The conceptual structure of psychological theory, the subject...

Conceptual arrangement of psychological theory

The main goal of this chapter is to familiarize the reader with the conceptual structure of the psychological theory, the specificity of all its main concepts. As a result of her study, the student must:


• the main concepts of the psychological theory;

• conceptual transduction as a method of psychology;

be able to

• Identify the specific features of the basic psychological concepts;

• integrate psychological concepts into conceptual transduction;

• critically evaluate the various models of the conceptual structure of psychology;


• methods for evaluating the variety of representations about the concepts of psychology;

• the ability to characterize psychological concepts based on the conceptual transduction method;

• the ability to implement transitions between psychological concepts.

Key terms: subject of psychology, conceptual transduction, switching of representations, intentionality, psychological fact, law, principle, time.

Subject and specificity of psychology

Characteristics of any science implies an emphasis on its features, which are called the subject of this science. The subject of psychology includes all those features of it that other sciences do not have. The characteristic features of groups of psychological sciences are the basis for postulating the existence of psychology as a separate branch of science.

In a literal translation from the Greek language "psychology means the doctrine of the soul. The term psychology invented in the beginning of the XVI century. Croatian M. Marulis. In those days, psychology was understood as the science of the soul. But later, the soul was denied from the mention of the soul. Modern scientists, as a rule, prefer to talk not about the soul, but about mental processes. Often they are not limited to them, considering not only the mental processes of psychology, but also the behavior of people. Thus, the American Psychological Association defines psychology as follows: "Psychology is the study of the mind and behavior". The term behavior (from English - "behavior") is more unambiguous than the term "mind", by which one can understand both mentality, and consciousness, and mind, and reason. Most often, psychology is defined as the science of mentality and behavior. And the inclusion in the definition of psychology of behavior is an innovation that was initiated by the founder of psychological behaviorism J. Watson in 1913. But if the subject of psychology includes behavior, it is reasonable to include there and language, as did LS Vygotsky. The fact is that mentally, behavior and language are conceptually conceptualized through the same concepts of psychology. The meaning of this remark is not determined by the proposal to define psychology as a science of mentality, language and behavior, but an indication of the need to use specific concepts, for example, concepts of memory, imagination, motivation, frustration, temperament, temperament in the definition of psychology.

On the long path of development of psychology, its subject matter was determined in different ways. Let us cite interesting data on this score, for the convenience of the reader, summarized in Table. 4.1.

Table 4.1. Views of the subject of psychology


Characteristics of the subject of psychology

T. Hobbes

The subject of psychology is not the soul, but the body in its interaction with other bodies

And. M. Sechenov, V. M. Bekhterev

The subject of psychology is regulated behavior

Q. M. Wundt,

Q. Dilthey, O. Kulpe

The subject of psychology is consciousness

Μ. M. Troitsky

The subject of psychology - the phenomenon of the spirit, not its essence

F. Brentano

The subject of psychology is not the content of consciousness, but its acts, actions

To. Stumpf

The subject of psychology - functions or acts, unlike phenomena, which are the subject of philosophy

Yu. Okharovich

The subject of psychology - the phenomenon of a person's spiritual life

Π. Μ. F. Jane

The subject of psychology as an objective science is human actions

With. L. Frank

The subject of psychology is the soul, not the psychic phenomena, and also the "unconscious"

P. Gabberlin

The subject of psychology is the comprehension by people of themselves as genuine reality

A. Pieron, JB Watson, CS Leshley, BF Skinner

The subject of psychology is behavior

To. Koffka

The subject of psychology - the principles of Gestalt theory

F. G Allport

The subject of social psychology is human behavior and its evaluation

P. J. Galperin

The subject of psychology is the orienting activity of the subject in problem situations

A. N. Leontyev

The subject of psychology is the analysis of consciousness forming human consciousness, life activity

Μ. G. Yaroshevsky, A. V. Petrovsky

The subject of theoretical psychology is self-reflection of psychological science, revealing and exploring its categorical structure, explanatory principles, key problems and psychological cognition itself as a special kind of activity

Table of contents. 4.1 is a good starting point for the development of ideas about the subject of psychology. First, it shows that the only true, and concise definition of the subject of psychology is hardly possible. This is clearly evidenced by the enormous volume of psychological knowledge, and its characteristic pluralism. Secondly, all definitions of the subject matter of psychology are given in the framework of a certain conceptual framework, or rather, within the boundaries of one or another philosophical direction. It is no accident that behaviorists claim that the subject of psychology is behavior, and representatives of Gestalt psychology emphasize the gestalt. If desired, Table. 4.1 can be changed, leaving in it the judgments that clearly relate to those discussed in Ch. 3 psychological directions. Hence the current conclusion.

