The Columbia School

Another major camp of functionalism was at Columbia University and included such notable psychologists as James McKeen Cattell (1860-1944), Robert Sessions Woodworth (1869-1962), and Edward Lee Thorndike (18741949).

In line with the functionalist's embrace of applied psychology and the study of individual differences, Cattell laid the foundation for the psychological testing movement that would become massive in the 1920's and beyond. Under the influence of Galton, Cattell stressed the statistical analysis of large data sets and the measurement of mental abilities. He developed the order of merit methodology, in which participants rank-order a set of stimuli (for instance, the relative appeal of pictures or the relative eminence of a group of scientists) from which average ranks are calculated.

Woodworth is best known for his emphasis on motivation in what he called dynamic psychology. In this system, Woodworth acknowledged the importance of considering environmental stimuli and overt responses but emphasized the necessity of understanding the organism (perceptions, needs, or desires), representing therefore an early stimulis-organism-response (S-O-R) approach to psychology.

Thorndike represented a bridge from functionalism to behaviorism, a new school of thought that was led by John Broadus Watson (1878-1958) and emerged around 1913. Thorndike was notable for his use ofnonhuman subjects, a position consistent with Darwin's emphasis on the continuity among organisms. He is also famous for his puzzle box research with cats, which led to his Law of Effect, which states that when an association is followed by a satisfying state of affairs, that association is strengthened. This early operant conditioning research was later expanded on by the famous behaviorist psychologist B. F. Skinner (1904-1990).

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