Leontiev's psychological theory: concept and main provisions

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Leontiev's psychological theory: concept and main provisions
Leontiev's psychological theory: concept and main provisions

Adherents of the concept of the activity approach have been arguing for a long time about the psychological structure of the personality in it.

Having included a large number of different elements in the personality structure, such as features of temperament, character, mental processes, psychologists received a too complex model of high dimension. For this reason, it was necessary to find a structure that would receive a theoretical justification and be suitable in practice.

In short, Leontiev's theory was that the structure of a person's personality does not come from his genes, inclinations, knowledge, skills. Its basis is objective activity, namely the mechanism of relationships with the environment, which are realized through a hierarchy of various activities.

A person is in certain social relations. Some of them are leaders, and some are subordinates. The core of personality thus includes a hierarchical representation of these activities, which, in turn, does not depend on the state of the human body.

The main parameters of the personality structure are:

  • diversity of an individual's relationship with the world through the prism of various activities;
  • degree of hierarchy of connections with the world and activities;
  • generalized structure of the subject's connections with the outside world, formed by the internal correlations of the main motives in the totality of activities.

Objective circumstances form a personality through a set of activities. The individual develops only through creation, not consumption.

Short biography of A. N. Leontiev

Leontiev Alexei Nikolaevich is a famous representative of the psychology of the period of 1940-70s in the USSR. He made a huge contribution to the development of domestic psychological science: the creation of a department of psychology at the Faculty of Philosophy, and then the Faculty of Psychology itself at Moscow University. Leontiev wrote a large number of scientific papers and books.

Aleksey Nikolaevich Leontiev was born in 1903 in Moscow. Studied at Moscow University. Initially, he was fond of philosophy, as he had a craving for a comprehensive assessment of the events that took place then in the country. However, then, on the initiative of G. I. Chelpanov, Leontiev wrote his first scientific works on psychology: a work on Spencer and an essay on the topic "James' Teachings on Ideomotor Acts." The first publications continued Luria's research on the subject of affects, coupled motor techniques and were carried out in collaboration with him.

After a number of such publications in 1929, Leontiev began to work in the cultural-historical paradigm of Vygotsky. In 1940 he defended his dissertation in two volumes "Development of the psyche". The first volume included an analysis of the emergence of sensitivity with theoretical andpractical justifications, which was later included in the book Problems of the Development of the Psyche. Leontiev received the Lenin Prize for this book. The second volume is written about how the psyche develops in the animal world. The main postulates were then posthumously published in Leontiev's collection of scientific heritage "Philosophy of Psychology".

Leontiev began studying and publishing materials on the issue of personality in 1968. His final ideas about the concept of personality were the basis of his main work “Activity. Consciousness. Personality”, which refers to 1974.

Shaping the individual

Leontiev's personality theory stands out for its abstractness.

It is formed through social relations, that is, "produced". Leontiev was an adherent of the Marxist postulate that the individual acts as a set of social relations.

social factor

Psychological study of this concept begins with human activity, while the concepts of “action”, “operation” are characteristics of an activity, not an individual.

The difference between concepts

Leontiev's theory delimits the definition of the terms "individual" and "personality".

The individual is an indivisible, holistic formation determined by hereditary factors with its own specific characteristics. Specific characteristics are understood as features that have arisen both as a result of heredity and as a result of adaptation to the natural environment: physical structure, temperament, eye color andetc.

The concept of personality is applicable only to a person and not from his birth, that is, a person still has to become it. Until about two years old, a child does not yet have a personality. Thus, a person is not born, but becomes.

She, in turn, begins to form when the child enters into social relations, in relationships with other people. Personality is a holistic formation, but not acquired, but produced, created as a result of the interconnection of a large number of objective activities. The child develops cultural forms of behavior, and his psyche becomes different. The emphasis in Leontiev's theory of development is on how the motives of the subject change under the influence of culture, because the child has many new social motives.

Motives arise in connection with the demands that society places on him. Many new motives form a hierarchy: some are more significant, while others are less. Leontiev's theory of personality connects its appearance with the formation of a stable hierarchy of motives. Such a hierarchy appears at the age of three or four years. The child's personality begins to develop through relationships with the outside world and objects in it. Initially, children study the physical properties of objects, and then their functional purpose, which is used in activities. For example, a child looks at a glass and holds it, and then realizes that he needs it to drink, and therefore to carry out a specific activity. Thus, the stage of subject-practical activity proceeds to the assimilation of the hierarchy of activities at the stagepublic relations.

Learning the properties of objects by a child

The Bitter Candy Phenomenon

The theory of A. N. Leontiev demonstrates this on the phenomenon of "bitter" candy. So, in the experiment, the child was offered to perform a task that was obviously impossible. For example, to get something from the place where he is sitting. Without getting up, it was impossible to do. For this, the child was promised candy. After that, the experimenter leaves the room, provoking the child to break the rules, which he does. Then the experimenter enters the room and gives the child a well-deserved candy. But the child refuses her and starts crying. Here the motivational conflict manifests itself: to be honest with the experimenter or to receive a reward. The main motive here turned out to be an attempt to be honest.

bittersweet phenomenon

Personal development parameters

The stage of development of a child's personality in Leontiev's theory is determined by the following parameters:

  • The position that the child occupies in the system of social relations.
  • Leading activity type.

The sign of the leading activity is not a quantitative indicator, that is, this is not the activity that the child likes to do most of all. Leading activity is called, which corresponds to 3 properties:

  1. Inside it, new species develop and emerge. In particular, learning activities in the early school years come from role-playing.
  2. It is in it that mental processes are mainly rebuilt or formed.
  3. In this activity, major changes in the child's personality occur.

