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A history of “life together”: Again on leaps of evolution
A.G. Asmolov, E.D. Shekhter, A.M. Chernorizov
From the standpoint of historical evolutionary methodology the origin of sociality is analyzed on a larger than commonly accepted scale – as a problem of emergence and growing complexity of “life together”. This approach provides an opportunity to discover a connection between “life together” and leaps of evolution or, as A.S. Severtsov puts it, aromorphoses of complex systems. The authors argue that a leap of “life together” to a qualitatively new level leads to emergence of sociality based on communicative interactions of non-identical individuals. A universal role in development of any complex systems is played by pre-adaptation to uncertainty. According to biologist R. Goldsmith’s hypothesis, the most impressive form of pre-adaptation is evolutionarily supported “hopeful freaks” (similar to “degenerates” in fantastic utopias by A. and B. Strugatskys), potentially capable of occupying new niches in case of problems unsolvable within the limits of existing adaptations.
Keywords: evolution, gradual development, evolutionary leaps, emergence, “life together” symbiosis, assistance, sociality, communication, uncertainty, diversity, duality, adaptation, pre-adaptation.
New research tendencies in psychology of spirituality
The author analyzes non-religious aspects of spirituality characteristic of all people, believers and non-believers, and presents a new understanding of human spirituality as a three-component mental formation possessing meta- personal, activity and spiritual-practical foundations. Studies of spirituality in the last two decades demonstrate a growing interest in the problem on the part of social humanitarian science. The author cites various definitions and describes models of spirituality, arguing that spirituality, as the most human part of a human being setting him apart from other living beings, is a complex and systemic phenomenon. It is whole and integral, therefore there is no point in looking for it in separate components of the mental: interpersonal space, subject-subject interactions, transformations of a person’s inner world or transcendence. The ironic part is that neither activity, nor interpersonalism, nor transcendence is spirituality. Each only becomes part of spirituality while interacting with the others, when they form a whole different in content from all mentioned components of the mental analyzed in psychological studies. In contemporary psychology there is a notion of meta-personal self-interpretation of the subject. It is defined as identity transcending limits of the individual self and embracing wider aspects of existence, such as humanity, life, mind or cosmos. In meta-personal selfinterpretation the subject feels a link to all humanity, feels himself part of the natural and social worlds. From this standpoint psychologists look for sources of spirituality not only in a person’s inner world, but also in interpersonal interactions, on the juncture of different value and meaning orientations of communicating people. Besides interpersonal interactions and transcendence, spirituality requires theoretical and practical activity. By means of activity the subject discovers inner characteristics of objects, releasing himself from “captivity of things”. In the process of activity, particularly esthetic, man gives them life and endows them with personal meanings and values. Therefore art is an essential instrument for both cognizing human existence and development of the spiritual self of a self-cognizing person. Formation of spirituality as penetration inside oneself, discovering the essence of man and humanity, orientation towards transcendence of self require self-transformation which is activated with the help of spiritual and practical knowledge.
Key words: subject, spirituality, transcendence, spiritual and practical knowledge.
On the universal way of reflecting space discovered by evolution: Constructivism or the theory of reflection?
The author discusses the universal way of reflecting three-dimensional space in animals and humans which developed in the course of evolution, analyzing existing behavioral, psychophysical and neurophysical data on assessment of distance by the scorpion’s vibration system, the bee’s visual system, the human being’s visual and proprioceptive systems, the dolphin’s and bat’s auditory system. In all those cases assessment of distance is conducted in two stages which are universal. It starts with a difference in excitation (temporal, spatial, temporalspatial, power) created by differently distanced objects on two-dimensional surfaces of vibrational, visual, proprioceptive, auditory receptors. This difference is a natural single-valued function of the distance covered by wave radiations caused by differently distanced objects before their meeting with respective receptor surfaces of a living being. A finely tuned system of detector neurons comes into play on the higher levels of sensory systems. They react selectively to specific meanings of excitation differences caused by differently distanced objects on receptor surfaces. Thus the three-dimensional space surrounding a living being is reproduced with a high degree of accuracy in the space of detector neurons which react to specific meanings of excitation differences caused by differently distanced objects on receptor surfaces. Correctness of the reflection theory has been confirmed with the help of the data analyzed, on the basis of evolutionary notions of cognitive development and principles of J. Gibconson’s ecological approach to perception. The author also discusses inadequacy of the constructivist theory.
