In 2002, the American Psychological Association created a ranking of the 99 most influential psychologists . The rankings were based on amount of journal citations, introductory textbook citations. They also surveyed the 1725 members of the APA.
The following list is an overview of that ranking survey. These are not just well-known people, they all made a significant contribution to psychology and our collective understanding of human behavior. They play an important role in the history of psychology.
The attempt of this list was not to name who was the best, but instead focuses on the influence their work has had on psychology and on the culture as we now understand it.
10. Carl Jung
Carl Jung (1875-1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist. He was an influential thinker and the founder of Analytical Psychology. Jung is considered the first modern psychiatrist to view the human psyche as “by nature religious” and make it the focus of exploration. Although he was not the first to analyze dreams, he is one of the best known pioneers in the field of dream analysis.
9. Kurt Lewin
8. Ivan Pavlov
7. Erik Erikson
Erik Erikson’s (1902-1994, German/American) stage theory of psychosocial development helped create interest and research on human development through the lifespan. Erikson expanded psychoanalytic theory by exploring development throughout the life, including events of childhood, adulthood, and old age.
6. William James
5. Carl Rogers
4. Jean Piaget
3. Albert Bandura
Bandura’s (1925-, Canada) work is considered part of the cognitive revolution in psychology that began in the late 1960s. His social learning theory stressed the importance of observational learning, imitation, and modeling. “Learning would be exceedingly laborious, not to mention hazardous, if people had to rely solely on the effects of their own actions to inform them what to do,” Bandura explained in his 1977 book Social Learning Theory.
2. Sigmund Freud
1. B.F. Skinner
Skinner’s (1904-1990, USA) staunch behaviorism made him a dominating force in psychology and therapy techniques based on his theories are still used extensively today, including behavior modification and token economies.
Which of these psychologists had you heard before (okay, except Freud)? Did you know what they contributed to psychology?
Is there another psychologist you think should have been on this list?