Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

Living Edition
| Editors: Virgil Zeigler-Hill, Todd K. Shackelford

Psychological Mechanisms

  • Ulrich KochEmail author
  • Kelso Cratsley
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1562-1



Psychological mechanisms are the processes and systems, or activities and entities, frequently appealed to in causal explanations within the psychological sciences.


In the most inclusive sense, psychological mechanisms offer a type of causal explanation of mental states and behavior, often with reference to underlying processes, systems, activities, or entities. By postulating and investigating such mechanisms, researchers have sought explanations of a wide range of psychological phenomena. However, the concept has been deployed in dramatically different ways, with very different meanings, depending upon the particular school or tradition of psychology (and specific research program therein). In fact, usage has been so diverse as to defy easy categorization or definition. But a historical perspective, even if rather selective, can trace the broad outlines of the significance of psychological...

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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.George Washington UniversityWashingtonUSA
  2. 2.American UniversityWashingtonUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Jon Sefcek
    • 1
  1. 1.Kent State UniversityKentUSA