Key words: perception of space, reflection theory, constructivism, evolutionary epistemology, indicators of depth of space, functions of distance on surfaces of twodimensional receptors, detector neurons for distance.
Structural organization of personal characteristics in school students with different levels of intellectual development
The paper contains empirical data on differences in structural and functional organization of personal characteristics of school students of VIII to X grades determined by differences in their intellectual development. A dynamic approach realized in a study of inner links between intellectual and personal characteristics provides an opportunity to discover cause-and-consequence relations in the dyad ‘intellect-personality’. Cognitive development of school students was implemented by means of specially selected cognitive tasks arranged according to the differential-integration law of development. According to the law, the natural process of cognitive development consists in a transition from global-diffused reflection of reality to its differentiated and integrated forms. Differentiation of non-differentiated impressions was achieved by means of development of analysis and synthesis in various psychological modalities, in various shapes and forms. The tasks of the curriculum were aimed at development of memory, thinking, attention, spatial thinking, self-cognition of one’s personal characteristics (positive and negative, decent and indecent behavior etc.). On the whole the curriculum included 99 analysis and synthesis tasks. The findings testify that an increase in the level of intellectual development acts as a factor of essential changes in the structure of personal characteristics. It brings about positive changes in personal characteristics by lowering school anxiety, aggressiveness and hostility, emotional tension. The correlation structure of personal indices becomes less rigid as compared with students whose intellect is lower. At the same time the correlation structure of personal indices is described by a denser net with more rigid links between the variables.
Key words: intellectual development, personal characteristics, cognitive development curriculum, correlation graphs, differentiation and integration, space of the “probable”, adolescents, senior school students.
Factors determining choice of profession by disabled students: A study by means of the narrative interview method
N.N. Meshcheryakova, E.N. Rogotnieva, N.A. Goncharova
Transition from school instruction to professional training is a critical period in the life of a disabled person and is experienced as a radical change and a source of additional anxiety. Necessity to determine the trajectory of professional training affects self-assertion of disabled students by raising the question of the role of disability in their lives. The article presents data on factors determining choice of profession and educational institution by disabled and handicapped students. The principal method of research was the narrative interview based on F. Schutze’s methodology. In a narrative interview the life trajectory of a disabled young person is viewed through the eyes of the interviewee, his halting and badly structured story is a source of two kinds of information – reflected and non-reflected. Besides, the narrative interview depicts the area being studied in dynamics, through the life story of the interviewee. And this is the weakest point of the method – extreme subjectivity, self-censorship and all sorts of cognitive distortions. 12 narratives by first-year students of higher and secondary professional schools were recorded and analyzed in the course of the study. The narratives of disabled and handicapped students revealed how their lives developed, what life strategies they chose, what was especially important for them, what factors affected their professional choice and how they appraised themselves. It was discovered that by the time of leaving school professional choice by disabled persons was determined by the level of their social intellect and, more widely, by their social competence. The higher is the level of cognitive functions, of the emotional and volitional spheres, the less strongly a person’s self-determination is affected by their disability. Development of personality compensates physical and even mental inferiority. The study also looked into the role of primary socialization agents in development of social intellect and social competence.
Key words: narrative interview, social model of disability, social intellect, social competence, inclusive education.
Social domineering, aggression and finger index (2D:4D) in cooperative behavior of young men
V.V. Rostovtseva, Ì.L. Butovskaya
A study was carried out to assess influence of a young male’s individual characteristics on inclination toward cooperative behavior and probability of cooperation in pair interaction. Individual characteristics included a set of personal traits identified with the help of self-esteem questionnaires: aggression, empathy, social personal characteristics. The physiological parameter was the degree of prenatal androgenization (influence of androgens on the fetus in the process of intrauterine development) which was assessed indirectly – through co-relation of the length of the second and the fourth fingers (2D:4D). Inclination toward cooperative behavior was revealed with the help of an experimental game “A convict’s dilemma” borrowed from the theory of games. The games were conducted in absence of verbal communication between the participants who were acting “face to face”. 102 young men aged 25 +/- 3 participated in the experiment. The findings showed that cooperative behavioral strategies in young males prevail over selfish and are characterized by high cross-contextual stability. Aggression and social domineering as individual characteristics do not correlate and constitute differently directed vectors of male social behavior. Social domineering was strongly linked to individual cooperativeness. Presence of the “social dominant” (leader) led to increase of mutual cooperation on pair level, while presence of two leaders did not promote cooperation. Aggressive males did not show inclination to cooperation, but received meaningfully more cooperative decisions from their partners. Meanings of 2D:4D showed a positive linear link to individual cooperativeness: less masculine men according to the finger index were more inclined to cooperate; their presence in a pair promoted cooperation. The findings are discussed from the evolutionary perspective.
