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If there was a holy trinity for AP study sites, Quizlet would most certainly be in it. Its easy to use interface combined with its multi-purpose functionality helps students of all different learning styles in endless subject areas. However, it can sometimes be challenging to find the best vocab sets. 

Fiveable’s AP Psych teachers & students have compiled the best quizlet study decks for each unit. The AP Psych exam is very vocabulary heavy, so make sure you take the time to learn these terms. Bookmark this page to use throughout the year!

Catch a live review this week for AP Psych! See the calendar for upcoming streams.

 

Unit 1 Key Terms (10-14%): Scientific Foundations of Psychology

AP Psychology Unit 1 revolves around the different branches/approaches of psychology, important figures in the field of psychology, and the scientific processes and methods used to develop ethical research. This first unit is a foundation for the rest of the course, so you’ll want to make sure you are super familiar with these 79 key terms.

Best Quizlet Deck: Unit 1 AP Psychology (Scientific Foundations of Psychology) by Erica_Roberts270

 

Most important terms to know:

  • 🧪Experimental Psychology – A psychological approach based around experimentation and scientific studies.
  • Humanistic Psychology – Focuses on the celebratory aspects of individuals, such as personal growth and potential for improvement. One of the more optimistic approaches.
  • Psychodynamic Psychology – Analyzes the different levels of consciousness and the components of the personality (id, ego, and superego) to determine how they affect aspects of behavior.
  • Structuralism – Uses introspection to discover structural elements behind the human mind and thought.
  • Empiricism – The foundation of knowledge should revolve around experience opposed to theories. 
  • Functionalism – Each part of the brain serves a function to fulfill primary desires such as reproduction and survival. If it has no function, it adapts or becomes extinct.

 

Note: Other psychological approaches exist, but are covered more in-depth during later units. 

 

Unit 2 Key Terms (8-10%): Biological Basis of Behavior

The second unit of AP Psychology introduces the biological approach of psychology through the brain’s structure and chemistry. A good quizlet for this unit will have visuals due to the large amount of brain anatomy. 

Best Quizlet Deck: Unit 2 AP Psychology by Kelsey Colton

Most Important Terms to Know:

  • 💊Neurotransmitters – A chemical substance released by neurons to send signals to various parts of the body. Transmitted by neurons, hence the name.
  • 🧠Plasticity – The brain has the ability to change and is molded by damage, experience, trauma, and aging.
  • Corpus Callosum – Connects the left and right brain hemisphere, permitting communication between the two. These fibers can be cut during surgery, resulting in a split brain.
  • Neuron – A nerve cell capable of communicating and transferring information to other parts of the body. An important part of the nervous system. 

 

Unit 3 Key Terms (6-8%): Sensation & Perception

In unit 3, the key focuses are sensation and perception. Sensations are the responses to certain stimuli, while perception is our interpretations of what we experience with the 5 senses. 

Remember that despite this unit being worth less on the AP exam than others, it still has several important key terms that you must know.

Best Quizlet Deck: AP Psychology Sensation and Perception by Alejandro_Lozano1


Most important terms to know:

  • 🍷Cocktail Party Effect – Oftentimes, we may not pay attention to a conversation (auditory stimuli) until we hear our names. Ties into selective attention.
  • Absolute Threshold – Lowest level of stimulation necessary for the detection of a stimulus half of the time.
  • ⬆️ Bottom-Up Processing – Processing the “raw” information collected from a stimulus before the brain’s analysis.
  • ⬇️ TopDown Processing – Interpretation is made only after the brain connects the stimulus to existing information.

 

Unit 4 Key Terms (7-9%): Learning

Unit 4 is all about something that all students should have plenty of experience with: learning! This unit is not only important because of the AP Psychology exam, but also because it can be applied to real world situations to assist in learning.

Best Quizlet Deck: AP Psychology Learning by Kelly_Taylor182

 

Most important terms to know:

  • Unconditioned & Conditioned Response (UR/CR) – The response to stimuli, which can either be naturally occurring (unconditioned), or learned (conditioned).
  • Unconditioned & Conditioned Stimuli (US/CS) – A stimulus that naturally provokes a response (unconditioned), or one that has gone through conditioning to provoke an unnatural response.
  • 🔔 Neutral Stimulus (NS) – During conditioning, the NS and US are combined to provoke a UR. Eventually, the NS is associated with the US and becomes a CS.
  • 🐶 Classical Conditioning – Demonstrated by Ivan Pavlov’s famous dog experiment. The US leads to a UR, and the NS leads to no response. Conditioning occurs, which results in the NS and US provoking a UR. The NS becomes a CS, provoking the CR.
  • ➕ ➖ Reinforcement – Positive and negative reinforcement both serve the purpose of increasing behavior, but through different methods. Positive stimuli is presented in positive reinforcement, while negative stimuli is increased or decreased depending on the intended result in negative reinforcement.
  • Learned Helplessness – Discovered by Martin Seligman during his famous shocking experiment using dogs, animals can be conditioned into complete helplessness.
    • The dogs in the experiment were restrained and shocked repeatedly to the point of not attempting to escape when the restraining factor was removed. They felt as if there was nothing they could do because of the previous circumstances. The dogs who were only shocked once and not restrained jumped out immediately.

 

Unit 5 Key Terms (13-17%): Cognitive Psychology

Weighted at a staggering 13-17% of questions on the multiple choice section, learning about cognitive psychology is of utmost importance for the AP Psychology exam. Cognition is a mental process used to acquire and comprehend knowledge. This is done through sensations, perceptions, and empirical data.

