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Front Psychol. 2015 Aug 3;6:1100. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2015.01100. eCollection 2015.

Fifty psychological and psychiatric terms to avoid: a list of inaccurate, misleading, misused, ambiguous, and logically confused words and phrases.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology, Emory University, Atlanta, GA USA.
2
Department of Psychology, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA USA.
3
Binghamton University - State University of New York, Binghamton, NY USA.
4
Department of Psychology, Sacred Heart College, Fairfield, CT USA.

Abstract

The goal of this article is to promote clear thinking and clear writing among students and teachers of psychological science by curbing terminological misinformation and confusion. To this end, we present a provisional list of 50 commonly used terms in psychology, psychiatry, and allied fields that should be avoided, or at most used sparingly and with explicit caveats. We provide corrective information for students, instructors, and researchers regarding these terms, which we organize for expository purposes into five categories: inaccurate or misleading terms, frequently misused terms, ambiguous terms, oxymorons, and pleonasms. For each term, we (a) explain why it is problematic, (b) delineate one or more examples of its misuse, and (c) when pertinent, offer recommendations for preferable terms. By being more judicious in their use of terminology, psychologists and psychiatrists can foster clearer thinking in their students and the field at large regarding mental phenomena.

KEYWORDS:

jingle and jangle fallacies; misconceptions; misunderstandings; scientific thinking; terminology

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