Functionalism Vs Behaviorism: What’s the Difference?

For centuries, philosophers and psychologists have been debating the difference between functionalism and behaviorism. In this article, we’ll try to breakdown these two philosophies so that you can understand what each one is about.

Definition of Functionalism

Functionalism is the belief that psychological phenomena can be explained in terms of the functions that mental states perform. Behaviorism, on the other hand, is the belief that psychological phenomena can be explained in terms of the behaviors that organisms produce.

The main difference between functionalism and behaviorism is that behaviorism focuses on the observable behaviors that organisms produce, while functionalism focuses on the unobservable mental states that organisms possess. Behaviorists believe that all psychological phenomena can be reduced to observable behaviors, while functionalists believe that some psychological phenomena cannot be reduced to observable behaviors.

One example of a psychological phenomenon that is difficult to reduce to observable behaviors is consciousness. Many philosophers believe that consciousness cannot be reduced to any observable behavior, and instead must be considered an emergent property of the brain.

Definition of Behaviorism

Behaviorism is the philosophical and scientific theory that behavior is the result of the interactions between stimuli and responses. This theory is popular because it focuses on observable behaviors and can be used to explain many natural phenomena. Behaviorism is a reductionist philosophy, which means that it believes that all phenomena can be explained by the individual components that make them up.

The Role of Functions in Behavior

Functionalism is a school of thought in psychology that emphasizes the role of functions in behavior. Behaviorists, on the other hand, believe that all behaviors are caused by stimuli and responses. The key difference between these two schools of thought is that functionalists view behavior as a result of the interaction between stimuli and functions, while behaviorists view behavior as solely a result of the stimulus.

One example of how the function-behavior relationship affects behavior can be seen in the Pavlovian Conditioning Theory. This theory states that when an animal is presented with an unconditioned stimulus (US), such as a bell, it will eventually start to associate that sound with food. When the bell is later sounded without any food present, the animal will still react to it because it has been conditioned to do so. This is an example of how a function plays a role in behavior.

The Role of Behaviors in Functioning

Functionalism is the view that behaviors are the result of the functional properties of the individual and their environment. Behaviorism is the belief that behaviors are determined by the consequences of stimuli.

So what’s the difference? In a nutshell, behaviorism is more focused on stimulus-response relationships, while functionalism takes into account both the stimulus and the response. Behaviorism is also more focused on learning and adaptation, whereas functionalism emphasizes innate tendencies.

The Relationship between Function and Behavior

Functionalism and Behaviorism are two different schools of thought that are often used to explain the relationship between behavior and function. The key difference between these two theories is that functionalism posits that behavior is based on its purpose or goals, while behaviorism holds that behavior is simply a result of the consequences of its past actions.

Both philosophies have their benefits and drawbacks, but overall, they are both considered to be major strands in the field of psychology.

The Relationship between Behavior and Functioning

Functionalism and behaviorism are two of the most commonly used philosophies in psychology. Behaviorism holds that all behavior is controlled by stimuli and rewards, while functionalism maintains that behaviors are the result of their purpose or function. In this article, we’ll explore the difference between these philosophies and see how they affect psychology.

Behaviorism is based on the idea that all behavior is controlled by external stimuli and rewards. This means that all behavior is reducible to a set of physical responses. Behaviorism is often seen as the precursor to modern day neuroscience, as it laid the groundwork for understanding how brain cells work together to produce behaviors.

Functionalism, on the other hand, holds that behaviors are the result of their purpose or function. This means that behaviors can’t be explained purely in terms of stimulus and reward, as functions may be independent of those factors. Instead, functions rely on internal processes and factors such as context. This approach has led to a greater focus on psychological processes rather than physiological ones.

Ultimately, functionalism and behaviorism have different goals. Behaviorism aims to reduce behavior to its most basic forms while functionalism strives to understand behaviors in their entirety. As

The Differences Between Functionalism and Behaviorism

Functionalism is the philosophy that all aspects of an organism, including its behavior, are determined by the specific functions that it performs. Behaviorism is the theory that all behavior is determined by the results of stimulus and response. There are a few key differences between these two philosophies.

First, functionalism holds that behavior is not entirely determined by stimuli and responses, but is also related to the organism’s environment. This means that an organism can change its behavior in response to different situations. On the other hand, behaviorism believes that all behavior is completely determined by stimuli and responses. Second, functionalism focuses on the individual organism while behaviorism focuses on groups of organisms. Third, functionalism is more deterministic while behaviorism is more probabilistic. Finally, functionalism stresses adaptation and evolution while behaviorism stress learning and conditioning


Functionalism and behaviorism are two schools of thought that share many similar tenets, but there are a few key differences between the two that should be noted. First, behaviorism is more focused on observable behaviors and how those behaviors are related to environmental stimuli; whereas functionalism takes a broader view and looks at behaviors as part of a larger system. Second, behaviorism is less likely to focus on the inner psychological processes that may contribute to an individual’s actions (although it does consider these factors), while functionalism often stresses the importance of internal mental states in understanding why people behave the way they do. Finally, behaviorists tend to be less interested in explaining human nature than functionalists are, which might make them better suited for applied fields such as psychology or social work where specific interventions need to be developed.