Psychology of activity, General concept of activity...

Activity Psychology

General concept of activity and its psychological structure

The concept of activity is one of the basic concepts for the entire domestic psychology. Activity and activity can not be separated from the category of the psyche itself, from the methodology of its scientific research, the understanding of the problems of the emergence and evolution of the psyche, the interpretation of the concept of personality and the analysis of all its mental aspects (see Chap. 1, 3-6). However, there is a need for a more detailed description of activities as such, as a special psychological reality.

The development of this scientific category is associated with the philosophy of dialectical materialism and is initially associated with the names of such outstanding domestic psychologists as LS Vygotsky, SL Rubinshtein, AN Leontiev, BF Lomov. Of course, the goals and approaches of these authors differed in many respects, sometimes they were excessively counterposed, especially by the efforts of some orthodox students and followers.

In the future, practically all known Soviet psychologists, many well-known philosophers and methodologists of the 20th century, participated in the work with the concept and phenomenon of activity in their own way. The category of activity was the subject of numerous theoretical and methodological discussions, served as a universal "explanatory principle" (E. G. Yudin). It became one of the units study of the psyche, behavior, personality. Despite the particular differences of many interpretations, it should be noted that in their methodological aspects, the views of most leading psychologists of the Soviet period possessed the necessary continuity, openness and heuristics. The current psychological view of the activities should not be considered complete and unshakable, and the silent oblivion of the achieved results is also unacceptable.

The most complete psychological concept (theory) of activity belongs to A. II. Leontyev, who developed it from the mid-1940s, supplementing, refining and transforming. He owns a lot of different interpretations of activities, so let's give some general definition.

Activity is a system of active processes that meet a specific need, obey a motive and realize an independent attitude of a person to the world.

But activity is not all human activity, the concept of which AN Leontyev emphasized distinctly from activity, but only the purposeful activity existing in the psychological connections of the individual, the need, the motive, the goal and the task. Hence the possibility of the realization of a psychological expression in the activity of an independent relationship of the individual to the world.

Activity by definition is three-term, i.e. exists, is realized, manifests simultaneously in three planes: personality (subject of activity), object (subject of activity) and external praxis (different types of active processes ).

For clarity, imagine the psychological structure of activity in the form of some simplified planar and linear scheme (Figure 7.1). It identifies the main, system-forming blocks, components, but not elements, not units of integral activity. These blocks are paired horizontally and in the form of two columns on the vertical: the left describes the intentional (objective) aspect of the activity, the right one is the operational (executive).

Psychological structure of activity

Fig. 7.1. The psychological structure of the activity

A. N. Leontiev repeatedly noted that the psychological structure he developed is not a morphological one. It displays the functions, relationships, dynamics of its components. The scheme psychologically models life activities, aspects of its existence, functioning, but not an anatomical or mechanical device.

And one more remark, which should be attributed to the methodology of the concept described. The psychological structure of the activity does not have the property of additivity. In other words, the sum of any simple components is not equal to the more complex block of the system that exists and is realized at the expense of the previous ones, but psychologically contains something qualitatively different and integral. For example, the need psychologically ns is equal to the sum of the motives in which it finds itself, at the expense of which it is satisfied in the activity. Behind the need is a non-vanishing subjective, mental state, which psychologically is not in the arithmetic sum of the motives.

So, the presence of a person's needs leads to activity, activated mentality and personality. This is a general, not sufficiently differentiated stimulation, activation of the orientation towards the search for the subject of the actualized need; a certain psychological pre-readiness, predisposition to possible and necessary activity. The presence of activity also affects the existing need, modifying it qualitatively and quantitatively, and the subsequent activity does not cancel the presence of activity. Activities can be to varying degrees active.

Then a psychological event occurs when the need finds its specific object, or motive. The search activity is psychologically transformed into a specific, separate activity, which alone can lead to satisfaction of the original needs. In fact, the need finds itself, of course, not in one subject, but in several. Activity is in practice a multimotivated, complex.


Suppose a person has actualized, the need for travel has become aggravated. Because of this, he is tuned to some new conditions of being, internally excited, interested, which, however, does not necessarily manifest externally. Subjectively this can be expressed as ordinary "internal fatigue", dissatisfaction. The corresponding orientation is activated, the search for possible exits from the arising psychological discomfort, the work of consciousness is initiated. Next comes the "extraordinary act of objectification of need" (AN Leontiev). For example, a friend called calls for an excursion. The need is psychologically transformed into a real motive - an excursion. As a result, a person goes on a journey, i.е. plans, creates and implements special activities. The earned motive requires its realization, goal setting, expression in order, their event-related sequence.

Aim is always a conscious idea of ​​the outcome of a future action; the acceptance by the personality of the meaning of the action (forthcoming and carried out).

The motive is expressed in terms of. So, to make a trip, you need to buy a ticket, collect things, get to the place, go somewhere. All these are personal goals that are realized and adopted because they enter the zone of the motive's action, otherwise they would be meaningless for the subject.

Action is a component of an activity that is subordinate to a goal.

