Glossary of Key Terms

Key Terms
Agoraphobia: an anxiety disorder in which there is fear of public and other situations from which it might
be hard to escape in the event of a panic attack.
Classical conditioning: basic form of learning in which simple responses are associated with new stimuli.
Comorbidity: the presence of two or more disorders in a given individual at the same time.
Concordance rate: if one twin has a disorder or condition, the likelihood that the other twin also has it.
Diathesis–Stress Model: the notion that psychological disorders occur when there is a genetically
determined vulnerability (diathesis) and relevant stressful conditions.
Exposure therapy: a form of therapy in which patients are exposed to the object or situation they fear for
lengthy periods of time until their anxiety level is substantially reduced.
Extinction: elimination of a conditioned response when the conditioned stimulus is not followed by the
unconditioned stimulus or a response is not followed by a reward.
Generalisation: in classical conditioning, the tendency to transfer a response from one stimulus to another
that is quite similar.
Habituation: the gradual reduction in the amount of attention paid to a stimulus when it is presented
several times; it can also refer to reduced physiological or emotional responses to an aversive stimulus that
is presented repeatedly.
Interpretive biases: the tendency shown by most anxious and depressed patients to interpret ambiguous
stimuli and situations in a negative or threatening way.
Preparedness: the notion that each species finds some forms of learning more “natural” and easier than
Reciprocal inhibition: the process of inhibiting anxiety by substituting a competing response.
Reliability: the extent to which a method of measurement or a research study produces consistent findings
across situations or over time.
Safety-seeking behaviours: actions taken by individuals with anxiety disorders to reduce their anxiety
level and prevent feared consequences.
Social phobia: a disorder in which the individual has excessive fear of most situations, and will often avoid
Systematic desensitisation: a form of behaviour therapy designed to treat phobias, in which relaxation
training and a fear hierarchy are used.
Validity: the soundness of the measurement tool; the extent to which it is measuring something that is real
or valid.