Counseling, Psychotherapy & Self Help Systems J-M

A glossary of terms from psychology, medical & various systems and schools of therapy.

James-Lange theory of emotions A theory that asserts that the subjective experience of emotion is the awareness of one’s own bodily reactions in the presence of certain arousing stimuli.

Jealousy The negative emotional reaction experienced when a relationship that is important to a person's self-concept is threatened by a real or imagined rival.

Jigsaw classroom A cooperative group-learning technique designed to reduce prejudice and raise self-esteem.

just-noticeable difference (jnd)Seedifference threshold.

Just-world belief A belief that the world is a fair and equitable place, with people getting what they deserve in life.

just-world phenomenon the tendency of people to believe the world is just and that people therefore get what they deserve and deserve what they get.

juvenile delinquency: the breaking of the law by minors.

Kin selection A theory that people will exhibit preferences for helping blood relatives because this will increase the odds that their genes will be transmitted to subsequent generations.

kin selection the idea that evolution has selected altruism toward one's close relatives to enhance the survival of mutually shared genes.

kinesthesis A general term for sensory information generated by receptors in the muscles, tendons, and joints which informs us of our skeletal movement.

kin-selection hypothesisSeealtruism.

Korsakoff’s syndrome A brain disorder characterized by serious memory disturbances. The most common cause is extreme and chronic alcohol use.

labor: the process or period of childbirth; parturition; especially, the muscular contractions of giving birth.

Laboratory experiment An experiment conducted in a carefully controlled environment that simulates real-life settings.

Lamaze method: a training program in natural childbirth, emphasizing breathing control and relaxation during labor together with the presence and encouraging assistance of a partner.

late adulthood: those years that encompass age 65 and beyond, according to Daniel Levinson.

late phase of labor: the phase of labor in which contractions become very painful and the cervix dilates completely to 10 cm, or 4 inches.

latency General term for the interval before some reaction occurs. Often response latency.

latency period In psychoanalytic theory, a stage in psychosexual development in which sexuality lies essentially dormant, roughly from ages five to twelve.

latent dreamSeeFreud’s theory of dreams.

latent learning Learning that occurs without being manifested by performance.

lateral fissure The visible fissure in the brain that separates the frontal lobe from the temporal lobe.

lateral geniculate nucleus An important way station between the eyeball and the visual cortex in the brain.

lateral hypothalamus A region of the hypothalamus which is some-times said to be a "hunger center" and to be in an antagonistic relation to a supposed "satiety center," the ventromedial region of the hypothalamus.

lateral inhibition The tendency of adjacent neural elements of the visual system to inhibit each other; it underlies brightness contrast and the accentuation of contours. See also brightness contrast.

lateralization An asymmetry of function of the two cerebral hemispheres. In most right-handers, the left hemisphere is specialized for language functions, while the right hemisphere is better at various visual and spatial tasks.

lateralization: the localization of assorted functions, competencies, and skills in either or both hemispheres.

law of effect A theory that the tendency of a stimulus to evoke a response is strengthened if the response is followed by reward and is weakened if the response is not followed by reward. Applied to instrumental learning, this theory states that as trials proceed, incorrect bonds will weaken while the correct bond will be strengthened.

laws of perceptual organization Max Wertheimer’s formulation describing our predisposition to group stimuli based on their proximity, similarity, and good continuation.

LCSW - Licensed Clinical Social Worker

Leader The person who exerts the most influence on group behavior and beliefs.

leadership the process by which certain group members motivate and guide the group.

learned helplessness A condition created by exposure to inescapable aversive events. This retards or prevents learning in subsequent situations in which escape or avoidance is possible. The hopelessness and resignation learned when a human or animal perceives no control over repeated bad events.

learned helplessness theory of depression The theory that depression is analogous to learned helplessness effects produced in the laboratory. See alsolearned helplessness.

learned taste aversion A specialized form of learning in which an organism learns to avoid a taste after just one pairing of that taste with illness. For example, an animal will avoid a food that on an earlier occasion made it sick.

learning curve A curve in which some index of learning (e.g., the number of drops of saliva in Pavlov’s classical conditioning experiment) is plotted against trials or sessions.

