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Who are some influential psychologists?

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Quick Answer

Some famous and influential psychologists include Sigmund Freud, B.F. Skinner, Carl Rogers, Carl Jung and Alfred Kinsey. Most of these psychologists established entirely new schools of psychology, while others explored topics that had never been seriously considered before.

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Many psychologists consider Sigmund Freud the father of the entire science of psychology. His particular school of psychology, which he called psychoanalysis and which is now largely known as psychodynamic theory, focused on conflicts between a person's conscious actions and unconscious instincts. Freud was also important for establishing the now-common technique of a single psychologist hearing a single client describe their problems.

B.F. Skinner is the key figure in modern behavioral psychology. Behavioral psychology, or behaviorism, studies why people do the things they do and how to get them to perform certain actions. Skinner's research built on the work of Ivan Pavlov concerning classical conditioning. Despite his profound influence on psychology, Pavlov was not actually a psychologist but a physiologist.

While most earlier psychologists had focused on psychological disorders as medical problems with medical solutions, Carl Rogers was one of the first psychologists to focus more on the person experiencing the disorder than the disorder itself. This approach, called client-centered therapy, remains extremely influential on the way many clinical psychologists interact with their clients.

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