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Cognitive psychology and functional psychology can be mutually supportive: Putting the functional-cognitive framework to work

[Speaker] De Houwer, Jan:1
1:Ghent University (Belgium)

Psychology as a whole would benefit from a closer interaction between functional psychology (which focusses on environment-behavior relations; e.g., Skinner, 1938) and cognitive psychology (which focusses on mental mechanisms; e.g., Gardner, 1987). The functional-cognitive framework for psychological research (De Houwer, 2011, Perspectives on Psychological Science; Hughes et al., in press, International Journal of Psychology) specifies why and how this interaction can bear fruit. Ironically, the framework hinges on a stringent conceptual separation between the functional and the cognitive approach. This can be achieved by defining psychological phenomena in functional terms, that is, in terms of environment-behavior relations, without referring to explanatory mental concepts. I discuss a number of examples of how the functional-cognitive framework has inspired research on a range of topics including learning, attitude change, cognitive control, personality, and psychotherapy.
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