CONCEPTS

“…there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

Donald Rumsfeld

This is a partial list of the key concepts behind UP. How many are familiar to you? How many do you use to guide your life strategy or goal attainment efforts? We’d encourage you to take our UP Concepts Assessment tool to test your knowledge of the 400+ concepts behind UP. If you’re ready, click the button below.

UP Concepts Assessment
  • ABCDE model: a psychological instrument that helps clients identify irrational beliefs or self-defeating stances, and transform those into rational ones
  • Abduction: a form of logical inference which starts with an observation or set of observations then seeks to find the simplest and most likely explanation
  • Action theory: an area in philosophy concerned with theories about the processes causing willful human bodily movements of a more or less complex kind
  • Adversarial collaboration: a term used when two or more scientists with opposing views work together
  • Affect heuristic: a mental shortcut that allows people to make decisions and solve problems quickly and efficiently, in which current emotion influences decisions
  • Agency: the capacity of an actor to act in a given environment
  • Akrasia: the state of mind in which someone acts against their better judgement through weakness of will
  • Akrasia horizon: the time horizon beyond which you can make rational decisions undistorted by akrasia. See akrasia.
  • All Quadrants All Levels: the basic framework of Integral Theory that suggests that all human knowledge and experience can be placed in a four-quadrant grid, along the axes of “interior-exterior” and “individual-collective”
  • Ambivalence: a state of having simultaneous conflicting reactions, beliefs or feelings towards some object
  • Analysis paralysis: an individual or group process when overanalyzing or overthinking a situation can cause forward motion or decision-making to become “paralyzed”, meaning that no solution or course of action is decided upon
  • Anchoring: the tendency to rely too heavily on the first piece of information offered (the “anchor”) when making decisions
  • Apophenia: the tendency to mistakenly perceive connections and meaning between unrelated things
  • Appearance: the state, condition, manner or style in which a person or object appears
  • Applied rationality: a set of techniques drawing on math and decision theory used to refine reasoning skills, improve decision-making and increase goal attainment
  • Argument map: a visual representation of the structure of an argument; an argument map typically includes the key components of the argument, traditionally called the conclusion and the premises; argument maps can also show co-premises, objections, counter-arguments, rebuttals and lemmas
  • Artificial intelligence: intelligence demonstrated by machines, in contrast to the natural intelligence displayed by humans and other animals
  • Ataraxia: a lucid state of robust equanimity characterized by ongoing freedom from distress and worry
  • Attentional control: an individual’s capacity to choose what they pay attention to and what they ignore
  • Attentional focus: the focus of an individual’s attention at a particular moment
  • Automation: the technology by which a process or procedure is performed with minimal human assistance
  • Average: a single value, also known as the mean, that summarizes or represents the general significance of a set of unequal values
  • Axiology: the philosophical study of value; it is either the collective term for ethics and aesthetics, philosophical fields that depend crucially on notions of worth, or the foundation for these fields, and thus similar to value theory and meta-ethics
  • Backcasting: a planning method that starts with defining a desirable future and then works backwards to identify policies and programs that will connect that specified future to the present
  • Back-of-the-envelope-calculation: a rough calculation, typically jotted down on any available scrap of paper such as an envelope. It is more than a guess but less than an accurate calculation or mathematical proof.
  • Backward design: a method of designing educational curriculum by setting goals before choosing instructional methods and forms of assessment
  • Base rate fallacy: a fallacy where the mind tends to ignore the former and focus on the latter if presented with related base rate information (i.e., generic, general information) and specific information (i.e., information pertaining only to a certain case)
  • Bayes’ theorem: a theorem that describes the probability of an event based on prior knowledge of conditions that might be related to the event
  • Bayesian updating: a method of statistical inference in which Bayes’ theorem is used to update the probability for a hypothesis as more evidence or information becomes available
  • Behavior: the way in which someone conducts oneself or behaves
  • Behavioral: the actions or reactions of a person or animal in response to external or internal stimuli
  • Behavioral activation: a third generation behavior therapy for treating depression
  • Behavioral economics: studies the effects of psychological, cognitive, emotional, cultural and social factors on the decisions of individuals and institutions and how those decisions vary from those implied by classical economic theory
  • Behavioral psychology: the systematic approach to understanding the behavior of humans and other animals
  • Behavioral science: a branch of science (such as psychology, sociology, or anthropology) that deals primarily with human action and often seeks to generalize about human behavior in society
  • Behavioral design: a subcategory of design, which is concerned with how design can shape, or be used to influence human behavior
  • Bounded awareness: refers to systematic patterns of cognition that prevent people from noticing or focusing on useful, observable, and relevant data
  • Brain as a computer analogy: thinking of your brain as a computer with a CPU (executive functioning), storage space (long-term memory), RAM (working memory), electricity (calorie-rich blood), and buggy or well-written software (beliefs)
  • Brand: a public image, reputation, or identity conceived of as something to be marketed or promoted
  • Bus factor: a measurement of the risk resulting from information and capabilities not being shared among team members, from the phrase “in case they get hit by a bus”
  • Butterfly effect: the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state
  • Calibrated probability assessment: a subjective probabilities assigned by individuals who have been trained to assess probabilities in a way that historically represents their uncertainty
  • Career: an individual’s metaphorical journey through learning, work and other aspects of life
  • Case-based reasoning: the process of solving new problems based on the solutions of similar past problems
  • Causal chain: an ordered sequence of events in which any one event in the chain causes the next
  • Causal density: a measure of the overall causal interactivity sustained by a system
  • Causal factors: any behavior, omission, or deficiency that if corrected, eliminated, or avoided probably would have prevented an outcome 
