The Top 5 Most Influential Psychologists

Modern psychology would not be the same without these guys. They paved the way for other doctors to really delve deep into the human psyche. They’ve caused controversy, many of them don’t agree with one another, and their principals still divide the psychiatric community.

Here’s a shout out to 5 guys that did psychology right! I know some of you have done your own psychological experiments at home, how’d they turn out? Why’d you do them? And after reading this, if you haven’t done your own, you’re going to want to. Go ahead and condition your boss to let you leave work early every day, just don’t tell him I told you to.


1.  Wilhelm Wundt 1832-1920Wilhelm_Wundt

This dude is the first guy in history to say “Hey guys, I think there is a reason people believe folklore. Let’s make some sort of test and find out”. Wundt is considered to be the father of experimental psychology. While other philosophers were sitting around smoking their pipes (I assume pipes because it seems classy) this guy was making things happen with his tests and then making his own theories.


 2.  Alfred Kinsey 1894-1956Alfred-Kinsey

In terms of sexual psychology, Kinsey was the largest influence on the everyday people. Kinsey brought issues to light in a time when the American people were extremely sexually oppressed. He did studies with students and family members that focused on the subject speaking frankly about sexual desires, activities and feelings. Recently, the world was shocked to find out that older women wanted more sex, while their male counterparts wanted to cuddle.

Kinsey also created the infamous Kinsey scale, which is used to describe sexual preferences more in depth and he ended up being so famous that he founded an entire institute to study human sexuality that is still working today.


3.  Sigmund Freud 1856-1939Freud

Ever asked someone for a pen and it came out “Can I use your penis?”, that’s what’s called a Freudian slip and for good reason. Freud may have been the founder of psychoanalysis, but he had a strange obsession with genitals. The phrase “penis envy” can also be attributed to Freud, he thought that women had some animosity towards men over their penis.

Although it seems that Freud’s theories have helped comedy writers throughout the ages, he did make a large impact in the professional psychological world. His theory that the brain operated in two capacities, the conscious and unconscious is still widely used today. By using modern medical equipment science has been able to see what exactly happens in the mind before a decision is made and there are conscious and unconscious factors in every decision. But really friends, before you throw out a penis joke, evaluate what you REALLY mean.


4.  Jean Piaget 1896-1980

What Kinsey did for sex Piaget did for kids, and that’s not as dirty as it sounds. Piaget was one of the first psychologists to wonder why children behaved the way they did and how that behavior could be changed. No one had studied this before he did because it was common knowledge that children were just not as smart as adults.

Piaget found that children had vastly different viewpoints from adults and really saw the world in a completely different way. In this sense, different did not mean wrong it just meant that the blank slate had yet to be written upon. His research has been used time and time again in child development and early childhood education.


5.  Ivan Pavlov 1849-1936Ivan_Pavlov

Ah, classical conditioning. It’s one of the first things that we learn; even as children we are conditioned. The mother’s breast signifies warmth, food and comfort. As we grow, the ice cream truck means sweets, the bell for school means class, and our cell phone ringer means someone is calling. We are so conditioned that we don’t even know it.

Don’t believe me? Set your cell phone ring tone to a generic and popular one, then come back and tell me how many times you checked your phone when it wasn’t yours that rang. Classical conditioning is all Pavlov. He fed the dogs and rang a bell, and soon the bell meant food.

Without him, we might think that it’s some sort of witch-craft making us do those crazy things.

About Ali Hazen

Hi everyone! My name is Ali, I'm a 27 year old mother of 4. When I'm not wiping butts or doing laundry, I'm studying for my bachelors in Psychology.
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