learning model As defined in the text, a subcategory of the pathology model that (1) views mental disorders as the result of some form of faulty learning, and (2) believes that these should be treated by behavior therapists according to the laws of classical and instrumental conditioning or by cognitive therapists who try to affect faulty modes of thinking. See alsobehavior therapy, cognitive therapy, medical model, pathology model, psychoanalytic model.

learning set The increased ability to solve various problems, especially in discrimination learning, as a result of previous experience with problems of a similar kind.

learning: the acquiring of knowledge or skill.

lens The portion of the eye that bends light rays and thus can focus an image on the retina.

leptin A chemical produced by the adipose cells that seems to signal that plenty of fat is stored and that no more fat is needed. This signal may diminish eating.

lesions The damage incurred by an area of the brain.

lexical access The process of recognizing and understanding a word, which is presumably achieved by making contact with (accessing) the word in the mental lexicon.

lexical decision task A task in which the participant must decide as quickly as possible whether a stimulus (book, trup, filt) is or is not a word.

life review: the process of reminiscing and examining the scope of one's life.

lightness constancy The tendency to perceive the lightness of an object as more or less the same despite the fact that the light reflected from the object changes with the illumination that falls upon it.

limbic system A set of brain structures including the amygdala, hippocampus, cortex, and parts of the thalamus and hypothalamus. It is believed to be involved in the control of emotional behavior and motivation.

line of best fit A line drawn through the points in a scatter diagram. It yields the best prediction of one variable when given the value of the other variable.

linear perspective One of the pictorial cues to depth which relies on the fact that objects appear smaller when they are further from the viewer. As a result, parallel lines receding into the distance seem to converge, and the eye uses this pattern as a cue to distance.

lithium carbonate A drug used in the treatment of mania and bipolar disorders.

living will: a document, legal in some states, directing that all measures to support life be ended if the signer should be dying of an incurable condition.

LMFT - Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist

LMHC - Licensed Mental Health Counselor

lobotomySeeprefrontal lobotomy.

local representations A model of cognitive organization, especially semantic memory, in which each concept is represented by a single node or, more plausibly, a group of nodes. See also distributed representations, node.

localization of function The process of determining what each region of the brain contributes to which aspects of thinking and behavior.

lock-and-key model The theory that neurotransmitter molecules will only affect the postsynaptic membrane if their shape fits into that of certain synaptic receptor molecules.

locus of control the extent to which people perceive outcomes as internally controllable by their own efforts and actions or as externally controlled by chance or outside forces.

Loneliness Having a smaller or less satisfactory network of social and intimate relationships than one desires.

longitudinal fissure The front-to-back cleavage that divides the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

longitudinal study A developmental study in which the same person is tested at various ages. A study in which the same individuals are studied repeatedly over a specified period of time.

long-term memory Those parts of the memory system that are currently dormant and inactive, but have enormous storage capacity. See alsostage theory of memory, working memory.

long-term memory: a type of memory in which information is stored indefinitely.

long-term potentiation (LTP) A form of cellular plasticity in which a postsynaptic neuron becomes more sensitive (potentiated) to the signal received from the presynaptic neuron. This potentiation is usually produced by a rapid and sustained burst of firing by the presynaptic neuron. The potentiation can then spread to other presynaptic neurons provided that they have fired in the past at the same time as the presynaptic cell that produced the potentiation in the first place. See alsoactivity dependence.

looming A rapid magnification of a form in the visual field that generally signals impending impact.

loss aversion A widespread pattern, evident in many aspects of decision making, in which people seem particularly sensitive to losses and eager to avoid them. In many cases, this manifests itself as an increased willingness to take risks in hopes of reducing the loss.

low birthweight baby: a baby born weighing less than 5-1/2 pounds.

low-ball technique a tactic for getting people to agree to something. People who agree to an initial request will often still comply when the requester ups the ante. People who receive only the costly request are less likely to comply with it.

Low-ball technique A two-step compliance strategy in which the influencer secures agreement with a request by understating its true cost.

LPC - Licensed Professional Counselor

luminance ratio The ratio between the light reflected off a figure and that reflected off the background against which the figure is seen. Whatever the illumination, the ratio remains the same.

lunar month: a four-week period of 28 days.

