EHS AP Psychology Unit 10 - Personality


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 and therapeutic technique that attributes thoughts and actions to unconscious motives and conflicts. Freud believed the patient's free associations, resistances, dreams, and transferences´┐Żand the therapist's interpretations o


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


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


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


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.

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.


(1) the inability to see a problem from a new perspective, by employing a different mental set. (2) 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.


basic defense mechanism that banishes anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories from consciousness


allows us to retreat to an earlier, more infantile stage of development

reaction formation

the ego unconsciously makes unacceptable impulses look like their opposites


disguises threatening impulses by attributing them to others


occurs when we unconsciously generate self-justifying explanations to hide from ourselves the real reasons for our actions


diverts sexual or aggressive impulses toward an object or person that is psychologically more acceptable than the one that aroused the feelings


the transformation of unacceptable impulses into socially valued motivations


protects the person from real events that are painful to accept, either by rejecting a fact or its seriousness

collective unconscious

a common reservoir of images derived from our species' universal experiences

projective test

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

Thematic Apperception Test (TAT)

a projective test in which people express their inner feelings and interests through the stories they make up about ambiguous scenes

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.

terror-management theory

a theory of death-related anxiety; explores people's emotional and behavioral responses to reminders of their impending death.


according to Maslow, one of the ultimate psychological needs 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

a caring, accepting, nonjudgmental attitude, which Carl Rogers believed would help clients to develop self-awareness and self-acceptance.


all our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, in answer to the question, "Who am I?


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.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)

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.

social-cognitive perspective

views behavior as influenced by the interaction between people's traits (including their thinking) and their social context.

reciprocal determinism

the interacting influences of behavior, internal cognition, and environment.

personal control

the extent to which people perceive control over their environment rather than feeling helpless.

external locus of control

the perception that chance or outside forces beyond your personal control determine your fate.

internal locus of control

the perception that you control your own fate.

positive psychology

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


in contemporary psychology, assumed to be the center of personality, the organizer of our thoughts, feelings, and actions.

spotlight effect

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


one's feelings of high or low self-worth.

self-serving bias

a readiness to perceive oneself favorably.


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 goals of one's group (often one's extended family or work group) and defining one's identity accordingly.