Who are the Great Psychologists?

In anticipation of these journey, I’ve been accumulating materials to guide the approach. The first major question was, who should I try to include?

Psychology has a few legends (e.g,  Skinner, James, Freud, Wundt) that are commonly identified as its most influential. Other than their amazing contributions to Psychology one might also note that they are all dead. Kind of a non-starter for someone seeking a conversation with a great Psychologist.

Among the living there are also some legends. There are Psychologists who have become quite renown because of their books, or television appearances, and/or how frequently other Psychologists cite their works when writing up their own research. This last bit relates directly to impact factor — something anyone in a tenure-track academic position has had to learn a little about.

There are also the stories those scholars might tell. I’m keen to learn about personal context and the interaction of context and scholarship. Those people with interesting lives who have succeeded despite the challenges.

Over the last couple of years, I’ve been putting together a list. Psychologists who my colleagues extol (and occasionally cause them to tear up just a bit when reflecting how they’ve impacted  their field); psychologists who have won major APA division awards, APS awards, or similarly prestigious honors for their career achievements; psychologists who produce the research that now feels like cannon for classroom discussion and dissemination;  psychologists who get cited by other writers so much they they average thousands of cites every year. The result is an ever-growing list of women and men, representing a diverse group of ethnicities, cultures, and backgrounds may be considered the great and influential Psychologists of our time. The list (as of writing this post) numbers about 150 of these great psychologists that I hope to speak with!

In no way does that guarantee that they might speak with me if I contact them. Part of this journey has been the joy at speaking with those who have scheduled a conversation balanced against the disappointment for the rejections I’ve received. With each city and with each step I’ll reach out to more great Psychologists and hope that I can deliver to all of us some fascinating stories in the process.

To quote Basho, “Every day is a journey, and the journey itself is home.”


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