The 10 most important and famous psychologists in history

There have been several decades of research in psychology, and the body of research into the way we think, feel and behave has grown in number and complexity. Waves of scientific experiments, publications and articles have set in to create a mass of psychology and neuroscience theories and knowledge that is intimidating to tackle from scratch, but that doesn’t mean that during these years they did not exist. relevant researchers with particular importance.

this little Top 10 along with some of the most famous psychologists it can be used to get a feel for the times that research in psychology went through.

A totally questionable list with the biggest and most famous psychologists

Psychologists appear here to be more or less ordered according to the period to which they belong, not because of the extent of their work and discoveries. This is a list of the most important and influential psychologists in which, of course, there will always be those who think that we have forgotten someone. Although they are not all they are we can say they are all they are

1. Wilhelm Wundt

Wundt (August 16, 1832 – August 31, 1920) is considered by many the first psychologist in history. This is debatable, because psychology has its roots in philosophy and, depending on how we understand what the study of mental processes and human behavior should be, we can go back to the days of pre-Socratic philosophers in search of their origins.

However, it is less questionable that Wilhelm Wundt deserves to be on any podium of the most famous and relevant psychologists for his pioneering role. scientific psychology. It was he who opened, in Leipzig in 1879, the first laboratory exclusively devoted to experimental psychology, a symptom that psychology consolidated as an independent discipline. To Wundt, at the very least, we owe the recognition of being the promoter of psychology as a systematic study of behavior and mental processes.

  • Wundt’s biography, in this link

2. William James

Something similar to what Wundt did in Europe was also achieved by William James (January 11, 1842, New York, USA – August 26, 1910, New Hampshire, USA) in America, emphasizing the need to study psychology by applying methods typical of the natural sciences.

In his book The Principles of Psychology, the American William James adopted some of the ideas that the English naturalist Charles Darwin had made public a few years earlier with The Descent of Man on the instincts supposed to be expressed in the conduct of the being. human.

For all of this, James is one of the most influential psychologists in the early stages of science.

  • Get to know his biography, thanks to this link

3. Sigmund Freud

Perhaps the personality that more clearly shaped the stereotypes of the classical psychologist. As the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (May 6, 1856 – September 23, 1939) is not part of the history of scientific psychology, but he does. it is a reference in psychology in the broad sense.

Freud was one of the pioneers in theorizing the unconscious aspects of our behavior and the role that culture and social relations with others play in it.

Sigmund Freud is, for his contributions and revolutionary theories, the most cited and famous psychologist in history. His personal biography is also full of curiosities and controversies. It is likely that if you ask a acquaintance unrelated to academic fields, he will not be able to tell you anything about Vygotsky, James, Bandura … But everyone has heard of Freud

4. Lev Vygotsky

The Soviet psychologist Lev Vygotsky (November 17, 1896, Orsha, Russian Empire, present-day Belarus – June 11, 1934, Moscow, Soviet Union), is one of the great references of the evolutionary psychology.

Vygotsky was one of the first researchers to highlight the importance of cultural context and human relationships in the cognitive development of human beings from early childhood.

And all this at a time when it was customary to consider that the spirit emerged spontaneously from the individual, whatever the conditions of life in which he was immersed. Vygotsky broke with the genetic and deterministic tradition.

  • You can read more about Vygotsky here

5. Jean Piaget

Another of the most famous psychologists who have contributed the most to the study of the science of behavior and mental processes is the Swiss Jean Piaget (Neuchâtel August 9, 1896 – Geneva, September 16, 1980). Next to Vygotsky, he is one of the great figures of developmental psychology.

His constructivist approach to pedagogy is still very relevant today, decades after his death. Most psychologists and educational pedagogues refer to the theories and teachings of the Swiss psychologist.

  • Here is more information on his learning theory.

6. BF Skinner

One of the great references, with John B. Watson, of the behavioral psychology.

Bhurrus Frederic Skinner (Susquehanna March 20, 1904 – Cambridge, August 18, 1990) was based on the results of the line of research initiated by Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov and adapted them to experimental psychology.

His approach to investigating behavior involved isolate behavioral variables in a laboratory to study the conditioning processes which, according to him, have shaped the repertoire of human actions, beyond the influence of cultural differences, historical processes and subjective states of consciousness.

  • You can read more about his life and his theories here

7. Abraham Maslow

Abraham Harold Maslow (Brooklyn, New York April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970 Palo Alto, California) is one of the most famous psychologists on the historical trajectory of humanistic psychology.

In addition, its hierarchy of human needs (today presented graphically in the form of a Pyramid of Needs), in which the satisfaction of the most essential or subordinate needs allows access to the upper links of the more complex needs.

In addition to their influence in the realm of human motivation and desire, their theories on self-realization and self-realization can be considered fundamental building blocks of positive psychology.

8. Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura (mundare, Canada, December 4, 1925) is the creator of the Self-efficacy theory and one of the researchers who have contributed the most to the development of Learning theory Social, As well as in the field of personality psychology.

This author is particularly recognized for his contributions in terms of learning styles and the relationship between them. social relations and the human cognition. Additionally, in a 2002 survey, thousands of psychology professionals and students ranked Bandura as the fourth most influential psychologist in history, behind Skinner, Piaget, and Freud. Bandura has the honor of being the most cited living psychologist.

You can find out more about this psychologist in the two articles dedicated to Ukrainian-Canadian psychologist Albert Bandura:

  • “Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory”
  • “Albert Bandura’s self-efficacy: believe in yourself”

9. Daniel Kahneman

This Israeli psychologist is known for his contributions in the field of behavioral economics and the decision making. Along with other researchers, Daniel Kahneman (Tel Aviv, Israel. March 5, 1934) helped challenge the hypothesis that human beings behave in such a way rational in contexts where they should be governed by a cost logic. products or vote.

In addition, he has the privilege of being one of the very few psychologists to have won a Nobel Prize.

  • By the way, a few months ago we recommended one of his books in this article

10. Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker (Montreal, September 18, 1954) is known for his language theories as a mechanism of adaptation to the mid-cut through evolution and to be one of the most famous psychologists among those who belong to the evolutionary psychology.

A brilliant writer, Pinker works as a professor at prestigious Harvard University, being an eminence in the fields of Perception and the language development in childhood. In this regard, the Canadian defends the controversial idea that human language is a biological adaptation shaped by natural selection.

  • You can read more about his ideas in The Shallow Table or The Instinct of Language.

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