Transactional Analysis

Topics: Transactional analysis, Parenting, Games People Play Pages: 17 (4318 words) Published: January 4, 2011

The reaction of people to a management problem cannot always be anticipated. But, we can predict the kind of responses our interventions may evoke from people. How? The answer is –with the help of transactional analysis.

When people interact in assertive or non-assertive ways, there is a social transaction in which one person responds to another. The study of these social transactions between people is called transactional analysis. It is a method of analyzing and understanding behaviour. Transactional analysis was developed by ERIC BERNE for psychotherapy in the 1950s. It was popularized by Berne’s book ‘Games People Play (1964)’, the writings of Thomas Harris, Muriet James and Dorothy Jougeward and Abe Wagner. Jougeward and Wagner have shown how the concepts of transactional analysis can be applied to organizations.

Objective- The objective of transactional analysis (TA) is to provide better understanding of how people relate to one another so that they may develop improved communication and human relationships.

TA is are outgrowth of earlier Freudian psychology Sigmund. Freud was the first to suggest that there are 3 sources within the human personality that stimulate, monitor and control behaviour. The Freudian ego and superego are important concepts, but their definitions are difficult to understand or apply without extensive training in psychotherapy. Thus, one of the major contributions of TA theorists is that they have, in a sense, borrowed from Freud but have put some of his concepts into a language that everyone can understand and without being trained psychiatrists, can use for diagnostic purpose in understanding why people behave as they do.

Ego States

According to TA, a transaction is a stimulus plus a response. For eg. , if we praise somebody, that’s a stimulus. The thanks which that person gives in return is the response. Thus, transactions take place between people. They can also take place between the people in our heads. If we have a sudden impulse to say something to someone, we may mentally hear a voice telling us not to say it and then a second voice agreeing. These people in our heads are called ego states.

According to BERNE, two people interact with each other from one of the three psychological positions, known as ego states.


The personality of a person is the collection of behaviour patterns developed over time that people begin to recognize as that person. These behaviour patterns are evoked in differing degrees from three ego states-

1. Parent ego state
2. Adult ego state
3. Child ego state


A Adult


The Parent, Adult and Child (P-A-C) subsystems

A parent (mother or father) has Parent, Adult and Child ego states; and a child (son or daughter) also has Parent, Adult and Child ego states. These ego states have nothing to do with chronological age they refer only to the psychological age.

Berne says, “Although we cannot directly observe these ego states, we can observe behaviour and from this infer which of the ego states is operating at that moment”.

Parent ego state-

People whose parent ego state is in control may be protective, controlling, nurturing, critical or instructive. They may dogmatically refer to policies and standards.

The parent ego state is a result of the messages (conditioning) people receive from their parents, older sisters and brothers, school teachers and other authority figures during their early childhood. These messages can be thought of as recorded “little cassette tapes” in people’s heads. They’re in place, stored up and ready to go Example-If a father’s son was eating his dinner and playing with his food, a common parent tape might be played: “Stop playing with your food, Sheenu and clean up...
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