Important Events Throughout the History of Psychology

By lstumpp
  • Period: 9000 BCE to 3000 BCE

    Neolithic Revolution

    The shift between hunter-gatherer societies to villages. This period is where our first civilizations emerged.
  • Period: 625 BCE to 547 BCE


    He is credited as the first philosopher. Thales is known for his naturalistic explanations of the universe and his acceptance of criticism - starting the critical tradition
  • 517 BCE

    Plato published the Allegory of the Cave

    This work is based on the nature of belief versus knowledge. The main theme says that humans cannot derive true knowledge from experience and true knowledge comes from reasoning.
  • Period: 460 BCE to 377 BCE


    Hippocrates is a Greek philosopher best known for his attack on supernatural medicine and his development of natural factors. One of his most famous beliefs is that the four humors (black bile, yellow bile, blood, and phlegm) played a part in the health of an individual - if one of the humors were out of wack, illness occurred.
  • 450 BCE


    Sophists believed that truth was relative and no single truth existed. This created a major transition in philosophy that emphasized what humans know and how they can know.
  • Period: 450 BCE to 300 BCE

    Classical Period of Greece

    During this period, many major thinkers such as Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. These thinkers emphasized natural explanations instead of spiritual reasons to explain various phenomena.
  • AD 1


    Jesus began the development of Christianity when he claimed to be the son of God. Throughout his life, he faced many trials and tribulations but kept pushing, eventually creating the foundations for Christianity
  • Period: 500 to 1400

    The Middle Ages

    The Middle Ages saw huge influence and power from the church and basically forced people to believe in Christianity. During this time, major works from philosophers were lost due to the church not believing in them.
  • Period: 1300 to

    The Renaissance

    This is a period is a paradigm where many people challenged the authority of the church. Humanism spread during this time as a form of interest and discovery about human beings.
  • Period: 1500 to


    The Mannerism movement occurred after the fall of Rome; the Early Mannerism expressed a traditional approach until 1535 followed by High Mannerism that expressed a more artificial science. In this movement, art transformed from showing man as the center of the universe to portraying man as isolated in the great mystery of life due to the increase in scientific discoveries.
  • 1527

    The Fall of Rome

    The fall of Rome marked the end of the Renaissance paradigm. The strains between the Christian church and humanism creating the Mannerist Crisis; a feeling that everything that could be accomplished was accomplished.
  • Period: 1543 to

    Scientific Revolution

    The Scientific Revolution paradigm started with Nicholas Copernicus's discovery of the heliocentric cosmos and led to extreme scientific discoveries about the universe. This Revolution went against church beliefs of the universe and began focusing on redefining nature and knowledge.
  • Period: to

    Thomas Hobbes

    Hobbes is noted as the father of British empiricism which stresses the importance of experiences in obtaining knowledge. He focused on the fact that all ideas came from sensory experience and external objects influence vital functions of the body.
  • Rationalism

    Rationalists, such as Spinoza, Leibniz, Reid, and Kant, emphasized the importance of sensory information when obtaining knowledge, the importance of innate structures, principles, and an active mind. Rationalism is credited with influencing studies of human behavior and cognition.
  • Period: to

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau

    Jean-Jacques Rousseau is noted as being the father of romanticism. He believed in free will and believed that people should not be governed if they wanted to reach their full potential but, admitted that people need to give up primitive independence to live in a civilization.
  • Period: to

    Enlightenment Paradigm

    The Englightenment was a philosophical movement that centered around reason being the primary source of authority and legitimacy which called for a new civil order based on natural law (instead of religion). The Enlightenment advocated for the separation of church and state and for democracy.
  • Period: to

    Franz Joseph Gall

    Gall believed that faculties of the mind acted on and transformed sensory information. Three claims he made about sensory information (mental faculties do not exist in the same extent in all humans, faculties are housed in different areas of the brain, and the shape of the skull is dependent on the development of faculties) changed the history of psychology and developed phrenology.
  • Period: to

    Romanticism and Existentialism Paradigms

    Romanticism and Existentialism are based on the emphasis on individualism, spontaneity, freedom of rules, and solitary life. Philosophers argued that humans are more than ideas derived from experience and emotions are an important factor when studying individuals.
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    French Revolution

    The Revolution occurred because of the discontent with the French monarchy. Created the Declaration of Rights of Man and the Citizen which is basically a bill of rights for the citizens.
  • Period: to

    Gustav Theodor Fechner

    Fechner is well known for establishing how mental and physical events varied and methods that further explore the mind and body relationship; method of limits, method of constant stimuli, method of adjustment. These methods are still used widely in psychology today.
  • Period: to

    Charles Darwin

    Darwin is best known for his theories of evolution and natural selection. His findings throughout his work helped shaped evolutionary psychology.
  • Friends Asylum

    The Friends Asylum was established by the Quaker community and was the first asylum that practiced moral treatment of its patients. This was the first of its kind and slowly caused a chain reaction causing more asylums to use moral treatment.
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    Sigmund Freud

    Freud's theory of personality that dealt with the id, ego, and superego is widely known in psychology today and started the development of psychoanalysis. He is also known for life and death instincts, the Odepis Complex, and his psychosexual stages of development.
  • Period: to

    Lightner Witmer

    Witmer is considered the father of clinical psychology due to 6 achievements during his lifetime: he had the idea that psychology could be a basis of a helping profession, he developed a psychological clinic, he proposed the term clinal psychology, he organized the first program to train clinical psychologists, he shaped the field through The Psychological Clinic journal, and he served as a role model for early members.
  • Period: to

    Margret Floy Washburn

    Margret Floy Washburn was the first woman to earn a doctoral degree in American psychology and the second woman to serve as APA president. Her work focused on animal behavior and the basic psychological processes of sensation and perception.
  • Wundt's Psychology Lab