Key words: cooperation, social domineering, aggression, 2D:4D, finger index, altruism, convict’s dilemma, masculinity, leadership, social evolution.
Motivational and value orientations of personnel and attractiveness of organizational culture
A.B. Leonova, F.R. Sultanova
Organizational culture is a priority object of research in contemporary applied psychological disciplines focusing on labor activity and personnel management. A wide conceptual and methodological base has been created for classification of types and forms of organizational culture, its influence on indices of success of organizations and diagnostic methods to be used. At the same time little attention has been payed to analysis of regulatory mechanisms by means of which organizational culture affects team work. The paper presents findings of an empirical study of personnel of a number of organizations, carried out within the framework of the hierarchical model of analysis of organizational interactions. The study was aimed at discovering links between dominant value orientations of personnel and attractiveness of organizational culture. With the help of a multidimensional statistical processing of the data collected it became possible to identify valid predictors of effectiveness of an organization (productiveness, creativity, viability) with respect to dominant motives of labor activity and value orientations of employees which characterize their involvement in work on three levels – as an individual worker, a member of a team and an employee of an organization. The findings demonstrate a stable system of links between all those characteristics. They may serve as a foundation for constructing a structural functional model of regulation of joint activity of the collective subject of labor with respect to attractiveness of organizational culture.
Key words: organizational culture, job motivation, dominant value orientations of personnel, hierarchical model of organizational interactions, predictors of attractiveness of organizational culture.
Understanding of humour in healthy people and mental patients: Cognitive and emotional components
Î.V. Shcherbakova, V.S. Obraztsova, E.V. Grabovaya, R. Chan, E.M. Ivanova
The article presents a comparative analysis of the degree of understanding humor by healthy people (N=39) and mental patients (N=31) suffering from schizophrenia, schizotypal disorders (N=19) and affective disorders (N=12). The subjects were given a set of seven verbal jokes after which each went through an in-depth semistructured interview aimed at discovering levels of cognitive and emotional understanding of each joke. Records of the interviews were assesses by four experts according to five levels of cognitive understanding: 1) fragmentary pseudo-understanding, 2) pseudo-understanding, 3) diffused understanding, 4) incomplete understanding, 5) complete understanding, as well as according to three levels of emotional understanding: 1) absence of emotional contact: a) full emotional identification with the hero; b) total inability to react to the hero emotionally; 2) partial identification, 3) consciously regulated partial identification. The findings shows a satisfactory level of coherence of expert assessments for both groups of subjects, which confirms validity of the research technique for both healthy people and patients, The data demonstrate that incomplete understanding of humor is more characteristic of healthy people. Mental patients are characterized by meaningfully lower indices of both cognitive and emotional understanding of humur. The study discovered differences between the subgroups of schizophrenia and affective disorders and demonstrated that the cognitive and the emotional components of understanding humor in mental patients are less closely connected than in healthy people, which may lead to their mutual decompensation in the process of understanding humor. A promising direction of further work is a qualitative analysis of differences in levels of cognitive and emotional understanding of humor and in strategies of reconstructing the meaning of a joke between healthy subjects and mental patients.
Key words: understanding, cognitive understanding, emotional understanding, verbal jokes, schizophrenia, affective disorders, in-depth interview.
