Galvanic skin response (GSR): a measure of the change in electrical resistance of the skin, commonly used as a measure of autonomic reaction and arousal.
Gender: term commonly used to refer to the psychological characteristics (e.g. behaviour and attitudes) of being male and female (in contrast to 'sex' which refers to purely physiological characteristics).
Gender identity: an individual's perception about whether they are male or female.
Gender roles: a given culture or society’s acceptable set of attitudes and behaviours for each gender.
Gene: biological units of heredity, crucial for transmitting traits.
General adaptation syndrome (GAS): a model, proposed by Hans Selye, depicting physiological mechanisms that occur in response to a stressor over an extended period of time. There are three stages: (a) alarm stage which activates an arousal response (e.g. to fight or flee); (b) resistance stage when body is attempts to cope with the stressor; (c) exhaustion stage takes place if the stressor continues over a long period of time, leading to physical symptoms such as stomach ulcers.
General intelligence (g): mental attribute that underlies a range of intellectual tasks. Proposed by Charles Spearman, who found that people that performed well on one type of mental ability test also tended to do well on other types of test.
Generalisability: the extent to which findings based on a study using a sample of participants are representative of the target population or of other populations.
Genetic: inherited; having to do with information that is passed from parents to children through genes in sperm and egg cells.
Genetics: the study of heredity of physical and psychological traits.
Genius: a term used to describe a person with exceptional ability and creativity within a particular field, for instance intellect (by defining IQs of 140 + as the guideline for genius).
Genital stage: in psychoanlaytic theory, the last stage of psychosexual development, when the main source of pleasure is the genitals.
Genotype: the genetic code which is inherited and carried in DNA.
Gestalt: a German word (translated as configuration or organised whole), that emphasises that the whole (whether of a person or image) is greater than the sum of its parts.
Gestalt psychology: approach that views psychological phenomena, such as perception, learning and thinking, as organised, structured wholes. For instance, the Gestalt approach to problem solving seeks the need for structural understanding in comprehending how different parts of the problem fit together to reach the goal.
Gestalt therapy: a therapy that considers all dimensions of a person's life and experience, to stimulate personal growth and increased self-awareness, in order to develop a sense of the whole person.
Goal state: in problem solving, the desired outcome of a problem.
Gratification: is the positive emotional response (happiness) to a fulfilment of desire.
Group dynamics: the branch of social psychology that studies the psychodynamics of interaction in social groups.
Group polarisation: the tendency for groups to shift to make more extreme decisions than decisions made independently by members of the group. If individual members of a group are already cautious in their attitude, they will demonstrate a shift toward an even more cautious attitude during group discussion within a like-minded group. When individuals are less cautious before group discussion, they are likely to show a shift towards more risky decisions.
Group therapy: when therapeutic sessions are carried out in groups rather than individually, whereby the therapist acts as a facilitator amongst the group. Group therapy can help individuals feel less isolated and through fostering social interaction, are able to discuss with and help others.
Groupthink: the tendency for decision making groups to reach a conclusion that is extreme and which tend to be unwise or unrealistic, as a result of discounting information that is inconsistent with their view and expressing disapproval against any member who disagrees.
Guilt: is a higher form of development than shame. Guilt has an internal punitive voice which operates at the level superego (an internalised punitive harsh parental figure). There are two kinds of guilt: valid guilt and invalid guilt.
Habit: a behaviour that develops as a result of experience and occurs almost automatically. For instance, behaviours that satisfy psychological cravings (through for example chain smoking).
Habituation: the process whereby an organism’s response to repeated stimuli temporarily decreases.
Hallucination: false perceptions that occur with the lack of relevant sensory stimuli, such as hearing voices.
Halo effect: a form of perceptual bias which transpires when our rating of a person on one characteristic as being positive or negative of a person affects the rating of the individual on other characteristics (similarly positive or negative). For instance, if an individual is viewed as intelligent, the rater also perceives them to be friendly.
Hardiness: personality factors (control, commitment and challenge) identified by Kobasa that help mitigate against negative effects of stress.
Health behaviours: activities that maintain or improve health.
