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Psychology Glossary - D

An erroneous belief the defies rational argument and despite all evidence to the contrary; this can also take the form of a psychiatric disorder manifest in conditions such as schizophrenia and paranoia.

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Dependent variable:
A feature of a particular phenomenon which varies according to the theory because it depends directly on how a given situation is manipulated.

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A catch-all term used to describe any of several complex, and sometimes extreme psychological states where the emotions are affected, either by internal factors such as by low spirts and low self-esteem or external factors, such as traumatic events in someone’s life.

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Directional selectivity:
A property of many visual neurones in which the neurone responds better to some directions of stimulus motion than to others.

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Dissonance theory:
In the study of attitude functions, the suggestion that people are motivated to attend to and prefer information that is consistent with their current attitudes rather than information that is inconsistent (i.e. dissonant).

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