A Russian-language version of the questionnaire on manifestations of psychological well-being (MPWB) in adolescents
V.I. Morosanova, I.N. Bondarenko, T.G. Fomina
The paper presents results of testing a Russian-language version of the questionnaire on manifestations of psychological well-being (MPWB) in adolescents developed on the basis of the scale for measuring manifestations of psychological well-being in adolescents. The questionnaire consists of seven scales; management of own personality and events, sociability, happiness, involvement in social interaction, self-esteem, mental balance, and the integrated scale. Testing on a group of Russian junior adolescents (N = 295) demonstrated sound psychometric qualities of the questionnaire, confirming correctness of the six-factor structure. The authors assess reliability of the scales, its constructive and criterial validity, and analyze interconnections between MPWB indices, conscious self-regulation and personal characteristics. The data obtained demonstrate that psychological well-being is not only a static formation characterizing the actual mental state, but also the result of a person’s inner work aimed at overcoming inner and outer barriers on the way to the goal, the mechanism of which is conscious self-regulation. The psychometric testing carried out by the authors allows them to recommend it to researchers and practical workers as an instrument of assessing psychological well-being in adolescents.
Keywords: psychological well-being, conscious self-regulation, psychometrics, personal characteristics, adolescents.
Values of Russians and the integral threat in inter-ethnic relations
The paper discusses co-relation of basic individual values and the integral threat in inter-ethnic relations. On the basis of U. Stephan and K. Stephan’s theory of the integral threat and the theory of basic personal values the authors hypothesized that on the individual level the values “safety”, “conformity” and “tradition” serve as predictors of the integral threat; the values “universalism” and “benevolence” are also linked to the integral threat, but negatively. Values of a higher order are also linked to the integral threat: “preservation” – positively, “self-determination” – negatively. An empirical study was based on the data obtained by the European Social Study (ESS), wave 6, which included data from a representative survey of Russians. The database contained a shortened version of S. Swartz’s value questionnaire and a number of questions aimed at assessment of the integral threat. The sample included only Russian respondents (N =1965). The study partly confirmed the hypotheses: the values “safety” and “independence” demonstrated a positive link to the integral threat, “benevolence” demonstrated a negative link. No meaningful link between values of the higher order and the threat was discovered. The article discusses empirical aspects of the study.
Key words: values, integral threat, migrants.
Practical psychology as an object of research: On the problem of à schism in psychology
The paper discusses methodological problems of the relationship between academic and practical psychology. In the opinion of the professional community, the existing schism raises the serious questions of whether psychology should become more practical or whether, on the contrary, it should clear itself of unscientific approaches. The author discusses F.E.Vasiliuk’s opinion that the schism between scientific and practical psychology might be bridged with the help of a special psychotechnical theory. This view is compared to L.S. Vygotsky’s idea of developing general psychology as “a philosophy of practice” or a methodology of psychotechnics. L.S. Vygotsky states very clearly that psychotechnics needs an objective, causal psychology instead of “understanding” psychology whose scope is very limited. L.S. Vygotsky does not mention a special status of psychotechnical theory, but stresses importance of understanding laws of mental development for developing a scientific theory of practice. Psychological practices, methods of practical psychology, still remain more or less a terra incognita for scientific psychology. As a rule, human behavior is studied before and after therapy or other psychological work. This logic is limited and inapplicable to the situation of development and developing processes, which has frequently been a subject of discussion. According to the cultural historical approach, the subject of psychology is cultural development of higher mental functions. Development is viewed as a complex dialectical and dramatic process of a person acquiring control of his own mind, memory, thinking and behavior, and also as a process of reconstruction and transformation of the whole system of consciousness. Methods of practical psychology and therapy will not become points of development and help to enrich psychology unless they are critically examined from the standpoint of the cultural historical methodology.
Key words: practical psychology, psychotechnics, applied psychology, scientific psychology, methodology, personality, development, cultural historical psychology.
Soviet and post-Soviet psychology: The problem of continuity
The author discusses definitions of the mental given by Marxist psychologists L.S. Vygotsky, A.N. Leontiev, S.L. Rubistein, development of their ideas, subjects of their creative dialogue, opposition of their scientific schools, logical continuity of their ideas. Marxism is characterized as epistemology of the activity approach in Soviet psychology with its characteristic limitations determined by reduction of human existence to material production. S.L. Rubinstein transcends Marxism, laying foundations of the anthropological approach later developed by scientists who view nature and essence of the mental in the context of human nature which manifests itself in the diversity of ways of its existence. Post-Soviet psychology prefers the subject approach which breaks with Soviet psychology in the content of its epistemology linked to R. Descartes and B. Spinoza. Psychological cognition is presented as historical, marked by contributions of outstanding scientists, a process characterized by disruptions and restorations of continuity.
