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An individual's unique and relatively consistent patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving.

Personality Theory

A theory that attempts to describe and explain individual similarities and differences.

Sigmund Freud

The founder of psychoanalysis, who lived in Vienna for the majority of his lifetime.


Sigmund Freud's theory of personality, which emphasizes unconscious determinants of behavior, sexual and aggressive instinctual drives, and the enduring effects of early childhood experiences on later personality development.

Free Association

A psychoanalytic technique in which the patient spontaneously reports all thoughts, feelings, and mental images as they come to mind.


In Freud's theory, a term used to describe thoughts, feelings, wishes, and drives that are operating below the level of conscious awareness.

Manifest Content

The surface images of a dream.

Latent Content

The true, hidden, unconscious meaning of the dream symbols.


Latin for "the it"; in Freud's theory, the completely unconscious, irrational component of personality that seeks immediate satisfaction of instinctual urges and drives; ruled by the pleasure principle.


In Freud's theory, the self-preservation or life instinct, reflected in the expression of basic biological urges that perpetuate the existence of the individual and the species.


In Freud's theory, the psychological and emotional energy associated with expressions of sexuality; the sex drive.


In Freud's theory, the death instinct, reflected in aggressive, destructive, and self-destructive actions.

Pleasure Principle

In Freud's theory, the motive to obtain pleasure and avoid tension or discomfort; the most fundamental human motive and the guiding principle of the id.


Latin for I; in Freud's theory, the partly conscious rational component of personality that regulates thoughts and behavior and is most in touch with the demands of the external world.

Reality Principle

In Freud's theory, the awareness of environmental demands and the capacity to accommodate them by postponing gratification until the appropriate time or circumstances exist.


In Freud's theory, the partly conscious, self-evaluative, moralistic component of personality that is formed through the internalization of parental and societal rules.

Ego Defense Mechanisms

In psychoanalytic theory, largely unconscious distortions of thoughts or perceptions that act to reduce anxiety.


In psychoanalytic theory, the unconscious exclusion of anxiety-provoking thoughts, feelings, and memories from conscious awareness; the most fundamental ego defense mechanism.


In psychoanalytic theory, the ego defense mechanism that involves unconsciously shifting the target of an emotional urge to a substitute target that is less threatening or dangerous.


In psychoanalytic theory, an ego defense mechanism that involves redirecting sexual urges towards productive, socially acceptable, nonsexual activities; a form of displacement.


Justifying one's actions or feelings with socially acceptable explanations rather than consciously acknowledging one's true motives or desires.


The attribution of one's own unacceptable urges or qualities to others.

Reaction Formation

Thinking or behaving in a way that is the extreme opposite of unacceptable urges or impulses.


The failure to recognize or acknowledge the existence of anxiety-provoking information.


A form of unconscious repentance that involves neutralizing or atoning for an unacceptable action or thought with a second action or thought.


Retreating to a behavior pattern characteristic of an earlier stage of development.

Psychosexual Stages

In Freud's theory, age-related developmental periods in which the child's sexual urges are expressed through different areas of the body and the activities associated with those areas. (Oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital).

Oedipus Complex

In Freud's theory, a child's unconscious sexual desire for the opposite-sex parent, usually accompanied by hostile feelings towards the same-sex parent.


In psychoanalytic theory, an ego defense mechanism that involves reducing anxiety by modeling the behavior and characteristics of another person.

Oral Stage

The psychosexual stage in which the mouth is the primary focus of pleasurable and gratifying sensations, which the infant achieves via feeding and exploring objects with his mouth.

Anal Stage

The psychosexual stage in which the anus is the primary focus of pleasurable sensations, which the young child derives in developing control over elimination via toilet training.

Phallic Stage

The psychosexual stage in which the genitals are the primary focus of pleasurable sensations, which the child derives through sexual curiosity, masturbation, and sexual attraction to the opposite-sex parent.

Latency Stage

The psychosexual stage in which sexual impulses become repressed and dormant as the child develops same-sex friendships with peers and focuses on school, sports, and other activities.

Genital Stage

The psychosexual stage in which as the adolescent reaches physical sexual maturity, the genitals become the primary focus of pleasurable sensations, which the person seeks to satisfy in heterosexual relationships.

Carl Jung

The psychologist born in Switzerland who was a pioneer in archetypes and the collective unconscious.


Followers of Freud that disagreed with him only on several key beliefs, resulting in a "new" age of Freudian theory.

