Psychology Historical Timeline

By 57440
  • 330 BCE


    One of Plato's students founded the Lyceum and doubled his scholarly output by farming out research to his students. He derived his principles through careful observations and data. He believed that soul and body were inseparable and that knowledge is not pre-existing, he also believed knowledge grew from experiences stored in our memories. Events that are experienced under stray emotion = better remembered that unemotional happenings. Aristotle is often regarded as the father of psychology,
  • 1400


    Humanism was an intellectual movement emphasized in 15th century Italy during the Renaissance. Its aim was to study the human as a whole and in individual’s uniqueness in accomplishment and being. In the late 20th century, it became particularly influential in psychology because it was able to offer so many methods and inquiries about human nature. Abraham Maslow had huge contributions to humanistic psychology through his theory on the “hierarchy of needs”.
  • 1561


    Born in 1561, and active in the late 16th century, Bacon is known as the father of empiricism which is the belief that knowledge arises from sensory experiences. He studied using scientific observation. His developments and contributions to science are now commonly used as the “scientific method”. Empiricism is under the same branch of study as rationalism and skepticism in philosophy and is also widely considered a huge contribution to behavioral psychology.
  • Descartes

    French philosopher, mathematician, and scientist active in the 17th century. Famous for the quote, “I think, therefore I am”, Descartes is most notable for contributing the idea of “mind-body dualism” to psychology. Essentially, there were two distinct substances in the universe. He believed that the human mind’s nature was a “thinking, non-extended thing” while the body was a “non-thinking, extended thing”. He concluded that it is possible for one to exist without the other.
  • John Locke

    John Locke
    Born in 1632, Locke was most credited as the “Father of Liberalism”. His ideas became a strong foundation in many concepts in psychology. He believed that knowledge is built from internal and external stimulants, and that the mind is born a blank slate that was to be written upon. He struggled with the implied effect that humans would only then know the physical world, and later developed ideas of generalism and abstractism- inventions of the mind that are derived from signals.
  • Wilhelm Wundt

    Wilhelm Wundt
    Wilhelm Wundt was born in 1832. After opening the first psychology lab known as the “Institute of Experimental Psychology” in Germany, Wundt was widely regarded the father of modern psychology. His goal was to record and understand the composition of thoughts and sensations, and he believed that the human mind could be studied using introspection (literally meaning “inside looking”). His work in psychology influenced and inspired many psychologists that came after him.
  • Stanley Hall

    Stanley Hall
    G. Stanley Hall was born in 1846 and is notable for his studies in child development and evolutionary theory. There was a particular focus in aggression. However, he is more famous for his contributions in early American psychology, paving the path for many future American psychologists. In addition to being the first president and founder of the APA, he also founded the psychology lab in John Hopkins and was the first American to obtain a Psych PhD.
  • Fundamentalism

    The early functionalists included promoting the idea that the mind and consciousness would not exist if it did not serve some practical, purpose. Thus, practical and adaptive responses characterize behavior, not consciousness. Functionalism was important in the development of psychology because it widened the scope of psychological research + application. Because of this psychologists accepted the validity of research with animals, children, and people having psychiatric disabilities.
  • Structuralism

    Founded by Wilhelm Wundt. Structuralism is the study of the elements of consciousness. The idea is that conscious experience can be broken down into basic conscious elements, much as a physical phenomenon can be viewed as consisting of chemical structures, that can in turn be broken down into basic elements.
  • William James

    William James
    Instructor is psychology and physiology. He developed Harvard psychology department.James developed an interest in studying the mind and body. He was recruited in 1872 to be a professor is psychology. Studied sensation and perception psychology” (Hall, 1879). James-Lange Theory of emotion: human experience of emotion arises from physiological changes in response to external events. In 1890 James published a summary of psychology, Principles of Psychology.
  • American Psychological Association

    American Psychological Association
    Founded in July of 1892 by G. Stanley Hall, the American Psychological Association, or APA, is the largest organization of psychological scientists in the United States. It has many functions across its diverse group of positions. The APA promotes psychology, analyzes behavior, educates, among other things. It currently has 54 divisions, each with individually unique focuses. Many of its past presidents have been regarded as influential thinkers and contributors to psychology.
  • Mary Whiton Calkins

    Mary Whiton Calkins
    Calkins published many papers in the field of psychology, but a majority of them are overlooked because Harvard refused to give her her degree because she was a female. Her greatest contributions to psychology include the paired association technique and her work in self-psychology. Calkins believed that the conscious self was the primary focus of psychology. She even served as the first female president of the American Psychological Association in 1905.
  • Behaviorism

    Movement that began in 1913 when John Watson wrote an article entitled “Psychology as the behaviorist views it.” Behaviorism is a psychological approach that studies using scientific and objective investigation methods and emphasizes how environmental and surrounding factors affect behavior, almost ignoring inherent traits. Behaviorists believe that there is little difference between animals and humans when learning new information.
  • Gestalt Psychology

    Gestalt Psychology
    The Gestalt Principles are a set of laws describing how humans typically see objects by grouping similar elements, recognizing patterns and simplifying complex image; follows the basic principle that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. AKA The whole (a picture) carried a different and altogether greater meaning than its individual components (paint, canvas). In viewing the "whole," a cognitive process takes place; the mind makes a leap from knowing the parts to knowing the whole.
  • Max Wertheimer

    Max Wertheimer
    One of the 3 founders of Gestalt psychology. (Gestalt is the basis on which human beings understand and react to the world around them - the mind has an innate disposition to perceive these patterns - Proximity, Similarity, Continuity, Closure, and Connectedness.) He was the author of “Productive thinking” in which he explained his findings. He provided the psychologist with many theories about perception and sensation. Over the past 3-4 decades, lots of research has been based on his works.
  • B.F. Skinner

    B.F. Skinner
    A behavioral psychologist that believed that the best way to understand behavior is to look at the causes of an action and its consequences. He used a method called operant conditioning
    He introduced a new term called “Law of Effect" which stated that when our behavior is reinforced we are more likely to repeat it. One of his studies is pictured here. He published nearly 200 articles and 20+ books. In a survey of psychologists, he was identified as the most influential psychologist.
  • Carl Rogers

    Carl Rogers
    Carl Rogers was a humanistic psychologist who agreed with the main assumptions of Maslow, but added that for a person to "grow", they need an environment that provides them with genuineness, acceptance, and empathy. Without these, relationships and healthy personalities will not develop as they should. When you have these things self actualization took place. This was one of Carl Rogers most important contributions to psychology.
  • Cognitive Neuroscience

    Cognitive Neuroscience
    Cognitive neuroscience is the scientific field that is concerned with the study of the biological processes, with a specific focus on the neural connections in the brain which are involved in mental processes. Franz Joseph Gall and JG Spurzheim claimed that the brain was organized into 35 specific functions - functions ranged from language and color perception to hope and self-esteem. If a person used one of the faculties more than the others the brain area grew. They coined the term phrenology.
  • Ivan Pavlov

    Ivan Pavlov
    Ivan Pavlov was looking at salivation in dogs in response to being fed when he noticed that his dogs would begin to salivate whenever he entered the room, even when he was not bringing them food. To summarize, he found that classical conditioning involves learning to associate an unconditioned stimulus that already brings about a particular response (i.e., a reflex) with a new (conditioned) stimulus, so that the new stimulus brings about the same response. He discovered classical conditioning.