chapter  12
34 Pages

Functionalism

ByWilliam Douglas Woody, Wayne Viney

This chapter explores the loosely knit school of thought known as functionalism. Functionalism's most important original scholar was the American psychologist and philosopher William James. The functionalists encouraged both basic and applied science and adopted a variety of methods. The functionalist spirit in psychology is better illustrated than in the work of Granville Stanley Hall who, according to Averill, explored "every human area and relationship: genetics, childhood, adolescence, family, education, aberration, and religious phenomena". A functionalist psychology is inherently social and biological and emphasizes experience and behavior in the service of adaptation. The consolidation and extension of the functionalist position took place under the leadership of Angell's student, Harvey A. Carr. The Chicago functionalists devoted little space to the metaphysical problems that occupied other psychologists. Functionalism grew out of a pluralistic, pragmatic, and radically empirical context and thus, as a philosophical psychology, was more inclined to open doors than to shut them.