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Was instrumental in the founding of functionalist psychology. Emphasized the function of both consciousness and behavior. For him the only valid criterion for evaluating a theory, thought, or act is whether it works. In keeping with his pragmatism, he claimed that psychology needs to employable scientific and non-scientific procedures. Similarly, on the individual level, sometimes one must believe in free will and at other times in determinism

William James


Under the influence of Darwin, this school stressed the role of consciousness and behavior in adapting to the environment



The belief that usefulness is the best criterion for determining the validity of an idea



Describe James's crisis

Became deeply depressed because the implications of the German materialistic physiology and psychology that had so impressed him, if it was correct, applied to him as well. This meant that anything that happened to him was predetermined and thus beyond his control. His acceptance of Darwins theory of evolution exacerbated the problem-in Darwins view, there is variation, natural selection, and survival of the fittest; there is no freedom, hope, or choice

Turning point came when he read an essay on free will which changed his beliefs and cured his depression and he became highly productive. It was the beginnings of his pragmatism-the belief that if an idea works, it is valid and the ultimate criterion for judging an idea should be the ideas usefulness or cash-value.


Describe James's View of Wundt's approach to psychology

He opposed his approach to psychology, and almost everything in his book principles can be seen as a criticism of what James perceived his approach of psychology to be, which James thought was a search for the elements of consciousness. He was responding to Wundt The experimentalist, but if he had probed deeper into his voluntarism, he would have seen a remarkable similarity between himself and Wundt.


Term for the way James thought the mind worked. James described the mind as consisting of an ever-changing stream of interrelated, purposive thoughts rather than static elements that could be isolated from one another, as the structuralists had suggested

Stream of consciousness

This concept opposed to those who are busy searching for the elements of thought. James believed that consciousness is personal and reflects the experiences of an individual, and therefore it is foolhardy to search for elements common to all minds. Also, consciousness is continuous and cannot be divided up for analysis. As well, consciousness is constantly changing. Consciousness is selective. Consciousness is functional.

That consciousness is functional is the most important thing about it-it's purpose is to aid the individual in adapting to the environment

Consciousness is personal, continuous, constantly changing, selective, and purposive


Those learning patterns of behavior that James and others believed were vital for the functioning of society


He did not believe that instinctive behavior is blind and invariable but can be modified by experience. He believed that new instinct like patterns of behavior develop within the lifetime of the organism, and he calls these learned patterns of behavior habits. Habits are formed as an activity is repeated, causing the same neural pathways to, from, and within the brain to become more entrenched, making it easier for energy to pass through those pathways. A neurophysiological account of habit formation. Habits make society possible


What are the five maxims to follow in order to develop good habits and eliminate bad ones according to James?

1. Place yourself in circumstances that encourage good habits and discourage bad ones

2. Do not allow yourself to act contrary to a new habit that you are attempting to develop

3. Do not attempt to slowly develop a good habit or eliminate a bad one. Engage in positive habits completely to begin with and abstain completely from bad ones

4. It is not the intention to engage in good habits and avoid bad ones that is important; it is the actual doing so

5. Force yourself to act in ways that are beneficial to you, even if doing so at first is distasteful and requires considerable effort

Fundamental principle: act in ways that are compatible with the type of person you would like to become


According to James, the self that consists of everything a person can call his or her own. Consists of the material self or all of one's material possessions, the social self or oneself as known by others, and the spiritual self or all of which a person is conscious

Empirical self


According to James, the pure ego that accounts for a persons awareness of his or her empirical self

Self as knower


According to James, how a person feels about himself or herself based on the ratio of successes to attempts. One can increase self-esteem either by accomplishing more or attempting less



The theory that people first respond and then have an emotional experience. For example, we run first, and then we are frightened. An implication of the theory is that we should act according to the way we want to feel

James-Lange theory of emotion


According to James, ideas cause behavior, and thus we can control our behavior by controlling our ideas

Idea-motor theory of behavior


Describe James's position with respect to free will and voluntary behavior

He did not solve the free will-determinism controversy but arrived at a position which he was comfortable. He noted that without the assumption of determinism, science would be impossible, and insofar as psychology was to be a science, it to must assume determinism. Science, however, is not everything, and for certain approaches to the study of humans, the assumption of free will might be very fruitful

