Keith E Rice's Integrated SocioPsychology Blog & Pages

Aligning, integrating and applying the behavioural sciences

Glossary N


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National Identity: a sense of a nation as a cohesive whole, as represented by distinctive traditions, culture and language.
It may refer to the subjective feeling one shares with a group of people about a nation, regardless of one’s legal citizenship status. National identity is viewed in psychological terms as ‘an awareness of difference’, a ‘feeling and recognition of we and they’.
However, Benedict Anderson (1981) depicts a nation as an imagined community,  a social construction imagined by the people who perceive themselves as part of that group.


Nativism: any orientation in Psychology or Philosophy that stresses the genetic, inherited influences on thought and behaviour over the acquired, experiential influences.

Nature-Nurture Debate: the issue of how much of human behaviour is innate and how much is learned has occupied philosophers and scientists for centuries. However, more recent understanding of the brain’s ‘plasticity’ – the way it develops structurally in response to external stimuli – is beginning to render the ‘nature vs nurture debate’ obsolete.

Negative Correlation: see Correlation.

Negative Punishment: one of the forms of Operant Conditioning identified by B F Skinner (1938).


Neo-Freudian: the term applied to psychologists like Carl Gustav Jung and Erik Erikson who have developed and modified the theories of Sigmund Freud.

Neo-Marxism: a loose term for various 20th Century approaches that amend or extend Marxism and Marxist theory, usually by incorporating elements from other intellectual traditions, such as: Critical Theory, Psychoanalytic Theory or Existentialism (in the case of Jean Paul Sartre).

Neural Network:  a network or circuit of neurons.

Graphic copyright © 2008 Society for Neuroscience

A neural network is composed of a groups of chemically connected or functionally associated neurons. A single neuron may be connected to many other neurons and the total number of neurons and connections in a network may be extensive. Connections, called synapses, are usually formed from axons (outgoing charge) to dendrites (incoming charge).
The graphic left shows a neuron in synaptic transmission.

Neural Plasticity:

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP): its foundations laid by Richard Bandler & John Grinder in 1975 and drawing initially upon the work of leaders in their fields such as hypnotherapist Milton Erickson, linguist Virginia Satyr and anthropologist/philosopher Gregory Bateson, NLP has evolved into a loosely-linked collection of philosophies, models and therapies. Many other notable figures such as Robert Dilts, Lesley Cameron Bandler, L Michael Hall and Shelle Rose Charvet have made critical contributions in the past half-century and more.
The approach has a strong emphasis on practical and powerful applications. Dismissed by some academic psychologists as ‘unscientific’, NLP therapies have increasingly won over therapists, practitioner psychologists and many in the medical professions simply because the applications can be so effective.
Personally, as an NLP Master Practitioner, I have expressed severe reservations about NLP and the processes by which inexperienced persons are taught such powerful techniques with a minimum of psychological knowledge and expertise.

Neurobiology:  the study of cells of the nervous system and the organization of these cells into functional circuits that process information and mediate behaviour. It is a subdiscipline of both Biology and Neuroscience.

Neurological Levels: developed by Robert Dilts (1990) – in part, at least, from the Logical Levels of Learning work of Gregory Bateson (1972), this is a stratification into levels of the way the mind orders its perceptions of the world. Neurological Levels also provides an excellent frame for understanding the significance of vMEMES and is a key element in Integrated SocioPsychology.
Dilts has been attacked in some quarters for a confused use of neurology and misuse of Bateson. However, the model is a very powerful one for understanding how we interact with the world around us. It supports and is supported by Albert Bandura’s (1977) concept of Reciprocal Determinism.  Plus, the exercise Dilts designed to accompany it has a very significant success rate as a therapeutic intervention. Peter McNab’s Article, Aligning Neurological Levels – a Reassessment (1999), considers some of the controversy surrounding the model and gives it a theoretical reframe from Ken Wilber’s  (1996) All Quadrants/All Levels perspective. See also Dilts’ Brain Science.

Neurology: the branch of medicine or biology that deals with the anatomy, functions, and organic disorders of nerves and the nervous system.

Neuron: a cell of the brain and nervous system that receives and conducts information by electro-chemical means. Information is received from the previous cell in the neural network via the neuron’s dendrites – though some neurons also receive information directly into the soma (cell body). Information goes out via neurotransmitters from the terminal boutons at the tip of the axon into the next cell in the neural network. Some neurons are minute while others are several feet long.

Neuroscience: the study of how the nervous system develops, its structure, and what it does.
Neuroscientists focus on the brain and its impact on behaviour and cognitive functions. Not only is neuroscience concerned with the normal functioning of the nervous system, but also what happens to the nervous system when people have neurological, psychiatric and neurodevelopmental disorders.
Neuroscience has traditionally been classed as a subdivision of Biology. These days it is an interdisciplinary science which liaises closely with other disciplines such as Mathematics, Linguistics, Engineering, Computer Science, Chemistry, Philosophy, Psychology and Medicine.
Many researchers say that neuroscience means the same as Neurobiology. However, Neurobiology looks at the biology of the nervous system while neuroscience refers to anything to do with the nervous system.

