Difference b/w Structuralism and Functionalism School

In the History of Psychology course it is common for the different schools and their theories to be mentioned, but among all of them there are some that stand out more than others for their contributions to the development of Psychology as a scientific discipline. In this same order we have two schools of great relevance, but which are often confused or misinterpreted due to the abstract concepts associated with them: the Functionalist School and the Structuralist School. Difference b/w Structuralism and Functionalism School 

If you have doubts about it or want to know a little more about the difference between the Functionalist School and the Structuralist School, keep reading, because we will explain it to you below.

STRUCTURALIST SCHOOL  Difference b/w Structuralism and Functionalism School 

Structuralism implemented a systematic approach and aligned more with philosophy than with science. The structuralists assumed that the goal of psychology was to understand the structure of the mind and for that reason they mainly used introspection as a tool to study subjects.

For example, a structuralist might think that knowledge is an instinct of human beings and that is why everyone could acquire knowledge through the development of their own consciousness.

Structuralism consisted largely of the generalization of concepts and theories from the study of the elements related to a phenomenon. For example, Titchener, the father of this school; He tried to generalize the concept of consciousness into a kind of periodic table for mental elements.

The structuralists paid little attention to the cause of the mental processes of individuals, they were more interested in understanding the general structure and in drawing a kind of schematic of these processes and the elements that were involved in them.


On the other hand, the Functionalist School was characterized by being more practical and scientific. It found support in the Evolutionary Theory and had as one of its main purposes to understand how the mind and human behavior work when a new element or subject appears in the same environment.

The functionalists had at their disposal a wide range of research tools, including the study of animal behavior, the study of mental disorders, and introspection as well.

 Thus, for example, the subject of human intelligence could be studied in the following way by a functionalist: using an animal as a subject to carry out experiments on metal processes.

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