The functionalist psychology arises in the United States as opposed to titcheneriana psychology. It is represented by authors such as J. Dewey (1859), J. Angel (1869-1949) and H. A. Carr (1873-1954).The functionalist principles have become schools in the late nineteenth century, and precisely in two of the newest American universities: Chicago and Columbia.
These brand to schools which can be called as functionalist orientation itself. Chicago School A with Dewey, Angell and Carr and Columbia with Thorndike and Woodworth.Angell puts in gets any possibility of a structured psychology mental elements. The structural aspect of the psyche must be sought not in its alleged elements, but the functions, actions or mental processes. Psychology should recognize in its structural analysis not the elements as sensations, feelings but acts as judge, understand, remember. For Angell psychology becomes more functional than biology, since not only the above functional and structural produces, but also both represent two faces of the same fact.The Columbia school takes adaptation in more behavioral direction and anchored on motivational aspects. Thorndike, in his experiments on animal intelligence, no longer assumes the solution of the problems as governed by a sorter awareness of answers, but a casual set of answers that are selected for their effects satisfaction. This is your classic Law of Effect. When replacing consciousness by chance, not only fits your model of Darwinism as paving the way for behaviorism. “Here the adjustment of the organism to the medium takes place through a set of random mechanisms, mechanical and possible control, providing, therefore, full power to psychologists as engineers conduct.” (Ferreira and Gutman, 2005, p. 136) .The functionalist psychologists define psychology as a biological science interested in studying the processes, operations and psychical acts (mental) as forms of adaptive interaction. Based on the assumption of evolutionary biology, according to which living things survive if they have organic and behavioral characteristics appropriate to adapt to the environment.Consider the operations and mental processes (such as the ability to feel, think, decide, etc.) the true object of psychology and the study of this object requires a variety of methods. Do not exclude the self-observation, though not approve the experimental insight into the titcheneriano style, because this would be too artificial. Not fully rely on self-observation, given its scientific difficulties: it is impossible to publicly confirm that a self-observation was well made and so it is difficult to reach an agreement based on such observations.Considering the last adaptation and awareness function, then the functions will not mental elements that are being investigated. Figueiredo and Santi (2004) point out that despite the functionalist movement as a movement apart and independent have dissolved, many of the fundamental ideas of this school are present in much of what is done today in the field of psychological research. “In fact, most of what is produced and is produced in the field of psychology, understood as natural science, can be interpreted as different versions of functional thinking.” (Figueiredo and Santi, 2004, p. 65).In functionalist approach to adaptation does not refer to a phylogenetic process, but first of all, ontogenetic, connected to the individual adaptation. The concept of adaptation fails to express a survival ratio in a medium, and comes to mean a “better experience this”, becoming thus a qualitative concept. This better experience, this balance does not only refer to a physical environment, but above all a social environment. Be adapted is first of all be adjusted to the demands of the social environment, whatever they may be.Ferreira and Gutman (2005) report that the need to conform to the social environment is justified by the extrapolation of a biological concept to a social meaning. It is relying on the value of this concept that psychologists in their practice must ensure the “social balance”. And the functional psychology is not concerned only the adaptation study. It would also turn into an instrument of adaptation, promoting it. And this is thanks to the pragmatic approach, in which the value of knowledge is underpinned in its practical consequences. And so the psychological knowledge should prove vital. But the utility sought does not refer to the individual but to society as a whole. The social environment is not only regulator, but also the purpose of adaptation. The psychological adjustment aims to adjust the society itself, through the management of individuals, especially maladaptive. “The psychologist enters this context as a social engineer utility, seeking to promote stylish utilitarianism, the greatest possible good. Thus becomes the individual utility in social equity. “(Ferreira and Gutman, 2004, p. 137)
Araujo, S. F. Wilhelm Wundt and the study of immediate experience. In: Jacob-Vilela, A. M .; Ferreira, A. L. L .; Portugal, F. T. (eds.) History of Psychology: directions and routes. Rio de Janeiro: NAU Publisher 2005.
Ferreira, Arthur Arruda Leal; Gutman, William. The Funcionalismoo in its Beginnings: the psychology serviçoda adaptation. In: Jacob-Vilela, A. M .; Ferreira, A. L. L .; Portugal, F. T. (eds.) History of Psychology: directions and routes. Rio de Janeiro: NAU Publisher 2005.
Figueiredo, Luis Claudio and Santi, Pedro Luis Ribeiro. Psychology: A (new) introduction. São Paulo: EDUC 2004.
Zanella, Andreia Vieira. Social Psychology and School. In: Strey, Marlene Neves … [et al.]. Contemporary social psychology: textbook. Petropolis: Voices, 1999.