Neurosis: a personality or mental disturbance characterised by anxiety but where the patient has not lost touch with reality – eg: a phobia. The term ‘neurosis’ remains in use even though the distinction between it and psychosis has been dropped from the major Psychiatry classification systems. Currently talk is of having someone ‘neurotic episodes’, rather than labelling that person a neurotic.

Neuroticism: the broad temperamental disposition which makes people high in it vulnerable to anxiety, pessimism and emotional instability. At its extreme, it can be the aetiological basis (cause) of a neurosis.
in his Dimensions of Temperament construct Hans J Eysenck (1947; 1967) more specifically used the term to mean ’emotional reactivity’ (on a Stable-Unstable/Neuroticist scale). He attributed this to the degree of sensitivity of the amygdala. Neuroticism also is a key factor in Paul Costa & Robert McCrae’s (1985) version of the Big 5.

Neurotransmitter: a chemical substance that is released at the synapse (junction) between neurons to affect the transmission of messages in the nervous system.
Excitatory neurostransmitters – eg: dopamine, acetylcholine – facilitate communication between neurons while inhibitory neurotransmitters – eg GABA – block them.

New International Division of Labour: this is the movement of industrial capital from the ‘advanced’ industrialised world to the developing world.
This movement has been driven by rising labour costs and high levels of industrial conflict in the West which reduced the profitability of transnational corporations.  With globalisation, the tendency is for the Western industrial societies to export capital and expertise while poor countries provide cheap labour for manufacturing.

NLP: see Neuro-Linguistic Programming.

NLP Communication Model: developed by Tad James & Wyatt Woodsmall (1988) from the work of Richard Bandler & John Grinder (1975), this is one of the key structures in Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)  – though it draws heavily on concepts in Cognitive Psychology and the ground-breaking work of linguistic analysts Alfred Korzybski (1933) and Noam Chomsky (1964). The model looks at how we process internally the information from an external event through our confirmation biases, attribution biases and other mental filters. This creates an internal representation of that event, the internal representation interacting with our physiology to create an emotionally-influenced state. The formation of such internal states may be subject to the meta-stating process, producing an over-arching frame of reference.
In Integrated SocioPsychology, the concept is expanded beyond standard NLP to produce the NLP+ Communication Model. This takes into consideration the impact of vMEMES on such processes.

NLP Practitioner: specifically someone who has gained the qualification of Practitioner from one of the schools providing training in NLP such as the International NLP Trainers Association (INLPTA) or the Association for NLP (ANLP). There is also a further/superior qualification of NLP Master Practitioner.
More broadly the term ‘NLP practitioner’ can be used for anyone, qualified or not, who overtly uses the models and techniques of NLP.

NLPer: a colloquial term which tends to be given to people who practice NLP – whether qualified Practitioners or not.

Nominal Data: see Levels of Data.

Nominal Level: see Levels of Adaptation.

Nonconscious Processing: Daniel Siegel (p290, 2012): defines nonconscious processing as “Perception, abstract cognition, emotional processes, memory and social interaction all appear[ing] to proceed to a great extent without the involvement of consciousness.” Siegel also talks about “sudden intrusions of elaborated thought processes (as in ‘Aha!’ experiences….” In other words, our mind is at work even when we ae unaware of it.
Some psychologists regard the terms ‘nonconscious’ and subconscious as interchangeable. Some also refer to the Unconscious Mind for this kind of processing – although there are also other connotations to this term which lead some to draw a clear distinction between unconsciouss and nonconscious processing.

Non-Verbal Communication: communication without the use of overt, spoken or written language. Researchers like Allan Pease (1981) estimate that upto 80% of the way we feel is communicated via body language while vocal tone can account for upto 30%.

Noradrenaline: aka norepinephrine, is a hormone  produced by the adrenal glands which increases physiological arousal and is a key enabler in the fight-or-flight stress response. It is also a neurotransmitter produced at synapses. As a neurotransmitter it is a monoamine and is associated with positive mood. It is also produced in the locus coeruleus in the onset of REM sleep.

Norm: something that is standard, usual or typical of a group – be it tangible (eg: dress) or intangible (eg: attitude).

Nuclear Family: the basic family unit, consisting of father, mother and their biological children.
Some Functionalists, such as Talcott Parsons (1964), argue that the nuclear family is the ‘right fit’ for a modern industrialised society – often requiring fairly rapid relocation – whereas the traditional extended family would be a hinderance to such a move.