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Sample Bias:


Schema: the term  means any cognitive structure or encoded packet of information in the mind-brain. That cognitive structure, according to Susan Fiske & Shelley Taylor (1991), “contains knowledge about a thing, including its attributes and the relations among its attributes”. Michael W Eysenck & Cara Flanagan (2001)  say schemas – the plural is sometimes referenced as ‘schemata’ –  are socially determined, learned and refined through social exchanges. When schemas are shared culturally in this way, they effectively function as memes.

Schizophrenia: a severe mental illness where contact with reality is impaired (psychosis) and the sufferer finds that thoughts and feelings often don’t fit together. Symptoms commonly associated with this illness include bizarre delusions and auditory hallucinations (hearing voices); although neurocognitive defecits in memory, organisation and planning and language impairments (speech peculiarities) are also frequent.There are considered to be 5 classifications of Schizophrenia:-

○ Disorganised – characterised by delusions, hallucinations, incoherent speech and large mood swings
○ Catatonic – where the ‘patient’ has periods of peculiar or very limited activity and mobility – to the point of being totally immobile and staring blankly for hours at a time
○ Paranoid – characterised by various types of delusions, often related to suspicion and a sense of persecution○ Undifferentiated – the term is used when the patient can be considered ‘schizophrenic’ without the symptoms readily fitting into the other categories
○ Residual – where the patient is only experiencing mild symptoms
Some psychiatrists and clinical psychologists consider that the classifications of Schizophrenia are really different illnesses.

Scientific Method: a series of steps used by scientists to construct and test theories.
There are 6 key sequential steps in the Scientific Method:-
1. Observe a phenomenon
2. Develop a theory to explain the phenomenon
3. Hypotheses are generated from the theory
4. A form of research – ideally an experiment – is designed to test the hypothesis
5. Data is collected and analysed
6. The theory is confirmed, amended or rejected on the basis of the results


Secondary Deviance:



Selective Placement: as applied to adoption, this is when the child is placed with a family as close as possible to him/her in terms of race/ethnicity, general level of intelligence, social background/demographics, etc, etc.

Selective Pressure: in Evolutionary Psychology, the pressure of competition to survive and reproduce successfully when faced with limited resources. The most successful adaptive behaviours and the characteristics which result will then be passed on by the winners of the ‘competition’.

Selfplex: the term coined by Susan Blackmore (1999) for the confluence of schemas which comprise an individual’s sense of self. The very concept of ‘self’ is a memeplex which is transmitted culturally (memetically) – usually initiated by parents with infants.
The selfplex is essentially a cognitive concept – ie: how I see myself – and, as such, stands above raw temperamental dispositions. However, most people have schematic representations of their temperament within their selfplex. Their selfplex may also include the schema that they have a ‘spiritual self’.

Selfplex Defence Mechanisms: Sigmund Freud’s ego defence mechanisms, as documented by daughter Anna Freud (1936), were viewed as unconscious means of protecting the ego from the destructive effects of its conflicts with the id and the superego and conflicts between the id and the superego. In Integrated SocioPsychology ’selfplex’ is preferred to ‘ego’ as a more precise concept of ‘self’. Thus, ‘ego defence mechanisms’ become ‘selfplex defence mechanisms’ and the id-ego-superego conflicts are portrayed as conflicts between an individual’s vMEMES

Self-Actualisation: the idea was first used (under the term ‘self-realisation’) by Carl Gustav Jung (1923). Kurt Goldstein (1934) was the first to use the term self-actualisation but it was Abraham Maslow (1943) who really developed it as a concept. For many years Maslow put Self-Actualisation at the peak of the Hierarchy of Needs, as the ultimate fulfilment of an individual’s potential – though he eventually (1969) acknowledged a state beyond, which he dubbed TranscendenceCarl Rogers (1961) sometimes used the term ‘Full Function’ for Self-Actualisation. As he refined the concept over the years, Maslow (1956; 1971) re-defined Self-Actualisation more specifically as a meta-way of thinking which Clare W Graves (1971b/2002;1978/2005) equated to his G-T  (YELLOW) level. Jane Loevinger (1976) termed this level ‘Autonomous’.
Graves (1978/2005) came to dispute the use of the term Self-Actualisation to describe a specific level; rather, he stated, it was an ongoing process.