Health promotion: refers to strategies and tactics that help enable people to gain control of, and therefore enhance, their health through changes in lifestyle and preventative practices, significantly reduce the risk of illness.
Health psychology: area of psychology that aims to understand why people become ill, how they stay healthy and how they respond and cope with illness.
Hedonic relevance: the likelihood of making a dispositional attribution if we are directly involved and the consequences are serious. Therefore, we are likely to overstate the influence of dispositional factors, and underestimate the importance of situational factors.
Hedonism: a belief that all behaviour is, or should be, motivated toward the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
Helping behaviour: see altruism (human) and bystander behaviour.
Heredity: the biological transmission of inherited characteristics from parents to offspring.
Heritability estimate: measured by h, the heritability ratio, a statistical estimate of the degree of inheritance of a specific trait or behaviour, measured by the degree of similarity between individuals who share differing amounts of genetic similarity.
Hertz: a measure of frequency, cycles per second.
Heterosexuality: an attraction to the opposite sex.
Heuristic: cognitive strategies, or rules of thumb? Heuristics provide informal strategies to aid problem solving, which are usually more successful than random search, but less effective than algorithms..
Hierarchy of needs: Maslow's model of basic human motives, which he saw as organised in a hierarchical structure; needs range from the bottom level of physiological (e.g. food, water, shelter) to the highest level - self-actualisation. Needs at each level of the hierarchy must be met before the next level can be achieved.
Hippocampus: part of the limbic system, located in the medial temporal lobe. Important for spatial orientation and navigation, and is crucial for memory, in particular the transfer of information from short-term to long-term memory.
Histogram: used to represent the distribution of scores for one set of data. The data must be numerical and there should be no gaps between the bars.
HIV (human immunodeficiency virus): a virus that attacks white blood cells in the blood, reducing the body’s ability to fight off illness. HIV causes aids and can be transmitted through unprotected sex, by drug users who use similar equipment and from an infected mother to her unborn child.
Holistic: used to describe an approach that focuses on the whole person, rather than their constituent parts.
Homeostasis: a state of equilibrium or balance of the internal conditions of the body.
Homeostatic drive theory (of eating and drinking): refers to the proposition that eating and drinking are driven by internal homeostasis.
Homosexuality: a term used to describe either sexual contact with members of the same sex, or a sexual preference for one's own sex.
Hormone: chemical messengers secreted by the endocrine glands, that affect a range of aspects of metabolism and body functioning, for instance, mood and sexual characteristics.
Hostile aggression: a form of aggression to cause intentional harm of injury to another person or object.
Humanistic psychology: a perspective in psychology, that views every individual as unique and as possessing an inherent capacity for making rational choices, positive growth and ultimately, maximum potential.
Humanistic therapies: treatment whereby the therapist seeks to see the world through the clients perspective, and to allow the client to view their situations with greater insight and acceptance, with an ultimate goal of growth and fulfilment. Examples of humanistic therapies include client-centred therapy.
Huntington's disease (HD): is a fatal heredity disease that destroys neurons in areas of the brain involved in the emotions, intellect, and movement.
Hyperactivity: a higher degree of inappropriate motor activity than is considered typical for a particular age group. See attention deficit disorder (add).
Hyperfocus: is an intense form of mental concentration or visualisation that focuses consciousness on a narrow subject, or beyond objective reality and onto subjective mental planes, daydreams, concepts, fiction, the imagination, and other objects of the mind.
Hypothetical: based on assumption rather than fact or reality.
Hypnosis: the induction of an altered state of consciousness, manifested in a sleep-like state or of deep relaxation. Consequently, changes in perception, memory and self-control leave an individual more vulnerable to suggestion. The use of hypnosis in therapy still remains highly controversial, particularly with the occurrence of false memories being recovered?
Hypothalamus: part of the brain that is crucial in control the autonomic nervous system, maintaining homeostasis and regulating motivated behaviour (e.g. appetite) and hormonal functions.
Hypothesis: a testable statement, predicting the relationship between two (or more) variables, which can be accepted or rejected as a result of the research outcome.