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A nativist is someone like French mathematician and philosopher Rene Descartes (1596-1650) who believes we possess innate abilities at birth. These come to us by way of our genetics inherited from our biological parents.

Naturalistic observation
Naturalistic observation is the planned watching and recording of behaviours as they occur within a natural environment. An example would be naturalistic observation of animals in their natural habitat.

'Nature-nurture' debate
Big debate that rages in psychology over the amount our genetics or environment play in shaping who we are, and what we become. Also known as the nativist-empiricist, or genetics-heredity debate, it is an especially hot topic in the study of intelligence. If you were to study intelligence a bit more you might realize that the nature-nurture debate is a bit of a dead end. (Anyone want to discuss this in the Forum?).

Negative correlation
A negative correlation is said to exist when as one covariate increases the other covariate decreases. An excellent example of a negative correlation would be number of hours spent socialising by a group of students and their eventual examination mark. Going out too much seriously jeopardises your examination success.

Negative reinforcement
The use of unpleasant consequence in the learning process. The word reinforcement illustrates a process that strengthens a behaviour. The word negative means two things. First, a negative or aversive stimulus is used in the process, and/or second, the reinforcer is taken away. In negative reinforcement, after the response the negative reinforcer is removed which increases the frequency of the response. Note there are two types of negative reinforcement: escape and avoidance. In general, in a negative reinforcement process we learn to escape before we learn to avoid.

Neurons are our body's chemical messengers. 10-12 billion neurons make up our nervous system that transmit information to and from our brain and around our body. 80% of the body's neurons are found on the outer layer of the brain, our cerebral cortex. Neurons are of three main types, sensory neurons, motor neurons, and interneurons.

Name given to range of drugs used in the treatment of schizophrenia. Controls symptoms. Includes Largactil, Stelazine and Modecate. Controversy over their side effects.

Singular of neuroses. Term covering a range of disorders (see unconscious). An example would be agoraphobia, or fear of open spaces. The cause of such a neurosis lies in the individual's unconscious, possibly as a result of a traumatic event in childhood.

No common Paradigm
Criticism levied at the cognitive approach by Malim and Birch (1998). Because of the range and diversity of our cognitions (perception, attention, language, memory and thinking) those involved in the cognitive approach don't share much in common. There is no common theory that binds it together. Psychoanalysis/psychodynamic approach shares the unconscious. Behaviourists have S-R. But Miller for example studying memory doesn't have anything in common with Piaget studying thinking.

Literally 'named category'. The nomothetic approach to personality agrees that personality can be categorised on the basis of those traits that we share. Hence nomothetic personality theorists such as Hans Eysenck talk about extravert, introvert, stable, and unstable (neurotic) personality types.

Non-experimental design(s)
A design is a way of doing something, such as research. If something is non-experimental this means that it falls into a category of research methodologies in psychology that include observation, interview, case study and survey methods of enquiry. The reason they are non-experimental in design is that there is no independent variable present. This is the province of the experimental method only.

Non-participant observation
Non-participant observation is where the researcher sets up but does not take part in the observational study. They observe participants at a distance. (See participant observation).

A hormone/neurotransmitter important to our mood state. See Depression! Kettlewell (1955)

Norms and habits
Wicker believes norms and habits need to be taken into account as an influence on our behaviour, but maybe not our attitude to that behaviour. Wicker (1969b) found that peoples church-going behaviour was more related to what they thought the consequence of this behaviour was, rather than their attitudes to church and religion (see "Impression Management"). Habits are also important e.g. Sugar (reported in Triandis, 1971) found the strongest predictor of smoking behaviour in a social situation was the amount of people smoking, rather than a person's attitude to smoking. See also Fishbein and Azjen (1975)

Dyslexia and Myers-Irlen
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