According to his ideo-motor theory of behavior, an idea of a certain action causes that action to occur. He believed that in the vast majority of cases, ideas of actions float immediately and automatically or habitually or reflexively, into behavior. This automatic process continues unless mental effort is expended to purposely select and hold an idea of interest in consciousness. Voluntary action and mental effort were inseparable. The ideas of various behavioral possibilities are retained from previous experience, and their recollection is a prerequisite to voluntary behavior


Describe James's pragmatic philosophy

Believed that any belief, thought, or behavior must be judged by its consequences. Any belief that helps create a more effective and satisfying life is worth holding, whether such a believe is scientific or religious.

According to the pragmatic view point, truth is not something out there in a static for waiting to be discovered, as many of the rationalists maintained. Instead, truth is something that must be gauged by fact of this under changing circumstances. What works is true, and because circumstances change, truth must be forever dynamic


Summarize James's contributions to psychology

Helped incorporate evolutionary theory into psychology. By stressing what is useful, he represented a major departure from the pure psychology of both voluntarism and structuralism. The pragmatism in his psychology quite naturally lead to the development of applied psychology.

Expanded research techniques in psychology by not only accepting introspection but also encouraging any technique that promised to you useful information about people. Also expanded the subject matter by studying all aspects of human existence


A key person in the development of functionalism. Some mark the formal beginning of the school of functionalism with the 1896 publication of his article "the reflex arc concept in psychology"

John Dewey


Describe John Dewey's position with respect to the role of reflexes

Reflexes: argued that dividing the elements of a reflex into sensory processes, brain processes, and motor responses for analysis was artificial and misleading. Also, dividing behavior into elements was no more justifiable then dividing consciousness into elements.
Claimed that there is a stream of behavior just as there is a stream of consciousness's. The three elements of a reflex must be viewed as a coordinated system directed toward a goal, and this goal is usually related to the survival of the organism.
Example-child touching a Candleflame:
The analysis of such behavior in terms of reflexes claims that the child sees the flame of a candle (S) and grasps it (R). The resulting pain (S) then elicits with withdrawal (R).
According to this analysis, nothing changes, nothing is learned. In reality, the experience of being burned changes the child's perception of the flame, and they will avoid it next time but this could only happen if the child was still observing the flame while being burned and withdrew. The so-called stimuli and responses are not separate form and interrelated sequence of functional events
Urged that all behavior be viewed in terms of its function-to adapt the organism to its environment


Describe John Dewey's position with respect to his concept of progressive education, and his pragmatist philosophy

Progressive education: believed that education should be student-oriented rather than subject-oriented and that the best way to learn something was to do it-thus his famous statement that students learn by doing.
Very much opposed to rote memorization, drills, and the view that the purpose of education is to transmit traditional knowledge. Education should be presented in such a way that stimulates personal interest in learning and the development of problem-solving skills-believe that education should facilitate creative intelligence and prepare children to live effectively in a complex society

Pragmatist philosophy: philosophical concepts were meaningful only insofar as they had practical value.


According to Angelle, what were the basic features of functionalism?

1. Functional psychology is interested in mental operations rather than in conscious elements, but even mental operations in isolation are of little interest

2. Mental processes mediate between the needs of the organism and the environment. That is, mental functions help the organism survive.

3. Mind and body cannot be separated; they act as a unit in an organisms struggle for survival


Carr's term for a unit of behavior with three characteristics: a need, an environmental setting, and a response that satisfies the need

Adaptive act

1. A motive that acts as a stimulus for behavior such as hunger or thirst

2. And environmental setting or the situation the organism is in

3. A response that satisfies the motive such as eating or drinking

Needs must be met for organisms to survive. Needs motivate behavior until an act satisfies the need, at which point learning occurs; and the next time the organism is in the same situation and experiences the same need, the organism will tend to repeat the behavior that was effective previously


Marks the transition between the schools of functionalism and behaviorism. Concluded from his objective animal research that learning occurs gradually, occurs independently of consciousness, and is the same for all mammals. His final theory of learning was that practice alone has no effect on an association or neural bond, and that positive consequences strengthen an association but negative consequences do not weaken it

Edward Lee Thorndike


Describe the state of animal research prior to Thorndike including Morgan cannon and Washburns work

Romanes was a friend of Darwin who took his work a step further and attempted to Tracy evolution of the animal mind. All his evidence was anecdotal, and he was often guilty of anthropomorphizing, or attributing human thought processes to nonhuman animals.

