Psychology is an exciting field that has seen a lot of changes since its early days. Some of the most famous psychologists are those who have produced the most noteworthy milestones in the field. Here are some of the most famous psychologists, and what each one is best known for.

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1 Ivan Pavlovivan-pavlov-most-famous-psychologists

  • Full name: Ivan Petrovich Pavlov
  • Born: 26 September 1849
  • Died: 27 February 1936 (aged 86)
  • Nationality: Russian
  • What Pavlov was known for: Practically everyone has heard of Pavlov’s dogs. Pavlov wasn’t technically a psychologist, but he made one of the most important discoveries in the field, and had a major hand in establishing psychology as an area of study. Pavlov is the one who recognized that responses to stimuli could be learned, based on his studies of dogs.

Don’t become a mere recorder of facts, but try to penetrate the mystery of their origin. -Ivan Pavlov

2 John B. Watsonjohn-b-watson-most-famous-psychologists

  • Full name: John Broadus Watson
  • Born: January 9, 1878
  • Died: September 25, 1958 (aged 80)
  • Nationality: American
  • What Watson was known for: When Pavlov jump-started the field of psychology by recognizing the role of learned responses, he also kicked off behaviorism. Watson was the first behaviorist, arguing that psychologists can only base their theories on observation, and utilizing the study of animals in order to draw conclusions regarding human behavior.

Give me a dozen healthy infants, well-formed, and my own specified world to bring them up in and I’ll guarantee to take any one at random and train him to become any type of specialist I might select–doctor, lawyer, artist, merchant-chief, and, yes, even beggarman and thief, regardless of his talents, penchants, tendencies, abilities, vocations, and race of his ancestors. I am going beyond my facts and I admit it, but so have the advocates of the contrary and they have been doing it for many thousands of years. -John B. Watson

3 B.F. Skinnerb-f-skinner-most-famous-psychologists

  • Full name: Burrhus Frederic “B. F.” Skinner
  • Born: March 20, 1904
  • Died: August 18, 1990 (aged 86)
  • Nationality: American
  • What Skinner was known for: Another behaviorist, Skinner’s theories of operant conditioning and reinforcement have had a lasting impact on psychology. Any time you read or hear about the use of reward and punishment, you are seeing the effects of Skinner’s theories.

I did not direct my life. I didn’t design it. I never made decisions. Things always came up and made them for me. That’s what life is. -B.F. Skinner

4 Sigmund Freudsigmund-freud-most-famous-psychologists

  • Full name: Sigismund Schlomo Freud
  • Born: 6 May 1856
  • Died: 23 September 1939 (aged 83)
  • Nationality: Austrian
  • What Sigmund Freud was known for: What list of psychologists would be complete without Sigmund Freud’s name? Freud may be somewhat mocked today for his apparent preoccupation with sex, but his theories of psychoanalysis were extremely influential on the field.

A certain degree of neurosis is of inestimable value as a drive, especially to a psychologist. -Sigmund Freud

5 Carl Jungcarl-jung-most-famous-psychologists

  • Full name: Carl Gustav Jung
  • Born: 26 July 1875
  • Died: 6 June 1961 (aged 85)
  • Nationality: Swiss
  • Awards: Zurich’s literature prize (1932), elected honorary fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in England (1938)
  • What Jung was known for: Jung is another of the influential early psychologists. He worked with and was influenced by Freud, but eventually developed theories of his own. For instance, he rejected Freud’s focus on sex in favor of symbol and what he called the collective unconscious. His theories also led to the formation of Alcoholics Anonymous.

Knowing your own darkness is the best method for dealing with the darknesses of other people. -Carl Jung

6 Anna Freudanna-freud-most-famous-psychologists

  • Full name: Anna Freud
  • Born: 3 December 1895
  • Died: 9 October 1982 (aged 86)
  • Nationality: Austrian
  • What Anna Freud was known for: Often the only Freud remembered is Sigmund Freud, but his daughter Anna was also a highly influential psychologist. She was a pioneer in child psychology, adapting her father’s theories of psychoanalysis for use with children, and recognizing the differences between children and adults.

If some longing goes unmet, don’t be astonished. We call that Life. -Anna Freud

7 Erik Eriksonerik-erikson-most-famous-psychologists

  • Full name: Erik Homburger Erikson
  • Born: 15 June 1902
  • Died: 12 May 1988 (aged 85)
  • Nationality: Danish
  • What Erikson was known for: Another pioneer in child psychology, Erik Erikson studied with Anna Freud and later went on to form his own theories about the development of identity throughout the lifespan — childhood, adulthood, and old age.

Doubt is the brother of shame. -Erik Erikson

8 Jean Piagetjean-piaget-most-famous-psychologists

  • Full name: Jean William Fritz Piaget
  • Born: 9 August 1896
  • Died: 16 September 1980 (aged 84)
  • Nationality: Swiss
  • What Piaget was known for: Like Erikson, Piaget theorized that children developed in stages. Whereas Erikson’s stages focused on identity, however, Piaget studied children’s cognitive abilities. He was one of the first psychologists to acknowledge that children think differently than adults, which makes his work groundbreaking and important, even today.

