The 11 most influential psychologists of all time

The 11 most influential psychologists of all time

Psychology is a discipline that encompasses a good number of theories and currents of all kinds, and that continues to grow day after day. But from its beginnings until now, there have been some great thinkers who have been key or have revolutionized notably the study of this science.

A study published in the July 2002 issue of the journal Review of General Psychology, established a ranking of the 99 most influential psychologists in our history. The rankings are mainly based on three factors: the frequency of citations in journals, introductory citations of textbooks and the responses to the survey of 1,725 ​​members of the American Psychological Association (APA).

The list we have made below provides an overview of the 10 best psychologists in this survey plus two that we believe cannot be left out of this interesting ranquin. Not only are they some of the best known thinkers of psychology, but also men who they played an important role in the history of psychology and made great contributions to our understanding of human behavior. This list offers insight into some of the most influential theoretical perspectives not only psychology, but also the culture in which we live.


  • 1 Sigmund Freud
  • 2 Jean Piaget
  • 3 William James
  • 4 Ivan Pavlov
  • 5 B. F. Skinner
  • 6 Carl Rogers
  • 7 Lev Vygotsky
  • 8 Albert Bandura
  • 9 Erik Erikson
  • 10 Howard Gardner
  • 11 Daniel Goleman

Sigmund Freud

When we talk about psychology it is inevitable to think of Sigmund Freud. He was the father of psychoanalysis and modern psychology. His work supports the belief that all mental illnesses have their origin in our early childhood experiences., or at least our experiences of the past. He also offered evidence that cultural differences have a strong impact on psychology and behavior. His work and his writings have contributed to our understanding of personality, clinical psychology, human development and abnormal psychology. Biography of S. Freud.

Jean Piaget

Jean Piaget's work has had a profound influence on psychology, especially in the understanding of children's intellectual development. His research has contributed to the emergence of developmental psychology, cognitive psychology, genetic epistemology and education reform. Even Albert Einstein once described Piaget's research on the process of growth and intellectual thinking as a discovery "so simple that only a genius could have thought of it." Piaget's biography.

William James

Psychologist and philosopher, William James is often known as the father of American psychology. Your 1200 page text, Principles of Psychology, became a classic about psychology and its teachings and writings helped establish this discipline as a science. In addition, James contributed to functionalism, pragmatism and influenced many psychology scholars during his work of more than 35 years. Biography of William James.

Ivan Pavlov

Ivan Pavlov was a Russian physiologist whose research on conditioned reflexes radically influenced the emergence of behaviorism in psychology. His experimental methods helped generate a stream of psychology away from introspection. and subjective evaluations of psychoanalysis to begin making objective measurements of behavior. Ivan Pavlov biography.

B. F. Skinner

In studying the ranking of the 99 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century, BF Skinner topped the list. The Skinner's diehard behaviorism made him a dominant force in the psychology and therapy techniques of the twentieth centuryTechniques based on their theories are still widely used today, including behavior modification and token economy. Skinner Biography.

Carl Rogers

The humanistic current of Carl Rogers placed great emphasis on the value and human potential to achieve change, something that generated a huge influence on psychology and education. He became one of the main humanist thinkers and gave rise to the therapy of the same name called: "Rogers therapy". As his own daughter Natalie Rogers described, he was "a model for compassion and democratic ideals in his own life and in his work as an educator, writer and therapist." Biography of C. Rogers.

Lev Vygotsky

Vygotsky is among some of the best known contemporary psychologists including Piaget, Freud, Skinner and Pavlov, however, his work never achieved fame during his life. This is largely because many of his writings remained inaccessible to the western world until very recently. It was during the 1970s that many of his writings were translated from Russian, but his work has become a huge influence of recent decades, especially in the fields of education psychology and child development. His premature death at age 38 ended his work, which became one of the most frequently cited psychologists of the twentieth century. Vygotsky's biography.

Albert bandura

Bandura's work is considered a crucial part of the cognitive revolution in psychology that began in the late 1960s. His theory of social learning emphasized the importance of learning by observation, imitation and modeling. "Learning would be very laborious, not to mention dangerous, 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 Theory of Social Learning. Bandura theory.

Erik Erikson

Erik Erikson's theory of psychosocial development stages helped to create interest in human development research throughout life. As a psychologist who studied with Anna Freud, Erikson expanded psychoanalytic theory by exploring development throughout life, including the events of childhood, adulthood and old age. Biography of Erik Erikson.

Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is the best known development psychologist of recent times. His famous theory of Multiple Intelligences It is the one that has had the greatest impact in the field of education, where it has received considerable attention and its use has revolutionized many schools and educational systems throughout the world. His conceptualization of intelligence as more than a single intelligence, has opened the doors to future research as well as to different ways of thinking about human intelligence. Howard Gardner Biography.

Daniel Goleman

Psychologist and best-selling author of recent times, Daniel Goleman revolutionized the understanding of human intelligence and the ability to achieve with his theory about Emotional Intelligence. Emotional Intelligence consists of the ability to understand and manage emotions. Experts agree that this type of intelligence plays an important role in success, and some have suggested that emotional intelligence may be even more important than the IQ. In any case, research has suggested that emotional intelligence is linked to everything from decision making to academic performance. Biography of Daniel Goleman.