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an individual's characteristic style of behaving, thinking, and feeling


a series of answers to a questionnaire that asks people to indicate the extent to which sets of statements or adjectives accurately describe their own behavior or mental state

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)

a well-researched, clinical questionnaire used to assess personality and psychological problems

Projective Techniques

a standard series of ambiguous stimuli designed to elicit unique responses that reveal inner aspects of an individual's personality

Rorschach Inkblot Test

a projective personality test in which individual interpretations of the meaning of a set of unstructured inkblots are analyzed to identify a respondent's inner feelings and interpret his or her personality structure

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

a projective personality test in which respondents reveal underlying motives, concerns, and the way they see the social world through the stories they make up about ambiguous pictures of people


a relatively stable disposition to behave in a particular and consistent way

Big Five

the traits of the five-factor model: conscientiousness, agreeableness, neuroticism, openness to experience, extraversion (CANOE)

Psychodynamic Approach

an approach that regards personality as formed by needs, strivings, and desires, largely operating outside of awareness—motives that can also produce emotional disorders

Dynamic Unconscious

an active system encompassing a lifetime of hidden memories, the person's deepest instincts and desires, and the person's inner struggle to control these forces


the part of the mind containing the drives present at birth- the source of our bodily needs, wants, desires, and impulses, particularly our sexual and aggressive drives

Pleasure Principle

the psychic force that motivates the tendency to seek immediate gratification of any impulse (Id)


the component of personality, developed through contact with the external world, that enables us to deal with life's practical demands

Reality principle

the regulating mechanism that enables the individual to delay gratifying immediate needs and function effectively in the real world (Ego)


the mental system that reflects the internalization of cultural rules, mainly learned as parents exercise their authority

Defense Mechanisms

unconscious coping mechanisms that reduce anxiety generated by threats from unacceptable impulses


a defense mechanism that involves supplying a reasonable sounding explanation for unacceptable feelings and behavior to conceal (mostly from oneself) one's underlying motives or feelings

Reaction Formation

a defense mechanism that involves unconsciously replacing threatening inner wishes and fantasies with an exaggerated version of the opposite


a defense mechanism that involves attributing one's own threatening feelings, motives, or impulses to another person or group


a defense mechanism in which the ego deals with internal conflict and perceived threat by reverting to an immature behavior or earlier stage of development


a defense mechanism that involves shifting unacceptable wishes or drives to a neutral or less threatening alternative


a defense mechanism that helps deal with feelings of threat and anxiety by enabling us unconsciously to take on the characteristics of another person who seems more powerful or better able to cope


a defense mechanism that involves channeling unacceptable sexual or aggressive drives into socially acceptable and culturally enhancing activities

Psychosexual Stages

distinct early life stages through which personality is formed as children experience sexual pleasures from specific body areas and caregivers redirect or interfere with those pleasures


a phenomenon in which a person's pleasure-seeking drives become psychologically stuck, or arrested, at a particular psychosexual stage

Oral Stage

the first psychosexual stage, in which experience centers on the pleasures and frustrations associated with the mouth, sucking, and being fed

Anal Stage

the second psychosexual stage, which is dominated by the pleasures and frustrations associated with the anus, retention and expulsion of feces and urine, and toilet training

Phallic Stage

the third psychosexual stage, during which experience is dominated by the pleasure, conflict, and frustration associated with the phallic-genital region as well as powerful incestuous feelings of love, hate, jealousy, and conflict

Oedipus conflict

a developmental experience in which a child's conflicting feelings toward the opposite-sex parent is usually resolved by identifying with the same sex parent

Latency Stage

the fourth psychosexual stage, in which the primary focus is on the further development of intellectual, creative, interpersonal, and athletic skills

Genital Stage

the final psychosexual stage, a time for the coming together of the mature adult personality with a capacity to love, work, and relate to others in a mutually satisfying and reciprocal manner

Self-Actualizing Tendency

the human motive toward realizing our inner potential'

Unconditional Positive Regard

an attitude of nonjudgmental acceptance toward another person

Existential Approach

a school of thought that regards personality as governed by an individual's ongoing choices and decisions in the context of the realities of life and death

Social Cognitive Approach

terms of how the person thinks about the situations encountered in daily life and behaves in response to them

Person-Situation Controversy

the question of whether behavior is caused more by personality or by situational factors

Personal Constructs

dimensions people use in making sense of their experiences

Outcome Expectancies

a person's assumptions about the likely consequences of a future behavior

Locus of Control

a person's tendency to perceive the control of rewards as internal to the self or external in the environment


a person's explicit knowledge of his or her own behaviors, traits, and other personal characteristics


the tendency to seek evidence to confirm the self-concept


the extent to which an individual likes, values, and accepts the self

Self-Serving Bias

people's tendency to take credit for their successes but downplay responsibility for their failures


a trait that reflects a grandiose view of the self combined with a tendency to seek admiration from and exploit others

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