Modern States Psychology – get your CLEP voucher

Sparksnotes Psychology Study Guide

Mandy Rice on YouTube Psychology Playlists

  • It wasn’t that hard for me. Go over the big names and their methods or what they were known for, the different parts of the brain and what they control, the different parts of the nervous system, and the “schools” of psychology. Psychological disorders, mood disorders, etc, and different types of tests (like the IQ).
  • Passed my Intro to Psychology CLEP. My score was 67, and I used a variety of resources to get ready. I watched every video on Study(.)com. Then, I purchased the REA Intro to Psychology book off of Amazon and read it front to back, highlighting key words as I went. I took the practice exams in the back of the REA book, the CLEP practice exam, and the Peterson exam.
  • If you have taken intro to psychology you definitely should take human growth and development they both have a lot of overlap.
  • I used only Modern States (watched the videos but didn’t do any of the readings) and scored very well.
  • I did not think it was difficult, I passed just using Modern States to study.
  • My 17 year old DS just passed his 5th CLEP … Psychology. For this CLEP he used Modern States, YouTube Crash Course videos, and took the REA practice tests. He passed with a 54.
  • Crash Course is a channel on YouTube that teaches a lot of different subjects. Their videos are good but not necessarily tailored specifically for the CLEP tests.
  • No resource will tell you exactly what’s on a test. If there was everyone would just memorize the answers and not learn the topic.
  • Just Passed Intro Psychology CLEP with a 57! I used Modern States and Crash Course to study for a week before my exam.

Intro to Psychology CLEP Review Packet by Tyler Powers



  • Consciousness was combined to perceptions
  • Wilhelm Wundt
  • Introspection: Looking inwards


  • Process of human condition, behavior=adjusting to environments
  • William James


  • Behavior as a result of genes, nervous system, hormones, neurotransmitters, etc.


  • Learned responses to predictable patterns of external stimuli
  • Pavlov’s classic conditioning
  • Skinner’s operant conditioning
  • Watson (father of Behavioral perspective)


  • Behavior as a result of unconscious attachments and interpersonal connections
  • Sigmund Freud
  • Id, Superego, ego
    • Id: Pleasure principle
    • Superego: Cautious “we cannot do that;” morality
    • Ego: Moderator between Id and Superego


  • Behavior as a result of “expectations, feelings and thoughts.”
  • Study problem solving, attention, memory and other thought processes
  • Piaget and Bandura


  • People are motivated through the desire of growth and development.
  • Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs
  • Carl Rogers: People are basically good, needed unconditional positive regard


Sensorimotor: 0-2

  • Knowledge through the senses
  • Acquire object permanence

Pre-operational: 2-6

  • Egocentric
  • Use symbolic thought, words, images
  • Unable to understand conservation

Concrete Operations: 6-12

  • Logical rules for concrete problems

Formal Operations: 12+

  • Thinks scientifically and hypothetically

Freud’s Psychosexual Theory

Oral: 0-1

  • Pleasure through the mouth

Anal: 1-3

  • Learn to control bodily functions through toilet training

Phallic: 3-6

  • Sexual desires towards opposite sex parent form (Oedipus and Electra complex)
    • Oedipus complex is resolved through identification whereby the ego suppresses the desire for the opposite gender by fully identifying with the same-sex parent

Latency: 6-12:

  • Sexual instincts subside, develop superego and conscious

Genital: 12+:

  • Sexual impulses reemerge

Erikson’s Theory of Psychosocial Development

0-1: Trust vs. Mistrust

1-3: Autonomy vs. shame/doubt

3-5: Initiative vs. Guilt

6-11: Industry vs. inferiority

12-18: Identity vs. role confusion

18-35: Intimacy vs. isolation

36-55: Generativity vs. stagnation

55+: Integrity vs. despair

Attachment Theory (Bowlby):

  • Attachment between offspring and parent in infancy. Avoidant, resistant, disorganized, secure à Develop into personality traits

