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In Freudian psychoanalytic theory, one of the three aspects of the human personality, along with the id and the ego. The last of the three elements to develop, the superego is the ethical component of the personality, providing the moral standards by which the ego operates. The superego is formed during the first five years of life in response to parental punishment and approval; children internalize their parents' moral standards as well as those of the surrounding society, and the developing superego serves to control aggressive or other socially unacceptable impulses. Violation of the superego's standards gives rise to feelings of guilt or anxiety.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on superego, visit Britannica.com.