English: Reality Testing / Deutsch: Realitätsprüfung / Español: Prueba de realidad / Português: Teste de realidade / Français: Test de réalité / Italiano: Verifica della realtà

In the psychology context, Reality Testing is a cognitive process that allows individuals to distinguish between what is internally perceived and what exists externally and objectively in the real world. It is a fundamental mechanism in maintaining a healthy sense of reality and is crucial for effective functioning in daily life. Reality testing involves checking one's thoughts, perceptions, and experiences against external evidence and adjusting beliefs and understandings accordingly.

General Description

Reality Testing is central to various psychological theories and practices, particularly in the treatment of psychotic disorders and conditions characterized by delusions or hallucinations, where this ability may be impaired. It also plays a role in psychoanalytic theory, where it's considered a defense mechanism that helps differentiate self from not-self, fantasies from reality.

Application Areas

  • Mental Health Treatment: Helping individuals with severe mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia, to enhance their ability to differentiate between their inner experiences and the external world.
  • Therapeutic Techniques: Utilized in cognitive-behavioral therapy to challenge and correct distorted perceptions and beliefs.
  • Developmental Psychology: Studying how reality testing develops in children and its role in cognitive and psychological growth.

Risks and Challenges

Impaired Reality Testing can significantly affect an individual's ability to function and navigate daily life, leading to confusion, distress, and social or occupational dysfunction. Challenges in enhancing reality testing include the individual's resistance to confronting or acknowledging their perceptual or cognitive distortions due to fear, stigma, or the distress it may cause.


Reality Testing in psychology represents a crucial cognitive process that enables individuals to distinguish between internal perceptions and external reality. This ability is vital for psychological health and coping with the demands of everyday life. In therapeutic contexts, improving reality testing is a key objective in treating disorders that involve distortions of perception and thought.


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