Famous Psychologists

The goal of psychology is aimed at helping society at large by addressing the variety of needs and differences in individuals that make up that society. This is done through research, experimentation, and the development of theories and principles of how to help people understand themselves. Scholars of psychology in the past and present have contributed much effort to expand our society’s knowledge in the field of psychology.

Sigmund-Freud-s Sigmund Freud (1856-1939)
Nationality: Austrian
Famous For: Father of Psychoanalysis
Sigmund Freud is best known as being the founding father of the branch of psychology known as psychoanalysis. It has been said that he derived his understanding of psychology by reading the plays of William Shakespeare. His contributions to the field of psychology his study of dreams, human sexuality, and of course, psychoanalysis.
Jung_1910 Carl Jung (1875-1961)
Nationality: Swiss
Famous For: Analytical psychology
Swiss psychologist Carl Jung, advanced the theories of personality traits known as introversion and extraversion; the concepts that deal with the conscious and unconscious, synchronicity, and the complex theory. More notably, Jung laid the groundwork for analytic psychology.
Jean_Piaget_s Jean Piaget (1896-1980)
Nationality: Swiss
Famous For: Genetic epistemology
A Swiss psychologist whose work in psychology involved child development. He pioneered the work known as epistemological studies to improve the teaching of children. He also advocated the theory of cognitive development which was the study of human intelligence.
Carl-rogers Carl Rogers (1902-1987)
Nationality: American
Famous For: Humanistic approach
As an American psychologist, Carl Rogers is one of the founders of the humanistic approach in psyshoclogy. He first used the person-centered approach terminology in his formulation of theories on interpersonal and cross cultural relations.
William_James William James (1842-1910)
Nationality: American
Famous For: Father of American psychology
He authored the book Principles of Psychology which took him twelve years to complete, and is still being used to this day. He is one of the founders of functional psychology and has been associated the concept of pragmatism along with the assertion of free will.
Erich-Fromm Erich Fromm (1900-1980)
Nationality: German
Famous For: Being & Modes of Existence
Escape from Freedom is Fromm’s first, and his most famous book The Art of Lowing continues to be read by students of psychology. He postulated eight basic needs of people: relatedness, transcendence, rootedness, sense of identity, frame of orientation, excitation & stimulation, unity, and effectiveness.
Erik_Erikson Erik Erikson (1902-1994)
Nationality: German-American
Famous For: Theory on Social Development
One of the most famous phrases attributed to Erikson is identity crisis. He is viewed as one of the pioneers of ego psychology and a proponent of the theory of personality which may be developed through eight different stages.
BF-Skinner B. F. Skinner (1904-1990)
Nationality: American
Famous For: Principle of reinforcement
Best known book or manifesto Walden Two, Skinner was a firm believer that “free will” was an illusion. He constructed a school of thought in psychology known as experimental analysis of behavior, in which he applied his theory of radical behaviorism.
Viktor-Frankl Viktor Frankl (1905-1997)
Nationality: Austrian
Famous For: Logotherapy & psychology of philosophical thinking
Frankl specialized in the field of psychology, psychiatry, and neurology while focusing on the study of depression and suicide. His earliest published paper was on the psychology of philosophical thinking. After being liberated by Americans from a concentration camp, his book Man’s Search for Meaning became famous.
Abraham_Maslow Abraham Maslow (1908-1970)
Nationality: American
Famous For: Maslow’s hierarchy of need
When it comes to the psychology of self-actualization, the name of Maslow immediately comes to mind. As a humanistic psychologist, Maslow believed the every person desires to achieve their full potential, to be able to reach “self-actualization.” The result is “Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs” which starts with the physiological (at the base), safety, love, esteem, and eventually self-actualization.
Paul-Ekman Paul Ekman (1934)
Nationality: American
Famous For: Discovery of micro-expression
As a pyschologist, he is considered one of the best in the twentieth century. He pioneered the study on how emotions may be related to facial expressions. He dismissed beliefs by anthropologists that expressions by people are based on culture, on the contrary, Ekman proposed that expressions are universal in nature, regardless of the culture.
Ivan_Pavlov_NLM3 Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936)
Nationality: Russian
Famous For: Conditioned reflex
Pavlov received the Nobel Prize for Medicine in 1904. Although considered a physiologist, his contribution in the field of psychology in what is known as the “conditioned reflex.” He developed the theory through the help of dogs, thus the reference to people who exhibit this behavior as being one of “Pavlov’s dogs.”
