Final dates! Join the tutor2u subject teams in London for a day of exam technique and revision at the cinema. Learn more

Study Notes

Psychopathology Key Term Glossary

AS, A-Level
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB

Last updated 22 Mar 2021

This glossary supports students looking at Psychopathology for their A Level Psychology exams.

As you study Psychopathology don't forget to also make full use of our Psychopathology study notes study notes and Psychopathology revision quizzes revision quizzes.

ABC model

Ellis's explanation for how irrational thoughts affect behaviour A= activating event, B+ beliefs, C= consequences


Irrational fear of being outside or in a public place


The act of staying away from something (e.g. the phobic object or situation)

Basal ganglia

Region of the brain involved in the coordination of movement that has been linked to OCD


Antianxiety drugs used to treat OCD as they have a quietening effect on the brain and reduce anxiety causes by obsessive thoughts

Bipolar depression

Condition where a person has periods of elevated mood (mania) as well as periods of depression


Cognitive error where you exaggerate a minor setback and turn it into a major disaster


Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is a commonly used therapy which involves challenging and replacing irrational thoughts

Cognitive bias

Error in thinking caused by simplified information processing


An irresistible urge to behave in a certain way

COMT gene

Gene which has a variation which results in higher levels of dopamine and this variation is more common in patients with OCD


Learning a new response to the phobic object/situation e.g. replacing fear with relaxation

Cultural relativism

The idea that cultural norms and values are culture specific and no-one culture is superior to another culture

Deviation from ideal mental health

Not meeting criteria which suggest you are mentally healthy

Deviation from social norms

A behaviour that deviates from social norms is one that is very different from how we would expect people to behave


Higher levels of this neurotransmitter have been associated with the compulsions shown by OCD patients


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition is the standard classification of mental disorders used in the United States.

Empirical dispute

REBT technique where the therapist seeks evidence for a person's thoughts

Failure to function adequately

When a person's behaviour means they are unable to cope with the demands of everyday life

Fear hierarchy

A list of situations related to the phobic object/situation arranged in order from least to most frightening

Flooding (in-vitro)

Behavioural treatment for a phobia which involves imagined exposure to the phobic object/situation without being able to escape

Flooding (in-vivo)

Behavioural treatment for a phobia which involves actual exposure to the phobic object/situation without being able to escape

Hindsight bias

The way that social norms change over time

ICD 10

The 10th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, produced by the World Health Organisation

Logical dispute

REBT Technique where the therapies disputes the logic of a person's thoughts

Negative self-schemas

Negative information we hold about ourselves based on negative past experiences that can lead to cognitive biases

Negative triad

Three types of negative thinking (self, the world and the future) that Beck suggested occur automatically in people who are depressed


An idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a person's mind.

Orbifrontal cortex

A region of the brain which converts sensory information into thoughts and actions- higher activity has been found here in OCD patients


Cognitive error where you make a sweeping conclusion from a single incident


Rational Emotive Behaviour Therapy is a type of CBT based on Ellis's ABC model

Selective attention

Focusing on one piece of information while ignoring other information viewed as irrelevant


Neurotransmitter which regulates mood - lower levels are associated with OCD

SERT gene

gene which affects the transport of serotonin, causing lower levels of serotonin which is associated with OCD

Simple or specific phobia

Irrational fear of an object (e.g. spiders) or situation (e.g. flying)

Social norm

The rules of behavior that are considered acceptable in a group or society

Social phobia

Irrational fear of a social situation (e.g. speaking in public)


Antidepressant drugs used to treat OCD which work by preventing the re-absorption and breakdown of serotonin

Statistical infrequency

A behaviour that is statistically infrequent does not happen very often

Systematic desensitisation

A behaviour therapy designed to gradually reduce a phobia through the principle of classical conditioning

Two-process model

Behavioural explanation for phobias which suggests they are acquired through classical conditioning and maintained through operant conditioning

Unipolar depression

A major depressive episode that occurs without the manic phase

© 2002-2024 Tutor2u Limited. Company Reg no: 04489574. VAT reg no 816865400.