Terms in Psychology

Dr Mansoor Ali
Psychology is the science of human and animal behavior, it attempt to use rational means to understand the action of people and lower animals.

History and developments
As psychology developed from the philosophy, and became a separate area of study in the late 1800s & early 1900s,many schools of psychology arouse. Each school have different point of view about the best way to study people.

The structuralist searched for the elements of mind; the functionalist studied the way in which mental process and behavior help the organism to adapt.

The behaviorist rejected the study of mind altogether and concentrated on the objective study of what people and animals do. The gestalt school studied mind and behaviour, emphasising the pattern of relationship &”fields of force” in mental and behavioral process.
The older school of psychology are now largely gone today

2 major view point dominate.
1.The humanistic view _ state that we can better understand human experience and behavior by studying the feelings, motives and wishes, as well as the behavior of a particular person.
2.The modern behaviorist view _ deals with the study of observable behavior _ not the study of unobservable inner states such as feelings _ is the proper subject of psychology.


  • Clinical psychology
  • Counseling psychology
  • School & educational psychology
  • Industrial & personal psychology
  • Social psychology
  • Developmental psychology
  • Personality development
  • Psychometric psychology
  • Engineering psychology
  • Miscellaneous.
  • Primary activity of psychologist
  • Teaching
  • Clinical practice
  • Administration
  • Basic research
  • Psychological testing
  • Counseling practice
  • Applied research
  • Industrial counseling
  • Clinical research
  • Miscellaneous


  • Psychologist use 3 general methods
  • Natural observation _ Which is made as systemic as possible by the development of psychological tests.
  • Experimental methods _ Which permits independent variable to be manipulated & dependant variables to be measured.
  • Statistical methods _ To test he significance of differences obtained and to compute correlations between variables.

Defined as all the areas of development like physical, motor, language, mental, emotional, social, moral and other various components.
Personality develops from the interaction of a large  number of factors, some inborn, some learned. Personality can be defined as the way in which an individual typically react to his surroundings.


  • Physique
  • Glandular factor
  • Emotions
  • Early childhood experience
  • Family influences
  • Socio Cultural influences
  • Play mates and friends
  • Hereditary
  • School influences
  • Occupational
  • Financial


  • Enjoys life
  • Is self confident
  • Satisfying relationship with people
  • Able to meet problems
  • Having justifiable anger
  • Is not afraid of people, things / situations
  • Realize that any unhappiness he experience has  understandable cause.
  • Able to look life from an objective point view


  • Projective techniques
  • Situational tests
  • Personality inventories

Perception is the process by which we obtain information about our environment. We perceive only those aspects of the environment to which we attend. Attending is generally considered to be a readiness to perceive.
Selective absorption of appropriate stimuli from the environment
The act of attending involve adjustments of the sense  organs, posture, change in muscle tension & also activities  in the CNS.
Object constancy & primitive organism tendencies are important for the achievement of stable perception of ourselves and the world around us. Object constancy is the tendency to perceive objects as constant even though the stimuli from them act on us in a variety of ways.
Important aspects of object constancy are shape, size & color. Primitive tendencies are important in perceptual stability, appear to be determined by the nature of the human nervous system. They include figure ground relationship and the principles of primitive grouping such as similarity, proximity, closure and continuity.
Perception of space is achieved through visual cues which are correlated with aspects of external world. Auditory perception of distance is achieved monaurally on the basis of loudness, complexity and special volume.

Learning is defined as a relatively permanent change in behavior which is a result of experiance,excluding changes due to injury and physiological adjustments. Learning makes possible adaptation to new situations & solutions of simple & complex problems.
Conditioning is the simplest form of learning involving the modification of reflexes, simple habits & emotional responses.
Operant conditioning occurs when reinforcement of an emitted response increases the frequency of occurrence of the response. In this type of conditioning the organism operates on its environment to gain some reward.

involve the presence of a satisfying stimulus or the absence of an aversive one _such as extremes of cold or disapproval.
Chaining refers to the process of learning a series of related responses, each of which serve as reinforcement for the previous response & provide a stimulus for the next one. The series is known as a behavior chain.
The concept of learning continuum emphasis that learned behavior ranges from the simplest type of habits, apparently acquired through condtionng,to highly complex verbal & motor skills.

Intentional learning
is much more effective than incidental learning and is obviously superior when complex skills are involved. A widely used method of study is the “survey,question,read,recite & review” (SQ3R) system, but no study regimen will be of value unless the student is motivated to improve his performance.


