In this video I describe two early approaches to psychology; the structuralism of Wilhelm Wundt and the functionalism of William James.
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Hi, I'm Michael Corayer and this is Psych Exam Review where I answer common questions and explain the key concepts in psychology.
In this video I'm going to talk about some early approaches to psychology. We're going to start with a guy named Wilhelm Wundt and Wundt lived from 1832 to 1920, here's a picture of him here and he's generally credited with starting the world's first experimental psychology lab at the University of Leipzig.
Now Wundt was a structuralist and structuralism was an approach to psychology that involved trying to break consciousness down, to try to break it into manageable parts that could be studied. And the idea was if you could understand all parts or the structure of consciousness then you would have a better understanding of consciousness itself. The way that structuralists did this, one technique that they used, was known as introspection.
Introspection involved participants coming into the lab and reporting their experience. So you might go into a structuralist lab and they'd show you some stimulus and they might ask what is it like to see this red circle, how do you describe this experience?
And the problem with this approach, as you might guess, is that it's too subjective so it might be interesting to hear what it's like for you to see this red circle but if I ask 100 people I'm probably going to end up with 100 different answers and this is gonna make it very difficult to analyze the data in any sort of meaningful way.
So structuralism kind of faded and another view around the same time supported by William James, an American psychologist you can see here who lived from 1842 to 1910. William James supported the idea that we have traits and abilities, but rather than try to understand the experience of these traits and abilities we should remember that they serve a purpose, and this approach was known as functionalism.
So rather than asking what is it like to see a red circle, a functionalist approach would say why do we see red? What purpose does color vision serve, how does it help in some way? And James thought that would help us to understand consciousness more than trying to break it down into pieces which he thought couldn't really be done.
And as you might guess James was heavily influenced by the ideas of Charles Darwin who had published On the Origin of Species in 1859 which gave his view of how natural selection occurred. So while there's not really any functionalist psychologists today, this general approach of looking for the purpose of traits and behaviors continues in the form of evolutionary psychology.
That's structuralism and functionalism, if you found this helpful please like the video and subscribe to the channel for more. Thanks for watching!