Based on what I have learned in PSYC. 101, principals of psychology, the theory I have taken an interest in is functionalism and nature vs. nurture theory. These theories have given me ways to function better and to know the different between nature and nurture. Functionalism is the doctrine that makes something a thought, desire, pain (or any other type of mental state) depends not on its internal constitution, but solely on its function, or the role it plays, in the cognitive system of which it is apart.

More precisely, functionalism theories take the identity of a mental state to be determined by its casual relations to sensory stimulations, other mental states and behavior. The functionalist theory holds that inequality is a benefit to society as a whole because the promise of greater rewards, motivates people to take risks, pursue difficult goals, challenge existing ideas, innovate, and explore. (Ex. How many of you would trust a surgeon who made 30,000 a year to do brain surgery on you? ).

I would apply functionalism to my future career by realizing that regardless of what I have learned in school and on other jobs, I still hav eto adapt to a new environment when starting a new job. Like the saying goes “there are a million ways to skin a cat” I can’t start my future career believing that I know everything, because if I do so it will hold me back from learning anything new. Also, being able to adapt live at work ( the founder of functionalism) will make me a better employee and help me navigate through my career as I am promoted to higher roles in a company.

Functionalism is an early perspective in psychology which was studied by William James. The focus of the study is how the mind allow people to adapt, live, work and play. William James theory of functionalism was heavenly influenced by Charles Darwin ideas of natural selection in which physical traits that helped an animal adapt to its environment and survive were passed to its offspring, thus becoming part of the species traits. William James believed that if physical traits could be passed down, then behavioral traits could as well.

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Over many years scholars have debated over the nature vs. nurture theory. Some say that nature has a greater effect on a person and some say nurture is more important for development. This theory which has been around for ages still does not have definitive answer as which is greater, but what many scholars can conclude is that as a whole nature vs. nurture is an important influence on us. Nature refers to heredity. It is what determines our look, personalities, as well as other things because it is in our genetics and is passed down.

Scholars concluded that a newborn are birthed with a set of inherited traits instead of a blank state of personality that many believe. Nature is believed to be what determines our personalities, looks, and other things because it’s all genetically passed down. Any matter concerning traits relies upon the concept of inborn biology. Many American parents believe that any bad trait that their child has obtained is because of bad parenting, but it may be more a matter of biology, and genes that run through the family.

In a way our nature is iur genetic gift, which gives us physical traits such as hair color, eye color, and form of body. It does also determine the kinds of emotions and motivations we will experience, which can be endless. Nurture is the cause of our behavior as well as characteristics, even though genes are what give us that certain spunk to our personality, the environment has the power to alter it and make us into the exact opposite , as some say. Even the way that certain children are brought up can change how they turn out.

Different ethnicities have different expectations of how their child performs in school. We are perfect examples of tomatoes because we all aren’t in bad soil, but some of us have higher expectations and environments, so we turn out differently than others. Asian families have higher expectations of their children when it comes to school work. They are automatically expected to do well and excel academically at everything. This is higher rate of expectations, and their environment with their parents, ultimately may lead to higher success for them in the near future.

As our nature is a type of genetic endowment, nurture is the experience we have during our lifetime. Nature and Nurture are both important influences to a person as they are developing their own traits. Our genes are important because what we have inherited is essentially the basis of what kind of person we are, but the environment can alter and develop a person even more. Functionalism By: Christopher Southerns Instructor: Mrs. Penny Janson Class: PSYC 101 References Standford Encyclopedia of Philosophy 915 (1912) The Elementary Forms of Religious Life. J. W. Swain, trans. London: Allen & Unwin. 1933 (1893) Division of Labor in Society. G. Simpson, trans. New York: Macmillan. 1951 (1897) Suicide. J. Spaulding and G. Simpson, trans. New York: Free Press. 1935 “On the Concept of Function in Social Science. ” American Anthropologist, 37: 394-402. 1952 (1940) “On Social Structure. ” Structure and Function in Primitive Society, New York: The Free Press. 1952 Structure and Function in Primitive Society, New York: The Free Press.


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