5 Modern Pioneers in the Field of Psychology

pioneers in psychology

5 Most Influential Modern-Day Psychologists

  • Albert Bandura
  • Aaron Beck
  • Howard Gardner
  • Marsha Linehan
  • Philip Zimbardo

Psychology has come a long way since Freud and Jung battled it out over analysis and Pavlov and his dogs laid the foundation for behaviorism. The work of these and other early founders is still present in every research study and every therapist’s office. These five modern pioneers in the field of psychology have built upon it a structure of knowledge and practice to fit our current society.

1. Albert Bandura

At over 90 years old, Albert Bandura, as well as his theories on social psychology, are still going strong. Bandura’s claim to fame in psychology was his strong belief in personal self-efficacy, that we each already possess everything we need to be our best selves. His body of work that unfolded from this belief included therapeutic interventions aimed at removing mental and emotional barricades that we allow others to place in the way of our strengths. Many would argue that Bandura’s work gave birth to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), one of the most popular therapeutic methods in use by psychologists today.

2. Aaron Beck

There must be something powerfully preservative in the work of a psychologist because Aaron Beck is another principle pioneer of psychology now living in his 90s. Beck devoted his career to tackling the emotional epidemic of depression and anxiety disorders. Beck’s Depression Inventory is the leading measurement took among both researchers and practitioners. In addition to Bandura, Beck’s work heavily influenced CBT towards becoming what it is today. Aaron Beck is also one of the most widely published psychologists in the world.

3. Howard Gardner

Howard Gardner is best known for shattering archaic beliefs about intelligence. Prior to Gardner’s work, intelligence was measured by rigid standardized tests, and people were classified into at most three types of intelligence: analytical, creative, and practical. Gardner helped highlight two major flaws in this theory. First, everyone possesses some form of intelligence, and plenty of intelligent people do not fit one of these three categories. Second, each of these categories is far more diverse than one label allows. Garner developed a theory that includes multiple forms of intelligence, of which he believes each individual possesses a unique blend. Forbes offers a guide to using your distinct blend of Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence types to reach your full potential.

4. Marsha Linehan

Marsha Linehan is a prime example of someone who uses their own personal struggles to further the field of psychology. As a young woman, Linehan struggled with what she now believes was Bipolar Personal Disorder (BPD). She, therefore, understands first hand how difficult it is to live with BPD and other personality disorders. Many psychologists are reluctant to approach the treatment of personality disorders due to their notoriously chronic nature and impact on an individual’s interpersonal skills. This makes Linehan not just a pioneer, but also a heroine in the field of psychology.

5. Philip Zimbardo

Psychologists and non-psychologists alike have all heard of the famous Philip Zimbardo and his infamous Stanford Prison Experiment of the 1970s. Passionate about discovering new information on obedience processes, Zimbardo unintentionally turned several research participants into real-life victims and perpetrators of the abuse of authority. This experiment led to a revamping of the ethical standards of psychological research. The first to admit his blunder, Zimbardo has since dedicated his life’s work to understanding and eradicating the social epidemic of bullying.

A world without psychology would necessitate a world without people. We will forever be locked into a battle against our own minds clambering around our own and others’ thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, striving to be our best selves and maintain a stable society. These pioneers in the field of psychology have stepped up to help us with this. Let’s hope they are simultaneously busy training the next generation of researchers and practitioners.

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