Wednesday, 8 October 2008

Introduction to basic 'Structuralism' in Pscyhology

Question: What is structuralism?

Answer: Structuralism is general approach in various academic disciplines that seeks to explore the inter-relationships between some fundamental elements, upon which higher mental, linguistic, social, cultural etc "structures" are built, through which then meaning is produced within a particular person, system, culture.

Structuralism appeared in academic psychology for the first time in 19th century and then reappeared in the second half of the 20th century, when it grew to become one of the most popular approaches in the academic fields that are concerned with analyzing language, culture, and society. Ferdinand de Saussure is generally considered a starting point of the 20th century structuralism. As with any cultural movement, the influences and developments are complex.

Structuralism in psychology (19th century)At the turn of 19th century the founding father of experimental psychology Wilhelm Wundt tried to experimentally confirm his hypothesis that conscious mental life can be broken down into fundamental elements which then form more complex mental structures. Wundt's structuralism was quickly abandoned because it could not be tested in the same way as behavior, until now, when the brain-scanning technology can identify, for example, specialized brain cells that respond exclusively to basic lines and shapes and are then combined in subsequent brain areas where more complex visual structures are formed. This line of research in modern psychology is called cognitive psychology rather then structuralism because Wundt's term never ceased to be associated with the problem of observability.

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