Stages of development of the psyche - Psychology

Stages of development of the psyche

The study of the psyche and behavior of animals is engaged in a special science - zoopsychology. It originated in the beginning of the XIX century. The founders of zoopsychology are J. Lamarck, Charles Darwin, United States scientists KF Roullie, WA Wagner.

In zoopsychology, the psyche of animals is studied in dialectical unity with their behavior and the structure of the nervous system.

As the leading factor in the development of the psyche of animals, the complication of their vital activity is considered, which leads to an increase and a variety of movements. Accordingly, there is a complication of the physical structure of the body, the reflective functions and the mechanisms of the regulation of movements, which was provided by the complication of the structure of the living matter itself. The form of the anatomical and physiological substratum of the psyche is nervous tissue or its analogs in the simplest forms of animal life. In the process of development of vital activity in animals, the nervous system was formed: the reticular, ganglionic, and then the central nervous system.

In zoopsychology, according to such criteria as the form of mental reflection, the leading type of behavior and the structure of the nervous system, three main stages of the development of the psyche:


• the stage of the elementary sensory psyche;

• the stage of the perceptual psyche;

• stage of intelligence.

1. The stage of the elementary sensory psyche. The mental reflection of animals at this stage has the form of sensitivity only to certain properties of the environment, i.e. form of elementary sensations. Accordingly, the behavior of animals corresponds to one or another particular property.

Given the evolution within the stage, the domestic zoopsychologist KE Fabry identified in it the lowest and highest levels.

At the lowest level there are organisms that stand on the verge of plant and animal life, for example flagellates. Representatives of the lowest level are also sponges, protozoa, coelenterates, lower worms.

At the highest level a large number of multicellular invertebrates and some species of vertebrates are located. They are characterized by a fairly complex structure of the nervous system, a complex and highly differentiated organization of the motor apparatus. The forms of their behavior are more complex and diverse.


So, the complex behavior of a spider that catches an insect caught in a web is motivated not by the sight of the victim, not by its smell, by the sounds it does not emit, but solely by the vibration produced by the wings of the insect and transmitted through the web. As soon as the vibration of the insect's wings ceases, the spider stops moving to it. But if the vibration is created, for example, by a tuning fork, the spider rushes to the tuning fork and tries to strike it with jaws.

This stage of development of the psyche is therefore called elementary, that from the whole diversity of the world, organisms perceive only a small part of it. The rest of the world does not seem to exist for them. At the same time, the reflection of a narrow range of properties of the medium proves to be sufficient for their survival under natural conditions.

In the process of evolutionary development of animals at the stage of the elementary sensory psyche, many of them developed a rather complex form of behavior - instinct

Instinct is a kind of behavior realized by hereditarily programmed, stereotyped forms of action by means of which an animal without special training adapts itself to environmental conditions.

In zoopsychology, many examples of the life of ants, bees, birds and other animals are described, whose behavior, when observed, is perceived as very complex and difficult to explain.


For example, ants on the threshold of bad weather close the entrances to an anthill; having considerably retired from it, easily find their way home; commit militant raids on the dwellings of brethren of another kind and kidnap their pupae, which then functionally enrich the colony. Complex forms of communication and interaction of animals at this stage are described: individual species of ants form living chains through which other individuals as on the ropes climb up where they find the building material for the nests. The behavior of the spider, attacking the tuning fork, is for him inexpedient and useless. "The same can be said about gulls, diligently hatching foreign objects, reminiscent of the shape of eggs.

Attachment of instincts to strictly defined conditions corresponding to the model of innate behavior, and the loss of their expediency property under conditions change is explained by the ability to reflect only individual properties of the environment.

Many zoopsychologists were interested in the question: are animals that are at the stage of the elementary sensory psyche capable of changing hereditary forms of behavior and learning? American zoopsychologist R. Yerkes taught earthworms to find in the labyrinth the path leading to the nest (on the other side of the labyrinth the worm received an electric shock). In the end, Yerkes achieved a positive result, it took 180 experiments for this. Repeated experiments aimed at studying the plasticity of animal behavior at the stage of the elementary sensory mind gave similar results. Accordingly, it was concluded that the ability for plasticity of behavior and learning in animals at the stage of the elementary sensory psyche is very low and characterizes only some fragments of their vital activity.

2. The stage of the perceptual psyche is characterized by the ability to reflect external reality no longer in the form of individual elementary sensations, but in the form of reflecting a set of qualities, things. At this stage, the lower and higher levels are also singled out: different levels of the stage of the perceptual psyche are the majority of the present vertebrate animals. At the highest level are all mammals.

