The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Psychologists of all time. This list of famous Psychologists is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Psychologists.
With an HPI of 79.14, Abraham Maslow is the most famous Psychologist. His biography has been translated into 69 different languages on wikipedia.
Abraham Harold Maslow (; April 1, 1908 – June 8, 1970) was an American psychologist who was best known for creating Maslow's hierarchy of needs, a theory of psychological health predicated on fulfilling innate human needs in priority, culminating in self-actualization. Maslow was a psychology professor at Brandeis University, Brooklyn College, New School for Social Research, and Columbia University. He stressed the importance of focusing on the positive qualities in people, as opposed to treating them as a "bag of symptoms". A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Maslow as the tenth most cited psychologist of the 20th century.
With an HPI of 77.23, John Dewey is the 2nd most famous Psychologist. His biography has been translated into 77 different languages.
John Dewey (; October 20, 1859 – June 1, 1952) was an American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer whose ideas have been influential in education and social reform. He was one of the most prominent American scholars in the first half of the twentieth century.The overriding theme of Dewey's works was his profound belief in democracy, be it in politics, education, or communication and journalism. As Dewey himself stated in 1888, while still at the University of Michigan, "Democracy and the one, ultimate, ethical ideal of humanity are to my mind synonymous." Dewey considered two fundamental elements—schools and civil society—to be major topics needing attention and reconstruction to encourage experimental intelligence and plurality. He asserted that complete democracy was to be obtained not just by extending voting rights but also by ensuring that there exists a fully formed public opinion, accomplished by communication among citizens, experts and politicians, with the latter being accountable for the policies they adopt.Dewey was one of the primary figures associated with the philosophy of pragmatism and is considered one of the fathers of functional psychology. His paper "The Reflex Arc Concept in Psychology," published in 1896, is regarded as the first major work in the (Chicago) functionalist school of psychology. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Dewey as the 93rd-most-cited psychologist of the 20th century.Dewey was also a major educational reformer for the 20th century. A well-known public intellectual, he was a major voice of progressive education and liberalism. While a professor at the University of Chicago, he founded the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, where he was able to apply and test his progressive ideas on pedagogical method. Although Dewey is known best for his publications about education, he also wrote about many other topics, including epistemology, metaphysics, aesthetics, art, logic, social theory, and ethics.
With an HPI of 75.72, William James is the 3rd most famous Psychologist. His biography has been translated into 83 different languages.
William James (January 11, 1842 – August 26, 1910) was an American philosopher, historian, and psychologist, and the first educator to offer a psychology course in the United States. James is considered to be a leading thinker of the late 19th century, one of the most influential philosophers of the United States, and the "Father of American psychology".Along with Charles Sanders Peirce, James established the philosophical school known as pragmatism, and is also cited as one of the founders of functional psychology. A Review of General Psychology analysis, published in 2002, ranked James as the 14th most eminent psychologist of the 20th century. A survey published in American Psychologist in 1991 ranked James's reputation in second place, after Wilhelm Wundt, who is widely regarded as the founder of experimental psychology. James also developed the philosophical perspective known as radical empiricism. James's work has influenced philosophers and academics such as Émile Durkheim, W. E. B. Du Bois, Edmund Husserl, Bertrand Russell, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Hilary Putnam, Richard Rorty, and Marilynne Robinson.Born into a wealthy family, James was the son of the Swedenborgian theologian Henry James Sr. and the brother of both the prominent novelist Henry James and the diarist Alice James. James trained as a physician and taught anatomy at Harvard, but never practiced medicine. Instead he pursued his interests in psychology and then philosophy. He wrote widely on many topics, including epistemology, education, metaphysics, psychology, religion, and mysticism. Among his most influential books are The Principles of Psychology, a groundbreaking text in the field of psychology; Essays in Radical Empiricism, an important text in philosophy; and The Varieties of Religious Experience, an investigation of different forms of religious experience, including theories on mind-cure.
With an HPI of 74.44, Carl Rogers is the 4th most famous Psychologist. His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.
Carl Ransom Rogers (January 8, 1902 – February 4, 1987) was an American psychologist and among the founders of the humanistic approach (and client-centered approach) in psychology. Rogers is widely considered one of the founding fathers of psychotherapy research and was honored for his pioneering research with the Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions by the American Psychological Association (APA) in 1956. The person-centered approach, Rogers's unique approach to understanding personality and human relationships, found wide application in various domains, such as psychotherapy and counseling (client-centered therapy), education (student-centered learning), organizations, and other group settings. For his professional work he received the Award for Distinguished Professional Contributions to Psychology from the APA in 1972. In a study by Steven J. Haggbloom and colleagues using six criteria such as citations and recognition, Rogers was found to be the sixth most eminent psychologist of the 20th century and second, among clinicians, only to Sigmund Freud. Based on a 1982 survey of 422 respondents of U.S. and Canadian psychologists, he was considered the most influential psychotherapist in history (Freud ranked third).
With an HPI of 72.94, John B. Watson is the 5th most famous Psychologist. His biography has been translated into 57 different languages.
