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AU / Psychology / PSYC 3560 / What are the elements of abnormality?

What are the elements of abnormality?

What are the elements of abnormality?


School: Auburn University
Department: Psychology
Course: Abnormal Psychology
Professor: Fix
Term: Spring 2016
Cost: 50
Name: Abnormal Psychology Exam 1 study guide
Description: This is the study guide for the first exam of the class. Please keep in mind that not all the information is filled in because we have not covered all the material in class. Any notes that are taken during the review day (2/9) will be posted that afternoon
Uploaded: 02/09/2016
12 Pages 155 Views 2 Unlocks

Abnormal Psychology Exam 1 Study Guide

What are the elements of abnormality?

Chapters 1, 3, 4, 6 and 7

Ch 1 - Introduction to Abnormal Behavior: How is Abnormal Behavior Defined? 1. Elements of abnormality

• Deviant

o Deviancy: this can be good or bad

▪ Example of good: Cam is deviant at football, Yo-Yo Ma is deviant at  

playing cello

o Violation of societal standards: what is normal and abnormal is culturally relative ▪ Most disorders exist cross-culturally (but prominent features may differ) • Distressing

o Suffering: everyone experiences distress from time to time

▪ Does the behavior cause distress for the person?

What is the meaning of maladaptiveness?

o Social discomfort

▪ Does the behavior impact others? Is it uncomfortable to interact with the  person?

• Debilitating  

o Maladaptiveness

▪ Does the behavior lead to some type of impairment or interfere with one’s  life?

▪ E.g., substance abuse

o Irrationality or unpredictability

2. DSM-5 definition of abnormal behavior (lecture notes)

• Clinically significant syndrome

• Distress or disability (impaired functioning)

• Not culturally sanctioned

• Considered to reflect behavioral, psychological or biological dysfunction • BUT… symptoms alone are not enough

What are the benefits of classification?

Don't forget about the age old question of What term refers to the action or sequence of events in a story?

3. Benefits of classification

• Provides a nomenclature for structuring information

• Facilitates communication

• Facilitates research

• Practical reasons

4. Disadvantages of classification

• Stigmatization

o Stereotyping: automatic beliefs concerning other people that are based on minimal  (often trivial) information If you want to learn more check out What are the major periods of the media?

o Labeling: assigning a person to a particular diagnostic category ???? can perpetuate  the problem of stigmas

• Loss of information due to use of shorthand

• Diagnostic categories are heterogeneous

5. Criticisms of the DSM-5 (also located in chapter 4 of the book)

• Are disorders truly categorical? (i.e., can someone simply “have it or not”?) • Arbitrary cutoffs

• Lack of theory about etiology

• Lack of scientific support

Ch 3 - Causal Factors and Viewpoints 

1. Define etiology

• Etiology: the study of causation, or origination, of psychological disorders • Main goal of etiological research?

2. Types of Causal Factors (e.g., necessary, sufficient, contributory, distal, proximal) • Necessary cause: something that HAS to happen in order for something else to occur o If Disorder Y occurs, then Cause X must have preceded it

• Sufficient cause: condition that guarantees the occurrence of a disorder (it’s enough to  get the job done). But, without more information, you can’t assume that it’s a  requirement Don't forget about the age old question of If there is no motion, can work be done on a system?

o If Cause X occurs, then Disorder Y will also occur Don't forget about the age old question of What are the driving forces in mantle convection?

• Contributory cause: increases the probability of a disorder developing, but is not  necessary or sufficient

o If X occurs, then the probability of Disorder Y occurring increases

• Distal: causal factors that occur relatively early before the onset of the disorder (genetics  to depression)

• Proximal: causal factors that occur prior to the onset of a disorder (bullying to  depression)

3. Diathesis-Stress Model

• View of abnormal behavior as the result of stress operating on an individual who has a  biological, psychosocial or sociocultural predisposition to developing a specific disorder (diathesis: vulnerability) We also discuss several other topics like What does secondary neuron mean?

