The 55 best phrases about psychology … and their meanings

Throughout the history of psychology, there have been many psychologists who have marked an era and who, thanks to their discoveries, have influenced other professionals in this discipline.

Both for his innovative way of thinking and for his contributions to psychological science,
they are and remain a reference in the different fields covered by psychology: Clinical psychology, social psychology, educational psychology, etc.

Table of Contents

The 55 best quotes about psychology

In today’s article, we set out to put together a list of the best phrases spoken by the most important psychologists of recent times so that you can enjoy them.

1. Guess it’s tempting to treat everything like a nail, if the only tool you have is a hammer (Abraham Maslow)

Abraham Maslow is considered to be the father of the psychological current called humanism. He influenced different theorists, but his theory of human needs may be remembered: Maslow’s pyramid. With this sentence, Maslow reminds us that we must have a flexible mindset because otherwise we will always make the same mistakes.

2. When I look at the world I am pessimistic, but when I look at people I am optimistic (Carl Rogers)

Another reference in humanistic psychology is Carl Rogers, who made great contributions to psychotherapy. With this sentence he reminds us that the world can be a hostile place. So nothing happens, because everyone, even us, has problems. This is normal and the important thing is to face these situations with a positive mind.

3. A mind cannot be understood without culture (Lev Vygotsky)

Russian psychologist Lev Vygotsky is one of the great learning psychologists. Neither mind nor learning can be understood without culture, As this has a great influence on our development.

4. The biggest consequence of submitting to authority is the disappearance of the sense of responsibility (Stanley Milgram)

Stanley Milgram made a remarkable contribution to social psychology through his research on obedience to authority and this phrase was expressed in his findings, such as Milgram he considered that the sense of responsibility had disappeared due to submission to authority.

5. They never taught you to speak with your gestures, but if you were taught to speak with words (Paul Ekman)

Paul Ekman reminds us that throughout our learning they taught us to speak with words and taught us to develop verbal language. However, during our development, educational agents gave little importance to the learning of gestures; to non-verbal communication.

6. If we don’t believe in freedom of speech for people we despise, we don’t believe it at all (Noam Chomsky)

One of today’s most important psycholinguists and thinkers, Noam Chomsky, reminds us that it’s easy to respect the opinions of those who fall in love with us. But
it’s not the same with people we don’t like.

7. The great discovery of my generation is that human beings can change their lives by changing their mental attitudes (William James)

William James said it again in his time, today we are constantly told that attitude makes a difference in our results. Our attitude makes the difference when it comes to dealing with others or striving for our goals.

8. You are what you do, not what you say you are going to do (CG Jung)

Your actions determine who you are, not your words. This phrase can be interpreted in different contexts. For example, in romantic relationships, when you promise but don’t fulfill; or when you want to achieve something in life, because you can have a lot of ideas, but if you don’t act, stay in it, in the ideas,

9. Unexpressed emotions never die. They are buried alive and later emerge from worse forms (Sigmund Freud)

Emotional intelligence is in vogue today because if we don’t manage our emotions well, our well-being is negatively affected. Sigmund Freud already knew this, and that’s why he wanted us to understand that if we don’t deal with our emotions properly, they will end up showing up more strongly.

10. People who believe they have the power to exercise some control over their lives are healthier, more efficient and more prosperous than those who do not believe in their ability to make changes in their lives (Albert Bandura)

Albert Bandura is one of the most distinguished psychologists. His contributions, for example in terms of observational learning, marked a before and after in psychology. With this sentence he is clearly referring to his theory of self-efficacy, in which he explains that people who believe in themselves are more likely to succeed in the goals that have been set.

Learn more about this famous Ukrainian-Canadian psychologist and educational psychologist in our articles:

  • Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory
  • Albert Bandura’s personality theory
  • Albert Bandura, winner of the National Science Medal

11. If an individual is intellectually passive, he cannot be morally free (Jean Piaget)

Piaget was a Swiss-born psychologist, biologist and epistemologist who has made history for his constructivist theory of the development of intelligence. For Piaget, from an early age we are explorers and we build our own mental patterns in interaction with the world.

12. Never think you know everything. No matter how much you value yourself, always have the courage to tell yourself: I am an ignorant (Ivan Pavlov)

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist who, after his experiments with dogs,
contributed remarkably to the psychological current called behaviorism, Specifically for conventional packaging. With his sentence, he tells us to be humble and to keep learning every day.

We invite you to read our article on classic conditioning at the following link:

  • Classical conditioning and its most important experiences

13. All people talk about mind without hesitation, but are puzzled when asked to define it (BF Skinner)

BF Skinner means to us with this sentence that the mind is extremely complex. Maybe that’s why he focused only on observable behavior in his experiments? Which led Skinner to conduct his research on rats, his findings were very useful for psychology and education.

