Define psychological disorder? In our endeavor to understand ourselves better, we usually attempt to find out how other people function in similar situations. By closely observing their behavior, attitudes, and physiological responses, psychologists attempt to unravel the workings of our minds and souls. Thus, psychology can be defined as the science of human behavior and psyche. Psychology contains the study of unconscious and conscious psychological processes, which include emotions and beliefs.
The major premise on which this subject is based is that there are many kinds of psychological measurements and that psychological tests provide valid data regarding the elements of personality. A good example is handedness. Although there are no clear-cut references to support this assumption, left-handers seem to score higher than right-handed people in several tests. Similarly, there are many kinds of personality traits and psychological states, such as extroversion, agreeableness, and conscientiousness, and these are each measured using different methods. Thus, psychological tests provide only operational definitions, and these cannot be generalized.
The theories of psychological concepts like intention and motivation
For instance, are not determined with any consistency from experiment to experiment. In fact, it is not uncommon to come across an individual who performs a task perfectly, yet tends to possess an unusual amount of confusion, annoyance, or depression. Normally, such individuals are diagnosed as having personality deficiencies (an excess of one or more of various psychological characteristics). But what was really the cause of this peculiarity?
In order to specify psychological concepts, it is necessary to observe directly what is being measured. Psychologists refer to test items as indices or criterion, and these indices are measured against certain reference examples, which may be evaluated against theoretical constructs. However, the constructions on which these theories are based are not objective, and do not themselves determine the reference sample. As a result, these concepts cannot be determined with any consistency from these models, and they are consequently evaluated against experimental observations.
Therefore, it can be said that psychological concepts are not operationally defined, since their operation is not dependent on any objectivity. A well-known example is the definition of the word “lying.” No reference can be made to the object under consideration in order to define this word, because it is merely a convenient convention, and refers to lying in the social situation (as opposed to just plain lying). Similarly, the use of the word “attitude” is also not determined by any objectivity, since this word refers to something that an individual may not do.
Since psychological constructs cannot be operationalized from a single reference example, no consistent external definition exists. This means that there are actually four different operational definitions: Internal processes, External processes, Internal structures, and Closeness to other people. Even if external reference examples were used, such as psychological concepts such as “consciousness,” “judgment,” “favor,” “self-esteem,” etc., it would not be possible to operationalize these concepts into meaningful descriptions, and hence these terms would have to be operationalized in terms of internal processes or internal structure. The same can be said for the concepts “fit”, “internalize,” and “emark.”
So what is the question then?
The question then becomes, how do we operationalize these concepts, and make them meaningful? For each concept, a description of its operationally defined state is needed, in order to make clear the relationship between a concept and its behavior. For example, “warm milk” is an operational definition, since it denotes a pleasant sensation. A description such as “a warm glass of milk” is obviously unsatisfactory, because it presupposes that there actually is a warm milk, and furthermore, it attributes this quality to milk. A description like “a warm cup of coffee” does not provide an objective description of behavior, but merely describes the person who likes warm milk.
Thus, functional analysis attempts to bridge the gap between theory and practice, by allowing theories to be tested against observed events. The challenge is to select the most appropriate theoretical framework and then to derive appropriate operational definitions from it. One important tool used in this process is the principle of simplicity, which states that the simpler the concept, the more clearly it will be described by observable events. Another tool used in this process is parsimony, which measures the overall quality of the theory or model against the relevant observations. Finally, the criterion of consistency requires that the theoretical model and its corresponding operational definitions be consistent with one another.