Self-Disclosure: the revealing of personal and sensitive information about yourself to another as a key element in developing and maintaining intimacy in a relationship.

Self-Esteem: the thoughts and feelings someone has about themselves.
Carl Rogers (1961) proposed that self-esteem is largely determined by the distance between the ‘perceived self’ and the ‘ideal self’ – see The Selfplex. If the gap is large, then self-esteem will be low. Rogers also proposed that low self-esteem is linked to the love of significant others being conditional.
Low self-esteem is associated with someone having lowered expectations of themselves and performing poorly as a consequence.

Self-Efficacy: Albert Bandura (1977) coined this term to describe someone’s belief in their abilities – as opposed to the abilities themselves. This influences critically their assessment of their ability to cope with a given situation.Sensitivity Hypothesis: this (aka: Caregiver Sensitivity Hypothesis) is the idea put forward by Mary Ainsworth (1974) that the quality of infant attachment is primarily determined by the mother’s/primary caregiver’s responsiveness to her child’s social releasers – cries, gestures, body language, etc.See also Caregiver Sensitivity Hypothesis vs Temperament Hypothesis.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy:

Self-Serving Bias:

Sensitive Period: a biologically-determined period of time during which an animal is most likely to acquire certain behaviours.
The term is used quite specifically in John Bowlby’s (1953) theories around attachment to mean the period of approximately 6 months to 3.5 years when a child needs to form an attachment to their mother/primary caregiver for the PURPLE vMEME to find safety-in-belonging. Failure to form a solid attachment is likely to lead to the effects of Privation. A previously-formed bond being disrupted to the point of serious dysfunction in that period is considered by Bowlby to be Maternal Deprivation (1951, 1953) – though Bowlby postulated that some children could be vulnerable to the effects of bond disruption right upto 5 years of age.

Sensory Acuity:

Separation: generally, the bond disruption experienced when 2 people who have an attachment are physically separated. Specifically, Developmental psychologists are concerned to study the bond disruption between infants and their mother/primary caregiver.

Separation Protest: the dislike expressed when 2 people who have an attachment are physically separated. Developmental psychologists are especially interested in studying the distress expressed by infants when separated from their mother/primary caregiver.

Serotonin: a neurotransmitter of the monoamine group, the functions of which are only partly understood. A key function that has come to light is that serotonin acts as a neuromodulator for the other monoamines, influencing the function of noradrenaline and dopamine. High levels of serotonin are associated with anxiety and high levels of activity. Lower levels are associated with Depression and aggression.


Short-term Memory: memory for information that has received minimal processing or interpretation. According to George Miller (1956), only 7+/-2 ‘chunks’ of information can be held in this storage at any one time. The memory trace of each chunk will last between 10 and 30 seconds – depending on whose study you take into account! – unless rehearsed again. NLPers tend to think of short-term memory as ‘conscious mind’.


Sleep-Wake Cycle: is considered a key circadian rhythm in which the individual spends some time asleep and some time awake . The rhythmic element means that usually sleep occupies the the lesser time period – around a third of the day’s 24 hours – and being awake the greater.
Some research, such as Michel Siffre (1975) and Rütger Wever (1979) has indicated that, without the external zeitgeber of light and dark, some people at least seem to revert to a more natural sleep-wake cycle of approximately 25 hours.

Social Anthropology: the study (usually by Western researchers) of small-scale, ‘simple’, non-industrial cultures and societies. It is the he branch of Anthropology concerned with the study of human societies and cultures and their development.
It  studies human behaviour more at the individual level than Sociology – in that respect at least making it closer to Psychology.

Social Class: a set of concepts in the social sciences and political theory centred on models of social stratification in which people are grouped into a set of hierarchical social categories.
Definitions of social classes reflect a number of perspectives, informed by Anthropology, Economics, Psychology and Sociology. The major perspectives historically have been Marxism and Structural Functionalism. The common stratum model of class divides society into a simple hierarchy of working class, middle class and upper class. Within academia, two broad schools of definitions emerge: those aligned with 20th Century sociological stratum models of class society and those aligned with the 19th Century historical materialist economic models of the Marxists and anarchists.