  • Memory involves the making of an impression by an experience the retention of some record of this impression and the reentry of this record in to consciousness (behavior) as recall and recognition _ in short memory is the “static residue” of the past activity in a normal pathway.
  • A distinction has been made between short term and long term memory, the trace involved in short term memory is a normal activity, not a structural change as that presumed to underline long-term memory.
  • Memory appears in several different type of tasks, including recall, recognition and relearning. Recall generally considered to be the most difficult memory task because most of the related stimuli absent.
  • Recognition is a more sensitive test of memory than recall. In recognition we differentiated the familiar from the unfamiliar.
  • Relearning is attempting to regain material/a skill which has been partially or completely lost.
  • Forgetting is failing to retain what was once learned. Forgetting sometimes occurs because stimulation adequate to activate the memory trace is absent
  • Forgetting is least during inactivity or sleep because here is little or no interference. Emotional and physical shock can cause forgetting of recent events.
  • Memory training is successful to the degree that it increase the efficacy of learning, but it does not develop a memory faculty.

Thinking is essentially the manipulation of images and ideas which represent aspects of the world that have falls within our previous experiance. Thinking is manipulation of the world internally, using symbols which represent previous experience.
The symbols most commonly used in thinking are numbers and language symbols;therfor words play an important role in thinking.
Thinking occurs in various forms, in free association, there is no conscious control over ones thoughts.
Creative thinking and reasoning are more controlled and more realistic : they involve rational attempts to solve a problem or question in the external world.
There are different theoretical approaches to the study of thinking.
Stimulus response theorists study thinking as an extension of the principles of simple learning.
Cognitive theorist emphasize hypothesis testing and the acquaints of meaning and understanding.
Thinking is being studied particularly from the view point of information storage and especially information processing.


  • “A complex feeling / state accompanied by characteristic motor and glandular activities”
  • Emotions typically involve reaction through out the organism. The complexity of emotions is indicated in the many changes and interrelationships which occurs in emotional arousal.
  • Environmental factors play an undesirable oleic emotional expression. The activating or energizing dimensions of emotion suggests its motivational significance.
  • Emotional reactions may be analyzed from the view point of physiological process, subjective states and behavioral consequences, but cognition also plays a role.
  • Chronic emotional stress sometimes result in psychosomatic reactions, such as ulcers, which are physical disorder influenced by psychological factors.
  • Most commonly studied feelings are anxiety ,anger and affection for others. The pleasant _ unpleasant dimension is the most obvious dimension of an affective state.
  • Fears, attitudes and other affective states appear to be acquired through classical conditioning, they may be altered by the same procedures. Imitation and thinking also plays important roles in acquisition of affective states.
  • The behavioral accompaniments of emotions are continually evident in human life, particularly in frustration and conflict.


  • Being able to motivate oneself and persist to face in frustrations
  • Control impulse and add gratification
  • Empathy and hope
  • Control moods and keep distress from swaying away the ability to think

A complex term dealing with the ability of a person /animal to adapt to a novel situations. In man it often involves an ability to utilize abstract concepts and to learn and grasp novel relationship.
The view of intelligence is composed of a general factor and specific factor, or many specific factors, has encountered considerable research interest, but the nature of intelligence is very much debated.
Post natal growth of intelligence undoubtedly related to physical development of the brain after birth. Studies of unusual environments indicate beyond doubt that early experience have a lasting influence upon intellectual development.
The mentally gifted and MR are considered to comprise the upper and lower 2% of the population. Studies of the development of adult intelligence shows that the higher level of performance is reached at different ages for different types of mental abilities, such as numerical ability, reasoning and perceptual skills. The individual mental activities in later life appear to be important factor in continued growth.
Aptitudes are regarded as the potential for acquiring a specific skill, physical or mental. A part from general intelligence, they can play an important role in ones capacity to perform a certain type of growth.
General intelligence, aptitudes, vocational interests and personality all are considered in vocational guidance, in which the aim is to enable an individual to help himself in carrier planning.
The  consistency of individual mental growth seems to be overestimated. In long term studies ,wide fluctuations have been observed, associated with emotional factors, personality factors, and the education level of the family.


