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Psychology of Difficult Choices on a Daily Basis


As social creatures, people have to make difficult choices on a daily basis. In fact, inconsistencies between individuals’ own goal strivings and responsibilities act as a barrier to decision-making. The assigned case presents a dilemma of a student who has to prepare for his exams but wants to attend his best friend’s birthday party. Using the structural model of personality, it is interesting to discuss the student’s potential actions and align them with the various personality aspects.

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Id-Dominant Personality

Sigmund Freud was the first to single out the stages of personality development. According to his theory, personality can be divided into three essential components: id, ego, and superego, each of which has its unique features (Townsend & Morgan, 2018). Speaking about the first component distinguished by Freud, which acts as the most “primitive” one, it is necessary to say that it is primarily responsible for recognizing an individual’s wishes and basic needs. The id is regarded as the first component that appears during personality development. This partially explains why children are often unable to be responsive to other people’s wishes.

If the student had an id-dominant personality, his behavior would be rather irrational, unconscious, and pleasure-driven. In this situation, it is obvious that visiting his friend’s party would be perceived as an important source of pleasure, whereas spending time to prepare for the exam would involve harnessing his willpower. The latter would be extremely difficult because an individual with a strong id simply has no power to resist his or her desires. Therefore, the student would prefer to spend a lot of time at the birthday party despite the approaching exam.

Ego-Dominant Personality

In Freud’s classification, the ego is also referred to as “the rational self” (Townsend & Morgan, 2018, p. 941). A significant thing that distinguishes this component of the human personality from the id is that the ego enables a person to consider the objective laws of the outer world (Duffy, Ruegger, Tiegreen, & Kurtz, 2017). In other words, the ego helps to transform numerous impulses of the id, making them more socially acceptable. An ego-dominated personality makes an individual aware of objective factors that should be considered prior to make a decision.

Being a person with an ego-dominant personality, the student would take all risks that exist in this situation into consideration. For example, visiting a party means going to bed late. In its turn, sleep deprivation negatively affects cognitive abilities, and it can result in receiving a low mark. Considering this, the student would prefer to devote time to studying.

Superego-Dominant Personality

The superego is the last element identified by Freud. In its turn, this component of the human personality consists of “the ego ideal and the conscience” (Townsend & Morgan, 2018, p. 942). With the development of the superego, a person learns more about moral standards that all people should respect to maintain social order. The superego enables individuals to distinguish between things that are right and wrong.

Having a superego-dominant personality, the student would view the situation through the prism of his moral standards. The imbalance between the superego and other components can lead to the prevalence of moralizing behavior in people (Carveth, 2017). In this case, it is rather difficult to predict the student’s behavior. Theoretically, it would depend upon the student’s moral values. In some people, being attached to their friends is the ultimate value of life that should be respected. Supporting this opinion, the student would be likely to attend the party with the sole purpose of pleasing his best friend. However, some people are committed to putting business before pleasure since their parents emphasize the effectiveness of this approach. In this context, the student would prefer to reject his friend’s invitation. Moral standards would also encourage him to make up a solid reason for declining the invitation to avoid conflicts with his best friend.

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Carveth, D. L. (2017). Why we should stop conflating the superego with the conscience. Psychoanalysis, Culture & Society, 22(1), 15-32.

Duffy, M. K., Ruegger, L. K., Tiegreen, S. B., & Kurtz, J. E. (2017). Ego development and the internalization of conflict in young adults. Journal of Adult Development, 24(1), 40-47.

Townsend, M. C., & Morgan, K. I. (2018). Essentials of psychiatric mental health nursing: Concepts of care in evidence-based practice (9th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: F. A. Davis Company.

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