Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences

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

Conscious, Preconscious, and Unconscious

Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-28099-8_1370-1



The terms “unconscious,” “preconscious,” and “conscious” can be understood in several interrelated ways. First, these terms can be understood descriptively (or epistemically), where being conscious refers to what is presently known and unconscious refers to what is presently unknown. Second, these terms can be understood systemically, with respect to an unconscious system (Ucs.), preconscious system (Pcs.), and conscious system (Cs.), each operating in distinct and specific ways. Lastly, these terms can be understood in a dynamic sense, where some mental content are made unconscious and prevented from reaching conscious awareness.


The terms “unconscious,” “preconscious,” and “conscious” are interrelated, and so to understand the term, “unconscious” requires first clarifying what it means to be conscious. When we say that someone is “conscious,” we generally mean that the person is...


Defence Mechanism Primary Process Unconscious Mental Process Dissociative Identity Disorder Paranormal Belief 
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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Macquarie UniversityNorth RydeAustralia

Section editors and affiliations

  • Virgil Zeigler-Hill
    • 1
  1. 1.Oakland UniversityRochesterUSA