Definitions of the subject matter of psychology acquire the most distinct content in the event that they are made as brief expressions of the main concepts of the corresponding psychological directions. Seven basic psychological directions correspond to seven definitions of the subject of psychology.

In order not to be unfounded, let us cite the corresponding table (Table 4.2).

Table 4.2. Definitions of the subject of psychology in various psychological directions

Psychological directions

Definitions of the subject of psychology


The subject of psychology is the determination of the unconscious conscious


The subject of psychology is the behavior of people and animals

Activity psychology

The subject of psychology is the formation of consciousness by people's practice




The subject of psychology is the dialectics of the interpsychic situation, speech and thinking

Gestalt psychology

The subject of psychology are gestalt

Humanistic Psychology

The subject of psychology is the most exalted values ​​

Cognitive psychology

The subject of psychology is the cognitive processes and behavior of people, knowledge used for the benefit of people

Continuing the analysis of the content of the subject of psychology, we should pay special attention to its definition, given by MG Yaroshevsky and AV Petrovsky, who emphasized the conceptual structure of psychology. A reasonable question arises: is its objective content being lost at the same time? One thing is the behavior of people, the other is the concept of it. We respectfully consider the position of the two psychologists mentioned.

It is widespread that the concepts are opposed to those objects whose images they allegedly are. However, it is not understood that the nature of objects is not given to a person directly, but, as scientists say, is theoretically loaded. Actually recognition of the independence of objects, for example, people as subjects, creators of psychology, but not their opposition to concepts. Pointing to the concepts of psychological theory among other things does not lose sight of objects. Therefore, the following definition is quite legitimate: the subject of psychology is its conceptual content.

But this definition of the subject of psychology is not enough. The point is that it is necessary to outline the specifics of this content in a certain form. The subject of any science is determined by its conceptual content. What is the specificity of psychology, its difference, for example, from the economy? In seeking an answer to this question, we refer again to the American Psychological Association, which unites 137,000 of its members, guided by the following provision: "Our mission is to develop creativity, forms of communication and use of psychological knowledge for the benefit of society and improving people's lives." The quote sounds good, but again the desired specificity of psychology has not found its clear expression. What exactly is the benefit of psychologists? Is it different from the good in the notion of economists, political scientists, representatives of technical sciences, or not? A difficult question, which nevertheless must be sought answer.

When do they turn to psychologists for help? Then, when the concepts of this or that science are insufficient insofar as they do not take into account the peculiarity of specific problem situations, and of any nature, in particular economic, political, technical. We give an illustrative example. Operators of nuclear power plants undergo thorough training under the guidance of their technical instructors. But they are not experts in the field of stress stability of operators. The hour of psychologists comes. There are many similar examples.

Turning to generalizations, we note that the ratio of psychology to other axiological sciences is very peculiar. Psychology is not near them, but proceeds from their principles. So, working with economists, psychologists do not say that you need to abandon the principle of maximizing profits and replace it with a certain psychological principle. The initial economic principles remain in force. But they are specified taking into account the characteristics of people or social groups.

In a certain sense, psychology rises above other axiological sciences. It does not claim a full-fledged metascientific status, for it is not in a position to replace itself, for example, with meta- economics or metapolitology. Nevertheless, there is a certain clarification of the content of the basic sciences. Wishing to emphasize this, we assign psychology to the mesomethaneau (from the Greek mesos - medium) status.

The specificity of psychology is that it contributes to increasing the effectiveness of basic sciences through its conceptual content, in particular, perceptions of behavior, activity, speech, and thought. In any actual psychological theory, either individual psychological concepts or their combinations are optimized. It is this circumstance that characterizes the uniqueness of psychology as a science to the greatest degree. Psychology is the science of optimizing those concepts that make up its composition and are not repeated in any other science.


1. The definition of the subject of psychology is carried out within the framework of individual psychological directions.

2. When determining the subject of psychology, one must take into account the correlation of psychological directions.

3. Psychology is the science of optimizing those concepts that are part of it and are not repeated in any other science.

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