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Key Terms and Study Questions

Personality Psychology Study Guide

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As we wrap up our overview of personality, it is time to learn more about some key terms in personality, answer some basic study questions and put your knowledge to the test.

Key Terms

Personality - The characteristic patterns of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors arising from within that make a person unique.

Classical Conditioning – A behavioral training technique in which a naturally occurring stimulus is paired with a response. Then, a previously neutral stimulus is paired with the naturally occurring stimulus. Eventually, the previously neutral stimulus comes to evoke the response without the presence of the naturally occurring stimulus. The two elements are then known as the conditioned stimulus and the conditioned response.

Operant Conditioning – A behavior training technique in which reinforcements or punishments are used to influence behavior. An association is made between a behavior and a consequence for that behavior.

Unconscious – In Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality, the unconscious mind is a reservoir of feelings, thoughts, urges, and memories that are outside of our conscious awareness. Most of the contents of the unconscious are unacceptable or unpleasant, such as feelings of pain, anxiety, or conflict. According to Freud, the unconscious continues to influence our behavior and experience, even though we are unaware of these underlying influences.

Id – According to Freud’s psychoanalytic theory of personality, the id is the personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs, and desires. The id operates based on the pleasure principle, which demands immediate gratification of needs.

Ego – According to Freud, the ego is the largely unconscious part of personality that mediates the demands of the id, the superego, and reality. The ego prevents us from acting on our basic urges (created by the id), but also works to achieve a balance with our moral and idealistic standards (created by the superego).

Superego – The superego is the component of personality composed of our internalized ideals that we have acquired from our parents and from society. The superego works to suppress the urges of the id and tries to make the ego behave morally, rather than realistically.

Self-Actualization – An innate human need to achieve personal growth that motivates behavior.

Study Questions

1. What are the major characteristics of personality?

2. What characteristics do psychoanalytic theories share in common? In what ways does Freud's theory differ from Erikson's?

3. Describe the different techniques used to study personality? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each?

4. How does the behavioral approach to personality differ from the humanist approach?

Personality Quiz

Do you feel like you're ready to face that big exam? Put your knowledge to the test by taking out 15-question personality quiz. If you find yourself struggling, go back and review problem areas until you are fully prepared for your next class test. Good luck!

Take the Personality Psychology Quiz

You can go back to any section of the personality study guide to review information that you still need to focus on.

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