Thus, the first essential theoretical position in Leontief's theory is the representation of activity as a unit of psychological analysis.

Hierarchy of activities

Further, Leontiev developed S. L. Rubinshtein's concept of the external, which realizes itself through internal conditions. This means that if a person owns activity, then the internal (subject) acts through the external and thereby changes itself.

Personality develops in the process of interaction of a large number of activities that are interconnected by hierarchical relations and act as a set of hierarchical relations.

human activities

The theme of the psychological characteristics of this hierarchy remains open. To interpret the hierarchy of activities within the framework of psychology, A. N. Leontiev uses the terms "need", "emotion", "motive", "meaning", "meaning".

Leontiev's activity theory in some way changes the meaning of these concepts and the generally accepted analogies between them.

The motive comes to replace the need due to the fact that before satisfaction the need has no object and therefore it is necessary to identify it. After identification, the need acquires its objectivity. At the same time, the imagined, conceivable object becomes a motive, namely, it acquires its motivating and guiding activity. Thus, when a person is in contact with objects and phenomena of the world around him, he cognizes their objective meaning. Value, inin turn, is a generalization of reality, and it correlates with the world of objective historical phenomena. This is how the hierarchy of activities becomes the hierarchy of motives.

Leontiev developed Vygotsky's concept further. The theories of Leontiev and Vygotsky (pictured below) brought to the fore the determining influence of the social factor on the personality, while minimizing the value of the inherited, natural factor.

Psychologist Vygotsky

However, in contrast to Vygotsky, Leontiev's psychological theory further developed Rubinstein's activity concept. What was his main task?

It is possible to evaluate the key idea of ​​A. N. Leontiev's theory of personality based on the main critical problem that he solved. It consisted in the assimilation of a naturalistic understanding of the personality and the lower mental functions, which are rebuilt by mastering them. In this regard, Leontiev could not include a natural component in its structure, since it cannot be existential, empirically existing. Probably, Leontiev considered all the domestic concepts that developed at that time as naturalistic, although they really contained an interpretation of the formation of the essence of personality.

Personality as a special reality

In Leontiev's theory of development, personality goes beyond the boundaries of the concept of the psyche into the area of ​​relationships with the world. It represents a certain special reality, it is not an ordinary biological education, but a higher, historical education in its essence. At the same time, a person is not a person initially, withbirth itself. It develops with the subject throughout his life and first manifests when he enters into social relations.

Public relations

Personality structure

Personality in Leontiev's theory is endowed with structure. Appearing gradually, it undergoes formation throughout life. In this regard, there is a separate structure of the individual and the structure of the personality, which is characterized by the process of differentiation of activities.

Personality has the following characteristics:

  1. Many real human relationships that fill his life. They form the real basis of personality. However, not every activity present in the subject's life is a part of it. A person can do many things that are secondary to life.
  2. The degree of development of higher connections of actions (motives) between themselves and their hierarchy. The direction of personality formation is at the same time the direction of its ordering.
  3. Build type: monovertex, polyvertex, etc. Not just any goal or motive can become the highest point, because it is necessary to withstand the load of the top of the personality.

Thus, the pyramid will not be a familiar picture with a bottom base and a gradual narrowing, but an inverted pyramid. The life goal that is at the top will bear the brunt. The leading motive will affect how strong the structure is, so it must be such that the structure can withstand.

Leontiev claimed that exclusivelyimagination is the source of finding and building mechanisms that will allow a person to comprehend his own behavior.

Personal Development

Leontiev's theory in psychology illuminates fundamentally new stages in the development of a personality that have no connection with the formation of mental processes. At the first stage, spontaneous folding takes place, and this period prepares the birth of a self-conscious personality. In the second stage, a conscious personality arises.

Along with natural functions, there are higher human functions. They begin their formation during life, then become individual and move from the interpersonal realm to the intrapersonal one.

The formation of the personality of the subject in the theory of development of A. N. Leontiev occurs during an individual history, in interaction with people around.

Development comes from simple to complex. First, a person acts to satisfy his innate needs, inclinations, and then he satisfies the needs in order to be in action, to fulfill his life's work, to realize a vital human task. Thus the causal structure changes from actions for needs to needs for actions. Aspect of the formation of personality are inclinations. They affect the final result, but do not predetermine it. Inclinations provide the basis for the formation of abilities, but in reality, abilities are formed in the process of real activity. Personality is a special process that consolidates internal prerequisites and external conditions. Thus, herdetermines the vital activity of the individual.

The concept of personality refers to the unity of characteristics that are formed along with the individual development of the human body.

Leontiev's theory of the development of the psyche also consisted in the fact that a person goes through two births, as it were. The first time this happens at the moment when the child becomes polymotivated, that is, he has a one-time presence of several motives for any activity, and his actions become subordinate. This period corresponds to the crisis of three years, when hierarchy and subordination appear for the first time. The second time it is "born" at the emergence of an already conscious personality. Such a birth corresponds already to an adolescent crisis in mastering one's own behavior through consciousness.

True Identity

true identity

There are cases when personality never arises, hence the criteria for true personality are highlighted:

  1. Aiming at one's own worldview and active functioning in accordance with it.
  2. Is a member of society.
  3. It aims to change or maintain the principles of human life according to its value orientations.

We briefly reviewed the basic concepts of Leontief's theory.

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