Defense mechanisms in psychology refer to habitual ways of dealing with negative emotions, fear, and frustration.
Their primary function is to make your life challenges more manageable. It may involve distortion, manipulation, or even complete denial of the reality to reduce your anxiety.
Healthy people typically use different defenses on different occasions. However, you are likely to have a few “favorite” defenses, and the test below is designed to help you figure out what they are.
Read all statements and check all that apply.
If you would like to skip the test and simply read the description of all defense mechanisms and examples, you can do so by clicking here.
I am not rich or good-looking, but I compensate by being a great friend / partner.
The sound of children crying doesn’t worry me.
I fantasize about doing great things.
Many people would like to be in my place.
I need to work harder than others to compensate for my flaws.
When upset, I tend to overeat, drink alcohol, or sleep excessively.
Whenever something terrible happens, I prefer thinking about the practical side of things instead of dealing with my emotions.
Sometimes I want to hit another car when I drive.
People say I am very reserved.
Most people I know are annoying.
I dislike people who always try to be in the center of attention.
Deep inside, I don’t enjoy spending time with my family. This makes me want to overcompensate by showering them with gifts and constantly showing my love to them.
I often point out the defects and imperfections of good-looking people.
I always see the positive side of things.
Although I fell out of love long ago, I pretend to be passionate and very much in love.
I think the situation in the world is much better than most people think.
I hate people who use whining and tears to get what they want.
I yell a lot.
I have a poor memory for names and/or faces.
Sometimes I get so mad that I want to break and throw things.
I work while on vacation.
I don’t get bothered when I see someone covered in blood.
I lie a lot.
I tend to be attracted to people who have what I lack myself.
When I want something, I can’t wait to lay my hands on it.
I know how to stay calm when I hear bad news.
Unless you are careful, prepare to be lied to.
Most people irritate me because they are egoists.
I try my best to impress people.
Sometimes I don’t understand why I do what I do.
I don’t have many childhood memories.
I am more into work than my relationships with colleagues.
My family members never disagree with each other.
I minimize contact with people I like because I am afraid they will leave me or hurt me in the future.
I don’t get attached easily.
Although I am deeply in love with my spouse, I pretend to be indifferent.
I don’t let emotions overwhelm me.
I am always optimistic.
Hearing graphic details of someone’s injury or death doesn’t cause me any discomfort.
Many people think too much of themselves, and this irritates me.
I have fewer problems than other people I know.
I could never stick to a plan.
I am unable to express my feelings.
I am very passionate about criticizing what I secretly want.
I would rather discuss my ideas and thoughts than my emotions.
Whenever I am interested in someone, I pretend not to notice them at all.
I fantasize about being in the center of attention.
I want others to talk about my sexual attractiveness.
I get suicidal thoughts when rejected.
I like to plan every little detail in advance.
If someone pushes me in a crowd, I feel like pushing back.
I get angry when things don’t go my way.
I use swear words a lot.
I am impulsive.
Even though my life is a complete mess, I make a lot of effort to maintain a good image and deny having any issues.
I find it irritating that I can’t trust the people around me.
People say I lack emotion.
I get mad when someone accidentally pushes me.
I always wanted to be like somebody else.
I don’t have any biases.
I feel I absolutely need to hear compliments.
I never cry.
I like attention and hate to be ignored.
People say I trust too easily.
Usually, I can’t recall my dreams.
I don’t give attention to things that bother me.
I hate bossy people.
Most people I know are insincere.
I am admired by many.
Whenever I dislike someone, I treat them in a particularly friendly manner.
I can’t hide my frustration when I am failing at something.
Most people will lie to achieve success.
I want to be prepared and always plan for the worst.
Once, I was so angry that I began to break the things around me and accidentally hurt myself.
I am failing as a spouse / parent / friend, but I have a great career.
I often argue with others.
Even though I dream of having a busy social life, I keep pushing people away.
Sometimes I cry out of frustration.
I get mad easily.
Sometimes I just want to punch a hole through the wall.
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Psychological regression is an immature way of dealing with challenges. Drinking, overeating, and other forms of escapism are all examples of regression.
Displacement is considered to be a neurotic mechanism, which means it is always negative and may take a toll on your relationships.
When displacement is used, your aggressive impulses are directed to an nonthreatening target that has nothing to do with whatever made you upset.
For example, you may start a fight with your spouse after having a hard day at work, or you may yell at your children because you are upset with your spouse.
The displacement technique is different from sublimation.
When sublimation is used, your negative emotions are transformed into something positive. For example, if you are going for a run to get rid of anger, you are using the sublimation technique.
Psychological denial is a common coping mechanism.
In essence, denial is an attempt to reduce anxiety and worry by refusing to accept reality.
A woman may deny there is a lump in her breast. An overweight person may insist she is big-boned. Many overly optimistic and overly positive people are using denial as their dominant coping strategy.
Psychological repression is an unconscious attempt to repel negative feelings as if they didn’t exist.
People who use repression as their dominant strategy are not aware of their emotional situation and feelings.
Sometimes they will not have any recollection of traumatic events that undoubtedly happened whatsoever.
Repression is slightly different from suppression. While repression is an unconscious process, suppression is a conscious blocking of impulses and emotions.
Psychological intellectualization is an attempt to deal with frustration and anxiety by leaving our emotions behind and concentrating on the rational analysis of upsetting events.
An example of this would be a patient diagnosed with a serious illness who deals with his anxiety by reading everything he can find about his diagnosis.
People who tend to use intellectualization may also use rationalization, another coping mechanism.
The difference between intellectualization and rationalization is that rationalization typically involves minimizing the importance of upsetting events or giving excuses.
For example, if your job interview didn’t go successfully, you may be tempted to say you weren’t that interested anyway.
Reaction formation is probably the most interesting defense mechanism of all.
In essence, reaction formation is converting your actual feelings to their exact opposite.
For example, you may be so deeply in love that you feel extremely vulnerable. To get rid of anxiety, you begin to act as if you were indifferent to, or even hated the person you love.
Another example is when you behave overly friendly toward a person who you secretly dislike.
The key to reaction formation is exaggeration and compulsiveness. Needless to say, reaction formation is not a healthy way of dealing with emotional problems.
Projection is a coping technique that helps reduce anxiety by attributing one’s unacceptable behavior to somebody else.
For example, your spouse may accuse you of being mean and not letting them talk while, in reality, it’s your spouse who doesn’t let you talk.
Another example would be when you dislike someone without any apparent reason.
To reduce your anxiety and to justify your feelings, you start thinking that it’s that person who doesn’t like you in the first place.
In extreme cases, people who use this defense mechanism may appear paranoid. They will display extreme distrust of others and build conspiracy theories.
Psychological compensation is an attempt to compensate for real or imagined flaws in one area by excelling in another area.
For example, someone who fails academically may compensate by becoming a great athlete, or someone who is physically weak may compensate by concentrating on their studies or career.
Unattractive people may compensate by becoming great lovers or attentive partners.
Compensation may be positive or negative. While positive compensation helps overcome challenges, negative compensation increases the feeling of inferiority.
If you liked this, you may also like Conscious Coping Strategies Test found here .