, and learning what sounds they can produce. All babies are capable of producing any phoneme from
any language when they are born As language learning progresses, we lose this ability and strengthen the
phonemes in our native language. This is also why it could be easier for babies to learn a secondary language
starting at infancy.
#2) Babbling progresses into utterances where babies imitate the words their caregiver is speaking is called the
holophrastic or one word stage. This is when babies speak single words and it usually happens around their
first birthday
Language: Cognition
Benjamin Whorf -thought that the language we use might control and or limit
our thinking.
This is called the linguistic relativity hypothesis.
Studies show the effect of labeling on how we think about people, objects, or
ideas. Although few studies show that the language we speak has a drastic impact
on what we are able to think about and comprehend.
Thinking, Creativity, and Problem-Solving
Thinking and Creativity
Algorithms- is a rule that guarantees the right solution by using a formula for thinking (or a foolproof method). Ex- you realize that a
password is a two letter combination, you can build an algorithm to go through the combos to eventually guess it.
Extreme Beliefs: Extreme confidence when you are wrong is called overconfidence. Two concepts are closely related to overconfidence
are: Belief Bias- When your beliefs force you to overlook opposing evidence. Belief Preservation- When your beliefs force you to overlook
opposing evidence. You continue to believe even after your evidence is proved wrong
Heuristics- is a rule of thumb. Something that is generally true but not always. EX- you have to guess at a 5 letter password. You start
with words that you know (pet names, etc). It’s a decent guess, sometimes true.
Availability Heuristic- Judging a situation based on similar situations that come to mind. Basing judgments of personal
experiences. EX- you think your neighborhood is dangerous because you have seen the crime but a stranger doesn’t get that
Representiveness Heuristic- Judging a situation based on similar case studies. EX- The community assumes someone doesn’t commit
suicide because it is against that person’s religion and most people in that community don’t believe in suicide.
Common Mistakes in Problem Solving
Rigidity (aka mental set)- falling into mental thought patterns. If you normally use a certain way to problem solve, you might miss a new
way to look at it.
Functional fixedness- is an example of rigidity. It’s the inability to see an object.
Ex- a group of students see on car stuck in the mud. Only one student thinks to use the car jack to lift the car out of the mud to put
wooden planks under it. Most are thinking of only using a car jack to change a tire.
Confirmation Bias- When someone wants something to be true and they ignore contradiction evidence while problem solving. Ex- if a
cigarette company is paying for a ‘study’ then the ‘research’ might be looking for ways to avoid certain answers. This hinders truth.
Framing- refers to the way a problem is presented/ positioned. Ex- if you tell a class “only half of my students pass this test” vs “almost all of
my students ace this test”- you change the students expectations for the test… and possibly their ability to solve.
Motivation and
Motivations-‘why people do what they do’
Motivations are the feelings or ideas that cause us to act towards a goal. They can be obvious/conscious or subtle/indirect.
Drive Reduction Theory –says our physiological/biological needs motivate us. A need is a requirement for survival (eat, sleep)
Homeostasis- the state that our body seeks (a balanced internal state). When we are out of homeostasis, we start having needs that drive us.
Primary Drives- biological needs like thirst
Secondary Drives- learned drives that help support the primary drives (making money in order to eat or buy shelter)
Arousal Theory- says that we seek levels of excitement (arousal) and we can be motivated to get to these levels.
Yerkes- Dodson Law- shows the relationship of performance to level of arousal.- Depending on an individual’s optimum levels- these needs vary. Someone with high
optimum levels are drawn to high excitement behavior (motorcycles, sky diving), where someone with low levels might get just as excited about reading a book.
Opponent Process Theory- (similar to Arousal Theory) says that most people are at an average baseline state. Then we feel motivations, stray from this and
those actions have an effect. This theory is used to explain addictive behaviors.
Incentive Theory- Sometimes behaviors aren’t pushed by a need but rather pulled by a desire with rewards and punishments
EX- If you know that you will get better grades if you study alone- than you are motivated to study alone (even if it’s less fun)
Maslow’s Theory (Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs)- Abraham Maslow pointed out that not all needs are created and weighed equally. He used his Hierarchy
of Needs to predict how people prioritize their needs.