John_Broadus_Watson John B. Watson (1878-1958)
Nationality: American
Famous For: School of Behaviorism
The field of psychology was introduced to the school of behaviorism by John Watson. In theory, the goal of a behaviorist is to be able to control and predict behavior. The research by Watson involved animal behavior and children, most notably the controversial “Little Albert” experiments.
Albert-Bandura Albert Bandura (1925)
Nationality: Canadian-American
Famous For: Theory on Social Learning & Self-Efficacy
Viewed as one of the most influential psychologists of the the twentieth century, Bandura pioneered the work on the social learning theory, in which he proposes that people, in general, learn behavior and other things through their environment and adjust their behavior in a social context.
Daniel_KAHNEMAN Daniel Kahneman (1934)
Nationality: Israeili-American
Famous For: Prospect theory & Psychology of Judgment
A Nobel Prize recipient in the field of economics, psychologist Daniel Kahnemann is recognized for several fields in psychology, judgment & decision making, prospect theory, and hedonic psychology, more popularly known as “Happiness economics.” The prospect theory says the some people base their actions on the “potential value of losses and gains”, on rules they establish for themselves in making decisions, also known as “heuristics.”
Steven_Pinker_2011 Steven Pinker (1954)
Nationality: Canadian
Famous For: Evolutionary psychology
Canadian psychologist Steve Pinker is an advocate for the computational theory of the mind and evolutionary psychology. Pinker specializes in explaining the fields of psycholinguistics and visual cognition. He is currently a professor at Harvard University.
Alfred-Adler Alfred Adler (1870-1937)
Nationality: Canadian
Famous For: School of individual psychology
In coining the school of “individual psychology”, Adler believed that a person, an individual, must viewed as an “individual whole,” a part of certain social strata. His premise was that personality of an individual can be teleologically explained.
Alice-Miller Alice Miller (1923-2010)
Nationality: Austrian
Famous For: Psychohistory
Swiss psychologist Alice Rostovski Miller centered her practice around the effects of child abuse. She used the writing of books to inform the public at large on the psychology of child abuse and its dangers on a child. This has led her to the specialization in psychohistory, wherein events of the past are viewed as precursors of present behavior.
Ken_Wilber Ken Wilber (1949)
Nationality: American
Famous For: Integral theory
Mystical philosophy, or Neplatonism, is not a field you would find a psychologist in, but such is the case in Ken Wilber. In his attempt to explain developmental psychology, Wilber promotes what is called integral theory, “a theory of everything.” It began as theory for transpersonal psychology, which evolved in the combination of western and eastern approaches in the psyche of man.
Wundt Wilhelm Wundt (1832-1920)
Nationality: German
Famous For: Father of experimental psychology
It has been said that German, Wilhelm Wundt was the first person to have called himself a psychologist. It was he who formally established a laboratory dedicated for psychological research. His work in the field of psychology centered on a persons consciousness and must be considered a work in structuralism.
Melaine-Klein Melanie Klein (1882-1960)
Nationality: Austrian
Famous For: Developing therapeutic techniques for children
In the field of contemporary psychoanalysis and child psychology, Klein developed techniques to help children. Her methods involved the introduction of the “object relations theory,” in which the premise is that individuals relate to others in a social setting based on the experiences with the family from infancy.
sabina-spielrein Sabina Spielrein (1885-1942)
Nationality: Russian
Famous For: First female psychoanalyst
As one of the leading contributors to the advancement of psychoanalysis, Spielrein began her participation in the field of psychology as a patient, student, assistant, and eventually as a professional. “Destruction as the Cause of Coming into Being” is Spielrein’s most influential and famouse essay written in 1912.
Kurt_Lewin Kurt Lewin (1890-1947)
Nationality: German-American
Famous For: Founder of social psychology
Lewin proposed that there is a middle ground between behavior caused by nature and nurture, and this is wherein both nature and nurture “shape” a person by interaction. He coined the term “genidentity”, which is the beginning of an object or person, from one moment to the next.
Karen-Horney Karen Horney (1885-1952)
Nationality: German
Famous For: Founder of feminist psychology
As a psychonanalyst, Horney debunked everything Freud suggested in his theories on sexuality and the role of instinct in psychoanalysis. Her view on the theory of neurosis has been received positively over the decades, she contends the neurosis lends itself as a coping mechanism by certain people.
Sigmund_en_Anna Anna Freud (1895-1982)
Nationality: Austrian
Famous For: Nature of ego
Anna Freud has been viewed as an advocate and founder in the “psychoanalysitc child psychology”. More importantly, her work revolved around the impetus of the ego and its relationship to the nature of man. She became the measuring stick, or “plumb line” as Jacques Lacan calls her, of psychoanalysis.
