Personal Qualities of M.S. Gorbachev and B.N. Yeltsin in Language Consciousness of Humanities Students

Keywords: semantic differential, semantic universals, language consciousness, personal qualities, leaders, Russia, students, mass media.


Objectives. The study aims at identifying and describing a fragment of the linguistic consciousness of humanitarian students, reflecting their ideas about the personal qualities of M.S. Gorbachev and B.N. Yeltsin. The additional tasks are: (1) to compare the characteristics identified experimentally with the linguistic characteristics of these personalities in the official mass media; (2) to analyze the role of media discourse in the formation of images of the politicians under study.

Material and Methods. The method of unipolar personal semantic differential is used. The process of the results included the identification of group universal assessments, their qualitative analysis, comparison and qualitative analysis of the similarities and differences of the universal evaluations of the stimuli studied. Media texts published for the 90th anniversary of Gorbachev and the 90th anniversary of Yeltsin, selected by the method of random (serial) sampling, were analyzed qualitatively

Results. Group semantic universals reflecting students’ perceptions of the politicians studied are poor in content. The most striking characteristic of Gorbachev are selfishness and deceitfulness, unlike Yeltsin he is thought to be hardworking and calm. A distinctive feature of Yeltsin is ambition. Both leaders appear as free in their behavior, the difference lies in the fact that Gorbachev is considered experienced, but devoid of tact and flexibility, Yeltsin lacks creativity, wit and malevolence. Both combine such traits as sociability, activity and intelligence. The experiment does not record the qualities that are emphasized in mass media – kindness and care for the good of the country.

Conclusions. The ideas of students about the personal qualities of Gorbachev and Yeltsin are rather vague, “kaleidoscopic” in nature. The group assessment of the personal characteristics of these politicians does not coincide with the interpretation offered by various mass media. Mass media today do not contribute to the development of a view of the history shared by a significant part of society, which, in turn, leads to the conservation of socio-political contradictions in society. Moreover, modern media, despite its advantageous position, now play rather a destructive role in creating a common view of the history of Russia and the quality of its recent leaders. The result may be a state of psychological conflict in society directly related to culture and the human self, with “identification confusion” (the term of E. Erickson) that has the function of a collective ego.


Download data is not yet available.


Artemyeva, E.Yu. (1999). Osnovy psihologii subektivnoj semantiki [Fundamentals of the Psychology of Subjective Semantics]. In I.B. Khaninoy (Ed.). Moscow: Nauka; Smysl [in Russian].

Bail, C.A. et al. (2018). Exposure to opposing views on social media can increase political polarization. Pnas, 115(37), 9216–9221.

Baudrillard, J. (2020). Obshhestvo potreblenija [Consumer Society]. Moscow : Izd-vo AST [in Russian].

Bernays, E. (2010). Propaganda [Propaganda]. In I. Yushchenko (Trans.). Moscow : Hippo Publishing [in Russian].

Blank, G., & Lutz, C. (2017). Representativeness of social media in Great Britain : Investigating Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and Instagram. American Behavioral Scientist, 61, 741–756.

Bubnova, I. (2021). Personal Qualities of the Leaders of Russia of the XXth Century (June 12, 2021). Available at SSRN:

Gruzd, A., Jacobson, J., & Wellman, B. (2017). Social Media and Society: Introduction to the Special Issue. American Behavioral Scientist, 61(7), 647–652.

Gruzd, A., Jacobson, J., Wellman, B., & Mai, P.H. (2016). Understanding communities in an age of social media: The good, the bad, and the complicated. Information, Communication & Society, 19(9), 1187–1193.

Gruzd, A., & Wellman, B. (2014). Networked influence in social media: Introduction to the special issue. American Behavioral Scientist, 58(10), 1251–1259.

Harvey, D. (2007). Neoliberalism as Creative Destruction. The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 610(1), 21–44.

Hendriks, F., & Jucks, R. (2020). Does Scientific Uncertainty in News Articles Affect Readers’ Trust and Decision-Making? Media and Communication, 8(2), 401.

Kolomiets, V.P. (2017). Sociologija massovoj kommunikacii v obshhestve kommunikacionnogo izobilija [Sociology of Mass Communication in a Society of Communication Abundance]. Sociologicheskie issledovanija –Sociological research, 6, 3–14. [in Russian].

