5 Most Influential Psychologists Alive Today

famous psychologists today

5 Most Influential Living Psychologists

  • Elliot Aronson
  • Mihály Csikszentmihályi
  • Richard J. Davidson
  • Daniel Goleman
  • Carol A. Tavris

Psychology is the scientific study of the human mind and a wide range of behaviors. The study of psychology explores the connections between thought, emotion, motivation, personality, and even human growth and development. Although Sigmund Freud (1856 to 1939) is considered the founding father of psychoanalysis most of his original theories are now viewed with skepticism. The advancement of contemporary psychology owes a lot to psychologists who are still alive.

Elliot Aronson

Elliot Arson was born in 1932 and received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 1959. He is best known for his experiments on cognitive dissonance, the feeling of discomfort that occurs when subjects experience inconsistent thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes as they struggle with behavioral decisions and changing attitudes. In particular, he examined the social dimensions of human motivation and the underlying reasons for prejudice and aggression. He is the author of the widely used social psychology textbook The Social Animal, originally published in 1972 and now in its eleventh edition.

Mihály Csikszentmihályi

Mihály Csikszentmihályi was born in 1934 and received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 1965. He is best known for his work in positive psychology. He coined the term “flow” to describe the psychological concept of extreme mental focus and resulting positive feelings that are conducive to productivity. Csikszentmihályi introduced this concept into popular psychology with his book Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience in 1990. His work focuses on intrinsic motivation, the drive to seek out new things and new challenges.

Richard J. Davidson

Richard J. Davidson was born in 1951 and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1976. He is best known for his work in mindfulness and meditation, conducting EEG and fMRI studies with Tibetan Monks. Davidson proposed that Buddhist meditation could train the brain to achieve more positive affective states. The American Psychological Association awarded Davidson with the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award in 2000, and Time magazine named the noted psychologist one of the 100 most influential people of 2006.

Daniel Goleman

Daniel Goleman was born in 1946 and received his Ph.D. from Harvard University. He is best known for his work in communication and behavioral sciences, where he proposed individuals could learn to identify and manage their own emotions to achieve desired outcomes. Goleman introduced this concept to popular audiences in his 1995 book Emotional Intelligence. The five components of self-regulation include self-awareness, self-regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skills. Goleman proposed that emotional intelligence is just as important as IQ when it comes to individual success.

Carol A. Tavris

Carol A. Tavris was born in 1944 and received her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1971. She is best known for her work in gender identity and equality. Tavris co-authored the popular textbook Psychology with Carole Wade in 1980. It was the first well-read textbook to present significant research on gender identification and culture. Tavris also worked at debunking pop-psychology myths and how cognitive dissonance can cause individuals to reject evidence that is contrary to their belief systems.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Psychology is an ever-growing field thanks to the constant developments of dedicated psychologists who labor tirelessly within the field. These are just five of the most influential psychologists alive, today.