Physiological needs (hunger, thirst, sex)- base of pyramid
Safety (need to feel safe and get out of danger)
Belongingness and love (needing to be accepted)
Esteem needs- gaining approval and recognition
Self-actualization- fulfill unique potential (top of pyramid)
Motivations- Hunger Motivation
Biology (physiology) of Hunger
Part of the hunger feeling is the stomach being inflated or not. The other part is monitored in the hypothalamusregulating chemistry (including the ratio of glucose/insulin) and tells us when to feel hunger.
Laternal hypothalamus- (the hunger center) is stimulated and it activates the feeling of hunger. When this gets
damaged in animals they need to be forced to eat or they will starve (late to dinner so you’re HUNGRY)
Ventromedial hypothalamus- is stimulated to turn OFF the feeling of hunger. This makes us stop eating. When this
gets damaged in an animal, they continue to eat without feeling full.
The brain goes back and forth between stimulating these two areas. (On and off switch for hunger). When our
brain uses our weight, metabolism, and other factors to figure out which signals to send the hypothalamus, this is
called set point theory.
Metabolic Rate- how quickly our body uses energy. People with high metabolic rates burn and use more energy than someone with low rates.
Psychology of Hunger- we get affected by internal and external motivations that trigger hunger outside of our physiology.
The Garcia Effect- taste aversion….negative experiences can create associations that effect hunger EX: food from our
own culture don’t sound gross to us but might sound unappealing to other cultures
Three Most Common Eating Disorders
Bulimia- binging and purging. Purging can include laxatives, vomiting, or excessive exercise. Damaging teeth, the
esophagus, intestines and stomach.
Anorexia Nervosa- Anorexics starve themselves (to below 85% of their normal body weight) by refusing to
eat. Damages internal organs, hair/skin quality, and reproductive health.
Obesity- People diagnosed with obesity are severely overweight (often by 100 or more pounds) and have serious
health problems as a result.
Motivations- Social
Social Motivation- these are motivations that are dependent on our culture and
environment. The attitudes and the goals of people around you highly effect your motivations.
Achievement Motivation Vs Optimum Arousal- Some have high both (they can overlap)
Achievement Motivation means you are doing something for yourself (meeting a goal, gaining a skill)
Arousal Motivation doing something for the feeling (the feeling we may get from a roller coaster).
Extrinsic Motivation Vs Intrinsic Motivation
Extrinsic Motivations- rewards that we get for accomplishing something (a kid gets a sticker)
Intrinsic Motivations- rewards we get internally (feeling good, proud, or excited without a reward)
Management Theory- Intrinsic/Extrinsic motivations explain how people manage others
Theory X- Managers believe that employees will only work for reward, incentive, or bonus. Or when threatened with
Theory Y- Managers believe that employees are internally motivated to do good work, so policies should encourage intrinsic
Motivations- Conflicts Amongst Motives
CONFLICT between Motives- ‘when you can’t make a decision’
Approach-Approach Conflicts- When you have two desirable outcomes but they still conflict. EX- You
have to pick one of two delicious items on a menu
Avoidance-Avoidance Conflicts- The opposite of the above- when you have to choose between two
undesirable outcomes. EX- Your route home will either take an hour or you have to go through
construction and rush-hour.
Approach –Avoidance Conflicts- When there is mixed reasoning on an option. In some ways it sounds
appealing and some ways it doesn’t. EX- You’re lactose intolerant but ice cream sounds delicious. The
taste of ice cream is appealing but the effects on your body are not.
Multiple Approach –Avoidance Conflict- When the decision making process involves many appealing or
unappealing options. EX- choosing schools considers cost, programs, proximity to
home/friends/boyfriend/girlfriend, etc
Emotions and Stress
Theories on Emotions- our emotions are entwined with our motivations.
Emotions influence motivations. There are
many theories on emotional states…
James-Lange Theory- by William James and Carl Lange- stated that we feel emotions because of biological changes
caused by stress. (EX: the wolf jumps out of the woods, Little Red Riding hood heart starts to race- she starts to feel
the emotion of fear).
Cannon-Bard Theory- by Walter Cannon and Phillip Bard (contradicted above) Stated that similar physiological effects
can happen from different types of stress. EX: how do we know that her heart is just racing out of fear? It could be
leading to excitement or joy or love.
