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goals of personality psychology

describe, explain, understand, predict

definition of psychology

refers to an individual's characteristic patterns of thought, emotion, and behavior together with the psychological mechanisms (hidden or not) behind those patterns

six perspectives of personality

psychoanalytic, psychoanalytic-social, trait, learning, cognitive social learning, humanistic

how can personality be described?

nomothetic or idiographic approach


groups of people


focusing on one person

how do we understand personality dynamics?

motivation and adaptation

minnesota multi-phasic personality inventory (MMIP-2)

originally developed in late 1930; has 550 true/false statements

pyschoanalytic perspective: major assumptions

personality is dynamic, personality is determined, personality is organizational, focus is on development

three levels of consciousness (Freud)

conscious mind, preconscious mind, unconscious mind

unconscious mind

the dominant part of your mind (much of our behavior is due to forces within the unconscious)

preconscious mind

includes thoughts that you are not immediately aware of but can be brought to awareness fairly easily

conscious mind

includes what you are aware of at a given point in time and only a small part of your thoughts/memories are conscious

Freud's dream theory

Freud believed that dreams are the single, best source of information about the unconscious; dreams are highly sufficient, carefully constructed, and always contain a concealed meaning; dreams are not random

manifest content

what you remember from a dream; Freud believed that what you remembered is very deceptive and you should not take it at face value

latent content

the underlying meaning

the id and dreams

dreams are part of the primary processing of the id; the id gains strength while you are alseep

the ego and dreams

ego lessens the threat of the id's images through dream work

dream work

the process of modifying and distorting images in dreams

mechanisms of dream work

condensation, displacement, censorship, symbolic substitution

symbolic substitution

when the ego uses a symbol which substitutes for something more threatening (because the real thing would be threatening or inappropriate)


certain parts of a dream are censored, blocked out; this is why dreams are not alway sequential


involves shifting emphasis so that an important part of the dream is changed to something unimportant


when the ego combines and compresses separate thoughts into one thought

process of dream interpretation

a person reports the manifest content of the dream and then makes associations about the dream and the analysis interprets the latent content of the dream and associations (dream interpretations are alway subjective)


refers to a standard set of vague stimuli, called projectives because the client is supposed to project themselves upon the stimulus and give a response that reveals something about themselves

categories of projectives

association, construction, completion, expression

projectives used for personality

projectives used to be used as primary sources of personality, now they are used more as secondary

strengths of projectives

allows clients great freedom and expression, the only assessment method that taps into the unconscious mind, still widely used today

weaknesses of projectives

reliability is only moderate, validity is generally poor, tend to be expensive to give, there are less expensive techniques that work just as well if not better


represents your biological drives; only part of your personality when you are born; all about immediate gratification; lacks reason, reality and morality; works on the pleasure principle


develops within the first 2 years of life; task is to understand reality and to satisfy need appropriately in a way that promotes self-preservation; works on the reality principle; uses secondary processing (planning and decision making)


develops around age 4 or 5; the conscience (an internalization of your parent's and society's values and rules); main function is to prohibit and stop you from doing something; operates on the morality principle (doesn't take reality into account)

two domains of the superego

conscience (fosters morally correct behavior by inhibiting the id's impulses) and ego ideal (the part of your superego that promotes perfectionistic goals)

Freud's healthy personality has...?

a balance between your id, ego, and superego

Freud's anxiety theories

objective anxiety, neurotic anxiety, moral anxiety

objective anxiety

the ego's reaction to danger in your environment; functional because it serves as a warning

neurotic anxiety

comes from an id-ego conflict where the ego is trying to rain in the id and it is possible that the id is winning so the ego is starting to feel anxiety and sometimes the superego is stepping in and telling your ego that it is losing control over the id (no physical danger)

moral anxiety

results from an id-superego conflict where the superego is signaling the ego that the id is about to do something that is wrong and you can't do something that is morally incorrect

defense mechanism definition

unconscious processes that keep disturbing and unacceptable thoughts from


"out of sight, out of mind"; the most important defense mechanism the ego uses; the ego pushes the threatening material into the unconscious mind where it is unavailable for recall as a way to protect it


"that can't be true"; the ego is distorting reality in order to make dealing with something threatening (impulses/information) easier (differs from repression in that the source of danger is outside where for repression it isn't necessarily outside but could be bad id impulses and thoughts)


"acting like a baby"; a person returns to earlier, more comforting but less mature ways of behaving; the idea is that this behavior may have been successful at an earlier stage of development but you've out grown it and when a method of coping fails you regress to an earlier method of coping that used to work


