Functionalistic Theory of Edward Lee Thorndike – Psychology

As far as the correlation of living organism is concerned, the body of human beings contains many organs which are pooled and linked together to conceive something great. Society is composed of many structural parts with different needs and functions, due to these concepts, organizations and institutions are created to solve a variety of problems that exist in the entire community (Hergenhahn & Olson, 2008).

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Some of the problems or function include: achieving the predetermined goals, adapting to the varying environment, integrating people and developing social mechanisms that maintain social control (latency).

Institutions endeavor to function interdependently, this can only be observed by the relationships organizations/ institutions have with other entities. Society has an autonomous existence in relation to individuals, i.e. it exists in a manner in which people relate socially but not within individual capacity. The pressure to learn, work, bear and raise children are some of the structural constraints and pressure exerted on individuals which makes them do what they may not have wanted to (Viney, 1993).

Choices made as a reaction to structural constraints should not be considered as personal choices which are always determined during the socialization process. Consensus concerning values upheld in a society must be attained to preserve social order.

The common will (collective conscience) that people have in society acts as a social force that bonds individuals, thus enhancing social solidarity. The social world can be studied objectively in scientific terms if behaviors of individuals are considered as a result of social stimulation. This is concerning the procedural concept of functionalism.

Thorndike scrutinized the emotional behavior of animals in his laboratory using scientific arithmetical methods which elaborated how education should be incorporated in the world of industrial management. He further advocated for change in administrations by replacing customary methods of judgment with modern scientific methods of administering.

This is by employing well-informed administration experts. He developed a performance scale and designed a test which he used to test the causes of individual intelligence on their behavior based on hereditary and environmental factors. In his contribution to existing education, he advocated for the use of explorative methods as a tool for better learning (Hergenhahn, 2005).

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Skinner’s behavioral input on functionalism was essentially based on individual’s unwritten behavior. He not only invented but also advanced a reliant variable concerning psychology; thus the rate of response. He also designed an instrument by the cumulative name recorder, which he used to quantify the responding rate on individuals. Critiques on his work by recent experts have led to the surfacing of various ideas and knowledge which contributes to education and psychology.

Upon utilization of a quantitative approach, hull carried out experiments on his study about hypnosis. He developed an assortment of tests which he used to examine common aptitude. His invented machine could test the intelligent behavior of an individual which was not different from formulating a presumption of the same behavior.

Hull’s quantitative approach gave rise to various contentious topics which are subject to today’s discussion. Recent revisions on his great work by the present experts have led to the development of useful ideologies about understanding human behavior (Hergenhahn, 2005).


Hergenhahn, B. (2005). An introduction to the history of psychology. Ohio: Cengage Learning.

Hergenhahn, B. & Olson. M. (2008). An Introduction to Theories of Learning (8 Ed.).New Jersey: Pearson Prentice Hall.

Viney, A. (1993). A history of psychology: ideas and context. Boston: Allyn and Bacon.

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