School of Thoughts in Psychology

1604 Words Aug 28th, 2009 7 Pages
Major Schools of Thought in Psychology
When psychology was first established as a science separate from biology and philosophy, the debate over how to describe and explain the human mind and behavior began. The first school of thought, structuralism, was advocated by the founder of the first psychology lab, Wilhelm Wundt. Almost immediately, other theories began to emerge and vie for dominance in psychology.
The following are some of the major schools of thought that have influenced our knowledge and understanding of psychology:
Structuralism was the first school of psychology, and focused on breaking down mental processes into the most basic components. Major structuralist thinkers include Wilhelm Wundt and Edward Titchener.
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Researchers tried to understand the basic elements of consciousness using a method known as introspection. Wilhelm Wundt, founder of the first psychology lab, was an advocate of this position and is often considered the founder of structuralism, despite the fact that it was his student, Edward Titchener who first coined the term to describe this school of thought.

While Wundt's work helped to establish psychology as a separate science and contributed methods to experimental psychology, the structuralist school of thought did not last long beyond Titchener's death.

Major Structuralist Thinkers • Wilhelm Wundt • Edward Titchner
Criticisms of Structuralism • By today’s scientific standards, the experimental methods used to study the structures of the mind were too subjective—the use of introspection led to a lack of reliability in results. • Other critics argue that structuralism was too concerned with internal behavior, which is not directly observable and cannot be accurately measured.
Strengths of Structuralism • Structuralism is important because it is the first major school of thought in psychology. • Structuralism also influenced experimental psychology.


Functionalism formed as a reaction to the structuralism and was heavily influenced by the work of William James and the evolutionary theory of Charles Darwin. Functionalists sought to explain the mental
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