Transactional Analysis is the method for studying interactions between individuals.
In addition to the analysis of the interactions between individuals, Transactional Analysis also involves the identification of the ego states behind each and every transaction.
Berne defined an ego state as "a consistent pattern of feeling and experience directly related to a corresponding consistent pattern of behavior."
At any given time, a person experiences and manifests their personality through a mixture of behaviors, thoughts and feelings.
Typically, according to Transactional Analysis, there are three ego-states that people consistently use:
Parent ("exteropsyche"): A taught concept of life.
Parent is a state in which people behave, feel, and think in response to an unconscious mimicking of how their parents (or other parental figures) acted, or how they interpreted their parent’s actions.
For example, a person may shout at someone out of frustration because they learned from an influential figure in childhood the lesson that this seemed to be a way of relating that worked.
Adult ("neopsyche"): A thought concept of life.
Adult is a state of the ego which is most like a computer processing information and making predictions absent of major emotions that cloud its operation.
Learning to strengthen the Adult is a goal of Transactional Analysis. While a person is in the Adult ego state, he/she is directed towards an objective appraisal of reality.
Child ("archaeopsyche"): A Felt Concept of life.
Child is a state in which people behave, feel and think similarly to how they did in childhood.
For example, a person who receives a poor evaluation at work may respond by looking at the floor, and crying or pouting, as they used to when scolded as a child.
Conversely, a person who receives a good evaluation may respond with a broad smile and a joyful gesture of thanks. The Child is the source of emotions, creation, recreation, spontaneity and intimacy.
Parent – taught concept
Child – felt concept
Adult – learned concept