Adaptation level: The frame of reference you use to decide what is large, what is small, etc. Your past experiences influence your adaptation level.

Anxiety hierarchy: At the start of systematic desensitization, the therapists has the patient rate situations according to how fearful they are. From these ratings, the therapist hopes to have an anxiety hierarchy--a list of 15-30 situations that gradually progress from least fearful to most fearful. The therapist starts pairing the relaxing stimulus with the item on the bottom of the hierarchy. Next, the therapist pairs the relaxing stimulus with the next least fear-provoking item. The therapist goes steadily up the hierarchy.

Aversive conditioning: Using classical conditioning to help the client dislike a previously tempting stimulus ( such as alcohol or cigarettes) by pairing the tempting stimulus with an unpleasant stimulus.

Behaviorism: An approach that emphasizes the study of objectively observable behavior rather than inner mental experiences. Behaviorism emphasizes the the role of environment as the cause of behavior. From our environment, we learn to do certain behaviors and learn not to do others. Sometimes called learning theory.

Closure: Gestalt psychologists use this term to describe our tendency to "close" or "fill-in" gaps to see a whole form.

Continuity: Gestalt psychologists use this term to describe our tendency to see lines as continuing, without breaks.

Counter-conditioning: See systematic desensitization.

Figure: What you focus on, what is at the center of your attention.

Ganzfeld: a perfectly smooth, solid-covered background that is shaped like a hollowed out globe. Example: two halves of a ping-pong ball, dyed pure white, one taped over each of your eyes.

Gestalt: whole, figure, form, pattern, meaning, configuration

Ground: Background.

Habituation: A decrease in responding to repeated presentations of the same stimulus.

Law of effect: Consequences determine behavior. If good consequences follow the behavior, the behavior will be repeated. If bad consequences follow the behavior, the behavior will be less likely to be repeated.

Perception: The process of putting sensations together into a usable mental representation of the world. Involves organizing, ignoring, and interpreting sensations. Contrast with sensation.

Perceptual hypothesis: A guess about how to perceive a stimulus. This guess may affect how we perceive (or misperceive) reality

Perceptual set: A tendency to see what we expect to see.

Phi-phenomenon: an illusion of movement. Demonstrating the phi-phenomena helped launch the Gestalt school.

Proximity: A gestalt term that describes our tendency to put things that are close together into a group.

Psychology: The scientific study of human and animal behavior.

Reversible figure: A picture that can be seen in at least two ways by changing what is figure and what is ground.

Sensation: The immediate response in the brain caused by excitation of a sensory organ. A simpler process than perception.

Similarity:A gestalt principle of grouping, stating that people will tend to group similar items together.

Systematic desensitization: A way of curing an individual's fear by pairing the feared stimulus with a stimulus that induces relaxation. Early pairings involve associating the relaxing stimlus with a situation that is not extremely fear-provoking. Over time, the therapist pairs the relaxing stimulus with stimuli that were more fear provoking until the therapist has paired the relaxing stimulus with the most feared stimulus. For more, see anxiety hierarchy.

Social psychology: the scientific study of how individuals' thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined, or implied presence of others.