Functionalism And Structuralism Paper

1252 words - 6 pages

Cathia A. Scicluna 1.10 24.10.14Assignment: write at least 250 words on structuralism and functionalismStructuralism and FunctionalismPsychology is a relatively new science, its first experimental laboratories being built in the late 19th century, Wilhelm Wundt being one of the first to establish his experimental laboratories in 1879. Thus the fist schools of thought debated over how the human mind and behaviour should be described. Structuralism and functionalism where such 2 primitive schools of thought that looked upon the human behaviour from 2 completely different perspectives.The first school of thought was that of Structuralism, founded by Edward Bradford Titchener. Although Titchener was one of Wundt's students he broke away from many of what Wundt established. The aim of this school of thought was that of identifying the components of the mind and the way they interacted with each other. Structuralists believed that the goal of psychology was to study mind and consciousness as well as to find the relationship between the conscious experience and the physical process involved. Titchener theorised that conscious experiences can be broken down into basic conscious elements that could then be used to explain all kinds of behaviour. Structuralists believed that our sensations to everyday stimuli are the basic elements of consciousness, for example, if the stimulus is taste, the elements would be sweet, sour, bitter or salts. This led Titchener to developed the method of introspection to analyse these basic elements where the patient would 'look within' his/herself and try to describe his/her memory, perception (i.e. feelings and sensation), cognitive processes (such as images and emotions) and motivations about a certain stimulus, in short, the patient would analyse his/her own thoughts. In fact, in the first psychology laboratories, participants were exposed to a stimulus (such as light, sound and taste) and then asked to describe in detail what where their inner feelings and perception to the stimulus. Introspection was the preferred method amongst many psychologists. This was due to the fact that it came directly from the person experiencing the phenomena and that by analyzing these reports, psychologists could better understand the structure of the mind.Psychology had its birth through structuralism. This school of thought gave us a way of interpreting and understanding human behaviour even though their approach was not very 'scientific-based' as it is very subjective. Structuralism had also established the foundation for the future researchers, laying out outlines of what to do and what not to do. However, Structuralism was heavily criticized by people at the time. Many labelled it as pointless as it tried to discover "what is there" and "in what quantity" and not why it is there in the first place or what is its function. There is no sure answer as different results will be produced depending on who uses it (patient and psychologist) and for what purpose.Functionalism, although developing as a reaction to structuralism took a different approach on understanding the mind and human behaviour. Founded by William James, this school of thought focused more on the function of our actions, behaviour, thoughts and emotions rather than their components. Functionalists contradicted the teachings laid out by the Structuralists, saying that functions of consciousness were always changing and hence, had no basic structure of their own. William James was heavily influenced by Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. In fact he and many other functionalists stressed the importance of adaptive behaviour and how man's consciousness led to adaptive behaviour which is vital for survival. Their ideas were that nurture dominated nature because a person's behaviour differed according to his/her surroundings which shaped him/her over the years of his/her life. Another theory of James' was that our habits are not innate, but learnt through life by repeating the same action for a number of times. An example of this is opening a door, which gets easier to do the more times you do it. His theories managed to incorporate the principle of evolution and the adaptability of a human being. This concept then helped in the development of applied psychology, example, functionalists might examine the function of anger as a preparatory sensation to help us in dealing with emergency situations. Functionalists aimed to make psychological studies practical and applicable to real life situations and problems and their studies also focused on the functions of the components as to why, and for what purpose behaviour occurs as opposed to Structuralists who were more interested on the individual components themselves. Functionalism incorporated many types of methods for their studies. Some of which were analysis, introspection, experimentation and comparison between their patients, which was usually comprised of animals, children and people who suffered from genetic malfunction (labelled as abnormal human beings).Functionalism refined the thoughts of structuralism. Functionalism also emphasized individual differences, which had a profound impact on education as children should learn at the level for which they are developmentally prepared. However, it depended too much on introspection, which cannot be used scientifically, so much so that Wilhelm Wundt said: "It is literature. It is beautiful, but it is not psychology".These two schools of thought have long since come to an end. However, it is thanks to their successes and failures that psychologists nowadays have come to a better understanding of the human mind and its behaviour and thus improving the quality of help provided to those who need it.References:http://psychology.about.com/od/historyofpsychology/a/structuralism.htmhttp://books.google.com.mt/books?id=uCKFQgAACAAJ&dq=functionalism&hl=en&sa=X&ei=0wRNVJzIGIutaYCvgdgL&sqi=2&ved=0CEYQ6AEwCAhttp://books.google.com.mt/books?id=-UgCA3d6C50C&printsec=frontcover&dq=structuralism&hl=en&sa=X&ei=qe9LVNC3IITmap_zgcgJ&ved=0CCsQ6AEwAwhttp://books.google.com.mt/books?id=UoXZ8aIeZpgC&printsec=frontcover&dq=structuralism&hl=en&sa=X&ei=qe9LVNC3IITmap_zgcgJ&ved=0CB0Q6AEwAAhttp://www.business-science-articles.com/css/psychology/462-structuralismhttp://books.google.com.mt/books?id=nq7AZz7JZuAC&q=functionalism&dq=functionalism&hl=en&sa=X&ei=0wRNVJzIGIutaYCvgdgL&sqi=2&ved=0CDAQ6AEwBASchool notes

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