Two-Factor Theory- by Stanley Schachter- states that emotion depends on both the interaction between two factors
(biology and cognition). EX: if Red’s already afraid- the wolf jumping out would scare her more than someone who was
at a resting state. This shows that both our cognitive labels on the event (is the wolf scary?) and our physical response
(were we already out of breath?) are effecting emotions.
Non-verbal Expressions of Emotion
Stress can refer to the things/events/people in our life causing the emotion (stressors) or it can refer to how we
respond to that (stress reactions).
Measuring Stress
Seyle’s General Adaptation Syndrome (GAS)- Our response patterns to many different physical and emotional
stresses is very consistent. STRESS STAGES:
Alarm Reaction- heart rate increase, blood starts moving. Nervous system activated
Resistance- The body remains physically ready (our body can keep releasing hormones to extend this period)
Exhaustion- Our physiological system is worn out by the stress and our bodies are more susceptible to
How behaviors begin and how they change throughout our life- The most
commonly researched topic amongst psychologists
Scientists isolate these similarities and differences with identical twins. Nature
(genetic factors) vs nurture (environmental factors) is highlighted
Research Methods- there are two types of
studies with developmental psychology
Cross Sectional Research
Uses participants of different ages
to compare how certain variables
may change over the life span.
This gives the researchers people
to test in all age brackets.
The only problem is taking into
consideration cultural effects and
how historical events may skew
Longitudinal Research
Takes place over a long period of
It takes the same group of people
and observes them over time. This
can take decades if you are
watching people every few years.
This isolates the experiences and
the age range, and still shows any
Prenatal Influences
Genetics- hereditary traits passed along via our biologic parents
Thomas Bouchard-By studying identical twins who were separated at birth and raised by
different families, Bouchard could see which similarities might emerge despite a different family
"Jim twins" -BOTH married/divorced a Linda, remarried a Betty, had police training and worked
part-time with law enforcement. They had identical drinking and smoking patterns, and both
chewed their fingernails. Their first-born sons were James Alan and James Allan.
Prenatal Influences: Teratogens
Teratogens- chemicals and agents that cause harm if ingested or contracted by the mother
during the fetus stage. The placenta is built to filter out some things, but teratogens can get
through the barrier and heavily affect the way the fetal brain develops.
One example is alcohol. Children of alcoholic mothers are at high risk of FAS (fetal alcohol
syndrome). FAS can lead to small, malformed skulls or mental retardation.
Fetal alcohol effect is similar but to a less degree. Moderately heavy drinkers during pregnancy
might give the babies learning disabilities or behavioral problems.
Other examples are cocaine, heroin, and other drugs that the baby actually is born addicted to
because of the mother’s chemical addiction has become their own.
Motor/Sensory Development
Reflexes- are automated responses to specific stimuli. early on scientists thought that
humans were born without reflexes. Now we know that even babies are born with a set of
The 5 reflexes that humans are born with (some we lose as we grow and others we keep)
Rooting Reflex- When a baby is touched on the cheek, it will turn his/her head towards that side
to seek to put that object in his/her mouth.
Sucking Reflex- When an object is placed in an infant’s mouth, he/she will suck on it. The
rooting reflex and the sucking reflex help babies eat)
Grasping Reflex- If an object is placed into a baby’s palm or foot pad- the fingers or toes will try
to grasp the object
Moro Reflex- When startled, a baby will fling his/her limbs out and retract into a small shape.
Babinski Reflex- When a baby’s foot is rubbed, he/she will stretch toes
Parenting Theories
Attachment Theory- as a baby grows and becomes used to their environment and parents
There are two significant researches that advanced theories on attachment-
Harry Harlow- 1960s: He raised baby monkeys with two wire statues that were supposed to resemble
mother monkeys. One had the bottle and would feed the monkeys, but the other one was covered in a
soft material. The baby monkeys preferred the softer choice. This showed that importance of physical
comfort. It also proved the ones that were ‘raised’ by the wiry one were more stressed. And that all
monkeys had long term behavioral effects due to lack of attachment.