M Ed - Masters in Education

MA - Masters of Arts - a one to three year postgraduate degree

Mach bands The accentuated edges between two adjacent regions that differ in brightness. This sharpening is maximal at the borders where the distance between the two regions is smallest and the contrast most striking.

magic number According to George Miller, the number (seven plus or minus two) that represents the holding capacity of the working memory system.

magnetic resonance imaging (MRI)SeeMRI.

magno cells Ganglion cells found largely in the periphery of the retina that, because of their sensitivity to brightness changes, are particularly suited to the perception of motion and depth.

maintenance rehearsal Repetition to keep material in working memory for a while. In contrast to elaborative rehearsal, this confers little long-term benefit. See alsoelaborative rehearsal.

major depression A mood disorder in which patients are disabled by guilt or sadness (especially in Western cultures), experience a loss of energy, pleasure and motivation, and disturbances of sleep, diet, and other bodily functions.

major tranquilizersSeeclassical antipsychotics.

male climacteric: male menopause.

mania A mood disorder characterized by racing thoughts, pressured speech, irritability or euphoria, and marked impairments in judgment. See alsobipolar disorder.

manic-depressive psychosisSeebipolar disorder.

manifest dreamSeeFreud’s theory of dreams.

MAO inhibitorsSeemonoamine oxidase inhibitors.

marital therapySeefamily therapy.

marriage: to be joined as husband and wife; united in wedlock.

Masculinity Possession of instrumental personality traits.

Master status A socially defined position occupied by a person in society that is very important in shaping his or her self-concept and life choices.

matching hypothesis The hypothesis that persons seek romantic or sexual partners who possess a similar level of physical attractiveness. The proposition that people are attracted to others who are similar to them in particular characteristics, such as attitudes and physical attractiveness.

matching phenomenon the tendency for men and women to choose as partners those who are a "good match" in attractiveness and other traits.

matching to sample A procedure in which an organism has to choose which of two alternative stimuli is the same as a third, sample stimulus.

mate guarding A male strategy of insuring paternity by remaining near the female and preventing her from mating with other males.

maturation A genetically programmed growth process that is relatively unaffected by environmental conditions (e.g., flying in sparrows and walking in humans).

maximum-likelihood principle The assertion that we interpret the proximal stimulus pattern as that external stimulus object that most probably produced it.

MD - Medical Doctor - sometimes a Psychiatrist

mean (M)Seemeasure of central tendency.

means-end analysis An important strategy for problem solving in which one’s current position and resources are continually evaluated with respect to one’s goal.

measure of central tendency A single number intended to summarize an entire distribution of experimental results. Three commonly used measures of central tendency are: (1) the mode, or the score that occurs most frequently; (2) the median, or the point that divides the distribution into two equal halves; and (3) the mean, or the arithmetic average.

medial forebrain bundle (MFB) A tract of fibers that runs through the base of the forebrain and parts of the hypothalamus. Electric stimulation of this bundle is usually experienced as rewarding.

medianSeemeasure of central tendency.

mediation an attempt by a neutral third party to resolve a conflict by facilitating communication and offering suggestions.

medical model As defined in the text, a subcategory of the pathology model that holds (1) that the underlying pathology is organic and (2) that the treatment should be conducted by physicians. See alsolearning model, pathology model, psychodynamic model.

medulla Part of the hindbrain and the rearmost portion of the brain, just adjacent to the spinal cord. It is involved in the control of respiration, circulation, balance, and protective reflexes such as coughing and sneezing.

melatonin A neurohormone secreted by the pineal gland that is involved in regulating the sleep-waking cycle.

memory reconstruction The automatic filling-in of gaps in memory, typically using general knowledge and expectations (e.g., remembering books on a professor’s desk when in fact there were none).

memory search A cognitive process preceding memory retrieval that usually occurs very quickly and outside our awareness.

memory span The number of items that can be recalled after a single presentation. See alsomagic number.

memory trace The physical basis of memory; a change in the nervous system produced by an experience. The exact nature of this change is still uncertain.

memory: the power, act, or process of recalling to mind facts previously learned or past experiences.

menarche: the first menstrual period of a girl in puberty.

