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Structuralism And Functionalism Of Psychology Essay

1376 words - 6 pages

Psychology formerly integrated with the subject philosophy; these two formerly considered as one. Philosophy was the center of all learning but many academicians focus more on mathematics, physics, and biology. By the late 1800s, many philosophers created their own disciplines and the era of modern psychology slowly emerged. They soon began calling themselves psychologist. Authors have varying opinion about the founding fathers of the said science; some traces its roots as far as Aristotle and Plato (Benjafield 1996). Other authors believe that modern psychology started at the introduction of experimental psychology and for this reason, several experimental psychologist were also named the father of psychology including, Wilhelm Wundt and Gustav Fechner (Matson, 2009). However, one thing is for sure about psychology – it originated in Europe and introduced in the United States sometime in the late 1880s. Prior to this period, psychology crosses the realms of the paranormal because many practitioners at that time engaged themselves in psychic healing and spiritual quest. They were known as pseudo-psychologists and they were particularly popular in Germany. At the onset of modern psychology in the United State, the discipline focused more on the academics. American psychologists at that time put more emphasis on teaching rather than engaging themselves in research. It was at this period when several schools of thoughts emerged to explain behavior, cognition, and consciousness. In this paper, two of the earliest school of thoughts will be discussed. These are Structuralism and Functionalism. These two will be compared and contrasted.
Structuralism and Functionalism
One of the earliest schools of thought in psychology was structuralism. It was founded by Edward B. Titchener, which based his theory on the teachings of Wilhelm Wundt. Structuralism proposed that to be able to understand behavior and human consciousness, researchers must investigate the structure of the mind (Atkinson, 1990). Structuralism believes that the goal of psychology was to study the mind and consciousness. Consciousness is all of a person’s mental experiences calculated. The mind on the other hand consists of experiences occurring throughout life.
To be able to investigate the mind, structuralists used the method of introspection. Introspection means to look within you. The structuralism put heavy emphasis on the elements of the mind. There are three elements of the mind, consciousness, images, and affections. Each of these elements has their respective properties.
Functionalism was developed due to a protest of its founder against structuralism. This suggests that the two schools of thought were opponents. In the mid 1800s, William James the founder of Functionalism became impatient with the restrictions on Psychology as it was developing under structuralism. James felt that less emphasis should be placed on analyzing elements of consciousness and more emphasis should...

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