Social Cohesion:

Social Constructionism: the view that reality is socially constructed – ie: that attitudes and behaviour are the results of cultural imperatives and need to be evaluated on that basis. In other words, there are no universal behaviours against which to measure objectively. For example, social constructionists would argue that what it means to be a ‘woman’, beyond the basic biological characteristics, is a product of social constructionism, varying from culture to culture and, indeed, from sub-culture to sub-culture.

Social Deprivation: the reduction or prevention of culturally normal interaction between an individual and the rest of society. Social deprivation is included in a broad network of correlated factors that contribute to social exclusion; these factors include mental illness, poverty, poor education and low socioeconomic status.

Social Desirability Bias: the tendency of people responding in interviews or to questionnaires to give answers they think will be socially acceptable and thus portray them in a ‘better light’.

Social Exchange Theory: an explanation of relationships in terms of perceived/anticipated costs and rewards, comparisons with those of the partner(s) (dubbed ‘Comparison Level’) and possible alternatives (‘Comparison Level Alternative’). Developed by John Thibaut & Harold Kelley, it is an approach to relationships more likely to be favoured by those whose thinking is dominated by self-expressive vMEMES. Equity Theory, as applied to personal relationships, is an extension of the Social Exchange idea. See Economic Theories.

Social Exclusion: according to Hilary Silver (2007), social exclusion is a multidimensional process of progressive social rupture, detaching groups and individuals from social relations and institutions and preventing them from full participation in the normal, normatively prescribed activities of the society in which they live.

Social Fact:

Social Identity Theory:

Social Influence:

Social Institutions:

Social Integration:

Social Judgement Theory:

Social Learning Theory: developed by Albert Bandura in the 1960s, working on the notion put forward by Edward C Tolman that, in many instances, there is a cognitive mediator between stimulus and response (which the Behaviourists generally ignored).From studying how young children model adults, Bandura introduced the concept of Vicarious (Indirect) Reinforcement whereby seeing others rewarded for behaviours leads to imitation. Seeing others punished for behaviours deters imitation. This identification with the person being rewarded or punished clearly involves cognitive processes and so enables the linking of the concepts of Behaviourism to developments in Cognitive Psychology and Spiral Dynamics. Indeed, Bandura tried retitling his concept ‘Social Cognitive Theory’ in the 1980s – though this largely failed to catch on. Social Learning Theory is sometimes treated as a psychological paradigm in its own right but more often is seen as a (critical) modification of Behaviourism.

Social Mobility:

Social Norm: an unwritten rule of beliefs, attitudes and behaviours that are considered acceptable in a particular social group or culture. It informs group members how to construe a given situation, how to feel about it, and how to behave in it.

Social Order:

Social Psychology: the study of social behaviour – ie: how people interact and influence each other.

Social Relations:

Social Releasers: behaviours programmed in infants that activate caring responses in adults.
Examples of social releasers are smiling, crying, gazing and grasping. So when the infant cries, for example, the mother feels compelled to respond to the infant’s needs. Such mother-child interactions facilitate attachment.

Social Representation: a stock of values, ideas, metaphors, beliefs, and practices that are shared among the members of groups and communities.
Serge Moscovici (1961) developed the concept. In 1973 he further defined it as a “system of values, ideas and practices with a twofold function; first, to establish an order which will enable individuals to orientate themselves in their material and social world and to master it; and secondly to enable communication to take place among the members of a community by providing them with a code for social exchange and a code for naming and classifying unambiguously the various aspects of their world and their individual and group history”.

Social Role: the part someone plays as a member of a social group. The individual’s behaviour will usually be adapted to meet the expectations – the norms – the group has of that role. Individuals usually have multiple roles at any one time, according to which groups they belong to. Attitude and behaviour may vary differently from group to group.
Roles allow people to predict how others will behave in particular situations and to respond appropriately. Roles thus facilitate a degree of social order via their predictability.
For example, as a ‘teacher’ an individual may behave in a conservative and highly responsible manner in the classroom but, as ‘one of the lads/girls’ that same individual might swear, get drunk and have one-night stands yet be a  compassionate and caring ‘son’/’daughter’ to their aged parents.
This is to do with Robert Dilts’ (1990) concept of identity as the most potent neurological level in relation to the environment the individual is in and Erving Goffman’s (1969) notion that our different contextual identities are really ‘masks’ we wear to present our desired persona.