menopause: the permanent cessation of menstruation, normally between the ages of 40 and 50, or the period during which this occurs; female climacteric, or change of life.

menstrual flow The discharge consisting of the sloughed-off uterine lining that was built up in preparation for a fertilized ovum, that signals the onset of menstruation.

menstrual synchrony The phenomenon wherein women who live together tend to develop menstrual cycles that roughly coincide with each other, even though their periods were very different at the outset.

menstruate: to have a menstrual period; undergo menstruation.

mental age (MA) A score devised by Alfred Binet to represent a child’s test performance. A child’s MA is assessed by determining what mental tasks he can do sucessfully. If he can perform tasks generally performed well by six-year-olds but not tasks generally performed well by seven-year-olds, his MA is six, and so on.

mental age: an individual's degree of mental development measured in terms of the chronological age of the average individual of corresponding mental ability.

mental images Analogical representations that reserve some of the characteristic attributes of our senses.

mental representations Internal symbols that stand for something but are not equivalent to it, such as internalized actions, images, or words.

mental retardation Usually defined as an IQ of 70 or below.

mental rotation A task in which participants are presented with a rotated figure and must discern whether the figure is normal or, say, mirror-reversed. Participants apparently must visualize the figure rotated to an upright position before responding.

mental set The predisposition to perceive, remember, or think of one thing rather than another.

Mere exposure effect The tendency to develop more positive feelings toward objects and individuals the more we are exposed to them.

mere-exposure effect the tendency for novel stimuli to be liked more or rated more positively after the rater has been repeatedly exposed to them.

mesoderm: the middle layer of cells of an embryo, from which the skeletal, reproductive, muscular, vascular, and connective tissues develop.

meta-analysis A statistical technique for combining the results of many studies even when the studies used different methods to collect the data. This technique has been useful in studies on the outcome of psychotherapy. A statistical technique to combine information from many empirical studies on a topic to objectively estimate the reliability and overall size of the effect.

metacognition A general term for knowledge about knowledge, as in knowing that we do or don’t remember something. The awareness of one's own cognitive processes.

metamemory: the ability to comprehend the nature of memory and predict how well one will remember something.

method of loci A mnemonic technique that requires the learner to visualize each of the items she wants to remember in a different spatial location (locus). Recall requires that each location be mentally inspected for the item placed there.

MFCC - Marriage Family and Child Counselor

MFT - Marriage and family Therapist

MFT - Marriage and Family Therapist

microcircuitry Networks of interneurons within which most of the brain’s information processing occurs.

Microexpressions Fleeting facial signals lasting only a few tenths of a second.

midbrain The portion of the brain between hindbrain and forebrain that is involved in arousal, the sleep-waking cycle, and auditory and visual targeting.

midcareer reassessment: a reevaluation of one's career at midlife, which may lead to a career change.

middle childhood: ages 7 to 11.

middle ear An antechamber to the inner ear which amplifies the sound-produced vibrations of the eardrum and transfers them to the cochlea. See alsocochlea.

middle phase of labor: that phase of labor in which contractions increase in strength and frequency, and the cervix dilates to at least 5 cm, or 2 inches.

midlife crisis: the sense of uncertainty or anxiety about one's identity, values, relationships, and so on that some people experience in midlife.

midlife transition: a change in lifestyle or career that some people may experience at midlife; also, a stage in the culminating phase of early adulthood, ranging from ages 40 to 45.

midwife: a person whose work is helping women in childbirth.

Mindlessness Responding without thinking about the behavior and its implications.

minimal-sufficiency principle A principle of socialization that holds that children can best internalize ways of acting deemed appropriate if influenced just enough to act as desired, but not enough such that they feel forced to comply.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) A structured (objective) test of personality; the most widely used personality test. See alsocriterion groups.

mirror-image perceptions reciprocal views of one another often held by parties in conflict; for example, each may view itself as moral and peace-loving and the other as evil and aggressive.

