Dictionary of Terms


Language Universal A characteristic feature found in all natural languages.

Latency Period The period between the phallic stage and the genital stage during which there are no unconscious sexual urges or intrapsychic conflicts.

Latent Content The hidden message of a dream, produced by the unconscious.

Law of Closure A Gestalt law of organization; elements missing from the outline of a figure are "filled in" by the visual system.

Law of Common Fate A Gestalt law of organization; elements that move together give rise to the perception of a particular figure.

Law of Effect Thorndikeís observation that stimuli that occur as a consequence of a response can increase or decrease the likelihood of making that response again.

Law of Proximity A Gestalt law of organization; elements located closest to each other are perceived as belonging to the same figure.

Law of Similarity A Gestalt law of organization; similar elements are perceived as belonging to the same figure.

Learned Helplessness A response to exposure to an inescapable aversive stimulus, characterized by reduced ability to learn a solvable avoidance task; thought to play a role in the development of some psychological disturbances.

Learning An adaptive process in which the tendency to perform a particular behavior is changed by experience.

Lens The transparent organ situated behind the iris of the eye; helps focus an image on the retina.

Libido An insistent, instinctual force that is unresponsive to the demands of reality; the primary source of motivation.

Liking A feeling of personal regard, intimacy, and esteem toward another person.

Limbic Cortex The cerebral cortex located around the edge of the cerebral hemispheres where they join with the brain stem; part of the limbic system.

Limbic System A set of interconnected structures of the brain important in emotional and species-typical behavior; includes the amygdala, hippocampus, and limbic cortex.

Linear Perspective A monocular cue of depth perception; the arrangement or drawing of objects on a flat surface such that parallel lines receding from the viewer are seen to converge at a point on the horizon.

Linguistic Relativity The hypothesis that the language a person speaks is related to his or her thoughts and perceptions.

Lithium Carbonate A simple salt effective in treating bipolar disorder.

Locus of Control An individualís beliefs that the consequences of his or her actions are controlled by internal person variables or by external environmental variables.

Long-Term Memory Memory in which information is represented on a permanent or near-permanent basis.

Loving A combination of liking and a deep sense of attachment to, intimacy with, and caring for another person.

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