In Search of Unit of Analysis in Executive Activity



The paper describes studies of executive actions carried out by Vladimir Zinchenko in the 1970s and 80s at the Faculty of Psychology at the Lomonosov Moscow State University. Conceptual development of the activity theory implied reaching the micro-levels of activity processes in order to determine the minimal units of analysis. Executive action, flexible and adaptive in response to various changes of conditions, was obviously an attractive choice for experimenting. Luckily enough, it turned out there were certain parties interested in such experiments at that time — specialized scientific research institutes (‘NII’) whose heads were concerned with increasing the effectiveness of activity in human-operators. This led to a technological re-equipment of research laboratories of the Faculty of Psychology at the MSU in the 1970s. Supported by computers, several groups of psychologists from the Chair of General Psychology, Chair of Psychophysiol- ogy and Chair of Work and Engineering Psychology initiated a series of studies. A number of temporary project laboratories were created, three of which happened to be under direct or indirect conceptual and managerial influence of V.P. Zinchenko. This paper outlines the main outcomes of a research on data entry actions that involved a short-term quantitative measurement of individuals’ memory image of computer keyboard layout.

General Information

Keywords: human-operator, microstructural analysis of action, functional structure of executive ac- tion, theory of activity, deautomatization of skill, consolidation of operational units

Journal rubric: Memorable Dates

Article type: scientific article


For citation: Morgunov E.B. In Search of Unit of Analysis in Executive Activity. Kul'turno-istoricheskaya psikhologiya = Cultural-Historical Psychology, 2016. Vol. 12, no. 4, pp. 67–73. DOI: 10.17759/chp.2016120406. (In Russ., аbstr. in Engl.)


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Information About the Authors

Evgeniy B. Morgunov, Doctor of Psychology, Associate Professor, Head of the Laboratory for Social Communications Analysis, Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, Moscow, Russia, e-mail:



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