10 Most Famous Psychologists in The World (2022)

In this article, I’ve compiled a list of the 10 most famous psychologists in the world.

If you’ve been wondering who is the most famous psychologist in this world, don’t panic you’re in the right place.

In the past two centuries, the world has seen many changes and developments in psychology.

These changes have been beneficial in helping professionals better understand human behaviors and thinking patterns.

However, they have also helped shed light on conditions that used to seem mysterious.

Before I dive into the main article, let me take some minutes to educate you on some other relatable phrases.

Who is a Psychologist?

A psychologist is someone who studies mental processes and human behavior by observing, interpreting, and recording how people relate to one another and the environment.

Psychologists usually acquire a four-year university degree, often with post-graduate work required.

Unlike psychiatrists, psychologists usually cannot prescribe medication to patients.

They can work with a range of institutions and people, such as schools, prisons, a private clinic, in a workplace, or with a sports team.

Some psychologists work independently, doing research or working only with patients or clients.

While others work as part of a healthcare team, collaborating with physicians, social workers, and others to treat illness and promote overall wellness.

What does a Psychologist do?

Psychologists have the demanding yet rewarding job of studying cognitive, emotional, and social processes and behaviors in people.

They conduct their studies through talk therapy and observation, and they report their findings and make diagnoses by interpreting and recording how their patients relate to their surroundings and people in their lives.

A key goal for psychologists is to understand and articulate the thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behaviors of their clients.

However, they seek to understand and explain the thoughts, emotions, feelings, and behavior of people.

Types of Psychologist

The following are the types of psychologists in the world:

  • Clinical psychologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Health psychologists
  • Counseling psychologists
  • Forensic psychologists

Are you suited to be a psychologist?

Psychologists have distinct personalities.

They tend to be investigative individuals, which means they’re intellectual, introspective, and inquisitive.

They are curious, methodical, rational, analytical, and logical.

Some of them are also social, meaning they’re kind, generous, cooperative, patient, caring, helpful, empathetic, tactful, and friendly.

Though it ain’t necessary that you must have all those characteristics mentioned above, you must be ready for the commitment as you progress with the course.

10 Famous Psychologist in The World in 2022

Below is the list of the 10 most famous psychologists:

  1. Albert Bandura
  2. Mary Whiton Calkins
  3. Erik Erikson
  4. Leon Festinger
  5. Anna Freud
  6. Sigmund Freud
  7. William James
  8. Carl Jung
  9. Lawrence Kohlberg
  10. Abraham Maslow

1. Albert Bandura

Albert Bandura OC was born on December 4, 1925.

He is a Canadian-American psychologist who is the David Starr Jordan Professor Emeritus of Social Science in Psychology at Stanford University.

Moreover, he is the originator of social cognitive theory who is probably best known for his modeling study on aggression, referred to as the “Bobo doll” experiment.

The experiment demonstrated that children can learn behaviors through the observation of adults.

A 2002 survey ranked Bandura as the fourth most frequently cited psychologist of all time.

Behind B. F. Skinner, Sigmund Freud, and Jean Piaget, and as the most cited living one.

Bandura is widely described as the greatest living psychologist, and as one of the most influential psychologists of all time.

Early life and work

Bandura was born in Mundare Alberta, an open town of roughly four hundred inhabitants, as the youngest child, and only son, in a family of six.

The limitations of education in a remote town such as this caused Bandura to become independent and self-motivated in terms of learning, and these primarily developed traits proved very helpful in his lengthy career.

Bandura is of Polish and Ukrainian descent.

His father was from Kraków, Poland while his mother was from Ukraine.

The summer after finishing high school, Bandura worked in the Yukon to protect the Alaska Highway against sinking.

Moreover, he later credited his work in the northern tundra as the origin of his interest in human psychopathology.

It was in this experience in the Yukon, where he was exposed to a subculture of drinking and gambling, which helped broaden his perspective and scope of views on life.

Bandura arrived in the US in 1949 and was naturalized in 1956.

Where he married Late Virginia Varns (1921–2011) in 1952, and they raised two daughters, Carol and Mary.

Bandura was initially influenced by Robert Sears’ work on familial antecedents of social behavior and identificatory learning and gave up his research of the psychoanalytic theory.

The theory inspired him to direct his initial research to the role of social modeling in human motivation, thought, and action.

However, in collaboration with Richard Walters, his first doctoral student, he engaged in studies of social learning and aggression.

Their joint efforts illustrated the critical role of modeling in human behavior and led to a program of research into the determinants and mechanisms of observational learning.

2. Mary Whiton Calkins

Mary Whiton Calkins was an American philosopher and psychologist.

As a psychologist, she taught at Wellesley College for many years and researched dreams and memory.

Calkins was the first woman to become president of the American Psychological Association and the American Philosophical Association.

Early life and work

Mary Whiton Calkins was born on March 30, 1863, in Hartford, Connecticut.

She was the eldest of five children.

Her parents were Wolcott and Charlotte Whiton Calkins.

Mary was known to be close with her family.