Research methods for development

  • Cross-Sectional: Comparing people of different ages at the same point in time
    • Could lead to biases through societal changes
  • Longitudinal: Tracking single cohort over time. Sample must be large to increase validity.
  • Cross-Sequential: People of different age groups are followed over long periods of time.
    • Helps reduce confounding variables


Classical Conditioning (Pavlov):

  • Learning occurs whereby a stimulus is associated with a consequence
  • Example: When a dog sees his/her dog bowl, they begin to drool
  • Extinction: Conditioned stimulus (bowl in this case) is presented without the unconditioned stimulus (food)

Associative Learning (large umbrella for classic and operant learning)

Non-Associative Learning

Habitualiztion: Habits

Sensory register: Holds information for a few seconds

Modeling: Watching what others do or say and mimicking their behavior

Operant Conditioning (Skinner):  Learning an association between a stimulus and a response that follows.

  • Reinforcement
    • Positive: Something is added to increase the likelihood of behavior
    • Negative: Something is removed to increase the likelihood of behavior
  • Punishment
    • Positive: Something is added to decrease the likelihood of behavior
    • Negative: Something is removed to decrease likelihood of behavior
  • Reinforcement Schedule
    • Ratio Schedule: How many times response has been made
    • Interval Schedule: Amount of time between reinforcement
    • Fixed: Hard set reward/punishment. Ex: You will get a bonus after selling 10 more boxes of product.
    • Variable: Fluid source of reinforcement. Ex: You will have a pop quiz in the future.
  • Refer to the chart for full descriptions

Primary Reinforcer: Reinforcers that are not learned. These include water, food, sleep, shelter, sex and touch.

Secondary reinforcer: Reinforcers that are learned that we take value from as a result of conditioning. Money, someone giving you a “high-five” are examples.

Shaping: Rewarding successive approximations towards a target behavior

Vicarious Punishment: Where the observer sees the model punished, making the observer less likely to initiate that behavior.

Vicarious Reinforcement: Process where the observer sees the model rewarded, making the observer more likely to initiate that behavior.

Retroactive interference: Tendency for later learning to interfere with prior learning.

Proactive interference: Tendency for prior learning to interfere with later learning.


Triarchic Theory of Intelligence (Robert Stenburg): Three main areas of intelligence

  • Analytic intelligence
  • Practical intelligence
  • Creative intelligence

Multiple Intelligences Theory (Gardner): Each person posses at least 8 types of intelligence.

Schema: A mental construct consisting of a cluster or collection of related concepts

Role Schema: Makes assumptions about how individuals in a certain role will behave.

Event Schema (Cognitive script): Set of behaviors that feel like a routine.

Priming: When an exposure to one thing can alter later behavior or thoughts

  • Example: If a child sees candy on a bench, they might thing about candy when they see that bench again

Heuristics: Mental shortcuts that save time during problem solving

  • Availability Heuristic: Decision based on information readily available to you
  • Representative bias (Heuristic): Stereotype someone/something without a valid basis of judgment.
  • Trial and error
  • Working backwards: Focusing on end result
  • Algorithm (always correct)

Norming: Administering a test to a large population so data can be collected to reference the normal scores or a population and its groups.

Confirmation Bias: Looking at only information that backs up your beliefs


  • Babbling Stage (4-6 months to a year): Practice sounds.
  • One-word Stage (one year to 18 months): Words PLUS gestures i.e. telegraphic speech.
  • Two-Word Stage (18+ months): Noun+verb, later Adjective + Noun. Fast mapping: Mental process where a new concept is learned based on only minimal exposure (especially in toddlers)

Memory: Sensory -> Short-term -> long-term

  • Echoic memory: Ultra short-term memory; referred to as auditory register.

