Collective Unconscious

Carl Jung’s concept of a shared, inherited reservoir of memory traces from our species’ history.


Giving priority to the goals of one’s group (often one’s extended family or work group) and defining one’s identity accordingly.

Defense Mechanisms

In psychoanalytic theory, the ego’s protective methods of reducing anxiety by unconsciously distorting reality.


Defense mechanism that shifts sexual or aggressive impulses toward a more acceptable or less threatening object or person, as when redirecting anger toward a safer outlet.


The largely conscious, “executive” part of personality that according to Freud, mediates among the demands of the id, superego and reality.  The ego operates on the reality principle, satisfying the id’s desires in ways will realistically bring pleasure rather than pain.

Empirically derived test

A test (such as the MMPI) developed by testing a pool of items and hen selection those that discriminate between groups.


According to Freud, a lingering focus of pleasure-seeking energies at an earlier psychosexual stage, where conflicts were unresolved.

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


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


The process by which, according to Freud, children incorporate their parent’s values into their developing superegos


Giving priority to one’s own goals over group goals, and defining one’s identity in terms of personal attributes rather than group identifications.

Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI)

The most widely researched and clinically used of all personality tests. Originally developed to identify emotional disorders (still consider its most appropriate use).  This test is now used for many other screening purposes

Oedipus complex

According to Freud, a boy’s sexual desires toward his mother and feelings of jealousy and hatred for the rival father.


Information that is not conscious but is retrievable into conscious awareness


An individual’s characteristic pattern of thinking

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.

Projective test

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


Defense mechanism by which people disguise their own threatening impulses by attributing them to others.


Freud’s theory that attributes our thoughts and actions to the unconscious motives and conflicts; the techniques used in treating psychological disorders by seeking to expose and interpret unconscious tensions we are unaware.

Psychosexual Stages

The stages of development (oral, anal, phallic, latency, genital) during which, according to Freud, the id pleasure-seeking energies focus on distinct erogenous zones.


Defense mechanism that offers self-justifying explanations in place of the real, more threatening unconscious reasons for one’s actions.

Reaction Formation

Defense mechanism by which the ego unconsciously switches unacceptable impulses into their opposites.  Thus, people may express feelings that are the opposite of their anxiety-arousing unconscious feelings.


Defense mechanism in which an individual faced with anxiety retreats to a more infantile psychosexual stage, where some psychic energy remains fixated.


In psychoanalytic theory, the basic defense mechanism that banishes anxiety-arousing thoughts, feelings, and memories from consciousness.

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.


According to Maslow, the ultimate psychological need that arises after basic physical and psychological needs are met and self-esteem is achieved; the motivation to fulfill one’s potential.


All our thoughts and feelings about ourselves, in answer to the question “Who am I?”


One’s feelings of high or low self-worth

Self-Serving Bias

A readiness to perceive oneself favorably


In psychoanalytic theory, the defense mechanism by which people rechannel their unacceptable impulses into socially approved activities.


The part of personality that, according to Freud, represents internalized ideals and provides standards for judgment (the conscience) and for future aspirations.

Psychosexual stages.

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


A characteristic pattern of behavior or a disposition to feel and act, as assessed by self-report inventories and peer reports.

Unconditional positive regard

According to Rogers, an attitude of total acceptance toward another personal


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