Keywords: history of psychology, epistemology, nature of the mental, activity approach, subject approach, anthropological approach, way of being, problem of man, L.S. Vygotsky, A.N. Leontiev, S.L. Rubinstein, V.A. Romenets.
Current discussions on the status of the parallelogram of memory development
“The parallelogram of memory development” is the name given by A.N. Leontiev to a graphic representation of findings of his macrogenetic study (the method of cross-sections) of mediated and unmediated memorizing of words (1931/2003). It was the first experimental study based on L.S. Vygotsky’s cultural historical conception. For a long time the parallelogram of memory development was viewed as a valid fact worthy of a law or a discovery. But starting from the 1990s there have been a number of publications in Russian psychological journals which denied the parallelogram the status of a fact, it came to be viewed as A.N. Leontiev’s failure which provoked his split with L.S. Vygotsky. Besides, there is a confusion about understanding the parallelogram as a fact or as a principle. A logical semantic analysis of the macrogenetic study of memorizing words, with and without support of pictures, presented in A.N. Leontiev’s paper “Memory development” demonstrated that the graphic representation of findings known as the parallelogram of memory development is not the only one. A.N. Leontiev used in his paper at least three other representations. The author argues that the basic among them is a verbal formulation of development laws which accords with the hypothesis based on L.S. Vygotsky’s conception, but the hypothesis does not much differ from the principle of the parallelogram which A.N. Leontiev suggested post factum. The name “the parallelogram of memory development” is a metaphor, therefore it is a mistake to idealize A.N. Leontiev’s charts and understand the name literally. The parallelogram of memory development is not a mathematical model derived from L.S. Vygotsky’s theory and all approximation attempts are doomed. The author argues that all attempts at discrediting the parallelogram of memory development and the principle of the parallelogram are pointless.
Key words: parallelogram of memory development, A.N. Leontiev’s parable, principle of the parallelogram, L.S. Vygotsky’s hypothesis.
Arterial hypertension and psychosomatic syndrome genesis from the standpoint of cultural activity psychology
The paper contains a theoretical analysis of basic tenets of psychosomatic conceptions accentuating the role of emotional regulation in psychosomatic syndrome genesis in patients with arterial hypertension. The author aims to track development of notions of emotional regulation as a meaningful factor of psychosomatic syndrome genesis in history and to demonstrate that methodology of the cultural activity paradigm can and must be used to identify factors of etiology and pathogenesis of arterial hypertension and cognitive malfunctions associated with arterial hypertension. The author analyzes psychosomatic conceptions of etiology and pathogenesis of arterial hypertension, such as the psychoanalytical paradigm, theories of personal traits, conceptions accentuating the role of non-specific emotional tension in pathogenesis of arterial hypertension, concluding that contemporary psychology lacks a conceptual model that would provide a framework for systemic description of components and psychological mechanisms of emotional regulation. The latter precludes integration and generalization of empirical data on emotional regulation collected by different schools, as well as making a discussion of involvement of emotional regulation in psychosomatic syndrome genesis extremely difficult. A study was conducted within the framework of the cultural activity paradigm which allowed the author a) to identify structural and dynamic parameters of emotional regulation in normal people and patients with high blood pressure; b) to demonstrate the role of reflection of sign and symbolic mediation in the functioning of emotional regulation; c) to discover involvement of emotional regulation in psychosomatic syndrome genesis in case of “on-the-job” hypertension. The findings make an argument in favor of research of personal and emotional characteristics of people suffering from essential arterial hypertension, aimed at assessment of their potential role in development of cognitive malfunctions, of “mutual determination” of affective and cognitive components in solving emotional regulation tasks, of the role of emotional regulation in psychosomatic syndrome genesis.
Key words: cultural activity paradigm, cultural historical conception, Vygotsky–Luria syndrome approach, arterial hypertension, emotional regulation, defense mechanisms, suppression of emotions, psychosomatic syndrome genesis.