The Brain; Biological Basis for Behavior

Nervous System

  • Glial cells: Provide scaffolding on which the nervous system is built, help neurons line up closely to one another.
  • Neurons: Interconnected information processers that are essential for all tasks of the nervous system.
    • Soma: Cell body
    • Dendrites: Input sites for the soma, where signals are received from other neurons.
    • Axon: Where signal is carried
    • Terminal buttons: Contains synaptic vesicles that house neurotransmitters; houses the chemical messengers for the nervous system.
    • Resting Potential: State of readiness whereby ions on both sides of the neuron membrane are ready to rush towards their opposite charge. I.e. when the neuron is polarized.
  • Central Nervous System: Brain and spinal cord
  • Peripheral Nervous System: Connects the CNS to the rest of the body, all of the nerves throughout your body.
    • Somatic Nervous System: Associated with activities thought of as conscious or voluntary.
    • Autonomic Nervous System: Controls our internal organs and glands, generally considered outside of our realm of control.
    • Sympathetic Nervous System: Involved in preparing the body for stress-related activities.
    • Parasympathetic Nervous System: Associated with returning the body back to day-to-day routines.

THE Brain

  • Frontal Lobe: Reasoning, motor control, emotion, language
    • Motor cortex: Planning and coordinating movement
    • Prefrontal cortex: Higher-level cognitive functioning
    • Broca’s area: Essential for language
    • Parietal Lobe: Processing info from the body’s senses.
      • Somatosensory cortex: Processing touch, temperature and pain.
    • Temporal Lobe: Hearing, memory, emotion, and some language.
      • Auditory cortex: Responsible for auditory info.
      • Wernicke’s area: Speech comprehension.
    • Occipital Lobe: Interprets visual information
    • Thalamus: Sensory relay for the brain. All our senses, with the exception of smell, are routed through the thalamus before being directed to the cortex.
    • Limbic System: Processes emotion and memory
      • Hippocampus: Learning and memory
      • Amygdala: Experience of emotion and tying that emotion to our memories.
      • Hypothalamus: Regulates homeostatic process such as temperature, appetite and blood pressure.
  • Brain Imaging
    • Computerized tomography (CT): Often used to determine whether someone has a brain tumor or atrophy. Constructs an overall image of the brain.
    • Positron emission tomography (PET): Creates living, active pictures of the brain. Done so by giving the patient a tracer, that is seen when certain areas of the brain are more active than others. Only gives the active and inactive areas of the brain in the present moment.
    • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI): Uses a magnetic field to show an image of the brain. Generally used to compare the patient’s brain to other brains (that does not have their problem), to determine the structural differences in their brain.
    • Electroencephalography (EEG): Generally used to study sleep patterns of those who have sleep disorders. An array of electrodes are placed to pinpoint the electrical activity of different areas of the brain.

Sensation and Perception


  • Iris: Colored portion of the eye
  • Cornea: Protective covering
  • Lens: Bends (refracts) light.
  • Optic nerve: Carries visual information to the thalamus.
    • Blind Spot: Where optic nerves exit the eye. No receptor cells.
  • Retina: Thin structure in the back of the eye with 2 receptors.
    • Rods: Black and white imagery. Low motion, low light.
    • Cones: Middle retina (fovea), color and details. High motion.
  • Color vision: Two theories
    • Trichromatic theory of color vision: All colors can be produced by combining red, green and blue. 3 cones are receptive to three of the colors.
    • Opponent-Process Theory: Color is processed in opponent pairs: black-white, yellow-blue, green-red.
    • Binocular vision: Depth/distance. Depth perception and perspective.


  • Thymatic membrane (eardrum): Vibrates when sound hits.
  • Oval window: Sends vibrations to cochlea.
  • Cochlea: Fluid-filled membrane in the inner ear that contains sensory receptor cells of the auditory system
  • Temporal theory: Frequency is coded by the activity of a sensory neuron. A given hair cell would fire action potentials related to the frequency of the sound wave.
  • Place theory: Different portions of the basilar membrane are sensitive to different pitches.