Best Quizlet Deck: Cognitive Psychology by Jessica_Mercer3


Most important terms to know:

  • Misinformation Effect – Incorrect information is capable of influencing memories and even creating false (implanted) memories.
  • Episodic Memory – Events related to an individual’s life. Can be remembered by thinking of your life in terms of episodes.
  • Semantic Memory – Specific details about something, the semantics of it.
  • Implicit Memory – A memory you’re unaware of due to habituation.
  • Explicit Memory – A memory you’re aware of. It’s explicitly there.
  • 🗃 Chunking – The categorization of information for ease of memory. Phone numbers are chunked into groups of 3, 3, and 4 which affect memorization.
  • 🔊 Sensory Memory – Echoic is auditory (think of echoing) and can be stored for 3-4 seconds. Iconic is visual (computer icons) and only able to be stored for 1/10th of a second. Haptic involves the sense of smell, and is stored for up to 2 seconds.

 

Unit 6 Key Terms (7-9%): Developmental Psychology

Within the arguments of nature vs nurture in psychology, unit 6 focuses on the developmental aspect of psychology. Nature involves the biological and genetic aspects of a child, while nurture provokes discussions of attachment styles, external influences, and parenting styles.

Best Quizlet Deck: Developmental Psychology by Micah_Tenner

 

Most Important Terms to Know:

  • 👑 Authoritarian – Authoritarian parents have a “my way or the highway” outlook on parenting, with high demands/expectations and low freedom due to the controlling nature. Authoritarian parenting is linked to lower self-esteem and higher reliance on authority figures.
  • 👁 Authoritative – Not to be confused with authoritarian (think libertarian and authoritarian to remember), discipline and love are both high, but the foundational structure involves the rules and democratic approach. The parents have a say, but the children can also comment (unlike permissive or authoritarian parenting).
  • 🖤 Uninvolved – The parent has little to no interaction with the child. There is no give and take in this kind of relationship, just apathy and nearly unlimited freedom. Also called neglectful parenting.
  • Permissive – The dynamic in permissive parenting is that a parent gives plenty of freedom while expecting very little in return. Freedom and love are high, while discipline is often low.
  • 8 Stages of Psychosocial Development – A modified version of Freud’s psychosexual theory created by Erik Erikson. Each stage serves as a challenge for an individual to put conflicting ideas to rest. Check out our Unit 6 Guide for more information!
  • 👶 Strange Situation – An experiment performed by Mary Ainsworth with the purpose of determining attachment style. The mother, the child, and a stranger are in a room, alternating who stays and goes. The baby’s reaction is an indicator of attachment style.
  • Stages of Cognitive Development – Invented by Jean Piaget. Consists of the sensorimotor stage (0-2), preoperational stage (2-7), concrete operational stage (7-11), and the formal operational stage (12+). Check out our Unit 6 Guide for more information!

 

Unit 7 Key Terms (11-15%): Motivation, Emotion, & Personality

In unit 7, some psychological approaches and concepts previously mentioned return. Theories about motivation, emotion, and personality take up the bulk of this unit. 

Best Quizlet Deck: Motivation, Emotion, and Personality by M_burbach

 

Most Important Terms to Know:

  • Big 5 Personality Traits – You can remember these traits with the acronym OCEAN. Openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
  • 🛡Defense Mechanisms – Another acronym! Remember RRDDP. Regression, repression, denial, displacement, and projection.
  • Intrinsic Motivation – An internal motivator, such as love.
  • Extrinsic Motivation – An external motivator, such as scoring well on a test.
  • 🔺 Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs – Where a person is located in life based on the needs they have fulfilled. 

 

Unit 8 Key Terms (12-16%): Clinical Psychology

When most people think of psychology, they tend to think of clinical psychology, which is the focus of unit 8. Clinical psychology involves the treatment, diagnosis, approaches, and classification of psychological disorders. 

Best Quizlet Deck: AP Psych Unit 8 – Clinical Psychology by Kelly_MSSH

 

There are many disorders and terms to discuss in this unit, but here are just a few key ones:

  • Bipolar Disorder – Extreme mood fluctuation between depressive symptoms and manic symptoms. Several types of Bipolar Disorder exist.

  • DSM 5 – Used to classify psychological disorders, created by the American Psychiatric Association.

  • ObsessiveCompulsive Disorder (OCD) – Repetitive thoughts and actions are present and often uncontrollable. OCD is an anxiety disorder.

  • Schizophrenia – Often characterized by delusions, auditory and visual hallucinations, and disorganized patterns of behavior, speech, and thought.

  • Personality Disorders – Divided into three different clusters; A, B, and C.
    • Cluster A: contains schizotypal, schizoid, and paranoid personality disorders
    • Cluster B: Borderline, antisocial, histrionic, and narcissistic personality disorder
    • Cluster C contains avoidant, dependent, and obsessive-compulsive personality disorders.

 

Note: Different disorders manifest in a variety of ways depending on the individual and present symptoms. Find more in-depth information in our Unit 8 Review.

 

Unit 9 Key Terms (8-10%): Social Psychology

Social psychology serves the purpose of showing how human behavior is influenced by various social settings. This unit consists of several popular experiments demonstrating various psychological phenomena.

Best Quizlet Deck: AP Psychology – Social Psychology by Scott_Melcher

 

A few of the psychological phenomena discovered through experiments are the following:

  • 👥 Conformity – People tend to think and behave in similar ways when they’re within a group setting.

  • Bystander Effect – If more people are present during a situation, they are less likely to intervene.

  • 🦶Foot-in-the-Door Phenomenon – If a person agrees to a small favor, a person is more likely to agree to a larger favor later. 

 

 

 

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