Psychological Moratorium

An integral part of the identity crisis is the psychological moratorium, a time during which society permits the individual to work on crisis resolution. During this moratorium, the adolescent young adult has the opportunity to examine societal roles, career possibilities, and values, free from the expectation of commitments and long-term responsibilities. Although some individuals choose to remain in a moratorium indefinitely, Erikson contends that there is an absolute end to the recognizable...

Psychological Models of Abnormality

The psychological model of abnormality also stems from ancient Greece. In the second century c.e., the Greek physician Galen described a patient whose symptoms were caused either by an inflammation of the uterus or by something about which she was troubled but which she was not willing to discuss. He tested these two hypotheses and concluded that the patient's problem was psychological in origin. The psychological model gained support when French physician JeanMartin Charcot (1825-1893) used...

Functional Autonomy and Personal Dispositions

Most personality theorists view adulthood as an extension of the basic motives present in childhood. Consistent with his belief that personality is always evolving, Allport believed that the motivations of adulthood are often independent of the motivations of childhood, and he referred to this concept as functional autonomy. For example, a person who plays a musical instrument during childhood years because of parental pressure may play the same instrument for relaxation or enjoyment as an...

Sociocultural Models of Abnormality

A sociocultural model of abnormality emphasizes the social and cultural context, going so far as to suggest that abnormality is a direct function of society's criteria and definitions for appropriate behavior. In this model, abnormality is social, not medical or psychological. For example, early Greeks revered people who heard voices that no one else heard because they interpreted this phenomenon as evidence of divine prophecy. In the Middle Ages, people tortured or killed people who heard...

Reasons for Using Animal Subjects

Crossbreed Animal Drawings

Psychologists study animals for a variety of reasons. Sometimes they study the behavior of a particular animal in order to solve a specific problem. They may study dogs, for example, to learn how best to train them as watchdogs, chickens to learn how to prevent them from fighting one another in henhouses, and wildlife to learn how to regulate populations in parks, refuges, or urban areas. These are all examples of what is called applied research. Most psychologists, though, are more interested...

The Humanistic Approach to Motivation

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) devised a useful though controversial hierarchy of needs required to satisfy human potential. These needs proceed from low-level physiological needs such as hunger, thirst, sex, and comfort, through such other needs as safety, love, and esteem, finally reaching the highest level, self-actualization. According to Maslow, human beings progress sequentially through this hierarchy as they develop. Each category of needs proceeds from the preceding category, and no...

Medical Models of Abnormality

Medical or biological models of abnormality stem back to Greek physician Hippocrates (c. 470-c. 377 b.c.e.), who proposed that psychological disorders are caused by body-fluid imbalances. Greeks believed that the uterus could move around a woman's body, attaching itself at different places and causing the symptoms of hysteria, a disorder in which a person has physical symptoms without the usual organic causes. The medical model gained support when people realized that some bizarre behaviors...

Three Aspects of the Proprium

Allport referred to the unifying core of personality, or those aspects of the self that a person considers central to self-identity, as the proprium. During the first three to four years of life, three aspects of the proprium emerge. The sense of a bodily self involves awareness of body sensations. Self-identity represents the child's knowledge of an inner sameness or continuity over time, and self-esteem reflects personal efforts to maintain pride and avoid embarrassment. Self-extension...

Importance to Psychology of Consciousness

As a naturally induced alteration in consciousness that can be studied objectively with electrophysiological recording equipment, sleep has assumed a prominent role in the psychology of consciousness. Electrophysiological recording techniques that were originally developed in sleep research are now widely used to study other aspects of consciousness, such as hemispheric asymmetries, meditation, sensory isolation, biofeedback, dreams, and drug effects on the brain and behavior. In addition,...

Influences on Affiliation

Beyond easing fear and satisfying the need for information or social comparison, mere affiliation with others is not usually a satisfactory form of interaction. Most people form specific attractions for other individuals, rather than being satisfied with belonging to a group. These attractions usually develop into friendship, love, and other forms of intimacy. Interpersonal attraction, the experience of preferring to interact with specific others, is influenced by several factors. An important...

