In the psychology context, idealism refers to a cognitive and philosophical stance emphasizing the importance of mental representations, ideas, and perceptions in shaping one's understanding of the world. It involves the belief that reality is mentally constructed or heavily influenced by our perceptions and cognitive structures, rather than existing independently of the mind.


Within psychology, idealism touches on how individuals conceptualize and interact with their environment through the lens of their personal ideas, values, and beliefs. This perspective can influence various psychological theories and practices, particularly in areas such as cognitive psychology, where the focus is on understanding how mental processes shape our experience of reality.

Application Areas

  • Cognitive Psychology: Examines how mental representations and cognitive schemas influence perception and understanding of the world.
  • Social Psychology: Investigates how ideals and expectations affect social interactions, group dynamics, and cultural norms.
  • Clinical Psychology: Considers how an individual's ideals might contribute to psychological distress or well-being, influencing therapeutic approaches.

Well-Known Examples

An example of idealism in psychology can be seen in constructivist theories, which argue that individuals actively construct their reality based on their experiences, beliefs, and mental processes. Another example is the work of Carl Rogers, whose humanistic psychology emphasizes the individual's subjective experience and the inherent drive towards self-actualization based on personal ideals.

Treatment and Risks

In therapeutic contexts, understanding an individual's idealistic perceptions can help address discrepancies between their ideals and their experiences, which may contribute to distress or dysfunction. Therapy might focus on reconciling these differences, fostering a more realistic or flexible approach to personal ideals and expectations.

Similar Terms or Synonyms

  • Constructivism
  • Mentalism


In psychology, idealism refers to the notion that our understanding and interaction with the world are primarily shaped by mental constructs, perceptions, and ideals. This perspective underscores the role of the mind in interpreting reality and has implications for various psychological domains, from cognitive processes and social behavior to therapeutic practices.


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