14. I am the one who survives of me (Erik Erikson)

This German-born psychoanalyst reminds us with this sentence that we are what we learn. In other words, what survives in us through experience makes us what we are. A great theorist who formulated the theory of psychosocial development.

15. Even when it’s not completely achievable, we get better at trying to pursue a higher goal (Viktor Frankl)

Having goals and objectives to pursue is healthy and conducive to a person’s well-being. Not only that, but it’s motivating and gives meaning to life.

Do you know who Viktor Frankl is? Consult his biography by clicking here.

16. The message sent is not always the message received (Virginia Satire)

Virginia Satir is one of the most influential psychologists in history. This sentence expresses an undeniable principle: when we interact with someone, we need to consider their point of view and not just our own, Since the other interlocutor has his own world Vision. Which for us can mean a lot, for him not.

17. Most social acts must be understood in their context, because they lose their meaning if they are isolated (Solomon Asch)

People are biopsychosocial beings and therefore context matters and influences how we act. There are psychologists who claim that people are neither good nor bad, it’s the situation that makes us good or bad.

18. If a person loves only one person and is indifferent to everyone, his love is not love, but symbiotic affection has expanded selfishness (Erich Fromm)

When we are in love with someone, we give our life for that person. It can make us look like great people because we distance ourselves from that other. But
even the most selfish people can lose their minds to someone who looks like caring people. Basically all they want is to satisfy their own desires. Excellent sentence from the German psychoanalyst Erich Fromm.

19. Goals turn a random walk into a chase (Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi)

Having goals in life and goals to pursue motivates us and makes the journey exciting.
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi is one of the great figures of positive psychology and is known for the concept of comfort zone.

20. There is a negative correlation between healing and psychological therapy: in addition to psychological therapy, less recovery of the patient (Hans Eysenck)

Hans Eysenck is undoubtedly one of the most important psychologists in the study of personality.. Born in Germany but established in the United Kingdom, he has carried out a great deal of research. For Eysenck, it is not better to do more therapy sessions. But the important thing is the quality of the sessions and that the patient is ready to change. Learn Hans Eysenck’s personality theory by clicking on this link.

21. Anything worth teaching can be presented in different ways. These multiple ways can make us use our multiple intelligences (Howard Gardner)

Howard Gardner is known for his theory of multiple intelligences. A theory that suggests that human beings have different types of intelligence, not just a unitary intelligence. Therefore, it is crucial that these intelligences are developed through teaching.

22. I’m not in this life to meet other people’s expectations, and I don’t think the world has to meet mine (Fritz Perls)

For Fritz Perls,
an individual must focus on himself and fight for what makes him happy, Instead of thinking about what other people think of them.

You can read Fritz Perls’ biography here.

23. A prejudice, unlike a misconception, actively resists all evidence that attempts to refute it (Gordon W. Allport)

Bias make us people with little mental flexibility and don’t allow us to be realisticAs Gordon W. Allport, a renowned social psychologist, reminds us.

24. If you really want to understand something, try to change – (Kurt Lewin)

Kurt Lewin, a famous Gestalt psychologist who has influenced many professionals in psychology with his theory of leadership types, reminds us that complicated situations that lead us to change are truly rewarding because they help us learn.

25. Only the liberation of a human being’s natural capacity for love can thwart his sadistic destruction (Wilhelm Reich)

Take a look around to see just how destructive human beings can become. however,
the human being can also be a loving and caring person. The key is in education.

26. Follow your heart but take it with you in your brain (Alfred Adler)

It is okay to follow what your heart is telling you because it will make you happy. however,
you have to use your head and not get carried away by everything your heart tells you, Because that may be wrong.

27. The border between good and evil is permeable and anyone can cross it when pressed by the forces of the situation (Anonymous)

It is very easy to say that someone is a good person when they have everything in this life. But
when the situation is favorable to us, human beings can be hostile people.

28. What a child can do by cooperating today, he can only do tomorrow (Lev Vygotsky)

In his research, Lev Vygotsky
he attached great importance to cooperative learning. This type of learning brings many benefits to the development and learning of children (and also adults).

29. When we take the time to achieve what is going well for us, it means that we receive small prizes throughout the day (Martin Seligman)

It’s common for us to spend our days ruminating, thinking about the future, and all that we can accomplish.. But if we focus on the present and value what we have and what we have accomplished, it will make us feel really good.

30. The real problem is not whether machines think, but whether men do (BF Skinner)

Another famous line from behaviorist BF Skinner, who
ironically on the intelligence of human beings.

31. Hope is paradoxical. To have hope means to be ready at all times for what is not yet born, but without despair if the birth does not occur within our lifespan (Erich Fromm)

Erich Fromm emphasizes here the nature of a virtue that is unusual in our time:

32. The word “happiness” would lose its meaning if it was not balanced by sadness (CG Jung)

Happiness would not be understood without its opposite, just as vacations would not exist if we did not work. A reflection of the famous Swiss psychoanalyst.

