Image Image Image Image Image
Scroll to Top

To Top

Select a Page:
More Info
Read More
Lev Vygotsky Lev Vygotsky

Lev Vygotsky

Back          Next theorist          See All Theorist


  • Lev Vygotsky was a Russian psychologist who was particularly interested in cognitive development, mostly concentrating on children. He believed that learning leads development, development cannot be separated from its social context and language plays a central role in mental development. He wrote six books before dying at the age of 34..

    • Degree in Law from Moscow State University
    • Shanyavskii People’s Unveristy
    • Doctorate from Institute of Psychology on Psychology of Art

  • Vygotsky’s work covers a wide variety of topics spanning ten years, from his dissertation in 1925 to Thought and Language in 1934. His work made its way to the West fifty years after his death when psychologist recognized the Zone of Proximal Development. Some of his most renowned works include:

    • The Crisis in Psychology
    • Thought and Language

Theory Overview

Vygotsky’s Sociocultural Theory (Social Development Theory) states that individual development is a product of social interaction. He believed that culture and social experiences are internalized and learned from by individuals using tools, or mediators, to produce consciousness and cognition. Vygotsky differs from similar theorist in his strong belief of the unity of behavior and consciousness. One of his major accomplishments was the Zone of Proximal Development, which he defined as the area between the level of independent performance and assisted performance.


Influential Theories

Vygotsky was influenced by Pavlov’s concept of the conditioned reflex, specifically the emphasis on scientific methods of investigation as opposed to introspection. He was also influenced by the writings of Karl Marx and by the Russian Revolution.


Similar Theories

Vygotsky’s theories relate to the concept of Personal Learning Environments (PLE’s), where students create a virtual space to manage their learning. Bruner’s theory of Scaffolding was built upon the idea of Vygotsky’s ZPD. Barbara Rogoff found, through researching the ZPD, that young children not only influence one another but influence the adults who are in turn attempting to socialize them.



“No form of behaviour is so vigorous as when it is associated with an emotion. No moral sermon educates like a real pain, like a real feeling, and in this sense, the apparatus of the emotions seems like an expressly adapted and subtle tool by means of which behaviour may be influenced effortlessly.”

Contribution to Adult Education

While most of Vygotsky’s work focused on child development, his theories can be applied to adults. In addition, a critical part of his idea of how development takes place relies on a More Knowledgable Other (MKO), which could be a teacher, coach or anyone who assists a child with their development.


Relative Points

  • Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD)
  • More Knowledgable Other (MKO)
  • Scaffolding
  • Close relationship between the acquisition of language and the development of thinking
  • Importance of the role of a teacher

Zone of Proximal Development Overview

This abstract was created by Michael Myers. Download a printable version: Lev Vygotsky Abstract

Back          Next theorist          See All Theorist