Compare and Contrast Structuralism and Functionalism
Dr. Paul Jenkins
November 11, 2012
COMPARE AND CONTRAST STRUCTURALISM AND FUNCTIONALISM
Structuralism and functionalism are both theories of psychology that found their origins in the early years of the birth of psychology. Both of these theories involved the study of the human mind and how it works. Additionally, they were both concerned with the mind at the conscious level. These are a few of the similarities between structuralism and functionalism. Throughout this paper we will further explore some of the differences between these two systems of psychology.
Structuralism was introduced in the United States by E. B. Titchener who studied under Wilhelm Wundt. Titchener suggested that his approach was that of Wundt, however, what he was teaching was very different and the term structuralism can only be linked to Titchener’s teachings. Titchener was interested in the basic elements of the conscious experience and how those elements are organized (Lahey, 2004). He believed psychology’s main objective was to explore the conscious experience by studying each component part in an effort to discover its structure. His ‘goal was to discover the so-called atoms of the mind’ (Schultz, D.P. & Schultz, S.E., 2012). In order to study each atom of the mind, structuralism relied on introspection. Introspection heavily relied on observers that were trained to describe the observed experience at its most basic element rather than by a common or typical name that an average person may use. An example of this would be one using the describing word of ‘apple’ versus breaking it down in terms of the basic perceptions it invoked such as cold, sweet, crisp (Hall, 1998).
The birth of functionalism came about mainly as a protest toward structuralism. “In part it was a response to the stagnation of Wundt’s psychological research program” (Green, 2009). While...