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Theories of Personality

Carl Jung (1875 - 1961)

A Swiss Psychiatrist who broke away from Freud's theory of the unconscious and developed his own theory of a collective unconscious that all human beings share.

Life narratives

The story people develop over time to explain themselves and make meaning of everything that has happened to them.

Libido [li-BEE-do]

In psychoanalysis, the psychic energy that fuels the life or sexual instincts of the id.

Oedipus complex

In psychoanalysis, a conflict occurring in the phallic (Oedipal) stage, in which a child desires the parent of the other sex and views the same-sex parent as a rival.


In psychoanalysis, the part of personality containing inherited psychic energy, particularly sexual and aggressive instincts.


Refusal to admit something unpleasant is happening.


In psychoanalysis, the part of personality that represents conscience, morality, and social standards.


A characteristic of an individual, describing a habitual way of behaving, thinking, or feeling.


Physiological dispositions to respond to the environment in certain ways; they are present in infancy and in many nonhuman species and are assumed to be innate.

Defense mechanisms

Methods used by the ego to prevent unconscious anxiety or threatening thoughts from entering consciousness.

Rollo May

A humanistic psychologist who brought to American psychology elements of European existentialism, which emphasizes the inevitable dilemmas and challenges of human existence.

Psychosexual stages

Oral, Phallic, Latency, Genital

Abraham Maslow (1908 - 1970

An American humanistic psychologist, developed the hierarchy of needs.

Carl Rogers

An American humanistic psychologist, developed the theory of unconditional positive regard.

The "Big Five" personality traits

Extroversion vs introversion; neuroticism vs emotional stability; agreeableness vs antagonism; conscientiousness vs impulsiveness; openness to experience vs resistance to new experience.


A program of shared rules that govern the behavior of people in a community or society, and a set of values, beliefs, and customs shared by most members of the community.


A statistical estimation of the proportion of the total variance in some trait that is attributable to genetic differences among individuals within a group.


When a person reverts to a previous phase of psychological development.

Psychodynamic theories

Theories that explain behavior and personality in terms of unconscious energy dynamics within the individual.


Repressing one's own unacceptable or threatening feelings and attributing them to someone else.

Humanist psychology

A psychological approach that emphasizes free will, personal growth, resilience, and the achievement of human potential.


In psychoanalysis, the part of the personality that represents, reason, good sense, and rational self-control.


One who strives for a life that is meaningful, challenging, and satisfying.

Individualist versus collectivist cultures

In individualist cultures the independence of the individual often takes precedence over the needs of the group. (Primarily European cultures); collectivist cultures group harmony often takes precedence over the needs of the individual. (Primarily Eastern cultures)

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)

An Austrian neurologist known for his method of psychotherapy- psychoanalysis; publication of The Interpretation of Dreams; and his theory of personality which is composed of three elements: id, ego and superego.

Unconditional positive regard

To Carl Rogers, love or support given to another person with no conditions attached.

Archetypes [AR-ki-tipes]

Universal, symbolic images that appear in myths, art, stories, and dreams; to Jungians, they reflect the collective unconscious.


A distinctive and relatively stable pattern of behavior, thoughts, motives, and emotions that characterizes an individual.


In psychoanalytic theory, the selective, involuntary pushing of threatening or upsetting information into the unconscious.

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