Tuesday, June 22, 2010


William James was a psychologist who helped establish functionalism. In many psychology classes we learn about different psychologists such as Skinner, Watson, Freud, Maslow, but never had I heard about William James. As a man who is often regarded as the founder of American Psychology, I am shocked that he was not mentioned in any of my classes yet. Functionalism assumes that the mind evolved to help us adapt to the world around us. Functionalism also suggests that psychology should study these adaptive processes. I like this concept because in a changing world people have to adapt and cope with many different things. Life itself is a adaptive process. From birth to the elderly stages in life, people are always adapting. We adapt to new environments such as school, we adapt to new home environments when we move to new places, adapt to different foods, etc. I think especially now in this economic times families are adapting to different lifestyles which they may not have been accustomed to before. Rather than studying the structure of the mind functionalists studies the adaptive significance of the mind. They were also not opposed to studying animals. I think now would be a great time to study some of the adaptive processes of people to see how they are adapting to the world today.

<---William James (1842-1910) more information on functionalism can be found on page ten of our text.


  1. I haven't heard much about William James but his point of view on adaptation is very interesting. Adapting to new experiences is all part of the learning process because without it, we wouldn't be able to handle new situations. This would keep us from taking away new knowledge from those situations and experiences.

  2. I agree with Andrea. If we don't adapt, we don't really learn.