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Readers Respond: Who Is the Most Influential Psychologist?

Responses: 93


An article appearing in a 2002 edition of the Review of General Psychology ranked 100 of the top psychologists throughout history. Who do you think deserves a spot in the top ten? Describe who you would pick as one of the biggest influences on psychology and give a few reasons for your choice.

Abraham Maslow

He is the only psychologist that mentioned about self-actuality and it inspires me that we could reach the height of our joys if we can actualize all aspects of our human life and that would include our search for that God-shaped vacuum in our hearts that only the Almighty Creator can fill. This is indeed self-actualization.
—Guest zensubrabas

Most Influential Psychologist

I reject all psychodynamic psychologists, merely because of the inherent flaws in their work. Abraham Maslow is definitely a top contender for his work in humanistic psychology, especially the famous Maslow's hierachy of needs. However, I would probably go with William James, because his book, Principles of Psychology, has introduced so many others to the field of psychology.
—Guest Andy McAvoy


Did you ever hear of Albert Ellis, the founder of Rational Emotive Therapy (Later Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy)?
—Guest Gil Gaudia, Ph.D

Not my favorite but "most influential".

William James, and the “Functionalist” approach was virtually absorbed by a large amount of psychological schools of thought -in both modern and contemporary times; which remains objective as a science and as a foundation in Psychology; due to its practical approach to the many questions about the functions underlining mental processes, behavior and the applications of the knowledge to the various fields of practice- its transmission have remained integrated in todays applied research and practice. Of all of the schools of psychology and mainstream theorists, it is safe to assume that somehow, directly or indirectly: William James played an influential role in their work, due primarily to the extensive diversity of topics of research he exhibited interest on exploring that others picked on and build upon.
—Guest Lucem


Man's Search for Meaning changed my life. Have since been able to influence others in the same way.
—Guest Scott_elumn8


Frankly, no theory can stand alone, some experiences are amenable to conditioning, others are not, while some are mere observation. I admire the works of BF Skinner, Ivan Pavlov, Edward Lee Thorndike,Wolfgang Kohler, Sigmund Freud, Carl Rogers, Abraham Maslow but above all Albert Bandura a Stanford psychologist that integrated the idea of observation and imitation (models).
—Guest lokosi Blessing

Jung Hillman

I believe the most influential psychologists, for their initial work & its impact on current thought are Carl Jung & James Hillman. Both will continue to influence not only the mental health field, but the larger culture as well (the arts, philosophy, etc)
—Guest D May

Viktor Frankl

I believe that Frankl should at least be considered for the top 10 list. He was really the first existential psychologist and his insight into 'meaning', which is in a way, somewhat humanistic, was groundbreaking, especially since it grew out of the unknowable and inhuman Nazi genocide. I've seen short video clips of Frankl speaking in front of an audience and he appeared to be an exceedingly learned individual with a great sense of humor, as well as possessing an extraordinary gift for the sanctity of life. When people speak the truth out of experience, especially traumatic and horror-filled experience, their message seems to have a gravitas that is missing from someone who is almost entirely theoretical. Carl Rogers is another individual that also seemed to live his beliefs and values. I'm not saying that one has to live all or most of what they think and write about, but if what they're saying has a good basis in truth, then their work seems more authentic.

Carl Jung

I have always considered Carl Jung to be the greatest of all psychologists because of how open he was to those aspects of human development that could not be explained by science. Also, his involvement in the develoment of personality type was a great contribution to furthering the development of meaningful and positive relationships among people.
—Guest Lou

Who made this list?

#1 should be Sigmund Freud. As far as the order of the other nine; I'm not sure, but the list should include the following: Carl Rogers Erik Erikson Albert Ellis Carl Jung B.F. Skinner Alfred Adler John B. Watson Jean Piaget Aaron Beck In reality, there are more than 10 most influential psychologist in world history that have shaped psychology today.
—Guest Cari Andrews

Aaron Beck

Most influential in cognitive-behavioral therapy and technique in my eyes, and of course my cognitive thought process.
—Guest Cari Andrews

Most Inflential

I think that the Russian scientist Ivan Pavlov was the most influential.

Spirituality into Psychology

Jung was the only psychologist in the 19th century to say that human beings are basically religious. He didn't reject religion and spirituality as paranormal or as a mean of social control as other did at that time, but accepted it as a dimension of the human psyche.
—Guest Karthikeyaan Shanmugam

Freidrich Nietzsche

The man who influenced many on this list as well as intelectuals like Jung. His originality is striking and his ideas are simple and bold.
—Guest Mustafa Arif

Roger Sheppard

Has done more than anyone to advanced a program of universal laws of cognition (although perhaps that makes more of a cognitive scientist than psychologist.)
—Guest Russell W

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