Edward Titchener’s Constructivist Approach to PsychologyJune 26, 2021
According to Titchener, psychology is a pure science.
According to him, the aim of psychology should not be the task of healing sick minds and rehabilitating individuals, the only purpose should be to discover the structure of the mind. In the most basic sense, according to Titchener, the concepts of mind and consciousness also differ. Titchener defined consciousness as our experiences that exist at a certain time, while he defined the mind as our accumulated experiences throughout our lifetime. Titchener was influenced by Wundt’s “The Theory of Voluntarism” and his ideas of connotation and complete perception in forming his ideas about how consciousness works.
Titchener sought to decompose consciousness in the same way that chemists break down water into its components, such as oxygen and hydrogen. He thought that the structure of consciousness consists of sensations and thoughts, just as chemicals are composed of structures such as oxygen and hydrogen. According to Titchener, every sensation; It has four distinctive features: intensity, quality, continuity and scope. Although each of these is equal to the quality of the stimulus, some stimuli ignite the relevant sensation dimension less. A further distinction is made, for example, by dividing the sensation of hearing, which is a special type of sensation, into “tone” and “noise”. Thought and perception; thought that the intellectual type was formed by the sensations on a page, such as a word, a speech, a sound, or an image.
Titchener believed that if the basic components of consciousness could be identified and classified, the structure of metacognition and cognitive processes could be revealed. Titchener brought Wundt’s basic ideas to the United States in the late 19th century. He expanded Wundt’s thoughts and named this psychology as structuralism because it focused on the elements that shape the structure of consciousness and intensified his studies on the structure of consciousness. According to Titchener, three important questions should be discussed in defining structuralism:
– What are the differences between the experience independent of the person experiencing the experience and the experiences dependent on the person experiencing it?
– How does introspection relate to methods used by other sciences?
– To answer the purpose and basic questions of structuralism, what are the similarities between the science of psychology and the natural sciences?
Titchener’s structuralism has three aims:
– Define consciousness by breaking it down into its simple components,
– Identifying combinations of the basic elements of consciousness,
– To explain the combinations of the components of the nervous system and the connections of these components with each other.
Titchener as a structural psychologist; He was firmly committed to the natural sciences, uncompromising his methodological system in his psychological studies and the study of psychological processes. Although Titchener’s attitude is an indication that he perceives psychology as a science, he thought that in cases where these were not followed, the studies could not be called scientific psychology.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook