What is Functionalism in Psychology

The Functionalism in Psychology is an approach that concentrated on what the mind does; the functions of mental activity, and the role of behavior in allowing people to adapt to their environments. This school founded by the American psychologist William James, became prominent in the1900s.

The functionalist psychologists start with the fact that objects are perceived and “how” they are perceived. They asked “why” as well. This school became prominent in the1900s. It emerged as a reaction to Structuralism.

• Founded by William James, also known as the founder of American Psychology.

• Emphasized “function” rather than “Structure” of human consciousness i.e., what the mind does

• Focused upon the way humans adapt to their environment; what roles behavior played in allowing people to better adapt to their environment

• Examined the ways in which behavior allows people to satisfy their needs

• Functionalists were especially interested in education and applied psychology


Method of Investigation Longitudinal Research

Observation, interviews, and testing of a person over a long period of time: made possible to observe and record the subject’s development and his reaction to different circumstance.

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