4. Bio-psychosocial Model

• View of a disorder developing due to a complex interaction of biological, psychological  and social/cultural factors

Biological Perspectives: 

1. Biological viewpoints of abnormal behavior

• Disorders are diseases of the nervous and endocrine systems that are inherited or caused  by some pathological process (disorders are the result of neurological abnormalities) 2. Types of biological causes We also discuss several other topics like What are the characteristics of a theatre building?

• Neurotransmitter abnormalities: abnormalities in the communication between neurons

• Hormonal abnormalities: endocrine system influences nervous system • Genetic vulnerabilities: chromosomal abnormalities and gene abnormalities • Temperament

3. Abnormalities in communication between neurons – 3 possible

• Too much production

• Dysfunctions in deactivation (too long/short in synapse)

• Problems with receptors (too sensitive, not recognizing neurotransmitter) 4. Hormonal abnormalities

• Sex hormones are also implicated

o Testosterone, estrogen, progesterone

o Influences of hormones on developing nervous system partially explain sex  differences in behavior

• Hypothalamic-Pituitary-Adrenal (HPA) Axis: stress response system; problems in this  system related to depression and PTSD

5. Genotype vs. phenotype

• Genotype: a person’s total genetic endowment

• Phenotype: the observed structural and functional characteristics that result from an  interaction of the genotype and the environment

6. Genetic abnormalities  

• Polygenic: caused by the action of many genes together in an additive or interactive  fashion

• Genotype-environment correlation: genotypic vulnerability that can shape a child’s  environmental experiences

o Passive effect, evocative effect, active effect

• Genotype-environment interaction: differential sensitivity or susceptibility to their  environments by people who have different genotypes

o Phenotype

7. Twin studies

• Concordance: percentage of twins sharing disorder or trait

• Disorder entirely due to genetics, monozygotic twins should be 100% concordant, and  dizygotic twins ~50% concordant

• If a disorder is entirely due to environment, MZ twins and DZ twins should be about  equally concordant

• If genes and environment play a role, MZ twins will have higher concordance than DZ  twins

8. Temperament* (know the definition)

• Temperament: a child’s characteristic emotional and arousal response to various stimuli 9. Brain dysfunction & Neural Plasticity

• Neural plasticity: flexibility of the brain in making changes in organization and function  in response to pre- and postnatal experiences, stress, diet, disease, drugs, manturation,  and so forth

Behavioral Perspective: 

1. Behavioral viewpoint on abnormal behavior, including

• What influenced its emergence, origins?

o Arose in the early 20th century in part as a reaction against the unscientific  methods of psychoanalysis

o Initially developed through lab research rather than clinical practice with  disturbed patients

• What is maladaptive behavior the result of (2 possibilities)?

o A failure to learn necessary adaptive behaviors or competencies, such as how to  establish satisfying personal relationships

o The learning of ineffective or maladaptive responses

• Behaviorism and treatment

o Focus of therapy is on changing specific behaviors and emotional responses— eliminating undesirable reactions and learning desirable ones

2. Classical Conditioning (including all terminology)

• Classical conditioning: a basic form of learning in which a neutral stimulus is paired  repeatedly with an unconditioned stimulus (UCS) that naturally elicits an unconditioned  response (UCR). After repeated pairings, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned  stimulus (CS) that elicits a conditioned response (CR)

• Extinction: gradual disappearance of a conditioned response when it is no longer  reinforced

• Spontaneous recovery: the return of a learned response at some time after extinction has  occurred

3. Operant (instrumental) Conditioning  

• Operant conditioning: form of learning in which if a particular response is reinforced, it  becomes more likely to be repeated on similar occasions

• Reinforcement: the process of rewarding desired responses

• Response-outcome expectancy: when an individual learns that a response will lead to a  reward outcome

4. Generalization

• Generalization: tendency of a response that has been conditioned to one stimulus to be  elicited by other, similar stimuli