  • Stage 1: Transition phase between wakefulness and sleep. Produces alpha waves: Low frequency, high amplitude, then theta waves: lower frequency and high amplitude.
  • Stage 2: Deep state of relaxation. Primarily theta waves.
  • Stage 3 &4: Deep sleep. Delta waves. Very low frequency, high amplitude.
  • REM sleep: Rapid eye movements. Brain waves associated with someone who is awake, rapid low-amplitude waves.
  • Insomnia: Long delays between the time one goes to bed versus when they fall asleep.
    • Cognitive-behavioral theory: Types of psychotherapy that focuses on cognitive processes and problem behaviors. Used to treat insomnia.
  • Parasomnia: Unwanted, disruptive motor activity and/or experiences during sleep.
  • REM Sleep behavior disorder (RBD): When muscle paralysis associated with REM sleep does not occur. Can include kicking, scratching, yelling, behaving as if they are attacked.
  • Sleep apnea: Episodes during which a sleeper’s breathing stops.
  • Narcolepsy: An individual cannot resist falling asleep during inopportune times.


  • Depressant: Drug that suppresses the central nervous system
    • Include: Alcohol, Barbiturates, Xanax, opium, heroin, morphine, codeine, valium
  • Stimulant: Drug that increase levels of neural activities.
    • Include: Cocaine, caffeine, nicotine, cathinone’s (bath salts), ecstasy
  • Hallucinogen: Profound alterations in sensory and perceptual experiences. Users may experience vivid visual hallucinations.
    • Include: LSD, ketamine, PCP, DMT, amanitas, salvinorum
  • Antipsychotic
    • Haldol, Risperdal Seroquel

Hypnosis: Extreme state of self-focus, where minimal attention is given to external stimuli. Can be used to draw out information that is believed to be buried deep into someone’s memory. Can also be used as pain control (according to research), reduction of anxiety, smoking cessation and weight loss.


Defense mechanisms

Remember the relationship between id, ego, superego

Inferiority complex (Alfred Adler): Person’s feeling that they lack worth and don’t measure up to the standards of others in society.

Analytical psychology (Carl Jung): Focuses on balancing the opposing forces of conscious and unconscious thought, and experience within one’s personality.

  • Collective unconscious: Universal version of personal unconscious, holding mental patterns, or memory patterns that are common in all of us.
    • These collective unconscious thoughts are held in archetypes: Universal themes such as literature, dreams, art.
  • Jung also pioneered the idea of introversion and extroversion

Horney’s coping styles

  • Moving towards people: Affliction and dependence, such as a child seeking positive attention from a parent.
  • Moving against people: Aggression and manipulation, such as a child bullying other children
  • Moving away from people: Detachment and isolation, such as becoming an adult loner.

Behavioral perspective: Personality is driven by reinforcements and consequences outside the organism. People behave due to prior learning.

Social-Cognitive Perspective: Social-cognitive theory: Emphasizes that learning and cognition are sources of one’s personality.

Reciprocal Determinism: Where cognitive processes, behavior, and situational context all play a role in personality and how one reacts.

Observational Learning: We learn by witnessing others

Self-Efficacy (Bandura): Our level of self confidence in our abilities, developed through social experiences

Locus of Control (Julian Rotter): belief that we have control over our own lives. Can be both internal and external (Internal=efforts & decisions, external=Fate, luck, beliefs)


  • Projective Tests (Psychoanalysis): Relies on one of the defense mechanisms proposed by Freud – Projection – to assess unconscious processes.
  • Rorschach Inkblot Test: Primarily measures depression, psychosis and anxiety.
  • Thematic Apperception Test (TAT) (Henry Murray): Person is shown 8-12 images and must make a story based on those images. Gives insight into their social world
  • Rotter Incomplete Sentence Blank (Julian Rotter): Test includes 40 different incomplete sentences that the people are asked to answer as quickly as possible. Responses will reveal desires, fears and struggles.

Psychological Disorders and Stress

Primary Appraisal: Involves judgment about the degree of potential harm or threat to well-being that a stressor might entail.

Secondary Appraisal: Judgment of the options available to cope with a stressor, as well as the perceptions of how effective such options will be.

