English language articles


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.

English language articles

Titchener and psychology in the US

The psychology of the nineteenth century, especially as produced in Germany at the end of the century (global center of academic and institutional production of this knowledge in this period) is completely different from the current framework of psychology.

It is a psychology that: devoted to the pure research; It takes as its object of study the conscious common experience; devoted to this object by suspected illusion of common experience, inherited from the physical problem and the philosophy of the seventeenth century, without seeking at the time any form of adjustment of individuals. uses this examination of subjective experience a particular form of controlled introspection in which the subjects have to be mentally healthy and trained to make the most accurate description of the basic elements of this common experience, sensations; because of the requirements of the method does not use common subject (much less children, pets and crazy) – studying other psychologists trained in the profession of faith of physiology to reach the intricacies of pure experience, more naive. (Ferreira and Gutman, 2005). The Titchener project After Wundt are numerous authors who have tried to put psychology in the field of natural sciences only.Titchener was primarily responsible for the dissemination of Wundt’s work in the United States. It redefines the psychology of the object as the experience dependent on a subject (conceived as pure body). This means, as noted by Figueiredo and Santi (2004), which go beyond the subject’s experience means the search for physiological reasons for the phenomena of mental life Titchener does not deny the existence of mind, but it loses its autonomy: always depends on and is fully explained in terms of the nervous system. The psychologist describes the experience in psychological terms, but explained in terms borrowed from natural science.One of the mistakes made most often in the history of psychology texts is the statement that Wundt would be next to Titchener, one of the main representatives of structuralism.Titchener founded structuralism, and although it was collaborator Wundt in Leipzig, he built his own conception of psychology, that in many respects distanced himself from the wundtiano thought. The fundamental difference lies in the very concept of object and method of psychology. For Titchener, psychology is fundamentally the study of consciousness through introspection. And all that can not be related to the structural elements of consciousness should not be considered subject of psychology. (Araújo, 2005)Figueiredo and Santi (2004) emphasize that an important lesson to be drawn from the relationship between Titchener and Wundt is that Wundt, to seek to be faithful conception of psychology as a science intermediate, put on a great methodological mess. Titchener, by contrast, has the “trouble” much less methodological when placed totally subordinated to the field of natural sciences psychology. But that the cost of a reduction of scope and of interest to its proposals.Titchener was a supporter of elementarism and associationism. The ultimate goals of his elementaristic psychology were the analysis and decomposition of psychic conscious processes in their most basic elements (core structures) and the discovery of its underlying associative mechanisms. Already in Wundt, the analysis was only a means to achieve the main goal of psychology, it was the discovery of the universal laws of psychic life in all its manifestations. Wundt believed that associationist psychology was unable to explain the affective dimension (feelings) and volitional (will) of mental life. Marks on the face of the nineteenth century to the twentieth century, in a continuity to the Darwinian theory, a psychology interested in adaptation, evolution and change in mental activities. Yet throughout history, as shown by Ferreira and Gutman (2005), this model spreads transcends its original moves and dissolves in the psychological field, giving a significant part of this field its current feature as knowledge geared to the adjustment practices .Especially in the mid-nineteenth century, we are seeing in the United States at an accelerating process of urbanization that expands the east coast towards the west (through industrial progress and a number of institutional changes such as the expansion of the school system) . This process has staked out a number of new settings, tests and controls on the individual. It is in this context that psychology starts to take an active role, sorting, selecting and setting individuals to these new spaces – schools and factories. The social division of labor, which was consolidated in the nineteenth century, originated in the factories is explained by the need to monitor, prioritize and discipline employees, delegating these increasingly distanced functions of the media and the production process as a whole. (Zanella, 1999) It is in advance of modernity that the American university system expands. In certain areas such as philosophy and human sciences, led to the adoption of new models and paradigms, such as Darwinian and Spencerian evolucionismos; leading the movement of new concepts such as adaptation, function and balance in the establishment of new areas and the problems of old approach, such as the human knowledge. (Ferreira and Gutman, 2005). This university expansion led to the creation of major new universities such as Chicago and Columbia, the functionalist movement headquarters. According to Ferreira and Gutman (2005), is in these centers and other more traditional universities, such as Harvard, these new concepts will be vigorously used not only aimed at studying natural processes such as evolution and adaptation of organisms, but especially promoting them the fine adjustments and controls of the modern world expanding. In this process, some psychologists began to stand out in isolated centers and different relations with the German headquarters. A first group clearly represented by the English Edward Titchener (1867 – 1927) at Cornell University, docked in the United States (in his case in 1892), to bring the good news of German psychology. However, “Titchener is an almost lone voice in the context of American psychology, preaching in the new world of the desert.” (Ferreira and Gutman, 2005, p. 123)
A second group of genuinely American psychologists like Granville Stanley Hall, James McKeen Cattell and James Mark Baldwin visited Leipzig, but produced a very different psychology of German psychology.Baldwin, for example, was one of the authors more than most adopted the Darwinist thought, returning it to issues such as child development.
Cattell, even though it was the first Wundt’s assistant in 1883, to return to Columbia dedicated to the work of improvement of mental measures for classification of individuals (crucial for the constitution of psychological tests). Stanlley Hall, despite being under the guidance of William James, the first doctor in psychology in the United States (in 1878), and the first student of Wundt (1879), returning to the University of Clark promotes the implementation of a series of new areas and a new set of institutions. is dedicated to areas such as psychology of childhood, adolescence and old age, educational psychology, sex and religion. Funda magazines (such as the American Journal of Psychology) and associations (such as the American Psychological Association – the most important of the United States), as well as being responsible for the call in 1909 for the visit of Sandor Ferenczi, Jung and Sigmund Freud to USA, to expose in general psychoanalytic theory. A third group of psychologists, composed by William James (Harvard) and John Dewey (the Universities of Michigan, Minnesota and Chicago), departs completely from the Germanic mother and deploys psychology in the United States with its own identity. The textbook James 1890 (The Principles of the Psychology) was instrumental in the establishment of a first draft of the functionalist movement.