Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Behavior Genetics in Context of Russian Psychology, 4,108-128

Academic journal article Psychology in Russia

Behavior Genetics in Context of Russian Psychology, 4,108-128

Article excerpt


A study of the nature of individual differences in psychological characteristics has almost a century of history and an immense empirical material has been presently collected up, pointing the influence of hereditary factors in the emergence of individual differences in intellect, academic achievement, particular cognitive abilities, cognitive styles, temperament, personality traits, psycho-physiological characteristics, movement and so on. Although these data is actively used to explain and understand psychological phenomena, there are very few attempts to build the logic of genetic research within a framework of general psychological concepts and searchings of psychological principles explaining the data obtained, because the main aim of these works are proper genetic goals.

One of the first attempts to analyze the psychological aspects in genetic research was undertaken back in the 30-s by A.R. Luria. A.R. Luria's experimental study (1935, 1956, 1962, 2002) showed that the influence of genetic factors at different ontogenetic stages of a particular psychic function development vary. Based on a conception of psychological development of L.S. Vygotsky he assumed that this is related to the change in internal mechanisms of execution of this psychological function, to the qualitative rebuilding of psychological activity of a child, forming of complex functional systems in the process of education. This rebuilding, as A.R. Luria considered, consisted in that elemental, immediate forms of activity are replaced by complexly organized functional structures, formed on a basis of a child's communication with an adult within the process of education. Owing to the acquisition of language the complex forms of psychological activity acquire new qualities and the mechanisms of their execution are changed and are becoming different from those of elemental processes. Therefore it can be assumed that "the nature of every function (in other words - her relation to the genotype) is changed too in a process of human psychological development as well as its structure..." (Luria, 1962, p. 16).

No wonder this approach to the interpretation of genetic data has been used in developmental research, because it is exactly this area where the interests of psychology, behavioural genetics and biology of development maximally intersect.

One has to note that current psychological approaches (P. Baltes, J. Nesselroade, W. Schaie, R. Lerner and others) in developmental research provide theoretical basis for psychological interpretation of data gathered in behavioural genetics. According to the "systemic" approach different "developmental sources" are parts of an integrated system of higher order and they influence each other. From R. Lerner's (Lerner & Walls, 1999) point of view, the most promising in current developmental psychology is a study of how the functioning of structures and structuring of functions are changed with time.

In contemporary theories of personality development personality is not "biologised", "psychologised" or "sociologised", but is regarded from a systemic point of view. Atomistic and mechanistic views are replaced by models underlying dynamic synthesis of multiple levels of analysis, as well as activity nature of human development and systemic nature of development in general.

Development is a quality, an attribute of systemic changes at different interdependent levels of organization. From R. Lerner's point of view, the basis of changes and limits of development is laid down in relationships among multitude of organizational levels, composing human life. These levels include from "inner biological through individual psychological and proximate social relationships level (including child-parent dyads, peer groups and nuclear families) to socio-cultural (including those key organizations as educational system, social organizations, government and economic systems) and parameters of environment mastered and transformed by a human" (Lerner & Walls, 1999). …

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