absolute judgment

a judgment that is based on comparisons between a presented option (i.e., person) and one’s memory of the perpetrator

abstract concepts

knowledge of states, events, ideas, or qualities that do not have direct physical instantiations; this can be contrasted from concrete concepts, which include knowledge of physical properties of objects and actions

Accusatorial style

A style of interrogation that is characterized as guilt-presumptive. The accusatorial approach focuses on obtaining a confession or self-incriminatory information. 

achieved status

a status that is earned

action tendencies

refer to the willingness to act in an expressive manner; examples can be to think of the other, hug the other or to approach the other when in love or to aggress, spit on, or swear at another when angered with someone

action/omission distinction

An effect in which people tend to judge people more harshly for taking an action that harms someone than for failing to take an action that could have prevented someone being harmed.

acute stress

physiological reaction to a challenging situation involving the activation of the sympathetic nervous system and the release of the hormone cortisol, adrenaline and noradrenaline


Enabling one improve coping with a certain situation and/or long-term survival

adaptive tasks

social goals that are important in a particular social environment for a person to thrive socially


A hormone secreted by adrenal glands during stress that increases blood circulation and breathing and prepares the body for physical exertion

affective haptics

a novel area of research that focuses on the study and design of devices and systems that can elicit, enhance, or influence human emotional states by using the sense of touch


The motivation to start or intensify a relationship with another person or group. Affiliation can result in behavior such as caring for others, pleasing or befriending others, or simply expressing solidarity and loyalty with one’s group. 


The tendency to reply with “yes” to questions. The more people affirm, the more they typically agree with questions that they are asked, or the more they assert that a statement is true and valid.


the status of an agent, it refers to the capacity of acting by oneself and controlling his actions


the quality of being pleasant; also, one of the Big Five personality factors, characterized by traits such as kindness, generosity, warmth, unselfishness, and trust


is a motivational state with the ultimate goal of increasing another’s welfare

ambiguous situations

situations which are lacking the clarity of meaning; refers in this article to emergency situations which are missing clarity in many cases

ambivalent racism

described as disliking a group, but coding these feelings into a more acceptable format, for example: “I’m not saying that psychologists are evil, they’re just always poking their noses in, making like they understand everything,” might be said by someone who feels, deep down, that psychologists are evil

ambivalent sexism

is composed of both benevolent and hostile sexism


brain area (group of nuclei) located in the medial temporal lobe and part of the limbic system; plays a role in processes of memory, decision-making, and emotional reactions


people with an analytic mindset will tend to focus on objects based on the categories to which they belong and understand behavior using rules such as logic, this mindset is common in many Western cultures (Nisbett et al., 2001)


attribution of human traits, emotions, or intentions to non-human entities

approach motivation

involves working toward goals in order to attain or achieve something. Going to the gym to exercise in order to get in shape could be considered approach motivation


In Jungian psychology, archetypes constitute the collective unconscious; they are “unconscious images of the instincts themselves, in other words...they are patterns of instinctual behaviour,” or simply, “pre-existent form[s]” (Jung, 1959a, p. 42-4). “Hero” and “trickster” are well-known Jungian archetypes. Also see the entries for “collective unconscious” and “instincts.”

archival analysis

a research method during which court files and other legal documents are analyzed in terms of a certain research question


This internal consent feeling is associated with being titillated or drawn to engaging in sexual activity.

ascribed status

a status that is assigned


A sexual orientation that embodies the absence of sexual desire.

assortative mating

is mating which is not random but instead determined by similarities or dissimilarities between prospective mates

the tendency for people (and other non-human animals) to mate with those with similar characteristics, generally ranked by how desirable or attractive the characteristics are

attachment theory

describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans. Its most important tenet is that an infant needs to develop a secure bond with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally

attentional bias

the tendency to preferentially direct one’s attention and to recognize certain stimuli faster

attentional deployment

directing one’s attention to or away from certain stimuli to more successfully regulate oneself 


represents a small set of states that a dynamical system displays over time; in psychological systems, an attractor represents a restricted range of mental states and actions that is commonly experienced by a person

authoritarian personality

refers to the idea that some people are conventional minded, valuing authority, structure, and obedience; people who fit this description seem far more willing to uncritically dislike others when they are told to do so

authority ranking

people organize their relationships based on asymmetry; there is a linear hierarchy in which subordinates are supposed to defer, respect and obey, whereas superiors take precedence and responsibility for their subordinates

Autism Spectrum Disorder

a broad category of psychological conditions characterized by abnormalities in social interactions and communication, stereotyped or repetitive behaviors and interests, and/or cognitive delays. It includes both high-functioning individuals with mild symptoms of autism (often called Asperger’s Syndrome) and individuals with more severe symptoms, such as severe to profound mental retardation


most broadly defined as the operation of mental processes outside of conscious awareness and guidance; more specific criteria, which can apply one at a time or together, are that automatic process are independent of intentions, hard to control, effortless, and efficient (e.g., Bargh & Chartrand, 1999)

autonomic nervous system

Part of the nervous system that controls unconscious bodily functions such as breathing, heartbeat, and digestion; helps control the fight-or-flight response

aversive racism

described as disliking a group, but feeling extremely bad at the idea of behaving in a clearly prejudiced fashion (or at least, of been seen to behave this way); prejudiced action will only emerge, then, in situations where it’s hidden, or at least plausibly deniable

avoidance motivation

describes working to avoid some unpleasant or undesired thing; trying to avoid eating unhealthy food in order to stay in shape could be considered avoidance motivation