Mary Ainsworth- Ainsworth did experiments by putting human infants into new situations. Their
parents would leave and return after a period of time. 3 results
Infants with secure attachments (66%)- confidently explore the novel environment, are distressed when parents
leave, and come to the parents when they return.
Infants with avoidant attachments (21%)- resist being held by the parents and they explore a novel
environment. They don’t go to the parents for comfort when the parents return.
Infants with anxious/ambivalent attachments or resistant attachments (12%)- have ambivalent reactions. They
stress when they leave but resist comfort when they return.
Parenting Styles- the way parents focus their
style of parenting can affect development
Authoritarian parents- set a strict standard for behavior and apply
punishments for violation to these rules. Obedience is valued more than
rationale behind standards. No arguing or discussion required.
Permissive parents- do not set any guidelines for kids or the guidelines are
always changing. The rules are not consistent or strongly enforced.
Authoritative parents- have set, consistent standards for behavior but start
discussing them when the kids are old enough. They encourage independence
and praise as often as punish.
Sigmund Freud- 5 psychosexual stages
Freud said that if we don’t resolve significant conflict in our lives during one of these stages that
we may become fixated in that stage. This means we might remain preoccupied with the
behaviors associated with that stage. Some argue that these are outdated
Oral Stage (birth-1.5 years)- Infants pleasure through their mouths. They put everything
in their mouths. So people that get stuck in this stage might over-snack, smoke, pick their
Anal Stage (1.5-3 years)- this stage develops during toilet training. If someone gets stuck
in this stage, they become overly controlling (anal retentive) our out of control (expulsive)
Phallic Stage (3-6 years)- Babies realize their gender and this causes conflict in the
family. Freud described this process as the Oedipus complex (when boys resent their
father’s relationship with their mother’s) Electra complex when girls resent their mothers
relationship with their fathers
Latency Stage (6 years - puberty)- Freud thought children go through (a short latency
stage, or period of calm between 6-puberty- where there is low psychosexual
activity)...most psychologists don’t regard this as a separate stage.
Genital Stage (puberty- older)- where we remain for the rest of our lives. Sexual pleasure
is the genitals and fixation in this stage is what Freud considers normal.
Erik Erikson-A Neo-Freudian (believed in basic Freud
theory but adapts to fit observations)
Erikson created the psychosocial stage theory. It consists of 8 stages that center on a specific social conflict.
1. Trust VS Mistrust (birth to 1 year)- A baby’s first social experiences are based on need fulfillment. We learn whether or not
we can trust the world. We must trust our caregivers (crying, feeding, etc) and if we do/don’t will affect the rest of our lives
2. Autonomy VS Shame and Doubt (1-3 year)- babies start to exert their will over their own bodies. The favorite word is ‘NO!’
-demonstrating our attempt to control ourselves and others. Potty training is thought to be an early effort at gaining this
control. Erikson thought this would affect how we control our own body and emotional reactions for the rest of our life.
3. Initiative VS Guilt (3-6 years)- Curiosity sets in. We trust those around us, feel in control of ourbodies, and start to try to
understand the world and problem solving. If people were scolded during this curiosity stage that they will feel guilty or
ashamed for asking questions later.
4. Industry VS Inferiority (6 years- adolescents)- The beginning of formal education. By 1st grade we are expected to perform
and ‘work’ is elevated. During games, sports, and school- students start to compare their work their peers. This can create an
inferiority complex- when someone feels anxiety about performance in general. Erikson believed this could have been due to
being behind during these years.
5. Identity VS Role Confusion (late adolescents- into 20s)- we discover what social identity we are most comfortable
with. Trying to fit into different social groups and different types of identities/roles. If this stage wasn’t healthy, it could lead
to an identity crisis later in life.
6. Intimacy VS Isolation (20s-40s)- we start to establish stable identities and figure out how to balance efforts (work, school,
friends, family, self improvement, fun). Trying to figure out which relationships are platonic and which are not are also part of
this stage.
7. Generativity VS Stagnation (40s-60s)- We start to become more critical with our choices and our life. We ask the questions
about whether or not we are creating the world we want for the rest of our life . If we don’t address this, we might end up with
Cognitive Development: How children
think and evaluate the world
Jean Piaget- created the most famous cognitive development theory (debated
Was working for Alfred Binet (creator of the 1st intelligence test) when he started
noticing interested behavior from the kids during testing. He started watching the
behavior or the children over their intelligence.