In animals at the stage of the perceptual psyche, a more complex type of plastic individual behavior is formed, the mechanism of which is analysis and synthesis of environmental conditions, carried out on the basis of a more developed form of mental reflection. The material substratum of a new form of reflection and a new type of behavior has become the complication of the structure of the central nervous system and, above all, the development of the cortex of the brain. Significant changes have also occurred in the development of sense organs. Simultaneously, the development of the organs of motion.

The perceptive psyche allows animals to build behavior that meets not only the goals, but also the conditions in which it is given. These conditions determine the way in which the desired object can be obtained, and this method is fixed in their behavior.

Skills are the methods of action developed and embodied in animal behavior.

When conditions change, animals find and fix a new way of acting in their behavior. Thus, the learning of animals occurs

Learning is the individual adaptation of animals to the environment by changing innate behavior patterns.

By learning animals acquire and accumulate in the course of ontogenesis an individual experience. On the basis of learning, they can fix the shortest path to food in their behavior, find a way out of the labyrinth, circumvent barriers, and use a variety of signals that regulate food or defensive behavior. In experimental studies, animals studied complex forms of behavior associated with the formation of conditioned reflexes.

And. P. Pavlov developed conditioned reflexes in dogs, allowing to fix the signal value for various stimuli (classical conditioned reflex). With several combinations of a flash of light or a bell with food, these initially neutral stimuli acquired signal significance. American psychologist BF Skinner (1904-1990) studied another type of conditioned reflexes, called instrumental. The animal was placed in a special cell with special devices (latches, levers), with which it was possible to open a special window and get food (reinforcements). Rats, through trial and error, found the right lever. So they formed and reinforced the individual experience.

Teaching involves the development of elementary forms of memory in animals. This was confirmed by experiments in which delayed reactions were studied.

Observing the natural behavior of animals and the results of his experimental study suggest that animals at the stage of the perceptual psyche are able to analyze the situation, preserve images of external reality and fix useful reactions. Skills are formed by imitation, development conditioned reflexes or by trial and error. Animals are able to form new skills and adequate behavior when changing living conditions. At the stage of the perceptive psyche, the animal also retains instinctive behavior, but it becomes more plastic and adapts to the concrete conditions of life.

3. The stage of intelligence. At this stage there is a small number of species of highly organized mammals - anthropoid apes. The distinctive ability of the intellect of animals is that they reflect the holistic situations and relationships between objects. In animal behavior, a more complex form arises - solving problems.


For example, if a piece of meat is placed behind a cage in which an animal sits, at some distance from it, tied with a ribbon, the end of which lies in a cage, then the dog will bark, whine, but will not pull the ribbon (although physically can do it) . The monkey will do it instantly.

For the first time, the intellectual behavior of animals was experimentally investigated and described by the German psychologist W. Kehler. Monkeys in his experiments extracted fruits with the help of various "tools" - sticks, boxes, etc., demonstrating "manual", or practical, thinking. Unlike the trials and mistakes that characterize the behavior of animals in the previous stage, the monkey sometimes finds a solution immediately, as a result of insight, or insight.

Insight is a sudden and incomprehensible understanding of the structure and relationships of the situation as a whole, whereby the solution of the problem is achieved.


H. N. Ladygin-Cotes (1889-1963) observed the complex actions of monkeys. Chimpanzees could make tools and solve technically simple tasks. For example, the monkeys were first folded from two small sticks large, and then with it, the fruit was ejected from the narrow tube.

Such behavior of monkeys has a more complex structure - two-phase ; the preparatory phase and the implementation phase are allocated. The preparatory phase is not motivated by the object itself (in this example by a stick), to which behavior is directed, but the objective relation between objects (the ratio of the stick to the fetus).

To. E. Fabry described another important feature of the intellectual behavior of monkeys: they are capable of performing complex actions using various objects. Such actions are called manipulative. This further enhances the ability of monkeys to solve practical tasks.

In recent years, a series of studies have been carried out (ZA Zorina, AA Smirnova) in which even more complex forms of intellectual behavior of monkeys have been discovered: the ability to master simple prototypes of human speech. In the situation of communication with people, monkeys were trained to perform certain actions according to the verbal instructions of the experimenter. But are monkeys really able to understand a man's spoken language? More accurate experiments have shown that basically monkeys perceive information by gestures, views, actions, intonation. However, some individuals achieved great success in oral communication with a person, demonstrating an understanding of oral speech at the level of two-year-old children.

The complication of forms of mental reflection and behavior of animals at the stage of intelligence is interrelated with complication of the structure of the brain , the development of cortical structures. The most radical anatomical and physiological changes occurred in the frontal lobes of the cerebral cortex that regulate intellectual behavior.

The stage of intelligence of humanoid monkeys is the upper limit of the development of the psyche of animals. Then a qualitatively new stage in the history of the development of the psyche begins-a complex and long-term process of the historical evolutionary development of the Homo sapiens, or the Homo sapiens.

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