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Peter Vsevolodovich Yan'shin  


Psychology and psycho-semantics   OF COLOR   psychology      psycho-semantics       of color          psycho-semantics

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On this page are placed the theses and the definitions, protected in the doctoral thesis of the author at the session of dissertation advice D 501.001.14 at the Moscow State University of M.V.Lomonosov 7- th of June 2001. Leading organization: Institute of psychology of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


This term was introduced simultaneously by two psychologists V.F.Petrenko and A.G.Shmelev in their monographs with the very similar names, which was published simultaneously in 1983.

On the whole, psycho-semantics is the division of general psychology, that studies the processes of formation and the psychological structure of meanings.

"The task of psycho-semantics is the reconstruction of the individual system of meanings, through prism of which occurs the perception of world, other people, itself, and also the study of its genesis, structure and functioning. Psycho-semantics investigates various forms of existence of meaning in the individual consciousness (images, symbols, communicative and ritual actions, and also verbal concepts)" (Petrenko, 1997, p. 3)."It joins together the psychological studies of meaning, understood in psychology as the most important unit of mental/psychic reflection in man" (Shmelev, 1983, s. 5).  

The following is one of the program theses of experimental psycho-semantics of consciousness, which are stands tightly with the task of psycho-semantics of color: "Understanding of meaning as the form of generalization, which is the derivative of the reality, represented not only in the form of concepts, but also in system of  organized descriptive phenomena, requiring the analysis of the mental processes, with language of which "are written down" these meanings, the analysis of the form of nonverbal meanings in the human consciousness" (Petrenko, 1983).

By semantic analysis in psycho-semantics, in particular, is understood the derivation and the analysis of the semantic structure of mental/psychic images. In such a way as to differentiate the problem itself of relationship (interconnection) between the indicating and that designated (as problem of linguistic) from the problem of the investigation of the structure of meaning (sign, mental/psychic images), i.e.,  the investigation of the psychological content of communication, we subsequently will call the problem of the relationship between that designating and designated  as "semiotic", and the problem of the content of sign as psycho-semantic problem.  

In Russian psychology the meaning has already long ago had status of psychological category. Theoretical bases to this are contained in the studies of L.S.Vygotsky (Vygotsky, 1982), which became classical. Concepts "sign", "meaning" bear basic logical value in the structure of such of category as the "highest psychic function", "ontogenesis", "will" in the cultural-historical approach to the explanation of the phenomenon of mental/psych itself (Leont'yev, 1975, 1981; Asmolov, 1990). According to this approach, the meaning is defined as appropriated in the process of intercourse and joint activity the generalized reflection of reality, manufactured by the joint subject (humanity) in the process of cultural-historical practice and fixed in the form of concepts, knowledge, the modus operandi, standards of behavior and the like (ibid.). In other words, behind the words (as behind the objects perception and the actions also) in man stand certain imperceptible, since it is organically involved in very "cloth" of words, images or actions, the "patterns" of reality. Meanings "pierces" the images of the world of man, being its "quasi-measurement" (Leont'yev, 1979). In the images of world the meaning "... comes forward as that which lies under the appearance of things - at the gotten to know objective interrelations of object of world, at different systems, in which they just can exist and can only reveal their properties "(Leont'yev, 1979, p.6).  

  By connotative meaning , following Ch.Osgood, is understood "... those states, which follow the perception of word-stimulus and necessarily  precede the intelligent operations with the symbols" (Osgood, Suci, Tannenbaum, 1957). These meanings are manifested in the form of "affective- sensual tones" (Osgood, 1969). In V.F. Petrenko's studies was confirmed the thesis of Ch.Osgood about the relevancy of connotative meanings to the synesthetic mechanism of categorization, which operates at the level of "deep semantics". This level is begun to operate at the earlier stages of the presentation of object to the subject, when emotional and perceptive characteristics are still presented to consciousness in the undifferentiated unity.  

The basic method of operationalisation (measurements, detection) of connotative meaning is the method of semantic differential (SD), and the operational form of the idea - multidimensional semantic space (see about this also: Osgood, Suci, Tannenbaum, 1957, Petrenko, 1987; Shmelev, 1983). The numerous studies, carried out within the framework of the methodology of semantic scaling, proved striking cross-cultural and cross-individual stability of the structure of connotative meanings (Osgood, Suci, Tannenbaum, 1957; Semantic Differential. A sourcebook, 1969; Petrenko, 1983, 1987; Shmelev, 1983), which is the dimensions of connotative "space".  

This structure is represented usually in the form of three axis (coordinates), in a general  named: Evaluation (Good - Bad), Potency (Strong - Weak), Activity (Active - Passive). Today is sufficiently substantiated and confirmed the Ch.Osgood's hypothesis about the fact that this type of meanings is relevant to man as representative not so culture, but - biological form. The structure of connotative meanings, thus, is correlated with the structure of the basic psycho-physiological (biologically determined) reactions of man. Moreover, the main component recorded in these reactions is the non-differentiated emotion-like component.

This deep category system makes it possible for man to operate with object on the basis of the similarity/difference in emotional "responses" (certain emotional overtones), which associate the perception (idea) of any object. The fact, discovered in connection with the study of the connotation, which most strikes imagination: in spite of its "rough" biological "background", this system composes the sensual- emotional (synesthetic) basis of art, as co far the latter is founded on metaphorical picturesqueness. 

In my view, the sinesthetic (connotative) level of categorization is relevant to that aria of mental/psych, in which the colors are manifested as symbolic phenomena.


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