Psychology Glossary – Terms [M]

Abraham Maslow: An American psychologist and one of the leaders of the humanistic school of psychology in the 1950s and 1960s. He is best known for creating Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, a theory comprised of a five-tier model of human needs (physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem, and self-actualization) suggesting that if fundamental needs are not met, an individual cannot advance towards their full potential. Contrary to the focus at the time, Maslow sought to understand what constituted positive mental health and stressed the importance of exploring the favorable qualities in people instead of treating them as symptoms.

Mindfulness: A mental state achieved by maintaing awareness and acceptance in the present moment of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and the surrounding environment. Learn more: What is Mindfulness?

Mindset: An established set of assumptions, notions, attitudes, or methods held by a person or a group of people that predetermines a response or interpretation of a situation. Learn more: mindsetonline.com.

Mirror Neurons: A type of brain cell that responds both when an individual performs an action as well as when the individual witnesses someone else perform the same action. Continued research suggets that mirror neurons might help explain empathy, play a role in understanding the actions of other people, and learning new skills by imitation.

Multicultural: The existence or representation of several different cultures or cultural elements within an individual, community, society, or country and how these cultures are expressed, contrasted, and interact with one another.

Psychology Glossary – Terms [N]

Narcissism: Characterized by excessive self-interest and the pursuit of gratification from vanity or egotistic admiration.

Nature vs. Nurture: The debate concerning the importance of genetics and experience in determining development and behavior.

Negative Reinforcement: A term used to describe how a response or behavior is strengthened by stopping, removing, or avoiding an aversive stimulus. For example, a child has a tantrum because they do not want to eat their vegetables at dinner so the parents remove the vegetables. The tantrum behavior led to the removal of the aversive stimulus (vegetables) and therefore negatively reinforces tantrum behavior as a method to remove unwanted items.

Negativity Bias: The notion that thoughts, emotions, or experiences leaving a more negative impression will have a greater effect on a person’s psychological state than a neutral or positive one.

Neural Networks: A series of interconnected neurons that conduct impulses in a coordinated manner within the human body involving the nervous system and brain.

Psychology Glossary – Terms [O]

Object Relations: A psychoanalytic theory suggesting that people are primarily motivated by relationships and the need for contact with others. Object relations theory implies that how an individual relates to others and situations as an adult is shaped by experiences in infancy.

Occupational Therapy: A client-centered health profession promoting well-being through occupation, or enabling individuals to participate in the activities of everyday life. Often a form of therapy used to assist in rehabilitation from physical or mental illness by focusing on the performance of activities required in daily routines (bathing, dressing, grooming, preparing food, etc.).

Oppression: Oppression is used to describe systems and behaviors that disadvantage an individual or group. Institutional oppression is the systematic mistreatment of people within a social identity group by a society and its institutions based solely on stereotypes and prejudice.

Organizational Psychology: The scientific study of working, human behavior relating to work, and the application of research to issues faced in the workplace by individuals, groups, and organizations.

Psychology Glossary – Terms [P]

Ivan Pavlov: A Russian physiologist born in 1849 and famous for his work in classical conditioning, a principle operating across a variety of both clinical and experimental settings. He won the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1904, becoming the first Russian Nobel laureate. Most of his work involved research on digestion, temperament, conditioning, and involuntary reflex actions. (See Classical Conditioning).

Jean Piaget: A Swiss clincal psychologist born in 1869 and considered a pioneer in the field of research on child development. Piaget thought the education of children to be of great importantance and served as Director of the International Bureau of Education. In 1955 he created the International Center for Genetic Epistemology in Geneva and served as director until his death.

Psychiatry: A branch of medicine dedicated to the study and treatment of people with mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders. A psychiatrist is an individual who has obtained an M.D. degree and completed postdoctoral training; psychiatrists are able to prescribe medications as part of a treatment plan.

Psychiatric Nursing: A branch of nursing specializing in mental health and caring for individuals with mental illness. Psychiatric nurses receive specific training in psychological therapies, creating a therapeutic alliance, and are able to administer psychiatric medication.

Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy is a general term for treating mental health and emotional challenges through communication with a trained professional. A psychotherapist works with an individual to teach them about their moods, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors in order to impart personal awareness and healthy coping skills to lead a fuller, happier, and more productive life.