Reinforcers and Punishers

In operant conditioning, there are four basic contingencies that can be used to modify the frequency of occurrence of nonreflexive behavior. A contingency refers to the relation between the situation, a behavior, and the consequence of the behavior. A reinforcer is a consequence that makes a behavior more likely in the future, whereas a punisher is a consequence that makes a behavior less likely in the future. Reinforcers and punishers both come in both positive and negative forms. A positive...

Specifiers for Mood Disorders

Specifiers allow for a more specific diagnosis, which assists in treatment and prognosis. A postpartum onset specifier can be applied to a diagnosis of major depressive disorder or bipolar I or II disorder if the onset is within four weeks after childbirth. Symptoms include fluctuations in mood and intense (sometimes delusional) preoccupation with infant well-being. Severe ruminations or delusional thoughts about the infant are correlated with increased risk of harm to the infant. The mother...

Fundamental Postulate and Corollaries

Kelly claimed that constructs operate according to a fundamental postulate. This postulate maintains that each person directs thoughts and cognitions in a way that permits the most accurate prediction of future events. If a woman has a personal construct which states that her boyfriend is a thoughtful person, and he sends her flowers while she is in bed with the flu, her construct would be regarded as an accurate one. If, however, that same boyfriend used her illness as an opportunity to date...

Hypnosis and Meditation

Two popular nonchemical techniques for altering consciousness are hypnosis and meditation. Hypnosis was first discovered in the eighteenth century by Franz Mesmer, and its use has been marked by controversy ever since. An altered state is induced in hypnosis by the suggestive instructions of the hypnotist, usually involving progressive relaxation. The hypnotized subject often appears to be asleep but remains alert inside, exhibiting varying degrees of responsiveness to the suggestions of the...

Associationism Cognitive Theory and Neuropsychology

The goal of a theory of memory is to explain the structures (analogous to hardware) and the processes (analogous to software) that make the system work. Explaining how such a complex system works is a massive undertaking. Many attempts have taken the form of large-scale theories, which seek to deal with all major operations of the memory systems. The major theories of memory are associationism and theories from cognitive psychology and neuropsychology. The theories differ primarily in views of...

Psychometric Approach

In the psychometric view, adolescence is a period of cognitive stability. Intelligence quotient (IQ) scores show little change during adolescence. Although IQ scores often fluctuate during early childhood, scores generally stabilize about age eight. It is common to find temporary periods of instability in IQ scores after age eight, such as at the onset of puberty or during other stressful times, but dramatic and long-term score changes are rare. According to this perspective, adolescence does...

Sources for Further Study

Jacobson, and Joan Acocella. Abnormal Psychology Current Perspectives. 8th ed. Boston McGraw-Hill, 1999. This comprehensive textbook discusses the medical (biological), psychodynamic (psychoanalytic), and cognitive models of abnormality. American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-IV-TR Rev. 4th ed. Washington, D.C. Author, 2000. This listing of all psychological disorders includes for each a description, associated...

Types of Speech Disorders

Articulation disorders are the most common types of speech errors in children. Articulation errors may take the form of substitutions, omissions, or distortions of sounds. An example of a substitution would be the substitu tion of the w sound for the r sound, as in wabbit for rabbit. Substitutions are the most common form of articulation errors. An example of an omission would be if the d sound was left out of the word bed, as in be_. Finally, sounds can also be distorted, as in shleep for...

The Cultural Context of Hunger

One approach to increasing understanding of hunger and its psychological components is to examine hunger in its cultural context. In American culture, the experience of hunger is inextricably tied to weight, eating, body image, self-concept, social definitions of fatness and thinness, and other factors which take the issue of hunger far beyond the physiological facts. Historian Hillel Schwartz has traced the American cultural preoccupation with hunger, eating, and diet by examining the cultural...