Lev_Vygotsky Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934)
Nationality: Soviet Belarusian
Famous For: Cultural-historical psychology
One of the theories posited by Russian psychologist Vygotsky is what is known as the ZPD or the zone of proximal development. This concept suggests a difference in what a person can learn without assistance, as opposed to receiving help. The other contribution by Vygotsky is cultural-historical psychology in which he looked at a persons customs, beliefs, culture, values, and even skills as being passed from one generation to the descending line.
Jacques-Lacan Jacques Lacan (1901-1981)
Nationality: French
Famous For: Mirror stage theory
As a branch of psychology, psychoanalysis have many adherents following in the steps of Freud, Lacan is one of a handful of them. Lacan proposes several stages related to the formation of one’s psyche, the mirror stage is the most prominent of them.
Milton-Erickson Milton Erickson (1901-1980)
Nationality: American
Famous For: Use of hypnosis
The use of hypnosis and family therapy was championed by Milton Erickson. His influence on addressing, through creative means, the “unconscious mind” has been recognized as noteworthy. He utilized techniques of which are still being employed to this day. Hypnosis continues to be a controversial subject, then and now, and the field of psychology has Erickson to thank.
Albert_Ellis Albert Ellis (1913-2007)
Nationality: American
Famous For: REBT, or Rational Emovitve Behavior Therapy
In his attempt to help individuals to help the society at large, American psychologist Albert Ellis the REBT, or Rational Emovitve Behavior Therapy. Ellis drew his methods through the inspiration from ancient and modern philosphers.
John-Bowlby John Bowlby (1907-1990)
Nationality: British
Famous For: Attachment theory
Bowlby is recognized for his work on child development. One of his notable achievements is the introduction of the “attachment theory,” wherein he suggests that social development in certain cultures are dependent on a childs relationship with his/her “primary caregiver” early in life.
Virginia-Satir Virginia Satir (1916-1988)
Nationality: American
Famous For: Mother of Family Therapy
Psychotherapy, another branch of psychology, is the area Virginia Satir excelled in. She is known for her work with families, “family reconstruction” and “family therapy.”
Paul-Watzlawick Paul Watzlawick (1921-2007)
Nationality: Austrian-American
Famous For: Interactional view
Communication and miscommunication is the area of psychology Watzlawick is known for, better known as the “interactional view.” In this theory, Watzlawick identifies the reason miscommunication occurs is that some people, the communicators, do not speak the “same language.” They are coming from from two different viewpoints.
Lawrence-Kohlberg Lawrence Kohlberg (1927-1987)
Nationality: American
Famous For: Theory of stages of moral development
The theory of the stages of moral development comes from Kohlberg. As a moral psychologist, he identified the stages an individual develops a degree of morality which makes him/her a balanced person. It begins with the family, friends or peers, the neighborhood, school, etc…through adulthood.
Philip-Zimbardo Philip Zimbardo (1933-1972)
Nationality: American
Famous For: Stanford prison study
Zombardo is the author of “The Lucifer Effect” wherein he explores how good people become bad, using the comparison of how Lucifer became Satan. His other work is the Stanford prison study. It was an experiement wherein he used volunteer students role play as prisoners and guards, studying the interaction between the two.
Stanley-Milgram Stanley Milgram (1933-1984)
Nationality: American
Famous For: Study on obedience to authority
Yale University has been known for its social psychology experiments, Milgram conducted one of those, known as, you guessed it, the “Milgram experiment.” The goal was to study the extent a person would “obey an authority figure” even if the order given conflicted with their “conscience.”
Martin-Seligman Martin Seligman (1942)
Nationality: American
Famous For: Theory of learned helplessness
In the theory of “learned helplessness,” Seligman observes that people, as well as animals behave, or even act, helpless in given situations, even if they have the ability to change the outcome. He also is a proponent of “positive psychology”.
Fritz_Perls Fritz Perls (1893-1970)
Nationality: French
Famous For: Gestalt therapy
As a psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Perls came up with the practice and coining the usage of “Gestalt Therapy.” What this does is that it allows the doctor-patient relationship in the here and now while emphasizing the patient to take “personal responsibility” in any given situation.
Alfred-Binet Alfred Binet (1857-1911)
Nationality: French
Famous For: Intelligence test
IQ, or intelligence test, Binet-Simon scale, whatever you call it, was invented by Alfred Binet of France. Although Binet did not receive a degree in psychology, he helped established a baseline process on which to determine a persons intelligence.