William James Theory Of Functionalism

Functionalism is the second paradigm of psychology. As the name suggests the main focus of functionalism is in the functions of mental processes that includes consciousness. This approach was not the work of one individual. However, William James plays a vital role in defining functionalism. The main aim of functionalists was to find out why humans feel, think and behave the way they do.

William James

He was a famous psychologist, known for his contribution in functionalism approach. He was the first American psychologist. “Principles of psychology” is one his greatest works which it is still considered very informative and fresh. It was the first general text book written on psychology. He was famous as spokesperson for the functionalism approach.

He was against structural approach of psychology; he argued that the conscious part can be divided into different parts. He coined the phrase “stream of consciousness”. According to James mental life is a unity that changes with time and flows.

In his book he presented enlightening ideas regarding memory, attention, habits, emotions, imaginations, learning and many other things. His advanced studies took him in more mysterious direction.

The Paradigm Of Functionalism

  • The Crux Of Psychology
  • Basically, psychology is an in-depth study of mental activities that include memory, perception, imagination, learning, feelings, emotions, judgement and many other functions that are carried out by brain. It is also assessed in terms of the process of adaptation to its environment.

  • Methods Used In Psychology
  • Mental activities can be studied through several kinds of methods some of them are introspection, objective manifestations of mind, use of instruments in order to measure and record behaviours and functions through in-depth study of its products and creations and also through study and observation of physiology and anatomy of the brain.

    The functionalists inclined to use the word 'function' rather lightly. The word “function” is used in two different ways at least. It can include the operation of mental process. The term 'function' can also mean the process that plays an important part in the evolution of species, the adaptive characteristics that result in selection through evolution.

    Functionalism never became obsolete; instead it became a part of conventional psychological approach. Now modern psychology focuses on process rather than the structure, focusing on process is a common characteristic of modern psychology. According to critics, factionalism lacked clear design and had similar problems to structural approach, as both relied on introspection.

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