5. Discrimination

• Discrimination: ability to interpret and respond differently to two or more similar stimuli 6. Observational Learning

• Observational learning: learning through observation alone without directly  experiencing an unconditioned stimulus (for classical conditioning) or a reinforcement  (for operant conditioning)

Cognitive-Behavioral Perspective: 

1. Cognitive-behavioral viewpoint on Abnormal Behavior, including

• What influenced its emergence, origins?

o Albert Bandura placed considerable emphasis on the cognitive aspects of learning o Focuses on how thoughts and information processing can become distorted and  lead to maladaptive emotions and behavior

• Cognitive-behavioral perspective influence on treatment?

o Therapy focuses on the ways that a person’s cognitions, emotions, and behaviors  are connected and affect one another

• Criticisms

o Cognitions are not observable phenomena and, as such, cannot be relied on as  solid empirical data

2. Schemas

• Schema: an underlying representation of knowledge that guides the current processing of information and often leads to distortions in attention, memory, and comprehension • When does psychopathology occur?

o Different forms of psychopathology are characterized by different maladaptive  schemas that have developed as a function of adverse early learning experiences 3. What influences schemas?

• Experiences, culture, etc.

4. Assimilation and Accommodation

• Assimilation: working new experiences into our existing cognitive frameworks, even if  the new information has to be reinterpreted or distorted to make it fit in

• Accommodation: changing our existing frameworks to make it possible to incorporate  new information that doesn’t fit

5. Attribution Theory, including attributional styles (for depressed vs. non-depressed people) • Attribution theory: focuses on whether different forms of psychopathology are associated  with distinctive and dysfunctional attributional styles

• Attributional style: characteristic way in which an individual tends to assign causes to  bad events of good events

o Depressed- tend to attribute bad events to internal, stable and global causes o Non-depressed- tend to make internal, stable and global attributions for positive  rather than negative events

Sociocultural Perspective: 

1. How do sociocultural factors influence abnormal behavior

• Concerned with the impact of culture and other features of the social environment on  mental disorders

2. Sociocultural causal factors (Low Socioeconomic Status, High Unemployment, & Prejudice  and Discrimination based on race/ethnicity, sex/gender identification, sexual orientation, Social  change and uncertainty, Urban stressors)

• Low socioeconomic status: the lower the socioeconomic class, the higher the incidence of  mental and physical disorders

• High unemployment: recent evidence suggests that it’s the financial difficulties often  resulting from unemployment that lead to the elevated levels of distress and mental  disorders

• Prejudice/Discrimination

• Sex/gender identification

• Sexual orientation

• Social change and uncertainty

• Urban stressors

Ch 4 - Clinical Assessment 

1. Why do we need formal assessment procedures?

• Establishing baselines for various psychological functions so that the effects of treatment  can be measured

2. Why is it important to assess social and behavioral histories?

• Academic history

• Environment and social context

• Family history

3. What do we mean by reliable and valid measures?

• Reliability: degree to which the instrument produces the same result each time it is used • Validity: extent to which an instrument actually measures what it is supposed to measure 4. What is a culturally fair (or unfair) psychological assessment?

• Culturally fair elements

o Items are not reliant on cultural information that is exclusive to a particular group o Based more on “innate” ability (ability that’s inherent or biologically/genetically embedded in an individual)

5. Neuropsychological Assessments – what are they?

• Assessment instruments designed to measure a person’s cognitive (e.g., memory,  problem-solving), perceptual and motor performance

6. Psychological Assessments – what are they?

• Standardized sets of procedures or tasks for obtaining samples of behavior

7. Types of Psychological Assessments

• Intelligence tests (WISC-IV and WAIS-IV)

• Projective personality tests

• Objective personality tests

8. Assumptions of Projective measures

• In trying to make sense out of vague, unstructured stimuli, individuals “project” their  own problems, motives and wishes into the situation