"atoning for sins"; involves an individual engaging in some sort of behavior that is designed to compensate or make amends for some unacceptable feelings or behavior

reaction formation

"expressing the opposite reaction"; dealing with unacceptable impulses by expressing the opposite feeling which is often times over emphasized and taken to an extreme in an exaggerated way

defensive projection

"pointing the finger at others"; used when the individual can't accept responsibility for his or her own negative, aggressive, sexual, unacceptable thoughts and so they repress whatever the threatening impulse, feeling, idea is, the project that impulse on to someone else because they can't take responsibility for it, and lastly you distance yourself from that person


"finding a safe and easy target"; the ego shifts the expression of an impulse from an unacceptable or threatening target to a more acceptable or less threatening target


"saving face by using logic"; trying to make your behavior appear to be the result of logical thinking; trying to make your behavior seem rational even though much of our behavior is due to unconscious desires and impulses


"turning bad into good"; a lot of times the energy in basic drives is unacceptable, so using this defense mechanism that energy is redirected into something socially acceptable and positive

Freud's stage's of psychosexual development: background information

one body area is the focus of each stage and these body areas are sensitive to erotic stimulation; you need to transfer your libido from one stage to the next and you transfer this energy by resolving the developmental conflict at each stage which is always between free expression of a biological impulse and parental constraints


occurs when your needs have not been satisfied in that particular stage and you want to stay in that stage until you get it satisfied

over indulgence

occurs when your needs have been satisfied too well in a stage so you don't want to move on to the next stage because you might not have your needs met as well in the next stage


if part of your libido is left behind in a stage of frustration or over indulgence

oral stage background information

begins at birth until 2 years old; focus is on satisfying the needs of the mouth; sucking (early oral) and biting and chewing (late oral)

fixation at the early oral stage

focused on sucking, these people tend to be more dependent and gullible, more likely to be a follower than a leader and to be passive; have a fondness for candy they can suck on and tend to be smokers and are fans of engaging in oral sex

fixation at the late oral stage

focused on biting and chewing, these people tend to be more sarcastic, fiercely independent, very argumentative, like to chew things

anal stage background information

begins at ages 2-3; focus is on the anus; expelling feces (early anal) and retaining feces (late anal)

fixation at the early anal stage

anal expulsive character type; messy, disorderly, wasteful, disorganized, temper tantrums, defiance, aggression

fixation at the late anal stage

anal retentive character type; neat, organized, good at saving their finances, good at delaying gratification, stubborn, passive-aggressive

phallic stage background information

begins around age 4-5; focus is on the genitalia

castration anxiety

little boys think their dad is going to cut off their penis if their dad finds out he has feelings for mom

resolution to castration anxiety

increased identification with dad

penis envy

girls assume that they have already been castrated and their mom was the one who took their penis away; this makes her feel inferior and very jealous of men that they have a penis and she doesn't; because of this girls increase their attachment to dad

fixation in the phallic stage

superego is either underdeveloped and you have a very rigid moral code or it is overdeveloped and you do not have any moral or ethical guidelines to live by at all

latency period background information

begins at age 5-6 until puberty; not technically a stage; sexual drive is dormant and your energy is channeled into school, sports, friends, etc...

genital stage background information

begins a puberty; more of a stag that you have to attain and once you have it signals maturity; Freud argues that this is less important when developing your personality because the first five years of life are most important

Freud's definition of mature sexual love

includes both feelings of lust toward someone but also feelings of genuine respect, love, and affection

Freud's definition of true maturity

to bring new life into the world to nurture and love

Freud's definition of mental health

to love and to work

psychoanalytic treatment

basic aim is to make what is unconscious, conscious and the goal is to uncover those past conflicts, resolve those conflicts, and hopefully get some of that energy that has been stuck in that stage to move on through the next stages


refers to anything that gets in the way of progress during treatment; can be conscious or unconscious


allowing the client to project attitudes and feelings on to the therapist as if the therapist is an important person in the client's life


feelings the analyst has towards the client; important for the therapist to be aware of this

psychoanalytic therapy techniques

free association, interpretation of dreams, catharsis, interpretation, insight

free association

patient says whatever comes to mind, regardless of if it is important or not

interpretation of dreams

the patient talks about their dreams in therapy and the therapist analyzes the dream content


a reliving of the past, repressed feelings


when the analysis uncovered hidden meanings in what the patient says; it is important that the client is ready to hear interpretation because if it is offered too soon the client may reject it


involves the patient's emotional acceptance of themselves and past issues; when the patient is talking about things and the therapist guides the discussion so the patient figures it out on their own

carl jung background information

father was a pastor who was "tormented by a lack of faith" so he was unable to answer his son's questions about religion and life; he was lonely and introverted as a child; interested in parapsychology; had a friendship with Freud however he rejected certain aspects of Freud's theories


