Functionalism originated in the United States and initially coexisted with structuralism. Although functionalist beliefs diverged, their emphasis was always the same, the utility of consciousness and behavior in adjusting to the environment. The founder of the functionalist movement is usually thought to be William James (1842-1910). In addition to James, two of the most influential members of the functionalist movement were John Dewey (1859-1952) and James R. Angell (1869-1949). The second paradigm of psychology was functionalism. As its name implies, the primary interest in this approach is in the function of mental processes, including consciousness. While not the creation of any single scholar, William James was clearly its most famous advocate. The functionalists tended to use the term function rather loosely. The term is used in at least two different ways. It can refer to the study of how a mental process operates. Functionalism never really died, it became part of the mainstream of psychology. James was the first American psychologist, he wrote the first general text book on psychology, and he remains one of the most well-liked and famous of all psychologists. While functionalism did not have a specific founder or leader, James is identified as its early spokesperson.
The main contribution the functionalists made to learning theory is that they studied the relationship of consciousness to the environment rather than studying it as an isolated phenomenon. They opposed the introspective technique of the structuralists because it was elementistic, not because it studied consciousness. The functionalists were not opposed to studying mental processes but insisted that they should always be studied in relat...
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...eory, there are also others that play into this category as well. Functionalism is one of the major proposals that have been offered as solutions to the mind/body problem. Solutions to the mind/body problem usually try to answer questions such as: What is the ultimate nature of the mental? At the most general level, what makes a mental state mental? Or more specifically, what do thoughts have in common in virtue of which they are thoughts?
Olson M. H. & Hergenhahn, B. R. (2009). An introduction to theories of learning. (8th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education.
Darwinian Theory, Functionalism, and the First American Psychological Revolution
Green, Christopher D... American Psychologist, Feb/Mar2009, Vol. 64 Issue 2, p75-83, 9p, 2 bw, DOI: 10.1037/a0013338, (AN 36872963)
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