Introductory Material from the Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms®

The Thesaurus of Psychological Index Terms® is divided into three main sections:

  • Relationship Section
  • Rotated Alphabetical Terms Section
  • Term Clusters Section


Relationship Section

The Relationship Section is the most powerful section of the Thesaurus because it provides all the information about each term, including its definition, hierarchical relationship to other terms, and other data to help you decide whether or not to use the term in your search.

The Thesaurus lists each term alphabetically and cross-references and displays each term with its broader, narrower, and related terms.

PsycINFO® periodically updates the indexing vocabulary with new terms. The year of the term's addition in the Thesaurus appears as a four-digit superscript.

The subject code (SC) is a unique five-digit code associated with the term.

Each postable index term in the Relationship Section appears with a posting note (PN) reference indicating how many times that term has been used in the indexing of PsycINFO records. Posting notes are based on term usage through May 2006.

Many terms that have ambiguous meanings, applications unique to the PsycINFO database, or usage patterns that have changed over time have scope notes (SN) and/or historical notes (HN). In many cases, a scope note provides a definition of the term and suggests another term to compare. The historical note field includes information about changes to a term, the range of years a term was in use, and instructions for searching.

Nonpostable index terms, i.e., those not used in the indexing process, are shown in nonbold print with an appropriate USE reference. Nonpostable terms are provided as points of entry into the Thesaurus vocabulary. Used for (UF) are the opposite of the USE reference. Terms listed as UF (used for) references are postable terms you should use when searching in the index term field.

Broader (B) and narrower terms (N) are used to show hierarchical relationships between terms. Broader terms are less specific, whereas narrower terms are more specific. Related terms (R) are used to indicate conceptual, not hierarchical relationships. Look at these to find terms that you may not have thought of, but may be related to your topic of interest.

The Relationship Section is enhanced by the use of down arrows in front of any narrower (N) or related (R) terms that have narrower terms themselves. This feature alerts you to consider another more specific hierarchical level. Records in PsycINFO are indexed to the level of specificity of the source document.


How to Read a Term Record

Postable Index Term
(with date of entry)
Peripheral Neuropathy 2006
Posting Note and Subject Code
Number of postings and unique five-digit code
PN 162
SC 37575
Scope Note
Provides a definition and/or information about the proper use of the term
SN Disease or degenerative state of the peripheral nerves in which motor, sensory, or vasomotor nerve fibers may be affected.
Historical Note
Provides information about the historical usage of a term since its introduction to the Thesaurus.
HN In May 2006, this term was created to replace the discontinued term PERIPHERAL NERVE DISORDERS. PERIPHERAL NERVE DISORDERS was removed from all records containing it and replaced with PERIPHERAL NEUROPATHY, its postable counterpart.
Used For
(Non-postable term)
UF Peripheral Nerve Disorders
Broader Terms B Nervous System Disorders 1967
Narrower Terms
(Down arrow indicates more specific terms)
N  ↓ Neuralgia 1973
Related Terms
(Down arrow indicates more specific terms)
R Muscular Dystrophy 1973
 ↓ Paralysis 1973
 ↓ Peripheral Nervous System 1973


Rotated Alphabetical Terms Section

This section lists both postable and nonpostable Thesaurus terms in alphabetical order by each word contained within them. This is helpful because many terms represent concepts that can not be expressed in a single word. The Rotated Alphabetical Terms Section is useful for finding all Thesaurus terms that have a particular word in common. It is important to note that this section should be used in conjunction with the Relationship Section since hierarchies, scope notes, posting notes, and term dates do not appear here.


Term Clusters Section

Clusters are collections of index terms that are related to one another conceptually rather than hierarchically, and are displayed together under broad subject categories.

Clusters provide an entry point into the Thesaurus vocabulary by allowing you to scan a large group of similar terms easily and efficiently, and helping you translate your search vocabulary into Thesaurus vocabulary. Not every index term appears in the Term Clusters Section. Terms appear under nine broad cluster subject areas. The nine subject areas are meant to present index terms for selected subject areas that are frequent in psychological research, but do not cover all subject areas in psychology. Terms may appear in more than one broad cluster area, and also in more than one subcluster under any broad subject area, if appropriate.

Like the Rotated Alphabetical Terms Section, this section should be used in conjunction with the Relationship Section since hierarchies, scope notes, posting notes, and term dates do not appear.


Term Clusters & Subclusters


  • Applications
  • Automation
  • Computers & Communication
  • Computers & Media
  • Education & Training
  • Equipment
  • Human Machine Systems & Engineering
  • Information


  • Antisocial Behavior & Behavior Disorders
  • Diagnosis
  • Disorder Characteristics
  • Learning Disorders & Mental Retardation
  • Physical & Psychosomatic Disorders
  • Psychological Disorders
  • Speech & Language Disorders
  • Symptomatology


  • Academic Learning & Achievement
  • Curricula
  • Educational Personnel & Administration
  • Educational Testing & Counseling
  • Schools & Institutions
  • Special Education
  • Student Characteristics & Academic Environment
  • Student Populations
  • Teaching & Teaching Methods


  • Adjudication
  • Criminal Groups
  • Criminal Offenses
  • Criminal Rehabilitation
  • Laws
  • Legal Issues
  • Legal Personnel
  • Legal Processes


  • Assessment & Diagnosis
  • Electrophysiology
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Neurological Disorders
  • Neurological Intervention
  • Neurosciences
  • Neurotransmitters & Neuroregulators


  • Career Areas
  • Employee, Occupational & Job Characteristics
  • Personnel Management & Professional Personnel Issues
  • Occupational Groups
  • Organizations & Organizational Behavior


  • Design, Analysis & Interpretation
  • Statistical Reliability & Validity
  • Statistical Theory & Experimentation


  • Academic Achievement & Aptitude Measures
  • Attitude & Interest Measures
  • Intelligence Measures
  • Nonprojective Personality Measures
  • Perceptual Measures
  • Projective Personality Measures
  • Testing
  • Testing Methods


  • Alternative Therapies
  • Behavior Modification
  • Counseling
  • Hospitalization & Institutionalization
  • Medical & Physical Treatment
  • Psychotherapy
  • Rehabilitation
  • Treatment (General)
  • Treatment Facilities