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Functionalism School of Psychology Report

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Functionalism, as a school of psychology, was formed in reaction to structuralism in 1896 (“History of Psychology”, Discovering Psychology) and was influenced by the works of Charles Darwin and William James. Functionalists strived to explain the mental processes systematically. They shifted the focus from analyzing the element of consciousness to examining the purpose of behavior. Before the emergence of structuralism, psychologists believed that psychology should not deal with the structure of consciousness because it has no structure (“Functionalism”, Encyclopedia of Psychology). Structuralists believed that mental functions could not be analyzed, while functionalists disagreed and noted that mental function could be studied if proper methods are applied.

John Dewey, the founder of functionalism, was the first to apply functionalism to social education and addressing social problems. He developed the process of natural continuous flow: sensory perception, process, and response. James Angel, a student of Dewey, studied the functions of the mind and mental processes. He supposed that body and mind worked together to survive. Harvey Carr focused on learning and demonstrated the so-called “adaptive act”. He sought an explanation for why people have different reactions to the same situations (seeing a grizzly bear in a forest and a zoo). Mary Calkins was interested in short-term memory and developed personality theory.

I agree with the premises of functionalism even though functionalists were criticized by both structuralists and behaviorists. I support the assumption that mental content and mental processes can be studied. Moreover, the contribution of functionalism to applied psychology and the educational system cannot be underestimated. For example, John Dewey has assumed that children should learn at the level they are developmentally prepared to. His belief has become the founding principle of all modern educational systems. In addition, functionalism has broadened the scope of psychological research and accepted the validity of studies with people having psychiatric disabilities, introduced mental tests and questionnaires.

Works Cited

“Functionalism”. Encyclopedia of Psychology. 20010406. FindArticles.com. 2007. Web.

“History of Psychology “. Discovering Psychology. 22 Sep. 2007. Web.

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