AP Psychology Practice Test: History, Approaches, & Research Methods

This AP Psychology practice test covers the history, approaches, and research methods of psychology. On the exam you need to know the basic history of psychology along with the different approaches and subfields. You will also need to be familiar with experimental, correlational, and clinical research. The research methods topic also covers statistics and research ethics. Test your knowledge with our free online quiz.


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Question 1
Chip believes that human behavior is generated in our unconscious minds and is the result of unresolved conflicts and desires, especially rooted in childhood experience. To which psychological perspective is Chip most likely to prescribe?

A
Sociocultural
B
Cognitive
C
Humanistic
D
Psychodynamic
E
Evolutionary
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The Psychodynamic perspective suggests that behavior is the result of unconscious dynamics (inner forces), that childhood experience plays a crucial role in the development of adult behavior, and that behavioral traits can be linked to earlier traumatic experiences.
Question 2
Debbie is interested in determining if music helps people study. To do this, she uses the help of 20 students in her psychology class. Half the people study with music in the background for an hour and the other half study with no music for an hour.  The students then take a test on that material. In this example, what is the independent variable?

A
Music versus no music
B
Group that studies with no music
C
Group that studies with music
D
Scores on the exam
E
Students in the class
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The independent variable is the variable manipulated in a study. In this case, the “condition” applied is listening to music or NOT listening to music. The dependent variable in this study is the students’ performance on the test.
Question 3
What is the only form of psychological research that can determine cause and effect?

A
Survey
B
Longitudinal study
C
Correlational study
D
Experiment
E
Comparative study
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Correlational studies cannot prove causation; the only form of psychological research that can determine causation is an experiment in which a variable is manipulated and the results are measured.
Question 4
Which of the following is not a measure of central tendency that psychologists use?

A
Mean
B
Median
C
Mode
D
Standard Deviation
E
Variability
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). Mean, median and mode are the primary measures of central tendency. Additionally, psychologists look at standard deviation to determine variance from the mean. Variability is not a measure of central tendency.
Question 5
Which of the following best explains the longitudinal research method?

A
Observing one individual or group in their natural environment for a period of time
B
Comparing groups of various ages for a long time
C
Assessing changes in a small group at different intervals over time
D
Comparing a large group of foreigners
E
Following a small group of people until they die
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The longitudinal research method entails repeated observations of the same experimental group over a usually long period of time. This method is correlational rather than experimental.
Question 6
In research terms, what qualifies a study as “valid?”

A
If the study measures what it claims to be measuring
B
If the study succeeds
C
If the study proves the hypothesis
D
If the study fails
E
If the study is conducted under strict conditions
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The concept of validity states that a test is valid if it measures what it claims to measure.
Question 7
What type of study involves watching participants to see how they behave?

A
Case Study
B
Experiment
C
Interview
D
Naturalistic Observation
E
Questionnaire
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Naturalistic observation refers to the collection of data without manipulation of the environment. The goal of naturalistic observation is to study the behavior of an organism in its natural settings.
Question 8
Dr. Miller believes there is a relationship between the amount of carbohydrates a child eats and the hyperactivity of a child. This belief is:

A
a theory
B
a variable
C
a hypothesis
D
untestable
E
all of the above
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Psychology is based on observable events and the scientific method. Psychologists use theories to help organize a variety of observable events, make sense of them, make predictions about them, and connect them with more comprehensive principles. In essence, theories explain observable events in a meaningful way. Keep in mind that theories are not as specific as hypotheses, which are so specific that we use them to make predictions in research. Theories are general explanations about behavior and events.
Question 9
Instead of studying his spelling words like everyone else, Scott copies from other people when the teacher gives a test. B.F. Skinner would likely attribute Scott’s cheating to:

A
A genetic tendency to maximize his opportunities for promoting himself above others.
B
His underdeveloped frontal lobe, which is used in complex decision making and judgment.
C
His perception that the test is too difficult, and, therefore, his cheating is justified.
D
Inner conflicts that are buried deep in his unconscious.
E
The fact that he was rewarded for cheating on a test in the past.
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). B.F. Skinner is considered the father of operant conditioning, a learning process that demonstrates that actions that are rewarded are more likely to be repeated. Skinner would state that because Scott succeeded on earlier tests by copying, he believes he will continue to succeed on tests by cheating.
Question 10
Dr. Daugherty studies how the thickness of the beaks of one species of birds has undergone changes in response to drought and other environmental factors over a long period of time. Which psychological approach does Dr. Daugherty take?

A
Behavioral
B
Biological
C
Evolutionary
D
Humanistic
E
Sociocultural
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Recognizing the key factor that this is over “a long period of time,” the only choice that works here is evolutionary.
Question 11
What was the name of the pseudoscientific approach to cerebral localization of function that used measurements of bumps and indentations of the skull?

A
Evolutionary Theory
B
Phrenology
C
Prosopagnosia
D
Psychology
E
Skullogy
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Phrenology links cerebral location to function based on bumps in the head; this concept has been discredited. Phrenology was an important step in the development of neuropsychology.
Question 12
Who, in opposition to Freud, was considered the father of behaviorism?

A
Bandura
B
Hanson
C
Skinner
D
Thorndike
E
Watson
Question 12 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (E). John Watson believed that psychology should be a study of only what can be observed, which is in clear opposition to Freud’s philosophy due to Freud’s consideration and prioritization of the unconscious.
Question 13
If the mean, median, and mode are identical, what kind of distribution if present?

A
Ideal distribution
B
Negatively skewed distribution
C
Normal distribution
D
Positively skewed distribution
E
This is not possible
Question 13 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). A normal distribution, also known as a bell curve, is symmetric across a vertical axis composed of the mean, median, and mode.
Question 14
In a normal distribution, what is the percentage of scores that lie within one standard deviation of the mean?

A
24
B
34
C
50
D
68
E
90
Question 14 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). 68% of scores fall within one standard deviation of a normal distribution; 34% above the mean, and 34% below the mean.
Question 15
On a scatter plot, a pattern extends from the lower-left corner to the upper-right corner. This pattern reflects that this scatterplot shows:

A
Negative correlation
B
No correlation
C
Negative skew
D
Positive correlation
E
Positive skew
Question 15 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). In cases where the dependent variable increases as the independent variable increases, as it does in this example, the data show a positive correlation. A best fit line for this data would have a positive slope.
Question 16
Patrick wants to talk to his mother about his weekly allowance. It is currently $1, and he would like it to be increased. He gathers data from several of his friends: $2, $4, $4, $5, $7, $20. To make the best argument to his mother, Patrick would be well-advised to use which measure of central tendency?

A
Mean
B
Median
C
Mode
D
Standard deviation
E
Variance
Question 16 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Patrick would be well-advised to use the mean. It always goes in the direction of the skew, and the $20 allowance that he found skews the distribution nicely (for the purposes of his argument).
Question 17
We’ve compared two sets of data in a correlational study and have found a correlation coefficient of +.83. We can legitimately conclude that there’s what kind of relationship between our measures?

A
No relationship
B
Strong inverse relationship
C
Strong positive relationship
D
Weak inverse relationship
E
Weak positive relationship
Question 17 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). A correlation this strong expresses a strong positive relationship between the two sets of measures. Correlation coefficients range from −1 to 1 with −1 indicating a perfect negative correlation, 0 indicating no correlation, and 1 indicating a perfect positive correlation. A correlation of +0.83 is a strong positive correlation.
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