An aware goal is the subject of an action aimed at achieving the goal. However, action is motivated not by purpose, but by motivation for general activity. The goal does not pose the function of motivation, it only subdues and performs the action, i.e. directs it, leads to the result. That is why when analyzing real behavior or activity, it is important for a psychologist to know: what is an activity or an action? And accordingly, what do these processes correspond to: the motive or the goals?


Imagine that on the eve of the exam the student reads the magazine "Chemistry in School". A fellow student who comes to him says, for example, that it is not necessary to pass the exam, that it is enough to know the materials of the lectures. Further, the student can do two things: stop reading the journal or continue it. In the first case, we can assume that reading was psychologically an action in the composition of the activity, motivated by the upcoming passing of the exam. Deprived of the connection with this motive, the goal becomes meaningless, and the corresponding action ceases. If the reading of the journal continues, its motivational provision seems to be different. Then

knowledge of the article (as a goal) is part of the scope of some broader motive than passing the exam. Knowledge has for the individual some other meaning, and reading the journal continues as part of a wider activity than preparing for a specific exam.

Dynamic relationships of motive and purpose are psychologically very important, they structure both consciousness and activity. The same action can be a part of different activities, the same goal to respond to different motives. The motive gives the goal a personal "value", meaning, therefore the sum of the goals is not psychologically equal to the motive, at the same time, the mechanical sum of actions does not give integral activity. One and the same motive can be expressed in different aims, in different senses, which will change the actions, activity, and personality.

The combination, the coincidence of the motive and the goal is possible only "secondary" as a certain stage in the dynamics of activity, motivation and personality, as stressed psychological "event". This is, in particular, the well-known phenomenon of shifting the motive to the goal , when the previously existing goal acquires the function of self-motivation. This is a change, an increase in the psychological status of the goal, birth, the formation of a new motive in the activity and personality.


For example, the teacher sets a goal for the student to read a book on history. The goal is accepted, since it corresponds to some motive that is personally important to the student, let's assume, the fulfillment of duties. The student reads this book, postponing other affairs, showing the necessary intellectual and strong-willed efforts. Then the teacher asks you to read another book, etc. There comes a time when the schoolboy no longer receives assignments, but independently chooses and reads books on the history he loved. The purpose of reading the book was psychologically transformed into a new meaning-motive. Accordingly, a new activity arose. The student has become different from a motivational, motivational, semantic and personal point of view.

In life activity and personality is observed and the reverse phenomenon - displacement, shift the goal to the motive . Perhaps the disappearance, the annihilation of the motive and the transformation, the psychological "decrease" its in the category of purpose. The motive may exhaust itself, lose personal significance, therefore, the corresponding activity will psychologically cease, the needs and personality will change, the person's behavior and his subjective attitude to what is being done will change.

The coincidence of the motive and the goal also occurs in the case of a person's awareness of a motive that was previously unconscious. AN Leontiev called such a process the birth of a motive-goal , when, let's assume, purely formally, as if automatically, in need, the work performed goes into the rank of a conscious, motivating value, acquires a reliable personal meaning. For the individual it is a new stage of self-management by activity and behavior, expansion of the space of the realized world.

The objective is the specific conditions in which the goal is given and which dictate the way the action is performed, called the operation .


Suppose a person has a goal to get a book, but the conditions for the realization of the goal (tasks) can be objectively and subjectively different: buy in a store, borrow in a library, borrow from a friend. The way in which the task is implemented, is a set of specific operations: from a trip in transport to placing the desired book in the portfolio.

Like the choice of goals, the answer to the motive, and the formulation of tasks are not accidental for the person, dictated solely by external circumstances. In the system of tasks, one way or another projected and motives, and meanings, and personality as a whole. Separation of goals and objectives, actions and operations is also of fundamental importance in the psychological analysis of activity and personality.


For example, in engineering psychology it is established that in the distribution of functions between a person and a machine (technology), it is preferable for a person to trust the level of conscious actions subordinated to goals, whereas at the psychological level of operations the functioning of the machine is considered more efficient and reliable than human use.

There are certain relationships between the goal and the task, the action and the operation, mutual transitions are possible. The scheme in question models and illustrates a dynamic existence, the very "life" activity, its psychological unity with consciousness and personality. So, the motive arises and is realized by the person as a result of the person's own activity. The motive, in turn, generates new activity, modifying the previous activities. All of them coexist in an integral personality, are born and disappear, develop or degrade. Like needs, motives and meanings, activities form their own hierarchical system, which serves as a practical, behavioral manifestation of the direction of the personality.

To describe the psychological structure of the activity, three more common concepts are needed: skills, skills and habits which are formally absent in the analyzed scheme, but fit organically into it.

Skill is an action that is automated in the process of its formation and becomes a set, a holistic fusion of operations included in a more complex action.

This definition reflects the dynamics, the psychological history of the skill, which at first exists as an action, i.e. is subordinated to a conscious goal. Automation (or technisation) of the action, psychologically turning it into a skill, means the output of the goal from the consciousness (attention), which is released to set other goals. There is a strong systematization, a reduction in the formed operations in the structure of a new, more complex action.


