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A mental mechanism operating outside of and beyond conscious awareness by which certain external attributes, attitudes, or standards are taken within oneself.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific & Technical Terms, 6E, Copyright © 2003 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.


the acceptance and incorporation of the standards or beliefs of other persons, or of society, by the individual. Internalization is a basic concept in FREUD's theory of personality development. The child's conscience (SUPEREGO) is formed by internalizing society's MORES, as represented by the parents’ personal values and standards. As suggested by this psychodynamic usage, the total acceptance of beliefs and values is usually implied when the concept is employed in a more general way. However, some expressed attitudes or behaviours may be based on social pressures, such as CONFORMITY, and involve compliance rather than internalization. See also SOCIALIZATION, OVERSOCIALIZED CONCEPTION OF MAN.
Collins Dictionary of Sociology, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2000
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



transfer inward from without. The concept of internalization entered psychology as a result of the work of the French sociological school (E. Durkheim and others), which linked internalization with the concept of socialization, the adoption of basic categories of individual consciousness from the sphere of social ideas. In the cultural-historical theory of the Soviet psychologist L. S. Vygotskii, the idea of internalization acquired fundamental importance for psychology. One of the basic premises of this theory is that any genuinely human form of the psyche initially evolves as an external, social form of human communication and only then, as a result of internalization, becomes a psychological process for an individual person. Stages of internalization have been traced in detail in works devoted to “intellectual actions.” In such works it has been demonstrated that internalization is not a simple transfer to action on the level of ideas (J. Piaget, Switzerland) but represents the formation of an internal structure of consciousness. Through its accompaniment by several other action changes, such as generalization or reduction, internalization leads to the formation of a new concrete psychological process.


Durkheim, E. “Sotsiologiia i teoriia poznaniia.” Novye idei v sotsiologii, collection 2. St. Petersburg, 1914.
Vygotskii, L. S. hbrannye psikhologicheskie issledovaniia. Moscow, 1956.
Vygotskii, L. G. Razvitie vysshikh psikhicheskikh funktsii. Moscow, 1960.
Gal’perin, P. Ia. “K ucheniiu ob interiorizatsii.” Voprosy psikhologii, 1966, NO. 6.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
The decision to internalize is typically driven by the following factors.
It also implicates the process of decay by which food is turned into something inedible and by which the maternal command to eat, Mange!, which is the command to internalize the mother, become her, absorb her, and preserve her, might also be interrupted.
And particularly, how can we internalize the imperative for natural diversity and, integrate it in our drive for 'progress'?
To internalize responsibility, by contrast, is to take responsibility, either as an individual or as a group, for one's welfare, one's future, and the consequences of one's actions, rather than dumping it on others.
The successful firm is characterized by right decisions on whether to internalize a transaction or outsource it.
Like Pavlov's dog, we have become programmed to believe it, to internalize it, to suspect that when love does come sniffing around us, we better shoo it away in a hurry because we know black men and women can't co-exist in a loving relationship.
They chatter about the need to "internalize externalities," pressing for eco-taxes on greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide emissions, wasteful packaging, noise, fumes, mine tailings, chemical consumption, and any other perceived "bad" that captures their attention.
The decision on when it is feasible to internalize services has to be considered on two levels: service and finance.
It is the fields that "create the creators" who internalize what is possible in reference to other positions.
Finally, it seems to me that, living as we do in the midst of so much ordered light and noise, we must unavoidably internalize certain expectations about their optimal patternings - and that these expectations must be perpetually satisfied, frustrated, and subtly altered every day, all day long, in the midst of things, regardless of what those patterns of light and noise might otherwise signify.
A child who internalizes their problems is said to be suffering from depression and experience loss of interest in activities including their study, work and social activities.
Once a person is awakened through the meditative experience, a process begins whereby one internalizes the meaning within sacred stories and ceremonies.