Chapter 4.0: Psychological Models of Substance Misuse

Ch. 4.5: Key Terms

affect concerns a person’s emotions and feelings.

alcohol myopia concerns the way a person might focus on immediate circumstances and events rather than placing them in a broader or longer-term context—becoming “nearsighted” in a situation—when alcohol has been consumed; this interferes with reasonable, accurate interpretation of what is happening.

attachment theory, as related to an addictive behavior, concerns the role played by dysfunctional attachments or dysfunctional responses to the disruption of positive attachments during the course of human development.

behavioral under-control refers to the observation that inhibitory “control” areas/functions of the brain may not be as developed or active as the behavior initiation “action” areas/functions, leading to what appears as impulsiveness, “recklessness,” or high-risk behavior.

classical conditioning refers to a learning principle involving the pairing of stimuli whereby a previously neutral stimulus becomes paired with a naturally potent (unconditioned)stimulus such that it elicits the same response (conditioned stimulus).

cognition concerns the mental processes involved in a person’s knowledge, thoughts, and understanding of their experiences.

cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) includes a class of intervention approaches designed to address a person’s cognitive processes as means of changing behavior.

cognitive processes concern the link between what a person perceives and how a person responds (behaves)—the important role of situational interpretation.

craving refers to an intense, compelling desire to engage in an addictive behavior (e.g., repeated substance use) experienced by someone who has learned positive associations with that behavior; craving triggers may be external cues or internal states.

expectancies are cognitions about the likely consequences or outcomes of behaving in a certain manner, with these cognitions having an influence on behavioral choices.

information-processing concerns the way that individuals take in (perceive), organize, store (memory), and retrieve information.

negative reinforcement a behavioral consequence that involves removing or relieving a negative state such that the behavior is more likely to be repeated in the future (reinforced).

observational learning refers to the social learning theory process of learning through either imitating a behavioral model, teaching through modeling, or observing the consequences a model experiences as a result of behaving in a certain manner.

operant conditioning is a learning process whereby the consequences of a behavior determine the likelihood of repeating that behavior in the future (positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement increasing the probability, punishment decreasing the probability).

positive reinforcement is a behavioral consequence that involves providing a favorable outcome such that the behavior is more likely to be repeated in the future (reinforced).

psychodynamic theory explains dysfunctional behavior as a symptom of internal conflict between id, ego, and superego functions, or as an effort to resolve discomfort and stress associated with libido (libidinal energy) that has become fixed in different body locations (e.g., oral or genital) as the result of developmentally disruptive or traumatic experiences.

punishment is a behavioral consequence that involves providing an unfavorable outcome such that the behavior is less likely to be repeated in the future.

reasoned behavior refers to the tendency of individuals to calculate costs/benefits associated with a behavioral choice with the results of the analysis influencing the choices made.

salience refers to how significant or meaningful a consequence or role model might be for a particular individual.

self-medication theory reflects a belief that individuals may use alcohol or other substances as a (potentially harmful or dysfunctional) means of “treating” physical, emotional, or psychic pain.

social learning theory is an expansion on learning theory that invokes principles of observing others’ behavior and the consequences of others’ behavior such that these observations influence the observer’s learned behavior.

social referencing is a social learning theory construct whereby an individual makes sense of an ambiguous situation by watching how others interpret, react, or respond to the situation.

state-dependent learning addresses the tendency for information to be more easily retrieved under conditions similar to when/where/how it was initially gained.


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Introduction to Substance Use Disorders by Patricia Stoddard Dare and Audrey Begun is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.