Social Sciences: a term that encompasses all the disciplines that explore the activities of and interactions among organisms in the natural world. It involves the systematic analysis and investigation of human and animal behaviour through controlled and naturalistic experimental observations and rigorous formulations. The social sciences essentially investigate the decision processes and communication strategies within and between organisms in a social system.
The term is often read to be more inclusive than ‘behavioural sciences’ which focus on such disciplines as Sociology and Psychology and tend to exclude other ‘social sciences’ such as History and Economics. However, the dividing line between what are behavioural sciences and what are social sciences is virtually non-existent.

Social Stratification:


Socialism: an economic approach in which the means of production, distribution, and exchange are owned by the community collectively, usually through the state. It is theoretically characterised by production for use rather than profit, by equality of individual wealth, by the absence of competitive economic activity and, usually, by government determination of investment, prices and production levels.
It differs from its more extreme co-approach, Communism, in that Socialism embodies the principle of distribution according to the quantity and quality of work produced while Communism embodies the principle of distribution according to need.
Marxist-Leninsts tend to view Socialism as a precursor to full-blooded Communism. In reality European socialist parties, when in government, have tended to favour only a certain degree of state ownership while investing in state welfare systems for the ill, the poor and the unemployed and a moderate degree of redistribution of wealth within the basic structure of the dominant Capitalist system.
Socialisation: the process by which individuals learn the social behaviours of their culture – incorporating morals, socials skills, norms, language, etc.

Society: (usually) a highly structured system of human organisation for large-scale community living that normally furnishes protection, continuity, security and a national identity for its members. Such a society usually generates distinctive cultural patterns and institutions.

Sociobiology: an approach to explaining social behaviour in terms of biological processes. To a considerable extent it has become tied in with Evolutionary Psychology to focus on the imperative to reproduce one’s genes.

Socioeconomic Status: an individual’s or group’s position within a hierarchical social structure. Socioeconomic status depends on a combination of variables, including occupation, education, income, wealth and place of residence. Some sociologists use socioeconomic status as a means of predicting behaviour.

Sociology: the systematic study of the development, organisation, functioning and classification of human societies.

Speciesism: a term usually used in a pejorative manner to attract negative connotations to the belief that all other species of animals are inferior to humans and may, therefore, be used for human benefit without regard to the suffering inflicted upon them.
For more on speciesism, see Animals in Research.

Spinal Cord: the long column of neural tissue running through the spinal canal from the 2nd lumbar vertebra in the spinal column up to the medulla.

Spiral Dynamics: the ‘build’ on the work of Clare W Graves created by Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1996) which links Graves’ work to Memetics.
This linking is so powerful that it sits at the core of Integrated SocioPsychology which uses Beck & Cowan’s term vMEME for the motivational systems Graves identified.

Spiral Dynamics integral: Don Beck’s (2000b) meshing of Spiral Dynamics with the Integral All Quadrants/All Levels philosophical approach of Ken Wilber (1996). This has produced the powerful4Q/8Lapplication.

Spiral Wizard: the term used by Don Beck & Chris Cowan (1999) to describe those people with thinking sophisticated enough to understand and deal with all the 1st Tier levels in Spiral Dynamics. The presumption is that someone needs to have reached the 2nd Tier in much of their thinking to have developed that capacity for such understanding.

Stages of Ego Development:

Stages of Moral Development:  a construct developed by Lawrence Kohlberg (1958, 1986) to propose that understanding of and motivation towards moral issues develops through a number of stages which take an increasingly-complex approach to morality.
The type of moral thinking produced at each of Kohlberg’s stages can be seen to be commensurate with the dominant vMEME in the selfplex – ie: moral viewpoints are outputs of vMEME activity. Eg: Stage 4: Law & Order thinking is produced by the BLUE vMEME.

Standard Deviation: see Measures of Dispersion.

