Functionalism vs Structuralism

Topics: Psychology, Mind, Consciousness Pages: 3 (847 words) Published: March 11, 2011
All great science starts with certain opinions and methods. These processes come to shape a hypothesis that in turn becomes a theory. Structuralism and Functionalism are the theories of many opinions and methods that came to form schools of thought. Structuralist’s believed psychology was the science of conscious experience and immediate thought and in contrast Functionalists believed in practical results of the mental processes. Structuralism and Functionalism served their unique purpose in the world of psychology. Both Structuralism and Functionalism used each other to gain legitimacy to the science world and further continue the evolution of modern psychology. One difference between the two theories was Structuralism focused all of psychology on the experience of an observer. Edward B Titchener the noted founder of structuralism stated, “the experience is dependent on the person who is actually experiencing it…” “We… assume that…[experience] goes on only when someone is there to have it” (Shultz & Shultz, 2008). Rather than focusing on a car a structualist would observe the blue shining from the reflection of the glowing source. If you were to report that this car was a blue car sitting in the sun, Titchener would refer to this as a stimuli error thereby the researcher “confuses the mental process with the object we are observing”. In contrast Functionalism would focus the mental processes required to make the car and paint it blue. Functionalism shifted from the structure description of observation to the functional aspects of the mental processes and activities that take place in response such as a person’s perception, a child’s imagination, and the memory use of a dog. Harvey Carr, who learned under James Angell and worked for John B Watson, “called the specific form[s] of action ‘adaptive’ and ‘adjustive’ behavior” (Shultz & Shultz, 2008). Not surprising in this writers opinion because John Watson was the founder of Behaviorism. This writer thinks that...

References: Shultz, D. P., & Shultz, S. E. (2008). A history of modern psychology. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.
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