Misattribution of arousal A situation in which the explanation of the physiological symptoms of arousal is switched from the real source to another one.

miscarriage: the natural expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the womb before it is sufficiently developed to survive.

misinformation effect (1) incorporating "misinformation" into one's memory of the event, after witnessing an event and receiving misleading information about it. (2) Witnessing an event, receiving misleading information about it, and then incorporating the "misinformation" into one's memory of the event.

missSeepayoff matrix.

mitochondria: any of various very small, usually rodlike, structures found in the cytoplasm of eukaryotic cells and that serve as a center of intracellular enzyme activity that produces the ATP needed to power the cell.

mnemonic devices: various devices that help, or are meant to help, the memory. Deliberate strategies for helping memory, many of which use imagery.

modeSeemeasure of central tendency.

modeling In psychotherapy, a technique in which the therapist shows the patient some effective ways of handling problematic situations.

Modesty Underrepresenting one's positive traits, contributions, or accomplishments.

Modular: a unit (of learning/training, in this instance) that can be taken on its own or as part of building a training qualification for oneself.

monoamine oxidase (MAO) inhibitors The first class of antidepressant medications, such as Nardil and Parnate. They are effective, especially for some kinds of depressions, but they impose difficult dietary restrictions on patients and have been largely superseded by the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).

monocular depth cues Features of the visual stimulus (e.g., linear perspective and motion parallax) that indicate depth even when it is viewed with one eye.

monogamy A mating pattern in which a reproductive partnership is based on a special, more or less permanent tie between one male and one female.

mood disorders A group of disorders distinguished primarily by changes in mood and motivation; these include bipolar disorder and major depression. See alsobipolar disorder, depression, major depression, mania.

moral development and judgment: the ability to reason about right and wrong.

moral exclusion the perception of certain individuals or groups as outside the boundary within which one applies moral values and rules of fairness. Moral inclusion is regarding others as within one's circle of moral concern.

mores: formal rules of acceptable behavior that are considered conducive to the welfare of society and so, through general observance, develop the force of law, often becoming part of the formal legal code.

morning sickness: a condition of nausea and vomiting, sometimes accompanied by dizziness, headache, and so on, that affects many women during the first months of pregnancy; it occurs most often in the morning.

morpheme The smallest significant unit of meaning in a language (e.g., the word boys has two morphemes, boy and s).

morphological sex Classification as male or female based on one’s sex organs and bodily appearance (e.g., ovaries, vagina, and smooth facial skin versus testes, penis, and facial hair).

Motherese A whimsical term for the singsong speech pattern that mothers and other adults generally employ when talking to infants.

motion detectors Cells in the visual cortex that are sensitive to an image moving across the retina.

motion parallax A depth cue provided by the fact that, as an observer moves, the images cast by nearby objects move more rapidly on the retina than the images cast by objects farther away.

motoneurons Neurons whose cell bodies are in the brain or spinal cord and whose axons terminate on muscle fibers.

motor projection areasSeeprimary motor projection area.

motor skills: the ability to move with intention.

mourning: the actions or feelings of one who feels or expresses sorrow; specifically, the expression of grief at someone's death.

MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) A noninvasive neurodiagnostic technique that relies on nuclear magnetic resonance. An MRI scan passes a high frequency alternating magnetic field through the brain to detect the different resonant frequencies of its nuclei. A computer then assembles this information to form a picture of brain structure. See alsofunctional MRI (fMRI).

MS - Masters of Science

MSW - Masters in Social Work - a one to two year postgraduate degree

multi-infarct dementia: dementia resulting from a stroke.

multiple intelligences In Howard Gardner’s theory, the six essential, independent mental capacities, some of which are outside the traditional academic notions of intelligence, i.e., linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, musical, bodily-kinesthetic, and personal intelligence.

multiple personality disorderSeedissociative identity disorder.

multiple pregnancy: a pregnancy in which two or more eggs are fertilized, or a single fertilized egg divides into two or more zygotes.

multiple sclerosis (MS) A progressive neurological disease wherein the immune system mistakenly destroys the myelin sheaths that comprise the brain’s white matter, producing manifestations such as numbness, blindness, and paralysis.

mundane realism degree to which an experiment is superficially similar to everyday situations.

mutuality synchronous: (back-and-forth) interaction between individuals.

myelin sheath The series of fatty wrappers, formed by special glial cells, that surround the axons of those neurons that must communicate over long distances in the nervous system and that allow for fast propagation of action potentials along those axons. See alsonodes of Ranvier.