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Kharkov School of Psychology

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Title: Kharkov School of Psychology  
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Kharkov School of Psychology

Kharkiv School of Psychology (Харьківска психологічна школа) is a tradition of developmental psychological research conducted in the paradigm of Lev Vygotsky's "sociocultural theory of mind" and Leontiev's psychological activity theory.

Kharkiv group: the beginning of the school

The school was founded by its leader Alexander Luria, who—along with Mark Lebedinsky and Alexei Leont'ev—moved from Moscow to Kharkiv, the capital of Soviet Ukraine at that time. The core of the group was formed by Luria, Lebedinsky and Leontiev and their Moscow colleagues, Zaporozhets and Bozhovich, along with a group of such local researchers as Gal'perin, Asnin, P. Zinchenko, Lukov, Khomenko, Kontsevaya, Rozenblyum, etc. The group conducted a wide range of psychological studies on concept formation in children, voluntary and involuntary memory, development of visual-operational thinking, voluntary behaviour, and reasoning, the role of orientation in thought and activity, etc. that laid the foundation for the psychological theory of activity.

P. I. Zinchenko and the Kharkiv school of developmental psychology

In the postwar period, the scientific work of the school developed under informal leadership of Pyotr Zinchenko in the field of the psychology of memory. The major achievement of the school is the systematic analysis of the phenomenon of involuntary memory from the standpoint of the activity approach in psychology. Soviet studies of involuntary memory carried out by the representatives of the Kharkiv school influenced psychological research both nationally and worldwide (e.g., memory research by A. Brown, Murphy, Meacham, Sophian, Hagen, etc.).

The information processing or engineering psychology approach to memory and cognition was developed in the research by Zinchenko, Bocharova, Nevel'skii, Repkina. On the other hand, research on the role of involuntary memory in education and memory in thinking and personality development was conducted by Sereda, Ivanova, and associates.

Another major area of research is the theory and practice of developmental teaching (or the system of El'konin-Davydov) associated with such representatives of the Kharkiv school as Repkin, Bodanskii, Dusavitskii.

Selected publications of the school

Special journal issues

  • Soviet psychology, 1979-1980, 18 (2) (early period, 1930-40s: Zaporozhets, Asnin, Khomenko, Lukov, Bozhovich, Zinchenko, Gal'perin),
  • Soviet Psychology, 1983–84, 22(2) (1939: Zinchenko, P. I. The problem of involuntary memory, 55-111).
  • Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 1994, 32 (2) (postwar period, (1950-90s: Sereda, Ivanova), and
  • Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 2003, 41 (5) (developmental teaching in Kharkiv, 1960-1990s: Repkin, Dusavitskii)
  • Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 2008, 46, (5) (P.I. Zinchenko's psychology of memory: the studies of 1930-1960s)
  • Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 2008, 46, (6) (P.I. Zinchenko's psychology of memory: contemporary critical evaluations)
  • Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 2011, 49, (1) (G.K. Sereda's legacy in psychology of memory research)
  • Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 2011, 49, (2) (P.I. Zinchenko's legacy in contemporary psychological research) as well as --

Selected papers In English

  • Ivanova, E. F. & Nevoyennaya E.A. (1998). The historical evolution of mnemonic processes. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 36 (3), May–June, 1998, p. 60-77.
  • Ivanova, E. F. (2000). The development of voluntary behaviour in preschoolers. Repetition of Z. M. Manuilenko's experiments. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 38 (2), March–April, 2000, p. 7-21.

Influences on memory research in the West

  • Meacham, J. A. (1972). The development of memory abilities in the individual and society. Human Development, 15, 205-228. Reprinted in J. G. Seamon (Ed.), Recent contributions in memory and cognition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1980. pp. 415–430.
  • Meacham, J.A. (1977). Soviet investigations of memory development. In R.V. Kail & J.W. Hagen (Eds.), Perspective on the Development of Memory and Cognition (Vol. 9, pp. 273–295). Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
  • Murphy, M. D., & Brown, A. L. (1975). Incidental learning in preschool children as a function of level of cognitive analysis. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 19 (3), 509-523.
  • Sophian, C., & Hagen, J. W. (1978). Involuntary memory and the development of retrieval skills in young children. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 26, 458-471.
  • Brown, A.L. (1979). Theories of memory and the problems of development: Activity, growth, and knowledge. In L.S. Cermak & F.I.M. Craik (Eds.), Levels of Processing in Human Memory. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

See also


  • Leont'ev, A. N. (1976/1986). Problema deyatel'nosti v istorii sovetskoj psixologii (Проблема деятельности в истории советской психологии) [The problem of activity in the history of Soviet psychology]. In Voprosy psikhologii, 1986, #4 (in Russian)
    • Leont'ev, A. N. (1976/1989). The Problem of Activity in the History of Soviet Psychology. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 27 (1), 22 - 39
  • Zaporozhets, A. V. & El'konin, D.B. (Запорожец А.В., Эльконин Д. Б.) (1979). Вклад ранних исследований А. Н. Леонтьева в развитие теории деятельности // Вестник МГУ, Серия 14. Психология, № 4, с. 14—24 (see English comment to Russian publication)
  • Cole, M. (1980). Introduction: The Kharkov school of developmental psychology. In Soviet psychology, 18, 2
  • Cole, M. (1994). Introduction. Soviet psychology, 32, 2.
  • Ivanova, E.F. (Иванова Е.Ф.) (2002). Харьковская психологическая школа 30-х годов: история создания и методологические принципы // Вісник Харківського університету, N 550, частина 1. Серія психологія, с. 97-98
    • Kharkiv State University Department of psychology website [1]
  • Леонтьев А. А., Леонтьев Д. А., & Соколова Е. Е. (2005). Алексей Николаевич Леонтьев: деятельность, сознание, личность. Харьков и вокруг него. М.: Смысл, 2005. С. 8-141
  • Sokolova E.E. (Соколова Е.Е.) (2007). Линии разработки идей Л.С. Выготского в Харьковской психологической школе // Культурно-историческая психология, 1, 2007
  • Yasnitsky, A. & Ferrari, M. (2008). Rethinking the early history of post-Vygotskian psychology: the case of the Kharkiv School. History of Psychology, 11(2), 101-121
  • Yasnitsky, A. & Ferrari, M. (2008). From Vygotsky to Vygotskian Psychology: Introduction to the History of the Kharkiv School. Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, 44(2), 119-145.
  • Yasnitsky, A. (Ясницкий А.) (2008). Очерк истории Харьковской школы психологии: период 1931—1936 гг. // Культурно-историческая психология, 3, 2008, с. 92-102
  • Yasnitsky, A. (Ясницкий А.) (2009). Очерк истории Харьковской школы психологии: первая научная сессия Харьковского государственного педагогического института и появление «Харьковской школы психологии» (1938) // Культурно-историческая психология, 2, 2009, с. 95-106
  • Yasnitsky, A. & Ivanova, E.F. (2011). Remembering for the future: Grigorii Sereda in the history of Kharkiv school of psychology. Journal of Russian and East European Psychology, 49(1), 3-16
  • Yasnitsky, A. (2011). Vygotsky Circle as a Personal Network of Scholars: Restoring Connections Between People and Ideas (idem). Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science, doi:10.1007/s12124-011-9168-5 pdf
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