State: the term can be used quite differently, often depending on which of the social sciences is under discussion.
○ In Psychology and Philosophy, ‘state’ signifies the condition we experience personally. The quality of the elements comprising our state may vary and accordingly our state varies. Much thinking about this concept of ‘state’ comes from the work of the Russian philosopher George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff. In the basic version of his model, what we think cognitively, how we feel emotionally and how we are physiologically (are all bound up symbiotically. Change in one domain will inevitably influence change in the other two. This concept of state has led to the Mercedes Model in NLP.
○ In Sociology and Politics  state refers to an organised political community, living under some kind of government and the apparatus of that government to impose its will on the ‘subjects’ of the state. In a democratic state, those who are governed have some considerable degree of influence (via elections) on who (at least immediately after the election) should form the government.

State-Trait Anxiety Inventory:

Statistical Significance:


Strange Situation: a sequence of procedures devised by Mary Ainsworth & B A Wittig to test the emotional reactions of infants as a way of typing their mode of attachment to their mothers or other significant persons (eg: fathers). The process involves observation of the infant’s behaviour and emotional reactions to being in a strange room with toys with varying combinations of mother and stranger.

Stratified Democracy: the approach developed by Don Beck that the form of governance (Lower Right in 4Q/8L) of a culture or sub-culture should reflect the traditions and patterns of thinking in that grouping (Lower Left). Eg: if the PURPLE vMEME dominated in a tribal-type situation, the tribal elders (or equivalents) making the decisions for that grouping would be more appropriate than introducing modern Western one person, one vote democracy.

Stress: a state of physiological arousal produced in response to the (perceived) demands of the environment (stressors). The term is often used negatively because, as Hans Selye first demonstrated scientifically and outlined in his General Adaptation Syndrome, high levels of stress for an elongated period of time can have truly-damaging effects on both mental and physical health. See also Eustress.

Strain Theory:

Structural Functionalism:

Structuralism: the term has been used for several approaches with nothing more in common than a concern with the structure or organisation of those phenomena under consideration.
○ In the late 19th Century Edward B Titchener used ‘structuralism’ as a label for his concept that all mental experience, no matter how complex, could be viewed as blends or combinations of simple processes or elements
○ The term was applied to Jean Piaget’s sequence of stages of mental operations which a child progresses through to reach a formal operatory level.
○ ‘Structuralism’ is also used to describe sociological/anthropological approaches, such as that of Claude Levi-Strauss where the focus is on social organisation and societal structures and how they are learned and reacted to by members of that society.

Sub-culture: an identifiable group within a society whose members share common values and have similar behaviour patterns. Sub-cultures usually share some features the with the host culture but may also be oppositional to it.
Often sub-cultures are seen as deviant to the host culture – see: Crime & Deviance: the Difference

Subconscious: see Nonconscious Processing.

Submodality: a characteristic of the information processed by a modality – eg: brightness and motion in visual representations; loudness and tone in auditory representations.Many NLP therapies involve submodality exercises.Sub-culture: a group of people with a distinct identity based on factors such as morals, attitudes, rules, practices, etc, yet who also appear to be a part of or within a larger grouping.



Superego: see Psychoanalytic Theory.

Surplus Value:

Symbolic Interactionism: this approach is based on the assumption that we inhabit a symbolic world where symbols have shared or complementary meanings. The social world is, therefore, constructed from the meanings that people give to events and phenomena. These meanings are transmitted as memes.
An example might be that, to a bus driver, the bus is a means of earning their living; to the passengers, it is a mode of transport.

Sympathetic System: see Autonomic Nervous System.

Synapse: the junction between 2 neurons.
The synapse includes the terminal button of the transmitting neuron’s axon, the synaptic gap (aka synaptic cleft) between the 2 neurons and the post-synaptic membrane on the dendrite of the receiving neuron.

Graphic copyright © 2020 Psychology Hub/Catherine Claire

Synaptic Transmission: the process of conducting information from one neuron to another across the synaptic gap (aka synaptic cleft)
As illustrated in the graphic above, neurotransmitters are released from synaptic vesicles in the terminal button of the transmitting neuron’s axon. The neurotransmitter enters the synaptic gap and connects with receptor molecules on the receiving neuron’s dendrite.

Systematic Desensitisation: a form of Behavioural therapy for the treatment of phobias. The strategy is to replace the fear response to the threatening stimulus with a different response such as muscle relaxation.

Systems Theory: