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Important People in Personality Psychology

Personality Psychology Study Guide

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Some of the most famous figures in the history of psychology left a lasting mark on the field of personality. In this section of the personality study guide, learn more about the lives, theories and contributions to psychology of these eminent psychologists.

Sigmund Freud:

Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was the founder of psychoanalytic theory. His theories emphasized the importance of the unconscious mind, childhood experiences, dreams and symbolism. His ideas are what as known as grand theories because they seek to explain virtually every aspect of human behavior. Many of Freud's ideas are considered outdated by modern psychologists, but it is still essential to have a solid understanding of his work and the influence he had on personality psychology.

Further Reading:

Erik Erikson:

Erik Erikson (1902-1994) was an ego psychologist trained by Anna Freud. His theory of psychosocial stages describes how personality develops throughout the lifespan. Like Freud, some aspects of Erikson's theory are considered outdated by contemporary researchers, but his eight-stage theory of development remains popular with many.

Further Reading:
  • Erik Erikson Biography
  • Erikson's Stages of Psychosocial Development
  • Erikson, E. H. (1982) The Life Cycle Completed. W. W. Norton & Company.

B. F. Skinner:

B. F. Skinner (1904-1990) was a behaviorist best known for his research on operant conditioning and the discovery of schedules of reinforcement. Schedules of reinforcement influence how quickly a behavior is acquired and the strength of a response. The schedules described by Skinner are fixed-ratio schedules, fixed-variable schedules, variable-ratio schedules and variable-interval schedules.

Further Reading:

Albert Bandura:

Albert Bandura's (1925-Present) research in behavioral psychology emphasized the role of observational learning. Bandura is best known for his Bobo doll experiment in which young children watched a film showing a woman beating up a doll. Children were then allowed to play with the same doll they had observed in the film. The effect of observational learning became apparent when the children began beating up the doll, imitating the behavior of the woman in the film.

Further Reading:

Abraham Maslow:

Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) was a humanist psychologist who developed the well-known hierarchy of needs. This hierarchy includes physiological needs, safety and security needs, love and affection needs, self-esteem needs and self-actualizing needs.



Further Reading:

Carl Rogers:

Carl Rogers (1902-1987) was a humanist psychologist who believed that all people have an actualizing tendency - a drive to fulfill individual potential that motivates behavior. Rogers called healthy individuals "fully-functioning", describing these individuals as those who are open to experience, live in the moment, trust their own judgement, feel free and are creative.

Further Reading

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