It is with children that we have the best chance of studying the development of logical knowledge, mathematical knowledge, physical knowledge, and so forth. -Jean Piaget

9 Abraham Maslowabraham-maslow-most-famous-psychologists

  • Full name: Abraham Harold Maslow
  • Born: April 1, 1908
  • Died: June 8, 1970 (aged 62)
  • Nationality: American
  • What Maslow was known for: Maslow’s theories provided a sharp contrast to those of Watson, Skinner, and the other behaviorists. His emphasis on positive psychology resulted in the creation of a very different field of study, known as humanistic psychology.

If you only have a hammer, you tend to see every problem as a nail. -Abraham Maslow

10 Carl Rogerscarl-rogers-most-famous-psychologists

  • Full name: Carl Ransom Rogers
  • Born: January 8, 1902
  • Died: February 4, 1987 (aged 85)
  • Nationality: American
  • What Rogers was known for: Rogers was also very influential in the development of humanistic psychology, but perhaps his greatest contribution was in counseling and therapy. Instead of the Freudian-style psychoanalysis that was popular at the time, Rogers developed a client-centered style of counseling, in which the therapist allows the client to determine the focus.

The good life is a process, not a state of being. It is a direction not a destination. -Carl Rogers

When you get your degree in psychology, you are in good company: In just a little over a century, there have been many famous psychologists that have made lasting impacts on the field.

What are some other famous psychologists, either historical or contemporary, that you can think of?

About the author: Brian Harris is a freelance writer who enjoys writing about everything psychology related now that he is enrolled in forensic psychology courses

List by: | June 29, 2011 | Lifestyle

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List written by: List Contributor

This article was written by a List Contributor, you can find the author's information at the bottom of the article. Do you have a list to share? Send it to!


  1. Difficult question to answer without knowing what part of his work you are referring to. I would say Carl Jung because both of their work is very solidly effected by exploring the human psychological connection to religion and spirituality. As contemporaries, they both contributed greatly to transpersonal and para psychology

  2. I didn’t know Sigmund had a daughter. Like father like daughter.

  3. Why is there no comment of Timothy Leary, he played a huge part in psychology as we see it today.

  4. well these arnt the phycoligists i was looking for

    • what were you looking for then Zach?

      • Spell check.

  5. bradley was the pioneer of psychology, i astonished , no disbussions or comment on them and their work!?!

  6. any local women wanna meet?

    • For meeting ‘local women’ choosing the name ‘Ted Bundy’ is a little suspicious…

  7. I would say this is a great list Sietse. Thanks!

  8. This is a great list!! I have to choose a scientist to research and I want to do a psychologist, but this list makes it really hard! Anyone have a suggestion? Also, I’m interested in how the human body works!

  9. The list is great.I think Sigmund Freud should top the list he is more pronounced.

  10. Sigmond Freud,Erik Erikson,B.F.Skinner and Jean Piagent are the most great psychologists universally who are refered by many scholers in different colleges and Universities in psychology career.

  11. these psychologists are so good!!
    i want to be like theme or
    be one of them someday hahaha!

  12. sigmund freud should be at number as his contribution to psychology is 1 that every one is interested in and wants to know more about there for makes him the most famous

  13. sigmund freud is coooooooooooool :p

  14. hi could anyone help me out im struggling 2 find a psychologist who used the survey method.

  15. salut quelqu’un pourrait-m’aider de trouver les grands psychologue qui parles du développement de l’enfant

  16. Psychology is defined as activity of a human behavior.

    Remember These Lines

    “If a person says lies that person will always be in a Tensed state and not lead a peaceful life”
    Whereas “If a person says Truth that person will always be in relaxed state and lead peaceful and happy life”
    Because being Truth to everyone our Energy,Motivation and confident Level increases.This is true



    It is not where you were or where you are but where you want to go that is important.
    Always work to a plan.
    Have your targets clear.
    SMART GOALS are important.
    Don’t limit your challenges;CHALLENGE your limits.
    Remember the proverb “Rome was not built in a day”
    Always control your mind.Because controlling the mind is important to us.If any situation happens to you it may be difficult or any other situation may be controlling our mind helps us to think positively and you can perform your task perfectly.So always control your mind you can find a solution to your problem by controlled mind.If you are controlling your mind you are in relaxed state then you can think creative solution for your problem.

    Motivation is a tendency,which induces a person to act in a certain way.
    It is the active impulse to achieve a goal.
    Motives energize,sustain and regulate our behaviour.
    Motivation is needed in every field of education.
    The success of teaching learning process depends on incentives,encouragement and all those forces that set the child to learning activity.
    so lets all be a good motivator.

    The following lines should be remembered by all
    Have a positive thinking and mental toughness then only you can able to succeed in your life.
    A person with negative attitude feels bitter,tires easily and have a health problems.
    Understand your plus points in you.
    Think highly about you.
    Think that you can ,you must and you will and have a will power.


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