Leontiev, A.A. (1969). Jazyk, rech, rechevaja dejatelnost [Language, speech, speech]. Moscow : Prosveshhenie [in Russian].

Leontiev, A.A. (1972). K psihologii rechevogo vozdejstvija [To the psychology of speech impact]. Proceedings from TSAPE’ 72: Vsesojuznyj simpozium po psiholingvistike i teorii kommunikacii – The All-Union Symposium on Psycholinguistics and Communication Theory (Moscow, 1972) (pp. 28–41). Moscow : Akademija nauk SSSR. Institut jazykoznanija [in Russian].

Leontiev, A.A. (1983). Jazyk propagandy : socialno-psihologicheskij aspekt [The language of propaganda : socio-psychological aspect]. Jazyk kak sredstvo ideologicheskogo vozdejstvija – Language as a means of ideological influence (pp. 15 – 33). Moscow : Inion AN SSSR [in Russian].

Leontiev, A.N. (2004). Deiatelity. Soznaniye. Lichnost [Activity. Consciousness. Personality]. Moscow : Smysl; Academy [in Russian].

Levashov, V.K. (2018). Novye socialno-politicheskie protivorechija na puti dostizhenija ustojchivogo razvitija [New socio-political contradictions on the way to achieving sustainable development]. Sociologicheskie issledovanija –Sociological research, 12, 107–119. [in Russian].

Lippman, W. (1966). Public Opinion. N. Y.

Mayweg-Paus, E., & Jucks, R. (2018). Conflicting Evidence or Conflicting Opinions? Two-Sided Expert Discussions Contribute to Experts’ Trustworthiness. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 37(2), 203–223.

Ming Liu (2017). “Contesting the Cynicism of Neoliberalism”: A Corpus-Assisted Discourse Study of Press Representations of the Sino-US Currency Dispute. Journal of Language and Politics 16(2), 242–263. https://doi 10.1075/

McLuhan, G. (2018). Ponimanie media. Vneshniye rasshirenia cheloveka [Understanding Media. External extensions of man]. Moscow : Kuchkovo pole [in Russian].

Serkin, V.P. (2008). Metody psihologii subektivnoj semantiki i psihosemantiki [Psychology methods of subjective semantics and psychosemantics]. Moscow : Izd-vo PCHELA [in Russian].

Serr, M. (2016). Devochka s palchik [Girl with a finger]. Moscow : Ad Marginem Press [in Russian].

Shmelev, A.G., Pokhilko, V.I., & Kozlovskaya-Telnova, A.Yu. (1988). Praktikum po jeksperimentalnoj psihosemantike (tezaurus lichnostnyh chert) [Workshop on Experimental Psychosemantics (Traits Thesaurus)]. Moscow: Izd-vo Mosk. un-ta [in Russian].

Vygotsky, L.S. (2004). Psihologija razvitija cheloveka [Psychology of human development]. Moscow: Izd-vo Smysl; Izd-vo Eksmo [in Russian].

Internet resources

VCIOM: dolja rossijan, negativno ocenivajushhih dejatelnost Gorbacheva, snizilas [VTsIOM: the share of Russians who negatively assess Gorbachev’s activities has decreased]. Retrieved from

Opros: Gorbachev dumal o blage strany, no sovershal takticheskie proschety [Poll: Gorbachev thought about the good of the country, but made tactical mistakes]. Retrieved from

Put ot tanka do groba. Istorija Borisa Elcina v fotografijah – k ego 90-letiju [The path from tank to coffin. The story of Boris Yeltsin in photographs – to his 90th birthday]. Retrieved from

“Chelovek s sobstvennym mneniem”. Vyskazyvanija o Mihaile Gorbacheve [“A man with his own opinion”. Statements about Mikhail Gorbachev]. Retrieved from

Abstract views: 186
PDF Downloads: 89
How to Cite
Bubnova, I., & Tokareva, E. (2021). Personal Qualities of M.S. Gorbachev and B.N. Yeltsin in Language Consciousness of Humanities Students. PSYCHOLINGUISTICS, 30(2), 8-27.