Pathways of Personality Development: Following Lev Vygotsky’s Guidelines
The paper presents a theoretical reconstruction of Lev Vygotsky’s project of theory of personality development and highlights Vygotsky’s relevance and heuristic value for the personality psychology of our days, especially positive psychology. The authors focus on several aspects of Vygotsky’s heritage. 1. General concept of personality within a non-classical framework. 2. The idea of self-mastery as the central explanatory concept and its relation to the modern concept of agency. 3. The role of self-reflective awareness in personality development. 4. Personality development pathways in challenging conditions. In Vygotsky’s works personality was implicitly constructed as the most integral higher mental function, while self-mastery or self-regulation was its central feature. Vygotsky’s principle of mediation states that the structure of human activity is mediated by physical or mental tools that break the S—R links and make it possible to master one’s own behavior and mental processes. By utilizing speech as a system of signs that enables the process of mastering the psychosocial reality, self-reflection makes a new basis for more complicated forms of higher mental processes that possesses more degrees of freedom as compared with the lower ones. The law of compensation is discussed in the context of aggravated conditions of personality development, where personality answers on the social boundaries, and thus achieves alternative trajectories of development. The sociocultural paradigm is thus consistent with modern thought of positive and personality psychology.