Collective Unconscious

In Jung's theory, the hypothesized part of the unconscious mind that is inherited from previous generations and that contains universally shared ancestral experiences and ideas.


In Jung's theory, the inherited mental images of universal human instincts, themes, and preoccupations that are the main components of the collective unconscious.


The "feminine" side of a man.


The "masculine" side of a woman.


People who focus their attention inward.


People who turn their attention and energy towards the outside world.

Karen Horney

A psychoanalyst that developed the theories of basic anxiety and "womb envy", and stressed the importance of social relationships.

Alfred Adler

A Vienna born psychologist who developed the ideas of inferiority and striving for superiority.

Womb Envy

In Horney's theory, the envy of men in women's ability to bear children.

Penis Envy

In Freud's theory, the envy of women in men's possession of a penis.

Striving for Superiority

The desire to improve oneself, master challenges, and move toward self-perfection and self-realization.

Inferiority Complex

A general sense of inadequacy, weakness, and helplessness.

Superiority Complex

A general sense of superiority, greatness, and exaggerating one's accomplishments and importance in an effort to cover up weaknesses and deny the reality of one's limitations.

Humanistic Psychology

The theoretical viewpoint on personality that generally emphasizes the inherent goodness of people, human potential, self-actualization, the self-concept, and healthy personality development.

Carl Rogers

The pioneer and leader in humanistic psychology who developed the theory of actualizing tendency.

Actualizing Tendency

In Roger's theory, the innate drive to maintain and enhance the human organism.


The set of perceptions and beliefs that you hold about yourself.

Conditional Positive Regard

In Roger's theory, the sense that you will be valued and loved only if you behave in a way that is acceptable to others; conditional love or acceptance.

Unconditional Positive Regard

In Roger's theory, the sense that you will be valued and loved even if you don't conform to the standards and expectations of others; unconditional love or acceptance.

Albert Bandura

The essential founder of the Social Cognitive Theory, who believed in self-efficacy.

Social Cognitive Theory

Bandura's theory of personality, which emphasizes the importance of observational learning, conscious cognitive processes, social experiences, self-efficacy beliefs, and reciprocal determinism.

Reciprocal Determinism

A model proposed by psychologist Albert Bandura that explains human functioning and personality as caused by the interaction of behavioral, cognitive, and environmental factors.


The beliefs that people have about their ability to meet the demands of a specific situation; feelings of self-confidence or self-doubt.


A relatively stable, enduring predisposition to consistently behave in a certain way.

Trait Theory

A theory of personality that focuses on identifying, describing, and measuring individual differences.

Surface Traits

Personality characteristics or attributes that can easily be inferred from observable behavior.

Source Traits

The most fundamental dimensions of personality; the broad, basic traits that are hypothesized to be universal and relatively few in number.

Raymond Cattell

A pioneer trait theorist who created a list of 171 characteristics, then created the 16PF.

Hans Eysenck

A British psychologist who created a theory of 3 dimensions of personality, introversion-extraversion, neuroticism-emotional stability, and psychoticism.

Five-Factor Model of Personality

A trait theory of personality that identifies five basic source traits (extraversion, neuroticism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, and openness to experience) as the fundamental building blocks of personality.

Behavioral Genetics

An interdisciplinary field that studies the effects of genes and heredity on behavior.

Psychological Test

A test that assesses a person's abilities, aptitudes, interests, or personality, based on a systematically obtained sample of behavior.

Projective Test

A type of personality test that involves a person's interpreting an ambiguous image; used to assess unconscious motives, conflicts, psychological defenses, and personality traits.

Rorschach Inkblot Test

A projective test using inkblots, developed by Swiss psychiatrist Hermann Rorschach in 1921.


A pseudoscience that claims to assess personality, social, and occupational attributes based on a person's distinctive handwriting, doodles, and drawing style.

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

A projective personality test that involves creating stories about each of a series of ambiguous scenes.

Self-Report Inventory

A type of psychological test in which a person's responses to standardized questions are compared to established norms.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)

A self-report inventory that assesses personality characteristics and psychological disorders; used to assess both normal and disturbed populations.

California Personality Inventory (CPI)

A self-report inventory that assesses personality characteristics in normal populations.

Sixteen Personality Factor Questionnaire (16PF)

A self-report inventory developed by Raymond Cattell that generates a personality profile with ratings on 16 trait dimensions.

Possible Selves

The aspect of the self-concept that includes images of the selves that you hope, fear, or expect to become in the future.

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