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Introduction to Psychology


The unique and relatively stable ways in which people think, feel, and behave.


Value judgments of a person's moral and ethical behavior.


The enduring characteristics with which each person is born.

Unconscious mind

Level of the mind in which thoughts, feelings, memories, and other information are kept that are not easily or voluntarily brought into consciousness.


Part of the personality present at birth and completely unconscious.

Pleasure principle

Principle by which the id functions; the immediate satisfaction of needs without regard for the consequences.


Part of the personality that develops out of a need to deal with reality, mostly conscious, rational, and logical.

Reality principle

Principle by which the ego functions; the satisfaction of the demands of the id only when negative consequences will not result.


Part of the personality that acts as a moral center.


Part of the superego that produces guilt, depending on how acceptable behavior is.

Psychological defense mechanisms

Unconscious distortions of a person's perception of reality that reduce stress and anxiety.


Psychological defense mechanism in which the person refuses to acknowledge or recognize a threatening situation.


Psychological defense mechanism in which the person refuses to consciously remember a threatening or unacceptable event, instead pushing those events into the unconscious mind.


Psychological defense mechanism in which a person invents acceptable excuses for unacceptable behavior.


Psychological defense mechanism in which unacceptable or threatening impulses or feelings are seen as originating with someone else, usually the target of the impulses or feelings.

Reaction formation

Psychological defense mechanism in which a person forms an opposite emotional or behavioral reaction to the way he or she really feels to keep those true feelings hidden from self and others.


Redirecting feelings from a threatening target to a less threatening one.


Psychological defense mechanism in which a person falls back on childlike patterns of responding in reaction to stressful situations.


Defense mechanism in which a person tries to become like someone else to deal with anxiety.

Compensation (substitution)

Defense mechanism in which a person makes up for inferiorities in one area by becoming superior in another area.


Channeling socially unacceptable impulses and urges into socially acceptable behavior.


Disorder in which the person does not fully resolve the conflict in a particular psychosexual stage, resulting in personality traits and behavior associated with that earlier stage.

Psychosexual stages

Five stages of personality development proposed by Freud and tied to the sexual development of the child.

Oral stage

First stage occurring in the first year to year and a half of life in which the mouth is the erogenous zone and weaning is the primary conflict.

Anal stage

Second stage occurring from about 1 or 1 and a half years of age, in which the anus is the erogenous zone and toilet training is the source of conflict.

Phallic stage

Third stage occurring from about 3 to 6 years of age, in which the child discovers sexual feelings.

Oedipus complex/Electra complex

Situation occurring in the phallic stage in which a child develops a sexual attraction to the opposite sex parent and jealousy of the same sex parent. Males develop an Oedipus complex whereas females develop an Electra complex.


Fourth stage occurring during the school years, in which the sexual feelings of the child are repressed while the child develops in other ways.


Freud's term for both the theory of personality and the therapy based on it.


Followers of Freud who developed their own competing psychodynamic theories.

Personal unconscious

Jung's name for the unconscious mind as described by Freud.

Collective unconscious

Jung's name for the memories shared by all members of the human species.


Jung's collective, universal human memories.

Basic anxiety

Anxiety created when a child is born into the bigger and more powerful world of older children and adults.

Neurotic personalities

Personalities typified by maladaptive ways of dealing with relationships in Horney's theory.


In behaviorism, sets of well-learned responses that have become automatic.

Social cognitive learning theorists

Theorists who emphasize the importance of both the influences of other people's behavior and of a person's own expectancies of learning.

Social cognitive view

Learning theory that includes cognitive processes such as anticipation, judging, memory, and imitation of models.

Reciprocal determinism

Bandura's explanation of how the factors of environment, personal characteristics, and behavior can interact to determine future behavior.


Individual's expectancy of how effective his or her efforts to accomplish a goal will be in any particular circumstance.

Locus of control

The tendency of people to assume that they either have control or do not have control over events and consequences in their lives.


A person's subjective feeling that a particular behavior will lead to a reinforcing consequence.

Humanistic perspective

The "third force" in psychology that focuses on those aspects of personality that make people uniquely human, such as subjective feelings and freedom of choice.

Self-actualizing tendency

The striving to fulfill one's innate capacities and capabilities.


The image of oneself that develops from interaction with important, significant people in one's life.


An individual's awareness of his or her own personal characteristics and level of functioning.

Real self

One's perception of actual characteristics, traits, and abilities.

Ideal self

One's perception of whom one should be or would like to be.

Positive regard

Warmth, affection, love, and respect that come from significant others in one's life.

Unconditional positive regard

Positive regard that is given without conditions or strings attached.

Conditional positive regard

Positive regard that is given only when the person is doing what the providers of positive regard wish.

Fully functioning person

A person who is in touch with and trusting of the deepest, innermost urges and feelings.

Trait theories

Theories that endeavor to describe the characteristics that make up human personality in an effort to predict future behavior.


A consisting enduring way of thinking, feeling, or behaving.

Surface traits

Aspects of personality that can easily be seen by other people in the outward action of a person.

Source traits

The more basic traits that underlie the surface traits, forming the core of personality.


Dimension of personality in which people tend to withdraw from excessive stimulation.

Five-factor model (Big Five)

Model of personality traits that describes five basic traits dimensions.


One of the five factors; willingness to try new things and be open to new experiences.


The care a person gives to organization and thoughtfulness of others; dependability.


Dimension of personality referring to one's need to be with other people.


People who are outgoing and sociable.


People who prefer solitude and dislike being the center of attention.


The emotional style of a person that may range from easygoing, friendly, and likeable to frumpy, crabby, and unpleasant.


Degree of emotional instability or stability.

Trait-situation interaction

The assumption that the particular circumstances of any given situation will influence the way in which a trait is expressed.

Behavioral genetics

Field of study devoted to discovering the genetic bases for personality characteristics.


Method of personality assessment in which the professional asks questions of the client and allows the client to answer, either in a structured or unstructured fashion.

Halo effect

Tendency of an interviewer to allow positive characteristics of a client to influence the assessments of the clients's behavior and statements.


Defense mechanism involving placing, or "projection," one's own unacceptable thoughts onto others, as if the thoughts actually belonged to those others and not to oneself.

Projective tests

Personality assessments that present ambiguous visual stimuli to the client and ask the client to respond with whatever comes to mind.

Rorschach inkblot test

Projective test that uses 10 inkblots as the ambiguous stimuli.

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

Projective test that uses 20 pictures of people in ambiguous situations as the visual stimuli.


Referring to concepts and impressions that are only valid within a particular person's perception and by be influenced by biases, prejudice, and personal experiences.

Direct observation

Assessment in which the professional observes the client engaged in ordinary, day-to-day behavior in either a clinical or natural setting.

Rating scale

Assessment in which a numerical value is assigned to specific behavior that is listed in the scale.

Frequency count

Assessment in which the frequency of a particular behavior is counted.

Personality inventory

Paper and pencil or computerized test that consists of statements that require a specific, standardized response from the person taking the test.

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