James-Lange Theory: Stimulus causes arousal, then emotion. Emotion results from arousal.

Cannon-Bard Theory: Relevant stimulus generate arousal. Emotions and arousal occur at the same time.

Personality Disorders

  • ADHD: Constant pattern of inattention and/or hyperactive and impulsive behavior that interferes with normal functioning.
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder: Deficits in social interaction, deficits in communication and repetitive patterns of behavior or interests.

Anxiety Disorders:

  • Social Anxiety Disorder: Extreme and persistent fear or anxiety and avoidance of social situations in which the person could potentially be evaluated negatively by others.
    • Safety behaviors: Avoiding eye contact, briefly talking, not talking about oneself; behaviors they revert towards to reduce anxiety.
  • Panic Disorder: Recurrent and unexpected panic attacks.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder: Continuous state of excessive, uncontrollable and pointless worry and apprehension.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Group of overlapping disorders that generally involve intrusive, unpleasant thoughts and repetitive behaviors.
    • Overactive Orbitofrontal cortex
  • Body Dysmorphic disorder: Someone who is preoccupied with a perceived flaw in his/her physical appearance that is either nonexistent or barely noticeable to other people.
  • Hoarding Disorder: Cannot bear to part with personal possessions, regardless of how valueless or useless the item is.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress disorder: Intrusive and distressing memories of a traumatic event (frequent flashbacks).
  • Major Depressive disorder: Includes a depressive mood for most of the day, loss of interest and pleasure in usual activities.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Experience mood states that vacillate between depression and mania.
  • Schizophrenia: Characterized by major disturbances in thought, perception, emotion and behavior. Hallucinations, delusions, disorganized thinking and abnormal motor behavior.
    • Hallucinations: Perceptual experience without a stimulus
    • Delusions: Beliefs that are contrary to reality and are firmly held in the face fo reality.

Dissociative Disorders

  • Dissociative amnesia: Unable to recall important personal information, usually following and extremely stressful or traumatic experience.
  • Depersonalization/derealization disorder: Recurring episodes of both depersonalization and derealization.
    • Depersonalization: Unreality from one’s whole self or from aspects of the self.
    • Derealization: Unreality with the world and society; objects, people, surroundings.
  • Dissociative Identity Disorder: Exhibit two or more separate personalities or identities, each well defined and distinct from one another.

Treatment of Disorders

Treatment Modalities

  • Individual Theory: Clinician and patient meet one on one.
  • Group Theory: Clinician meets with several clients with similar problems.
  • Couples theory: Involves two people in a intimate relationship who are having difficulties and are trying to resolve them,
  • Family Theory: Group therapy consisting of one or more family members.

Social Psychology

Fundamental attribution error: Society/people not seeing factors that could lead to one’s behavior. “Jumping to conclusions”

Actor-Observer Bias: Phenomenon of attributing other people’s behavior to internal factors while attributing our own behavior to situational factors.

Self-Serving Bias: Tendency to take credit by making dispositional attributions for positive outcomes but situational attributions for negative outcomes

Just world Hypothesis: Belief that people get the outcomes they deserve

Cognitive Dissonance: Discomfort from holding two or more inconsistent states that we experience a conflict in our behaviors, attitudes or beliefs. Example: Thought that smoking is bad for you but keep smoking.

Front in the door technique: Persuader gets a person to agree to a small behavior, only to later request a larger favor.

Door in the face technique: Persuader attempts to convince someone to comply with a large request (that they will reject), only to ask for a much smaller favor.

Asch effect: Influence of a group majority on an individual’s judgment.

Groupthink: Modification of the opinions of members of a group to align with what they believe is the group consensus.

Social facilitation: Individuals performance is better when in audience is watching.

Social Loafing: Exertion of less effort by a person working together with a group.

Bystander effect: Which a witness or bystander does not volunteer to help a victim in distress, primarily because of diffusion of responsibility.

Social Exchange theory: We act as naïve economists in keeping a tally of the ration of costs and benefits of forming and maintaining a relationship.