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an individual's characteristic pattern of thinking, feeling, and acting

Free Association

in psychoanalysis, a method of exploring the unconscious in which the person relaxes and says whatever comes to mind, no matter how trivial or embarrassing.


Freud's theory of personality that attributes thoughts and actions to unconscious motives and conflicts


according to Freud, a reservoir of mostly unacceptable thoughts, wishes, feelings, and memories. According to contemporary psychologists, information processing of which we are unaware


in Freud's theory, the level of consciousness in which thoughts and feelings are not conscious but are readily retrieveable to consciousness


contains a reservoir of unconscious psychic energy that, according to Freud, strives to satisfy basic sexual and aggressive drives. Operates on the pleasure principle, demanding immediate gratification

Pleasure Principle

Freud's theory regarding the id's desire to maximize pleasure and minimize pain in order to achieve immediate gratification.


the largely conscious, "executive" part of personality that, according to Freud, mediates among the demands of the id, superego, and reality. Operates on the reality principle, satisfying the id's desires in ways that will realistically bring pleasure rather than pain

Reality Principle

According the Freud, the attempt by the ego to satisfy both the id and the superego while still considering the reality of the situation.


the part of personality that, according to Freud, represents internalized ideals and provides standards for judgment (the conscience) and for future aspirations

Psychosexual Stages

the childhood stages of development (oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital) during which, according to Freud, the id's pleasure-seeking energies focus on distinct erogenous zones

Oral Stage

Freud's first stage of psychosexual development during which pleasure is centered in the mouth

Anal Stage

Freud's second stage of psychosexual development where the primary sexual focus is on the elimination or holding onto feces. The stage is often thought of as representing a child's ability to control his or her own world.

Phallic Stage

The third of Freud's psychosexual development in which genitals are the source of pleasure and the Oedipus Complex begins

Oedipus Complex

according to Freud, a boy's sexual desires toward his mother and feelings of jealousy and hatred for the rival father


the process by which, according to Freud, children incorporate their parents' values into their developing superegos

Gender Identity

one's sense of being male or female

Latency Stage

In Freud's Psychosexual Stages when you have dormant sexual feelings ( 6 - puberty)

Genital Stage

Freud's stage of psychosexual development when adult sexuality is prominent


according to Freud, a lingering focus of pleasure-seeking energies at an earlier psychosexual stage, in which conflicts were unresolved

Defense Mechanisms

in psychoanalytic theory, the ego's protective methods of reducing anxiety by unconsciously distorting reality


in psychoanalytic theory, the basic defense mechanism that banishes anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories from consciousness


psychoanalytic defense mechanism in which an individual faced with anxiety retreats to a more infantile psychosexual stage, where some psychic energy remains fixated

Reaction Formation

psychoanalytic defense mechanism by which the ego unconsciously switches unacceptable impulses into their opposites. Thus, people may express feelings that are the opposite of their anxiety-arousing unconscious feelings.


psychoanalytic defense mechanism by which people disguise their own threatening impulses by attributing them to others


defense mechanism that offers self-justifying explanations in place of the real, more threatening, unconscious reasons for one's actions


psychoanalytic defense mechanism that shifts sexual or aggressive impulses toward a more acceptable or less threatening object or person, as when redirecting anger toward a safer outlet


a defense mechanism in which unacceptable energies are directed into socially acceptable outlets, such as sports

Collective Unconscious

Carl Jung's concept of a shared, inherited reservoir of memory traces from our species' history

Projective Tests

a personality test, such as the Rorschach or TAT, that provides ambiguous stimuli to trigger projection of one's inner thoughts and feelings


a projective test in which subjects look at and tell a story about ambiguous pictures

Rorschach Inkblot Test

the most widely used projective test, a set of 10 inkblots, designed by Hermann Rorschach; seeks to identify people's inner feelings by analyzing their interpretations of the blots


a characteristic pattern of behavior or a disposition to feel and act, as assessed by self-report inventories and peer reports

Personality Inventory

a questionnaire (often with true-false or agree-disagree items) on which people respond to items designed to gauge a wide range of feelings and behaviors; used to assess selected personality traits.


the most widely researched and clinically used of all personality tests. Originally developed to identify emotional disorders (still considered its most appropriate use), this test is now used for many other screening purposes.

Empirically Derived Test

a test (such as the MMPI) developed by testing a pool of items and then selecting those that discriminate between groups

Self Actualization

according to Maslow, the ultimate psychological need that arises after basic physical and psychological needs are met and self-esteem is achieved; the motivation to fulfill one's potential.

Unconditional Positive Regard

according to Rogers, an attitude of total acceptance toward another person

Self Concept

(1) a sense of one's identity and personal worth. (2) all our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, in answer to the question "Who am I?"

Self Esteem

one's feelings of high or low self-worth

Self Serving Bias

a readiness to perceive oneself favorably

Reciprocal Determinism

the interacting influences between personality and environmental factors


giving priority to one's own goals over group goals, and defining one's identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group identifications


giving priority to the goals of one's group (often one's extended family or work group) and defining one's identity accordingly

Personal Control

our sense of controlling our environment rather than feeling helpless

External Locus of Control

the perception that chance or outside forces beyond one's personal control determine one's fate

Internal Locus of Control

the perception that one controls one's own fate.

Learned Helplessness

the hopelessness and passive resignation an animal or human learns when unable to avoid repeated aversive events

Positive Psychology

the scientific study of optimal human functioning; aims to discover and promote strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive

Social Cognitive Perspective

views behavior as influenced by the interaction between persons (and their thinking) and their social context

Spotlight Effect

overestimating others' noticing and evaluating our appearance, performance, and blunders (as if we presume a spotlight shines on us)

Terror Management Theory

purposes that faith in one's worldview and the pursuit of self-esteem provide protection agaisnt a deeply rooted fear or death

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