psychology

Introductory Psychology

Psychology is the study of the human mind and behavior, embracing all aspects of conscious and unconscious experience and thought. The word “psychology” is from the Greek words psyche which means “breath, spirit, soul” and logia which means the study of something.

The Introductory Psychology exam covers material commonly taught in a single semester college undergraduate introductory course. As the science of mind and behavior, the study of psychology requires students to learn the different approaches psychologists use to understand human behavior. These include: biological, clinical, cognitive, developmental, personality, social and abnormal psychology.

The exam contains approximately 95 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. Some of these are pretest questions that will not be scored. The College Board provides the parameters for the exam which we have listed below. The questions on the exam adhere to the terminology, criteria, and classifications referred to in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT PSYCHOLOGY:

  • Knowledge of terminology, principles, and theory
  • Ability to comprehend, evaluate, and analyze problem situations
  • Ability to apply knowledge to new situations

The field of Psychology is quite large, and the CLEP exam will contain questions from the following topics.

HISTORY, APPROACHES, METHODS: 8-9% of the exam

  • History of psychology
  • Approaches: biological, behavioral, cognitive, humanistic, psychodynamic
  • Research methods: experimental, clinical, correlational
  • Ethics in research

BIOLOGICAL BASES OF BEHAVIOR: 8-9% of the exam

The physical mechanisms directly influence the behavior of a person. Psychologists consider the central nervous system to be the most important.

  • Endocrine system
  • Etiology (the study of the origin of psychology)
  • Functional organization of the central nervous system
  • Genetics
  • Neuroanatomy (the branch of anatomy that deals specifically with the brain and nerve structure)
  • Physiological techniques

SENSATION and PERCEPTION: 7-8% of the exam

Sensation is the body’s detection of external and internal stimulation. Perception is the brain’s method of making sense of the sensation.

  • Attention
  • Other senses: somesthesis (skin perceptiveness), olfaction (smell), gustation (taste), vestibular system (inner ear)
  • Perceptual development
  • Perceptual processes
  • Receptor processes: vision, auditory
  • Sensory mechanisms: thresholds, adaptation

STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS: 5-6% of the exam

Consciousness is a person’s state of awareness of the environment, thoughts, feelings and sensations.

  • Hypnosis and meditation
  • Psychoactive drug effects
  • Sleep and dreaming

LEARNING: 10-11% of the exam

This subject area within psychology studies the process of learning from various learning processes.

  • Biological bases
  • Classical conditioning
  • Cognitive process in learning
  • Observational learning
  • Operant conditioning

COGNITION: 8-9% of the exam

Cognition is the mental action or process of acquiring knowledge and understanding through thought, experience and the senses.

  • Intelligence and creativity
  • Language
  • Memory
  • Thinking and problem solving

MOTIVATION and EMOTION: 7-8% of the exam

Motivation is a theoretical construct to explain behavior. Emotion is a relatively brief conscious experience characterized by intense mental activity with a high degree of pleasure or displeasure.

  • Biological bases
  • Hunger, thirst, sex, pain
  • Social motivation
  • Theories of emotion
  • Theories of motivation

DEVELOPMENTAL PSYCHOLOGY: 8-9% of the exam

Developmental psychology is the scientific study of how and why human beings change over the course of their life.

  • Dimensions of development: physical, cognitive, social, moral
  • Gender identity and sex roles
  • Heredity-environment issues
  • Research methods: longitudinal, cross-sectional
  • Theories of development

PERSONALITY: 7-8% of the exam

Personality psychology is a study discipline of psychology that studies personality and how it varies from person to person.

  • Assessment techniques
  • Growth and adjustment
  • Personality theories and approaches
  • Research methods: idiographic (relating to the study of individuals), nomothetic (relating to general laws or traits in personality theory)
  • Self-concept, self-esteem

PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS and HEALTH: 8-9% of the exam

A psychological disorder, or mental disorder, is a mental or behavioral pattern that causes suffering or a poor ability to function and may be persistent, relapsing or remitting.

  • Affective disorders (depression or mania)
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Dissociative disorders (characterized by fugue states or multiple personality)
  • Health, stress, and coping
  • Personality disorders
  • Psychoses
  • Somatic system (somatoform) disorders (characterized by symptoms of physical illness or injury but no known origin)
  • Theories of psychopathology

TREATMENT OF PSYCHOLOGICAL DISORDERS: 7-8% of the exam

Psychiatrists and clinical social workers use various methods, after observation and diagnosis to treat individuals with suffering from psychological disorders.

  • Behavioral therapies
  • Biological and drug therapies
  • Cognitive therapies
  • Community and preventive approaches
  • Insight therapies: psychodynamic and humanistic approaches

SOCIAL PSYCHOLOGY: 7-8% of the exam

Social psychology studies how people’s thoughts, feelings and behaviors are influenced by the actual, imagined or implied presence of others.

  • Aggression/antisocial behavior
  • Attitudes and attitude change
  • Attribution processes
  • Conformity, compliance, obedience
  • Group dynamics
  • Interpersonal perception

STATISTICS, TESTS, and MEASUREMENT: 3-4% of the exam

  • Descriptive statistics
  • Inferential statistics
  • Measurement of intelligence
  • Reliability and validity
  • Samples, populations, norms
  • Types of tests

Each college sets their own credit-granting policies for the exam, so check with your college admissions office, test center, or academic adviser before taking the test.

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