She moved to Newton, Massachusetts in 1880 with her family to live for the rest of her life

This is also where she began her education.

Later on, her family moved from New York to Massachusetts because her father, who was a Presbyterian minister, got a new job there.

In 1882, Calkins entered Smith College as a sophomore.

However, she studied for the year, but in 1883 with the death of her sister, she took a year off from college and studied on her own.

While taking time off from school, Calkins received private tutoring lessons in Greek.

During this year, she also tutored two of her brothers and studied Greek.

Moreover, she returned to Smith College in 1884 to graduate with a concentration in classics and philosophy.

She was a late 19th and early 20th-century psychologist and philosopher who introduced the field of self-psychology.

Among her lasting conceptual contributions, Calkins explored the concept of the Right-Associates Method which is now known as the Paired-Associations Technique.

Here, Calkins presented subjects with a series of colors paired with numbers and later found that patients readily recalled numbers when presented with previously paired colors.

This proved a compelling insight into the way that humans create meaning and association every single day by, for instance, learning new words and connecting them to objects or ideas.

3. Erik Erikson

Erik Homburger Erikson was a German-American developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst known for his theory on the psychological development of human beings.

He may be most famous for coining the phrase identity crisis.

His son, Kai T. Erikson, is a noted American sociologist.

Despite lacking a bachelor’s degree, Erikson served as a professor at prominent institutions, including Harvard, University of California, Berkeley, and Yale.

A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Erikson as the 12th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.

Early life and work

Erik Homburger Erikson was born on June 15, 1902–May 12, 1994.

Erikson’s mother, Karla Abrahamsen, came from a prominent Jewish family in Copenhagen, Denmark.

She was married to Jewish stockbroker Valdemar Isidor Salomonsen but had been estranged from him for several months at the time Erik was conceived.

Little is known about Erik’s biological father except that he was a non-Jewish Dane.

On discovering her pregnancy, Karla fled to Frankfurt am Main in Germany where Erik was born on 15 June 1902 and was given the surname Salomonsen.

His mother fled due to conceiving Erik out of wedlock, and the identity of Erik’s birth father was never made clear.

Erik was a tall, blond, blue-eyed boy who was raised in the Jewish religion.

Due to his mixed identities, he was a target of bigotry by both Jewish and gentile children.

Moreover, at temple school, his peers teased him for being Nordic.

While at grammar school, he was teased for being Jewish.

Erikson married Canadian-born American dancer and artist Joan Erikson in 1930 and they remained together until his death.

As one of the prime proponents of ego psychology, Erikson placed tremendous importance on the role of the self in an individual’s developmental progress.

Though Erikson did not directly connect the stages of development with age.

His writing about “prolonged adolescence” has given way to greater developmental awareness of a stage called “emerging adulthood”.

4. Leon Festinger

Leon Festinger was an American social psychologist, perhaps best known for cognitive dissonance and social comparison theory.

Early life and work

Festinger was born in Brooklyn New York on May 8, 1919, to Russian-Jewish immigrants Alex Festinger and Sara Solomon Festinger.

His father, an embroidery manufacturer, had “left Russia a radical and atheist and remained faithful to these views throughout his life.

Festinger attended Boys’ High School in Brooklyn and received his BS degree in psychology from the City College of New York in 1939.

He proceeded to study under Kurt Lewin at the University of Iowa, where Festinger received his MA in 1940 and Ph.D. in 1942 in the field of child behavior.

By his admission, he was not interested in social psychology when he arrived at Iowa and did not take a single course in social psychology during his entire time there.

Instead, he was interested in Lewin’s earlier work on tension systems, but Lewin’s focus had shifted to social psychology by the time Festinger arrived at Iowa.

His theories and research are credited with renouncing the previously dominant behaviorist view of social psychology by demonstrating the inadequacy of stimulus-response conditioning accounts of human behavior.

Festinger is also credited with advancing the use of laboratory experimentation in social psychology, although he simultaneously stressed the importance of studying real-life situations.

A principle he perhaps most famously practiced when personally infiltrating a doomsday cult.

He is also known in social network theory for the proximity effect (or propinquity).

Despite his preeminence in social psychology, Festinger turned to visual perception research in 1964 and then archaeology, history, and the human evolutionary sciences in 1979 until he died in 1989.

5. Anna Freud

Anna Freud was a British psychoanalyst of Austrian-Jewish descent.

She was born in Vienna, the sixth and youngest child of Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays who followed the path of her father and contributed to the field of psychoanalysis.

Early life and work

She was the youngest daughter of Sigmund Freud and Martha Bernays.

Anna Freud appears to have had a comparatively unhappy childhood, in which she “never made a close or pleasurable relationship with her mother, and was instead nurtured by their Catholic nurse Josephine.

She found it particularly difficult to get along with her eldest sister, Sophie, “the two young Freuds developed their version of a common sisterly division of territories, ‘beauty and ‘brains’, and their father once spoke of her “age-old jealousy of Sophie.

Anna added significantly to his body of work by focusing much of her attention on juvenile subjects.

