Unit 1 Review (Scientific Foundations of Psychology)

4 min readdecember 20, 2021

Dalia Savy

Dalia Savy

AP Psychology 🧠

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This structured outline below has been adapted from the 2019 Course Description and framework published by College Board. Through this outline, which highlights must-know concepts and terminology, you can construct a more comprehensive guide to ensure you excel at this Unit. Unit 1 comprises of 6 distinct topics and is worth 10-14% of your exam and could be distributed randomly within the Multiple Choice and/or FRQ portions. Refer to our article on AP Psychology FRQs by topic for additional practice!

1.1 | introducing psychology (history and approaches)

  • Identify historical figures within the field psychology that created the foundations of psychological approaches through their research leading to theories.
Key Historical Figures include the following: Mary Whiton Calkins, Charles Darwin, Dorothea Dix, Sigmund Freud, G. Stanley Hall, William James, Ivan Pavlov, Jean Piaget, Carl Rogers, B. F. Skinner, Margaret Floy Washburn, John B. Watson, Wilhelm Wundt, and Edward Bradford Titchener.
  • Be able to differentiate between the theoretical approaches applied to understanding behavior and how they correlate with one another. Also, know how to understand which historical figure corresponds with each approach.
Theoretical Approaches include the following: biological, behavioral, cognitive, humanistic, psychodynamic, sociocultural, evolutionary, and biopsychosocial approaches.
  • Each theoretical approach individually has its own strengths and limitations that must be taken into consideration when applying them to real world situations.
  • Distinguish subfields/domains of psychology, including biological, clinical, cognitive, counseling, developmental, educational, experimental, human factors, industrial–organizational, personality, psychometric, social subfields.

1.2 | research methods in psychology

  • Know the difference between and when to use different psychological research methods.
Methods include: Experimental, Correlational studies, Survey Research, Naturalistic Observations, Case Studies, Longitudinal Studies, and Cross-Sectional studies.
  • Know the strengths, limitations, and purposes of research methods in their applications.
  • Understand the value of reliable measures of pre-conceptual variables in behavioral research.

1.3 | the experimental method

  • Identify important variables in the Experimental Design including independent, dependent, confounding and control.
  • The purpose of certain research designs proper usage in forming valid conclusions.
  • Experiments involve cause and effect.
  • Experimental controls decrease the number of possible alternative explanations.
  • Random Assignments are necessary in determining cause and effect accurately.
  • Correlational studies do not prove cause and effect, but only showcase relationships/associations.
  • Know the difference between random assignment in experiments and random selection in correlational studies and surveys.

1.4 | selecting a research method

  • Based on the characteristics of the research methods, predict the accuracy of the conclusions explaining behaviors. For instance: a certain variable such as a confounding variable within the experimental design can contradict results and mess up your experiment.
  • Using your background knowledge of research method terminology, make inferences of the impacts of the research methods and their factors on your results.

1.5 | statistical analysis in psychology

Here’s where you use those math skills of yours.
  • Interpret and construct graphs.
  • Calculate descriptive statistics. Know the forms of central tendency, including mean, median, and mode. Understand forms of variation, which involves range and standard deviation.
  • Interpret correlation coefficient values.
  • Identify frequency distributions, including normal, bimodal, positive skew, and negative skew distributions according to graphs.
  • Know the difference between descriptive and inferential statistics. Descriptive statistics describes data rather than allowing us to go beyond that to make inferences and conclusions based on our hypotheses (central tendency and variation). Inferential statistics, however, allows us to draw conclusions about the population based on the sample data.

1.6 | ethical guidelines in psychology

  • Ethical issues present may prevent certain research methods that go against legal regulations and guidelines.
  • Know some of the ethical guidelines in place such as
  • Be familiar with organizations that enact certain ethical guidelines that must be followed to enable any research to occur and ensure participants are safe. Such include the American Psychological Association (ASA) which provides the regulation of ethical research practices, Local Institutional Review Board that reviews certain research practices and makes sure if experiments follow proper ethical guidelines and can be granted proper authority to continue to experiment on their subjects, and the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC).

unit 1 vocab list

  • Psychology
  • Empiricism
  • Structuralism
  • Functionalism
  • Subfields of Psychology listed above
  • Theoretical Psychology Approaches listed above
  • Biopsychosocial approach
  • Nature vs. nurture issue
  • Basic research vs. applied research
  • Counseling vs. clinical psychology
  • Psychiatry
  • Hindsight bias
  • Critical thinking
  • Theory
  • Hypothesis
  • Operational definition
  • Replication
  • Case study advantages vs. disadvantages
  • Survey advantages vs. disadvantages
  • Naturalistic observation
  • Population
  • Random sample
  • Random assignment
  • False consensus effect
  • Correlation and correlation coefficient
  • Illusory correlation
  • Scatter plot
  • Experiments (Experimental condition, Control condition, IV, DV, Confounding)
  • Placebo effect
  • Double-blind procedure
  • Mean, mode, median
  • Standard deviation vs. range
  • Statistical significance
  • APA – American Psychological Association
  • Frequency polygon
  • Descriptive vs. inferential statistics
  • Histogram
  • Ethics of testing (debriefing, informed consent)
  • Wilhelm Wundt
  • Other Key Historical Figures listed above                             
  • Bell curve
  • Testing Effect
  • Skewed Distribution
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • SQ3R
  • Testing Effect
  • Behaviorism
  • Natural Selection
  • Levels of Analysis

Browse Study Guides By Unit
🔎Unit 1 – Scientific Foundations of Psychology
🧠Unit 2 – Biological Basis of Behavior
👀Unit 3 – Sensation & Perception
📚Unit 4 – Learning
🤔Unit 5 – Cognitive Psychology
👶🏽Unit 6 – Developmental Psychology
🤪Unit 7 – Motivation, Emotion, & Personality
🛋Unit 8 – Clinical Psychology
👫Unit 9 – Social Psychology
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