Pros and Cons of Structuralism and Functionalism

Structuralism and functionalism are the two earliest schools of thought in psychology. This article will discuss the pros and Cons of structuralism and functionalism.

Structuralism was based on the notion that the task of psychology is to analyze consciousness into its basic elements and investigate how these elements are related. To examine consciousness’s contents, the structuralist depended on introspection. On the other hand, functionalism, which later emerged under the leadership of William James in 1842, took a different and counter-view. personFunctionalism was based on the belief that psychology should investigate the function and purpose of consciousness rather than its structure.

They (functionalists) argued that consciousness consists of a continuous flow of thoughts, and instead of looking at the static point in that flow, they wanted to understand the flow itself.

Pros and Cons of Structuralism

Pros of structuralism

Let’s start by first looking at some advantages of structuralism;

Structuralism made it possible for you to observe your mental processes. Through introspection, which examines the basic units of consciousness, you can directly observe and be aware of your own experiences.

Structuralism gave birth to experimental psychology, thereby making psychology a science. This makes it possible to carry out experiments, test hypotheses, record findings, and compare results.

The concept of structuralism has helped counseling psychologists counsel individuals on how to pay attention to their own conscious experiences to know what is truly going on in their mental processes.

Cons of structuralism

Now let’s look at some disadvantages of structuralism 

Structuralism is static and not objective. The method of introspection, which is mainly used in structuralism, cannot give an objective or generalized report. This is because different individuals often provide different observational reports about the same feeling or stimulus. Therefore, the experience of an individual cannot be generalized.

Structuralism can not be used to study or observe the mental processes of children, animals, and the mentally disordered.

Also, structuralism does not consider an individual’s unconscious experiences since it focuses mainly on observing conscious experiences. This means that you cannot observe your unconscious mental processes.

Pros and Cons of Functionalism

Functionalism has some advantages as well as disadvantages. First, let’s look at the advantages.

The Pros of Functionalism

Functionalism broadened the scope of psychology by conducting research with children, animals, and even the mentally disabled. It also helped develop other branches of psychology, such as developmental and child psychology.

It also introduced a broader range of research methods and techniques. Unlike structuralism, which focused mainly on introspections as its research method, functionalism introduced other methods such as mental tests, physiological measures, and even questionnaires.

Functionalism played a huge role in developing behavioral and applied psychology. Behaviorism is a major school of thought still very much used in psychology today.

The Cons of Functionalism

Let’s now look at some disadvantages of functionalism.

Functionalism was not based on controlled experiments; its theories did not provide much predictive abilities.

Functionalism is not robust enough to become objective. This means that the perception of individual differences is not properly covered, so its findings cannot be firmly generalized.

There is a risk of making false conclusions due to insufficient data. However, psychology and evolutionary biology will allow more data to converge on theories and models, reducing the risk. Still, the risk of false conclusions is high and mostly damaging.

This article is written by:
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