Relationship to Freudian Theory

Horney's theories were modifications of classical psychoanalytic beliefs. Her theories are best understood when viewed in relation to the Freudian con cepts that were prevalent during her lifetime. According to Sigmund Freud, who founded classical psychoanalysis during the late nineteenth century, biological influences determine human behavior. Of these biological factors, sexual instincts are the strongest motivators of human behavior. Neurosis, or mental disorder, was considered by Freud to...

Psychosomatic Disorders

Fields of study Cognitive processes organic disorders stress and illness Psychosomatic disorders are physical disorders produced by psychological factors such as stress, mental states, or personality characteristics. A variety of psychological or psychotherapeutic interventions have been developed to alter the individual's ability to cope with stressful situations and to change the personality or behavior of the individ- psychological factors affecting physical condition The term psychosomatic...

Systematic Rational Restructuring

Systematic rational restructuring is a cognitive behavioral procedure developed by psychologist Marvin Goldfried in the mid-1970's. This procedure is a variation on Ellis's rational-emotive therapy however, it is more clearly structured than Ellis's method. In systematic rational restructuring, Goldfried suggests that early social learning experiences teach individuals to label situations in different ways. Further, Goldfried suggests that emotional reactions may be understood as responses to...

Information Processing in the Elderly

Learning, memory, and attention are all aspects of cognition. Learning is the acquisition of information, skills, and knowledge, measured by improvement in responses. Memory involves retaining and retrieving information for later use. Attention is the mechanism by which individuals process information. Cognition is how sensory input is transformed, stored, and retrieved from memory. Major stages of information-processing models of learning and memory include registration (input), storage...

Challenges to Freudian Theory

Over the years, many aspects of Freudian theory have been challenged. Freud's notion that penis envy is a primary motivator in the female personality was challenged by Karen Horney, who believed that, if it existed, a woman's envy was related to the male's privileged role in society. Freud's idea that the clitoral orgasm is immature and must be surrendered for the vaginal orgasm at puberty spurred work by William Masters and Virginia Johnson, who concluded, after much rigorous research, that...

Applications of the Principles of Behaviorism

The behaviorism of Watson has resulted in applications in psychology and many other disciplines. The most notable form of application of Watson's behaviorism is the psychological treatment known as systematic desensitiza-tion. This treatment was created by South African psychiatrist Joseph Wolpe (1915-1997). Systematic desensitization was designed to reverse the outcome of the classical conditioning process in which extremely intense negative emotional responses, such as fear or anxiety, are...

Automatic Thoughts and Schemata

Two concepts of particular relevance to cognitive therapy are the concepts of automatic thoughts and schemata. Automatic thoughts are thoughts that appear to be going on all the time. These thoughts are quite brief only the essential words in a sentence seem to occur, as in a telegraphic style. Further, they seem to be autonomous, in that the person made no effort to initiate them, and they seem plausible or reasonable to the person (although they may seem far-fetched to somebody else). Thus,...

Tests and Measures of Individual Differences

The scope of psychology's fields of specialization is great. The professionals who work in these areas strive to help humans know, understand, and help themselves. To accomplish this, psychologists use numerous tests to help them ascertain specific information about an individual, a group of people, or a particular population. Ability tests measure multiple aptitudes, creativ ity, achievement, and intelligence levels. Psychologists may perform occupational and clinical assessments. Also...

General Adaptation Syndrome

One can see that the human body contains a very sophisticated series of mechanisms that have evolved to enhance survival. When stressors and the subsequent physiological changes that are adaptive in the short run are chronic, however, they may produce long-term health risks. This idea was first discussed in detail in the mid-twentieth century by physiologist Hans Selye, who coined the term general adaptation syndrome to describe the body's physiological responses to stressors and the mechanisms...

State and Trait Emotions

Nevertheless, psychologists have developed numerous assessment instruments to study common emotions. (An assessment instrument is a method used to measure some psychological quality.) Because there are so many different emotions, the study of emotion requires the development of specific methods that can accurately measure each of the common emotions. The most popular method of measuring an emotion is a self-report questionnaire in which a person answers questions relevant to a particular...