Psychology Dictionary

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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 an 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.


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