Functionalism

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http://anthropology.ua.edu/cultures/cultures.php?culture=Functionalism http://www3.niu.edu/acad/psych/Millis/History/2004/functionalism.htm INTRODUCTION Functionalism was a major paradigm shift in the history of American psychology. As an outgrowth of Darwin’s evolutionary theory, the functionalist approach focused on the examination of the function and purpose of mind and behavior. Rather than the structures of the mind, functionalism was interested in mental processes and their relation to behavior. Through his work at Harvard as a professor teaching psychology courses and his writings related to the philosophy of pragmatism and functionalism, William James became known as spokesman of this burgeoning approach to psychology. His influence was exponentially increased through the inspiration he gave to his students. G. Stanley Hall, Mary Calkins, and Edward Thorndike are among those who spread functionalist psychology to other universities.
DARWIN AND FUNCTIONALISM Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection was tremendously influential on the establishment of functionalism. After his famous voyage on The HMS Beagle, Darwin labored many years to produce the book responsible for a dramatic paradigm shift: The Origin of Species. Darwin’s argued that the environment forces a natural selection upon its inhabitants and favors those inhabitants that have adaptive characteristics. The members within a species who have adaptive characteristics pass on this survival component to their offspring while those members without the adaptive characteristics begin to disappear. The theory of a mechanistic universe proposed by Descartes seemed to be crumbling under the weight of a chaotic and impersonal force of evolution. The function of mind and behavior was now looked upon as adaptive rather than innate. Individual differences rather than universal…...

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