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IB psychology revision sheet Cheat Sheet by

Behaviour, memory, intro, vocab

The science of human behaviour

Psychology divides human behavior into external and internal aspects. Typical charac­ter­istics of human behavior include:
External behavior
can be observed by an outsider and measured object­ively is made of actions, gestures, positions, expres­sions, brain activity, and bodily reactions
Mental processes
refer to cognit­ive­-af­fective activities that indivi­duals do with their minds are subjec­tive, i.e. only expressed and appraised by persons themselves comprise cognitive processes (thinking, observ­ation, attention, memory, and learning) and affective factors (emotions and motives)
Adaptation to the enviro­nment
people adapt their behavior to perceived circum­stances and expect­ations
Intent­ional, conscious, uncons­cious
all behavior is intent­ional, regardless if the individual is aware of it


Human behavior is internal and external, adaptive, intent­ional, and conscious and uncons­cious:

internal = mental processes (thinking, emotions, motiva­tion)
external = actions (e.g. a smile)
adaptation of species, adaptation of senses, adaptation to a situation, learning facili­tates adaption
behavior is always goal-o­rie­nted, or “sensible”
conscious is voluntary
psycho­ana­lytic view of the uncons­cious
cognitive view of the uncons­cious

behaviour is based on brain activity

Neural circuits develop and reorganize due to enviro­nmental stimuli and individual behaviour.
The frontal lobe is fully developed around 25 years of age
Latera­liz­ation means that some brain functions are more dominant in either the right or left hemisp­here.
Neurop­las­ticity makes learning possible throughout life.

social theories

According to behavi­orists, learning can be passive or active. In classical condit­ioning, enviro­nmental regula­rities and automatic reactions to them, for instance fear, pleasure, or reserv­ation, shape learning passively. On the other hand, operant condit­ioning views the learner as an active partic­ipant, who based on positive and negative reinfo­rce­ment, changes his or her behavior. During the social­ization process, operant condit­ioning is a more signif­icant type of learning.
B. F. Skinner was a leading researcher on the effects that reinfo­rcement has on behavior and learning. In brief, rewards increase and punish­ments decrease a behavior. The theory of operant condit­ioning is useful for instance in animal training. Unlike animals, human beings do not need concrete rewards; instead, a smile that provides enough positive attention may be considered a reward. Similarly, a punishment can be anything from discipline to ignorance or disapp­roving looks. Discip­linary practices with children are often based on the principles of operant condit­ioning.
Albert Bandura continued the work of early American behavi­orists and studied the importance of vicarious reinfo­rce­ment. He explored reasons behind aggression and noticed that behavior is learned from the enviro­nment through observ­ational learning and that people imitate the behavior of others. An actual person, a media or literature character, or written instru­ctions can constitute a behavioral model. Vicarious reinfo­rce­ment, i.e. learning though observing the conseq­uences of behavior for other people, increases behavioral confor­mity. That is, we tend to repeat behaviors that others are rewarded for and avoid behaviors for which other people are punished. Bandura named his theory social learning theory.

Psycho­logical schools of thoughts

Psycho­dynamic psychology is based on Freud's ideas
Emphasis in human behaviour: The structures of the psyche (id, ego, superego) develop in early childhood and will shape human behavior consci­ously and especially uncons­ciously in later life.
Behavi­orism wanted to include psychology among natural sciences
Emphasis in human behaviour: Behavioral responses and habits are learned through condit­ioning or modelling. The strength of a behavior can be increased with positive reinfo­rcement (rewards) and decreased with negative reinfo­rcement (punis­hme­nts).
Humanistic psychology generated an optimistic view of human nature
Emphasis in human behavior: Indivi­duals are unique and use the meanings they give to their life to direct personal behavior
Cognitive psychology sees the individual as an active processor of inform­ation
Emphasis in human behavior: Individual schemas direct the active inform­ation processing and cognitive control of an indivi­dual.


schema: a pattern of thought or behavior that organizes inform­ation of the enviro­nment and the self
script: a sequence of accepted behavior in social situations
self-c­oncept: a schema of the self; involves physical charac­ter­istics, person­ality traits, knowledge and skills, and group roles
self-e­steem: an evaluation of one’s own worth and an ability to trust personal capacity
self-r­egu­lation: any strategy to maintain mental balance
P = perception
T = thinking
M = memory
A = attention
L = learning
L = language


psycho­logical factors
cognitive processes, emotions, motivation
biological factors
evolution, nervous system and hormones, heredity
social factors
culture, situat­ional factors, social enviro­nment

The core ideas of evolut­ionary psychology

Genes show variation between indivi­duals. Genes pass charac­ter­istics on to the next genera­tion.
The strongest, best adapted indivi­duals survive the struggle for existence. Successful mate selection and the production of healthy offspring are also signs of strength and good adapta­tion. The strongest, best adapted indivi­duals can spread their genes more widely to the next genera­tion.
Therefore, the charac­ter­istics improving adaptation become more and more prevalent with every new genera­tion, eventually developing into a dominant or universal charac­ter­istic of the species.

nature vs nurture

social perspe­ctive- classical condit­ioning

Uncond­itioned stimulus. This is the thing that triggers an automatic response. Food is the uncond­itioned stimulus in Pavlov’s dog experi­ment.
Uncond­itioned response. This is what response naturally occurs when you experience the uncond­itioned stimulus, such as salivating from the food.
Condit­ioned stimulus. This is considered a neutral stimulus. When you’re presented with it over and over before the uncond­itioned stimulus (e.g., food), it will start to evoke the same response. The bell before the food is the condit­ioned stimulus.
Condit­ioned response. This is the acquired response to the condit­ioned stimulus (the bell), which is often the same response as the uncond­itioned response. So, the dogs salivated for the bell the same way they salivated for the food in front of them.
If you pair a neutral stimulus (NS) with an uncond­itioned stimulus (US) that already triggers an uncond­itioned response (UR) that neutral stimulus will become a condit­ioned stimulus (CS), triggering a condit­ioned response (CR) similar to the original uncond­itioned response.

social - terms

confor­mity: a tendency to modify behavior and opinions in order to fit in
culture: a system, which is composed of the shared beliefs, values, and behavior of a group and passed on to the next genera­tion.
ingroup: a group that an individual identifies with
norm: communal rules that can be publicly declared or quiet assump­tions
outgroup: a group that an individual does not identify wit
social identity: the human tendency to define the self through group member­ships; a result of catego­riz­ation, identi­fic­ation, compar­ison, and ingroup favoritism
social­iza­tion: the process of growing into a member of a society or commu


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