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The 10 most important and famous psychologists in history

The 10 most important and famous psychologists in history

October 1, 2022

There are already several decades of research in psychology and the number of investigations about our way of thinking, feeling and behaving has grown in number and complexity. Waves of experiments, publications and papers Scientists have been sedimented to create a mass of theories and knowledge about psychology and neuroscience that is intimidating to approach from scratch, but that does not mean that during these years there have been no Relevant researchers with a special importance.

This little one Top 10 with some of the most famous psychologists can be used to get an idea about the moments that has been going through research in psychology.


A totally questionable list with the most important and famous psychologists

Psychologists appear here ordered more or less according to the time to which they belong, not because of the magnitude of their works and discoveries. It is a list of most important and influential psychologists in which, obviously, there will always be those who believe that we have forgotten someone. Although it is possible that not all of them are, we can affirm that they are all those that are

1. Wilhelm Wundt

Wundt (August 16, 1832 - August 31, 1920) is considered by many the first psychologist in history . This is debatable, since 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 time of the pre-Socratic philosophers in search of their origins.


However, it is less debatable that Wilhelm Wundt deserves to be on any podium of the most famous and relevant psychologists for his role as a pioneer in the scientific psychology . It was he who opened, in the Leipzig of 1879, the first laboratory focused exclusively on experimental psychology, a symptom that psychology was consolidating itself as an independent discipline. At least, we owe Wundt the recognition of being the driver of psychology as a systematic study of behavior and mental processes.

The biography of Wundt, in this link

2. William James

Something similar to what Wundt did in Europe was also achieved by William James (January 11, 1842, in New York, United States - August 26, 1910, in New Hampshire, United States) in America, with emphasis on the need to study psychology applying typical methods 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 made public a few years earlier with The Descent of Man about the instincts that were supposedly expressed in the behavior of the human being.

Therefore, James is one of the most influential psychologists in the early stage of science.

Know your biography, through this link

3. Sigmund Freud

Possibly, the personality that has shaped in a clearer way the stereotypes of the classical psychologist. As the father of psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud (Príbor, May 6, 1856-London, September 23, 1939), is not part of the history of scientific psychology, but it is is a reference in psychology in its broadest sense .

Freud was one of the pioneers when it comes to theorizing about the unconscious aspects of our behavior and the role played by them in culture and social relationships with others.

Sigmund Freud is, for his contributions and for his groundbreaking theories, the most cited and famous psychologist in history. His personal biography, moreover, is full of curiosities and controversies. It is likely that if you ask an acquaintance without links to the academic fields, he will not be able to tell you anything about Vygotsky, James, Bandura ... But about Freud everyone has heard about

4. Lev Vygotsky

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

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

And all this in a time when the habitual thing was to consider that the mind emerged spontaneously of the individual, independently of the conditions of life in which it was immersed. Vygotsky broke with the geneticist and determinist tradition.

You can read more about Vygotsky, here

5. Jean Piaget

Another of the most famous psychologists and who have contributed 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). Together with Vygotsky, is one of the great figures of developmental psychology .

His constructivist approach to pedagogy is very current even today, decades after his death. The majority of educational psychologists and pedagogues are based on the theories and teachings of the Swiss psychologist.

Here you have more information about your Theory of Learning

6. B. F. Skinner

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

Bhurrus Frederic Skinner (Susquehanna, March 20, 1904 - Cambridge, August 18, 1990) started from the discoveries that emerged from the line of research initiated by the Russian physiologist Ivan Pavlov and adapted them to experimental psychology.

His approach to investigating behavior involved isolate variables of behavior in a laboratory to study the processes of conditioning that he believed gave shape to the repertoire of actions of the human being, beyond the influence of cultural differences, historical processes and subjective states of consciousness.

You can discover 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 listed in the historical journey of Humanistic Psychology.

In addition, its hierarchy of human needs (now presented graphically in the form of a Pyramid of Needs), in which the satisfaction of the most essential or subordinated needs allow access to the higher links of more complex needs.

In addition to their influence in the field of motivation and desire of human beings, their theories about self-actualization and self-realization can be considered foundational pieces of Positive Psychology

8. Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura (Mundare, Canada, December 4, 1925) is the creator of the Theory of Self-efficacy and one of the researchers who contributed most to develop the Theory of Learning Social , as well as in the field of Personality Psychology.

This author is especially recognized for his contributions regarding learning styles and the relationship between social relationships and the human cognition . In addition, in a survey conducted in 2002, thousands of professionals and students of psychology placed Bandura in fourth place among the most influential psychologists in history, behind Skinner, Piaget and Freud. Bandura has the honor of being the most cited living psychologist .

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

"Albert Bandura's Theory of Social Learning"

"The Self-efficacy of Albert Bandura: do you 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) has contributed to question the assumption that the human being behaves rationally in those contexts in which should be governed by a logic of cost-benefit , such as the purchase of products or voting.

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

By the way, a few months ago we recommend one of your books in this article

10. Steven Pinker

Steven Pinker (Montreal, September 18, 1954) is known for his theories about language as a mechanism of adaptation to the environment carved by evolution and for being one of the most famous psychologists among those who ascribe to the evolutionary psychology .

Brilliant writer, Pinker works as a professor at the 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 modeled by natural selection.

You can read more about his ideas in The Clean Table or The Language Instinct.

10 Psychological Experiments You Would Never Believe Happened (October 2022).


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