9. Problems with Projective Measures  

• Unstructured nature- also a strength

• Focus on the unique aspects of personality- also a strength

o These two make interpretation subjective, unreliable and difficult to validate • Require a great deal of time to administer and advanced skill to interpret

Research Methods in Abnormal Psychology 

1. Epidemiology

• Epidemiology: the study of the distribution of diseases, disorders or health-related  behaviors in a given population

2. Prevalence (including different types of)

• Prevalence: number of active cases in population at any given period of time o 1 year prevalence

o Lifetime prevalence

3. Incidence

• Incidence: number of new cases that occur over a given period of time (typically 1 year) 4. Correlation*  

• Correlation: the tendency of two variables to change together

• With positive correlation, as one variable goes up, so does the other

• With negative correlation, one variable goes up as the other goes down 5. Comorbidity

• Comorbidity: occurrence of two or more identified disorders in the same  psychologically disordered individual

6. Sources of information

• I don’t know what she means by this, but I will find out and include it in Tuesday’s notes 7. Why is it difficult to study abnormal behavior?

• I don’t know what she means by this, but I will find out and include it in Tuesday’s notes

Ch 6 – Panic, Anxiety, Obsessions, and Their Disorders 

1. Fear vs. Anxiety

• Fear

o Basic emotion (shared by all animals)

o Involves activation of the “fight or flight” response of the autonomic nervous  system

o Cognitive/Subjective

▪ “Oh shit” is pretty much all you can think about

o Physiological

▪ Heart rate increases

▪ Fight or flight response

o Behavioral

▪ Anything possible to survive what’s happening

• Anxiety

o Complex blend of unpleasant emotions and cognitions

o Is more oriented to the future and more diffuse than fear

o Cognitive/Subjective

▪ Is everything going to be ok? Etc.

o Physiological

▪ Sweat increase

▪ Nausea

▪ Butterflies

o Behavioral- biggest difference between fear and anxiety

▪ Might avoid things they wouldn’t normally avoid

o Anxiety can be adaptive- problem occurs when it is excessive

o Not in the moment, just thinking something might happen

2. What defines something as an anxiety disorder?

• Out of proportion to dangers truly faced

• Severe enough to cause distress and/or impairment

• Fear response exists even when stimulus is not present

3. Specific Phobia

• What is it (including subtypes)

o Characterized by a strong and persistent fear triggered by the presence of a  specific object or situation plus avoidance of that object or situation

o Subtypes: animal, natural environment, blood/injection/injury, situational, other • Gender, age of onset

o Gender ratio varies (typically more females have a blood-injection-injury phobia  than men; most animal-type cases are women)

o Age of onset varies (animal and blood-injection typically early childhood. Others,  typically adolescence or early adulthood)

• Psychological Causes (including evolutionary perspective)

o Behaviorism/learning

▪ Classical conditioning

▪ Observational learning

▪ Individual differences in life experience

o Evolutionary preparedness- there are some things we can develop phobias to  easier than others (animals- spiders, snakes)

▪ If something can kill us, we are more likely to develop a phobia for it • Biological Causes

o Genetic and temperamental variables

• Treatment

o Exposure therapy (behavioral technique)

o Exposure to feared stimulus is not harmful

o Sometimes flooding can be used

o Medications (not very effective)

4. Social Anxiety Disorder

• What is it (including subtype)

o Characterized by disabling fears of one or more specific social situations o Performance only subtype- giving speeches, performing on stage, etc. • Gender, age of onset

o 3:1 to 2:1 (female to male)

o Onset: typically mid to late adolescence – early adulthood

• Psychological Causes (including evolutionary perspectives)

o Behavioral- direct and observational learning

o Cognitive biases

▪ Uncontrollable, unpredictable

• Biological Causes

o Genetic and temperamental factors

• Treatment

o Exposure therapy- cognitive restructuring (reframe thoughts)

o Medication

5. Panic Disorder & Agoraphobia

• What is a panic attack

o A discrete period of intense fear in which 4 of the following symptoms develop  abruptly and peak within 10 minutes