John Broadus Watson (January 9, 1878 – September 25, 1958) was an American psychologist who popularized the scientific theory of behaviorism, establishing it as a psychological school. Watson advanced this change in the psychological discipline through his 1913 address at Columbia University, titled Psychology as the Behaviorist Views It. Through his behaviorist approach, Watson conducted research on animal behavior, child rearing, and advertising, as well as conducting the controversial "Little Albert" experiment and the Kerplunk experiment. He was also the editor of Psychological Review from 1910 to 1915. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Watson as the 17th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.
With an HPI of 71.57, B. F. Skinner is the 6th most famous Psychologist. His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.
Burrhus Frederic Skinner (March 20, 1904 – August 18, 1990) was an American psychologist, behaviorist, author, inventor, and social philosopher. He was a professor of psychology at Harvard University from 1958 until his retirement in 1974.Considering free will to be an illusion, Skinner saw human action as dependent on consequences of previous actions, a theory he would articulate as the principle of reinforcement: If the consequences to an action are bad, there is a high chance the action will not be repeated; if the consequences are good, the probability of the action being repeated becomes stronger.Skinner developed behavior analysis, especially the philosophy of radical behaviorism, and founded the experimental analysis of behavior, a school of experimental research psychology. He also used operant conditioning to strengthen behavior, considering the rate of response to be the most effective measure of response strength. To study operant conditioning, he invented the operant conditioning chamber (aka the Skinner box), and to measure rate he invented the cumulative recorder. Using these tools, he and Charles Ferster produced Skinner's most influential experimental work, outlined in their 1957 book Schedules of Reinforcement.Skinner was a prolific author, publishing 21 books and 180 articles. He imagined the application of his ideas to the design of a human community in his 1948 utopian novel, Walden Two, while his analysis of human behavior culminated in his 1958 work, Verbal Behavior.Skinner, John B. Watson and Ivan Pavlov, are considered to be the pioneers of modern behaviorism. Accordingly, a June 2002 survey listed Skinner as the most influential psychologist of the 20th century.
With an HPI of 71.41, Edward Thorndike is the 7th most famous Psychologist. His biography has been translated into 50 different languages.
Edward Lee Thorndike (August 31, 1874 – August 9, 1949) was an American psychologist who spent nearly his entire career at Teachers College, Columbia University. His work on comparative psychology and the learning process led to the theory of connectionism and helped lay the scientific foundation for educational psychology. He also worked on solving industrial problems, such as employee exams and testing. He was a member of the board of the Psychological Corporation and served as president of the American Psychological Association in 1912. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Thorndike as the ninth-most cited psychologist of the 20th century. Edward Thorndike had a powerful impact on reinforcement theory and behavior analysis, providing the basic framework for empirical laws in behavior psychology with his law of effect. Through his contributions to the behavioral psychology field came his major impacts on education, where the law of effect has great influence in the classroom.
With an HPI of 69.83, Irvin D. Yalom is the 8th most famous Psychologist. His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.
Irvin David Yalom (; born June 13, 1931) is an American existential psychiatrist who is emeritus professor of psychiatry at Stanford University, as well as author of both fiction and nonfiction.
With an HPI of 69.30, Lawrence Kohlberg is the 9th most famous Psychologist. His biography has been translated into 38 different languages.
Lawrence Kohlberg (; October 25, 1927 – January 19, 1987) was an American psychologist best known for his theory of stages of moral development. He served as a professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Chicago and at the Graduate School of Education at Harvard University. Even though it was considered unusual in his era, he decided to study the topic of moral judgment, extending Jean Piaget's account of children's moral development from twenty-five years earlier. In fact, it took Kohlberg five years before he was able to publish an article based on his views. Kohlberg's work reflected and extended not only Piaget's findings but also the theories of philosophers George Herbert Mead and James Mark Baldwin. At the same time he was creating a new field within psychology: "moral development". In an empirical study using six criteria, such as citations and recognition, Kohlberg was found to be the 30th most eminent psychologist of the 20th century.
With an HPI of 68.13, Jerome Bruner is the 10th most famous Psychologist. His biography has been translated into 39 different languages.
Jerome Seymour Bruner (October 1, 1915 – June 5, 2016) was an American psychologist who made significant contributions to human cognitive psychology and cognitive learning theory in educational psychology. Bruner was a senior research fellow at the New York University School of Law. He received a B.A. in 1937 from Duke University and a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1941. He taught and did research at Harvard University, the University of Oxford, and New York University. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Bruner as the 28th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.
Pantheon has 74 people classified as psychologists born between 1842 and 1967. Of these 74, 16 (21.62%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living psychologists include Irvin D. Yalom, Paul Ekman, and Howard Gardner. The most famous deceased psychologists include Abraham Maslow, John Dewey, and William James. As of April 2022, 12 new psychologists have been added to Pantheon including Robert Plutchik, Arnold Gesell, and Benjamin Libet.
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Which Psychologists were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 25 most globally memorable Psychologists since 1700.