    Wilhelm Wundt created the world's first experimental psychology lab in Germany. This event took psychology from a sub-discipline of philosophy and biology to its own discipline.
  • Hall's Psychology Lab in America

    G. Stanley Hall is credited with opening the first experimental psychology lab in America in 1883. This marks the development and establishment of psychology in America.
  • Period: to

    Francis Cecil Summer

    Summer is known as the Black Father of Psychology and was the first African American to earn a Ph.D. He is known for his education reform policies.
  • Period: to

    Wolfgang Kohler

    Kohler is known for his theories of perception; isomorphism and the law of pragnanz, psychophysical isomorphism, consistency hypothesis, and perceptual consistency. His theories of perception are still being used and taught in cognitive psychology today.
  • Foundation of the APA

    G. Stanley Hall founded the American Psychological Association to commit to the evolution of psychology as a science. The APA allows psychologists to share work and advance research within the field of psychology.
  • Structuralism

    Edward Bradford Titchener studied the immediate experience of consciousness and he aimed to describe the structure of the adult functioning mind. His desire to describe mental experience created structuralism.
  • Psychoanalysis

    Psychoanalysis is a method of treating psychological disorders where the patient talks freely about personal experiences. Sigmond Freud is the father of psychoanalysis and used dreams and childhood experiences to better understand mental illness to understand the conscious and unconscious mind.
  • Functionalism

    Functionalism states that what makes something a thought or desire is dependent on its function or role it plays in the cognitive system. William James is known as being highly influential for his work in functionalism and his pragmatism that states that if an idea works, it is valid.
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    Lev Vygotsky

    Vygotsky is best known for his sociocultural theory where social interaction plays a critical role in a child's development. This theory notes that society impacts people just as much as people impact society, this was a new way of looking at psychology and became very influential in educational and developmental psychology.
  • Voulntarism

    Wilhelm Maximilian Wundt is known for coining the term voluntarism that eventually became psychology's first school. Wundt focused on free will, choice, and purpose to understand the mental laws that play a role in consciousness.
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    Inez Beverly Prosser

    Prosser was the first African American female to earn a Ph.D. in psychology. She studied African American school children's self-esteem and concluded that black children do better in black schools because they are not facing racism from white teachers and students; her findings were very controversial leading up to the Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court Decision.
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    Erick Erickson

    Erick Erickson is best known for his 8 psychosocial developmental stages that occur from infancy to adulthood. These stages are used in developmental psychology and ensure that each stage is being completed through a more realistic viewpoint than previous theories.
  • Gestalt Psychology

    Gestalt psychology looks at the human mind and behavior as a whole when making sense of the world around us. This school formed as a response to Wilhelm Wundt and originated in the works of Max Wertheimer and eventually led to the development of sensation and perception.
  • Behaviorism

    Behaviorism theory believes that all behaviors are acquired through conditioning. Classical conditioning (where two stimuli are repeatedly paired) and operant conditioning (learning through rewards and punishment) come from this theory that John B. Watson founded.
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    Mary Ainsworth

    Mary Ainsworth was a developmental psychologist that specializes in children's development. Her Strange Situation experiment helped understand the different attachment styles that children have towards their caregivers.
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    World War 1

    During the war, many psychological methods were used to help soldiers during battle. After the war, the need for psychological treatment rose.
  • Psychobiology

    Psychobiology explains psychological phenomena in terms of biological foundations. Because of psychobiology, psychologists are able to better understand how the brain influences behaviors, thoughts, and feelings and how to treat issues that arise.
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    World War 2

    The war started as a retaliation against Nazi Germany and became the most deadly war with around 70 million people killed. The war caused a lot of trauma and mental disorders in veterans and sparked the creation of the DSM along with various other changes to the field of psychology.
  • First Edition of the DSM

    The DSM was first published in 1952 by the APA Committee on Nomenclature and Statistics containing a glossary of descriptions of diagnostic categories and was the first manual to function on clinical use. The DSM is still being used as a diagnostic tool today and is now on the 5th edition which was published in 2013.
  • Client-Centered Therapy

    Caral Rogers developed client-centered therapy as a response to the Second World War. This type of therapy is focused on the therapist-client relationship to create a comforting, non-judgemental, and empathetic environment that is still practiced today.
  • Humanistic Psychology

    The shift to humanism started with Abraham Maslow who wanted to focus on what would make a mentally healthy person reach their full potential. Maslow's hierarchy of needs are levels that help humans reach their full potential by completing all of the levels to the hierarchy and is still used today for personal development.
  • Cognitive Psychology

    Cognitive psychology began being influenced in the early 1900s, with J. S. Mill. Cognitive psychology includes memory, concept formation, attention, reasoning, problem-solving, mental imagery, and language thus helping psychologists better understand intellectual abilities and how the brain works - also allowing them to understand how to prevent and treat cognitive disorders.
  • Positive Psychology

    Positive psychology is very similar to humanistic psychology where positive human attributes are explored, but it takes a more scientific route. Positive psychology focuses on the good traits that someone has and also ensures that people are flourishing in their life which is a shift from focusing on what is wrong with an individual.
  • Evolutionary Psychology

    Two major influencers of evolutionary psychology are Charles Darwin and David Buss who both note that the goal in life is to pass down genes to the next generation. This field of psychology looks at the past to explain why people behave in certain ways to pass down genes and to survive.
  • Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI)

    fMRI operated using a magnetic field and tracks brain activity over time by tracking blood flow and oxygen levels and produces detailed images of the brain's structure. fMRI can be used to determine differences between a healthy brain and someone that has psychological disorders by looking at the structural and functional differences.