Conway morgan: sought to correct Romanes's excesses by applying the principle that has come to be known as Morgan's canon: the insistence that explanations of animal behavior be kept as simple as possible. One should never attribute higher mental activities to an animal if lower mental activities are adequate to explain its behaviour

Margaret Washburn: published more than 70 articles mainly on animal psychology. In her book the animal mind, she was primarily interested in inferring consciousness in animals at all phylogenetic levels. To index consciousness in animals, she summarized hundreds of experiments in such areas as sensory discrimination, space perception, and learning ability. Although her primary concern was with animal consciousness, her use of control behavior to index mental events with similar to the approach taken by many contemporary cognitive psychologists


The experimental chamber Thorndike used for systematically studying animal behavior

Puzzle box


Describe Thorndike's puzzle box

His work with the puzzle box involved cats. The box was arranged so that if the animal performed a certain response, the door opened, and the animal was allowed to escape; in addition, the animal received a reward such as a piece of fish

From his puzzle box experiments he reached the following conclusions:
- Learning is incremental. That is, it occurs a little bit at a time rather than all at once. With each successful escape, subsequent escapes were made more quickly
- Learning occurs automatically. That is, it is not mediated by thinking
- The same principles of learning apply to all mammals. That is, humans learn in the same manner as all other mammals

With these observations, Thorndike was very close to being a behaviorist


The term often used to describe Thorndike's theory of learning because of its concern with the neural bonds or connections that associate sense impressions and impulses to action



Thorndike's contention that the strength of an association varied with the frequency of the associations use. He discarded this law in 1929

Law of exercise


Thorndike's contention that the more often an association is made, the stronger it becomes. Discarded this law in 1929

Law of use


Thorndike's contention that infrequently used associations becomes wesk. He discarded this law in 1929

Law of disuse


Thorndike's contention that reward strengthens associations, whereas punishment weakens them. Later, Thorndike revised the law to state that reward strengthens associations, but punishment has no effect on them

Law of effect


Describe the way Thorndike's laws of exercise and effect were later renounced and modified

Researched had forced him to abandon his law of exercise completely, for he found that practice alone did not strengthen an association and that the passage of time alone did nothing to weaken it. He also discarded half of the law of effect, concluding that a satisfying state of affairs strengthens and association but that an annoying state of affairs does not we can one.

In modern terminology, he found that reinforcement is effective in modifying behavior, but punishment is not


Thorndike's contention that the extent to which learning transfers from one situation to another is determined by the similarity between the two situations

Identical elements theory of transfer

If two situations are exactly the same, information learned in one will transfer completely to the other. If there is no similarity between two situations, information learned and one will be of no value in the other.

Location for education: schools should teach skills that are similar to those that will be useful when students leave school


What happened to functionalism as a movement within psychology?

It did not die as a school as structuralism had but was absorbed. It was absorbed into the mainstream psychology


Specify the eight characteristics of functionalist psychology

1. Opposed what they considered the sterile search for the elements of consciousness in which the structuralists engaged

2. Wanted to understand the function of the mind rather than provide a static description of its contents. They believed that mental processes had a function-to aid an organism in adapting to the environment

3. Wanted psychology to be a practical science, not a pure science, and they sought to apply their findings to the improvement of personal life, education, industry, and so on.

4. Urged the broadening of psychology to include research on animals, children, and abnormal humans. They also urged a broadening of methodology to include anything that was useful, such as puzzle boxes, mazes, and mental tests

5. Their interest in the "why" of mental processes and behavior led directly to a concern with motivation. Because an organism will act differently in the same environment as its needs change, these needs must be understood before the organisms behavior can be understood

6. Accepted both mental processes and behavior as legitimate subject matter for psychology, and most of them viewed introspection as one of the many valid research tools

7. More interested in what made organisms different from one another then what made them the same

8. We're directly or indirectly influenced by William James, who had been strongly influenced by Darwins theory of evolution