  • Causal homeostasis: involves causal relationships that endure as a stable cycle or reinforcing mechanism
  • Causal inference: the art and science of making a causal claim about the relationship between two (or more) factors
  • Causal reasoning: the process of identifying causality, the relationship between a cause and its effect
  • Chaos theory: the study of apparently random or unpredictable behaviour in systems governed by deterministic laws
  • Chaotic: one of the five domains of the Cynefin framework which represents the cause and effect that are unclear. Events in this domain are “too confusing to wait for a knowledge-based response”. See Cynefin framework.
  • Choice architecture: the design of different ways in which choices can be presented to consumers, and the impact of that presentation on consumer decision-making
  • Cognitive: of, relating to, being, or involving conscious intellectual activity (such as thinking, reasoning, or remembering)
  • Cognitive appraisal: the subjective interpretation made by an individual to stimuli in the environment. See cognitive reappraisal.
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy: a psycho-social intervention that aims to improve mental health which focuses on challenging and changing unhelpful cognitive distortions and behaviors, improving emotional regulation, and the development of personal coping strategies that target solving current problems
  • Cognitive bias: a systematic pattern of deviation from norm or rationality in judgment
  • Cognitive dissonance: occurs when a person holds two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values; or participates in an action that goes against one of these three, and experiences psychological stress because of that
  • Cognitive distortions: exaggerated or irrational thought patterns involved in the onset and perpetuation of psychopathological states
  • Cognitive prosthesis: a tool that aids in your thinking
  • Cognitive psychology: the scientific study of mind and mental function, including learning, memory, attention, perception, reasoning, language, conceptual development, and decision-making
  • Cognitive reappraisal: an emotion regulation strategy that involves changing the trajectory of an emotional response by reinterpreting the meaning of the emotional stimulus. See cognitive appraisal. 
  • Cognitive restructuring: a psychotherapeutic process of learning to identify and dispute irrational or maladaptive thoughts known as cognitive distortions
  • Coherence: when personal strivings help bring about each other or help bring about higher level goals. See congruence
  • Collective action: an action taken together by a group of people whose goal is to enhance their status and achieve a common objective
  • Collective action problem: a situation in which all individuals would be better off cooperating but fail to do so because of conflicting interests between individuals that discourage joint action
  • Comfort zone: a psychological state in which things feel familiar to a person and they are at ease and (perceive they are) in control of their environment, experiencing low levels of anxiety and stress
  • Comfort zone expansion: increasing one’s psychological state where a person operates in an anxiety-neutral position
  • Commander’s intent: a publicly stated description of the end-state as it relates to forces and terrain, the purpose of the operation, and key tasks to accomplish
  • Commensurability: a concept in the philosophy of science whereby scientific theories are commensurable if scientists can discuss them using a shared nomenclature that allows direct comparison of theories to determine which theory is more valid or useful 
  • Common-cause causal relationship: a single cause resulting in several effects
  • Common-effect causal relationship: a single effect with several causes 
  • Communication: a process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior
  • Comparative advantage: the economic reality describing the work gains from trade for individuals, firms, or nations, which arise from differences in their factor endowments or technological progress
  • Complex: a core pattern of emotions, memories, perceptions, and wishes in the personal unconscious organized around a common theme, such as power or status
  • Complex: one of the five domains of the Cynefin framework which represents the “unknown unknowns”. Cause and effect can only be deduced in retrospect, and there are no right answers. See Cynefin framework.
  • Complex adaptive system: a system in which a perfect understanding of the individual parts does not automatically convey a perfect understanding of the whole system’s behavior 
  • Comprehensiveness: completeness over a broad scope
  • Complicated: one of the five domains of the Cynefin framework which represents the “known unknowns”. The relationship between cause and effect requires analysis or expertise; there are a range of right answers. See Cynefin framework.
  • Concept map: a diagram that depicts suggested relationships between concepts
  • Congruence: striving for self-determined reasons or when strivings help bring about intrinsic rather than extrinsic higher level goals. See coherence.
  • Consciousness: the quality or state of being aware especially of something within oneself
  • Constrained optimization: the process of optimizing an objective function with respect to some variables in the presence of constraints on those variables
  • Contaminated mindware: focuses on how intelligent people can “fall” for irrational ideologies, conspiracy theories, pseudosciences, and/or get-rich-quick schemes. See mindware and mindware gap.
  • Control theory: a theory that examines the behavior of dynamic systems with inputs and how their behavior is modified by feedback
  • Core self-evaluations: represent a stable personality trait which encompasses an individual’s subconscious, fundamental evaluations about themselves, their own abilities and their own control
  • Cost-benefit analysis: a systematic approach to estimating the strengths and weaknesses of alternatives. See decisional balance sheet.
  • Counterfactual: expressing what has not happened but could, would, or might under differing conditions
  • Credence: the probability or chance that something is true, or to the belief that something is true
  • Critical thinking: the analysis of facts to form a judgment
  • Crucial consideration: a consideration that radically changes the expected value of pursuing some high-level subgoal
  • Cumulative advantage: a general mechanism for inequality across any temporal process (e.g., life course, family generations) in which a favorable relative position becomes a resource that produces further relative gains
  • Cynefin framework: a conceptual framework used to aid decision-making which offers five decision-making contexts or “domains”—obvious or simple, complicated, complex, chaotic, and disorder—that help managers to identify how they perceive situations and make sense of their own and other people’s behaviour
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Sign up to receive a free, story-based mini-course on how you can set, plan, and achieve your life goals. This is drawn from UP's highly curated database of 53 principles, 450+ concepts, and 1,000+ tools.
Achieve Your Life Goals