He described that children view the world through schemata (cognitive rules we
use to interpret the world)
Some criticized him for underestimating children (or getting the stage timing off).
He also relied heavily on spoken language to evaluate children.
Assimilation- the process where we normally incorporate our experiences into
existing schemata. Sometimes information doesn’t fit into pre-existing schemata
Piaget’s: Cognitive Development Theory
STAGE ONE: Sensorimotor Stage (birth to 2 years) - babies start to explore through their senses. One major
challenge during this stage is object performance- when babies start to look for certain objects or acknowledge they
exist once something is beyond their sensory range.
STAGE TWO: Preoperational Stage (2-7 years)- gaining experiences gives kids the ability to understand
symbols. This starts language (the most important part of this stage). We begin to learn to represent the world with
language. In this stage, children are egocentric in their thinking (they can’t think about the world through anyone
else’s perspective).
STAGE THREE: Concrete Operations Stage (8-13 years)- start to think more logically about complex
relationships. We start to demonstrate knowledge of concepts of conservation (the realization that properties of
object remain the same when their shapes change)
STAGE FOUR: Formal Operations Stage (12-adulthood)- the final stage of adult reasoning. Not all of us reach this in
all areas of thought. Piaget thought only people that could handle abstract thinking could get to this stage. One
example of abstract thinking is hypothesis testing- to test for this, someone might ask a child ‘how would you be
different if you were born on a planet that had no light?’ A child in the previous stages would have trouble answering
this because of no real world models exist to fall back on. Someone in Formal Operations stage could extrapolate
from this hypothesis and reason that the beings on earth might not have/need eyes, etc. We gain the ability to
think about the way we think (aka metacognition) where we can evaluate our thought process
Moral Development
Lawrence Kohlberg- Studied the morality aspect of development. Kohlberg’s focus was on how our
ethics changed throughout our lifetime. He studied this by asking children to think about moral
situations, including the Heinz Dilemma. A man named Heinz had to make a moral decision about
whether to steal a drug he can’t afford in order to save his wife’s life. He categorized his responses
into three categories
Preconventional- (0-9)the youngest children made the decision based on punishment avoidance. Their reasoning
was egocentric, (only focused on themselves) so they would tell Heinz not to steal so he didn’t have to go to jail
Conventional- (10-15) at this stage made a moral choice based on how others would view them. Children will try
to follow standards so family, peers, society will think they are a good person. They may tell Heinz to steal the
bread to save his wife and become a hero
Postconventional- (16-death)These children evaluate a choice by looking at the pro’s and con’s, or rights and
wrongs, of their choices. Their self defined ethical principles might be involved in their final decision on each
case they examine. They may say that Heinz should steal the bread because the right to life outweighs the store
owners property.
Gender and Development - research based on the
differences between males and females.
Different cultures encourage/discourage certain gender roles
EX- in one culture holding hands might be feminine, in others masculine, in some platonic, in
others non platonic.
Psychological perspectives that try to explain how gender roles developed:
Biopsychological (neuropsychological) theory- concentrates on the nature element in the
nature/nurture combination that produces our gender role. Children learn through society
(and are often curious) about the obvious differences between genders.
Psychodynamic Theory- Freud perspective that boys, unconsciously, compete with their
fathers for their mother’s attention (and vice versa w/ girls and dads).
Proper development occurs when the child realizes that this is not a realistic competition and that they
can seek qualities from their parents in significant others.
Psychodynamic theories have more historical purpose and less to do with current research, They are
widely known but no longer ‘active’
Social Cognitive Theory- concentrates on the effects of society and how society accepts genders
to develop. This looks on how we treat the genders differently. EX- we accept rough play from
boys but not girls.
This powerpoint presentation was adapted using information from the
Barron’s AP Psychology 5th edition prep book.
Weseley, Allyson, Robert McEntarffer, and Robert McEntarffer. AP® Psychology.
Hauppauge, N.Y.: Barron's Educational Series, 2014. Print.

Sensation and Perception - Miami Arts Charter School