Alongside Melanie Klein another influential Austrian-born psychoanalyst with whom the younger Freud sometimes disagreed as a founder of psychoanalytic child psychology.

She wrote about the importance of ego and stressed that we are impacted by the “developmental lines” of our ego.

She noted that ego functions play a direct role in the development of “defense mechanisms,” strategies developed in the unconscious to protect us from stressors or stimuli perceived as harmful.

Moreover, her clinical work and application of Sigmund Freud’s psychoanalysis studies to younger subjects, both shed greater light on child psychology, behavior, and disorder.

6. Sigmund Freud

Sigmund Freud was an Austrian neurologist and the founder of psychoanalysis, a clinical method for treating psychopathology through dialogue between a patient and a psychoanalyst.

Freud was born to Galician Jewish parents in the Moravian town of Freiberg, in the Austrian Empire.

Early life and work

Freud was born to Galician Jewish parents in the Moravian town of Freiberg, in the Austrian Empire.

He qualified as a doctor of medicine in 1881 at the University of Vienna.

Upon completing his habilitation in 1885, he was appointed a docent in neuropathology and became an affiliated professor in 1902.

He lived and worked in Vienna, having set up his clinical practice there in 1886.

However, Freud left Austria to escape Nazi persecution but later died in exile in the United Kingdom in 1939.

In founding psychoanalysis, Freud developed therapeutic techniques such as the use of free association and discovered transference, establishing its central role in the analytic process.

Freud’s redefinition of sexuality to include its infantile forms led him to formulate the Oedipus complex as the central tenet of psychoanalytical theory.

His analysis of dreams as wish-fulfillments provided him with models for the clinical analysis of symptom formation and the underlying mechanisms of repression.

Moreover, he postulated the existence of ;

  • Libido
  • Sexualized energy with which mental processes and structures are invested and which generates erotic attachments,
  • A death drive,
  • The source of compulsive repetition, hate, aggression, and neurotic guilt.
  • In his later works, Freud developed a wide-ranging interpretation and critique of religion and culture.

Though in overall decline as a diagnostic and clinical practice, psychoanalysis remains influential within psychology, psychiatry, and psychotherapy, and across the humanities.

7. William James

William James 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 nineteenth century, one of the most influential philosophers of the United States, and the “Father of American psychology”.

Early life and work

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 has written 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
  • The Varieties of Religious Experience
  • Investigation of different forms of religious experience, including theories on mind-cure.

8. Carl Jung

Carl Gustav Jung was a Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst who founded analytical psychology.

Jung’s work has been influential in the fields of psychiatry, anthropology, archaeology, literature, philosophy, psychology, and religious studies.

Early life and work

Carl Gustav Jung was born in Kesswil, in the Swiss canton of Thurgau, on 26 July 1875 as the first surviving son of Paul Achilles Jung and Emilie Preiswerk.

Karl was born third, after two stillbirths, and a son named Paul, born in 1873, who only survived a few days.

Among the central concepts of analytical psychology is individuation the lifelong psychological process of differentiation of the self out of each individual’s conscious and unconscious elements.

Jung considered it to be the main task of human development.

Because created some of the best known psychological concepts, including:

  • Synchronicity.
  • Archetypal phenomena.
  • The collective unconscious.
  • The psychological complex and extraversion, and introversion.

Jung was also an artist, craftsman, and builder as well as a prolific writer.

Many of his works were not published until after his death and some are still awaiting publication.

9. Lawrence Kohlberg

Lawrence Kohlberg 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.

Early life and work

Lawrence Kohlberg was born in Bronxville, New York.

He was the youngest of four children of Alfred Kohlberg, a Jewish German entrepreneur, and his second wife, Charlotte Albrecht, a Christian German chemist.

His parents separated when he was four years old and divorced finally when he was fourteen.

From 1933 to 1938, Lawrence and his three other siblings rotated between their mother and father for six months at a time.

In 1938 this rotating custody of the Kohlberg children was ended, allowing the children to choose the parent with whom they wanted to live.

He grew and 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.

It took Kohlberg five years before he was able to publish an article based on his views.

His works 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.

10. Abraham Maslow

Abraham Harold Maslow 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.

Early life and work

Maslow deferred to Freud for his groundbreaking work in understanding human dysfunction.

But, by contrast, he focused his work on the positive aspects of human psychological health.

He sought answers to questions about individual self-actualization and the pursuit of personal fulfillment.

These interests led him to his most lasting contribution in the field of psychology: “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs”.

This holds that our psychological health depends on the fulfillment of certain innate needs and that we prioritize in order of importance, from basic survival needs and security needs to more intrinsic needs.

Another compelling concept that Maslow explored in close connection with his hierarchy was the idea of Peak Experiences:

Profound moments of extraordinary love, understanding, stimulation, etc.

And Plateau Experiences (moments of great equanimity), both more likely to be achieved by those who are more genuinely self-actualized.

Conclusion on Famous Psychologist in The World

They are other famous psychologists in the world but the ones mentioned above are the most famous ones.

I believed you’ve learned something from the article.

Please do well to drop your honest thoughts in the comment section below.

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