▪ Palpitations of pounding heart

▪ Sweating

▪ Trembling or shaking

▪ Shortness of breath

▪ Feelings of choking

▪ Chest pain or discomfort

▪ Nausea or abdominal distress

▪ Feeling dizzy, lightheaded, or faint

▪ De-realization or depersonalization

▪ Fear of losing control

▪ Fear of dying

▪ Dumbness of tingling sensations

▪ Chills or hot flashes

• What is Panic Disorder and Agoraphobia

o Panic Disorder: recurrent panic attacks that “come out of the blue” AND fears of  having additional panic attacks

o Agoraphobia: fear of situations in which escape might be difficult if you have a  panic attack (or other embarrassing symptoms)

• Gender, age of onset

o 2:1 (female to male)

o Early adulthood

• Biological Causal Factors

o Genetic factors

o Biochemical abnormalities

• Psychological Causal factors  

o Cognitive theory (plus hypersensitivity)

o Pill/placebo effect

o Anxiety sensitivity

o Perceived control

o Safety behaviors (e.g., carrying around pills)

o Cognitive biases that maintain (notice minor bodily sensations)

• Treatment

o Medications

o Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy

▪ Exposure therapy

▪ Cognitive restructuring

Generalized Anxiety Disorder

• What is it

o Characterized by excessive and unreasonable anxiety or worry about many  different aspects of life

• Gender, age of onset

o 2:1 (female to male)

o Age of onset varies

• Psychological Causal Factors

o Perceptions of uncontrollability and unpredictability

o The role of worry (belief that worry is a good thing)

o Worry reduces physiological symptoms

▪ However, increases the sense of danger and anxiety

o Cognitive biases for threat

• Biological Causal Factors

o Genetic factors

o Neurotransmitter and neuro-hormonal abnormalities

• Treatment

o Medications

o Cognitive-behavioral treatment

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

• What is it (what are obsessions? what are compulsions?)

o Characterized by the recurrence of unwanted and intrusive and obsessive thoughts  or distressing images; often accompanied by compulsive behaviors to cope with  such thoughts

o Obsessions: recurrent and persistent thoughts, impulses or images that are  intrusive and inappropriate and cause marked anxiety or distress

o Compulsions: repetitive behaviors or mental acts that drive an individual to  perform acts in response to an obsession and can be 15 minutes to hours long • Gender, age of onset

o 1.4:1 (female to male)

o Late adolescence/early adulthood

• Psychological Causes  

o Learned behavior

o Preparedness

o Cognitive causal factors

• Biological Causes

o Genetic factors

o Neurotransmitter abnormalities

• Treatment

o Behavioral and cognitive-behavioral

▪ Exposure and response prevention

o Medication

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

• What is it (including associated features)

o Characterized by obsessions about some perceived or imagined flaw or flaws in  one’s appearance to the point one firmly believes one is disfigured or ugly (like  Michael Jackson)

• Gender, age of onset

o Men = women

o Usually adolescence

• Causal factors


• Treatment

Ch 7 - Mood Disorders 

What are mood disorders?

- Types of moods

Major Depressive Disorder

- What is it?  

-Emotional, physiological/behavioral, and cognitive symptoms  

-Recurrent vs. single episode MDD

-Course of Major Depressive Disorder

- gender, age of onset

What is Persistent Depressive Disorder?

Unipolar Mood Disorders

- Biological Causal Factors

- Psychological Causal Factors

- Treatments

Bipolar Disorders

-Manic episode


- Be able to differentiate between Bipolar I, Bipolar II, and Cyclothymic Disorder -Gender, age of onset

-Characteristics of manic episodes (duration, etc)

-Differences between Major Depressive Disorder and Bipolar Disorders -Biological and Psychological Causal Factors


Suicidal behavior

-How common is ideation, suicide attempts, & suicide?

-Who has the highest rates, gender differences

- interpersonal-psychological theory of Suicide

-High risk vs. universal prevention

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