Psychology: Personality Theory and Assessment

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Personality

A person's characteristic patterns of behaving, thinking, and feeling.

Psychoanalysis

Freud's term for his theory of personality and his therapy for treating psychological disorders.

Conscious

The thoughts, feelings, sensations, or memories of which a person is aware at any given moment.

Preconscious

The experiences perceptions, feelings, and memories that a person is not consciously aware of at the moment but that may be easily brought to consciousness.

Unconscious

For Freud, the primary motivating force of human behavior, containing repressed memories as well as instincts, wishes, and desires that have never been conscious.

id

The unconscious system of the personality, which contains the life and death instincts and operates on the pleasure principle; source of the libido.

ego

In Freud's theory, the logical, rational, largely conscious system of personality, which operates according to the reality principle.

superego

The moral system of the personality, which consists of the conscience and the ego ideal.

Defense Mechanism

A means used by the ego to defend against anxiety and to maintain self-esteem.

The Eight Defense Mechanisms

Repression, Projection, Denial, Rationalization, Regression, Reaction Formation, Displacement, and Sublimation.

Repression

Involuntarily removing an unpleasant memory, thought, or perception from consciousness or barring disturbing sexual and aggressive impulses from consciousness.

Projection

Attributing one's own undesirable traits, thoughts, behavior, or impulses to another.

Denial

Refusing to acknowledge consciously the existence of danger or a threatening situation.

Rationalization

Supplying a logical, rational, or socially acceptable reason rather than the real reason for an action or event.

Regression

Reverting to a behavior that might have reduced anxiety at an earlier stage of development.

Reaction Formation

Expressing exaggerated ideas and emotions that are the opposite of disturbing, unconscious impulses and desires.

Displacement

Substituting a less threatening object or person for the original object of a sexual or aggressive impulse.

Sublimation

Rechanneling sexual and aggressive energy into pursuits or accomplishments that society considers acceptable or even admirable.

Psychosexual Stages

A series of stages through which the sexual instinct develops; each stage is defined by an erogenous zone around which conflict arises.

Fixation

Arrested development at a psychosexual stage occurring because of excessive gratification or frustration at that stage.

Oedipus Complex

Occurring in the phallic stage, a conflict in which the child is sexually attracted to the opposite-sex parent and feels hostility toward the same-sex parent.

The Five Psychosexual Stages

Oral, Anal, Phallic, Latency, and Genital

Personal Unconscious

In Jung's theory, the layer of the unconscious that contains all of the thoughts, perceptions, and experiences accessible to the conscious, as well as repressed memories, wishes, and impulses.

Collective Unconscious

In Jung's theory, the most inaccessible layer of the unconscious, which contains the universal experiences of humankind throughout evolution.

Archetypes

Existing in the collective unconscious, inherited tendencies to respond to universal human situations in particular ways.

Self-Actualization

Developing to one's fullest potential.

Conditions of Worth

Conditions on which the positive regard of others rests.

Unconditional Positive Regard

Unqualified caring and nonjudgmental acceptance of another.

Traits

Personal qualities or characteristics, which are stable across situations, that are used to describe or explain personality.

Five-Factor Model

A trait theory that attempts to explain personality using five broad dimensions, each of which is composed of a constellation of personality traits.

Individualism/Collectivism Dimension

A measure of a culture's emphasis on either individual achievement or social relationships.

Social-Cognitive Theory

The view that personality can be defined as a collection of learned behaviors acquired through social interactions.

Reciprocal Determinism

Bandura's concept of mutually influential relationship among behavior, cognitive factors, and environment.

Self-Efficacy

The perception a person has of his or her ability to perform competently whatever is attempted.

Locus of Control

Rotter's concept of a cognitive factor that explains how people account for what happens in their lives - either seeing themselves as primarily in control of their behavior and its consequences (internal locus of control) or perceiving what happens to them to be in the hands of fate, luck, or chance (external locus of control).

Inventory

A paper-and-pencil test with questions about a person's thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, which measures several dimensions of personality and can be scored according to a standard procedure.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)

The most extensively researched and widely used personality test, which is used to screen for and diagnose psychiatric problems and disorders.

California Personality Inventory (CPI)

A highly regarded personality test developed especially for typical individuals aged 13 and older.

Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)

A personality inventory useful for measuring normal individual differences; based on Jung's theory of personality.

Projective Test

A personality test in which people respond to inkblots or drawings of ambiguous human situations by projecting their inner thoughts, feelings, fears, or conflicts onto the test materials.

Rorschach Inkblot Method

A projective test composed of ten inkblots that the test taker is asked to describe; used to assess personality, make differential diagnoses, plan and evaluate treatment, and predict behavior.

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

A projective test consisting of drawings of ambiguous human situations, which the test taker describes; thought to reveal inner feelings, conflicts, and motives, which are projected onto the test materials.

Five Factor Model (dimensions)

Neuroticism, Extroversion, Conscientiousness, Agreeableness, and openness to experience.

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