33. Giving produces more happiness to receive, not because it is a deprivation, but because in the act of giving is the expression of my vitality (Erich Fromm)

Another humanist reflection from the author of “The Art of loving”.
In kindness and generosity lies the greatness of life, To find ourselves in the reflection of the happiness of those around us.

34. Intelligence, what we think of as intelligent actions, changes throughout history. Intelligence is not a substance in the head like oil in an oil tank. It’s a collection of potentialities that come to an end (Howard Gardner)

A reflection of the author of the theory of multiple intelligences, in which
he shows us his particular vision of human intelligence. Do you agree with the opinion of an American psychologist?

35. The border between good and evil is permeable and almost anyone can be brought to cross it under the pressure of situational forces (Philip Zimbardo)

The Stanford Prison Experiment, conducted by American psychologist Philip Zimbardo, reveals that humans may be capable of committing cruel acts if the situation prompts us to do so.

36. Psychology is a thorny field, in which even notable authorities have gone around in circles, describing things that everyone knows in words that no one understands (Raymond Cattell)

This sentence by Raymond Cattell on psychology can be a useful reflection on understanding psychology.

37. If you are old, don’t try to change yourself, change your surroundings (BF Skinner)

The referent of radical behaviorism is expressed here on the basis of its conception of psychology: to change the way we interact with the environment by change us. One of the most useful psychological phrases for understanding operant conditioning.

38. The mission of psychology is ours give a completely different idea of ​​what we know best (Paul Valéry)

The essayist and philosopher Paul Valéry believed that the essence of psychology is to compromise the ideas of common sense on the way we perceive things and act.

39. Evolution is an indispensable component of any satisfactory explanation of our psychology (Steven Pinker)

Pinker, the benchmark for evolutionary psychology, talks about the role of our ancestors’ evolution in the way we behave.

40. There is a lot of chance in the decisions people make (Daniel Kahneman)

Kahneman, one of the researchers who challenged the idea that human beings are rational by nature, talks about the chaotic our decisions; even of those who apparently obey logic.

41. Follow your heart, but always try to take your brain with you (Alfred Adler)

A poetic way of insinuating that passions are our engine and that reason is the sentinel of our walk.

42. Knowledge is an antidote to fear (Gerd Gigerenzer)

For this researcher and disseminator of psychology, knowledge makes it possible to safer of what we do and what we can expect.

43. Do not become a mere act-taker; tries to unravel the mystery of its origins (Ivan Pavlov)

Russian physiologist responsible for creating behaviorism speaks of the mind of the scientific researcher.

44. Education survives when what has been learned is forgotten (BF Skinner)

For Skinner, education is based on behaviors deeply rooted in us, Beyond the theoretical knowledge that we were able to memorize.

45. Sports columnists and commentators rewarded for their arrogance (Daniel Kahneman)

One way to reconstruct the behavior of two apparently different classes of professionals.

46. ​​We must learn to live in uncertainty (Gerd Gigerenzer)

the uncertainty it is one of the constants of life, and that is why you have to know how to manage it.

47. Creativity is linked to our ability to find new answers to old problems (Martin Seligman)

One of the psychological phrases that tackle the subject of creativity with an imaginative definition.

48. We are constantly faced with great opportunities which are brilliantly masked by intractable problems (Margaret Mead)

This reference in anthropology reflected in this reflection a way of understanding the double cut of part of the opportunities presented to us.

49. People tend to evaluate by comparing themselves to others, without using absolute standards (Leon Festinger)

Festinger was one of social psychologists most important of the twentieth century, and thus reflected the impact that our perception of others has on seemingly private psychological processes that concern only one.

50. If you want to be happy, you must resign yourself to seeing other happy people (Bertrand Russell)

A psychological sentence of very direct interpretation.

51. Control how a man interprets the world and you will have come a long way in the task of controlling his behavior (Stanley Milgram)

A reflection on the importance of perception in the way we act.

52. Immature love says, “I love you because I need you.” Mature love says: “I need you because I love you” (Erich Fromm)

One of the most memorable thoughts of this psychoanalyst.

53. What we can become, we must be (Abraham Maslow)

One of the phrases about psychology that best sums up humanist philosophy.

54. False optimism sooner or later turns into disappointment, anger and despair (Abraham Maslow)

An observation about the consequences of how some people experience what happens to them.

55. Time spent with cats is never wasted (Sigmund Freud)

Finally, one of Sigmund Freud’s friendliest quotes.

Have we left any interesting sentences on this scientific discipline? You can write it in the comments and we’ll include it in the article.

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