Relevance. There are set of terms and theories, that describe human`s experience of interaction with the outside world. This leads to difficulties in comparing and analyzing the results of empirical studies of human representations of the world. This phenomenon is clearly manifested in the study of human concepts of the personal computer, actively developed by psychologists and specialists in human-computer interfaces design.
Objective. In this work we pretend to explain the requirements for empirical study of personal computers mental models (MM) structure in the framework of cultural-activity paradigm, based on the analysis of the history of MM research in various areas of cognitive psychology and cultural activity approach.
Results. We discussed the main approaches to the study of mental models in psychology, characteristics of MM and specificity of methods of their study. The concept of MM is compared with similar constructs developed in various areas of psychology: "cognitive map", "scheme", "mental representation", "meaning", "image of the world". We also analyzed the possibility of operationalization of this construct. The MM concept are compared with the A.N. Leontiev`s concept of the «image of the world» and features of the MM researches in cultural activity paradigm was showed. The concept of MM is discussed in the context of different approaches to the study of meanings in linguistics and psychology: the approach of fixed meanings and research of embodied cognition. Finally, we describe the main characteristics of MM, which should be taken into account to plan an empirical study of human representations of personal computers.
Conclusion. In the construction of empirical research of personal computer`s MM we should require special attention to such characteristics of MM, as their consistency, cultural dependency and integrity; methods of such study should take into account the own activity of the subject.