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History & Systems of Psychology
Chapter 11 - Functionalism
Functionalism – Uniquely American
Late 1880’s American psychology separated completely from religion & philosophy to become an empirical science, but with uniquely American flavor
Emphasis on individual differences, adaptation to environment, practicality
Functionalism – estab. 1890’s and dominant force to the present
Opposed to structuralism’s emphasis on the elements of consciousness
Focus on functions of the mind, not its contents
Functions: What the mind does
The fundamental idea of functionalism is that the mind is defined by what it does.

Tenets of Functionalism
Practical; emphasis on applied psychology
Methodological pluralism
Both mental processes and behavior as legitimate subjects of study
Interested more in individual differences than similarities
Radical empiricism – study all experience
Psychology According to Functionalism
“The goal of psychology is to achieve a complete perspective of a human being.

This is not possible.”
(William James)
William James (1842-1910)
Did not develop formal school of thought, but had ideas about many subjects and valued ideas more than “answers”
Interested in every aspect of experience
Keen observer of human behavior
Principles of Psychology revolutionized psychology; Varieties of Religious Experience first book on the psychology of religion
Pragmatic philosopher & psychologist; “cash value” of an idea crucial
James, cont.
Stream of consciousness – ideas about consciousness very different from elementism; emphasized continuous, holistic, personal nature of consciousness
Habits – learned behaviors as foundation of society
The self – 3 components: material self (body, family, material goods), social self (self known by others, we have many social selves), spiritual self (subjective reality)
The self as knower: the part of the self that looks at and evaluates “me”; the soul or spirit