Angell, James Rowland (1869 - 1949)

American psychologist who transformed functionalism from a movement into a working school.

James Roland Angell was born in Burlington, Vermont. He came from an academic family, his grandfather serving as president of Brown University and his father serving as president of the University of Vermont and later the University of Michigan. As an undergraduate, Angell studied under John Dewey (1859-1952) at University of Michigan. He then worked for a year with William James (1842-1910) at Harvard, earning his MA in 1892. Two years later, he accepted an offer from Dewey to be a professor of psychology at the University of Chicago. He remained at Chicago for 25 years, where, during his tenure, the department became the primary training ground for functionalist psychologists. Two of Angell's famous students include Harvey Carr (1873-1954) and John B. Watson (1878-1958). From 1921 through 1937, Angell served as president of Yale University, helping to establish its Institute of Human Relations.

Angell is said to have transformed functionalism from a movement into a working school, despite his protestations that the movement was too broad to be embodied within any single framework. In 1904, he wrote a highly successful book called Psychology: An Introductory Study of Structure and Functions of Human Consciousness. Within four years, it went through four editions, evidence of the growing popularity of functionalism.. His most important contribution to functionalist psychology was his 1906 presidential address to American Psychological Association entitled "The Province of Functional Psychology." In this speech, he made three major points, drawing the battle lines between functionalism and structuralism. First, functionalism studies mental operations, not mental elements. Second, functionalism views consciousness in terms of its utility, mediating between an organism's needs and the pressures of its environment. And third, functionalism regards mind and body as an inseparable unit.

Further Reading:

Angell, J. R. (1907). The province of functional psychology [On-line] Available:

Miles, W. (1949). James Roland Angell, 1869-1949, psychologist-educator. Science. 110, 1-4.

Related Terms:
Carr, Harvey (1873 - 1954)

Dewey, John (1859 - 1952)

Functionalism (Hergenhahn)

James, William (1842 - 1910)


Watson, John Broadus (1878 - 1958)

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