Vygotski, Lev Semyonovich

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VYGOTSKI, LEV SEMYONOVICH , (1896–1934), Soviet psychologist and author. Vygotski joined the Institute of Psychology in Moscow in 1924. In 1932 he founded the laboratory of psychology at the All-Union Institute of Experimental Medicine in Moscow, where studies by psychologists and psychiatrists were carried out on disintegration of personality in various neuropsychiatric disorders. He advanced the psychological diagnostics of mental disturbances (Vygotski's blocks for the study of concept formation) and methods for teaching mentally retarded children. His main concern was a theory of historicocultural development of man's highest mental functions, such as conceptual thinking and voluntary control of behavior. After his premature death the creative impetus he imparted to Soviet psychology was carried on by a group of his close associates including A.R. *Luria and B.V. Zeigarnik.

His publications in English included "The Problem of the Cultural Development of the Child," in Journal of Genetic Psychology, 36 (1929), 415–34; "Thought in Schizophrenia," in: Archives of Neurology and Psychiatry, 31 (1934), 1063–77; and Thought and Language (trans. from Russian with introd. by J.S. Bruner, 1962). His publications in Russian include: Pedagogicheskaya psikhologiya ("Educational psychology," 1926); Pedologiya v shkol'nom vozraste ("Paedology of the School Age") 1928; Voobrazheniye i tvorchestvo v detskom vozraste ("Imagination and Creativity in Children," 1930); Umstvennoye razvitiye detey v protsesse obucheniya ("Effects of Schooling on the Child's Mental Development," 1935); and Psikhologiya iskusstva ("Psychology of Art," 1965).


A.R. Luria, in: Journal of Genetic Psychology, 46 (1935), 224–6; E. Kaufmann and J. Kasanin, in: Journal of Psychology, 3 (1937), 521–40; A.N. Leontyev and A.R. Luria, in: B.B. Wolman (ed.), Historical Roots of Contemporary Psychology (1968), 338–67.

[Josef Brozek]