Functionalism is a well-known psychological theory that research papers show began in America. Famous functionalists can each be a separate topic or a writer can write on the broad topic of Functionalism in America. Either way, Paper Masters can provide custom written research on functionalism for you.
Functionalism is a major school of thought in psychology. It first arose as a reaction to Structuralism, the school developed by Wilhelm Wundt and Edward B. Titchener that analyzed the adult mind in its most basic components and then attempted to fit those components together into complex experiences. Functionalism, on the other hand, sees a person's mental life as the active adaptation to their environment.
Famous Functionalists in American Psychology
Functionalism tends to ask the question of how the mind affects human behavior. One of the major influences on this school of thought was Charles Darwin. Many consider William James to be the founder of functional psychology, although James himself explicitly rejected the idea that psychology should consist of "schools." James used the idea of natural selection in order to develop many of his theories.
The school of thought was later heavily espoused under such leading psychologists such as:
- John Dewey
- George Herbert Mead
- James Rowland Angell.
- James McKeen Cattell
- Edward Thorndike
- Robert S. Woodworth
Under functionalism, conscious experience is a major component of existence. This is in major contrast to the work of B.F. Skinner and behaviorists, who criticized functionalism for its lack of empirical testing. Skinner felt that behavior was nothing more than a learned response and disconnected from cognitive processes.
Functionalism in American Psychology
The advent of Functionalism in America was a shift in focus from psychology of content, to psychology of function, or mental act. Functionalism, as addressed by Angell, is a psychology not of mental elements, but of mental operations. According to Functionalism, the mind acts as a liaison between the needs of the being and their environment. Functionalism is psychophysical in that it acknowledges the importance of a mind-body connection in understanding the mental life. Functionalism also recognizes that consciousness and selection has its place in the broad structure of control. Selective attention, reflection, and problem solving represent this use of conscious control. Functionalism became the standard American psychology until behaviorism, the "intellectual progeny" of functionalism, succeeded it. Biological and physiological aspects of functionalism encouraged the animal psychology studies and experimentation that became familiar under behaviorism. It also promoted the study of habits and individual differences, a field of functionalism made popular by Carr. Thorndike was a relevant contributor to functionalism with his stimulus-response theory, which was similar to Pavlov in its dealings with stimulus-response. While this premise bordered on behaviorism, Thorndike never considered himself a behaviorist. Ultimately it was Angell's student, John B. Watson, who founded the behaviorism approach to psychology.
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