the total of all the conscious and unconscious contents of the mind; includes conscious ego, all thoughts/feelings/memories, personal unconscious, and collective unconscious mind; energy flows continuously in various directions from the conscious to the unconscious

components of the personality: ego

the center of our consciousness, unifying force in the psyche; relationships to identity and continuity as a human being; contains conscious thoughts of behaviors and feelings; contains memories of your experiences that you can bring to mind fairly easily

components of the personalty: personal unconscious

contains things that were at one time conscious but have disappeared due to repression or because you have forgotten them

differences between jung and freud's unconscious

jung believed it is smaller in size; jung argued that it is retrospective and prospective; jung believed that it contains a number of complexes (ie. mother complex, money complex, etc...)

components of the personality: collective unconscious

refers to a storehouse of ancestral experiences; collective experiences that all humans have had in their evolutionary past; the contents of the collective unconscious are the same for everyone

collective unconscious: common archetypes

shadow, anima, animus, persona, hero


the dark side of the personality; all of your inferiorities; it is what causes us to do what we do when "the devil made us do it"


the representation of woman in man, the feminine side of man that causes men to have feminine traits; it provides the framework within which men interact with women


the representation of man in woman, the masculine side of women; gives women masculine traits; provides the framework that guides her relationships with men


similar to a mask; the different identities that we take on because of the different roles we play in society


the hero is always defeating evil, often times suffers punishment for someone else, rescues people, etc...

two attitudes

extraversion (orients people toward external, objective world) and introversion (orients people toward the inner, subjective world)

four functions

sensation, thinking, feeling, intuition


the initial concrete experiencing of a phenomenon; not thinking or feeling anything about it, just establishing what is there and there is no reaction to it


interpret and understand the meaning of what is being perceived


evaluating the desirability or pleasantness of what is being perceived


when you form a hunch or form a conclusion without using any of the other functions; not thinking about it or evaluating your feelings, more of a gut feeling/reaction

the combination of two attitudes and four functions

both attitudes are present in everyone, however, one tends to be more dominant and conscious and the other is subordinate and unconscious; everyone has the capacity to use all four functions, but one becomes more highly differentiated and becomes superior to the others

psychoanalytic-social perspective: major assumptions

emphasis on ego, description of self, importance of interpersonal relationships, importance of social and cultural factors

alfred adler: background information

second of six children; he always felt like he was in the shadow of his successful older brother; suffered a sickly childhood; was a mediocre student in school and his teachers told his dad that he wasn't cut out for college but he used that motivation to eventually rise to the top of his class; had a nine year association with Freud and met weekly to discuss psychoanalysis; later he became a vocal critic of Freud

social interest

adler assumed that humans are motivated by this; people have an innate potential for relating to others, a kinship to humanity; believes that this is a major role in personality development

tasks of life

occupational, societal, and love

occupational tasks

refers to choosing a vocation which in turn allows that person to have feelings of self worth to the society

societal tasks

refers to friendship, cooperation, having empathy or others; the idea of getting along well with others

love tasks

refers to the relationship between the sexes and finding a significant other

struggle from inferiority to superiority

adler believed that to be a human means to feel inferior and when you feel this way it generates a struggle for perfection and to stop feeling inferior; all personality development comes from feelings of helplessness and inferiority; progress in life is always from a minus to a plus state

style of life

refers to the unique ways that people pursue their goals; everyone has the same goal of superiority

when your style of life is formed

adler believed that is is formed by the time you are 4-5 and impacts how your achieve your goals for the rest of your life

problematic styles of life

negative childhood experiences, parental neglect, parental overindulgence

mistake styles of life

ruling type, getting type, avoiding type

ruling type

people who seek control to dominate others; people are selfish, vain, and overly competitive

getting type

people are dependent, passive, and possibly depressed

avoiding type

people who try to isolate themselves from others, avoid any kind of conflict or problems because if you engage in relationships with others you are going to have conflict

only children stereotypes

spoiled, selfish and self-centered, sense of entitlement, unrealistic sense of their worth, overly attached to mom, lacking social skills because they don't have built-in playmates

first-born children stereotypes

independent, bossy and dominating, protective, responsible; "dethroned" when the next sibling comes and they usually don't like to share the attention

second-born children stereotypes

competitive with other siblings, envious of first-born, more likely to be rebellious, least likely to be spoiled

youngest children stereotypes

outgoing and popular with peers, able to "get away" with the most things, more dependent and spoiled, often a problem child

