Leontev, Aleksei Nikolaevich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Leont’ev, Aleksei Nikolaevich


Born Feb. 5 (18), 1903, in Moscow. Soviet psychologist. Member of the Academy of Pedagogical Sciences of the RSFSR (1950) and of the USSR (1968). Professor since 1932. Member of the CPSU since 1948.

Leont’ev graduated from Moscow University, where he had been a student of L. S. Vygotskii, in 1924. He became a professor at Moscow State University in 1941 and, in 1945, head of the university’s subdepartment of psychology (department of philosophy). He became dean of the department of psychology in 1966.

Leont’ev’s experimental and theoretical works are devoted to research on the psyche, including the study of its genesis, its biological evolution and sociohistorical development, and its formation in the child, and to the functional development of mental processes. He advanced the hypothesis that the origin of sensibility is a result of (1) the change from life in a homogeneous environment to an environment of diverse elements and of (2) the formation of reactions to orient the organism to the environment’s biotic properties. He proposed that there is a structural commonality between man’s external, practical activity and his internal, theoretical activity. He developed a theory of the mechanism of the formation during life of the functional brain systems that make up the physiological basis of specifically human abilities. He has also conducted research in engineering psychology.

Leont’ev was awarded the Lenin Prize in 1963 for his book Problems in the Development of the Psyche (1959; 3rd ed., 1972). He was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Paris in 1968. He has been an honorary member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences since 1973. He has been awarded the Order of Lenin, two other orders, and several medals.


Razvitie pamiati. Moscow-Leningrad, 1931.
Vosstanovlenie dvizheniia. Moscow, 1945. (Jointly with A. V. Zaporozhets.)
Ocherk razvitiia psikhiki. [Moscow] 1947.
Ocherki psikhologii detei. Moscow, 1950.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.