Dictionary of Terms


Factor Analysis A statistical procedure that identifies common factors among groups of tests.

False Consensus The tendency of a person to perceive his or her own views as representative of a general consensus.

Fetal Alcohol Syndrome A disorder that adversely affects an offspring's brain development that is caused by the mother's alcohol intake during pregnancy.

Fetal Stage The third and final stage of prenatal development, which lasts for about 7 months, beginning with the appearance of bone tissue and ending with birth.

Fetish Unusual sexual attachment to objects such as articles of clothing, learned through classical conditioning.

Fight-or-Flight Response Physiological reactions that help ready us to fight or to flee a dangerous situation.

Figure A visual stimulus that is perceived as a self-contained object.

Five-Factor Model A theory stating that personality is composed of five primary dimensions: neuroticism, extraversion, openness, agreeableness, and conscientiousness. This theory was developed using factor analyses of ratings of the words people use to describe personality characteristics.

Fixation A brief interval between saccadic eye movements during which the eye does not move; visual information is gathered during this time. In Freudís view, an unconscious obsession with an erogenous zone resulting from failure to resolve the crisis associated with the corresponding stage of psychosexual development.

Fixed-Interval Schedule A schedule of reinforcement in which the first response that is made after a fixed interval of time since the previous reinforcement (or the start of the session) is reinforced.

Fixed-Ratio Schedule A schedule of reinforcement in which reinforcement occurs only after a fixed number of responses have been made since the previous reinforcement (or the start of the session).

Flashbulb Memory A lucid memory for an event or experience that occurred during a particularly emotional experience.

Form Constancy The tendency to perceive objects as having a constant form, even when they are rotated or their distance from the observer changes.

Formal Concept A category of objects or situations defined by listing their common essential characteristics, as dictionary definitions do.

Fovea A small pit near the center of the retina containing densely packed cones; responsible for the most acute and detailed vision.

Free Association A psychoanalytic procedure in which the client is encouraged to speak freely, without censoring possibly embarrassing or socially unacceptable thoughts or ideas.

Free Nerve Ending An unencapsulated (naked) dendrite of somatosensory neurons.

Frontal Lobe The front portion of the cerebral cortex, including Brocaís speech area and the motor cortex; damage impairs movement, planning, and flexibility in behavioral strategies.

Function Word A preposition, article, or other word that conveys little of the meaning of a sentence but is important in specifying its grammatical structure. See also content word.

Functionalism The strategy of understanding a speciesí structural or behavioral features by attempting to establish their usefulness with respect to survival and reproductive success.

Fundamental Attribution Error The tendency to overestimate the significance of dispositional factors and underestimate the significance of situational factors in explaining other peopleís behavior.

Fundamental Frequency The lowest, and usually most intense, frequency of a complex sound; most often perceived as the soundís basic pitch.

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