only children research findings

parents have high expectations (which affect the children); parents are more affectionate but also more punitive with them; score higher on intelligence tests; tend to be more conforming to both parent's and other adult's requests and expectations

later-born children research findings

parent's generally have more realistic expectations; tend to be more relaxed with their discipline; children are less concerned about pleasing the adults around them and so they tend to be more popular and have more peer support and succeed more in peer relationships

spacing and gender of children

research suggests that if children are spaced 5 years or more apart they function like only children; if you are the only girl in a family of all boys, she'll get extra attention regardless of birth order

erik erikson: background information

abandoned by his father before he was born, he was raised by his mother and his jewish stepfather; wasn't a good student in school and decided not to go to college; got involved in psychology because he painted portraits of children and met up with Anna Freud and she asked him if he'd be interested in child psychoanalysis; became the first child analysis in Boston in 1933; ended up teaching at Yale, Cal Berkley, and Harvard without a college degree


refers to a union of your physical needs as well as cultural environmental forces that have an affect on the individual

stages of psychosocial development

at each stage there are two opposing poles, if you successfully resolve the crisis at each stage it helps you move along in terms of gain a sense of identity and sense of self; you want a favorable ratio where you have more of the good pole and less of the bad pole

first stage: basic trust vs. mistrust

begins at birth to 18 months; trust results from infant's sense that it can count on satisfaction of its needs; mistrust results when the infant feels abandoned and helpless and not getting its needs met

basic trust vs. mistrust strength

hope, the enduring belief that basic satisfactions are attainable and continues with you for the rest of your life

second stage: autonomy vs. shame and doubt

occurs around 18 months to 2-3 years; the development of motor skills leads to independence and feelings of power; shame and doubt is the idea that even though you can do a lot of things yourself, you still have to depend on others for a lot of things (also the loss of self-control)

autonomy vs. shame and doubt strength

will power, the ability to make choices and demonstrate independence while still taking into consideration other people's needs

third stage: initiative vs. guilt

occurs at age 3-4; appearance of conscience puts a restrain on your behaviors and you start to consider consequences; initiative means acting on your desires and potentials; guilt refers to when you are unable to restrain by initiatives

initiative vs. guilt strength

purpose, which is the "courage to pursue valued goals guided by conscience but not paralyzed by guilt"

fourth stage: industry vs. inferiority

age 5 through puberty; focus is on performance in school; industry refers to a child applying themselves to learning; inferiority refers to the child perceiving their skills/status to be inferior to their peers; parents and teachers determine how well children perceive their abilities

industry vs. inferiority strength

competence, the skill and intelligence in pursuing and completing tasks

fifth stage: identity vs. role confusion

occurs during puberty; identity refers to the confidence that others see us as we see ourselves; role confusion refers to the way you see yourself is very different as other's see you

identity vs. role confusion strength

fidelity, (according to erikson) this is the cornerstone to personality and identity

sixth stage: intimacy vs. isolation

occurs at the end of adolescence to age 35; establishing independence from your parents, begin functioning as a mature, responsible adult which means getting a job, establishing intimate relationships, becoming financially independent; intimacy is the capability to commit to a relationship without losing your identity; isolation occurs if a young adult cannot commit to such relationships

intimacy vs. isolation strength

love, you need to love and be happy with yourself first before you can commit and love someone else

seventh stage: generativity vs. stagnation

occurs from age 35 to 55/65; generativity refers to the concern with establishing and guiding the next generation, if you fail to do this you have stagnation

ways to achieve generativity

be a good parent, be in a profession that helps or guides people, volunteer in schools or participate in intern programs, become a coach for younger people

generativity vs. stagnation strength

care, a broadening concern for the future generation

eight stage: ego integrity vs. despair

occurs after age 55/65 until death; integrity refers to having something of interest and value to share with the next generation, being able to give up leadership in the present; despair refers to the feeling that time is too short to achieve integrity and the feeling that you've done nothing in your life of any importance

ways to achieve integrity

must do more than just reflect on the past; have to remain active participants in life and seek out challenges and stimulation; do volunteer work and develop new interests

ego integrity vs. despair strength

wisdom, an active concern with life in the face of death

important characteristics of marcia's four identity status

exploration and commitment


when the adolescent is consciously choosing among various alternatives


psychological investment in a course of action or ideology

identity achievement

exploration yes, commitment yes; explored all options and then made a commitment

identity foreclosure

exploration no, commitment yet; exploration is absent but commitment is present


no exploration and no commitment


exploration is present but commitment is absent

karen horney: background information

father was a sea captain and education was for men, however her mom supported her desires for education; goal was to study medicine; moved to US in 1932 to escape her unhappy marriage, here she broke from Freud's ideas and started questioning his ideas

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