  • Repression : Unconsciously excluding unpleasant thoughts from awareness. Preventing ego threatening ideas from returning to consciousness. A primary defense mechanism.
  • Regression : Going back to an earlier, sally less adequate, mode of response. In hypnosis behaving as one did at an earlier stage of life.
  • Sublimation : Satisfying a motive indirectly but in a socially acceptable manner.Considerd as a defense mechanism.
  • Suppression : Conscious inhibition of an activity, as when Some one suppresses a desire to strike some one else. (repression is unconscious )
  • Vocational guidance : Providing opportunities, through testing,counselling,and interviews, for an individual to discover fields of work most suited to his intelligence, aptitudes, interests and other personal traits.
  • Unconditioned response : An original or inborn response, such as salivation stimulated by food in the mouth, or withdrawal from an injurious stimuli.
  • Transference : In psycho analysis, situation in which the patient transfers to the therapist feelings and behaviour is appropriate to significant other persons in the patients life. Eg.The patient response to the therapists as though the therapist were his father, fiancé or teacher.
  • Sociopath disorder : A disorder in which the person fails to observe rules which govern conduct in his society.
  • Aptitude : A predisposition to react in a certain way; a readiness to react, a determining tendency.
  • E S P : Perception which allegedly occur with out sensory awarness, such as communication between two individuals when there appear to be no channels of information exchange.
  • I d : A Freudian term representing the primitive, animalistic urges which underline much behavior.
  • Gifted : Person with special talents, with an IQ above 130.
  • Habit : A recurring acquired mode of behaviour,such as a motor or verbal skill, a way of doing things or a way of thinking.
  • Instinct  : A descriptive term for a complex un learned adaptive response, an un learned pattern of reflexes appearing in all members of a species.
  • Oedipus complex : A Freudian term representing the sexual attachment of a son for his mother, sally regarded as repressed & disguised in various ways.  Also it is assumed that the son will be jealous of the father because the father can have intimacies with the mother that the son is denied.
  • Electra complex : A Freudian term representing the erotic attachment of a daughter to his father, with accompanying jealousy of the mother. This attachment may be repressed & disguised in various ways.
  • Psycho analysis : A system of understanding human behavior based on Freud’s writings. Emphasis is placed upon unconscious pious determinants of behavior.
  • R E M : Quick movement of the eye during sleep, often occurring in series, as measured by sensitive electrodes. Subjects awakened during REM periods usually reports that they have dreaming.
  • Reasoning : Solving some problem implicitly, sing symbols to represents objects or solutions. Thinking one’s way through a problem rather than engaging in overt trial & error.
  • Subconscious  : Literally what is below the level of awarness.It refers to a hypothetical region of the mind which serve as a repository of repressed and other experiences which, while influencing behavior in important ways, seldom come in to consciousness (awareness)
  • Experience which really come in to awareness are said to be in the pre conscious. Unconscious _ referring that which we are not aware at the moment.
  •  Ego : The individuals conceptions of himself. In psychoanalysis the part of personality which as an outcome of experience, retain the expressions of the Id and deals with the demands of the external environment.
  • Super ego : Generally, internal controls or standards. Super ego is derived from early influences. Super ego is one of the 3 chief intra psychic forces in the Freudian view, the others are
  • Reinforcement : Reduction or satisfaction of a drive ; reward. Anything which increase the probability of a response.
  • Recognition : Perceiving some thing as having been experienced before, as being familiar.
  • Projection : Attributing one’ own motives or thoughts to others.
  • Motivation : Inner influences or behavior as represented by physiological conditions ,interestes, attitudes & aspirations.
  • Illusion : A perception considered as mistaken because it does not agree with the objective measurement of the physical form or pattern, which is regarded as fundamental.
  • Hallucination : A false perception generally regarded as abnormal.
  • Frustration    : A state of the organism which results when the satisfaction of the motivated behavior is rendered difficult or impossible.
  • Feeling : Affective experience represented by the individual as  pleasantness, excitements calmness, happiness etc.
  • Deja vu : The feeling that a new situation is familiar _ that one has” been there” before.
  • Compensation : Counter balancing some change, such as lowering of temperature or some defect, such as feeling of inferiority.
  • Cognition  : A general term indicating knowledge & awareness, it include perceiving, remembering, reasoning and other means of knowing about oneself and environment.
  • Aggression : Hostility which may involves actual attack, physical or verbal upon other people.

Mangal : Educational psychology
Kaplan : A comprehensive text book of psychiatry

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