So, when learning to swim, a person first consciously, purposefully moves his hands, legs, head - for him, this actions subordinate goals: do the right thing. As learning progresses, step by step, these student activities are reduced, generalized and finally performed automatically, without the participation of attention. Each of them goes to the level of operations, realizing, in conjunction with others, the action of the voyage itself. As a result, the corresponding skill, is formed and the new realized goal of the sailing is not to perform the correct movements, but to achieve a certain result, in victory.

The more difficult a skill, the more time and effort it takes to produce it. Skill is the result of laborious work of motor skills, sensory, memory, thinking, will, psyche and personality as a whole. All kinds of skills permeate, arm, mediate any human activity. Without them, it is simply impossible, not to mention the effectiveness of multi-disciplinary, composite activities.

Skill is the highest form of skill combined with other operations and actions, and has passed to the level of a stable personality.

Ability is the ability, the ability to realize goals and tasks, skills and actions, activities and the entire behavior of the individual in changing living conditions. Skills can be considered as a practical aspect of the person's orientation. They are not inherent and not accidental: skills correspond to the needs of a person, his abilities, character, professional and social status. Each individual has a personal skill system, to some extent developed and implemented in different activities, behavior and life. However, the individual's skills should not be psychologically identified only with the practical, pragmatic side of behavior.


If a person, for example, does not know how to drive a car, this does not mean that he does not have the necessary abilities or capabilities. A person may not want to do this at all, and simply not engage in driving. The relationship between skills and abilities is characterized by ambiguity, dynamism. It is a relationship of psychological interdependence.

Skills can be characterized by a variety of psychological parameters: orientation, breadth, efficiency, flexibility, generality, strength, awareness and meaningfulness. In the system and the quality of skills, the person's experience is largely manifested and realized as one of the necessary components, subsystems of its psychological structure (see Chapter 4).

The habit is a psychological, deeply personal fusion of the personality and all its activities, all social behavior.

The habit is established, traditional for the personality aspirations, accepted and convenient forms of action and behavior, styles and characteristics of experiences (emotional experience) and relationships with the world; firmly established, psychologically fixed part of the experience personality.

A person does a lot, "without thinking", but in the habit. This psychologically facilitates its existence, especially in situations of subjective and objective difficulties, sudden changes in life. Habits stabilize, order, systematize the very flow of life; this is a kind of psychological defense against an excessively changeable objective world, one of the sides of the psychological and vital stability of the individual. Let's recall, for example, psychologically capacious Pushkin lines: "The habit is given to us, the substitute for happiness is it."

Without habits, there is no personality, they cover all aspects of her activity: from elementary self-service and the regime of the day to the usual forms and subjects of communication, experience, professional and family behavior. However, in the relative immutability, stagnancy of habits, there is an inevitable contradiction with the changing conditions of human life and activity. Too unchanged, habitual behavior can become rigid, inadequate, boring, finally. Habits from time to time must somehow change, disappear at all or again and reborn in a new way. The behavior of the individual can, and sometimes must be, completely unusual, sudden, special. Then, for example, actions are born, some significant personal deeds and accomplishments attributed to the processes of formation or reformation of the personality in psychology.

United, personally systematized with skills and habits, with all the psychology of the life path of habits, constitute a significant part not only of activity and behavior, but also of the entire mental experience of the person. This experience generalizes and contains in concentrated form many components (established and significant) and parameters from all other substructures of the mental image of the personality (direction, self-awareness, abilities, temperament, character, personality characteristics of mental processes and states). Experience is acquired not only in objective activity, but also in the whole social being and destiny of man, in his reflections, plans, fantasies, memories, experiences, etc. In the psychic experience of personality, the following multidimensional and closely interrelated indicators can be provisionally distinguished:

- psycho-biographical parameters (BG Ananiev), life path psychology (SL Rubinshtein), person's ideas about his own past, present and future, psychology of life plans, psychological strategy and psychological way of life (K. A. Abulkhanova);

- the quality of professional and other human knowledge (conceptuality, conceptuality, level of assimilation, focus, breadth, strength, awareness, flexibility, renewability, efficiency) (see Chapter 38);

- the overall effectiveness of professional activity (formation, flexibility and generalization of skills and abilities, the formulation of invariant and complex tasks, foreseeing mistakes and extreme situations, professional skills and prognosis, professional-personal growth, self-actualization, general and professional culture of the individual, its morality);

- the established system of habits as established forms of complex mental formations of the individual (aspirations, values, interests, experiences, interactions and conversations, etc.) and their influence on the stereotypy or variability of behavior and the whole life of the individual.

Thus, the activity psychologically means not only external praxis, not just active action, but also personal manifestation and the processes of creation of the individual. Therefore, the detailed study of activity, in essence, merges with the study of the whole psyche, the consciousness of a living and living personality. The activity has reasonably acquired the general theoretical, methodological status of one of the basic concepts of United States scientific psychology. Although far from everything in the human psyche is reduced to this capacious phenomenon and concept. Activity, consciousness and personality exist in an inseparable dialectical triunity, in which there is neither the main (source) nor the secondary (flowing) link. For psychology, there is no activity outside consciousness, as there is no consciousness outside one or another connection with activity, and all together are exclusively personalities, complex and integral psychological constructions.

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