Functionalism – The differences between structuralism, and behaviorism Functionalism is the processes of the mind and also seeks to determine how the mind operates. Structuralism is the study of the parts and elements that make up the mind while; the key difference between structuralisms and functionalism was in the fundamentally different questions that they asked. Structuralisms asked, what are the elementary contents, the structures, of the human mind? Functional psychology was concerned with mind in use, what the mind does for us. Nevertheless; functionalists asked – what do people do; and also why do they do it? Just as the structuralisms were concerned with the structure of mental life, the functionalisms were concerned with the functions of mental processes and structures. Another way of viewing the difference between structuralism and functionalism is that structuralists believed that sensations are the basis elements of consciousness; study sensations through methods of inspection “looking within” (Wundt & Titchene); nonetheless, functionalism inspired by William James, believed that psychology should focus on the purpose and adaptive function of consciousness and also believed in practical results of the mental processes. Structuralism focused all of psychology on the experience of an observer. That is, structuralism was based on the notion that the task of psychology is to analyze consciousness into its basic elements and investigate how these elements are related (Hilgard, 1987; Thorne & Henley, 1997). Just as physicists were studying how matter is made up of basis particles, the structuralists wanted to identify and examine the fundamental components of conscious experience, for instance sensations, ideas, and images. Whereas; functionalism, was based on the belief that psychology should investigate the function or purpose of consciousness (the “whys”), rather that its structure (the “whats”). Influenced by Darwin’s evolutionary...
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